Now for church number five. Negative volition leads to degeneracy and the
loss of eternal privileges. We can never
lose our salvation, but we can lose out on eternal rewards above and beyond
those that all believers will receive.
In the first four messages, the compliments went
out, then the complaint. Here there is
no compliment. Those people of Sardis
were a negative lot. Sardis was one of
the initial converted cities to Christianity, but they were also one of the
first cities to revolt against Christianity and the city fell into ruins. Initially it was prosperous, but that was
lost as the city fell away from God.
Christ does not introduce Himself as judge or in
any position of power or authority, but He does introduce this church to the
seven spirits and the seven stars, symbolic of how His word gets to each
individual believer.Namely the seven
spirits indicative of the communication and spiritual growth process through
the Holy Spirit, and the seven stars, the elders or communicators or teachers
through whom the word of God is taught.
Both of these references are found in Isa. 11:1-2 (seven
spirits), and Zech. 4:1-10 (seven lamps).
Both indicative of the thoroughness and completeness
and control of the Holy Spirit in the communication of doctrine. This spiritual learning and growth mechanism
was dysfunctional and nonfunctional within the Church of Sardis.
What had they done?
They turned away from sound doctrine and the sound learning process, to
devices of their own invention. They in
effect turned away from doctrine, because they were wiser in their own eyes,
than in truth.
He, Jesus Christ, who
holds the seven Spirits, the mechanics of learning Bible doctrine, from
salvation to maturity. There is a method for learning Bible
doctrine, an authorized method. You
cannot learn Bible doctrine on your own, in your own way. You cannot set up your own rules for learning
Bible doctrine. Cain rejected God and
tried to make his own sacrifices. God rejected Cain. God controls history. God controls the universe. God tells us which is the right way and which
is the wrong way.
Anything which smacks of man attempting to gain Gods approval by mans
own efforts, is rejected by God. If He
accepted mans efforts, then there would have been no need for Jesus Christ and
Man cannot achieve his own salvation. Man cannot defeat death or even sin. Man is trapped in the slavery of sin and
death, and only God can rescue man from sin and death. Without God there is no future in heaven,
only a future in hell.
God, Jesus Christ, controls history. He has the seven spirits. Refer to the study on verse 4 in chapter 1 of
Rev., and in chapter 11 of Isaiah, as well as the ‘Seven Spirits’ chart on the web
He has the seven stars, the messengers, the method of communication of Bible doctrine. Doctrine can only be communicated in the
manner in which God authorizes. The
concept of the spirits and the stars go hand in hand, the mechanics and the
function. They all refer to the same
thing, learning Bible doctrine and growing up spiritually in the way in which
God wants you to grow. And in the only way in which you can, grow up.
The people of Sardis went negative. Though once positive and saved, they went
negative and rejected Gods word. They
were alive, positive and active in their Bible study. They were in fellowship and advancing toward
spiritual maturity. But
now dead. Not physical death, but
out of fellowship (carnal death).
Just as the city had a long history of prosperity
and great wealth, and seemingly being impregnable from enemies, it was over
confident and thus lost its edge, its wealth, and its freedom. It was conquered and destroyed on several
occasions, and never learned from its history.
The Christians followed that same pattern.
There are several references to death in the
Bible. We are all aware of physical
death, when the soul and the spirit leave the body and go to heaven. The body remains behind, an empty vessel to
decay in the grave. From physical death
there is recovery through resurrection.
There is sexual death, when at some point in our
lives and generally in our latter years, when the sexual functions in us just
stop working. Generally in their 50’s,
women have their menopause, and in later years the men just stop working in
their own unique way. God has brought
some people back into the sexual prime, but generally when you can’t, you
There is spiritual death, which refers to everyone
who does not have a human spirit (unbelievers). We are all born physically alive, we have a
body and a soul, but we are spiritually dead, we have no human spirit. Only when we believe in Christ do we receive
a human spirit (we call this being born again) and then eternal life is imputed
into the human spirit giving us eternal life and a future with God in heaven
At that point in our life we have a body and a soul
with human life imputed into our soul, and we have a human spirit with eternal
life imputed into that spirit.
Unbelievers do not have a human spirit and therefore, are not
saved. There is potential recovery from
spiritual death by believing in Christ, but only while a person is alive. Once you die, if you have not believed in
Christ, then you are not saved.
There is an exception for children who have not
attained the age of responsibility. Babies and young children and others, who simply do not understand
God or are incapable of understanding God, and so forth. If they die at their young age, they are
automatically saved. We studied this
when studying David.
There is the second death, which is what all
unbelievers will experience when they face Christ at the Great White Throne at
the end of the millennium.The second
death is the final death prior to the fires of hell, from which there is no
Then, there is fellowship death (our passage), when
we sin and get out of fellowship with God.
We can recover from this death however, by confessing our sins to God
the Father, 1 Jn. 1:9, and to no one else, and He restores us into
This is the problem with the people in Sardis. They were believers out of fellowship,
therefore physically alive, but dead in their spiritual function. And while out of fellowship they went downhill. They
forgot most of what they had learned.
They had lost most of the spiritual credit and health in their soul that
they had attained while growing up spiritually.
When you stop eating and processing food, your body
goes downhill in its health. So it is with the soul. When you stop taking in Bible doctrine, your
soul suffers and you deteriorate spiritually and mentally.
The believers of Sardis,
simply fell away from doctrine, in a worse way than believers of the other
previously mentioned churches. And they
stayed away from doctrine.