Summary: What a dying church looks like
Looked at Sardis, a church in name only but without any spiritual life.
A city with a rich history trying to live on a past reputation
Had a name but had no substance to it: Wax fruit or artificial flowers
CAUGHT UP IN SURVIVOR: Didn’t watch a show last time. Early show spent a half hour attempting to do one thing. This thing meant the difference between making it or not. Until they accomplished this they could not move on to anything else. GET A FIRE STARTED. No warmth, no light, no ability to cook to feed ourselves. Sardis was a church without a fire. After the fire was started it is essential that it is never allowed to go out.
Why would anybody darkened a church door? Three possible motivations: Maturity is at level #3
1) Reward & Punishment: I fear the consequences of not. Might not get a ticket into heaven. Their body is in the church but their heart is still with the world.
1) Example: My reputation is at stake, I care what others think of me so I go or I give or I serve somewhere.
1) Matter of Principle: Whether there is a reward of a cost to me, whether I am seen or unseen, if I lose my job, is I miss my program, it is a matter of what God’s has asked of my life.
(Each level moves you to a more isolated position: Most people operate at level #1. #1 & #2 are religion while #3 is a relationship)
Sardis was like a chocolate bunny I saw this weak. They make me angry cause I have had them before. They look huge but actually they are hollow.
1) Jesus told the Pharisees: outside they looked lovely, newly whitewashed tombs, but on the inside they were full of dead men’s bones.
THE PRESCRIPTION - (2) Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God. (3) So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent.
1. WHAT DOES A DEAD CHURCH NEED? Steps to Recovery
a. IT NEEDS TO WAKE UP
1) I shared this morning how Sardis had been defeated twice because of being careless in areas that really mattered.
1) Wake Up is not a calm word but a strong one. It is not to gently try to wake someone but grab a spotlight and scream WAKE UP!!!!! SHILOH & NERF BALL. Tone matters
a) Sounds cruel but to do the opposite is worse:
It is said of the CAPTAIN OF THE TITANIC that after the ship had struck the iceberg and within hours of sinking that he went through the restraunt assuring everybody that everything was OK and even said that ’drinks are on the house’.
1) Literally means a mindfulness of threatening dangers which with an alert mind keeps one from all drowsiness and all slackening of energy in both faith and conduct.
1) Step one in recovery is to become aware that something is wrong. Honestly face failure, feel the dullness, smell the death.
STEDMAN: Said he went to Europe to meet with pastors and found many churches there dead, cold, and empty in what might be called a post-christian era. Many churches are state churches where the pastor is a hired civil servant given a certain geographic region of 10’s of thousands of people. It is his job to baptize(infant spinkling), marry, and bury people.(Hatch, match & dispatch). Pastor came in tears
Saying, ’Oh I will I could preach the Word like you do in America, but I have no time. I must baptize all the babies, marry everyone, and bury everyone who dies in the parish and there is simply no time to study’.
a. A DEAD CHURCH NEEDS TO STRENGTHEN WHAT IS RIGHT Strengthen the things which remain that are ready to die.
1) Dead church with dying truths: Lit. ’stop the fall…turn resolutely in a certain direction and stabilize what is unstable’
1) John saying ’GET A GRIP’ Move furniture and say ’Wait, my grip is not adequate, I am going to drop it, let me get a strong grip on this because if I drop this there will be consequences, heads will roll’.
HISTORICALLY: The Sardis time in church history began in 1517 when Martin Luther nailed on Chapel door in Wittenberg, Germany his 95 Thesis. It started what is called the REFORMATION. One particular doctrine that had all but died in the Roman church Luther sought to rescue: JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH.
1) I have not found your works perfect/complete before God. Liberal church today exists for social needs and false assurance: Some of these denominations have a wonderful past filled with men and women used greatly by God but today they rarely speak of what really matters: Men like Wesley. Luther, Calvin, John Knox, Zwingli who would roll over in their graves if they knew what these churches now believed and taught.