The church at Sardis, the 5th of the 7 churches of Revelation is:
- Insensitive to the Spirit
- Unresponsive to the Scriptures
- Unenthusiastic in service
- Uninterested in the preaching of the Word of God
- Inactive in worship
Sardis may have had a name, a reputation of being the place to be, but it was a name, like the city, based on past glory and memories of the 'good ole days' which may not have been that good after all. Sardis spiritually as a church seemed to have imbibed some of the flavour of the city of Sardis historically. Sardis living in the light of past glory, had been the capital of the Lydian Empire, ruled by Croesus, a king of legendary wealth. In the days of Croesus the Lydians of Sardis had worked out how to purify gold and separate it from silver, to a very high standard. Sardis of a by gone day was renowned for minting the highest standards of pure gold coins.
Re-echoeing the themes of the church of Sardis in Revelation chapter 3, the secular historian Herodotus describes the fall of the city to Cyrus the Great in the 6th Century BC. Like the church the city had been caught out sleeping! Caught off guard and failing to be 'watchful' the apparently impregnable Sardis fell. One of Cyrus's troops whilst watching the ramparts of Sardis saw a Lydian soldier lose his helmet over the wall, climb down to the helmet and retrieve it.
The Lydian soldier realised if he could find a way up to that point there was a path thereafter. This provided Cyrus and his forces with the break through they needed, That night Sardis fell, unwatched, and unguarded. A parable indeed of the church of Revelation chapter 3.
Living in the glory of the past did Sardis no favours. Such a practice tends to render us disengaged from being like David and "serving our generation."
The path to recovery for Sardis lay not only in WHAT they knew but in returning to HOW they discovered the fresh fires of revival "remember therefore how thou hast received" (Rev 3:3). That HOW was by the experiential ministry of the 7 fold Spirit of God (Rev 3:1; Isaiah 11:1-2). God's Spirit brings the Divine into personal experience. He is the Spirit of:
Intercession (Rom 8:26ff)
Revelation (John 16:15)
Communication (1 Peter 4:11)
Education (1 Jo 2:27)
Consolation (john 14:16)
Transformation (2 Co3:18)
Direction (Rom 8:1)
Without His ministry, Christian life becomes, dead dry and unresponsive.
It was by the work of the Spirit of God that the revival fires of the days of reformation were fanned. It is to the days of reformation that Sardis would particularly relate in the panorama of Church history. After the days of compromise under Constantine in the period of church history typified by Pergamus, following the orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism of Thyatira, truth was in part recovered in the days of Sardis as the Spirit of God once again was depended upon to reveal the truth of the Word of God to the people of God. This was "how they had received and heard" (3:3); to this they must return.
Grace in Christ
J Stewart Gillespie