Thursday, May 8, 2014

SARDIS

Suggested Reading: Revelation 3:1-6

Click scripture link to read online or HERE to listen online (then click the symbol of the audio speaker above the scripture portion).

Backed onto one wall of the synagogue in ancient Sardis is a row of Byzantine-era (4th century AD) shops along the main road of the city (below). The road once formed the westernmost stretch of the Royal Road. Some of the shops can still be identified from inscriptions, such as: "shop of Jacob, elder of the synagogue," "hardware shop," "office," "Jacob's paint shop" and "restaurant."

GOOGLE MAPS – To see where the photo was taken, click HERE.

 

Key Verse: Revelation 3:5

He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.

 

Let’s understand that Jesus said, “I will NOT blot out his name from the book of life.” Some will immediately assume that He does blot out some names. That’s not what this means. Jesus does not do that! John tells us that not only does He not blot out names, but He confesses the names of the persons in the book of life before His Father. The other three writers of the Gospels all refer to this (Matthew 10:32, Mark 8:32, Luke 9:26) Read Matthew 10:28-33. The Jewish synagogue in Sardis was huge and it occupied the very centre of the city. Let us remember that until the destruction of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem in 70 A.D., Christians worshipped with their fellow Jews in the Temple. It was the same for the synagogues throughout the world. Those believers in Jesus who were Jews continued singing the Psalms and sitting under the teaching of the Rabbis. On what became known as “The Lord’s Day” (the day of Jesus’ resurrection and the day of the birthday of the Church) those who were Christians gathered in each other’s homes where they were taught all about Jesus through the writings of the Apostles, and of the lead Christian Pastor in the city. In these home churches, John’s “Revelation” would have been read. There may have been only one handwritten scroll of each of the Gospels, of the letters of Paul, and of the book of Revelation. They passed the scrolls around. To bring their Bibles to church they would’ve needed a cart to hold all the scrolls! Thank God for the invention of the printing press, and now the Bible is all over the World Wide Web (e.g. www.100words.ca). We have no excuse for not reading every Word of God’s Message to us over and over throughout our lives.

According to Jesus, the Sardis church was dead (3:1b). Yes, they said they believed in Jesus. Yes, they gathered together with other believers. Yes, they had a reputation of life. But where was the life which Jesus gives by the Holy Spirit? A few of the believers had genuine life in Christ, but the majority did not. Do we have ears, not just for decoration, but to hear God speak through His Word?

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Lord Jesus, as I read and hear Your message to the believers of Sardis, I am moved to pray fervently that I will “Be watchful, and strengthen the things that remain, that are ready to die” (3:2a). I ask for grace daily that I may “remember” why I have “received and heard.” May I “hold fast and repent!” (3:3a). Grant me consistency in daily overcoming sin and living in the purity which will enable me to accept Your invitation, “Walk with Me in white!” (3:4b). Amen! Amen! Amen!

100 PERSONAL WORDS:

I’m aware of a Pastor (Bishop) called Melito of Sardis. Some of his written sermons have been passed on to us by Eusebius, Pastor/Bishop of Caesarea, who wrote the first church history book. Melito would probably have been a young man in the church in Sardis when “Revelation” was read to the believers. No doubt he was one of whom Jesus said, “walked with Him in white.” I’m going to include below in my “P.S.” just the conclusion of three of Melito’s sermons written around 160 A.D. (take a moment to read them now…). Based on this powerful preaching, I think that the “Dead” church of Sardis had experienced a revival and had come fully ALIVE! Of course, I am an incurable optimist! Jesus talked to dead people. There was the little girl in Capernaum. Jesus said to her, “Talitha cumi,” “Little girl, arise!” Jesus said to Lazarus, who had been dead for four days, “Come forth!” He specializes in resurrection!!! It is said that when a person is dying, hearing is the last sense still active, perhaps right up until rigor mortis sets in. Let’s never give up! I preach in many churches, some seem dead and some alive. Jesus is the Judge, not me.

Yours for being faithful like Melito of Sardis,

David

P.S. Below is the last paragraph from three of Melito’s sermons, written in Sardis around 160 A.D.

1. From “The Easter Praise of Christ”:

Come, then, all you nations of men, receive forgiveness for the sins that defile you. I am your forgiveness. I am the Passover that brings salvation. I am the lamb who was immolated for you. I am your ransom, your life, your resurrection, your light, I am your salvation and your king. I will bring you to the heights of heaven. With my own right hand I will raise you up, and I will show you the eternal Father.

2. From “The Lamb That Was Slain”: 

It is he who was made man of the Virgin, he who was hung on the tree; it is he who was buried in the earth, raised from the dead, and taken up to the heights of heaven. He is the mute lamb, the slain lamb, the lamb born of Mary, the fair ewe. He was seized from the flock, dragged off to be slaughtered, sacrificed in the evening, and buried at night. On the tree no bone of his was broken; in the earth his body knew no decay He is the One who rose from the dead, and who raised man from the depths of the tomb.

