Summary: Dead churches are not doomed to stay dead.
If Jesus Passed a Note in Church, What Would It Say? (Part 5 of 7)
(Series of sermon content original to W. Herschel Ford)
To the Church That Was Dead and Didn’t Know It
Nov. 5 , 2006 FBC, Chester Mike Fogerson, Pastor
A Pogo: We have seen the enemy, and he is us.
1 The message to Sardis, the 5th church of Revelation, lists no specific enemies, internal or external.
a Jesus’ messages to the churches prior to Sardis address either internal or external enemies:
aa Jesus’ message to Ephesus challenges a loveless church
bb Jesus’ message to Smyrna encourages a persecuted church
cc Jesus’ message to Pergamum addresses both persecution & compromise
dd Jesus’ message to Thyatira challenges compromise
b In Sardis, there is no name-calling: no liars, Balaams, Jezebels, no synagogue of Satan.
2 Sardis was once one of the great cities of Asia Minor, but had seen its glory days come & go (IL: Kaskaskia was once THE city of Illinois)
a 35 miles south of Thyatira
aa HUGE wool garment industry
bb Acropolis & Necropolis in Sardis of importance. Acropolis (a high location, highly fortified, rose about 800 ft. from the north side of Sardis) Necropolis (cemetery of a thousand hills-seen 7 miles away).
cc Acropolis was only captured twice (6th & 4th century BC): in the former, the Sardinian army was on the Acropolis, a soldier dropped his helmet & was seen by a Persian soldier (in Cyrus’ army) retrieving it on a southern winding path. Later, the whole Sardinian army was caught by surprise when the Persian army came & captured them.
b There was a huge Jewish community there (one of the largest Jewish temples in antiquity is located at Sardis-as big as a football field).
c Also full of paganism. Asiatic goddess Livia & in the mid 1980’s an emperor temple was believed to have been found.
d The church was in peaceful co-existence with Jews, pagans, city in general.
e The unsaved at Sardis saw the church as a responsible group of decent people. (Not dangerous/desirable, just dying)
3 The problem with Sardis was not with the Jews, Roman Empire, nor with false prophecy...but solely with itself.
a Comfortable, content, living on their past achievements & failed to listen to God’s call for their future.
b Satan wasn’t persecuting them. Why? They were already dead.
4 Listen for the very blunt warning in this text & don’t reduce it on the basis of our more comfortable theological presuppositions.
a Our faith in the Bible as God’s word requires us to revise our thinking to fit the text, not the reverse.
b (IL) Lion asking a monkey, gazelle, zebra, "Who is king of the jungle?" to which all replied, "It’s you of course." He asks the same question to another lion who picks him up, beats him on the ground, & throws him into a tree. The lion then says, "Just because you don’t know the answer doesn’t mean you’ve got to get angry."
B "To the angel of the church in Sardis write: He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars, says this: ’I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. 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. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you. 4 ’But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. 5 ’He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. 6 ’He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ Rev 3:1-6 (NASB)
1 Jesus told this dead church at Sardis how to experience resurrection "or else" (essence of the text in a sentence).
a Dead churches (filled with dead, dry believers) are not doomed to stay dead (essence of the sermon in a sentence).
b I pray you’ll decide to recommit your life to the living Jesus (objective).
2 Who will recommit their lives to Jesus today? (Probing question)
a Let’s look a two facts that Jesus gave to a dead church to bring it new life (transitional sentence).
I Rebuke to a dead church
A The church was operating/functioning largely from accomplishments/glories of the past. ’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.