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Repentance From Dead Works (24)


From our last two broadcasts, we have seen that the church in Sardis, which was renowned and considered a living church by the people in the region surrounding Sardis, was, by the Lords assessment, a dead church! The church in Sardis was to all intents and purposes, full of hypocrisy, and filled with hypocrites! Majority of the members of this church were so spiritually insensitive, they were all but dead, so much so that they were unaware of the works of righteousness dying all around and within them; and even when the last vestiges of righteousness were about to be extinguished, they still were unaware! To make matters worse, the Lord Jesus said that none of their works was found to have met Gods standard of good works. But for all the admonition of the church in Sardis, the Lord did not just hang them out to dry; He told those who were living contrary to God in the church, that if they would repent and return to God, they would be clothed with white garments, their names will not be blotted out of the book of life, and He will proclaim their names before His Father, and the angels! In calling the church in Sardis to repent of their dead works, the Lord told them that the way out was for them to return to the hearing and the doing of the word of God. Indeed, it is when a church heeds (that is, hears and obeys) the word of God, that it can truly engage in good works. It is important to note that there were in this same church in Sardis; a few of the people whom the Lord acknowledged that had not defiled their garments of righteousness. And He assured these ones that they will walk with Him in white. Interestingly, the Lords promise to those who would repent was essentially the same as His promise to those who had not defiled their garments. What this means is that, once a person repents genuinely before God, and makes restitution of his ways by turning away from dead works onto good works, it would be as though he never did any dead works before; because the dead works will be wiped away, and a new account opened for fresh works, which will be good works! This is the good news about repentance from dead works: once a person comes to the realization that he or she has been engaging in dead works and turns to God in genuine repentance, such a truly repentant person will be forgiven completely; his dead works will never be remembered by God; and every promise of God concerning his or her eternity will be reinstated and guaranteed! This is Gods message to all Christians who are living like the church in Sardis lived. Therefore, we counsel that the instant you realize that those things you have been doing, for which men have been applauding you are dead works, you should immediately cease from doing them ever again, repent before God, and make restitution where necessary. It is upon this, which Gods assurance of eternal salvation rests.

In this broadcast, we shall take a deeper look at one of the promises that God made to the church in Sardis, about what will happen to them in eternity if they repented of their dead works: Revelation 3:4-5, 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. When the Lord makes the promise of people being clothed in white in heaven, He is saying that there would be no spot, or stain of sin, or, iniquity, or dead works in their lives. Not only will they be clothed in spotless white; they shall also walk with Jesus, Who is the Lord of heaven. In Philippians 2:10-11, the bible says concerning Jesus, at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. In heaven, when Jesus is walking, every knee bows, and every tongue confesses that He is Lord! The scene in heaven is of a greater glory than what obtained in the days of the kings in medieval Europe, when no one dared look upon their faces, but bowed the head and knees, and proclaimed All hail the king! What a grand promise this isto be walking side by side with the Lord of heaven, and all will bow before Him even as you walk with Him!

The white garment in heaven is a replacement of the undefiled garment of righteousness given to men here on earth. The righteousness of God is the standard God expects those who will live in heaven to live by, while they are here on earth. This standard is documented throughout the bible, and only those who are deceived, will think that God will somehow lower the standard so that they can get into heaven. Yes, men may lower standards when they are looking for a required numberindeed, JAMB cut-off mark may be reduced for certain candidates; but God does not lower the entry requirement into heaven for anyone! He has never done so, and He will never do so! Whatever number God gets, is alright with Him. Indeed, He said, Many are called, but few are chosen. Millions of people are, even as we speak, sliding into hell, but God has put in place a plan to rescue as many as are even at this time on their way to hell, to save them from sliding into it, and to turn them around as they grab hold of His salvation, through Jesus Christ! Now, when a man has been pulled back up by God from going to hell, He gives that man a new set of clothes, by removing the filthy garments of sin which is what all those going to hell have on. This new clothes are the prescribed clothing for all those who will enter into heaven, and they are white, and must remain sowithout any spot, blemish, or wrinkle. In Matthew 22:1-14, the Lord Jesus told the parable of a king who had prepared a feast in honour of his sons wedding, and had invited guests to the feast. But these invited guests regarded the feast as an inconveniencethey made light of the invitation, and went about their normal activities, giving one excuse or another; and some of them even killed the servants of the king who had come to invite them to the feast. The king then said to his servants in v.8, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. Please note that the word worthy used here, is the same word which the Lord used when speaking to those who will walk with Him in whiteof them He said, they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy. That word worthy means deserving. So, while the men invited by the king, who turned down his invitation were not deserving because of their attitude to the invitation, those who will walk with Christ in heaven in white are deserving because of their determination to uphold His righteousnessa figure of their undefiled garments.

