Summary: The churches at Thyatira and Sardis awakening us to the effects of compromise in our Christian lives and the results of just "going through the motions" in our worship.
Iliff and Saltillo UM Church
July 11, 2004
“Revelation--A Church Awakening”
INTRODUCTION: We hear a lot about church growth and church renewal these days. Two of the seven churches that John wrote to needed to make some adjustments in what was happening in the church or they would find themselves with many problems. The letter to these churches was “a wake up call” for them to turn around and begin heading in a different direction.
Today’s churches are: Thyatira and Sardis. Thyatira was similar to Ephesus as far as activity. They were a very busy and productive church, but the big difference was that they were not working just mechanically out of duty. Their heart was really into it, and they were doing some effective ministry. In fact they were doing more than they had earlier. The problem they had was that they were a church that had begun to COMPROMISE their standards of holiness. They started to let in false doctrine and teachings that took them away from the true scriptural teaching. They began to TOLERATE false teachers whereas the church at Ephesus didn’t. In order to be a part of the trade guilds, they went along with the sacrifices offered to idols and the immorality that went along with these events. This prophetess, called Jezebel, in Thyatira was teaching that they could do all of these things and still be a Christian but in fact it was leading them away from the Lord and corrupting their church.
The church in Sardis had a separate set of circumstances. They were called a “sleeping church.” The had a FORM OF GODLINESS but that was about all. II Timothy 3:5 speaks of people who “have a form of godliness but deny its power.” They were more or less church ATTENDERS but they had not moved on in their Christian experience to grow and mature. Some hadn’t even become believers yet. They were just going through the motions. On the surface they looked OK but underneath it all they didn’t have any true spirituality--they were a DEAD church.
Have you ever heard people say, “That’s a dead church. There’s no life in it. The Holy Spirit is not moving in that church.” Well, that was what Sardis was like yet they were OVERCONFIDENT of themselves. “Our church has been here for years and years. It won’t close.” They let themselves be lulled to sleep. And the church was in danger of dying out. That is what is happening in communities all over the United States. Where there was once a vibrant church, it has fallen asleep and will finally die out.
This is the background of these two churches. What can we get out of today’s scripture? Keeping with the format of the previous letters, in the church of Thyatira Jesus appeared to them by saying, “These are the words of the Son of God whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet like burnished bronze”--here is showing the penetrating look under the surface right to the heart of this church. “I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance and that you are doing more than you did at first.” He COMMENDS them on their true ministry. This church was not doing it out of mere duty or ministering in a mechanical way.
BUT he says, “I have this against you.”--the false teachings that had crept into the church was the problem. Some of the most faithful people were being led astray. Yet this was being TOLERATED. Nothing was being done to root it out and it was gaining a foothold.
He says this prophetess (called Jezebel) has had time to change her ways and repent but she hasn’t done it. He says to those who are in the church who do not go along with her teaching, “Hold on to what you have until I come.”
APPLICATION: As you look at your individual lives and the life of this church over the years, in what ways have you compromised. In what ways have you become like the world and TOLERATED things that maybe you shouldn’t. I think we all have because we allow ourselves to become de-sensitized by what is shown on TV, in our society, and tell ourselves--it’s OK. What will it hurt. Nothing wrong with it.
I John 4:1 tells us, “Dear friends do not believe every spirit but test the spirits to see whether they are from God because so many false prophets have gone out in the world.’
Even when you hear things on Christian radio and TV you need to ask, “Is this scriptural?” or is this person going off on a tangent--especially this is true on end time preaching. As Christians you need to know what is in the Bible--read it, study it. Pray about things. Don’t be gullible about everything you hear. Become rooted and grounded so you will not be mislead.