“There are a few left in Sardis …and they are worthy.”

It is joy for me to introduce to you a guest blogger for this weekend’s post. I’m sure, if you have visited Possessing the Treasure before or Slice of Laodicia or other godly Blogs across the Internet, you have read comments by “bruisedreed.” The following post was written by my friend “bruisedreed” and I believe it is timely, relevant and fits very well with our current study of the Compromised Church. As you will read, “bruisedreed” is actually Elizabeth Patterson Scott. The subject of this post is one that is vital and needed in today’s suffering church.

In Christ

Mike Ratliff

“There are a few left in Sardis …and they are worthy.”

by Elizabeth Patterson Scott

“To the angel of the church in Sardis write: He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars, says this: ‘I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. ‘Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God. ‘So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you. ‘But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. ‘He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ Rev 3:1-6

There is no doubt that the church in America is compromising. The compromise is complex. It is not enough to just say, oh the leaders in the church are selling out, they are not being faithful to the Word. The reason is this: there are a few left in Sardis. There are a few ministers left, who have not compromised, and are not going to compromise. I am married to such a man.

We have been in ministry for many years, (20+) and I must admit that we entered the ministry naively. The pastor who ordained my husband told him, “If you just preach the word, God will bring the people.” While it is imperative for a minister of God to preach the Word of God uncompromisingly, there is no guarantee that the people will come, nor is there a guarantee that the members in the church will value the pastor’s heart to preach the uncompromised truth. No…we are in a society that looks at numbers, programs, feelings, and managerial abilities to determine whether or not a ministry is successful. There are VERY FEW who sit in the pews who value the Word of God above all. As I have been reading article after article blaming the state of the church in America on the ministers, I really believe the remnant needs to be aware, “There are a few left in Sardis.”

While there are MANY pastors and leaders in churches today, that are looking for new methods to get people in their doors, there are a few well meaning pastors who have sought to be faithful to the Word and just want to be significant in furthering the Kingdom of God in the corner of the world where God has seen fit to place them. These pastors, young and old, have watched area mega churches swallow up people much like a black hole in space swallows up particles around it. These churches have an ability to sell their version of church more effectively than the smaller churches, who have less people and less money. The faithful pastor finds himself scratching his head and questioning himself, his ministry and his message. He wonders, “Is there something I am doing wrong.” “Maybe my message is off.” Or even” “The problem must be me; I am just not an effective leader.” Because he needs fellowship, he finds himself in circles with other pastors who boast of the success that their church is having by using this program or that program. And he thinks, “Well…perhaps if WE did that program then we would be able to grow a church here. Maybe we could at least get some to come.” He does not want to compromise, no; he just wants to be relevant. He just wants someone somewhere to tell him how to do this impossible job. He is willing to do what ever He knows God is calling him to…but is God calling him to grow a large church, or be an effective leader, or be relevant? I think many sitting in the pew today would say yes to those questions, but I think instead of determining what a pastor is to be according to the mind of man…we should look to the Word of God for the job description of God’s Minister.

Unfortunately many ministers are weary from battling within the walls of churches with ungodly church members, therefore their spiritual lives are suffering. They are not in the word themselves, because the demand that the church puts on their time does not allow for time to study and pray over the Word. They are required to manage every area of the church’s activity. (Yet, in some cases are not given the authority to even do this. But this would be for another article.? ) They are also involved in spiritual warfare that is indescribable to the average church member. They are being told by their ungodly members, you need to do this, our church needs to have this program, this color of paint on the wall, a themed children’s ministry etc. The minister is torn. He knows he is called by God to declare the truth, yet he is having temporal matters thrust upon him, and the church is demanding that he meet them and if he does not…well, the result would be excruciating for the minister if he does not at least try to meet them. So what does he do? He tries fruitlessly to do both. He tries to manage the earthly matters and to give the truth. But this does not work. Why? Because the “urgent matter” will always take precedence over the Word of God, because to study the word properly requires TIME!!

