And to the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things said he that has the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars…
I. CHRIST HATH A PERFECT KNOWLEDGE OF EVERY ONE'S WORKS.
1. In what extent we are to understand "the works" which Christ is said to know. Works here are not to be taken as distinguished from words and thoughts, but in the largest sense, as including both.
2. In what manner Christ knows men's works.
(1) The knowledge Christ has of the works of men is most clear. He does not take up with appearances, but sees through every disguise, and takes things as they really are.
(2) The knowledge Christ hath of the works of men is immediate, not by report from others, but from His own all-penetrating light and inspection.
(3) The knowledge Christ hath of the works of men is perfect and full. Perfect as to their number; none of them escape His notice or regard; perfect as to their nature and circumstances, and as to the springs and aims of those that do them. Works that we may have forgotten are known to Him and remembered by Him.
(4) The knowledge Christ has of the works of men is infallible and liable to no mistake. He cannot be deceived, and will not be mocked.
(5) The knowledge Christ has of the works of men is with approbation, or dislike, according as they are found to be good or bad.
II. WHOEVER HE BE THAT HATH A NAME TO LIVE, AND YET IS DEAD, IS KNOWN TO CHRIST AS WHAT HE REALLY IS.
1. What is implied in having a name to live? They that are really in a state of grace may be justly said to live, as such souls live to the best purpose; for to them to live is Christ. They are out of the reach of the sting of death, and so need not through fear of it pass their lives in bondage; they are near a blessed immortality, in which they are to live for ever. To be thus privileged is to be alive indeed. And such a name may be acquired —
(1) By a freedom from the grosser pollutions of the world.
(2) A name to live, as it implies an open and visible profession of subjection to Christ, a joining with His people in His worship and ordinances, and an holding on some time in such a course; so it may arise from these.
(3) A name to live may result from experiencing the common operations of the Spirit of God, which for a time may look hopeful and promising.
(4) These convictions and external reformations may be accompanied with excelling gifts, enlargedness in the duty of prayer, joy and delight in hearing and attending upon the supper of the Lord, frequency in acts of self-denial and mortification. There may be great head-knowledge and ability to discourse of hypocrisy itself with appearing abhorrence, and of sincerity with signs of love to it; and yet all these may be found in one unchanged at heart.
2. Such a name some professors of Christianity may have, who are all the while they bear it spiritually dead. If it be asked, With whom such may have a name to live? a negative answer is obvious: Not with Him who seeth not as man seeth.But,
1. They may have a name to live with themselves: they may reckon themselves in a state of grace, when they are all the while in the gall of bitterness, and bond of iniquity.
(1) In the security that reigns in their souls. They dread no danger, though the nearest to it, but cry, Peace, Peace, to themselves, when sudden destruction is coming upon them.
(2) Sinners show their good opinion of themselves in the hope they keep up of their safety with reference to their souls and eternity.
(3) They may have a superficial joy in spiritual things as the stony ground hearers had in receiving the word; and thus, with themselves they have a name to live.
2. They may have a name to live among others, and these the friends and followers of Christ.
3. The sadness of the case, to be dead, under a name to live, or of being alive.
1. Does Christ know every man's works? How strange is it that it should be brought into dispute, whether He be truly and properly God!
2. Does Christ know the works of every man? What ignorance or unbelief does it argue in such as sin securely, if they can but do it secretly!
3. What seriousness becomes us whenever we engage in any holy duty or religious worship, as all our works are known to Christ!
4. What reason have we to be humble in a review of our own works, as they are all known to Christ, and, as many of them are such as we have cause to fear, He at once observed and disapproved!
5. How fit is Christ to be the Judge of all men at the last day, who knows every man's work now!
6. How big with terror to hypocrites is this doctrine.
7. The hearts of those in whom there is no guile allowed, may take comfort in the thoughts that Christ knows their works and knows them to be the fruits of His Spirit and grace in them.
8. May one that has a name to live be spiritually dead? Hence learn that saving religion in an inward thing.
9. When Christ declares, I know. thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead, with what solicitude should every one make the inquiry, Lord, is it I?
10. How inconsiderable a thing is it to be judged of man in this day! of man that looketh only on the outside. Our chief concern is with one infinitely greater: He that judges us is the Lord.
11. How terrible will the day of Christ's coming be to the self-deceiving hypocrite, and how joyful to the humble saint.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.
WEB: "And to the angel of the assembly in Sardis write: "He who has the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars says these things: "I know your works, that you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead.