Summary: This sermon examines symptoms of "The church that forgot its mission" in Revelation 3. Then Luke 5 is explored as how to remain an active and thriving church.
This morning, I want to talk to you about a church that closed its doors.
-Where there had been a living, active family of God, now there’s nothing.
-It’s not only the church that has disappeared, but now the entire city lies in ruins.
-We understand full well that as Christians, we have God’s love and God’s favor.
-So when you think about a church where the doors are now closed, and there is no life, you wonder why God would let that happen.
-The lesson to be learned is that God expects his body to be living and active, just as God himself is living and active.
-Our God is not a God of low expectations, but of high expectations. He expects us to love him with the sincerity and the activeness with which he loves us…he took the initiative in revealing his will, in teaching us about sin and also forgiveness, in providing a way of salvation.
-There was a church that was once influential and effective, yet they forgot their purpose, and ultimately they themselves were forgotten by most people.
I’m talking about the church in Sardis. As Christ gives messages to the Seven churches in Asia Minor, the church at Sardis received one of the most severe rebukes.
(OPEN TO REVELATION 3)
Today, some historians call Sardis “The city that died”. Even today, Sardis is a pile of ruins that cannot be inhabited. Its dust and ashes is a testimony to the truth of Christ’s words in Revelation.
Sardis had been one of the largest, most wealthy cities in the region. It was founded around 1200 BC because of the discovery of gold and precious metals there.
-Sardis existed during much of times we read of in the Bible.
Sardis was a city of influence…even today, you are influenced by at least one of its innovations. (Get a dime or quarter out of pocket) Do you have any coins?
-Sardis is credited with inventing coinage.
-Used to, people would exchange gold measured in weight…it was Sardis that invented a system of currency specific to its region. Everyone who uses coins is copying Sardis.
At the writing of Revelation, Sardis was still a strong and powerful place, but Christ warned that its days were numbered if it didn’t make some changes.
Here is a church that had forgotten its mission. It was no longer serving the purpose for which Christ died.
What are the symptoms of a church who has forgotten its mission?
1. The church is only alive in memory.
-Jesus said that they had the REPUTATION of being alive…everyone remembered what the church at Sardis had done….but they were content to brag about the good old days without doing anything new.
-ILLUS: I used to have a shirt that said, “The Older I get, The Better I was”
-Sardis was proud of what they had done, but they were ready to sit back and say, “mission accomplished”.
ILLUS: One of my favorite characters from any movie is a middle-aged guy in Napoleon Dynamite named Uncle Rico. (mentioned in class before) He is the perfect example of a guy who lives on a past reputation. He is stuck in the year 1982, when he had been a high-school quarterback. In nearly every conversation, he finds a way to bring 1982 into the discussion. “Back in ’82, I could throw a pigskin a quarter-mile” “Back in 82, if coach would have just put me in, we’d have won state…not a doubt in my mind.”
-At one point, he even tries to get a time machine he buys on e-bay to send him back to ’82 where he can relive those glory days.
-He sees himself as being a strong, young, athletic guy who could easily go pro.
-But who is he now? He’s a washed up middle-aged nobody. He lives in an old van, and peddles plastic Tupperware. He mooches off of his relatives as much as he can.
-I want you to think very seriously about yourself, and your involvement in the Lord’s church. What do you consider to be your involvement?
-You might say, “I used to be in charge of this. I used to be the go-to guy about this… I used to teach this class.”
-What are you doing RIGHT NOW? I’m not just talking about good intentions, I’m talking about actions…Jesus told Sardis that their works were coming up short.
-Are you stuck remembering the good old days, or are you making the present time the most important years of your Christian walk. Are you growing in faith, or just remembering past faith?
2. A second characteristic of a dying church was that they soiled their garments. (Don’t take that the wrong way…Jesus said it.)
-We all love to be present for baptisms. It’s wonderful to see someone come to faith, so that their sins are washed away. Though they had been crimson, they’re made white as snow. They clothe themselves with Christ. You think of purity and innocence.