Summary: Letter to the Church of Sardis - Dead Faith. Reputation without Works
The Revelation to Sardis - “Dear Sardis - You are Dead”.
AMAZING STATISTIC: Imagine a company that has more than 500 employees and has the following record:
29 accused of spousal abuse,
7 arrested for fraud,
19 accused of writing bad checks,
117 directly or indirectly bankrupted,
3 done time for assault,
71 cannot get credit card due to credit,
14 arrested on drug related charges,
8 arrested for shoplifting
21 current defendants in lawsuits,
84 arrested for drunk driving in past year
WHAT BUSINESS? What organization? Who would hire such a group? The 535 members of the United States Congress
Now I’m not bashing americans because I am not naive enough to believe that our politians are that very different to this, but what this shows us is that sometimes the most respected of groups don’t really live up to their reputation. The church should be one of the most respected of groups in society, but unfortunately, many do not live according to what they should be. Many churches today are dead.
This morning, we are going to be looking at another of the Letters of Christ to the churches found in Revelation. Today we are looking at a church who is on a life support system, just barely clinging to life. In fact many parts of its body are already dead. It is the letter to Sardis and it goes a bit like this. Dear Sardis, You are Dead”
Well actually there is a bit more to it, and we are going to read it together now. Rev 3:1
Dear Sardis, You are Dead. They were spiritually dead, - not physically, though some may have looked that way. They had very little life in them and unfortunately there are many churches meeting today which are just like Sardis - they are going through the motions, like religious robots. It is all a sham because there is no real spiritual life in their hearts. Can the same be said about this church? Are we alive or dead?
A DISCOURAGED PREACHER told his congregation one Sunday morning that the church was dead and that next week he was going to preach their funeral service. When people arrived the next week, the curtains were drawn, solemn music was playing, and a casket had been placed at the front of the church. The pastor preached his message and then said, ’Some of you may not agree with me that this church is dead. To convince you I am going to ask you to view its remains’. Each one came to the casket to see the dead body but when they looked in the found that a mirror had been placed there instead.
Whether the Gladstone Baptist church is dead will be determined by the health of each one of you. It is not dependant upon the health of its leadership or pastor anymore than it is dependant upon your personal health. So this morning, I want you to ask yourself the question as to whether you are more alive or more dead? If you are more dead, we’ll have paramedics at the door after the service this morning. Hey did you hear about the church so dead that when a member actually died in a service that the paramedics carried out 5 people before they got the right one. I hope that is not the situation with you here this morning, but if it is, we need to be honest enough to face facts and deal with the problem.
Before we launch into the letter, lets spend some time praying ...
Lord, we ask that you would come here this morning and speak to us from your word. We ask that you make it relevant to our personal situations here today. Help us not to look at others, but to focus on our needs this morning and we pray that if we are in need of reviving this morning, that you breathe into us your breath of life. Amen
As with all the letters we have looked at to date, we want to look at four areas.
1) The church
2) The Picture of Christ
3) The Commendations and Condemnations
4) Promises to those who overcome
1) The Church of Sardis
500 years before John wrote this letter Sardis was one of the richest and most powerful cities in the world. Man named Croesus lived there and was consider the wealthiest man in the world - the Greeks called him Midas.
Sardis was virtually unassailable by enemies. The city was built on a mountain spur about 1500 ft about the valley floor. You could only approach from the south side on a very steep and difficult path. The other sides were cliffs. But even despite its natural defences, it was defeated twice in its history, once by the Persians and again by the Greeks. It is interesting that both times that Sardis fell, it was not from the front, but from the cliffs at the back. The people of Sardis were so confident, that they didn’t feel it necessary to guard the three cliffs around their city. But it was where they were confident and self assured that they fell.