Revelation: Sardis – Not What it Seems

Peter Barnes: Revelation 3:1-6

(24 December 2017)


The church at Sardis was almost dead but it had a reputation for life.

1. Appearance is not always reality.

– 3:1. Somehow it looked alive, but it was actually spiritually dead. 2 Tim.3:5. Augustine: ‘Food in dreams is exactly like real food, yet it does not sustain us; for we are only dreaming.’

– A. W. Tozer asked ‘What if the Holy Spirit were removed from the modern Church? What would happen?’ He answered his own question by saying that most of the Church would carry on as it had before.

2. Strengthening the remnant.

– 3:2-4; like the 7,000 in Elijah’s day who had not bowed the knee to Baal – 1 Kings 19:18. In Pergamum and Thyatira the problem people were a minority (2:14-15, 20), but at Sardis the majority were spiritually dead.

(a) ‘Be watchful’ or ‘wake up’ (ESV, NIV).
(b) Strengthen what remains.
(c) Remember what you have received and heard.
(d) Obey (NIV) or ‘keep it’ (ESV) or ‘hold fast’ (NKJV).
(e) Repent.
He speaks, and listening to His voice
New life the dead receive.
3. Warnings and promises.

– 3:3b. Unlike Matt.24:42-44. Robert Murray M’Cheyne says that in 1820 a missionary could not find one professing Christian in Sardis.

– 3:4-5. They will walk with Christ, clothed in white garments (4:4; 6:9-11; 7:9-10, 13-14). Luke 10:20; Matt.10:32. A splendid corpse is one thing, but a living breathing body of Christ is quite another.