God is faithful, and he does revive His men. As God moves in the man of God and changes his heart, placing in him a desire for the Word and a desire to declare the word faithfully he begins to again be convinced that the only thing that accomplishes anything of lasting value is the Word. He seeks to again preach this. He encourages his people to seek God through the study of the Word, and gives them opportunity to know God through Christ-centered, biblical preaching. His ministry is God glorifying. But the pragmatic people reject the pastor’s leading and in effect reject the Word of God. They want results! They are interested in not just hearing faithful preaching…they want entertainment, programs and fun filled fellowships. The pastor at this point experiences complete rejection…which may very well lead to total discouragement and despondency. This is where many are today. They want to do what God has called them too…they are even being faithful, yet they are alone. The worldly measure of success has become the church’s measuring stick. And they are under constant attack from members who think they know better.

So what does God’s Word say that the minister of God is to do and be? Acts 6:2-4 So the twelve summoned the congregation of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve tables. “Therefore, brethren, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task. “But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”

This passage makes it clear that the true minister of the Word of God is to devote himself to prayer and the ministry of the word. Paul, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, stated THE purpose and call of ministers is to devote themselves to the study of the Word and prayer. While the details of the church have to be dealt with, it is not the call or the job of the men that are called to study the word, in order to equip the saints for the work of the Lord, to spend their energy in taking care of the temporal needs. Their job is to focus on the eternal needs. As they study the word of God…praying over it, and applying it to their own lives, they are then able to feed the flock. This does not happen when a man is forced to use all of his energies putting out fires, and defending this God-given call to the members of his flock. When he is forced to do this he is depleted and not able to devote himself to the study of the word. There is no energy left to do what God has called him to do.

The member, who has such a man, should take heed, and not squander the truth that has been declared to them from the Word of God, by the man of God. Instead of looking elsewhere for the direction of their church, perhaps they should fall on their knees and ask God to convict them of their sin, and ask for faith to live righteously putting to death the deeds of the flesh, and get busy furthering the Kingdom of God. Perhaps too they should pray for the man that God has placed in leadership in their church, and they should seek to defend his honor when they hear his character being torn down. Perhaps they should openly and publicly thank the pastor for his faithfulness, and encourage him by ministering to his family’s needs so that he is free to do what God has called him to do. These are just some suggestions. ?

Lastly, we all need to realize this: A true man of God is called into the ministry by God. He does not choose this vocation as if one might choose to work as an attorney, engineer, or salesman. No. He does it because God has placed a call on His life to be a Declarer of Truth. This is why he needs our prayer. Again the pastor who ordained my husband also told him this, “If you can do anything else…do it.” If you can do anything else…then you most likely are not called to be a Declarer of the Truth.

The fact remains there is NOTHING that impacts men with an eternal change except the Word of God. Men who are called to preach the Word must remain faithful…and those of us who are children of God need to pray for them. Many, including us, are considering leaving the pastorate because of the wounds and beating they have taken. They are worn out, used up, and discouraged. They love God more than ever, because this is what is produced when you face suffering for the sake of Christ. They must be sustained by God an His grace. Pray this for them…and for the remnant who remain. There are a few left in Sardis….and they are worthy!

14 thoughts on ““There are a few left in Sardis …and they are worthy.”

  1. Thank you Elizabeth, You have reminded me to be more faithful in praying for the pastor of the congregation I worship with. I do pray, and not as faithfully as I ought. I most often am not remembering the increased spiritual battle that he encounters due to him being a pastor and because he faithfully preaches the WORD.

    Praying for you and your husband, too.

  2. Elizabeth (bruisedreed),
    Thank you for this reminder. After a year plus of searching, I finally found a faithful minister to the word of God. I don’t pray for him as much as I should. Bless you for this reminder. Yes there are a few left in Sardis. I pray for these pastors, for their responsibility is greater, the Lord has left them to take care of the flock. This past few weeks I have also read testimonies from some who are leaving the PC USA or the Episocapl church. They are repenting from having not been faithful to the word of God. They had faithful members, the few left in Sardis, who implored them to turn back to the ways of the Lord, finally, through God’s grace and mercy, they are turning back to His word. They are also in my prayers.

    Thank you Mike for allowing bruisedreed to post this reminder.

