THE CHURCH AT SARDIS (A Dead church) — Revelation 3:1-6
1. THE SALUTATION – “And unto the Angel of the Church in Sardis write: These things saith He that hath the Seven Spirits of God, and the Seven Stars.”
2. THE CONDEMNATION – “I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and ART DEAD.”
3. THE COUNSEL – “Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent.”
4. THE WARNING – “If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.”
5. THE PROMISE – “Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments: and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy. He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in WHITE RAIMENT; and I will not blot out his name out of the Book of Life, but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the Churches.”
The Church at Sardis was called a “Dead Church” though it had a name to live. That is, it was a “Formalistic Church,” a church given over to “formal” or “ritualistic” worship. It had the “Form of Godliness without the power.” The meaning of the word “Sardis” is the “escaping one,” or those who “come out” and so it is an excellent type of the Church of the Reformation Period. By the Reformation, we mean that period in history of the Christian Church when Martin Luther and a number of other reformers protested against the false teaching, tyranny, and claim of the Papal Church. The Period began about A.D. 1500. The condition of affairs in the realm dominated by the Papal Church became intolerable, and came to a crisis when Martin Luther, on October 31, 1517 A.D. nailed his 95 Theses on the church door at Wittenburg, Germany. From that date, the Reformation set in. But it was more a struggle for political liberty than purely Christian or religious movement.
It had the advantage of encouraging and aiding the circulation of the Holy Scriptures that had hitherto been a sealed book, the revival of the Doctrine of “Justification by Faith,” and a reversion to more simple modes of worship; but the multiplication of sects only led to bitter controversial contentions, that, while they threw much light on the Word of God, interferred greatly with the spiritual state of the Church, until it could truthfully be said, “That she had a name to live and was dead.” While the reformers swept away much ritualistic and doctrinal rubbish, they failed to recover the promise of the Second Advent. They turned to God from idols, but not to “wait for His Son from the Heavens.” The “Sardis Period” extended from A.D. 1520 to about A.D. 1750.