In this sermon, Pastor Babij preaches on Jesus’ message to the church at Sardis in the book of Revelation. Jesus gives no commendation to Sardis but roundly condemns the church for its complacency, its comfort with pagan culture, and its deadness despite outward appearances. Pastor Babij explains Jesus’ challenge to the church to wake up, repent, and stay alert to do battle with the enemy. Pastor Babij applies Jesus’ teaching by admonishing Christians today to fight complacency, live life before the eye of God, and listen for His word.
Let’s take our Bibles and turn to Revelation chapter 3. We’ve been looking at the Lord’s evaluation of the church as He walks among the middle of the churches. And He tells them what is right and what is wrong. We should also take heed to these messages because these churches represent all the churches of all ages. These things can be going on in all churches at all different times in history. So the things that are pleasing to the Lord we should continue to do. The things that are not pleasing to the Lord we should stop doing and repent of them.
we are going to be looking at today the church of Sardis in chapter 3 verses 1 through 6 of Revelation. Let’s pray. Lord this morning, as we look at the word of God again, teach us what it says. So Lord, we can evaluate ourselves, individually and as a body. I pray Lord that if there’s any indication at all that we are in that position or heading in that direction, please Lord grant us the repentance needed to turn from that way and go Your way. And I pray Lord as we do that, we would receive the promises and the blessings that come with these evaluations that You give. And I pray Lord that we would be faithful. We would be the overcomers that will be faithful to the end, no matter what happens. Enable us to be faithful to You in all things. And I pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.
So we have Jesus Christ walking among the churches. Remember, the lampstand represents a church. Here is revelation from God concerning the church. And He says that the church is like a lampstand. And what does a lampstand do best? A lampstand holds light. It holds light up and it holds it so people can see where they’re going. And so the church is to hold up the light and share the light in a geographical area any church is found. So the great mission of the church is to share the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ, because Jesus is the light of the world. You are going to see Jesus evaluate the churches. If you don’t bear the light, then He’ll come and take the lampstand away.
Jesus gives a message to each church. The first was a warning to the Ephesian church of their declining love, a church of loveless orthodoxy. Secondly, He warned the church at Pergamum, allowing truth to slip by tolerating bad doctrine influenced by their culture. It was a church of indiscriminate tolerance. The third warning was the church of Thyatira who was compromising with sin within the church. Thyatira was a church that became corrupt from within. It was a sickness in the church that could only be cured by true repentance, by really identifying the sin that was in that church and then forsaking that sin and then putting on righteousness. And in that case they were putting on purity because they were hedging against the temptation and the practice of immorality by false teachers.
This Lord’s day we’re going to look at it and examine the fourth warning of our Lord Jesus in His church. This warning is spiritual complacency. That is becoming apathetic or indifferent to spiritual things. Have you ever been there? Complacent to the things of God. Complacent to the Word of God. Complacent to the church and the fellowship of believers. Complacent to prayer. Complacent to hearing preaching. Jesus is the sovereign head of His church and He walks among his people and is present in their midst to examine their spiritual condition, to see how they’re doing.
As we take a look at Sardis. This church, it’s located about 30 miles southeast of Thyatira. According to some historians, it was a place where they also were dyeing wool and it was discovered that the economy of the city was very good, which produced a lot of wealth. It also traded actively with other parts of the known region around them, known for their woolen goods, for their jewelry, for their colored fabrics, and for their colored clothing. The city was geographically situated in a strategic place, able to defend itself quite well. As far as its worship, its inhabitants practice the licentious worship of Cybele. The dominant religion appears to be the worship of the forces of nature. The reason why some historians believe that is because there was an inscription found in the temple that was built after the great earthquake of AD 17 where they began to worship the forces of nature.
According to one source, Ramsay call this place the city of death because it was a city of softness and luxury, of apathy and immorality. The church had made its peace with society, becoming comfortable. There’s no enemies mentioned in this book from within or without, but I say this – the enemy of comfort and complacency are enemies also. Matter of fact, they may be greater enemies than someone who actually is attacking us.
