Vol.V No.III Pg.4
May 1968

The "Few" In Sardis

Robert F. Turner

Many "good" brethren tell me they know the congregation of which they are members is engaged in practices for which there is no divine authority. They deplore the situation -- to hear them tell it -- but are horrified at any suggestion that they may have to worship elsewhere. Were there not a "few -- in Sardis" acceptable to God -- and they were not told to leave??

The severing of congregational ties is not a thing to be taken lightly. Much harm has been done by self-willed people who run hither and yon, too immature to establish a happy working relationship with others. If those who play hide-and-seek with the mythical "perfect" local church could find such a group, their admittance would change its status. "Perfection" for saints, individually and collectively, consists of a striving -- forgetting the past and "pressing" toward the divine goal. (Phil. 3:13-15)

But when it becomes apparent that such an attitude toward God's word has been abandoned -- when brethren make no effort to "prove all things" by the scriptures, and resist honest efforts to study the "issues" in the light of God's word -- does the situation in Sardis (Rev. 3:1-6) justify my condoning, supporting, and being a part of this church in error?

Rev. 3:1-6 describe conditions in a church "ready to die"; a church being warned that God will not long tolerate such conditions. It is ridiculous to think God would ask the "few" to accept, condone and support on a permanent basis, what He would soon deny. Acknowledging the "few" who had not "defiled their garments" shows that we are judged as individuals; and certainly does not relieve these "few" of individual responsibility to fight error. On the contrary, it indicates that they must have been "fighting the good fight" -- opposing the error, and seeking to restore the fallen.

In the previous letter (Rev. 2:18-f) Christ censured the brethren at Thyatira "because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel--". To "suffer" is to "allow", to refuse to oppose. The Lord gave time to repent; but said that if they did not repent "I will kill her children with death." Does this teach that we may "allow" sin to go unopposed in the church today, and reap no ill effect? It certainly does not!

Rev. 2:1-7 records the status of the church in Ephesus -- at the time of the writing. For that time the Lord continued to recognize this congregation, but said, "repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent."

The fact that there were a "faithful few" in Sardis -- at the time that letter was given -- offers no solace to those who compromise convictions, and refuse to accept their individual responsibilities to serve the Lord. A Jezebel, or Diotrephes, (3 Jn. 9) can control a church only because these so- called "good" brethren allow and support their action. These robes are not white. They are stained with the blood of martyrs whose plea for purity was drowned in the hypocritical cry, Preserve the Party!!"