3. From “On The Passover”: 

This is the alpha and the omega. This is the beginning and the end–an indescribable beginning and an incomprehensible end. This is the Christ. This is the king. This is Jesus. This is the general. This is the Lord. This is the one who rose up from the dead. This is the one who sits at the right hand of the Father. He bears the Father and is borne by the Father, to whom be the glory and the power forever. Amen.

One of the shops in ancient Sardis appears to have served as a Christian baptistery, with a rectangular basin (below) made of reused marble slabs with crosses superimposed over pagan inscriptions and decorations.

Among the ruins of ancient Sardis are the remains of the celebrated Temple of Artemis. It was built on the site of a former temple dedicated to the cult of the Anatolian goddess Cybele (burned down by the Athenians). Construction began about 334 BC, soon after Sardis was liberated from Alexander the Great. Artemis was the main goddess of the city and the Sardis temple was one of the seven largest Greek temples (more than double the size of the Parthenon in Athens). Artemis, known to the Romans as Diana, was the daughter of Zeus and twin of Apollo. She was the goddess of the hunt, the moon and fertility.

17 thoughts on “Thursday, May 8, 2014

  1. Today, I feel carried and filled with awe. Referrence in today’s reading was made to “his angels.” I believe Our Father created guardian angels, and we have their presence in our lives. Thank you Lord for creating and knowing us personally. For ushering us into eternal life through Christ Jesus and by Your Holy Spirit. As we acknowledge any of our weaknesses, You are here to help us overcome in power and strength. Enjoy this day our Lord has given us. Amen!

  2. I have always had this believe that this world is like and exam for an entrance into heaven. The same way students need to pass one grade to go to the next the same way people seeking a job have to pass an interview to get a job, the same way kids aspiring to be doctors, teachers, and so on…have to go through the right steps to achieve their dreams. I believe that the way we live on this earth and whom we choose to believe in on this earth determines where we spend enternity. For example, it says in the book of revelation how many times the creatures worshiped God over and over again. Over and over again the bible speaks about the purity of heaven, The same bible teaches us that whoever does not love, does not know the father. So my point is, if a person claims to be a doctor, a teacher, a lawyer, a pastor without going through the proper practice, they may not last a day in that profession. If we say we want to go to heaven without taking time to read the bible, pray, obey the command of God, so we can at least have an idea of what Heaven is like, how do we intend to last a day in heaven? This world is a test, and we are all passing by, By His Grace, we shall make it to our heavenly destination! Amen.

    • Although I think I know what you are trying to say, others who do not know God might get the impression you are saying if we pass the test we get into heaven, if we fail we go to hell and that is not Scripture. It might be what you meant but I can see how some might read that way. So if you don’t might I like to add to your thoughts by saying.
      If life is a test of righteousness we have all failed– the only one who has passed was Jesus. But by admitting we cannot achieve righteousness, (pass the test) on our own (repentance) we ask for Mercy by asking Jesus to be our righteousness for us. When Jesus enters our hearts when we accept Him as Lord, God His Father gives us Grace to transform us into the likeness of His Son. So life here after that point is about growth, like a child grows and matures into adulthood, we too grow in spirit. Yes, we are learning, but it isn’t so much like a classroom with grades to pass or fail but learning to be what God created us to be before Sin distorted us by Grace. God is making us to be like his Son, it isn’t something we have to achieve in our strength. And the more we cooperate with the process the more growth we will achieve. But the process is God’s and it will be completed fully in heaven by Him and that is how I will last a day in heaven.
      However like St. Paul states that Grace doesn’t give us permission to continue to sin and our choices still have consequences, but one of those consequences will not be the second death to come.
      As for me I do not follow Jesus, read Scripture, pray etc to get brownie points with God, to pass any test. I do it because I am in love, totally deeply in love with God, that I desire, crave, need to spend my time in intimacy with Him that these activities create, and by avoiding the things that separate us. And this desire came through the Holy Spirit and accepting God’s love for me. The more I understand God loves me, wants to nourish me, to help me to grow into what I will be, the less concern I become of trying to impress God with my goodness by my efforts and the more I desire to know Him. So you might see your life here as a test, but for me, it is a romance between me, God and humanity, so I pray your growth will lead you to that one place in your journey. Amen

        • Lovely explanation Donna, I would have loved to add more but It is very challenging for me to pen down my actual thoughts sometimes. They really don’t come out as I had them in my head after writing them down. But I really enjoyed you explanation, and In that case, a practice instead of a test would have worked better with my explanation. More reasons why I enjoy associating with elders. Gives me more room to learn. Thanks once again and I thank God for giving you such knowledge through the Holy Spirit. Stay blessed and inspired.

  3. I am so touched by the excerpts from Melito’s sermons.

    Thank you Pastor David for your prayer today, may we all stand fast and repent, and ask for the grace to be consistent in overcoming the darkness in this world today. OUR LORD has OVERCOME!!!!! Praise HIS HOLY NAME!!

    Blessings to all today, rejoice in it!

  4. I echo your prayer today DM. Thank you for your greatly appreciated explanations of the holy Word.
    So enjoy everyone’s comments.
    God bless us all.

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