Summary: Looking at the 5th church in Revelation
INTRO: Clayton Carpenter, one of the first casualties of Dessert Storm, was a helicopter pilot shot down was listed as KIA (killed in action). After the war, prisoners were released and Clayton Carpenter was one of them. As soon as he was freed, he called his mom back home in Kansas. Called, "Hello, Morn, this is Clayton." "But you’re dead!" Clayton talked with mom and when he got back home, he read his own obituary. Responded to news media asking him questions, "It’s not every day you get to read your own obituary."
Today we’re going to read about an obituary of a church. We’re going to perform an autopsy on this church. They thought they were alive, but Jesus says they were dead.
TEXT: Rev. 3:1-6
TITLE: A Dead Church
I. Church at Sardis - they had a reputation of being alive, but in fact they were dead. There was no commendation from the Lord like the other churches.
A. First words - You have reputation of being alive, but you’re dead.
-Not going to be a good day - first words out of Lord’s mouth.
1. No problems like rest of church.
-No doctrinal problems -No immorality problems -No persecution to speak of
2. In fact they were respectable, decent people.
3. But the problem is that they had a dying witness, a decaying ministry. The church is so lethargic, it failed to produce any false teachings (mentally dead). No opposition arose because it was dead.
Luke 6:26 - Jesus says "Woe to you when all men speak well of you."
-There’s a problem when everything’s going great all the time/same in the church because the enemy is not bothering with you.
B. Church Sardis - had a dying, decaying ministry
ex Leadership magazine ran an article on how churches are doing. It said 80% of churches in America are dead or dying (plateau).
-Another survey done by the Southern Baptist, largest protestant denomination in America, 15 million members - 30,000 churches, concluded 70% of their churches are declining or have plateaued.
1. Church Sardis is typical of churches today - comfortable, just running a maintenance program, carry on with the routine. Not making anything difficult.
2. Satan Strategy - we’ve looked at his diversionary tactics:
-Ephesus Christians so busy they have no impact.
-Smyrna Christians were persecuted, a frontal assault.
-Pergamum Christians were seduced into compromising.
-Thyatira Christians were infiltrated by the enemy.
-Sardis was hit with biological warfare, infects us with sleeping sickness (asleep at the post).
John Bunyan "Pilgrim’s Progress"
Christian is traveling with hopeful, going through the low country where the air seemed to induce sleep. Hopeful wanted to lay down and sleep, but Christian told him if they went to sleep, they would never wake up.
-Church Sardis - people were asleep and some were about ready to go to sleep.
II. Some of their symptoms
A. Worshipped the past - the good old days, live in the past, love tradition over the love of Christ.
Definition of tradition - is the living faith of the dead. Traditionalism - is the dead faith of the living.
70-80% churches America are committed to traditionalism.
B. Church more concerned about program over people.
-This is where we care more about our comfort than ministering to the people. 1. Inflexibility to change, rigormortis in the church.
-Christians should be the most wide open people to change because a living God lives within us molding and shaping us.
-Sadly Christians sometimes are the most resistant to change (not speaking doctrine , but methods).
C. Church loses its evangelistic, missionary zeal.
-When this happens church has one foot in the grave.
1. Church only organization in world exist primarily for the purpose of those who are not a part of us Yet.
-When we forget about the lost, we just become another social club and God’s spirit leaves.
2. Many mainline denominations have gone down the liberal path saying we need to stop sending missionaries, interfering in their cultures. They have plateaued or are declining.
ex Northern star, closest star to the earth besides the sun, 33 light years away, meaning it takes light traveling 186,000 miles per second, takes 33 years to reach.
-Sadly there are many churches that have died out and you’re seeing the last remaining remnants of light within them.
M. Cure - formula for revival in personal life (v. 2 Read)
A. Wake up - bucket cold water thrown on you.
ex live in old house going college lived in big walk in closet sleeping one night, no shirt felt these claws walking across chest, jumped up, immediately wide awake (mouse).
-That’s what Lord’s saying to those who have fallen asleep. Enemy this close to taking your life (this close to your throat).