October 9: Genuine Faith (Revelation 3:1-6)
Prepare for Sunday morning worship using the guide below.
This Sunday we will continue a series on personal evangelism at 9:00am in the youth room. Ray Rutledge will be in the Adult 1 classroom continuing through The Gospel Project (currently going through the Old Testament).
 “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars.
“‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead.  Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God.  Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you.  Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy.  The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. 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.’
In the fifth of seven letters to the churches, we come to Sardis, a local body that unlike the previous four churches, receives no commendation. In fact, the letter wastes no time in getting to the heart of their matter at the church in Sardis – though they are reputed to be very much alive, but are in fact, very much a dead church. Granted, there are a few folks there who are walking with vibrant faith, but on the whole, they are a nominally Christian body, with anemic faith in some, and no faith at all in others. As such, they are in danger of facing the judgment of God, at the return of His Son. We see Jesus graciously calling them to awaken from their slumber, with the hope of a sure eternal life as their reward. Conversely, He reminds those who do truly know Him of the great hope they have in Him.
It’s hard to imagine a comparison more fitting than of Sardis and many churches that exist in our own time. Whether then or now, this passage reminds us that local churches can be large in size, busy in activity, rich in tradition, and even well thought of in the community, but these things will not be a substitute for genuine, obedient faith in its membership. It’s sobering to think that longtime, active church members (possibly even leaders) could meet the judgment mentioned in this passage. It reminds us of Jesus’s words in Matthew 7:23, where He said to very religious people who were sharing their church pedigree, “Depart from me, I never knew you.”
May God awaken to true salvation those in our body who are relying on their own church reputation, and not on the Gospel of grace, a hope that even now is available to them. May God awaken those who do know Him to the greatness of His promises to them, and to the benefits which even now are available.
Review and Apply
1. How might folks confuse church attendance and activity with genuine faith? How are they alike?
2. What will be true in the life of those who have genuine faith that cannot be generated thru church activity? What confirms genuine faith?
3. What should a church member do if they are not sure of the genuineness of their faith? How might they seek God on it? Who can help them in the local church?
4. What is the value of knowing your name is securely written in the book of life? On good days? On bad days? On doubting days? On fearful days?