“To the angel of the church in Sardis write: He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars, says this: ‘I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.
 ‘Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God.
 ‘So remember what you have received and heard; and 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 will come to you.
 ‘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.
 ‘He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.
 ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ.
1 Peter 1:23 says, “for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God.”
Now, did you receive the imperishable seed; the living and enduring word of God?
I’m sure most of you were born of water and Spirit, that is the word of God.
However, the important fact is that just receiving the imperishable seed – the word of God – is not where it ends at all.
If the seed doesn’t sprout, and doesn’t yield fruit, it all becomes useless.
If you take care of the seed of the word in your heart to bear abundant fruit, then you become a truly re-born man and can surely be called ‘alive.’
Just listening to the word of God, and organizing it as mere knowledge cannot be called true faith.
When you hang onto the word you heard, pray for it, and put it into practice, the word will sprout, and yield great fruit as much as 30, 60, or even 100 times as much.
Even if you heard much words of God however, if you don’t have any spiritual fruit in your heart yet, then, please look back on yourself right now, and turn back. Turn back and put into practice what you’ve heard and learned so far.
I pray that you may be awake and welcome the Lord as your long awaited bridegroom, not as someone who comes like a thief.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ.
Even if someone is given a position in a church, and even if he appears to have faith, chances are that he may have faith that is dead.
Outwardly, Judas Iscariot was in a position worthy to be recognized as a disciple of the Lord, but he forsook the grace he received, and eventually saw death because of his terrible sin of selling out Jesus.
At one time King Saul, too, was recognized by God, and he was anointed as a king of Israel. But he became arrogant enough to stand against the will of God, and he also went the way of death.
Therefore, the standard of faith is not the outward appearance or a position.
The only standard is the word of God.
If someone teaches or is doing something that is violating the word of God, even if he is given a position in a church, whether he is aleader in the church or even a pastor, you must not turn your ears to them, you must not listen to them or follow them
The important thing is not whether he is in the position to teach, but whether he is practicing the Word.
Matthew 23:1-3 talks about those who teach but not act, saying, “Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples, saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them.”
Also, Matthew 5:19 says, “Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”
You must realize this; the truly important fact is the teacher him or her self must keep to what is taught no matter how trivial it may seem.
When you have kept each point of the Word one by one until it becomes complete and perfect, then you will be regarded as great in heaven, and on this earth, you will become a great man able to change many people with the authority of word.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ.
The church in Sardis said that they believed in God, and said to Him, “Lord, Lord.” But they didn’t live by the word and they had dead faith without deeds. Then, they heard the severe rebuke saying that ‘they had a name that they were alive, but they were dead.’
And they were told to remember what they had received and heard, and to keep it and repent.
Yet, we are reminded that not all the members of the church in Sardis had dead faith.
In the verse 4 of tonight’s scripture, the Lord says, “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.”
Since the Lord says, “a few.” His word applies to only a very small number of the members of the Sardis church. But still, there were a few who kept their hearts and didn’t soil their garments.
Now, what does it mean by ‘not soiling their garments?’
The garment represents that part of a man that is referred to as the ‘heart of man’.
Accordingly, ‘not soiling their garments’ means ‘not causing their hearts to become unclean.’
In other words, they lived by the word by faith in the truth so that their hearts were not stained by the worldly sin and evil.
It also means cleaning the heart, which was stained before knowing the truth, by fighting against sin to the point of shedding blood, and not soiling the cleansed heart with the untruth and sin.
So, it applies to those who try to be awake, and pray, and keep the true faith.
Even in a situation where a blind man leads another blind man so that both are about to fall into a pit, there were a few in the church in Sardis who listened to their conscience and tried to accomplish what God wanted.
The Lord says to such people that they will walk with Him, (that is the Lord) in white garments.
And He adds that it is because they are worthy.
Even though a few in the church of Sardis heard from the Lord that they didn’t soil their garments and that they were worthy, it doesn’t mean that they reached complete sanctification.
When regarding the faith of the whole church in Sardis, there were a few who prayed and tried to keep the true faith, and it was worthy in the sight of the Lord.
However, even though they were among those who had dead faith in the Sardis church, they kept their faith and lived by the word, and they were recognized as worthy by the Lord. So, we can see their faith was good.
In the city of Sardis where it wasn’t easy to keep faith, especially among the congregation who were stained by the world by compromising with the world, it was not easy to keep their faith.
Even in such a situation, they kept their faith, and it was truly a great blessing.
As an example, there are some who are persecuted by their family while trying to manage their believing life.
Then chances are that they may think, “Why should I have to live a difficult life? It would be good if I could live my believing life together with my husband and my family just like others do.”
Of course, if all the members of your family are evangelized and live happy believing lives together, it will be a true blessing.
But even if not so, you must realize that it is also a blessing to you.
God refines each individual according to their hearts and vessels, and leads them to fill their shortcomings through refinements so that they can have the blessing of having their spirit and soul become prosperous.
