Summary: It is possible to be so used to seeing imitations that we fail to recognize the real thing. I fear that is happening in American churches. It has been so long since American Christianity has boldly lifted up a holy God before the culture that lukewarm C
Standing Alone for Christ
Purpose: To warn against a type of Christianity that is impure.
Aim: I want the listener to love Christ so much that they will stand alone, if necessary, for Christ.
INTRODUCTION: In the 1930’s the rage was imitating Charlie Chaplin’s “Little Tramp” character. Stanley Laurel (of Laurel and Hardy fame) got his start as an actor by winning one of those contests. At a Chaplin look-alike contest in a theater in San Francisco, Charlie Chaplin—the real Charlie Chaplin—failed to even make the final round, though there’s no record of where exactly he placed. During the event, he told a reporter that he was tempted to teach people how to do the Chaplin-walk.
Apparently Bob Hope does a better Chaplin! According to Snopes.com, Hope won a Chaplin contest in Cleveland when he was just a young comedian on the rise!
It is possible to be so used to seeing imitations that we fail to recognize the real thing. I fear that is happening in American churches. It has been so long since American Christianity has boldly lifted up a holy God before the culture that lukewarm Christianity seems genuine.
As the church in America has declined, it has tried to solve the problem by including more and more of the world’s music and customs in order to attract the world into the church. The church has lost its saltiness. The differences between the world and the church continues to shrink.
It has been said that many churches begin with a man, reach out with a mission, become a movement, and eventually end up as a monument. The church in Sardis had become nothing more than a monument to Christianity.
It is possible to be alive organizationally, but be dead spiritually.
1:1-20 I. John’s Vision of the Past “the things which you have seen”
2:1-5:14 II. Christ’s Vision of the Present “the things which are”
2:1-3:22 A. The testimony of the church on earth
2:1-7 1. Ephesus: the loveless church
2:8-11 2. Smyrna: the hurting church
2:12-17 3. Pergamum: the worldly church
2:18-29 4. Thyatira: the compromising church
➽3:1-6 5. Sardis: the dead church
Sardis is thirty miles to the east of Thyatira. This city, which occupies a proud acropolis commanding the intersection of five highways, is an ancient city with a famous past, but by the midpoint of the first century, a declining future. It was once the capital of the Lydian kingdom, which had boasted the fabulously rich King Croesus. …The earthquake of A.D. 17 destroyed the city, but through the kindness of Tiberius Caesar, the city had been rebuilt. Now, in the second half of the first century, Sardis was once again prosperous, primarily because of its trade and its wool-dyeing industry. Modern archeologists have found very significant ruins at Sardis, including the remains of a second/third-century Jewish synagogue, as well as evidences of early Christian and also Gnostic symbols. These include a picture of the evangelist John. [Palmer, E. F., & Ogilvie, L. J. (1982). Vol. 35: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Volume 35 : 1, 2 & 3 John / Revelation. Formerly The Communicator’s Commentary. The Preacher’s Commentary series (139). Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Inc.]
➽Vs.1a a. Christ’s control is:
➽(1) Through the Holy Spirit “seven Spirits of God”
Or the “seven fold Spirit of God” referring to the perfection of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus told us that he Holy Spirit has a two fold responsibility here on earth:
#1 The Holy Spirit COMFORTS believers. John 16:7 “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. (NAU)
#2 The Holy Spirit CONVICTS unbelievers. John 16:8-11 8 “And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10 and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; 11 and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged. (NAU)
➽(2) Over all churches “seven stars”
Jesus is the ruler and the head of the church. Ephesians 1:22-23 22 And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. (NAU)
➽Vs.1b b. Christ’s condemnation “I know…you are dead”
“As in several cities of Asia province (western Turkey), healing powers were associated with pagan gods. The interesting point about Sardis is that such healing power was expanded to include restoring the dead.” [“The Coming World Leader” by David Hocking, p. 77-78]
➽Their REPUTATION was not REALITY.