The fifth letter to the Seven Churches in the book of Revelations was written to the Sardis church. They had the exterior appearance of being spiritually strong but were dead on the inside "... you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead." (Revelation 3:1)
God's concern for this congregation leads Him to give them three steps on how to change their reputation of being a dead church:
Step 1: "Remember therefore how you have received and heard ... Step 2: hold fast ... Step 3: ... repent." (Revelation 3:3)
The first step called on the church of Sardis to remember the day they received His Word and were converted. In the second step, He instructs them to hold fast to His Word and not allow anything or anyone to divert their attention from their walk with Him, and in the third step, God advises them to repent from any sin that might cause further separation from Him and His Kingdom.
Spiritually speaking, this destination is the Kingdom of God, and any distractions - bad friends, adultery, lying, stealing etc, - could be fatal to your faith. And once faith is removed from your life, your spiritual 'legs' become crippled by problems, and this puts your salvation at risk: "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." (Revelation 3:3)
But if we choose to follow the steps God gave to the church of Sardis, He in turn, promises eternal life: “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." (Revelation 3:5)
And that leaves us with the last step: repentance. It is interesting to note that repentance is the last step. Repentance is most commonly the first step to any conversion or change: "'The time has come,' He said. 'The kingdom of God is near. Repent (1) and believe (2) the good news!" (Mark 1:15)
"Peter replied, 'Repent (1) and be baptised (2), every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins." (Acts 2:38)
But the repentance in Revelation 3:3 has little to do with believing in God, but with the daily conquering of our salvation. The church of Sardis had converted to Christianity already, but only had the appearance of having salvation.
Dear reader, don't be fooled: salvation is not a once-off deal. It is something you work on daily. Don't allow yourself to become distracted. If you're feeling dead spiritually, follow the steps above and regain your strength, your life.
God bless you all
Bishop Marcelo Pires