    I think I will look around :-)

  3. Be encouraged for we serve a congegation of one.
    Lk.7:23 – And blessed is he, whosoever shall not offended in Me.

    He had prepared for His ministry all His life and for three and a half years He had covered the whole nation of Israel preaching His message. He had taught on such relevant topics as heaven, hell, cross bearing, angels, sacrifice, prayer, surrender, and the worthlessness of the things of this world compared with the Spiritual blessings from the Father. He performed many miracles and healed thousands. Over the course of His ministry He had gathered thousands of seekers only to see them turn away in response to some of His “hard” messages. He baptized no one, He built no buildings, He operated on a shoestring budget, and He showed no material signs that God’s blessing was on Him.
    So after three and a half years He had 120 followers, most of whom scattered when He was arrested, huddled in an insignificant upper room, and lead by a man who just a couple of weeks ago denied he even knew Jesus. Nobody would have scheduled Jesus to speak at a church growth conference; nobody would read any book He wrote on how to reach people; nobody would examine His strategies to attract seekers. In the genre of today’s “success” measuring stick Jesus was a dismal failure.
    Now these 120 nobodies could never impact the world for Jesus. No training, no education, no plan, no television, no money, no New Testament, no graphics, and soon the whole world would seek their lives which all but one of them would gladly give up. If the early followers of Jesus had just had enough sense to be relevant and non-offensive they could have avoided the burnings, the stonings, the crosses, the lions, and they could have been accepted by the unbelieving culture – like we are! You see, if only they had presented their message in an appealing and positive way more people would have been saved. It’s a shame they didn’t have a Purpose Driven Pentecost.
    Either Jesus was a failure…or we are.

  4. Kim and Renee,

    When I read this post from Elizebeth this morning I knew it had to go in tonight. It is so right on target and the message is so needed in our churches.

    Rick,

    Jesus was no failure. He accomplished everything He came to Earth to accomplish. He purchased a people for Himself with His blood. We are fleshly and utter failures at keeping His commandments outside of God’s grace.

    bruisedreed (Elizabeth),

    Way to go, great post. I know I will be far more discerning in caring for my pastor(s).

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  5. Dear Elizabeth,

    The hurt and anquish comes through, I will be lifting you and your husband up to the great mercy seat of Christ, that you both may nourished and strengthened in these tulmultuous times in the body of Christ. Michah 6:2

    Hear, you mountains, the indictment of the Lord, and you enduring foundations of the earth, for the Lord has an indictment against his people, and he will contend with Israel.

  6. I actually have been doing some studying of Ecclesiastes, which is written by the Preacher (Solomon). Solomon’s book at first seems downcast and disheartening, but one of the main themes of Ecclesiastes is that, while all on earth may be discouraging, temporary vanity, God’s things are eternal. I believe it can help pastors to look to the eternal goals of their calling. Sometimes we can get to caught up in the controversies and trials of our day in the church – these are important, yes, but not as important as trusting and fearing the Lord. The best pastors will be determined by the latter – their fear of God. It sounds like your husband is one of the latter.

    Thanks for a good post. I am planning on becoming a pastor myself. I know there will be trials in the future, but I also look forward to serving God as well as my fallible self can.

    God be with you,

    A. Shepherd
    The Aspiring Theologian

  7. Stand up, stand up, for Jesus;
    the strife will not be long:
    this day, the noise of battle;
    the next, the victor’s song.
    To him that overcometh
    a crown of life shall be;
    he with the King of glory
    shall reign eternally.

  8. bruisedreed meaning (bruise) injured (dreed) to suffer, to endure, wearisome. I just went out on a limb and looked up the meaning of your pen name. If I’m wrong, please correct me. Often times, the loneliest places can be when one is standing for the truth. Jesus stated that the foxes had their dens and the birds their nest, but He had no where to lay His head. I think that He had a double meaning for that verse. Not only did He not accumulate worldly treasure, but He was alone in His action to not accumulate what the world had to offer. He had His twelve, but He wanted to show that those who followed Him would have to give all in order to follow Him. He gladly walked this path for us first. 1Peter 5:6 “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” I know you’re going through a hard time right now and it’s easy for us to give you “knowledge” to encourage you. Please know that we are sincere about our feelings toward your church and family. We are praying and will pray harder for you all and for all the faithful. I don’t know if my experience will help or not but I’ll share it. I was having a hard time serving the patients that I take care of because they are so demanding and rarely thankful. I began to have the attitude that I wasn’t going to let them “run” over me because they didn’t have that right. I stuggled with this for a long time until God reminded me…”All that you do is for My glory. You don’t show people kindness or a loving attitude because they deserve it but because you glorify Me in doing so. If you love Me, you will follow My commands.” Now, I’m not saying that I am perfect at this, but I’ll tell ya…IT’S A LOT EASIER doing it for Him than for myself or others. His love shows through when I’m obedient to Him and I truly can say that I can cast all my cares upon Him. God truly LOVES His children and He holds them in His hands.
    in Christ
    sarah