So it’s going to follow the same pattern. We first get the character of Jesus. Look at Revelation 3:1. It says:
To the angel of the church in Sardis write: He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars, says this:
Now this is the character of Jesus. The church was facing a thorough examination by the Lord Jesus Christ. In this case, the church was toying with sin, experiencing great amount of wealth and success in their lives and in their culture and in their city. As a result, the clear lines of what pleased God and what did not please Him were very blurred. Yet, the Lord sees clearly, where it says He has seven spirits. Now, this is referring to the Holy Spirit that is given to His church with His various powers and gracious and operations that He does bestow upon the church. Even though the effect of the workings of the Holy Spirit are varied from church to church, there is a dispensation and a measure of the Spirit given to every minister and every church body so that they carry out the work of the Lord.
So if the Holy Spirit is grieved as mentioned in Ephesians. From Ephesian’s view, we can grieve the Holy Spirit by falsehood, by corrupt talk, by anger, by an unforgiving spirit. Also, the Holy Spirit can be quenched as in 1 Thessalonians chapter 5, by prayerlessness, by not rejoicing, by not being thankful, by not being discerning, and a whole bunch of other things listed there. So if the Holy Spirit is grieved or quenched in particular body believers, they will find themselves languishing in ministry. They will find themselves becoming complacent and comfortable where they’re at. And therefore when that happens, they don’t desire spiritual growth anymore. They don’t desire more knowledge of the Word of God, or a further and deeper relationship with Jesus Christ. They kind of gets stuck in the mud. So we are to be reminded that Christ has the seven Spirits. The Spirit without measure and in perfection, to whom they may apply themselves for the reviving of His work among the churches.
He also has in this verse the seven stars. It is also true that Jesus Christ, as the seven ministers of His churches in his hand, and they are therefore accountable to their Lord Jesus Christ, which should make them faithful and zealous. His ministers are given the message and the gifts. They are to use them for the good and for the edification of the church and for the influencing of the culture by the preaching of the gospel.
Again, the Lord is about to evaluate their spiritual condition. Unlike the other three churches, this has no commendations. No commendations. Now brethren, when somebody doesn’t have any good to say about you, that’s a problem. If the Lord doesn’t have any good to say about you, that’s really a problem. This church there’s no commendation at all. There’s none. It says in verse 1:
“To the angel of the church in Sardis write: He has a seven Spirits of God and the seven stars, says this: ‘I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive,
Now let me just stop there for a minute. Jesus the evaluator and judge doesn’t commend this church for anything. I am sure that is not a good sign when the Lord of the church has nothing good to say, not one encouraging word. In the Lord’s skillful eye, He can’t even find the smallest grain of a good word for this church. Be sure there is trouble. The church does not seem to be plagued by false teaching or under some kind of persecution or religious opposition. There are no outside threats to this church. Everything appears to be normal. And may I say this: this kind of situation is deadly to spiritual progression. It is the kind of situation which lulls people to sleep spiritually. It deadens their spiritual faculties. And yet you can still go through the motions and do everything you know you should do as a believer, and yet you’re dying. In fact, maybe this is the kind of atmosphere that the Christian church has been operating in for many years. It is like a church who succumbs to the dictates of a postmodern and materialistic and soft society, a church that depends less and less on the Lord.
Well, what’s the condemnation that the Lord gives, if there’s no commendation? He says this in chapter 3 verse 1:
I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.
We’re talking about the church here. Jesus is saying to them: you are dead. So the impression of the church though, for those looking on, is that they are alive. Look at what it says: you have a name that you are alive. The church has a name of being alive. Now what does that mean? From a human standpoint, this church probably had a good reputation in the community. It was alive. It was active. It probably was a large church, a wealthy congregation with many programs and many activities. They probably had some good building and grounds. They had most likely good music. They could even have people there that were famous maybe for publications they put out. The atmosphere of the church was one of a draw to the culture. They looked good on the outside. This is the kind of church anyone was looking for, because they probably could find any help they could possibly need there. And they probably would end up attending it, and that would become their church home, because from the outside it look like this is the place to be. There may have been exciting times there. There may have been a lot of people there, a lot going on. Classes for everybody. And you would say: man, that’s the kind of church I want to go to. Because if it’s big, it must be right. If all these activities are going on, then they must know what they’re doing. Well see, the problem is that when the culture dictates how church runs, it can run like a business. You can have everything that everybody wants and needs in that church from the outside, but I want you to notice in verse one what Jesus says:
I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.
