Summary: Are we a church that looks alive on the outside, but is really dying inwardly. This sermon will give four steps to ensure that we remain alive.
Are we Alive but Dead?
Pm service March 30th 2008
Have you ever seen or been apart of a church that is dead and dying? A church that was satisfied with itself, with keeping things the way they had always been? A church resting on it laurels and past history, that only spoke of what it used to be.
An artist was once asked to put on canvas what he considered to be the picture best symbolizing a decaying and dying church. After several months, he returned and reported that he had finished the task. The hour finally arrived when the painting was to be unveiled and Several people standing around the easel had already given their description of what they thought the church would look like. Some had said it would be a rundown building in great need of repair and paint. Weeds would be growing in the church yard, and there would be some broken window panes. Everyone in the group seemed to have a similar picture in mind. However, when the cloth was removed, a hush fell over the group. Everyone was stunned. Before their eyes was an absolutely beautiful church building. The grounds were well kept and the exterior of the building was in excellent condition. After a few minutes, one person stepped forward and said to the artist, "I thought we asked you to paint a dying church?"
The artist smiled and invited everyone to step closer to the painting. He pointed through the windows to the empty pews and to the collection plate on the table. There was nothing in the plate but "cobwebs."
The church that has cobwebs in its collection plate is a church that is decaying and dying. Without the giver, there is no giving. Without the giving, ministries cannot be conducted by the church. Without ministries being conducted, the mission of the church cannot be carried out. If the mission of the church is not carried out, the church is purposeless and dead. (Sermon Central Illustration David Elvery)
This was the church a Sardis. Sardis pictures the church that has an excellent reputation and is highly respected by the community, but its dead and lifeless.
In our passage of scripture tonight the Holy spirit through John will give the church at Sardis a warning about there spiritual lifelessness, and tonight we will learn four steps to take to ensure that we remain alive both in deed and in Spirit.
Read Scriptures: Revelation 3:1-6
I. To Remain alive we must understand that, God sees through our busyness.
Vs. 1 “To the angel of the church in Sardis write: These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead.”
God told the church at Sardis, “I know your deeds”, it tells us that they did have some works going on at the church. They had programs, and different things going on, they even had a reputation in the community for the things they had done in the past and are still doing.
The key phrase in that passage is “I Know”, God says I can see through your busyness and even through your reputation, your not hiding behind your programs.
All of the churches man made programs can never bring life, that is the Holy Spirit’s Job.
To remain alive as a church, we need to understand that God sees through our busyness and our programs, we can not hide behind them as if programs alone can reach our community, it is still the way it has always been, God wants us to be obedient children allowing the Holy Spirit to move through us and work through us.
II. To Remain alive we must be awake and alert to movement of the Holy Spirit.
Vs. 2 “Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God.”
God’s counsel to a dying church is “Wake Up”, there are some things that I want to work through, wake up and be alert to where I am moving.
God says “Strengthen what remains” there is hope, it is not all lost, its not dead yet, you are dying but you are not dead, there is still hope for you, if you “strengthen what remains”. The things that you are doing are not the things that I want you to do, they are “not complete in my sight”, because your not following the Holy Spirit’s guidance.
If this church is going to remain alive, then we need to heed the warning God that he gave to church at Sardis, and that is to wake up and be alert to the moving of the Holy Spirit.