“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“
Remember therefore how you have received and heard
The church at Sardis needs to remember how they both heard and received the original message of Christianity. They needed to remember God’s mercy and grace when they first believed. Their first affections are the most impressionable.
The word “received” means they received in the past with the result that they continue to receive. They were to use what they received in the past in their present situation.
hold fast and repent.
Sardis is the third church Jesus ordered to repent. The word “repent” literally means to perceive afterwards implying change of thinking. The New Testament uses of “repent” always means a change of thinking for the better (except in Luke 17:3,4).
Repentance implies a change of life because of a complete change of thought and attitude. While the emphasis in the English is on sorrow or contrition, the Greek word carries the idea of a total change in thinking and behavior with respect to both how we think and act. Whether the focus is on attitude or behavior depends on the context. Jesus wants the Christians at Sardis to completely change their thinking and orientation about their sin.
Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief
If the church at Sardis does not repent, Jesus will come silently and unexpectedly to discipline the church. Jesus will come in unexpected discipline. If people do not respond to His grace, then He must use a judicial approach in getting their attention. This is the repercussion of non-repentance.
and you will not know what hour I will come upon you
Spiritual deadness gives people a false sense of security. Thieves come when we do not expect them to come. Thieves do not make appointments to steal from us. They do not say they are going to come in two days, at two in the morning. No, Jesus will come unexpectedly. Christians out of fellowship will be totally unprepared.
This is the principle of church-repentance.
Repentance of the individual is one thing and repentance of a church is another thing. Sometimes entire churches need to repent.
Repentance is more than emotion. Repentance goes beyond emotion to attitude and the frame of reference around which a person orients. Are you oriented to the Lord? If not, you need to repent of anything that stands between you and the Lord.