That’s Jesus’ evaluation. That’s the reality of the church. That’s how He sees it. So brethren, there is a great paradox here because what seemed real from the vantage point of a human evaluation was not the spiritual reality. According to the great physician Jesus Christ, His diagnosis was you are a spiritual corpse. You are dead. You are lifeless. You are useless. You are ineffective. I have nothing good to say about you.
So you see, the real spiritual condition and effectiveness of each of these churches is known by Jesus. The condition of a church is not always known by judging outward appearances or performances. In fact, you’re going to find out that one of the churches that had no condemnation against them were churches under persecution. Those were churches that were being dogged by the devil, and were small in number. But they knew how to worship God. They knew what not to give up. They knew what not to influence them. They knew that. We need to be reminded that Jesus sees what is going on in the core of your heart, in the core of the congregation. He sees what’s going on.
And we need to be reminded that Jesus is concerned with the inner character of a person. He is concerned with the inner character of a church and the driving motives for everything that goes on in a particular church. And it should be: does God approve of this? Does this come from the Bible, from the Word of God? See, a church does not exist to gain the approval from the present culture or the most popular evangelical trend going on. That we should introduce all that stuff because this is the modern things we need to keep up-to-date. No, we cannot go there. I already said that Luke 6:26 it says:
Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for their fathers used to treat the false prophets in the same way.
The question we must ask is: does what we are doing or attempting to do meet with God’s approval based on the Word of God? See, this is how God evaluates their deeds. In verse 2, He says this:
for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God.
You notice – the sight of God. God is looking. He’s watching. He sees just the way it ought to be seen. So Christ knew their deeds that came from their heart and they were not fooled. They were not bringing about or accomplishing Scripture. It’s an interesting way that one could actually interpret this passage of Scripture – for I have not found your deeds bringing about Scripture in the sight of God. I have not found your deeds bring about what God has said in the sight of God. The deeds of this church were not fulfilling God’s purposes and not measuring up to God’s standards, not in line with God’s Word.
All you have to do set the Bible aside for just a little while. It really doesn’t take very long for corruption to come in. All that we have to do is get distracted from some good thing that someone introduces, and just kind of like take a break from the Word of God. You going to find out it happens that quick. See, that’s where we don’t want to go. Possibly several things could have gone wrong. They could have stopped hearing, no longer receiving the Word of God, no longer hearing preaching of the whole counsel of God. Maybe they were quite selective on what they spoke about. Let’s speak about the candy stick passages, the ones that are going to make you feel good, and not the stuff about the wrath of God and the character and the anger of God, and the doctrine of hell. We can’t talk about hell. Oh, that’s not good. Or maybe they were no longer doing things with a heart that love God and love people because they were loving their stuff. Maybe they no longer had a desire to go make disciples and teach them to be obedient to God’s Word.
When spiritual apathy and indifference begins to take root in the church, it starts to act like a spiritual cancer eating away at the inside. The church loses its ability to fight against pagan influence and worldly viewpoints. Like being confused about sexuality. Or women that should be elders. Or a marriage is really just between a man and a woman. Or the true church loses its ability to hold firmly to the Word of God. Well, the Word of God – it’s just one of many books. It’s just like any other writings that was written by men. Yeah, we think we like the Bible. We’ll keep it. But it’s never opened up. It’s never expounded. It’s never preached as the Word of God was given. So the church’s fight to win the world for Jesus fades away. And the church loses its zeal and passion to serve the Lord from the heart.
