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The dying church/La iglesia moribunda

The seven churches of Revelation  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Sardis: The dying church/Una iglesia moribunda

Introduction
Many of times we are the last people to realize our faults.
It is much easier to identify the faults of others.
In fact, the Lord Jesus said:
Matthew 7:5 ESV
You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
We must develop a discerning spirit such that we can identify when we have fallen short.
In our time today we will consider a church who had “the reputation of being alive” but from God’s perspective she was already a dead church. We will consider the church in Sardis under three headings:
The signs of a dead church/Las señales de una iglesia muerta
The way to revival/El camino hacía el avivamiento

I. The signs of a dying church/Las señales de una iglesia moribunda

This letter is written to the church in Sardis. Let us not forget that it is the Lord Jesus Christ who writes this letter. He describes himself as:
Revelation 3:1 ESV
“And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. “ ‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead.
So in this text the Lord Jesus declares he “has the seven spirits of God”. This is a reference to
Revelation 1:4 ESV
John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne,
Revelation 1:3 ESV
Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.
It is not as though there are seven spirits in God, or seven Holy Spirits. Rather, this talks about the Lord Jesus Christ having the fullness of the Spirit of God dwelling in him. Seven is the number of perfection so it speaks about the fullness of the Spirit which dwells in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Once again it speaks of the Lord who has the “seven stars” which as we saw are the “angels” or messengers of the seven churches.
The church is in Sardis.
Sardis was a town of great wealth in the ancient world. It sat atop a hill.
It had survived for many years but was destroyed on at least two occasions. The reason was that the people of Sardis grew confortable within their city, with their great wealth; they had no one guarding the walls of the city. The enemy came in and destroyed the city.
Their comfort and relaxed attiude lead to their eventual destruction.
The Lord confronts the church, “I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead.”
The Lord knew the hearts of the people in Sardis.
Many people looking in from the outside saw this congregation as a congregation who was very much alive. But the Lord knew their hearts. He knew they were dying within.
We know that the congregation was not entirely dead because in verse two it talks about saving “what remains and is about to die”.
What are the signs of a dying church?
The church has an appearance of being alive.
“You have the reputation of being alive” 3:1
The church is asleep.
“Wake up” 3:2
A slumbering church will cease living searching for the face of God.
A slumbering church will grow conforable in sin.
A slumbering church will cease spreading the gospel.
A slumbering church will cease resiting the devil.
The church’s works are not complete in the sigh of God.
“I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God” 3:2
It was not dying because of a lack of works but rather works that were not pleasing in the sight of God. They may have been works down out of self interest or to be seen by others.
The church no longer holds on to the truth of God
“Remember, then what you have received and heard. Keep it , and repent.” 3:2
It had slowly abandoned the message of the Gospel.
It had recieved sound teaching but as time went on it failed to hold on to sound teaching.
Notice how there is no mention of tribulation, of persecution, of trials. The congregation was not being persecuted by the people of Sardis because there was no reason to - they were so much like them. The world and the church in Sardis were very much alike.
A church that acts like the world will not be persecuted - the world does not persecute its own.

II. The way to revival/El camino hacía el avivamiento

Could this church be revived?
Could this church be revived for the glory of God?
Though this church was pretty much dead the Lord Jesus Christ, in an act of mercy, speaks to it with strong words. This is not for the purpose of destroying his people but rather to wake it from its slumber.
“Wake up” - be revived, wake from your slumber, look where you are, look what has happened.
Then what is the way to revival? A revival is not something that we can produce on our own. We must seek the face of God so that in his sovreigny and mercy we may be revived.
The way to be revived:
“Wake up”, 3:2 - we must awake from our slumber. We must consciously acknowledge our condition.
“Remember” 3:3 - we must remember the Gospel. This is the message that we have received and heard. The Gospel is the good news that the Father sent his Son to die for those who would believe in him. We must remember we were given a great commission to share the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
“Keep it” 3:3 - we must retain the message we have recieved. It is not sufficient to think that the message of the Gospel is for new believers. The message of the Gospel is what sustains the church of Jesus Christ.
The first generation believes the Gospel.
The second generation assumes the Gospel.
The third generation abandons the Gospel.
La primera generación cree el Evangelio
La segunda generación asume el Evangelio
La tercera generación abandona el Evangelio.
“Repent” 3:3 - The believer must continually repent before God if he is to be revived. We have sinned. We continually sin before God. As long as we are on this side of glory we will continue to sin.

Conclusion

Church of God, will we seek God’s face and ask him to revive us?
Will we sincerely repent before God and enjoy spiritual life?
Even in Sardis not all was lost. There were “remains”. Surely they were about to die. Nevertheless there was some good left in Sardis. In fact, the Bible says:
Revelation 3:4 ESV
Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy.
There were those who were walking in holiness for they had not “soild their garments”. Their garments were white.
These sincere believers would walk with the Lord Jesus Christ, just as Enoch walked with God ()
All those who conquered, who repented and were revived, would be “clothed thus in white garments” and their names would not be blot “out of the book of life.” Their names, the Lord Jesus, would confess before his Father and before his angels (3:5).
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