The Church @ Sardis - the deceived and dead church
What does Christ say to this church? [condemnation]
First - I know your works, or your activities
Second - you have a name that you are alive but you are dead
Third - be watchful & strengthen:
- the things that remain
- they are ready to die
Fourth - Your works are not perfect
What Do We Learn From This Rebuke?
This church had acquired a reputation and was well known for being busy or active
But this church apparently did not deserve or warrant the reputation that they had
- It was a hollow reputation
- The reputation did not represent the actual condition of the church
- This church had the outward appearance of being alive or spiritual
- The truth of the matter was that this church was actually spiritually dead
- This not a far-fetched or strange indictment
- Paul gave an example of an unsaved widow, who while she is physically alive and living for her own personal pleasure is actually spiritually dead
- This describes the lost person perfectly - an unbeliever maybe physically alive but they are in fact spiritually dead
This church had deceived itself into believing that much activity was equal to spiritual life
Because the gospel has been so "dumbed-down" and stripped of essential elements in order to make it more palatable to the lost, many churches are filled with people who are actually dead while they deceptively think of themselves as alive.
Not every person who says that they are a believer or Christian is an actual believer or Christian. It follows that not every church which thinks it is a "church" is a real "church." There are both Christians and churches that have a very superficial appearance but are really dead.
How Does This Happen?
Let me say that there are a number of ways and means by which an individual or a church can be deceived into thinking they are a believer or that they are alive when they are in fact no alive nor true believers.
- Faulty presentation of the gospel
- Relying on human ingenuity or energy to accomplish spiritual goals
- Infiltration of false teaching
- Lack of clear biblical truth
- Complacency with spiritual truths
Suffice it to say in relation to this church at some point made peace with their community and began to fit in comfortably with the culture. The offense of the cross stopped being a reality in their midst. Darkness began to creep in, was unchecked, and eventually permeated the church, right down to just a tiny few who were still alive - still true believers
What Does Sardis say to genuine believers today?
Watch - prove yourself to be watchful. In other words, wake up and keep watching. Don't be complacent don't be misled, don't be deceived, don't grow comfortable or lazy. Watch for spiritual decline at every moment.
Strengthen or reestablish - take the truths you currently have and fortify them with more truth.
Utilize the four (4) R's:
Rehearse - the truth, where you came from, what God has done for you
Repent - turn from the sin of complacency and turn to God
Respond - do what you did when you first were saved, reestablish the spiritual disciplines needed to remain faithful
Realize - God will reward those who are His and those of His who are faithful