And the key in our passage right here is really where it says: the Lord sees. He sees. In verse number two: in the sight of My God. He is looking earth’s scene and He sees your heart. He sees your deeds. How are you doing anyway? When God is looking on, how are you doing? Christian people may go to church and be involved with many activities. That’s good. We ought to be involved. But if it is not done before God and to live worthy in his sight that come from our heart, then the smell of death is already beginning to pollute the air.
Thankfully. The church may recover from this condition because the Lord has given the prescription for rekindled life. Someone has said the church needs fresh oil, the fresh oil of the Holy Spirit. You need an oil change, in other words. They may recover because the Lord has given the prescription to rekindle life that may very well be the description of the church. This is the description of the church right before the Lord actually comes.
So what counsel does the Lord give the church? In good counseling sessions there got to be a few steps, right? There’s four steps. Here’s the first step. The first step is simply this in verse two of chapter 3: WAKE UP. That’s not bad counseling. That’s not bad counseling. Wake up. Keep awake. Watch. Be alert. Be alive. Be roused from sleep and watchful and alert once again. There are several other passages Scriptures in the Word of God that talk like this, because the church has to be admonished from time to time. Listening, you’re getting a little sleepy spiritually. You’re not interested in the things of God like you used to be interested in them. Keep your hands right there. Turn back to 1 Thessalonians 5:6-8. Now 1 Thessalonians has a large amount of teaching on the end times, maybe more than any other book beside Revelation. Look at what it says there in 1 Thessalonians 5:6-8:
so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober. For those who sleep do their sleeping at night, and those who get drunk get drunk at night. But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation.
Now again, he refers to that battle-ready mindset. He uses stuff like a breastplate of faith, coming from Ephesians, and the helmet of the hope of salvation. These people are battle ready. That’s why they’re not falling asleep. They realize that any moment they can’t really take their armor off. They can get into a battle that will take them down a road which would make them sleepy. It’s just like when a century is given a guard post and it’s out there in nowhere land. He kind of says: well nothing’s really happening here, so I think I’ll just kind of like take a little nap. And then all sudden all the bullets start flying and you don’t know where they’re coming from. And maybe he can get wounded or killed and get other people killed. Why? Because he wasn’t awake. He wasn’t diligent to stay awake and realize that: I’m a soldier here, and because I’m a soldier that we can get drawn into battle at any time at any point. In fact, here sleep from the Greek word is used in a figurative way to mean to be indifferent, to be careless to spiritual realities.
How are Christians to prepare? Well, let us not go on sleeping. Let us watch instead. Let us keep awake. And it says there in 1 Thessalonians 5:6:
so let us not sleep as others do,
So these are the ignoble multitudes on earth that are in a profoundly deep sleep. How can we take cues from the world when they’re asleep and dead? We cannot. They don’t know anything of the joys to come and are obviously oblivious to the evils that are happening all around them. They do not know the knowledge of God nor do they fear God, but are blindfolded by the ignorance of the world. They also do not realize that they are standing on the brink of hell and the anger of God burns against them because of their sin. They’re asleep, indifferent, unconscious, and spiritually dead.
A similar passage of Scripture says this in Romans chapter 13. It says:
Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regards to its lusts.
So all over the Scripture in the New Testament and the Old testament, you find out that God’s people are to remain awake spiritually. So do you see what a contradiction it is to be asleep like this and at the same time call yourself a Christian? See if these are asleep, they can’t be alert. It’s just one of the other. Either you’re alert or you’re asleep. See, never alert against sin and the temptations of the enemy. Never alert against themselves in the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. Never alert for the opportunity to do good. Never alert for opportunities to instruct the ignorant, to uphold the week, to comfort the afflicted, to come to the aid of those in need. Never alert for opportunities to glorify Jesus for times of communion and for times to be alert to His promises and for times to be alert for answered prayers once offered. They never watch for the second coming of Christ. They don’t expect Christ to come now. There are many who are never alert to the spiritual realities of this life and the life to come. They are not alert because they are asleep.
