“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.” — Revelation 3:4
It is an easy task to hold up Christ’s letters to the Seven churches of Asia and point out the similarities and dissimilarities between them and our situation today.
We are all familiar with the term the ‘faithful few’ and when we look around at the state of Christianity on the West we can see its application.
If we are aware of the decline and worldliness of the Church and shallow Christianity of many (if not even ourselves) we can only wonder what Christ’s all-seeing gaze beholds when he scrutinizes the church as he did ‘Sardis’ so long ago.
C.H. Spurgeon preaching from this text. points to the high numbers of people professing Christianity yet found to be devoid of sincere religion.
We today, are more likely to remark on the fact that even the ‘profession’ of Christianity is becoming rarer by the day.
We hear of the ‘Post Christian ‘era and all the evidence supports the claim.
Even among those who would appear before us as Christian teachers and leaders, very few hold to a traditional and scriptural view or belief in Christianity.
How many of them openly reject the long held doctrines and teachings of Scripture?
The number of Church buildings and congregations is significant though decreasing, yet how many of them contain ‘living Christianity’ or holy and vibrant Christians.
So many of our modern Church groups have a ‘name to live’ but are dead.
The ‘show’ goes on, but it is a hollow sham.
Yet there are those who have kept their garments white: Although they are not always in the most congenial circumstances and more often totally adverse, they maintain their purity and witness intact.
Spurgeon further points out that the church at Sardis was at ‘death’s door’ yet was for the most part unconcerned with the prospect of extinction.
I suppose so long as there were numerous other churches and fellowships we could attend if our own were to close, we would not be so much concerned. Yet churches are closing left right and centre.
Buildings which some years ago echoed with the sound of God’s praises and the sound of the gospel are now private homes or night clubs.
The only point I would I would make in echoing Spurgeon’s concerns is to ask ‘Are we among those who are concerned by these things?’
Do we seek to keep our ‘garments’ clean and white? What would Christ say to each of us when focused by a ‘Sardis’ like gaze?
How Readest Thou?
Currently at the church I attend, the minister is doing a series of sermons on the book of Isaiah.
While I am familiar with the prophetic writings, I find that a bare reading of them yields little that catches my eye and upon which I can build an article on.
Yet our minister has succeeded in applying this portion of Scripture to our modern age and the Church in its task and difficulties.
The point I would wish to make is that much of our reading of Scripture is of no more value than the reading of any other work of whatever nature.
I think we could all benefit from a renewed interest and reading of the Old Testament, side by side with our study of the New!
Many of the prophets of the Old Testament are topical for the current age as indeed they have always been in the past.
The prophet’s concern for the social evils and injustices are rightly grasped upon by many modern activists in their desire to right perceived wrongs in modern society.
What they fail to find in their use of these inspired works is the spiritual aspect of all these ancient writings.
Much of our Christianity while it pays lip service to the need for our relationship with God it pays far more attention to the ‘well being’ and ‘fulfillment’ of human beings in this world as well as human relations to each other.
As pointed out before this activity is akin to erecting a towering superstructure without any concern to lay a firm and enduring foundation.
Putting the ‘Cart before the horse’ is something we all do. The Christian life is not merely a ‘lifestyle’ or philosophy for living, it is a life founded upon a Holy Spirit regeneration of nature and applied faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
It is not possible for the un-renewed person to live the Christian life or bear the fruit that life in Christ produces. Therefore much of the professed Christianity we see today dwells in external conformity but is devoid of spiritual reality.
While we admit that too often Christianity has historically veered from being exclusively either ‘ministries of mercy’ to the physical needs of mankind, to being concerned only about the ‘ souls of men’: the need is to ‘make the tree good’ i.e. living in union and communion with Christ ,and thereby bear the fruit that God seeks in our Christian lives.
This concern for true ‘spirituality’ is not limited to the ‘New Testament’ but is to varying degrees the teaching of all revealed Scripture.
The reality of ‘Union’ with Christ is something we should seek for in ourselves and desire for others.