3-24-24: Stay Alert

“Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God.” Revelation 3:2

With no commendation to give the church at Sardis, the Lord states the problem in the church – they look alive but they are dead. The word is past tense – the church is definitely dead. Now the Lord gives His counsel to the church. What does a dead church do?
Fortunately God is skilled at resurrections of the dead and so He instructs the church on the life giving measures it needs.
Be watchful The word means to be vigilant, awake or responsible. The Lord uses this word multiple times in Matthew 24 where He talks about his return and how His followers are to be alert and watching for His return. It is used in Revelation 16 where the Lord says, “Behold, I am coming as thief. Blessed is he that watches and keeps his garments so he will not be naked and they see the shame of him.” The Lord is making a strong point. It is not just that the church is to be awake but they are to be looking for what is important – Jesus is coming back and they will give an account. For those who are spiritually dead in that church, the Lord’s return means eternal judgment. For those who are in that church but do have the Lord’s life in them, the Lord’s return means loss of reward. It is the return of the Lord which should jolt this church out of His slumber. It is the electric shock treatment that should wake the dead. Being spiritually dead (asleep) in this life may not seem so horrific, after all one thinks they will be in heaven, not hell. When it is considered in the light of eternity, eternal death is staggering in its consequences – so are the loss of rewards.
Strengthen the things which remain The Lord tells the church what to do. First they are to strengthen the core. Again the Lord is making a point. The church’s strength is not their own. Romans 16:15 says “Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to the Gospel”. 2 Thessalonians 3:3 says, “Faithful is the Lord who will strengthen you”. The Lord is saying to go back to the source of true strength and power. Like the Ephesians they are to go back to the Lord as their source and to preach the Gospel which is the primary message of the church. The word strengthen can also mean to make stable, establish or to place firmly. It is Christ alone who is able to set their feet upon a rock. There is no other alternative, no one else who can prevent their reverse their death throes.
That are ready to die When plants face a severe frost, they appear dead. Branches are brown and dry and there are no leaves. The
plant is ready to be uprooted and thrown into the fire. It is dead. Sometimes when one looks carefully a branch can be scrapped and
deep inside the branch there is a tiny layer of green –the residue of life in a plant that is 99% dead. The word die means to wither or to decay. This is an important word in the New Testament – it is used 111 times. The word stresses the ending of what was– to bring what naturally follows – death. In other words the Lord says that any life that remains is about to be overwhelmed by the death that surrounds it unless immediate and drastic action is taken. That drastic action is to turn to Christ.
What can we learn? The words of the Lord tell us that though the spiritual condition of the church of Sardis was bad there
was still hope. Spiritually, there were things which remain that could be strengthened. The city of Sardis had been conquered twice before because they were not watchful. The Lord tells the church if they do not turn their eyes to Him, they face death also.