Summary: Reputation and reality are not equals.
DEAD IN THE WATER
C: Relationship with God
Th: God Speaks to the Church
Pr: REPUTATION AND REALITY ARE NOT OFTEN EQUALS.
CV: We will passionately pursue full devotion to Jesus Christ.
I. THE CORRESPONDENT
II. THE CHURCH
III. THE COMMENDATION
IV. THE CONCERN
V. THE COMMAND
VI. THE COUNSEL
PA: How is the change to be observed?
• Refuse to rely on the past for your future.
• Fight for life!
RMBC 22 February 09 AM
ILL: Church (H)
I once heard about a church that was so dead, that when a member happened to die during the worship service – the paramedics actually carried out five people before they finally got the right one.
Seriously, though, experts that study the life of the church tell us there are four stages
One way to classify them is like this:
The first stage is…
This is the beginning stage of most churches.
It usually begins with one or two purpose-driven people, who then gather a small, intimate group of believers.
At this stage, people are very committed.
They throw their whole life into the ministry.
They believe in what they are doing.
They are building God’s kingdom.
Movement then transitions to…
Attendance picks up.
The ministry attains critical mass.
Now, because of their size, they can begin to do things they could only dream about before.
They begin to hire out more positions.
They still have the vision and a dream, and the church family is seeing it fulfilled.
If they are not careful though…
If somewhere along the line they become satisfied in their successes…
Their intensity will begin to diminish.
And magnificence will transition to…
At this stage, the church talks more about their past than their future.
Instead of moving forward, they work to maintain their past reputation.
They do things because that’s the way they’ve always done them.
At this stage, the church is often cursed by power struggles and many talk about the church as “my church” and “our church” as opposed to the “new” people that have only been there for 20 years or less.
In reality, the church is no longer moving.
Instead, it is stationary.
It is stable.
It is a monument, soon to be a…
This is the dead church.
People have drifted away or died.
Attendance levels drop, and new people (when they show up) are suspect because the people that are left fear being taken over.
We come to the church in Sardis today as we continue our series, “God Speaks to the Church.”
(1) And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: “The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. (2) Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. (3) Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you. (4) Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. (5) The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. (6) He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
I. THE CORRESPONDENT
We have two descriptions about Jesus to which we are not accustomed – seven spirits and seven stars.
But through these two descriptions…
Jesus reminds them that He is in control.
The seven spirits communicate the perfection of the Holy Spirit.
He is a Helper.
He is a Comforter.
He provides strength in time of trouble.
But there is more…
He also convicts of sin.
Through the Spirit, Jesus is able to see perceptively and acutely into our lives.
He knows where we need correction.
The seven stars represent the seven churches.
And Jesus is communicating that they are in His hands.
He is the Lord.
He is the head of the church.
He is the One who is in control.
II. THE CHURCH
Sardis is thirty miles to the east of Thyatira.
This city existed at the intersection of five major highways of the ancient world.
It was once the capital of the Lydian kingdom, which had boasted the fabulously rich King Croesus.
It is here that the first gold and silver coins were minted.