THE FAITHFUL FEW
TEXT: This was spoken by the Lord to the Apostle John and he was told to write it to the pastor of the Sardis church. Revelation 3:1-6 And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. 2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. 3 Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee. 4 Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.”
Intro: no matter how discouraging the situation in any church, there are always the faithful few to support it through troubled times. No matter who may depart from the faith, forsake the Lord, the church, or the pastor, there’s always the faithful few to stand with the Lord, the church and the pastor.
A pastor may become anxious over the church members who do not live for the Lord, are not supporting the church by regular attendance, who are not walking in a spiritual lifestyle, but he must take time to THANK GOD, for the faithful few who love the LORD, walk with Him daily, are pillars in the church, dependable, standing fast, serving the cause of Christ faithfully during the times of sore trials of their faith, their church, and their pastor.
The church at Sardis was declared to be a dead church. Their name and their existence as a church suggested life to the watching world, but before the Lord they were declared to be in spiritual deadness. The members of Sardis were advised in verse 2: to “be watchful,” and “strengthen things which remain that are ready to die.” So, not all was lost, there was still some life, but it was threatened to also die unless those are strengthened.
Whose job is it to strengthen the church? It starts with the Pastor. His job is to strengthen the church by preaching the inspired Word of God. How can his preaching do anything to help those unfaithful ones who are seldom present to be edified and strengthened by the Word? Often the pastor preaches on a needed subject hoping it will help them. They don’t show up!
Weak church members are everywhere. They have not taken their spiritual life and needs seriously; the world still has a grip on their affections; and they have not been willing to let go of their personal weights (Heb 12:1) that so easily beset them, and run the race set before them with patience, faithfulness and diligence. They are satisfied with being a mediocre Christian among some who are giants in the faith.
Who are the giants? The faithful few who stand out as shining examples of dedication, devotion and determination to please Jesus Christ. This is important especially to those young in the faith. Accordingly Paul urges, 1 Timothy 4:12 Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”
Sardis had a few people who will be given special privilege of walking with the Lord in white because they were known to be “worthy.” Jesus is not talking here about being worthy of salvation, but walking in a “worthy way.” Our Christian walk of obedience to the faith is viewed as a worthy way or example. This person is one of the faithful few. He walks in the steps of Jesus. He is a faithful steward of the eternal salvation which Jesus gives.
1 Corinthians 4:2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.” A steward is a person trusted with managing the affairs of someone else. Stewardship may be better understood by a parable given by Jesus. Jesus told the servants in his parable of the pounds that each servant should “…Occupy till I come.” Luke 19:13. This meant that they were to invest the pounds wisely to show a profit for their noble master upon his return from distant business.
Here’s our question today. Are we faithful stewards of our Masters business in this church which is His body, to whom we owe diligence and do we show some life?
In verse 6 the Lord calls upon the Sardis church people to open their ears to hear His message. If we have ears to hear…. Listen to what He is saying. Are there members of our church who need to wake up from a spiritual stupor; from spiritual lethargy; spiritual deadness; or uselessness to the Lord? Then, LISTEN UP!
Ephesians 5:14-17 Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. 15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, (Gr. means discreetly) not as fools, but as wise, 16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.”
There are a “few” names in every church who have not defiled their garments. They will walk with the Lord in white because they have been living the faithful life and walking worthy of it.
Let me suggest a few of the characteristics of the faithful few:
Luke 9:23-24 And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. 24 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.”
These are those church members willing to give up all else when there is work to do for God. They lose their lives in the world to invest them in the Lord’s work. They are willing to sacrifice their time, strength, and finances. No cost in serving Christ is considered too much to ask in view of what it cost Jesus Christ to save our souls.
Epaphroditus, Paul’s companion in ministry, is a good example of personal sacrifice not considering his own life but that of serving even in ill health. Philippians 2:29-30 Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness; and hold such in reputation: 30 Because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me.”
Isn’t it shameful how flimsy and weak the excuses are which church members offer for NOT attending church? There once were two men fishing on Sunday and close by one of them saw the church bus passing by. He said “oh, that reminds me this is Sunday and I should be in church.” But hey, my wife is sick today, so I couldn’t go anyway.”
Paul’s commitment to Jesus Christ ran as deep as was humanly possible, even to sacrifice his life when it came to that, Philippians 1:20 According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.”
The sacrificial few support their church by faithful attendance, offerings, talents and time.
2 Timothy 1:16-18 The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain: 17 But, when he was in Rome, he sought me out very diligently, and found me. 18 The Lord grant unto him that he may find mercy of the Lord in that day: and in how many things he ministered unto me at Ephesus, thou knowest very well.”
Pastor’s and church members often need this refreshing from the faithful few. How stimulating it is to be encouraged by them. They urge us on; hold us up; strengthen us by their example of faithfulness. They have a zeal for the Lord’s house.
When Jesus scourged the temple of those who were making His house one of merchandise and a den of thieves, His followers remembered the prophetic description of the Messiah’s love and passion for God’s house, John 2:17 And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.”
