The Lifeless Church - Part 2

Bible Book: Revelation  3 : 2-6
Subject: Church, Lifeless; Seven Churches of Revelation
Series: Deeper - Seven Churches of Revelation

The Church at Sardis was was made up of the “has beens". They were noted for a strong past, but a very bleak present. In verse 1 Jesus mentioned that most of the church had no pulse, “you are dead.” In verse 4, He speaks to the only hope for a bright future by mentioning the “few names.” His words are a call to alertness, to awaken from their slumber. It is when the church’s leaders and members get accustomed to their blessings and complacent about their ministry that the enemy finds his way in.

The impression is that the assembly in Sardis was not aggressive in its witness to the city. There was no persecution because there was no invasion of the enemy’s territory. No friction usually means no motion. The unsaved in Sardis saw the church as a respectable group of people who were neither dangerous or desirable. They were decent people with a dying witness and a decaying ministry.

I. The Lord’s Counsel

Revelation 3:2-3 - Verse 2 was a call to renewal or revival that would come by recalling their original commitment and radically reversing their current conduct. “Perfect” as used in verse 2 speaks of fulfilling the purpose as to why you are here. He is calling them/us to carry out God’s purpose for their/our existence. In verses 2 and 3 we find truth that once embraced can lead to spiritual restoration, renewal, and revival.

A. Remember the Past 2-3a

In the letter to Ephesus, the Lord called the church to “do the first works”“be watchful” – wake up! Evaluate the situation, get involved in changing things, confront the sin and error, and make a difference.

“strengthen the things which remain” – reminds them that they have lost sight of spiritual realities. They need to fan the flame of their dying embers.“Remember how you have received and heard” – go back to remembering the gospel and the teaching of the apostles. They needed to reaffirm their belief in the truth about Christ, sin, salvation and sanctification. They needed to establish a solid doctrinal foundation to serve as a basis for renewal.“received” – forgiveness

“heard” – truth - They had heard a heavenly calling that had produced holy character. It was a calling from above, a calling from within, that led to a calling from without. The Lord is ever calling our wandering thoughts and affections back to Himself. His last act before He went to Calvary was to institute a feast of remembrance to draw us back to Himself again and again during our journey on earth.

John Newton “Amazing Grace”

On 3 different occasions God spoke to him in his unconverted days by a very treacherous memory. On all 3 occasions, each time he forgot. He sank lower and lower until, living a wild and dissolute life on the high seas, he became a slave of a slave. Two women prayed for John and their prayers pursued him until suddenly he was saved. On his mantelpiece in his study he placed these words:

“You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you.” (Dueteronomy 15:15).

Newton said that after his conversion to Christ, he could not forget that the Lord seemed to look into his soul, therefore he wrote:

Sure, never till my latest breath

Can I forget that look;

It seemed to charge me with His death

Though not a word He spoke.

B. Recognition of the Present 3

“hold fast and repent” – the dynamics of former years has to become again the norm for today. The demand is for self-examination and self judgment. God’s story needed to once again become the main attraction. His story is what they really want and need to hear. When we submit our story to Christ’s story our story becomes complete and His story becomes the focal point of our life. His humility becomes our humility. His love becomes our love. His sacrifice becomes our sacrifice. His forgiveness becomes our forgiveness. His story becomes our story. Wisdom Hunters: Boyd Bailey

Philippians 3:7-9 The Message (Bible)“The very credentials these people are waving around as something special, I’m tearing up and throwing out with the trash—along with everything else I used to take credit for. And why? Because of Christ. Yes, all the things I once thought

were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him. I didn’t want some petty, inferior brand of righteousness that comes from keeping a listof rules when I could get the robust kind that comes from trusting Christ—God’s righteousness.” In Sardis with remorse and sorrow, the believers were to confess and turn away from their sins. This is the way back. Orthodox doctrine apart from obedient lives would not bring restoration.

C. Readiness for the Future

“I will come upon you as a thief” – a thief comes to spoil and to remove everything of value.

Proverbs 29:1

“He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck, Will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.” Carries the idea of imminent judgment.


Revelation 3:4 - Jesus speaks of their witness, walk and worthiness.

Witness “not defiled their garments” – soiled, tainted.

Malachi 3:16-18

“Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another,

And the Lord listened and heard them; So a book of remembrance was written before Him

For those who fear the Lord

And who meditate on His name.

"’They shall be Mine,’” says the Lord of hosts, "’On the day that I make them My jewels. And I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him’." Then you shall again discern between the righteous and the wicked, Between one who serves God And one who does not serve Him.

Again defiled means to smear or pollute; to stain. Remember Sardis was known as a city where wool dyeing industry took place.

“garments” – symbolized character in Scripture.

Isaiah 64:6 - “But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; we all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. “filthy rags” – garment

Jude 23, “but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.”

Proverbs 6:27, “Can a man take fire to his bosom, And his clothes not be burned?”

Walk and Worthiness - “shall walk with Me in white” – speaks of close and clean. Speaks of intimacy with Jesus Christ.

Revelation 7:13-14 “Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, "’Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?’"

And I said to him, "’Sir, you know.’" So he said to me, "’These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.’”

Example of the TRUTH: John 13 - John 13:8-10 - “Peter said to Him, "’You shall never wash my feet!’" Jesus answered him, "’If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.’" Simon Peter said to Him, "’Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!’" Jesus said to him, "’He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.’"

John 13:14 - “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet.” Our feet get soiled, polluted, etc. He washes our feet and we are to follow His example by washing their feet (forgiveness). Not just service and humility.


Revelation 3:5-6 - “I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life.” – in Biblical times, the names of individuals were recorded in the city register, and after their death or departure from the city, they were erased or marked out of the book of the living. This is not a warning about the possibility of losing salvation, but rather, it is an affirmation that those truly born again possess eternal life, and nothing can separate Christians from eternal life. Don’t turn a promise into a threat.

Luke 10:20 - “Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven."

Revelation 13:8 - “All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”

Revelation 20:12-15 - “And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.” There is the book of the living and the Book of Life of the Lamb.

Psalms 69:28 - “Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous.”

Revelation 21:27 - “But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb's Book of Life.”

“I will confess His name before my Father and His angels” – what a day, glorious day, that will be.

Matthew 10:32-33 - "”Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.’”