Let us continue with the parable: so, since the wedding was already set, and the invited guests were not deserving, having turned, each one to his own desires, the king said to his servants in v.9-10: Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests. You will observe that those who were now invited were both bad and goodthere was no distinction anymore, about how eminent the guests would be. This is the figure of Gods invitation to the Gentiles to come to the wedding feast of His Son, Jesus, at the end of the Age. The Jews were the ones who were first offered the salvation of God, but when they spurned it, they became undeserving, and those who were initially considered undeserving were now invited to the feast. Now, because the undeserving will always jump at anything that is free, it is very easy to see why all those undeserving came to the feast. If you invite your contemporaries to a party, you will find that they are the ones most likely to give you an excuse for not being able to attend, but those who cannot afford a meal a day, will be there in a jiffyeven when they are not invited, they are there!

But let us get to the end of the parable, for therein is the lesson that we want to learn: v.11-14: And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen. You see, even though all and sundry were invited to the feast, they were nonetheless expected to put on wedding garments, which they ought to have had; otherwise, the king would not have asked the man who was at the feast without a wedding garment, why he was not wearing one. There are restaurants that allow anyone to dine in them provided they put on a tuxedoand to make sure that no one is turned back, everyone who goes to that restaurant without a tuxedo is given one to put on, before he can be allowed in. We believe that the man in this parable, which is a figure of Gods invitation of the Gentiles to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, was given a wedding garment, like every other guest would have been given one, but he either considered it unimportant to put it on, or, he just couldnt care less! So, when this man was asked why he did not have on his wedding garment, he was speechless, because, he thought that all that was necessary was to be in the wedding hall, seeing that the king was looking for guests. How badly mistaken he washe was bound hand and foot, and thrown into outer darkness, which is hell! Friend, make no mistakes, you cannot enter into heaven if you are not wearing the garment provided you with, here on earth, which is the garment of righteousness; and it must be spotless!

Please note that the guests had not yet entered into the wedding hall, when the man was spotted. Indeed, the king came to inspect his guests before they could be allowed into the wedding hall. Friend, make no mistakes, there is going to be a thorough examination of everyone who seeks to enter into heaven. Those who are not putting on the proper clothing, as well as those whose clothes are stained, will be thrown into hell; even though they may have attended church services while here on earth, have preached to countless thousands, and even performed miracles! If you are wearing a white shirt and must soon appear before a man of substance, like the president, if you are served with any draw soup in a room where the fan is blowing; unless you dont care about the appointment, you would not eat of that meal, no matter how hungry you are, neither would you even stay in the room where it is being eaten for fear of being stained unawares! So it is with the garment of righteousness which God gives to every man who receives Jesus as His Lord and Saviour. No matter how delightful sin may be, you wouldnt dare partake of it or be in its vicinity, lest your garment be stained, and you, refused entry into heaven. Dear brothers and sisters, are you in the habit of making excuses for sin? Are you in the habit of dancing around things that defile? There is the proverb of the housefly that was warned to desist from dancing around corpses lying in the mortuary, but it refused to listen, until one day, it was locked in the coffin with one of the corpses it was dancing around! Beloved, I beg you in the name of Jesus to stop dancing around sin; stop making excuses for your sinfulness; and stop defending sin in your life, before it is too late! Go to God in repentance and ask Him to help you destroy sins hold in your life now! If you must appear before God in heaven, it must be in whitewithout spot, without blemish, and without wrinkle!

Let us pray!