I think also they have forgotten to live each and every moment before the watchful eye of God. Doesn’t matter who’s looking on – God’s looking on. For kids, it doesn’t matter if mom’s looking on, dad’s looking on – God’s looking on. Husband and wife, doesn’t matter who’s looking on – God is looking on. To live everyday, getting up every day and know that God sees it all, can’t hide a thing, that will keep you awake. That’ll keep you awake.
So in other words, the admonition for the first step is: let’s be alert so that we prove that we are not asleep. You see, we believers are not part of the sleeping masses of those outside the faith. We are the ones who should be the most awake in the world. Because we know the most. We have been given the most. We see the most. We see beyond all the stupid politics that go on. It’s ridiculous what’s going on. You can’t live there. CNN and all the other networks are ridiculous. They don’t have the truth. They’re just in darkness. They are just playing this chess game and they’re going to lose. Christians, we have to see beyond all that stuff.
A second step in in our passage, back to Revelation 3:2, it says this:
strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die.
In other words, make stable the rest of those not actually dead but are in grave danger of dying. Lest God send the spiritual earthquake to them and wake them up. The second step is reinforcements. We have to reinforce those who are faithful, those who are awake, and keep them awake. So the church is keeping each other awake. And we’re reinforcing each other and making sure that takes place.
A third step in verse three is this:
So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it,
Now, what have we received and heard that we did not have before or we did not hear before? Well, what is it? It’s the Word of God, right? In other words, get back to the Bible and receive and hear the Word of God again. Get back to taking seriously what God thinks. Run everything through the grid of Scripture and obey it and practice it and hold on to it= as if it’s your precious treasure. Because it is. The Word of God is a treasure. Never let it go. It is not just acquiring scriptural knowledge I’m talking about. It’s much more than that. It is becoming fully convinced of the truth in your heart in the depth of your soul. It is to hold that Scripture is a reliable standard for all of faith in all of practice in all of life. In other words, the Word of God is sufficient.
And when you believe something, you act upon it. If you believe in a certain diet to lose weight, you will read about it won’t you? You’ll study about it. You will ask people who have actually implemented the diet and ask for their advice and experience, but you’ll not be satisfied just with that. You want to try it yourself. See, you will not be satisfied with just the knowledge. You will want to practice it. You’ll want to see if it works on you. Now if I say when you firmly believe something, you will definitely act upon it. You will remain in it. You will talk about it. You will pass it on. And if you are fully convinced of the truth in your heart and in the depth of your soul, you will hold fast to it and you will not let it go. You know we cannot set aside Scripture for novel philosophies or for scientific theories or for experimental behavior and counseling techniques or for political correctness, and any other fads that may come in to be present to us at any one time. Neither can we supplement biblical teaching with entertainment and ideas from secular sources. All such things stem from a loss of confidence in the sufficiency of Scripture. And those who aren’t convinced the Bible is sufficient revelation of truth will continually look elsewhere for more revelation and new mystical experiences. That’s what they’ll do. These just deaden people who crave junk food. And it leads to spiritual complacency.
Step number four: here it is again – and repent. Wow, repentance demands change. Put off your soiled garments and put on clean garments. Repentance means a change of lifestyle, change of conduct, because attitudes and habits must be biblical. How does repentance look here? Well, it looks like this: being awake and staying spiritually awake. But if the church does not wake up and accomplish these things, then the Lord will take drastic measures. If you look at verse 3, it says this in the middle of the verse after He says keep it and repent:
therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I come to you.
See the passage of Scripture is saying to us – it’s really about the second coming. It’s really about living as if Christ is going to come at any moment at any day at any month at any year. I don’t know when He’s coming but He says He is. So I have to live like that. In fact, this is very similar to the parable in Scripture of the ten virgins. That parable is really about being ready, which is to be ready is really to be wise. To be unready is to be foolish. What do you want to be? You want to be wise or do you want to be foolish? Now just take your Bibles for a moment and turn to Matthew chapter 25 where that parable is found. I want to highlight something for you. I want you to notice what goes on here because this seems to be the attitude when people are spiritually complacent. It says in Matthew 25:1-13:
Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were prudent. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps. Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep. But at midnight there was a shout, ‘behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the prudent, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the prudent answered, ‘No, there will not be enough for us and you too; go instead to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut. Later the other virgins also came, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open up for us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly I say to you, I do not know you.’ Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour.
