Time or Eternity? ™

The Church at Sardis

In Revelation, The Church at Sardis on March 10, 2011 at 8:00 am

The fifth epistle is that to Sardis, and in the superscription He who sends it describes Himself as One that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars. Both expressions have already met us, the former in chap. 1. 4, the latter in chap. 2. 1. A different word from that used in the address to Ephesus is indeed used here to indicate the relation of the Lord to these stars or angels of the churches. There the glorified Lord “holdeth the seven stars in His right hand;” here He “hath” them. Like every other change, even of the slightest kind, in this book, the difference is instructive. To ” hold” them is to hold them fast for their protection; to “have” them is to have them for a possession, to have them not only outwardly and in name, but inwardly and in reality, as His own. Thus Christ “hath ” the Holy Spirit, who in all His varied or sevenfold influences is, as He proceedeth from the Father and the Son, not only God’s, but His. Thus also Christ ” hath” the seven stars or churches, here spoken of in immediate connexion with the Spirit, and therefore viewed chiefly in that spirituality of feeling and of life which ought to be the great mark distinguishing them from the world. It was the mark in which Sardis failed. Let her take heed to Him with whom she has to do. I know, are the words addressed to her, thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and thou art dead. Be thou watchful, and stablish the things that remain, which were ready to die : for I have found no works of thine fulfilled before My God. Remember therefore how thou hast received and didst hear; and keep it, and repent. If therefore thou shall not watch, I will come as a thief, and thou shall not know what hour 1 will come upon thee. The world had been tolerated in Thyatira, the first of the last four churches; in Sardis, the second, it is more than tolerated. Sardis has substituted the outward for the inward. She has been proud of her external ordinances, and has thought more of them than of living in the Spirit and walking in the Spirit. True piety has declined; and, as a natural consequence, sins of the flesh, alluded to in the immediately following words of the epistle, have asserted their supremacy. More even than this, Sardis had a name that she lived while she was dead. She was renowned among men. The world looked, and beheld with admiration what was to it the splendour of her worship; it listened, and heard with enthusiasm the music of her praise. And the church was pleased that it should be so. Not in humility, lowliness, and deeds of self-sacrificing love did she seek her “name,” but in what the world would have been equally delighted with though the inspiring soul of it all had been folly or sin. A stronghold had been established by the world in Sardis. Yet there also the Good Shepherd had His little flock, and there again we meet them. But thou hast a few names in Sardis which did not defile their garments. These were to Sardis what ” the rest” were to Thyatira. They were the “gleanings left in Israel, as the shaking of an olive tree, two or three berries in the top of the uppermost bough, four or five in the outmost branches of a fruitful tree.” They were the “new wine found in the cluster, and one saith, Destroy it not; for a blessing is in it.” To them therefore great promises are given: They shall walk with Me in white; for they are worthy. He that overcometh shall thus be arrayed in white garments; and I will in no wise blot his name out of the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father, and before His angels. It is the glorified Lord who, as the High-priest of His Church, “walketh” in the midst of the golden candlesticks; and, as priests, these shall walk with Him in a similar glory. Upon earth they were despised, but beyond the earth they shall be openly acknowledged and vindicated. They shall be arrayed in those garments of glistering purity which were with difficulty kept white in the world, but which in the world to come Divine favor shall keep free from every stain.

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