Read verses 1b-3
Q: What is the “bad news”?
A: From an earthly point of view, “you have a name that you are alive”, but from the heavenly view the reality is “but you are dead”.
Q: What criteria did Christ use for this evaluation?
A: “I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God”.
Application: Everything we do on earth must ultimately meet God’s expectations and standard.
Q: What are the three keywords for the proposed remedy?
A: “Wake up”, “strengthen”, and “remember”.
- “Wake up”, pronounced twice, speaks to their willful ignorance of their shortfalls where God is concerned. It’s a variation of Laodicea where it is stated, “…you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked”. (Rev. 3:17)
- “…remember what you have received and heard” is a reference to returning to the Word of God as it was originally presented. Just as Ephesus needs to return to its first love, Sardis needs to return to its first handling of God’s Word.
- “…strengthen the things that remain”. The little that is still operating according to God’s Word needs to be at the core of any turnaround.
Q: What is the process of recovery?
- “…remember what you have received and heard…”
- “…and keep it…”
- “…and repent”.
Observation: This is a revisitation of the salvation process where upon hearing the Word of God there is sincere repentance and a strict adherence to God’s Word going forward. This is a true “revival” where the backslidden repent and return to what they have abandoned; it is not exclusively marketed to those who have never heard the Gospel.
Application: Laodicea is blind to its own situation in the same way that Sardis is asleep when it comes to God’s Word. There is no substitute for a recommitment to God’s Word when it has been replaced or ignored.
Q: What is the warning if no such repentance and change in behavior is realized?
A: Jesus specifies they are going to be excluded from the Rapture.
Q: How do we know this for sure?
A: Beside the parallel scriptural references (1 Th. 5:2, 4; 2 Pe. 3:10), and the example of the parables closing out the Olivet Discourse, (Mt. 24-25) Jesus corroborates this later in the book of Revelation:
“Behold, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps his clothes, so that he will not walk about naked and men will not see his shame.”
“Clothes” is the frequent biblical metaphor for “deeds”.
Q: Why might this letter to Sardis remind us of parallel teachings found in the Olivet Discourse?
A: What is presented here are dire consequences for not being found awake and ready in the same character as the Foolish Virgins who are excluded (Mt. 25:10-13), or the unfaithful steward who is cast out (Mt. 25:48- 51), or the slave entrusted with the talent whose unfaithfulness resulted in permanent removal.
Application: Sardis personifies the condition of the biblical requirement for maintaining personal faithfulness in times of relative peace and worldly contentment.