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The Church at Sardis (2)

Letters to the Churches  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Destination—Sardis

For our family, one period of time that we look back on with some of the fondest memories was our 10 months in Portugal. It is a land so rich with history and ancient architecture. We saw many ancient castles and monasteries, some of them dating back 1000 years or more. One of these places was Castelo do Sao Jorge, or Castle of Saint George. We first went there on a field trip with our tutor and then made a number of visits as a family, particularly when we had visitors. (Heidi’s folks) This castle sits on a prominent hill overlooking the city of Lisbon. Locals say that there has always been a castle on that hill. In fact, historians say that there is record of human activity on that hill up to the 6th century B.C. Over the centuries, it was conquered, partially destroyed, and rebuilt a number of times. In fact, there are even Roman ruins in this castle and under the streets of Lisbon. But one significant battle for this castle took place around the year 1147, during the reign of King Afonso 1. Crusaders from England bound for the Holy Lands had gotten weathered in Potugal and King Afonso convinced them to help him kick the Moors (muslim inhabitants of the Iberian peninsula) out of Lisbon. They marched to Lisbon and laid seige to this castle for a number of months before the Moors agreed to a peace treaty. Historians say that the pieace treaty was agreed upon by both sides. But the Portuguese actually have a different version of how the Moors were kicked out.
Legend has it that a knight named Martim Moniz, during the seige, noticed a small door ajar on the side of the castle. He rushed the door and and fought with the Moors, and was killed, but managed to wedge his body in the doorway, preventing them from closing it before the rest of his Portuguese knights arrived, rushed in through the open door and conquered the castle.
King Crecus—the wealthiest king to ever rule this part of the world. Built a massive fortress
King Cyrus came through to conquer and laid this fortress under seige. One of Cyrus’ soldiers noticed a soldier on the wall looking over. His helmet dropped to the ground. He disappeared off the wall, and moments later came out through a small secret door in the side of the wall and retrieved his helmet.
King Cyrus sent the bulk of his men over to the other side of the city and raised a ruckess. While King Crecus’ men went over to see what was going on, King Cyrus’ special forces entered the fortress through this small door and took the fortress.
Just when they thought they were safe…they were not.
This happened twice.
Jesus said, “I am the Way the Truth, and The Life”.
The exculcivity of this claim caused trouble for the early Christians and still causes trouble for true Followers today.
We learned about other churches who decided that the way to survive was to go back into temple worship and release the pressure of being different.
In Sardis, they apparently decided to “just get along”.
The Romans said, you are free to worship your God just as long as he is no more important than the Emperor.
Some clues:
On the pillars of the synagogue, the Jews had written their names in Greek. Interesting since their names were vitally important to them as was their language
On the end of the alter there is a Roman eagle, other Roman animals nearby, signifying loyalty to the empire
Other reliefs from pagan Lydian culture as well
The synagogue was right next to the Roman gymanasium where contests were held in the nude, would have been a deep offense to committed Jews
In the market, there were stalls of Christians and Jews right beside each other
If the claims of Christ being exclusive were upheld, you would not find this.
“Strengthen what little you have left”
“Remember what you learned at first”
“You have killed the message”
Story of Northwest Airlines flight
Highway
Drowsy driving: Drowsy driving accounted for about 5,445 fatal crashes and 510,900 non-fatal collisions, for a total estimated societal cost of $109 billion per year,
Trains
Airplanes
Being inattentive and drowzy
Today, the bigger problem is distracted driving.
A growing problem is phone use or gadget use while driving.
But even a bigger problem is a church that is complacent, drowsy, distracted and asleep.
Revelation 3:1-6
Revelation 3:1–6 NIV
1 “To the angel of the church in Sardis write: These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God. 3 Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you. 4 Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. 5 The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels. 6 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
No secret about what was happening
dynamics between the Christians and the Roman empire and the culture around them
Immense pressure on the young believers to conform
Churches were caving into the pressure
Some, like Thyatira and Pergamum had decided to release the pressure by going back to temple worship
The teaching of Balaam
You could call yourself a Christian but also include temple worship to get the authorities off your back
There was something very deceptive about being a Christian in those days:
In some countries, it is out and out illegal to be a Christian
In those countries, you know where you stand
In those countries, the line is clear. Either you are, or you aren’t.
In the Roman Empire, the line isn’t so clear
In the Roman Empire, you could be a Jew. You could be a Christian.
Just as long as you didn’t claim that your God was any more important than the Emperor or any of the Roman gods
Just as long as you didn’t claim that your God was the only God, you were OK
Big Problem for Believers.
What do you do with Jesus’ claim in I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one. No one! Comes to the Father except through me!
Well, we saw what other churches did.
There’s evidence that the church in Sardis did something just a bit different.
There’s evidence that the culture in Sardis was a “get along culture”
In the words of Rodney King: “People, I just want to say, you know, can we all get along? Can we get along?”
