Summary: 5th in a series on the seven churches mentioned in Revelation 2-3
Wake up and live your life in the power of God the Holy Spirit!
It’s always a challenge for me to come up with a sermon title – one that’s catchy, grabs our attention, yet captures the essence of what the message is about. Here are some possible sermon titles I considered: “A Morgue with a Steeple” “Tottering Timbers”
“A Decaying Church in a Degenerate City”
“Rumored Alive – Really Dead” “The Magnificent Mausoleum” “The Corpse That Works” “The Danger of Decay”
“The Dead Church”
Any of those would have pretty much worked for the message this morning. What we are looking at this morning is a message to a dead church – the church at Sardis.
The sin of Sardis was doing church without the power of God in their lives.
This was a church made up of living corpses.
Hollywood has given us a name for living corpses: “Zombies.” Now, I don’t watch any of those horror movies, it’s just not something that interests me. But in many horror movies, you’ll have “zombies.” Zombies are corpses that are alive. They walk around as if they are alive, but they are really dead. So, we’re looking at a letter to the First Zombie Church of Sardis! What does a zombie church look like? A zombie church meets for worship, they sing songs, they give, they teach, they pray, they talk, they fellowship, they have activities, they walk around as if they are alive...but they are really dead!
And don’t be too shocked, but this can and does happen in churches today. There are thousands of churches just like that in the world today. And churches like that are what turn people off to the church...and I don’t blame them! It turns me off too!
But it turns me on to realize what Christ really wants His church to be like...And we’re going to find out this morning.
Christ Himself will speak.
Let’s hear what He has to say...
Please turn to Revelation 3:1-6
Christ is speaking here. He’s the Correspondent to the church.
1. THE CORRESPONDENT TO THE CHURCH (v. 1a)
These are Christ’s words. Notice it says that Christ “holds the seven spirits (or the seven-fold Spirit) of God and the seven stars”
Who or what are the Seven Spirits and the Seven Stars?
7 Spirits = 7 fold ministry of God the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 11:2).
Seven is a symbol and a reference to fullness and perfection.
In other words, Jesus is saying that He is the One who controls the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of that church.
And that’s the only thing that gives a church any kind of power. That’s the only thing that gives anyone any kind of power. Plus, Jesus is the one who holds the seven stars.
7 Stars = the seven leaders of the church (cp. Rev. 1:16; 2:1)
In other words, in Christ introducing Himself to the church, we find that the church in Sardis desperately needed the Holy Spirit in their church.
And they needed to remember that Jesus is the Lord of the church. Everything that is done, taught and considered by a church will not succeed unless it is done in the power of the Holy Spirit and under the authority of the Lord of the Church, the Lord Jesus Christ!
This gives us a hint as to what one of the major problems was of this dead church. The Spirit of God was never consulted!
And that’s always the case in a dead church.
Christ is telling His church that He wants it controlled by His Spirit!
Zechariah 4:6 “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit says the Lord”
The church at Sardis was a church that looked alive.
It had all kinds of activities, but it didn’t have the one thing it needed the most: the Holy Spirit.
No matter how much activity you have...
No matter how many programs you have...
If a church is not controlled by the Holy Spirit, it is a dead church!
And that’s exactly what we find in the church at Sardis...
2. THE CONDITION OF THE CHURCH (v. 1b)
Pretty strong words from Christ, huh?
Christ doesn’t mix any words. He doesn’t start out by any good news like He has done so far with the other churches.
Instead, what does He say? He says, “You’ve got a name all right. And I know all that you do. But you aren’t alive! You’re dead!”
Notice no threats of persecution here. Why?
Well, why persecute someone if they are no threat?
What would they be persecuted for? The church had become so much like the city that it had slowly died a slow death.
What was the city like anyway?
Let me tell you just a few things about the city of Sardis that will help you understand why Christ says some of the things He does to this church...