Those who live their believing life in persecution because of their family may feel life is hard and difficult, but through such persecutions, they will be awakened all the more and pray.
They will also learn endurance.
And while fervently praying for their family, spiritual love for them will grow.
When your family persecutes you, you may feel disheartened or you may have ill feelings against them if you look at them in a fleshly perspective. But once you have spiritual love, you will give thanks in any situations, and you will regard them as souls.
At the same time, since it is a persecution for the sake of Lord’s name, your reward will pile up in heaven. And your faith will take root much more strongly because you kept your faith in such a difficult situation.
Likewise, in order to keep their faith, the few of the church in Sardis who didn’t soil their garments must have prayed much more fervently than those who lived an easy believing life.
As a result, they could be recognized by the Lord, and they could become worthy.
In your current situation where you suffer from persecutions, it may seem hard and tough. But, I hope that you will realize it will result in spiritual blessings in the end, and that you can face it in gratitude with eyes of hope.
Since those few who were recognized as “worthy” by the Lord in the church in Sardis marched on with such faith, they could receive the blessing that they could “walk with the Lord in white garments.”
But here, you must be aware that “being with the Lord” and “walking with the Lord” are different.
No matter which dwelling place in heaven you will go, it is possible for you to be with the Lord because the Lord can go any place in heaven.
Even if you’re in paradise, the Lord will come to you and spend some time with you.
Of course, it is not that the souls in paradise will be able to see the Lord face to face and have conversation with Him while freely walking with Him, even if the Lord pays His visit to paradise. But surely He will be with the souls in paradise.
But “walking with the Lord” is different.
Only those in the 3rd kingdom of heaven, more specifically, those in New Jerusalem can walk with the Lord in a true sense.
What is ‘walking with the Lord?’
It is being accompanied by the Lord “everywhere and forever.”
Hence, in order to walk with the Lord, you must be qualified to enter New Jerusalem. Then, you can freely talk with Him face to face, and walk with Him.
Dear brothers and sisters.
In order to walk with the Lord in eternal heaven, you must meet the qualifications also in this earth.
The Lord is surely with the children of God who live in the truth. But He will walk with those who love God utmost, cast off every form of evil, and become sanctified.
I’ve already explained that there is a great difference between “being with the Lord” and “walking with the Lord” in heaven, but it is so also in this earth.
If the Lord is walking with someone, then His guarantee, authority, and power will be shown with him as clear evidences.
May you long to walk with the Lord, and meet the qualifications. In the name of the Lord, Jesus Christ, I pray!
Now, in the verse 5, the Lord says, “He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments.” Here, ‘overcoming’ refers to ‘keeping faith and living in the truth.’
He says, “they will thus be clothed in white garments.” White garments are the garments that saved souls will wear.
Even those who are not caught up in the air when the Lord comes back, but receive ‘shameful salvation’ of the gleaning during the 7 year great tribulation will also be clothed in white garments.
Hence, the white garments in this verse refer to is the garment put on by all saved souls; it is a token of salvation.
But, the white garments mentioned in the verse 4 don’t refer to a mere token of salvation.
When we go to heaven, we all will be given white garments. But depending on how much we are sanctified, the color of white will be different.
The more proper in the sight of God, the brighter the color of white will become.
By just looking at someone’s garment, we will be able to figure out how much he/she resembled the Lord when he/she was cultivated in earth.
We will also recognize through the ornaments how much reward he/she piled up when he/she was on the earth.
That’s because God, who repays according to what’s done, gives beautiful ornaments according to their deeds on earth
Please imagine such a brilliant color of the white garment that you will wear in heaven.
Then, please take this moment to remember what you should do now in order to walk with the Lord in such a beautiful garment, and make a resolution once again.
In the middle of verse 5, the Lord says, “I will not erase his name from the book of life.”
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ.
Even if a man appears to be breathing, it doesn’t mean that he is truly alive.
Only when his spirit, which had remained dead due to Adam’s sin, comes back to life, can he have true life.
People who don’t accept the Lord, and live in the darkness while remaining as slaves to the devil; since their spirit is dead, when they die, they go to hell which is eternal death.
But when they accept the Lord, Jesus Christ, and receive the Holy Spirit, their dead spirit comes to life and gain eternal life, and their names will be recorded in the book of life in heaven.
Only those whose names are written in the book of life can be saved.
That’s why Revelation 20:15 says, “And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”
However, the fact that your name is currently written in the book of life doesn’t guarantee your salvation.
Only when your name is recorded in it as God the Judge opens it on the White Throne Judgment Day can you reach salvation.
He says, “I will not erase his name from the book of life.” But we think of it inversely, it means that the name recorded in the book of life can be erased.
In short, the name written in the book of life can be blotted out.
For example, once a baby is born, the baby’s name will be recorded in the family register. But what if the baby dies?
The name will be erased from the register.
The same applies to the names in the book of life.
Many believers of today think that once their name is written in the book of life they can go to heaven as long as they go to church even if they commit sin. But the fact is not like that at all
This is not my word, but the word of God.
