1. Hello, listening friends.
2. Thank you for tuning in.
3. I want to begin by telling you that, in many cultures in the world, a person’s reputation is his most prized possession.
4. One’s reputation can be more important than money, power or prestige.
5. In some cases, one’s reputation is more valuable than life itself.
6. Of course, like everything else, an obsession with one’s reputation can lead to hypocrisy.
7. It can lead to an unhealthy concern with external appearances.
8. It can lead to dual personalities—one in public and the other in private;
9. and this problem shows up repeatedly in the pages of the Bible.
10. In the Gospels, we learn how Jesus condemned the Pharisees for their obsession only with their own reputation,
11. their external appearance and style rather than substance;
12. and Jesus rebuked that obsession for a good reason,
13. for, if a person’s reputation becomes his obsession,
14. then, that person will do everything possible to hide his real identity.
15. He or she will pretend to be what they are not.
16. Someone said the following:
17. “If you spend too much time polishing your reputation, your character will become tarnished.”
18. Often, we are the last people to know our own true reputation;
19. and that is why the only reputation that you need to be concerned about is your reputation with God.
20. The only reputation that really matters is your reputation in Heaven;
21. and, when your reputation is right with God,
22. He is the One who will give you favor with people.
23. Today’s message to the church of Sardis is a total message of rebuke.
24. The resurrected, ascended, reigning Christ looked at the believers in the church of Sardis, and Christ could not find anything good to praise them for.
25. All He saw was a church that was living on their own past reputation,
26. and they were doing nothing for the present.
27. Listen to the words of Jesus to the church in Sardis in Revelation, Chapter 3, verses 1 to 6.
28. 700 years before this message was sent to Sardis by Jesus, Sardis was one of the greatest cities of the world.
29. The wealth of Sardis was legendary;
30. but, then, for two centuries, it vanished from history under the Persian rule;
31. but, then, after those two centuries, Sardis surrendered again to Alexander the Great, who built it as a Greek city;
32. then, history repeated itself.
33. After the death of Alexander the Great,
34. Sardis was defeated once again;
35. and, then, finally, it was taken over by the Romans.
36. Why am I telling you all of this?
37. Because Jesus takes what has been characteristic of the culture of each city and, then, He warns the Christian in that city of the pitfall of adopting those cultural mores;
38. so, what was it in Sardis?
39. The people of Sardis had the reputation of being lazy.
40. The people of Sardis were known for relying on their reputation and wealth;
41. and they failed to protect and defend their city.
42. The people of Sardis preferred soft living and easy going and they became prey to foreign invaders;
43. and those cultural characteristics of laziness and easy life were adopted by the believers there;
44. so, the resurrected Christ saw that this cultural characteristic had crept into the life of the believers in Sardis;
45. and Jesus became deeply concerned.
46. There are three things, here in this message, that are spelled out by the Lord Jesus Christ.
47. First, Christ’s rebuke of them for their false reputation.
48. Second, Christ’s cure that will restore their faith;
49. and, thirdly, Christ’s acknowledgement of them in the final revelation;
50. so, here they are: rebuke, cure and acknowledgment.
51. First, Christ’s rebuke of them for their false reputation.
52. Jesus has the seven spirits and the seven stars.
53. What does that mean?
54. The number “seven” indicates completion, or perfection.
55. Jesus is letting us know that the Holy Spirit has a total and complete knowledge of every single individual believer;
56. and He has authority over every single church that belongs to Him;
57. and that is why He is exposing the spiritual bankruptcy of the believers in Sardis.
58. Jesus said, “You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead.”
59. Those believers acquired the reputation for being active in society.
60. Those believers acquired the reputation for being involved in their city.
61. People were coming from everywhere to study their organization;
62. but, in reality, Sardis was a spiritual graveyard.
63. My listening friend, outward appearances can be very deceptive.
64. Outward appearances can be very soothing;
65. but, remember this,
66. when the world speaks well of you, watch out.
67. When the world begins to praise you, watch out.
68. When the world begins to identify with you, watch out.
69. Your reputation with God, not with the world, is all that matters.
70. The world looks at the outside; but God, through the power of His perfect Holy Spirit, looks to the inside.
71. You have the reputation of being a spiritual giant, but Jesus knows the real you.
72. In fact, that is the one thing Jesus said that drove the Pharisees crazy.
73. Jesus consistently exposed the hypocrisy of the Pharisees;
74. and they did not like it any more than this generation of Pharisees likes it.
