The Walking Dead
Have you ever seen dead men walking? You can go back in time to a Church in Sardis (present day Turkey) or you can look around you and see abundant evidence in churches today.
The letters to the seven churches in Revelation are thought by some to speak to seven eras of the Christian Church spread over history. Not likely, however. It is more apparent that these seven letters speak to seven kinds of churches which appear in all eras of history. The church in Sardis, the 5th of the seven, was most likely the wealthiest church of these. Sardis was a city of great prosperity; at a junction of many important trade routes and situated in an almost impregnable position for its defense. The church here is described as one which had a great reputation of being alive, most likely because of its size, its impressive church structure or structures, and the prosperity of its members. It easily widened the eyes of all who came through Sardis for a visit. However, this letter exposes the truth which these easily impressed eyes did not at first see. This was largely a CINO church: Christian in name only. The members professed to be Christian, but true Christian fruit was lacking. In essence they were dead in their sins; consequently, walking as though alive, but in reality dead.
What was their fatal flaw; that if they did not wake up, their Lord would come like a thief in the night, and the time for waking would be over and gone? What sin had led to their being a CINO church and CINO individuals? This letter tells us they had forgotten or ignored “the faith once for all entrusted to the saints! (Jude 3) The Church at Sardis had stopped preaching, knowing, keeping, obeying the apostolic faith which is the good news, the gospel, the message of faith entrusted to the apostles by their Lord, and in turn entrusted to the churches for spreading and safe keeping. They had made up their own idea of the gospel so they could lead a comfortable, decadent life and never feel the need for true repentance. They were very much alive living in sin, but very dead spiritually. You could say they had found their “peace; the kind the world preaches as they flash their two fingers or wear the peace symbol as the fashion statement for their hypocrisy. Theirs was the peace of a lethargic cemetery; not the peace of rapture, clear sight, power, victory, overcoming the world, the flesh, and the devil! In essence they were resting in their graves while still alive and irresponsive to a coming judgment that would find them sorely lacking.
In verse 2 of this text in Revelation, the words “wake up are also interpreted as “be watchful. Sardis knew from its history about being watchful; for it led to their downfall when they were not. Persian King Cyrus was besieging Sardis, but their fortress was built on an almost impregnable promontory of rock. One of Cyrus’ soldiers watched the fortress for days and finally observed a Sardis warrior drop his helmet by accident over the cliff of the fortress. This warrior then proceeded to climb down by a particular route to retrieve his helmet. Cyrus’ soldier watched carefully and then by night with a small band of “special operations soldiers climbed up the same route to enter the “impregnable fortress in the surprise of darkness; and the fortress was taken. The truth is that we must be watchful at our weakest point, our known fatal flaw. In Shakespeare’s famous tragedies the main male figures were great men, but they had a fatal flaw: with Macbeth it was ambition; with Othello it was jealousy; with Hamlet it was indecision. You have a weak point. If you are self-observant you know what it is. Watch it; strengthen it; guard it by faith. You also must watch your strongest point, which the soldiers at Sardis did not because they were “secure in the “impregnability of their position. Do not trust the point where you feel you are strongest because that is often where Satan will attack you. Be humble in Christ, and watch for the attack.
In this letter to Sardis Jesus is looking for two things from you. Loyalty! Loyalty to Him and to His Word. Keep and preserve the doctrine of faith He has given. Repentance and obedience is always proof of loyalty. And second, Jesus wants your help! Jesus doesn’t need your help; He wants it. He wants you to be His eyes, His hands, His energy, His love in serving His children in whatever capacity He has placed you and to which He calls you. Do it as though you were Him; as one of the few people in Sardis who will walk with Him, dressed in white, as one who as He says, overcomes!
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