Summary: Something is missing from the church today, and people are starting to notice. Too often the church fails to offer what it advertises: life.

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2. (Preview to a Vision week 2)

January 17, 2010

A Church without Faith is Dead

There was a 4 year old boy named Billy who had a pet cat. One day while Billy was at school his cat was run over by a car and died. Trying to protect her son from seeing his beloved kitty dead on the road his mother quickly disposed of the remains. A few days went by and Billy began asking what had happened to his cat. “Billy, the cat died,” his mother explained. She tried to comfort him by telling him: “It’s all right. Now he’s up in heaven with God.” Billy was puzzled by his mother’s statement. “What in the world would God want with a dead cat?” Have you ever noticed how kids have this strange ability to make these statements which force us to stop and reevaluate how we think? Putting aside the cat I do want to ask a similar question: what in the world would God want with a dead church?

Turn to Revelation 3:1. Last week we looked at James and how faith without works is dead. This week we are going to look at the book of Revelation and what it has to say about the church. In chapters 2 and 3 of the book of Revelation we see seven sort of letters within the letter to seven different churches in Asia Minor. For some reason in my Bible these font in both of these chapters is all red. Does anyone know why that is? These are the words of Jesus. This is not an Epistle of John writing to the church, Jesus Himself is writing these letters to His churches and what you will find if you read these letters from Jesus to seven of His churches is that what Jesus has to say is very personal. In each of these letters Jesus says: I know. I know your deeds. I know your afflictions. This is very personal. Jesus says I know how you live. He is not fooled by our facades. He is not deceived by our titles or reputations, Jesus sees our hearts. He knows what we do and why we do it. Jesus knows us not for who we say we are, not for who we think we are, Jesus knows us for who we really are both as individuals and as churches. For me these two chapters of Revelation really bring the idea of a personal God into focus. You know? I have said God is a personal God I have accept Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior but it is these passages where Jesus simply says: I know that really helped me understand how personal Jesus really is.

Now for two of those churches Jesus has no condemnation. Of Smyrna and Philadelphia He says nothing bad to say to them. For two of the seven churches Jesus has no commendation. Of Sardis and Laodicea Jesus has nothing good to say about them. Can you imagine as a church getting a personal letter from Jesus only to find that He has nothing good to say about us? Ouch. We are going to see one of these churches this morning as we look at the church in Sardis.

Rev 3:1 “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. Rev 3:2 Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God. Rev 3:3 Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you. Rev 3:4 Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. Rev 3:5 He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels. Rev 3:6 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

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