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Repentance From Dead Works (23)


We will begin todays broadcast by reading the scripture text from our last broadcast: Revelation 3:1-6; And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee. Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy. He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

Six observations were made about the Lord Jesus assessment of the church in Sardis, from this scripture text in our last broadcast, as follows:
1. The church in Sardis had a name or reputation for being a living church, but in reality, it was a dead church.
2. The majority of the members of the church in Sardis were lethargic and spiritually insensitive; that is, they were in a sleep of death; for there were things that were about to die in their midst, and they were not even aware of it.
3. Not one of the works done in and by the church in Sardis was found to have met Gods standard of good works.
4. The church in Sardis had abandoned the word of God, and so, was called to repent, and return to the hearing and doing the word of God.
5. There were a few in the church in Sardis, however, who had not defiled their garments of righteousness, and to whom the Lord gave assurance that they will walk with Him in white.
6. The Lord also gave assurance to those in the church of Sardis who were living hypocritical lives, who were lethargic, and who were living contrary to God, that if they would repent and return to God, they also shall be clothed with white garments, their names will not be blotted out of the book of life, and the Lord Himself will proclaim their names before His Father, and the angels!

In our last broadcast, we focused on the first observation, in which the Lord noted the hypocrisy in the church in Sardis, because they had a reputation among the people in the region, that they were a living church, whereas, before the Lord, they were a dead church! Hypocrisy is a condition in which a person has two naturesone nature, which is not really him, but which is manifested for the benefit of the public, and the other nature, which is his real nature, he manifests in private. Hypocrisy in a church is that condition in which a church displays a characteristic to the public at large that would suggest that they are Gods; but in reality, wickedness and iniquity, pervade their internal affairsthey are thus, revolting to God! Before we proceed to discussing the other observations about the Lords assessment of the church in Sardis, we ought to be aware that the Lords assessment is what matters; not the accolades of men; for while men look only on the outward, God looks at the heart; and more importantly, it is Jesus assessment that counts in the end, in eternity! If He says youre okay; youre okay; if He says youre not okay; youre not okay!

The Lord observed how lethargic and spiritually insensitive most of the believers in Sardis were. Things were dying within and around them, and they did not know it; to the extent that so many things had already died, and a few last ones were now at the point of death, and still, they were not even aware! They were not alive to God, but they were alive to the world. They were flowing with the trends in the world, but were dead to the frequency of heaven. They were actually involved in sinful activities, and had no scruples! They played to the gallery, for God was not their focus! Indeed, our fourth observation, which was the Lord calling the church to remember how they used to hear and do the word of God; is a testimony of how far gone away from God they were. They were no longer interested in the word of God, but were listening and submitting to the words of men. They were more interested in the motivational speeches of men which ministered to their flesh, rather than to their spirit man. The church in Sardis, like many churches today, had turned away from the true word of God which is able to save those who hear and obey it; and they had turned unto vain words. The Holy Spirit warned of this in 1 Timothy 4:1-2; in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron. Indeed, today, we hear so many messages from our pulpits which is not the word of God, and which definitely have nothing to do with God. These messages have seduced (turned away) many from following the Lord, and have turned them unto the vanities of money, career, and, selfish and sensual desires. The message of contentment is no longer preached in the churchnow, it is all about feeding your covetous eyes and your greedy hearts, to run after money and vanities. The message of false prosperity has filled the air waves, so much so that, it is difficult to know what true prosperity really is. But the bible tells us in Joshua 1:8 that true prosperity comes from observing to do according to the word of God; not by turning to the words of men! Friend, true prosperity does not come from the pursuit of career, or of business; indeed, the bible says in Matthew 6:33, Seek ye first, the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things [things which the people of the world chase after, like career, job, marriage, family, and true life itself] shall be added unto you.