Apparently, they thought they could. Maybe that was their city slogan
The Bridgeville, DE slogan “If you lived here, you’d be home”
The Sardis slogan “The town that gets along”
Why do I say this?
On the pillars of the synagogue, the Jews had written their names in Greek. Interesting since their names were vitally important to them as was their language
On the end of the alter there is a Roman eagle, other Roman animals nearby, signifying loyalty to the empire
Other reliefs from pagan Lydian culture as well
The synagogue was right next to the Roman gymanasium where contests were held in…less then full dress, would have been a deep offense to committed Jews
Also right next to the Roman baths
In the market, there were stalls of Christians and Jews right beside each other
If the claims of Christ being exclusive were upheld, you would not find this.
So it seems clear that the Sardis culture was a get along culture
Man, does that seem familiar!
America: You can say Jesus is a way. Just don’t tell me He is THE Way
You can be a believer. Just don’t tell me that I should be
You can say you have the truth. But it’s YOUR truth. Everyone has their own truth.
And Believers fold to this attitude all the time.
You don’t have to look very far to find examples of Christian leaders folding to a get-along culture
Jesus said to them, “You have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead”
You look like you have it going on. Your church is thriving, people are happy and are excited about going to church....
But you are dead
You’ve actually fallen asleep
Because you are “getting along” you are no longer spiritually alert
Life has become too easy for you.
We have seen what sleepiness can do to you if you are driving
Spiritual Sleepiness...
Makes you create an appearance of life to hide your spiritual death
When you are physically sleepy, it is possible for you to look awake when really there is nothing going on “up there”
Your mental processes are the first to go
Your body is functioning normally, but your
A sleepy church that has been lulled into complacency will put much time and energy into programs and activities
People come by the droves because “There is something going on at THAT church!”
Does this mean that programs and activities are wrong?
No, they can be used by the Holy Spirit effectively
But they can also be used to hide the fact that we are spiritually drowzy
Causes your deeds to be unfinished
When you are sleepy at work, your attention to detail suffers
When you are sleepy while operating a car, you make mistakes like leaving the gas nozzle in while you drive away
When you are sleepy while flying, you miss crucial checklist items that could spell disaster for your flight
Or you make decisions which are irrational and not well thought out.
A sleepy Church
Feels no sense of urgency
Allows the work of the Kingdom to fall by the wayside
That work of evangelism that they used to do...
That work of discipleship they used to do...
Allows The unexpected will happen
“I will come to you like a thief”
The people of Sardis knew what he was talking about
Story of King Croesus
Jesus will come to them.
Not as a comforter but as a judge
The Commands:
Wake up! (vs. 2)
Like someone grabbing your shoulder while you are sitting there dozing and yelling in your ear
Strengthen what remains and is about to die! (vs. 2)
You still have something left…your muscles have not atrophied completely
Remember what you received and heard (vs. 3)
Keep it and repent! (vs3)
Your remembering should cause action on your part
Repentance—a change in direction
The Encouragement:
You still have a few people who have not soiled their clothes
Getting along is like soiling your clothes
You know how it is to get all dressed up for church and when you get there you find that you have brushed up against your dirty car
The Prize:
They will walk with me dressed in white—a symbol of purity
Why, because they are worthy
His name will never be blotted out of the book of life
His name will be confessed before the Father and his angels
See also He who acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven.
Jesus to His disciples “watch and pray lest you fall into temptation”.
Sardis
King Croesus—the wealthiest king to ever rule this part of the world. Built a massive fortress
King Cyrus in 546 B.C. came through to conquer and laid this fortress under seige. One of Cyrus’ soldiers noticed a soldier on the wall looking over. His helmet dropped to the ground. He disappeared off the wall, and moments later came out through a small secret door in the side of the wall and retrieved his helmet.
King Cyrus sent the bulk of his men over to the other side of the city and raised a ruckess. While King Crecus’ men went over to see what was going on, King Cyrus’ special forces entered the fortress through this small door and took the fortress.
Just when they thought they were safe…they were not.
This happened twice.
The exculcivity of this claim caused trouble for the early Christians and still causes trouble for true Followers today.
We learned about other churches who decided that the way to survive was to go back into temple worship and release the pressure of being different.
In Sardis, they apparently decided to “just get along”.
The Romans said, you are free to worship your God just as long as he is no more important than the Emperor.
Some clues:
On the pillars of the synagogue, the Jews had written their names in Greek. Interesting since their names were vitally important to them as was their language
Other reliefs from pagan Lydian culture as well
If the claims of Christ being exclusive were upheld, you would not find this.
Doubtless, this was a “get along culture”. And I’m sure they felt pretty good about themselves.
Jesus said, “You think you are alive, but you are dead”.
They said, “Look how we are getting along with everyone”
“Strengthen what little you have left”
“Remember what you learned at first”
“You have killed the message”
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