Revelation 3:1-13: Sardis and Philadelphia
December 5, 2023
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Two more of the seven churches of Revelation. First Sardis, then Philadelphia.
For Sardis, there is stern criticism. They have a reputation of being alive, but are really dead. It must have come as quite a shock to the people of Sardis. They had a good reputation. They were a great church, a respected church, maybe even a famous church. Their reputation was good. It is a dangerous thing to believe your own press or to invest in looking good and not in being good. Jesus tells them that they need to repent. Nominal Christianity is non-Christianity. “If you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.” Wake up. Sleepy Christians, Christians who have a reputation of being Christians but are not really Christians need to turn to God and ask for forgiveness. But still, even in Sardis, there are some who have not “soiled their clothes.” Their faith is genuine. They don’t just have a good reputation, they really are the real thing. Be encouraged if you live among a people who are only nominal Christians. Stay faithful. Your name will never be blotted out from the book of life.
Philadelphia, on the other hand, seemed weak. They had little strength. Perhaps it was a small church. Or their finances were not as plentiful. Or their reputation was not so strong. But they had kept God’s Word and had not denied his name. What a wonderful thing to be told about us by Jesus! May it be true of us! That we keep God’s Word and even under supreme pressure, we do not deny Christ’s name; we keep on following Jesus and testifying that we are followers of Jesus. Philadelphia was under particular attack from a “synagogue of Satan.” It seems that at the time there was increasing pressure being put on some Jewish (and Gentile) Christians from some synagogues – they were being expelled from the synagogue and exposed to the persecution of Rome. This was a terrible experience and a frightening ordeal, one that could lead to death. But, says Jesus, there will come a time when the table is turned. And if the Christians in Philadelphia remain faithful and persevere, they will be kept from this hour of trial – a particular outburst of persecution, perhaps – that was to come. Christ would protect them. And in heaven no one will take away their crown.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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