Summary: How to die spiritually without knowing it? Be 1) Comfortable 2) Complacent and produce no 3)Children
The Message to the church at Sardis. Rev 3:1-6 WBC 20/7/3am
This is where we are this Sunday morning- the modern day city of Sart
- situated at the foot of Mt Tmolus
- Excavations of the city have unearthed a Roman theatre, stadium, and a large but unfinished temple to Cybele, a fertility goddess and the patron deity of the city. The most prominent section of the city was the necropolis, or cemetery "of a thousand hills", just outside the city and so-named because of the large number of burial mounds visible from the city walls. The citizens of Sardis were preoccupied with death.
- Sardis was the ancient capital of Lydia (13th Century BC); in 546 BC it fell captive to Cyrus and became the seat of the Persian governor. In 133 BC the city fell to Rome. Sardis was a prosperous centre of trade and industry. The art of dyeing wool was invented and perfected by Sardis merchants ("Wake Up and Live” Pastor Bob Leroe)
So- what does Jesus have to say to them?
- Read Rev 3:1-6
What a shock! What does He commend- nothing!
- the only thing that is good about them is their reputation!
o Shows us that the Lord often feels differently to us!
- They may have been pleasing LOADS… but not the LORD, and here’s the thing:
o He’s who it’s all about!
o He sees everything! (sees what they don’t see)
That’s part of the sevenfold Spirit (v1).
REV 5:6 Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.
He sees that they are as good as dead… and those who aren’t are asleep (hence: “Wake up! You’re about to die!”)
So- what happened? How did they get in this state? How can WE avoid doing likewise? What killed them?
Here’s what killed them:
She was comfortable in a number of ways.
- good reputation. Good number of people. Good income
o Illustr: Beechen Grove Bappo, Watford
- Comfortable city
o Wealthy & secure (or FELT secure)
o Apparently old city sat atop huge rock walls, overlooking the Hermuz valley
Considered itself impregnable! But fell 3 times because of its complacency. By stealth not attack
- The most notable defeat came by the Persian conqueror Cyrus. He offered a reward to the first one who was able to climb the seemingly impregnable city wall. A watchful soldier observed a city guard accidentally drop his helmet over the battlements. Thinking that no one was watching, the guard climbed down the precipice to retrieve his helmet and carried it back. Natural decay of the cliff enabled the guard to climb down the cracks in the rock and return. The watchful Persian soldier that night scaled the rocky cliff unhindered, followed by a large number of his fellow troops. When they reached the top they discovered the battlements were completely unguarded. They moved with the element of surprise and quickly penetrated the city’s defence. The erosion of the wall and the un-watchfulness of the city’s guards undermined the defence of Sardis and it swiftly fell to the Persian invaders. (("Wake Up and Live” Pastor Bob Leroe)
o A bloke called Kiddle writes in his commentary (p45):
“secure, complacent, like the city she lived in, untroubled by persecution or heresy, she ‘set herself the task of avoiding hardship by pursuing a policy based on convenience and circumspection, rather than whole-hearted zeal’
The church had (already!) got into maintenance mode: setting out to be respectable… and ‘not strain herself!’
- and it was killing her!
You see- we are not, as churches or as Christians, designed for an easy life! If we seek it (not even FIND it!) we shall die
- it’s a bad translation but it’s true: without a vision people perish (Pr29:18)
So- two application points
1) when discomfort comes your way- it might be GOD, keeping you ALIVE (spiritually). (He comes to challenge and console)
2) don’t slip into the ‘anything for an easy life… energy wise, time-wise, holiday wise, lifestyle-wise… SPIRITUALLY’
- it might kill your soul. Many of us are surprised when we find our souls dying- but we started sowing ‘death’ some time previously when we chose ‘ease’ over ‘obedience’
Note: I’m NOT saying get into frenetic activity. That may be just the kind of mistake they made here. Looked good but was actually unproductive and useless
- I’m saying: just don’t focus on ‘ease and comfort’
• Tell God you’re available for the radical
Illustr: I have to be honest with you: I constantly feel the ‘comfort’ and culture of our churches & Christianity draining my soul. Killing it