In other words – just stay ready. Don’t get complacent. The admonition is be ready, be watchful, be laboring. The scriptural admonition for us Christians is to be forever watchful. I prayed that this teaching from the Word of God will make you watchful, will make you ready to meet the Lord at any time. And while you are waiting to meet Him, you will be laboring diligently on His behalf until He comes.
So that is the counsel that the Lord gives them. He gives them the counsel in those steps. He says: first of all revive. Secondly reinforce. Thirdly remember. Fourthly repent.
And then what does He tell those who did not get complacent? Well, He has a challenge for them. And if you notice back in Revelation 3:4-6, here’s the challenge. Now Christ gives specific notice and assurance to a small faithful group that stayed morally pure, who kept a hold on God’s Word and did not fall asleep or become indifferent of spiritual truth. And how many were they there? Well they were just a few people. Look at what it says in verse 4:
But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy.
Believe me, this is very encouraging. That means when everybody drops off and you had this line of people following you. And then you look back and there’s no longer a multitude. There’s just a few. What are you going to do then? Do you just throw your hands up in the air? I didn’t really believe it anyway. Or you just going to keep going forward and just be part of the few. Are you willing to be part of the few? Not the multitudes, not the great crowds. Look what happened in John chapter 6 when the great crowds were following Jesus, right? Because He was feeding them and He was performing miracles. And then all the sudden He preach the gospel straight and they all left. Except twelve guys. And Jesus said to the twelve guys: are you going to leave too? And this is what they said to him: Lord, how can we leave? You have the words of eternal life. See that’s where you have to be. That’s why conviction of the Word of God is so important. That I’m willing to stand alone if it takes that, because I know God is true. I know His Word is true. And I know everything He says He will complete. I know that, even if I’m alone.
So the Lord gives three promises. I want you to see them. In verse 4 and verse 5, the first promise points to the genuineness of those who hold fast and remain awake and ready for the Lord’s return. Look what it says in verse 4 in the middle of the verse:
they will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments.
Now, what is this thing about white garments? See, the white of these garments symbolize the purity that comes when one has been washed in Christ’s blood. Only those who have allowed Christ to cleanse them from their sins will be clothed in white. See, the Lord will give you clothing that will show that you’re genuine. You find in Scripture that people wearing white clothing all the time. That white clothing represents being purified by God in the receiving of the gospel of Jesus Christ, where your sins are washed away and all you’re left with is purity. You’re left with the righteousness of Christ. He says that’s the first promise. I’m going to give you clothing that represents you’re a genuine follower of Christ.
Secondly in verse 5, the second promise points to the security of those who hold fast and remain awake and ready for the Lord’s return. Verse verse 5 of chapter 3 in the middle of the verse:
and I will not erase his name from the book of life,
Wow. God’s divine register, the book of life, refers to the heavenly registry of those who have received salvation in Christ. Now, either you’re on that registry or you are not. You got that, right? In fact, that registry will give you entry into the kingdom of God. This booked actually symbolizes God’s knowledge of those who belong to Him. Cities used to have registries, and only those whose names were recorded were considered citizens and allowed permanent indwelling there. Now remember, this church had a name that they were alive, but they were dead. Jesus is going to make sure that your name, because you are alive, is in the book of life.
Now some have suggested in Christ’s statement here that He will never erase certain names, which opens the possibility that He might erase some names. It may imply that people lose their salvation. That is not the case here. In other words, can a name be written in the book and then later erased? That would be shaky to base one’s theology of salvation in that symbol. So it’s best to take Christ’s statement at face value, in the context in which He means this: those who remain faithful to Him are promised future honor and eternal life. They are guaranteed citizens in heaven, and God knows who they are. In this case, it’s the few people that didn’t give up. And it’s those who possibly repented.
