Following Jesus 107

Following Jesus: What kind of church are we? 

“And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars.

“‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you. Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ (Revelation 3:1-6 ESV)

Jesus Christ must come to the dead church in order for it to be raised to new life. In so doing, Jesus Christ critically evaluates the dead church. Vs. 1b-2. 

He rebukes their false reputation. Vs. 1b. Jesus also provides an accurate evaluation. 1c. Like the Pharisees, their outer appearance was a facade hiding their lack of life (cf. Matt. 23:27–28). Like so many churches today, the church that has compromised with sin and therefore become corrupted, they are characterized by inward decay and populated by unredeemed people playing church. 

What are Jesus Christ’s commands to the dead church? Vs. 3-4. Jesus’ first command to the dead church is for the pastor and its leaders to wake up. He instructs the pastor to stay awake, to be on the alert and to be continually ready. The pastor is to be vigorous and to possess an alertness and a desire to continually learn.  

The pastor must be aware of compromise, characterized by idolatry and immorality, leading to corruption or the domination of idolatry and immorality leading to a church filled with unbelievers. 

Secondly the pastor and the redeemed remnant with the dead church must obey. The pastor is commanded to strengthen what remains. This means to become stronger in having a firm and unchanging attitude in one’s belief in God and His Word. The “what remains” refers to the believing remnant within the church. 

The remnant may be ready to leave this earth. They may be ready to physically die. However, their work is not yet done in God’s sight. They still have much to accomplish. 

Jesus then commands the church to remember what they had originally received and heard from Him. This may well refer to the gospel. 

Not only is the church commanded to remember the gospel of life, but they are additionally charged with guarding and preserving it. The church is called to protect and preserve the gospel message. 

Finally, Jesus calls the church to repent. It is to turn from its wickedness and evidence a complete change of though and attitude toward sin and righteousness. 

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