Revelation, written nearly 2000 years ago, rings true with resounding clarity for us today. In Revelation 3:1b, Jesus speaks to the spiritually dead church in Sardis: “I know your works, that you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead.” They are physically alive but spiritually dead.
What might Jesus say to Sardis today…to your church today? “You have a name…you have an ad on Facebook, but you’re dead. You have a sign in front of your building, but you’re dead. You may even have a large audience, but you’re telling people what they want to hear; not what they need to hear…you’re dead. You barely have a pulse—you need to be revived.”
Why is Jesus so hard on this church? Jude 1:23 (NLT) reveals one answer, “Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives.” Like Jesus, we are to speak the truth in order to help. The gospel pierces before it mends; it condemns before it releases.
Revelation continues, “Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain but are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfected before God” (Rev. 3:2, MEV). What does this mean for us today? To be watchful, cautious, and prudent in regard to important spiritual matters—to consider well our spiritual health and strengthen what remains. In short, lift your spiritual muscles—retrain, revive and renew them.
How do you resurrect dead faith? How do you revive a dead prayer life? How do you regain passion for worship? First, determine if you are simply going through the motions as illustrated in this poem: “I would like to buy three pounds of God, please. Not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep, but just enough to equal a cup of warm milk, or a snooze in the sunshine…I want ecstasy, not transformation. I want the warmth of the womb, not a new birth. I want a pound of the eternal in a paper sack. I would like to buy three pounds of God, please” (Wilbur Reese).
Once apathy is identified, strengthen what remains: “You shall seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jer. 29:13). We must first discipline ourselves before desire comes. We must first empty ourselves in order to be filled. We must first obey before receiving the blessing. We must first break before there is restoration. We must first pray before there is transformation. We must praise Him before there is peace. And we must first seek Him if we are to truly find Him. It all begins with a choice … a choice to strengthen what remains.
A dead church disdains the heat of conviction; thus, it remains dead. It knows nothing of holiness, surrender and the Spirit-filled life. It has a form of godliness, but denies God by its lifestyle (see 2 Tim. 3:5). Charles Spurgeon rightly noted, “There will be three effects of nearness to Jesus—humility, happiness and holiness.”
The fire of God, the manifest presence of God, does not fall on an empty altar: “I urge you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship” (Rom. 12:1). Genuine faith is reflected in sincere humility, selfless love, true repentance and a surrendered life. Does your life reflect these characteristics? Are you truly seeking God? It’s not too late. Jesus adds in Revelation 3:3a, “Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent.”
Why don’t many truly seek God? First, it may be that one is not genuinely saved. They have religion, but not a true relationship with the living God. Turn to Him today. His words are sobering, “Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you” (Rev. 3:3).
We must wake up from spiritual death: “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Rev. 3:6). We should never turn from what we know to be right. Jesus encouraged His followers to be watchful, prepared and ready for His return. Are we watchful? Are we prepared? Are we ready? (Read Matt. 24:45-51; Luke 21:34.)
We all sin and fall short, but the important question to ask is what is the condition of your heart—have you truly repented and believed in Christ as your Lord and Savior, or are you trusting in false assurance?
Some years ago, there came to Los Angeles, a so-called human fly. It was announced that on a given day he would climb up the face of one of the large department store buildings, and long before the appointed time, thousands of eager spectators were gathered to see him perform the seemingly impossible feat.
Slowly and carefully he went up clinging to a window ledge, and then a brick, and then another. Up and up he went, against apparently insurmountable difficulties. At last he was nearing the top. He was seen to feel to right and left and above his head for something firm enough to support his weight, to carry him further.
And soon he seemed to spy what looked like a grey bit of stone or discolored brick protruding from the smooth wall. He reached for it, but it was just beyond him. He gambled all on a spring-like movement, and before the horrified eyes of the spectators, fell to the ground and was broken to pieces.
In his dead hand was found a spider’s web! What he evidently mistook for solid stone, or brick, turned out to be nothing but froth (author unknown).