The Church in Sardis
The doldrums ia a part of the ocean near the equator, with abounding calms, and light, timid winds. The weather is hot and extreemely dispiriting. The old sailing vessels, when caught in the doldrums, would lie helpless for days and weeks, waiting for the wind to begin to blow. (Describes much church life!)
I. THE BACKGROUND OF SARDIS
A. Sardis was wealthy but wicked!
1. It was the ancient capital of Lydia and situated in a very fertile agricultural valley.
2. It was the home of the famous Aesop and King Croesus.
3. The name "Sardis" means "escaping ones" or "those who come out"
4. Many scholars believe that this church symbolically represents the Reformation period from about 1517 A.D. to 1750 A.D.
a) A time when many people were fed up with the church in Rome.
b) A time when men like Luther, Knox, Wycliffe, and Zwingli decided to be "those who came out" and stood for the Truth and broke away from the Roman church.
c) It was the time of Luther's "ninety five Theses" being nailed to the Wittenburg church door in Germany.
d) It was a time of The Augsburg Confession, The Thirty Nine Articles, The Heidleburg Confession, and The Westminster Confession.
(1) It was a time when "the remnant" was crying out for reform!
B. Jude spoke of those in the church who for all intents and purposes would call themselves Christians and would be amongst the church's gatherings.
1. He describes them as empty shells, looking good on the outside, but no real conviction to live for the Lord.
a) Jude 12 12 These are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves. They are clouds without water, carried about by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots; (NKJV)
2. Such is the church in Sardis!
a) Instead of these "imitation Christians" being in the minority, they had grown in number.
b) They were now heads of boards, perhaps even pastors, elders, and deacons.
c) On the outside, the church looked good! But, inside it was dead!
(1) Matthew 23:27-2827 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. 28 "Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. (NKJV)
(a) Sardis was "The Church of Dead Orthodoxy"
ORTHODOX = (adjective) "A conforming to established teaching."
ORTHODOXY = (noun) "The quality or state of being orthodox"
A. Verse 1
1. Once again the Lord's title is significant to His address of this church!
2. "He that has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars."
a) This may reference the seven angels in charge of the seven churches.
b) It may reference the "sevenfold" ministry of the Holy Spirit mentioned in Isaiah 11:2.
c) As we have said before, seven in the Word is a symbol of completion or perfection. (The Lord rested on the 7th day)
d) One thing we do know for sure is that this is speaking of the fullness of God's Holy Spirit!
(1) Therefore we can conclude with accuracy that the Lord is holding this dead church's responsibe for pushing the Holy Spirit out of their church!
3. "I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.
a) The name of the church in Sardis was "The Holy Ghost - Baptized in the Spirit - Apostles and Prophets - Movers and Shaker's congregation of what's happenin now - in Christ's humility church"
(1) Every Christian in town knew the name of this church!
b) The church was very active and very busy, and if anyone came by to visit they would have sworn that this was the best church in town!
c) Pastors probably referred their people who were moving into this city to the church in Sardis. It had a good name!!!
(1) They were one of the largest churches in town. They had money. They had outreaches. They had missions. They had concerts. They had pot lucks. They had a large staff, probably a pastor for every group in the church.
(a) Everyone thought the church in Sardis was wonderful, - but the Lord!
(b) 1Samuel 16:7 7 But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." (NKJV)
(2) "The Holy Ghost - Baptized in the Spirit - Apostles and Prophets - Movers and Shaker's congregation of what's happenin now - in Christ's humility church of Sardis" was the envy of every pastor within a 100 miles. BUT THE LORD JUDGED THEM DEAD!!!
B. Verse 2
1. The word PERFECT means "finished" or "complete"!
a) These folks had a name among men but not before the Lord!
(1) Having a name in the Christian community is not the same as having a name before the Lord!
(2) Having all the pastors in the city or even in our own church know us by name is not the same as being well pleasing to the Lord!
b) We often make the mistake of thinking that we can earn God's favor (or maybe it's the favor of others) by works.
c) The reality is that when we are filled with God's Holy Spirit, "works" are just the outflow of that relationship!
(1) AND we are not concerned with who is watching.
(2) Isaiah 29:13 13 Therefore the LORD said: "Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths And honor Me with their lips, But have removed their hearts far from Me, And their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men, (NKJV)
(a) This is the result of being a man-pleaser instead of a God-pleaser!
(b) This kind of person, and even this kind of church may look wonderful on the outside, but when the Lord looks us over, our works are found "imperfect" or incomplete!
d) You can't get any more "perfect" than the cross.
(1) When we begin to trust in anything other than the Lord, we are found wanting!
(2) The Lord exhorts Sardis to watch and strengthen what they have because it's about to die.
(a) Faith is like a muscle, if exercised it grows, if not it atrophies and dies!
(b) Matthew 13:12 12 "For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. (NKJV)
C. Verse 3
1. Do you remember "how" you received and heard the Good News of salvation?
a) 1Corinthians 2:1-6 1 And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. 3 I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. 4 And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
2. Do you remember "how" you received the message of salvation as a "babe" with such simplicity and childlike faith?
3. Do you remember how simple it was? Hold on to that!!!
4. And with childlike faith watch and wait for His return!
a) Many of us have gotten pre-occupied with living life and doing church we don't want Him to return right now.
b) I read one commentator that said you can tell the spiritual condition of a person by how they respond to the Lord's return.
(1) The closer they are to Him the more excited they are to have Him come back.
(2) Can you say MARANATHA! this morning?
D. Verse 4
1. The word few is "small, slight, little"!
2. There are always a few , small, little, insignificant remnant who will be faithful to the end!
3. The white garments of heaven has always been reserved for a minority group.
4. The road to heaven is not narrow to exclude people, it is narrow because few people travel it!
E. Verse 5
1. Once again I find it necessary to quote you 1 John 5:5 5 Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? (NKJV)
2. Matthew 10:32-3332 " Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. 33 "But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven. (NKJV)
a) Jesus is what makes us "acceptable" to the Father and heaven!
b) As we have said before 2 Peter 3:9 9 The Lord is . . . not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. (NKJV)
c) John 3:17 17 "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. (NKJV)
d) I believe that ALL of mankind's names are written in the Book of Life when Jesus forms us in our mother's womb.
e) It is only later, when we chose to obey sin rather than God that our name is "blotted out"!
(1) That is why children that die young need no repentance. There name is already written!
(2) How about you? Is your name written in The Lamb's Book of Life this morning?
(3) Or has sin entered the camp separating you from the Lord?
(4) Will the Lord have to blot it out or will you accept His forgiveness in Jesus?
A. Verse 6
1. Do you hear with you heart this morning?
2. Do you have a relationship with the Lord?
3. If so, is it still alive? Do you remember "HOW" you first heard and responded?
4. Are you still in love?