By Reputation Only?

Revelation 3:1-6 ESV

“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.’”

I Know Your Works

Do our works still matter? Some people think not. But the NT Scriptures teach that they do. They teach that we who believe in Jesus Christ are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. And that Jesus gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works (Eph 2:10; Tit 2:14).

And they teach that we who are obeying the Lord are to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in us, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. And we are to be walking in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him. And we are to be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord our labor is not in vain (Php 2:12-13; 1 Co 15:58; Col 1:9-14).

And they teach that we must forsake our lives of living in sin, that we must be transformed in our hearts and minds of God’s Spirit, and that we must be walking no longer according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. And we must die daily to sin and to self and walk in obedience to our Lord. And we are righteous if righteousness is what we practice (Lu 9:23-26; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10).

As well, the Scriptures teach us that we will be judged by our works, and that if we make sin our practice, we will not inherit the kingdom of God. And they teach that if we don’t obey the Lord that we don’t know him and that we are liars if we say that we do know him. And that for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury (Rom 2:6-8; Gal 6:7-8; 2 Co 5:10; 1 Co 6:9-10; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Rom 6:16; Rom 8:1-17; 1 Jn 2:3-6).

So, when Jesus said that he knew their works, he was talking about these works and more that are talked about in the Scriptures. He knew if their works were the works of God, which God prepared in advance that they should walk in them or if they were the works of the flesh and human effort to try to gain God’s approval, or if they were works of the flesh such as idolatry, adultery, sexual immorality, lying, cheating, and stealing, etc.

A False Reputation

There are many people today, in particular in America, who are making false professions of faith in Jesus Christ, some of them perhaps out of ignorance, and others out of a desire to appear righteous to others for their approval or so that they can claim heaven as their eternal destiny, but also so that they can continue in deliberate and habitual sin without conscience, without guilt, and without the fear of punishment.

Also, the word “alive” with regard to today’s modern churches has a different meaning than being spiritually alive. It just means that they are exciting, fun, entertaining, non-threatening, come-as-you-are, non-judgmental, modern, upbeat, positive, not negative (no talks of sin), etc. But then these are not the church, for the church is those who are following Jesus with their lives. These “churches” are businesses of men called “church.”

These gatherings of these “churches” do include true believers in Jesus Christ, although many of them are presently being deceived into compromising their faith and convictions in favor of the modern way of “doing church,” and in favor of “not offending” the people of the world. But these gatherings are a mixture of true believers and non-believers and false professers of faith in Jesus Christ, most all of whom are worldly.

So, a gathering of people today, in America, which is being called “the church,” if it has a reputation of being “alive,” most likely it is not a reference to being spiritually alive, for being spiritually alive is now frowned upon. It is considered old fashioned and boring and legalistic and judgmental and out-of-touch with the world, etc. So, I think in our world today this would have more to do with people falsely confessing Christ as Savior.

So, although they claim to be “spiritually alive” in the sense of being “saved” from their sins, they are still spiritually dead, because they never died with Christ to sin, and so they weren’t raised with Christ to walk in newness of life in him, and so they were not reborn of the Spirit of God, and God’s Spirit is not living within them, and so they are not walking in obedience to his commands in God’s power and strength. They are spiritually dead.

Now, we do have people who did believe in Jesus with genuine faith but who have since wandered from that faith for various reasons, most of which usually has to do with falling back into sin and/or a desire to be accepted by the people of the world, and out of a desire to not be rejected by the people of the world, including by worldly Christians. For, if you walk in obedience to the Lord, in today’s Christian culture, you will be hated and rejected.

Repent and Turn

So, this is the call here. If this is where you are, either making a false confession of faith in Jesus, based on a lie, or being one who did genuinely believe in Jesus, and for a while there was fruit, but since then you have gotten trapped in the ways of the world, you must turn away from your sins and turn to the Lord Jesus to follow him in obedience to his ways. This is your only true hope of salvation from sin and of eternal life with God.

If you do not repent of your sins, and if you continue in deliberate and habitual and even premeditated sin against God and against others, heaven is not your eternal destiny. Hell is! Please go back to the beginning of this writing and read those Scriptures under the heading, “I Know Your Works.” For we are all going to be judged by our deeds. If we did not turn from sin, and if we did not walk in obedience to the Lord, we will die in our sins.

But to you who are walking in faithful obedience to the Lord, keep on following him, and don’t be dissuaded by persecution or false accusations or by people mistreating you or by them falsely accusing you of being “legalistic” or “judgmental.” Take their accusations to the Lord in prayer, and in the word of God, and let God speak truth to your hearts. Change where God says to change and then continue on in the ways of the Lord.

Mary, Did You Know?

Songwriters: Greene Lee Rufus / Lowry Mark Alan

Mary, did you know that your baby boy
Would one day walk on water?
Mary, did you know that your baby boy
Would save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy
Has come to make you new?
This child that you delivered, will soon deliver you

Mary, did you know that your baby boy
Is Lord of all creation?
Mary, did you know that your baby boy
Would one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy
Is heaven’s perfect Lamb?
That sleeping child you’re
Holding is the great, I Am

Mary, did you know?

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