  9. Sarah,

    That is was very insightful. Actually, I don’t think we do anything that isn’t as filthy rags before the Lord unless what we do is done entirely for His glory and by His grace.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  10. Kim, Renee, Henry, Terri, Albert, and Sarah,
    Thank you for taking the time to read this post. I appreciate all the kind words and encouragement that you have shared. It means more than you know…especially your commitment to pray for us. We greatly need this. I am honored that God has used this in some of your lives to increase your prays for the men of God in your lives.

    It is our desire above all to Glorify God with our lives…please continue to pray that God will continue to mold us into vessels of honor for His Name and His sake. He is worthy of our service…may the Lamb who was slain receive the reward of His sufferings through our feeble efforts to share and declare truth. God is faithful, and He does not leave undone the work He begins in the heart of His children. This fact alone brings great comfort! We are tired…this is all to true. We do need a break…over 20 years on the front line will do this to ya. But more than we desire a break, we desire for God to be honored and glorified in our lives. We are about furthering His Kingdom. Pray for us to know God’s direction in our lives.

    Thank you all again for helping to sustain weary saints…

    And Michael…thank you for the encouragement to write this post…and thank you for your willingness to post in on your site. You are a true friend…of likemindness. Friends like you are all to rare in this era. I appreciate you and your ministry more than you know. You and your family remain in my fervent prayers.

  11. bruisedreed,

    Glad to do it. Your’s is a message that we need to hear and heed. It gives us a perspective that God wants us to learn and take to heart. I thank you for the example of your continual pursuit of God’s glory and the furtherance of HIs kingdom. I also admire your resolve to remain on the narrow way of the cross knowing that the fulfillment of our pilgramage awiats in the Celestial City where our Lord is.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  12. My friend…

    There is no faithful minister of the gospel anywhere that is not hard hit by discouragement…Satan’s global weapon to get us to quit. It comes in all sizes and shapes, forms and people…He divides our families, our congregations and our relationships. Too often there is little if anything that we can do to stop the drama that goes on around us….but let’s take note of how Jesus responded….

    He paid little attention to what went on around him…like a horse with blinders He stayed true to his course…fulfilled His purpose…He never concerned Himself with numbers, how His message was perceived, or if a listener returned to hear Him again.
    He was the Word…we preach the Word…it is the Word and the Spirit that do the work. God never made any one of us responsible for the results…He never gave us a yardstick to measure them….

    Paul’s words to Timothy “preach the Word, be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with great patience and instruction”. While exhortation falls on ears that may be inclined to listen, rebuke and reproof rarely do. Perhaps that is why his statement ends with “with great patience”.

    Alistair Begg preached this amazing message to a pastor’s conference a few years ago. In it he talks about the parable of the sower and the soils….the story is about one sower and four different types of soil….Alistair’s observation is that in today’s churches, we make it about four different sowers and one type of soil….different sowers, different styles, presentations, bells and whistles…different results. But in fact the story is about one sower sowing the same Word…and it falling on different types of soil…some receptive and some not….

    God’s call on the preacher is to preach…to sow the Word. God is responsible for the result…it is HE who gives the increase.

    My friend, don’t lose heart in doing good, in due time you will reap if you don’t grow weary. I will pray God’s grace upon you and your husband….it is still sufficient.

    Because He lives,
    Barb

  13. Barb,
    Thank you for the words of encouragement. Thank you also for sharing truth from the word of God. There is nothing that encourages a soul better than the Word.

    Thank you for praying for us…I guarantee that we will remain faithful to God, where ever we are. We are people of the Word…and we will be about communicating the truth, no matter what.

    May God bless you!
    elizabeth (bruisedreed)

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