Let us also expound on our third observation of the Lords assessment of the church in Sardis; and that is, that not one of the works or activities that they were engaged in, measured up to Gods standard of good worksin other words, the church in Sardis, to all intents and purposes, were engaged in dead works! Put another way, the church in Sardis was engaged in activities which were leading them into eternal damnation, rather than eternal lifetheir works were not going to take them to heaven; rather, it was sure to take them to hell! Their services, programs, meetings, etc., were done to be seen by men; not for the pursuit of God! In Matthew 6:2, 5, 16, the Lord tells us not to do our works of righteousness; that is, giving of alms, praying, fasting, etc., like the hypocrites do, which is basically to be seen by men! There are so many programs that are advertised today by churches, and one begins to wonder what the advertising is seeking to achievefocus on God, or focus on men? Churches now do their works to be seen by the media, by top government functionaries, and by the general public; so, church leaders go about with cameramen in tow to show their good deeds to the world, and so people view their activities on T.V., and say Wow! What good things these people are doing! But what does the Lord say? He says, They are doing these things to be seen by men; and they already have their rewardmen have seen and applauded them! In Matthew 23:5, the Lord said of hypocrites, All their works they do to be seen of men Many church activities today, are being done for the benefit of men; hence, we preach messages that men will applaud, not the ones that will make people sit down and think deeply about their life; we give, so that we can be recognized by the pastor, not because we really love God; we fast and pray, not to God, but to be seen by men that we are a praying and fasting church, meanwhile, we are not changed by our prayer and fasting, rather, we have become more evil than before we fasted and prayed. All such works do not measure up to the standard of Godthese works are not perfect before God! If our works are to be perfect before God or measure up to Gods standard, they must be done by God through His Holy Spirit in us. But when we refuse the Holy Spirit to do Gods work through us, we reject Gods standard, and go about establishing ours, and end up with dead works! When we organize programs for personal aggrandizement, and not because God said to do so, we are not measuring up to Gods standard, but are engaged in dead works. When we choose to preach sermons that tickle the fancy of the listeners, but dont get them to focus on, and prepare for eternity in heaven, we invariably dig up the decomposing flesh, which was crucified with Christ on the cross at Calvary, and are thus engaged in dead works.

This leads us to observations (5) and (6): there were a few believers in Christ in the church in Sardis who had not defiled their garments of righteousness. This means that even if everyone is going the wrong way, it is not an excuse for you to go with the flow. Also, it means that while others were feeding on words that were spiritually detrimental to them, there were the few believers who determined not to go with the flow. The bible tells us in Daniel 1:3-21, that while all others were immersing themselves in the kings delicacies [which represents the worldliness which feeds the flesh], Daniel and his three friends (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) were determined not to be defiled, but rather opted to feed on pulse or vegetables [which represents spiritual food which feeds the spirit]; and they turned out to be better looking than those who ate of the kings delicacies; and when they were tested, Daniel and his three friends were found to be ten times much better than all their companions. It was not convenient for Daniel and his friends at the time, but it was well worth it in the end! If you are in a church or among believers who are living like the church in Sardis, you can either remain there but purpose to live by the word of God, rather than go with the flow; or, you can simply go elsewhere as the Lord leadsthank God for the many churches in the land today. Remember that when you stand before God in judgment, you will give account for your own deeds, not the deeds of others; you will give account for what you allowed into your life, not what others pushed into your lifeoh, they will be judged for pushing those things to you, but you will be judged for taking what they pushed to you. Therefore, the Lord admonished those who were not living right in Sardis, to repent of their dead works, before it was too late. Friend, are you living for men to see? Are you attracting media reports about your deeds for God, for the benefit of men? Let us state here clearly that, the worlds media cannot publish good reports of the church if the church is truly living for God! Friend, listen to what the Lord is saying, and turn away from hypocrisy: repent and return to God! And whats more, the Lord assures of eternal rewards in heaven for all those who live for Him in the first instance, and those who may have been living contrary to Him and His word, but who would repent and return to Him.

Beloved brothers and sisters, if it seems that there is a sudden preponderance of messages that challenge us to live for God, and not for self, or for men, it is because the Lords return is at hand. So, let us quit the empty displays and let us return to God in true repentance. Brothers and sisters, what is at stake is not a car, a house, a job, or, any mundane worldly thing for that matter, which will all vanish once we are dead. What is at stake is your lifewhether you will live eternally with God in heaven, or, whether you will be damned eternally in hell fire with the devil. And you know what? The decision is yours! Make a wise decision todayreturn to God, now, and live for God henceforth!

Let us pray!