The Church in Sardis Revelation 3:1-6 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
Church in Sardis
As in the other letters, the speaker identifies himself by his characteristics described in chapter 1. This time he identifies himself as having the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars. The seven Spirits are found in Revelation 1:4 and Revelation 5:6, and the seven stars are described in Revelation 1:16, 20. Thus, the speaker is Jesus Christ.
The Lord is less complimentary of this church than he has been of the churches before it. There is little good that he can find to say about this church.
He knows their works, v.1, because they are the basis of his judgment in Revelation 20:12-13. But their works are not perfect before God, v.2 [compare Solomon to David in 1 Kiings 11:4, and also see Amaziah in 2 Chronicles 25:2]. Consequently, they are a “dead church” though their name suggests that they are alive [evidently, they are a carnal church, Romans 8:6].
There are many “dead” churches today. The story is told of a fellow who went to a church to hear the word of God and to praise the Lord. But everything there was cold and dead. He wasn’t welcomed in that church. So, he walked out and sat despondently on the front steps. Jesus showed up and asked what was wrong. The fellow said, “I’m not welcome in that church.” Jesus said, “Don’t worry; I haven’t been welcomed in that church in 40 years.”
So, the Lord admonishes this church, in v.2, to be watchful [like 1 Corinthians 16:13, 1 Peter 4:7] and to strengthen the things that remain. The things that remain are ready to die like the other things have, but they haven’t died yet. So they need to be strengthened so they don’t die.
Then in v.3, he reminds them to remember that they heard and received things, like we do from preaching and teaching. And he told them to hold fast [like a fastener] to those things and repent, so they can get back into line with those things that they have received and heard.
He further warned them, in v.3, that he was coming and so they were to watch for him, otherwise he would come upon them like a thief [Matthew 24:42-44; Mark 13:32-37].
In v.4, he complimented the few who had not defiled their garments. The cross reference is in Jude 23, where we find that, during the tribulation, garments are spotted by the flesh. It may be the result of the grievous sore of Revelation 16:2 or of some outbreak of leprosy due to sin, as in Leviticus 13:48. Nevertheless, whoever doesn’t defile his garments will walk with the Lord in white [Revelation 7:14].
The promise to those who overcome is that they will be clothed in white raiment [Revelation 6:11] and they will not have their names blotted out of the book of life. Rather, Jesus will confess their names before his Father [Matthew 10:32].
The book of life is a book that is the subject of many different interpretations. So, let’s see what the Bible has to say about it:
The book of life has been around since the foundation of the world Revelation 17:8
Moses knew about this book and knew that his name was in it Exodus 32:32
Moses also knew that his name could be blotted out of the book Exodus 32:32-33
David prayed on behalf of the Lord that those who crucified the Lord would be blotted out of the book Psalms 69:21-28
The book of life must contain the names of the Old Testament saints for Moses’ name to be in it
The book of life contains the names of the disciples of Jesus Luke 10:20
The book of life contains the names of church age saints Philippians 4:3
The book of life contains the names of tribulation saints Daniel 12:1, Rev 3:5
The book of life contains the names of the saints in the Millennium Revelation 20:15, Revelation 21:27
It is evident from scripture that Old Testament saints and tribulation saints can be blotted out of the book of life. That makes perfect sense because, during those times, there is no eternal security. What is implied from scripture is that NT saints can’t be blotted out because nothing is said about the possibility of them being blotted out and because church age saints are eternally secure [John 6:37, 5:24].
Whether the names of saints are recorded in the book of life from the foundation of the world is not clear. However, there are some things that we can surmise. If they are recorded from the foundation of the world because of God’s foreknowledge, then why would the Lord blot them out later? That would show that God’s foreknowledge is flawed. The fact that the Lord blots some out also shows that they were not “chosen” from the foundation of the world. They wouldn’t have been in the book in the first place, if that were the case. Perhaps the names of the children of Israel are in the book because they are God’s chosen people [Exodus 4:22-23]. Then when a Jew is lost, his name is blotted out. That might be the most plausible explanation. We’ll probably have to wait for the Lord to tell us more than we already know from scripture about this book. Nevertheless, we know enough to know whether our names are in that book. And if yours is, Amen!! And if yours is not, then you need to trust the Lord and get your name in there NOW [2 Corinthians 6:2].