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The Dying Church

The next church we are going to take a look at is the church at Sardis. The time frame of this “church age” runs from about 1517 to approximately 1750. In 1517 was when Martin Luther had nailed his 95 theses to the church door ushering in the Reformation. It is during this time we see the beginning of the Protestant movement and there is a big break from the Catholic Church. But what does Jesus have to say to the church at Sardis?

Let us begin in Revelation 3:1 And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.

He clearly states here that he knows of their works (so they are a church with many programs and works) and that they have a name of being alive and active. So this church has a reputation for a being a “happening place” with outreaches and ministries in place. This would be a church that people would have wanted to be a part of but what does he say? He says they are dead. Spiritually they are dead on the inside. Perhaps they have turned more to a “politically correct doctrine so as not to offend” or perhaps they aren’t concerned about doing the work for God anymore instead doing it for their selves. This is a church that in today’s world would be a church you would think would be a good place to be part of but let’s look a little closer at this church.

2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.
3 Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.
4 Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.
5 He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.
6 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

This church is a dying church and don’t even realize it. He tries to warn them they are and they need to wake up and repent of their straying. There are a few there who are still faithful and he recognizes them and considers them worthy to walk with him. Now in today’s world who might these people be in a “Sardis church”? They might be the older faithful members who remember when the spirit of God walked the aisles of the church, the founding members of the “food ministry” or the “blanket ministry”. They might be the ones who insist on praying over each box of food that it will do something to win the soul of the person in need. They are the ones who remember WHY the works are being done. These are the spiritually alive people in a spiritually dead church.

This is a church with a good reputation in the area where they serve. But God was obviously not impressed with their work. These are the people Jesus was talking about in Matthew 7:22-23.

 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

What DOES he command them to do? To WAKE UP and be alert and strengthen what remains, the things that are on the verge of death. If something need strengthened this implies it is weak. He clearly says these are ready to die so there can’t be much left to them. These people needed to get on their knees and repent and fix the things that were wrong. Their works were still there but they were incomplete. God wanted them to remember the things they had been taught and to repent from their backsliding ways. There had been a good base there at one time but instead of teaching those coming into the church the things they needed to know, the elders had gotten the newer converts caught up into the other aspects thereby weakening the gospel.

Now something else I want you to notice in the message to this church there is not a single warning about false teachers or apostles trying to deceive the members, there is no persecution, there were no Nicolaitans trying to pollute the church or anything. None of the things we have seen in messages to previous churches. This church was already so ineffective in spreading the gospel it is almost as though Satan isn’t worrying about it.  Does this sound like any churches you know of today? One that has a reputation of being “the church to go to” but what kind of spiritual fruits do you see emerging from them? Are there miracles coming from that church? What about healings? Are there salvations where people’s lives are TRULY changed? Do you see change in the lives of the people who go there and do their lives bear spiritual fruit?

How you identify these churches in the world today? Are there churches or ministries you can think of that might fit this description? How does THIS church compare to the Ephesian church?

 
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