75. Christ admonished them regarding their false reputation.
76. Secondly, Christ’s cure to help them restore their faith.
77. What is this cure?
78. Jesus said, “Wake up.”
79. Probably, the best word picture that I can use to describe the Christians in Sardis, would be this:
80. imagine a smoldering fire.
81. Much of the fire has died down;
82. but, there, at the bottom, are some coals that are still burning.
83. This is what Jesus is saying to that small remnant that still has some spiritual spark left.
84. He is saying, “Wake up and ignite the rest of you.
85. Wake up and see with your spiritual eyes the dismal condition that you are in.
86. Wake up and go back to the truth of the Gospel.
87. Wake up and repent and weep and be sorrowful over the condition of the church.”
88. I want to tell you about a historical incident.
89. In 1904, the Holy Spirit’s fire began in Wales and, then, spread to the rest of the world.
90. During that awakening, shops were closed in the middle of the day for prayer.
91. Prayer meetings were jammed to the walls.
92. By December of 1904, newspapers were publishing the names of the new believers --
93. 70,000 in two months.
94. As a result of this outpouring of the Spirit of God,
95. people were healed.
96. Restitution became commonplace,
97. all because faithful believers began to pray for the spark of the Holy Spirit to ignite the church;
98. but revival will not happen until those who claim to love the Lord wake up and recognize that our world is in desperate spiritual condition.
99. Christ’s spiritual cure was to wake up.
100. Remember, repent, and receive the power of the Holy Spirit afresh;
101. so, first, we saw Christ’s warning regarding their false reputation.
102. Secondly, Christ’s cure to restore their faith;
103. and, now, we come to, thirdly, Christ’s promise to acknowledge them in the day of the final revelation.
104. For those who are faithful to Jesus,
105. Jesus gives them a two-fold promise.
106. First, they will be clothed with white robes.
107. White robes were symbols of festivities.
108. We know this from the parable of the wedding feast, that the wedding guests will have a robe handed to them by the groom.
109. White robes are also symbols of victory.
110. In Roman culture, after a major victory is won, they wore white robes and they called their cities “white cities;”
111. and white robes were also symbols of purity.
112. For those who keep themselves from being soiled by the stains of the sins of this world,
113. they will receive the white robes of the righteousness and purity of the Lord Jesus Christ.
114. Also, white robes stand for the resurrection.
115. Those white robes are not ours.
116. We did not and cannot earn them.
117. Those white robes are given to the faithful by Christ as a gift of grace.
118. The second part of the promise is this:
119. the believers’ names will not be wiped out of the Book of Life;
120. but, rather, they will be acknowledged by Jesus before His Father.
121. In the ancient world,
122. kings kept registry in their palaces.
123. In that registry, the names of all citizens were written.
124. Only two conditions could cause the name of a citizen to be removed from the registry:
125. first, if the citizen committed a crime against the state;
126. and, second, when that person dies.
127. In a far, far, far greater way, Jesus has a book in Heaven.
128. In that book, the names of all His faithful children are written.
129. They are written in the blood of the Lamb;
130. and the reason they are written in His blood is that no one can erase them;
131. and, on that day, I know I’m going to be standing there listening to my name;
132. and, when Jesus calls out my name,
133. when Jesus acknowledges me before His Father, just as He promised,
134. I’m going to shout, “I am here, Lord Jesus!
135. Thank You for saving me.
136. Thank You for keeping me.
137. Thank You for acknowledging me.
138. I have acknowledged You before men.
139. Now, You have kept Your promise and are acknowledging me before your Father.”
140. When the roll is called up yonder,
141. I’ll be there.
142. Will you be there?
143. You can decide today to be there.
144. If you want to pray with me this simple prayer, it can guarantee you being there.
145. “Lord Jesus Christ,
146. forgive me my sins.
147. Give me the courage to be who I am.
148. Receive me into Yourself,
149. and give me the gift of eternal life.
150. In Your name, Jesus, I pray,
152. Until next time, I wish you God’s richest blessing.