Previous: Revelation 3:2


3 'Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you. 4 You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. 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.
6 "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."' - Revelation 3:3-6

Jesus told the believers at Sardis, "Remember therefore!"

There are times in the lives of most Christians when they realize that they no longer care as deeply about spiritual things as they once did. They have slowly drifted away from the excitement of being a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). They have forgotten some of the vital truths that were so life-changing at the time. To the Church at Ephesus Jesus said they had lost their "first love" (See notes on Chapter 2, verse 4).

What did the Lord suggest that they remember? It should include, "how you have received and heard." How indeed had the Church at Sardis first received the Gospel? It was by the sacrificial missionary service of the Apostle Paul or one of his students. The Good News was delivered to them at considerable effort and risk by people who cared more about the spiritual condition of strangers than they cared about their own comfort. They had to boldly proclaim the truth in the face of persecution and hardship (Acts 13:50; 2 Timothy 2:1-7).

By the time this Revelation was read to the Church at Smyrna, they should have heard the reading of the Gospels and Paul's letters (2 Peter 3:15-16). (See the notes on chapter 1, verse 3, about the blessing promised to those who could not read, but who would listen to the words of the book.) These had all been circulated to the churches by then.

They would also have heard the testimonies of the missionaries who visited their city, and the stories of faithful believers in the early years of their history as a church.

If they would just remember these wonderful truths, their hearts would certainly be softened. The same is true for us. If we would allow ourselves to carefully remember the circumstances that led to our acceptance of Jesus Christ as Savior; remember how we felt when we made that decision; remember the joys of Bible study and Christian fellowship; and remember the other events that shaped our early Christian life, we would undoubtedly desire to regain that blessed state of mind.

Every Christian should have vivid memories of his or her Christian journey. It is a good idea to record the key events of one's spiritual life. The best time to write it down in a journal (or diary) is as soon as possible after a major event, such as accepting Christ, being baptized, leading a friend to Christ, etc. Unfortunately, most people fail to do this at the time. The good news is that our wonderful God-given minds will help us remember much of the detail if we will sit down and think about it. We can write what we remember (maybe using a computer, so it can be expanded later), and most of us will begin to recall more of the story later. We can then add the additional information to what we have already begun. This testimony, or story of our spiritual lives, will help us remember what we have "received and heard."

"Hold fast and repent," were two action points that Jesus recommended to several of these churches in Asia. To hold fast means to "keep." Some things should be kept as long as we live. That is why we save photographs, love letters, and keepsakes passed down to us. In this context, Jesus was telling the members at Sardis to treasure and guard the things they had received and heard. There is a tendency in every generation, and we certainly see it in our days, to jettison too much of the past so that we will be considered fresh and relevant. We can, and should, change our methodology in order to relate to our changing culture, but we dare not lose the vital and timeless truth taught in God's Word! The motto of the Youth for Christ organization puts it succinctly: "Geared to the times, anchored to the Rock."

And, as we have already seen in the messages to Ephesus and Pergamum, Jesus calls worldly believers to repent! (See the notes on chapter 2, verses 5 and 16.) True repentance includes honest confession of sin, and a change of heart that is sincere enough to bring about a change of behavior as well.

Fortunately we have the Holy Spirit to guide us in our journey. Being "filled with the Holy Spirit" (Ephesians 5:18; also called "walking in the Spirit" Galatians 5:16) is a choice that every Christian must make on a daily basis. The failure to yield to God's control causes us to drift away from the blessings and victories that the Lord has in mind for us. Remember that we discovered above, in the history of the Reformation Age (See the notes on chapter 3, verse 1), that failure to be controlled by the Holy Spirit was the big mistake that many of the reformers made, and because of it, even though they had a reputation of being alive, in the Lord's eyes they were "dead."

Next: Revelation 3:3c-e


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