What is zeal? It is energetic and tireless enthusiasm, especially for a cause or idea. Likewise, the faithful few have a zeal towards God’s church to serve it; defend it; preserve it influence; strengthen it spiritually and materially and keep it pure in doctrine and life. If it were not for the faithful few in our churches, there would be NO SCRIPTURAL CHURCHES. The faithful few keep the church doors open so that the unfaithful members have a place to return to when they make up their minds to go. Which one of them are you?
1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”
The steady few are not easily led astray.
The steady few don’t compromise being a Baptist
The steady few are always faithful to church services be it Sundays, revivals, prayer meetings, etc., you will find them present, prayerful and earnest. Very seldom do they miss a service.
The steady few labor steadfast for their Lord and their church always abounding in the work of the Lord.
No, unfortunately, there are not “many” like that, but a “few” are steadfast and steady for the Lord Jesus.
I’ve heard another name which some negligent people give to the faithful few. Do you want to know what it is? The clique!
Matthew 5:14-16 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
Speaking of the small numbers who usually carry the largest load of responsibility in a church, Jesus called his church a, “little flock.” (Luke 12:32). That suggests to me that a small congregation has a monumental task to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world. The faithful few need to inspire and challenge the rest to join them in this holy calling.
Zech 4:10 “who hath despised the day of small things?” The Bible tells us of many things considered “small” which can have great power or influence. James 3:4 tells us that a very small helm (rudder) can turn a great ship. The first church was a small minority (about 120 members just before Pentecost) among the Jewish system of Synagogues. Eccl 4:12 tells us that a threefold cord (thread, string) is not easily broken. Gideon’s army was only a few, 300 men, among so many of their enemies. Samson and the jawbone of a donkey. Shamgar and his ox goad. The widow’s two mites. The widows barrel with a small amount of meal which fed herself, her son and Elijah until the next harvest. The Lad’s lunch of five loaves and two fish. The Apostles were only few, 12 in number.
However, Jesus promised to be with the “few.” ‘Few” in the Greek means: puny, small, little. But never forget that “little is much when God is in it.” Matthew 18:20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”
Strength and power is not found necessarily in getting big numbers involved! The smaller, the weaker, the foolish things receive the need power due to the fact that they are smaller or weaker. 1 Corinthians 1:27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.”
2 Corinthians 6:14-17 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? 15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? 16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.” 2 Corinthians 7:1 Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”
2 Timothy 2:19 Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”
Not many in our churches like that today are there? But to our good, our God has given us a few. Are you one?
The world makes such a loud and tempting appeal to the church crowd that due to their weakness in the faith and ignorance of the Scriptures, they fail to see anything wrong with many of the Devil’s devices. The fail to recognize the “snares” Satan sets to entrap them in some egregious sin until after the trap is sprung. Such times bring unnecessary turmoil among our churches which makes it more difficult for our light to shine unblemished to the world. There are scandals like this everywhere which portray the churches in a bad light. It is no wonder that many have turned against the church as a safe place and one without hypocrisy!
The unfaithful members tend to choose sinful pleasure instead of godliness. They don’t know the meaning of separation from the world. It is impossible to discern any difference between their lives and those unbelievers of the world who profess no faith.
The faithful few are the separated few who do not dim their light with worldliness! But, there are always a “few” in our churches who walk with the Lord in the light of His way.
There is another “few” which needs to be considered. It doesn’t involve Christian service. It concerns why there are so few being born into the family of God.
VI. THERE ARE FEW THAT BE SAVED.
Luke 13:23 Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved?...” Yes, there are few that are being saved. The majority of people do not even understand their depravity before God, their destination of hell unless they repent, or the dangers of dying without a Savior. Jesus said that few would be saved because that while some may try, they will not be able to enter the strait gate. Why do they not enter?
They refuse to confess that they are lost and need a Savior. They refuse to come by way of the Cross! They refuse to come by grace through faith! Jesus said, John 5:40 And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” They refuse to believe unto eternal life, John 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”
Jesus invites lost sinners in come to the strait gate, Matthew 7:13-14 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: 14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” Jesus is that one and only “narrow” way. Jesus is that “door” by which the unsaved must enter if they would be saved.
Salvation is offered to the “whosoever will’s,” but in Jesus day he lamented over Jerusalem because of their refusal to trust in Him, Matthew 23:37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!”
What keeps the lost from being saved? Why are there few being saved? 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: 4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”
Would you like to be saved today? Then repent of your sins and accept the Son of God who died on the cross to pay for all your sins.
Would you like to be one of the faithful few servicing Christ? Then, JUST BE! It’s that easy. Get out of your easy chair and get active, what was addressed to Israel may also apply to us today, Amos 6:1 Woe to them that are at ease in Zion…” If you are at ease in your Christianity, you’ve gotten way too comfortable!
The Bible teaches us to be workers not shirkers, diligent not dilatory, always abounding in the work of the Lord as we know that our LABOR is not in vain in Him. Work for the night is coming. Work while it is day. We are created in Christ Jesus unto good works. Let us not delay, let us be motivated into immediate action to walk and to please God in all things giving Him the preeminence.
There were a few names in Sardis who were faithful… My question to each of you is, do you consider yourself to be one of the faithful few in this church? Yes? Great! Or, if not, perhaps you should determine to become one by starting today.
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