From the moment the name is written in the book of life, you step onto the way to earn an eternal life (in Heaven). But if you step out of the way to the eternal life in heaven, the Holy Spirit will be quenched and your name will be erased from the book.
1 Thessalonians 5:19 says, “Do not quench the Spirit.” This is a word of warning that you should be careful because the Spirit might be quenched.”
Also, Exodus 32:33 says, “The Lord said to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book.””
In other words, God clearly tells us that He can erase the name from the Book of Life.
1 Corinthians 15:2 says, “by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.”
You are saved not by the fact that you heard the word of the truth, but by the fact that you hold fast the Word and that you don’t believe in vain.
Then, what does it mean by “believing in vain?”
It means “fleshly faith.” It is the dead faith without the deeds of the truth.
Even if you have come to church for a long time and have an in depth knowledge of the Bible, as long as you don’t live by the word of God but live the same way the worldly people live, then you have “dead” faith.
The Bible also mentions about “a sin leading to death” along with the evident deeds of the flesh.
Of course, you must not commit any sin.
Among the sins, however, there are sins that can be forgiven when you repent from the depth of your heart, but there are sins for which there no longer remains a sacrifice.
They are the sins of ‘blaspheming against the Holy Spirit’, ‘speaking against the Holy Spirit’, ‘falling away even after partaking in the Holy Spirit and crucifying again the Lord and putting Him to open shame’, and ‘sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth.’
If someone confesses that he believes, but commits these sins, then he eventually believes in vain.
Dear brothers and sisters.
The Bible records how you can receive salvation. But at the same time, it also records in detail how you may end up falling into death.
Salvation is not something that is decided once at some single point in time. You must realize that it is an ‘on-going’ process until the Lord comes back.
Even if you are inside the boundary of salvation, you may go out of the boundary by your own free will. Conversely, even if you were out of the boundary, you may find yourself inside the boundary of salvation at certain point as well.
Therefore, all the members of this church must make sure that, even if your names are all written in the book of life, you must receive strength from God to grow your faith until the day you stand before the Lord.
I urge you in the name of the Lord to be awake and pray all the time to receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit, to win the battle against the enemy devil and Satan, the rulers of the world, and to live in the truth.
Now, in the end of the verse 5, the Lord says, “I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.”
Only when you’re recognized by the Lord who will say, “This is the child of God” before God on the White Throne Great Judgment Day, can you reach salvation.
In other words, only when the Lord recognizes you as the one who has lived by the word of God and by the will of God, can God also recognize you.
And such a recognition of the Lord must be acknowledged by the angels as well.
The angels will not play the role of jurors when your salvation is decided, but it is very important to be acknowledged by those angels.
Why is it, then?
Just as the Lord says in Matthew 18:10, “See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven continually see the face of My Father who is in heaven,” there are angels that search your deeds and heart and even your mind, and report and record them.
There are angels that are sent to protect the children of God, but there are also angels to search each of you; they know about you better than anyone.
And, since angels are spirit, they don’t lie, they are precise without errors, and they don’t make any mistake.
The reports made by these angels will be used as proofs and evidences on the White Throne Great Judgment Day.
Therefore, even though the angels themselves come out to witness and acknowledge you on the Judgment Day, you must be acknowledged that you’ve lived right as children of God by the precise reports made by the angels.
Like this, the acknowledgment of angels is surely necessary because they know everything about you.
That’s why the Lord says, “I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.”
Dear brothers and sisters.
The Lord concludes his word by saying, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches,” just as He says to other churches.
The Lord is appealing to the church in Sardis once again, along with His sincere and longing heart for them to bear what they heard in mind and change.
The church in Sardis was the church that had dead faith.
If they don’t repent and turn back, they will have nothing to do with salvation.
But, since they heard and learned the truth, they knew the truth at least as knowledge.
It was time that they had to change their faith as knowledge into living faith with deeds.
Also, even if they had faith to receive salvation, they have to hold fast and overcome until the Lord comes back.
Only they can be clothed in white garments, the token of salvation, and they will receive glory and reward in heaven as much as they have done in this earth.
But the fact is that too many churches of today don’t realize this; they don’t wake up from the spiritual sleep, and they have dead faith.
And what is worse, they don’t have a shepherd who teaches the truth to them so that they don’t have faith to receive salvation; they are like the blind following the guidance of a blind man.
However, because there are a few awake in each church, the Lord says to them, “Let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches,” and He wants to wake up the souls who are asleep with dead faith by any means.
He wants those who have an ear to listen to His word and reach salvation. He also wants those who truly love Father God, seek the Lord, and long to follow the truth to find a good shepherd so that they can reach a better dwelling place in heaven, even to New Jerusalem.
Please, remember once again how blessed and thankful you must be for the fact that you are led by the true word of life to have true spiritual faith in your believing life.
May you have hope to become a perfect and complete bride of the Lord without any blemish so that you will be able to walk always with the Lord in heaven, in the name of the Lord, Jesus Christ, I pray!