Now, in the book of Revelation, there are two books when we get to Revelation chapter 22. There’s the book of man’s works or deeds in which people are going to be judged according to the records that God has about their life. The great white throne judgment is about unbelievers who now are resurrected and brought before God. God opens up His books. He has accurate records about people’s lives, and He judges them because God’s a fair judge. Somebody could live an ultra wicked life on this earth and somebody can live what we would call a decent life on this earth, but they’re both sinners. They both didn’t trust Christ. One’s going to get a worse penalty than the other one because of God’s books. His books of their deeds were opened. How they lived their life were opened. Now the great white throne judgment is not for believers. It’s for unbelievers. The Bema Seat judgment is for believers. Believers are also judged for their works after conversion. See, being complacent is not a good place to be if God is going to judge us by our works.
But there is another book which I want you to look at in Revelation 20:12. This is the book of life. In chapter 20 verse 12 it says:
and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life.
A record of the names are in that book, not the deeds. The book of life only comes into the discussion only to show that the names of these dead are not written there. Now just keep there for a minute. We are going to look at a couple of other passages in Revelation. But back to Revelation 3:5. Just listen to what it says:
He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life,
And that’s a promise that the Lord gives, that your name is indelibly printed there. It cannot be washed out. It cannot be removed. It cannot be erased. So that means that genuine citizens of the kingdom of God who wear white robes have their names in the permanent registry. So they don’t have to come before this judgment in Revelation. They don’t have to come there because it’s already been taken care of. Now. If you look right there back to Revelation 13:8.
So the first thing would be this: this book contains the names of all who have true spiritual life. Secondly, in Revelation 13:8 – it is a book that uniquely belongs to the lamb of God and is related to His death. Notice what it says in Revelation 13:8:
All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain.
Now when you look at a passage of Scripture like that, you have to ask this question: it says all who dwell on the earth will worship him – worship who? Well if you go up and if you notice Revelation 13:4, it says:
they worshiped the dragon because he gave his authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who is able to wage war with him?” There was given to him a mouth speaking arrogant words and blasphemies, and authority to act for 42 months was given to him. And he opened his mouth in blasphemies against God, to blaspheme His name and His tabernacle, that is, those who dwell in heaven. It was also given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them, and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him. All who dwell on the earth will worship him,
The beast, the antichrist. The one who is energized by Satan and notice what it says there:
whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain.
In other words, there are going to be some there whose names are not in the book because they did not worship the true and living God. It is a book that uniquely belongs to the Lamb of God and is related to His death. It contains the names of all who have true spiritual life. And then thirdly, your name must be written in this book in order for you to enter the heavenly city. Look at Revelation 21:27:
and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
So the question would be: is your name there? Young people – is your name there yet? Why not? We’re living in light of Christ’s return. The message of the gospel should lay heavy upon your heart, to know that if my name is not in this registry, I am not getting in. I will not receive a white robe that shows that I have the purity that comes because of my relationship and my belief in Christ Jesus and His righteousness upon my account. I can not get in. Nothing can get into the kingdom of God because sin is locked out forever. The curse is locked out forever. There is nothing but the purity of God, where righteousness dwells in Christ’s kingdom. And nothing will be able to get in.
As in the ancient world, it is built on the role of citizens in the city or nation, those written in it are citizens of heaven and God’s special people. Remember what Jesus said to His disciples when they went out and they were casting out demons and they were preaching the Word of God and people were getting saved and all kinds of great things were happening. What did Jesus tell the disciples when they came back and they were kind of awed by what just took place? This what Jesus said to them in Luke 10:20:
Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven.
