Summary: Jesus addresses several churches in the nook of Revelation. One of the churches is called a dead church. The question we need to consider is are we a dead church? Are we dead spiritually?
"A Dead Church"
Each week in America, paramedics arrive on the scene of an accident where the victim has crossed the barrier between life and death. There is no heartbeat. Breathing has stopped. All the vital signs of life are absent. But the paramedics do not accept this death as final. They begin CPR; perhaps inject a drug that stimulates the heart. For a few frantic moments, nothing happens. Then, the victim begins to cough, taking a few ragged breaths, and the heart begins to beat, pulsing life through the body. And instead of sending a corpse to the morgue, the ambulance takes a patient to the hospital. Was the victim dead? Without getting too theological or technical, we would have to answer, yes. If not for the expert care of the paramedics, the accident would have been followed by a funeral. But we know that in many instances, this kind of death doesn’t have to be final. With the proper stimulus, the person can be revived. That is the way I picture the church at Sardis. Jesus pronounces it dead, but there is hope that spiritual CPR can revive it.
Perhaps today you feel that you are dying spiritually, but the news is that you can be revived. If we were to receive a letter like the ones received to the seven churches in Asia, what would it say? What type of church would we be classified as?
Text: Revelation 3:1-6
I. Their Reputation
The image depicted is of a church who was outwardly doing well. Perhaps their attendance was up and they were growing. They had successful programs which were drawing a crowd. Maybe he could say that their attendance and Sunday School was working well and was well attended. Perhaps he could say their building program was ahead of schedule or their offerings were great, but yet they were complacent. While they thought they lived and were doing well they were dying.
I wonder what it was about the church at Sardis that gave them a good reputation among people. Perhaps they were known for being generous and a giving congregation. Perhaps they were known for being bold in sharing their faith. Perhaps they were known for having good solid preaching. Whatever the case was in Sardis they had a reputation of being a good, strong and vibrant congregation. Perhaps they gave everyone reason to think highly of themselves.
A good reputation isn’t a bad thing to have, I want to have a good reputation. I want to have a reputation for having a good character, for loving the brotherhood, and for standing firm upon the Truth. There is a problem though, a reputation can be wrong. There are many people that have a reputation for being a lot things, and sometimes their reputation is built upon false assumptions and therefore is wrong. The church at Sardis had a reputation of being alive, but they weren’t.
The truth is that we can give a good impression to people and still not be right with the Lord. We can make everyone around us think we are spiritual giants. Perhaps we can do that by flat out and purposefully giving the wrong impression. After all, we want people to think highly of us, don’t we? Maybe sometimes we walk around with a spiritual mask covering over the true person that we don’t want anyone to see. We know how to talk, sound, and act spiritual, so therefore we have a good reputation, but perhaps inwardly there is a deeper truth regarding who we are. Sometimes people can have a good reputation and not be right with the Lord. I think of the Pharisees, who had a reputation of being spiritual, but inside their hearts were filthy. Outwardly, they looked great. They said and did the right things at the right times, but the reputation that they had was based only on what man could see.
Many people are working so diligently to have a good reputation and be well thought of among others, that they fail to get themselves in a right relationship with the God whose opnion of us really does matter. Each of us has a reputation for something. What is your reputation? Perhaps you have a reputation for some great aspect of your character. Perhaps you are known as kind, caring, generous, loving, loyal, committed, faithful, bold or devoted to the church. Perhaps you are known for some negative aspect of your character. Perhaps you are known for being crude or vulgar, perhaps for being arrogant, perhaps for being rude. Perhaps you have a reputation for something you have done. Whatever that reputation might be I would suggest that the reputation we have may tell us something about ourselves. If today you have a bad reputation for something I would not dismiss it altogether, but I would examine myself to see if there is any truth to it. If your reputation is a good one, remember that a good reputation still does not mean you are doing what is right. Many with a good reputation are inwardly filthy, we call them hypocrites.