Professing without Possessing
This week as we approach the end of days, you can find hope as you make sure that you know Christ personally!
"Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!' "
-Matthew 7:21-23, emphasis added
Sardis was a church planted in a very famous city of the ancient world--the home of Aesop and his fables. Situated at the junction of five roads, commanding the Hermus Valley, thirty miles northwest of Philadelphia, Sardis was a very wealthy commercial city. It had been the capital of King Croesus, who was proverbial for his riches. The city's easy wealth apparently made them lax when it came to being alert to possible dangers.
Because Sardis lacked preparedness, it was conquered twice: by Cyrus the Persian (549 B.C.) and by Antiochus (218 B.C.). The city was built on a hill so steep that its defenses seemed impregnable. Yet on both occasions, enemy troops scaled the precipice by night and found that the overconfident Sardians had set no guard.
John does not mention anything like the persecutions at Smyrna and Pergamos, or the heresies of the Nicolaitans. It is worth noting, however, that this church differs from those at Pergamos and Thyatira, which also had mixed memberships. In those churches the unsaved members were in a minority, but at Sardis they were predominate. In Christ's letter to the Sardian assembly, He stated that only a few of them had not defiled their garments and thus were worthy to walk with Him (Revelation 3:4).
When Christ visited the church body at Sardis, He said to them, "I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead" (Revelation 3:1c). He reached out to check their vital signs and, as the great Bible teacher Dr. Lehman Strauss once put it, "The Great Physician felt their pulse [and] pronounced them dead." They had degenerated from holiness to phoniness.
Oh, the dreadful condition of being artificial! Many people know only the appearance and not the reality of Jesus Christ. Do you know the difference between appearance and reality? God does! In every generation He has had to pronounce this woe against certain ones: "These people draw near Me with their mouths, and honor Me with their lips, but have removed their hearts far from Me" (Isaiah 29:13).
Think of the excruciating eternal impact of being busy and active in the church--but ending up unknown by Jesus Christ! Is your heart in the same place that your mouth is saying you are? You talk and sing about the Lord, and perhaps even teach a class, but does your heart belong to Him?
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