See that’s where we need to rejoice. But you’ve got to make sure your name is there. If somebody is complacent, they may not even know if they’re a believer. And if they don’t ever repent of their complacency, I guarantee they’re not one. See, believers are awake. They’re aware. They’re attuned to God. They hunger for righteousness. They want to deal with their sin. They want to lift up the name of Christ and worship Him. That’s what drives them. That’s what wakes us up in the morning everyday and gets us going. That’s what a believe is. God puts all that stuff in our heart.
Sins forgiven. Your name written down in heaven. A possessor of eternal life. A partaker of the divine nature. Born of God. Passed out of condemnation into everlasting life. How blessed it is to be saved and to know it! To know your name’s there, to be delivered from the wrath of God and know it. So if you are in Christ, then your name will remain indelibly recorded in God’s book, in God’s registry forever. Amen? I don’t know about you, but that just gets my blood going. This reaches down to your gizzard and it squeezes. That’s theology. That’s what theology does. It excites us. It shows us the real deal. This is the truth. This is what a real believer wants in their heart. You’re not perfect. We fall. We stumble. We sin, but we don’t want to remain there. We want to get up. We want to repent. We want to serve the Lord.
But I didn’t give you the last promise. Revelation 3:5, the third promise points to the acceptance before God of those who hold fast and remain awake and ready for the Lord’s return. Look at what it says in the end the verse 5:
and I will confess his name before My father and before His angels.
Brethren, Christ will announce to the host of heaven that these belong to me. Father, these are the ones You gave me before the foundation of the world. These are the ones, when the gospel, was preached believed in Me. Lord, these are mine. And because they are mine, I want to confess his name before My father and before His obedient angels. Unfallen angels are probably the most obedient creatures in the universe. They minister before the throne of God and do God’s bidding. It says in Hebrews that the angels look on at the church. I wonder if they get discouraged too once in a while. See what’s going on.
So believers can have no greater reward than to stand in heaven with Christ and have Him announce your name. Man, if you can’t hold on to that promise, I don’t know. I can’t help you. But if you can, then this is how it ends in verse 6:
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
And who are those who have ears to hear? God’s faithful ones, that few group of people that listened to God’s voice. That means that all the other voices vying for their attention are muted, and the voice of God becomes loud where I don’t even hear the rest of it. So that’s where you want to live. So you live before the eyes of God and you have your ears opened to the Word of God. Then of course your will is changed because of what you’re hearing, so you put the Word of God in the practice.
So be warned this morning of spiritual complacency, of just going through the motions and not really having a heart for what you’re doing. Of really not living before the eyes of God, just living before the desires of your own heart, whatever you want. Be warned of spiritual deadness and be revived by following the Lord’s prescription. Today you may need to repent. Today you may need to come and trust Christ as your Lord and Savior, because you realize my name is not there in that registry and you’re not guaranteed tomorrow. So today may be the day of salvation for you. If you needs to talk to me about that, I am willing to share with you, and so is anybody went to the evangelism table and anybody else who’s willing to share with you. If you don’t know Christ, today’s the day you need to trust Christ.
Let’s pray. Lord, thank you this morning for the Word of God. Lord, it twists us, challenges us, convicts us. And yet Lord, it heals us. It establishes us. It affirms our foundation. It affirms the promises of God for us, to know who we are and where we’re going, and to know Your plan of coming back again. And until then, we are to serve You. I pray Lord, make us faithful in these things. Lord, keep us from this attitude of complacency that You say just bring someone into a dead state. So Lord, if we need this morning to examine ourselves and repent, let’s take the Word of God and do that. To those who don’t know You today, I pray You would bring them to a place where they trust You as the Lord and Savior and not put it off one second.
And I pray, Lord, for those who are the faithful few. I pray Lord the promises You have in this text, They just hold on to it. That You would encourage them everyday by it, knowing that their genuineness is seen their white robes because they’re washed with the blood of Christ. Their names are written in the registry of God, so they are citizens of heaven. And Lord, that You’re going to acknowledge them before the Father and His angels in heaven someday because they are Your children. And they are Your possession. And You love them and they love You. I pray this Lord for us today that You would encourage us today and everyday with the truth of Scripture. And I pray in Christ’s name. Amen.