Alive or Dead?

David Bast

READ : Revelation 3:1-6

You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. (v. 1, esv)

Is your church alive or dead? You can’t always tell by obvious signs. The church in Sardis had a reputation for liveliness. It wasn’t a cavernous old sanctuary with a few gray heads rattling around it on a Sunday morning. No doubt this church was bustling with programs and activities for all ages. If a poll had been taken to determine the liveliest churches in Asia Minor, Sardis could have made the list.

But despite the outward bustle, there was little real spiritual life there. “You are dead,” declares the Lord—or at least comatose (vv. 2-3.) What is significant about this letter is what isn’t there (like Sherlock Holmes’ famous dog that didn’t bark). Christ makes no mention here of either false teaching or persecution. Apparently the church of Sardis was so listless, both doctrinally and morally, it didn’t even make a ripple in its community. Satan is perfectly content to let sleeping churches lie. He is equally happy with evangelical churches that do very little and with liberal churches that believe very little. And he’s happiest of all with those that neither believe nor do much of anything.

So what’s the answer? “Wake up . . . remember . . . obey . . . and repent” (vv. 2-3). There’s still time to come alive in the Spirit, but watch out. The Lord is coming soon!


Maranatha; Come, Lord Jesus!