Summary: Adapted in part from Warren Wiersbe (and others)...a look at the letters Jesus dictated to specific churches...with the ensuing question, "what would He write to us?"
What Kind of Church Are We?
“The Carnal (Comatose) Church”
* Today I read a sermon online which told this story; there was a church so dead that a member died during one of the worship services and the paramedics carried out 5 people before they found the right one. Have you ever seen a church which was this dead? In your own mind, what does a dead church look like?
* Vance Havner tells us that churches generally go through 4 stages. Remember, this is Vance Havner who is the master of the one liner and alliterations, and by the way, a very wise preacher.
* He suggests that the four stages of church life are; a man, a movement, a machine, and a monument. To explain this just a little; most churches begin as a vision of one man. Quite likely this is the church planter and most times the Pastor. As the Spirit directs this man to influence the lives of others into committing their lives to this church, a movement is begun. After a period of time (and it’s different for each and every body) this new Spirit-filled church become so well-oiled that it operate like a machine. Knowing that the Holy Spirit is the “lubricant” which keeps the church performing well, efficiently, and on task, when the machine begin to run so well on its own that it slowly quits depending on the work of the Spirit for power, the machine begins to wear and tear. The outcome is that once was once an alive, on fire, incredible force for the Kingdom now become more than a monument to days past.
* Watch this; they appear to everyone that things are great. There is plenty of money, buildings, fellowship, friendships, and people, but the spiritual energy is no longer evident. We know that the church in Corinth was one of these churches. When Paul wrote to them, it was in chapter 3 he said, “I wanted to speak to you as spiritual, but I could not. I had to speak to you as “carnal” or “fleshly” or “worldly” people.” Truth is, Corinth had a form of godliness but denied the power which was available to them. What a sad state of affairs.
* We are in Chapter 3 of Revelation and find a similar church in the first 6 verses. Tonight we continue with the thought, “What Kind of Church Are We?” and will look at what I’m calling ‘The Carnal Church’, but one preacher called “The Comatose Church.” Let’s read.
* I begin with a call for each of us to always be sensitive to “hearing what the spirit says to the churches.” The Spirit is our “breath of life”. In Genesis, man became a living soul by God breathing the spirit into Him. In Ezekiel, those dead bones had been put together but it was not until the spirit filled them that they were alive. The church of Acts 1 was praying and longing for the life. It was only after the infilling of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2 that life came. The Holy Spirit is important for us to hear if we are to be the church God’s wants us to be.
* For this past month we have been looking at each church through 3 points of view; the Approval, the Accusation, and the Admonition.
1) THE APPROVAL – Candidly, there is no direct statement of approval for the church at Sardis. (Remember, that there was no direct statement of accusation for the church in Smyrna.) This lack of approval is sobering for the modern day church. The reputation of the FBC of Sardis was that they were a great and active church. Their schedules were full, quite likely worship was good, and all the trappings of success were a part of the fellowship.
* Jesus says, “I know your works.” It would serve us well to take an honest look at this statement. We need to hear our Lord’s inflexion as He might speak these words to us. “I know”. I know what people are saying. No doubt, the body needs people to be talking positively about the church, work, and ministry. At the same time, the most important issue is “what does our Lord say?”
* The closest statement to an approval for this church is found down in verse 4. Even though Jesus charges them with not being what their reputation says, He does say that you have a small group who have authentic, committed, consistent, spiritual, and warriors. Basically, He says, there is a remnant of folks who are willing to adjust their lives to my way and adhere to my will.
2) THE ACCUSATION – The accusations abound. Personally, I can lift out 4 accusations; deceiver, dead, deficient, distracted.