Tony Evans — A Challenge to Increased Commitment
But Jesus says, "If you are an overcomer, and you are committed to me, I will not forget your name," watch this, "and I will not let anybody else forget your name, because I will advertise your name ongoingly. It will never be erased. You'll be invited to every event, every affair, because you will be in that special class of overcomers.
Jesus wants to challenge us to increase commitment. That's the message he gives to the church at Sardis in Revelation chapter 3, beginning with verse 1. He does not want ordinary commitment. He wants extraordinary commitment, and he wants to make a challenge to me and you to give him that.
Today, we want to call the church to a higher level because of what's happening in our culture and our society. It demands a deeper level of commitment. So let's go to God's Word and hear what that challenge is all about and why we need to pay attention to it as followers of Jesus Christ.
We are studying overcomers as John the Apostle writes the seven churches of Asia, as a template for all the churches that would come. Today, we take a tour to Sardis, Sardis Bible fellowship.
Located some miles east of Smyrna, and some miles southwest of Thyatira, we come to a place, a city, built on an acropolis, on a mountain, called Sardis. Sardis was the church of what's happening now. It was the in-place to be. It was the hot location in town for folk who wanted to go to church.
If you wanted to go to church, you went to Sardis Bible fellowship, 'cause that place was smoking. That place had it going on.
In fact, he says in verse 1, "You have a name that you are alive." The problem comes in verse 1, when he says, "But what I say about you is not what folks say about you. What I say about you is not the same as the reputation that you have around the city of Sardis."
He says, "Because when I look at the church, I see a bunch of dead folk walking." He says, "But you are dead."
So that means it's possible to look like you're alive, dress like you're alive, walk like you're alive, talk like you're alive, carry your Bible like you're alive, dress Sunday morning like you're alive and be comatose. He says, "You are dead. There is no life working with you."
Now, obviously, they're physically alive. They're still going to church. What does he mean that they are dead? Well, we find the explanation in his introduction, because he says the angel... "To the angel of the church at Sardis write," to the pastor of the church at Sardis write, "He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars."
Remember that the number "seven" means completeness or fullness or wholeness in the Bible. So when you read sevens, a seven is a number of completeness. God created seven days. He finished his work on the seventh day. It's God finishing something. When he says, "The one who holds the seven Spirits," he's referring to the completeness of the Holy Spirit.
Sardis had a program. Sardis had people. Sardis had a preacher. Sardis had some kind of music, but what they didn't have was life. So you can have a church that has no life, and the reason it didn't have life is that the Spirit of God was missing. A program without the Spirit is an activity that has no life.
He says, "You are dead because the one who holds the seven Spirits," namely, the fullness of the Spirit, which is discussed in Isaiah chapter 11, verses 2 to 5. He discusses the fullness of the Spirit and what that seven-fold fullness includes. It is the full presence of the Holy Spirit that brings life.
Therefore, if the Holy Spirit is not operating in your life, in your home, in our church, then that means that there is no life there, even though there're folk there, programming there.
He says, "You are dead." He says that "you have a reputation." One of the worst things in the world is for God to say something about Judas different than what folk is saying.
Folk is saying, "You got a name. We know who you are. We know where you are." The job of the Holy Spirit, like a dimmer switch, is to raise the light of Christ in our lives.
In the Old Testament, God the Father was the superstar. He's on every page. In the gospels, Jesus, God the son, is the superstar. He's on every page. But once you hit the beginning of the church in Acts chapter 2, the Holy Spirit becomes the superstar.
The Father sent the Son. The Son sent the Spirit. So if there is no relationship to the Holy Spirit, you won't experience much of Jesus. And if you don't experience much of Jesus, you won't have much of God. So if you want more of God, you gotta have more of Jesus. If you want more of Jesus, you gotta have more of the Holy Spirit, because without them you don't get the full-on experience of the Godhead.
So the one who holds the seven Spirits, that is, the completeness of the Holy Spirit, which is why the Bible says, "Walk with the Spirit. Be filled with the Spirit." And in order to do that, you and I must be operating, watch this, spiritually.