ENCOURAGEMENT BY PROMISING REWARD
Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. 5 The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. (ESV Rev 3:4-5)
A. Jesus now recognizes “a few names (believers) in Sardis” that have remained loyal to Him and have “not soiled their garments” with the world. The phrase a “few names” appeals to the fact that their names are actually still written in “the book of life.”
Indeed, true companion, I ask you also to help these women who have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel, together with Clement also and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life. (NASB Phil 4:3)
B. Therefore they will be “considered worthy to attain to that age (the age to come) and the resurrection from the dead.” Being considered worthy or not is a massive issue before the Lord.
He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38 “And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. 39 “He who has found his life (in this age) will lose it (in the age to come), and he who has lost his life for My sake (in this age) will find it (in the age to come). (NASB Mat 10:37-39)
Jesus said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, 35 but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage (for they will marry the Lamb); 36 for they cannot even die anymore, because they are like angels, and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection. (NASB Lk 20:34-36)
We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brethren, as is only fitting, because your faith is greatly enlarged, and the love of each one of you toward one another grows ever greater; 4 therefore, we ourselves speak proudly of you among the churches of God for your perseverance and faith in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions which you endure. 5 This is a plain indication of God’s righteous judgment so that you will be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which indeed you are suffering. 6 For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, 7 and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, 8 dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, 10 when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed–for our testimony to you was believed. 11 To this end also we pray for you always, that our God will count you worthy of your calling (calling/destiny in the age to come), and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power (in the resurrection from the dead), 12 so that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. (NASB 2Ths 1:3-12)
C. Finally, Jesus encourages these saints to overcome by promising three glorious rewards:
1. White garments – royal-priestly garments that give believers the honor of walking with Jesus without shame (in contrast to Adam/Eve in Gen. 3), as a pure and spotless bride.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. (NASB Eph 5:25-27)
I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. (NASB Rev 3:18)
Behold, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps his clothes, so that he will not walk about naked and men will not see his shame. (NASB Rev 16:15)
Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” 8 It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts (their works of faith) of the saints. 9 Then he said to me, “Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.'” And he said to me, “These are true words of God.” (NASB Rev 19:7-9)
2. Not blotting their names from the book of life – this reality makes clear that Sardis’ problem was not just concerning their spiritual condition in this age but their eternal destiny in the age to come. On the negative side it meant being thrown into the lake of fire outside of the New Jerusalem if they would not repent. On the positive side this meant inheriting eternal life and having access into the New Jerusalem if they would repent.
May they be blotted out of the book of life And may they not be recorded with the righteous. (NASB Psa 69:28)
And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (NASB Rev 20:15)
[…] and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it (the New Jerusalem, see whole chapter), but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. (NASB Rev 21:27)
3. Confess1 their names before the Father and His angels – this is a covenantal confession from Jesus the Messiah that attests (affirms) before the Father and His divine-governmental council (the angels) to our own covenantal confession of faith and allegiance to Him even unto death.
Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. 33 “But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven. (NASB Mat 10:32-33)
And I say to you, everyone who confesses Me before men, the Son of Man will confess him also before the angels of God; 9 but he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God. (NASB Lk 12:8-9)
The Jews then did not believe it of him, that he had been blind and had received sight, until they called the parents of the very one who had received his sight, 19 and questioned them, saying, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? Then how does he now see?” 20 His parents answered them and said, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; 21 but how he now sees, we do not know; or who opened his eyes, we do not know. Ask him; he is of age, he will speak for himself.” 22 His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone confessed Him (Jesus) to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue. (NASB Jn 9:18-22)
Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God. (NASB Jn 12:42-43)
But what does it say? “THE WORD IS NEAR YOU, IN YOUR MOUTH AND IN YOUR HEART”–that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, 9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. (NASB Rom 10:8-10)
Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. (NASB 1Tim 6:12)
That is why Jesus, in order to sanctify the people by his own blood, also suffered outside the city gate. 13 Therefore go to him outside the camp and endure the insults he endured. 14 For here we have no permanent city but are looking for the one that is coming. 15 Therefore, through him let us always bring God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of our lips that confess his name (Jesus’). (ISV Heb 13:12-15)