I was reading the news this morning and saw where Kanye West and Kim Kardashian came to faith in Christ. Praise the Lord! It was not too long ago where their names were synonymous with all that is fake and superficial in the world. Now, they are children of the King and members of His kingdom. Besides their conversion, something that stood out in the article is that Kanye West is turning from his rap music to gospel music. He has not been saved a year and he has already produced an album praising Jesus. The title of the album is “Jesus is King.” When he announced the record he said, “I’m not here for your entertainment. We’re here to spread the gospel.” Well said.
This morning I also was reading the book of Revelation and came across this Jewel. Speaking to the church at Sardis Jesus said, “I know your works; you have a reputation for being alive, but you are dead. Be alert and strengthen what remains, which is about to die, for I have not found your works complete before my God.” What struck me when reading was the section I highlighted. Their works were not complete. The church thought they were alive with faith, but Jesus rebukes them (sharply) and tells them two things. First, they are dead; and second, the proof they are dead is they have no works to show for their faith.
Kanye West has been saved less than a year and he is already using his resources to preach Jesus to the nations in the only way he knows how, through his music. His faith is producing works. I have been a pastor for 18 years and I can say it is a rare thing to see people who genuinely want to make Jesus known. I think the church at Sardis just got comfortable. They rested on their laurels because, after all, they are saved by faith – which is true. But the Bible says that faith without works is dead (James 2:17). Jesus is rebuking the church because true faith ALWAYS produces works. Not just the, “Hey I’m a good guy” kind of works. But saving faith produces kingdom work. Kingdom work is centered around the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:47; John 20:21; Acts 1:8). Kingdom work is about making Jesus known throughout the entire world and making disciples of the nations. Yet so many have yet to understand that even though we are saved by faith, that same faith ALWAYS produces works that are pleasing to the King.
In John’s gospel Jesus said, “My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be my disciples” (15:8). The fruit Jesus speaks about is the kingdom work that He both commands and expects of His disciples (cf. Luke 9:57-62). Notice, it is the works that prove one’s faith. Hence, He said, “produce much fruit and prove to be my disciples.” He is not saying that we have to prove ourselves before him. He is saying that the fruit (works) we produce is evidence of true saving faith. In that same chapter Jesus just finished saying that for those who abide in Him, they WILL bear fruit (John 15:5). In other words, the person who genuinely lives by faith in Christ will be in union with Christ to such a degree that they want what God wants – to see the nations come to saving faith in Christ. Because they want what He wants, they begin to join Him in the works that He is already doing (John 5:17).
If we claim faith in Christ but are not producing kingdom works, there are two things to consider. The first is that maybe the faith we proclaim is false. It’s not real, and the lack of works proves it. The second is that while the faith we proclaim is real, somewhere along the line we got comfortable (like the church at Sardis) and stopped abiding in Christ. In other words, our faith, while claiming Jesus as Lord, was not actually following Him as such. What a thought: one can have faith in Christ, but their faith no longer takes them to Christ! Such a faith is a hollow, vapid, shell of what Christ seeks to give to us. This is what happened to the church at Sardis. Jesus rebuked them. He told them to wake up and repent. He said, “Strengthen what remains.”
If you have small fire, you can fan it into a large fire. This is what a lot of us need today. We need to listen to what Jesus said to the church of Sardis. We need to take our puny faith which we no longer practice, and fan it into flame. We need to go back to the source of our faith and once again abide in Christ. His life will fill us once again (or maybe for the first time). And we will see ourselves doing the works that please our King.
Let’s join the Kardashians in spreading the gospel!
I never thought I’d be saying that 🙂