Summary: Have you ever seen a church that was full of splendor, and has a good reputation? Yet later that church was dying and lifeless?
MESSAGES TO SEVEN CHURCHES
SARDIS – “The Dead & Lifeless Church”
Good News Christian Fellowship
November 5, 2006
BUCAS, Daraga albay
A. About the past events.
1. Typhoon “Melinyo”
2. Church Anniversary
B. Today we will continue our series of messages about the seven Churches in Asia Minor as revealed in the book of Revelation.
1. Have you ever seen a church that was full of splendor, and has a good reputation? Yet later that church was dying and lifeless? A Church resting on its laurel and past history, that just reveled in what used to be? Once the Church was alive and powerful, and then began to harbor sin. As a result, it became weak, blind, and dead.
2. Dead churches exist today just as they have in every era of the church age. Finally, they represent types of individual Christians.
The Recipient (3:1)
A. The Minister – There are the recipients of the letter. Jesus Christ addresses the letter to the minister of the church, but he wants it proclaimed to the church as a whole. There is little hope for the church unless the minister and the members are set afire. We must get into the Word and our faces before god, evaluating our hearts to make sure we are spiritually alive and revived.
B. The Church – “to the church at Sardis.”
1. Its Beginning.
We don’t know exactly who started the church or who was involved in it because the Bible is silent about that. But according to some commentators, the gospel probably reached Sardis at the time of Paul’s third missionary journey, when Ephesus was the base of his missionary activities (Acts 19:10).
2. The name
Sardis, (also Sardes, Greek: Σάρδεις), modern Sart in the Manisa province of Turkey, was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Lydia, the seat of a proconsul under the Roman Empire, and the metropolis of the province Lydia in later Roman and Byzantine times.
C. The City. - Sardis (Sfard, Sart) - an hour and a halfs’ ride from Izmir - has for 3000 years been the name of this settlement. The oldest finds of settlement date from the Late Bronze Age but artifacts have been found from as early as the 7th millennium BC. As a city it had great importance for 1500 years, since its fortified citadel occupied a key position on the route from the inland to the Aegean Sea. Also a fertile soil and gold deposits contributed to its importance. King Croessus, whose fame as a rich man is proverbial, was a Lydian king here. Later the Persians took over, housing a satrap or special governor at the city. After Alexander the Greats conquers in the second half of the 4th century BC it became increasingly Hellenized. The last days of great importance were in the Late Roman period, 4th till 7th century. (www.padfield.com)
The period of greatest Lydian artistic and technical achievement was 650-550 B.C. Economic prosperity derived from the supply of gold and the ability to purify it, and from the invention of coinage and the establishment of a bimetallic monetary standard. In the time of Croesus (560/1-547) the population is estimated at 50,000.
Outstanding among the Lydian remains are the huge burial mounds in the cemetery of Bin Tepe (Turkish “Thousand Mounds”) 6.4 km N of the city area across the Hermus, S of the Gygean Lake (Marmara Gölü). A small burial chamber is built of highly polished marble blocks fitted together with precision and held with iron clamps. (http://perseus.mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de/cgibin/ptext?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.04.0006%3Aid%3Dsardis)
By the nineteenth century, Sardis was in ruins, showing construction chiefly of the Roman period. The first large scale archaeological expedition in Sardis was directed by Howard Crosby Butler of Princeton University between years 1910 - 1914, unearthing the Temple of Artemis, and more than a thousand Lydian tombs. The excavation campaign was halted by World War I, followed by the Turkish War of Independence. Some surviving artifacts from the Butler excavation were added to the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. (www.wikipedia.org)
The part of remains including the bath-gymnasium complex, synagogue and Byzantine shops is open to visitors year-round.
I share these historical backgrounds so that you will have at least a picture of what the City of Sardis looks like. When I read their history all throughout, I was so fascinated by it. I was thinking what it takes to be a Christian in the city like Sardis.
The Author (3:1b) – “This is the word of Him…”
There is the speaker, Jesus Christ Himself holding the seven spirits of God and the seven stars.
1. has the seven spirits of God - This is a reference to the Holy Spirit who proceeds from the Father and the Son to the believer (John 7:37-39; 15:16, 26). The Holy Spirit will quicken the lifeless dying church. Some commentators point out that this is a reference to the sevenfold ministry of the Holy Spirit found in Isaiah 11:2. Seven is God’s number of fullness. Therefore, the seven spirits means Holy Spirit in all His fullness.