When Jesus Visits
"His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire."
-Revelation 1:14, emphasis added
What did Jesus say to the assembly at Sardis? He told them, "I want you to meet with Me again. I am the Lord Jesus Christ, and I know everything about you." Jesus stood by them, waiting for a pulse, saying, "You are in church, and appear to be alive, but when I check your pulse, there is no life."
Jesus is all-knowing, all-powerful, and ever-present. He is the One who sees and knows all as He speaks to the churches; He is the One who holds their message, their witness, and their existence; and He is the One who stands by their lampstand.
Look again at verse 1 of Revelation 3: "I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead." Note that Christ gives no approval to the Sardians. God won't tolerate phonies; nor will He tolerate mere caretaker-Christianity. His way is life, growth, and fruit-or nothing. They were dead; their deeds were incomplete. They were still reciting the creed, saying their prayers, but the fire was absent. Remember: "Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7c)!
Their deeds had not come to maturity; there was no fully formed fruit. They were dying in the bud, an unformed fruit dropping that was worm-eaten, stunted, and dying.
Jesus appealed: "Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent" (Revelation 3:2-3, emphasis added).
Consider these five imperatives from the Lord of the Church:
Be watchful. The word "watchful" (agrupneo in Greek) that Jesus uses in Revelation 3:2 expresses the idea of "being wakeful, sleepless, as the watchfulness of One who is intent upon a thing." It comes from two Greek words meaning "to chase sleep."
Strengthen that which remains. The word "strengthen" is often in Paul's writing. It means "buttress, build a strong support, get grounded."
Remember. "Remember" (a present imperative) means "keep on remembering the Word of God."
Hold fast. This basically means to "keep on, never stop, be not wavering, do not be on again and then off again."
Repent. Repentance is the answer-the hope not only for the Sardians, but also for us today. Make a conscious choice to say no to sin by definitive action once and for all.
Our Lord called upon the few faithful at Sardis to be vigilant. He urged them to strive to strengthen and revive what remained but was at the point of death. Sardis was conquered twice, which should serve as a warning to us to not be overconfident as Christians. No commandment appears more frequently in the New Testament than this: "Watch." We must therefore be watchful, continually on guard, so that we don't lose our first love.
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