The Chocolate Bunny
The Chocolate Bunny Church
TEXT: Rev 3:1b "I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead."
Today, Sardis, 5th church.
· Capital of Lydia. 30 miles SE/Thyatira, in fertile valley.
· Located on spur of Mt. Tmolus.
· Considered IMPREGNABLE (on 2 occasions city fell for lack of awareness or alertness. City taken because not watchful).
· Population appx. 120,000.
· Had Temples, theater (12-15,000), stadium.
· Marble main streets.
Great COMMERCIAL center.
· First minted coins made there.
· Center of woolen, carpet industries.
· Had illustrious past.
· Now, name of contempt.
· Home to outdated musicians.
· Morally degenerate.
· Only shadow of former greatness.
Church intended to be thermostats (change temperature); too often become thermometers (reflect temperature) of where located. CAREFUL! Church can live on glory of past greatness.
Description of Lord here important (v.1)–“7 Spirits/God”–
· Presence/HS in all His fullness.
· Here picture of church living on what they “used to be.”
· Can happen to Christian – not lose salvation, but lose joy, power of former walk with Lord.
Have you ever seen a dead church?
What does a dead church like?
When people think of dead churches what usually comes to mind?
A dead church is usually believed to be:
1) A small group of believers rattling around in an old building.
2) Composed of mostly older people in their 70’s and 80’s.
3) And this group is usually quite content to stay as they are.
Experts tell us that churches often go through four stages of life.
Often classified them this way:
1. The Movement Stage.
a. This is the beginning stage of most churches.
b. It is a small, intimate and driven group of believers.
c. At this stage the people are nearly 100% committed.
d. They come for Sunday School, Worship, Sunday Evening, Wednesday Night.
c. They spend time together at each other’s homes and in Bible studies.
2. The Magnificence Stage.
a. At this point they’ve reached a high level of attendance.
b. They’ve attained critical number of members.
c. Now, because of their size, they can begin to do things they could only dream about before.
d. However, at this point the commitment of the group dips to between 50 and 70%.
e. They still have the vision, and a dream, but the intensity has diminished slightly.
3. The Monument Stage.
a. At this stage, the congregation still does things to increase growth,
b. But they begin to talk less about the future than they do about their past.
c. They’ve reached the point where they work at maintaining their past reputation.
d. They do things because that’s the way they’ve always done them.
e. At this stage, the church is often cursed by power struggles and many talk about the church as “my church” and “our church” as opposed to the “new” people that have only been there for 20 years or less.
f. Commitment level dips to between 10 to 30%.
4. The Mausoleum Stage is the one we would most commonly identify as the “dead church.”
a. People have drifted away or died.
b. Attendance levels are between 10 to 50 on any Sunday, and new people - when they show up - are suspect (they’d take control).
The Mausoleum church is the one we most often identify as the “Dead Church”
But what puzzled me about today’s text is that the church that Jesus calls "dead" (Sardis) has a “reputation of being alive.”
What that indicates to me is that Sardis wouldn’t have been a church you or I would look at and say "that’s one dead church!"
· They look alive (even though Jesus declared them to be dead).
· Their parking lot may have been full every Sunday, their pews packed to capacity.
· Their preacher may have been the finest that money could buy.
· But something had died inside.
· I don’t think this church at Sardis had reached the level of a Mausoleum.
· I suspect Sardis was a church in the “Monument stage but leaning toward the Mausoleum stage.”
· They appeared to be alive, but as far as Jesus is concerned, they’ had reached a state of being COMATOSE.
And here’s Jesus at their bedside, trying to slap them awake. “Wake up! Wake up!” he tells them.
Things have gotten so serious that Jesus was ready to pull their life support.
If they didn’t wake up and change, he would come as a thief in the night and possibly even blot their names out of the book of life.
But Sardis was a church that looked alive!
What happened to them?
More to the point – how can we avoid ending up like them?
We don’t want to be a dead church!
So, how do avoid their fate?
In this message written to the Church at Sardis, we can see at least 3 things that will cause a Church to die.
Remember as we look at this passage, we are the Church and we must beware of the warning given us here.
I. FAITH WITHOUT WORKS
To the Church at Sardis Jesus said: (Rev 3:2)
And James writes under the influence of the Holy Spirit:
“Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?” James 2:22
A. At Sardis, the Churches works were not perfect (complete) because they were not accompanied by faith.
1. Good works are the result of a changed life or a life of faith.
a. They go together, if you are really a child of God by faith in Jesus Christ, then you will have fruit (works).
“Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.”
2. I like to hear testimonies about changed lives, because a tree that has life, has fruit.
a. We do not change ourselves, nor do we bear fruit by ourselves.
“I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. Fruit bearing is evidence that we are in Christ, or rather that Christ is in us.”
3. Both Jesus and James are saying; Stop fooling yourself that you are a Christian!
a. If you have no works or no fruit, you may be dead!
b. Which would mean you are separated from the Living Christ
1) You say, I just have not yet completely surrendered to Jesus,
2) Well then Surrender!
3) You say, I’ve not yet made Him Lord,
4) Well then make Him Lord!
5) You say, I have not died to Self, well then die!
6) Whatever it takes, but start letting Jesus have control of your life or you will never bear fruit.
B. I have an observations:
1. To avoid becoming like Sardis, you and I (as church members) need to maintain a high level of commitment.
a. I believe part of the problem in Sardis was that its people had begun to compartmentalize church.
b. In other words: they’d made a compartment in their lives for church, and they had other “compartments” for work/ friends/ TV & entertainment and so on.
c. Church WASN’T the MOST IMPORTANT part of their lives.
d. It was simply one of many parts of their lives.
e. Jesus told Sardis in Revelation 3:2 “Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God.”
f. Their deeds were not complete – they’d lost their intensity in commitment.
C. The CURE for the Church. Vs.2-3.
“7 Spirits.” There is hope for a dead church. Answer not found in more programs. Answer found in presence, power/HS. To revive deadness there must be–
1. Spiritual ALERTNESS. V.2.
· “be watchful”–present tense. Be continuously awake, watchful.
· Remember: on 2 occasions city captured because guards failed to watch.
· “strengthen…remain”–put life into things doing.
· Allow HS to breathe upon you.
2. Spiritual BROKENNESS.
1) V.3. “Remember…”
· Church born because HS breathes life into it.
· We need the infilling of HS.
· He able to make church, and you alive again.
· Illus. Valley/dry bones–breath came, bones lived!
· “repent”–ask God to forgive us for our deadness.
2) “not watch…as thief…”
· Illus. Thief comes unexpectedly–no call, letter.
· NOTE: Jesus did come in judgment to Sardis.
· The country of Turkey once bright gospel light; today, one of darkest.
· Jesus is coming again.
· HOW THAT MAKE YOU FEEL?
o Good indication of your spiritual condition.
o Do you DESIRE or DREAD?
o We are to “love His appearing” (II Tim. 4:8).
3. Notice what happens with a church as it goes through it’s stages:
a. At the Movement Stage = a church has a nearly 100% involvement
b. At the Magnificence Stage = it has dropped to 50 to 75% involvement
c. But at the Monument Stage = (Sardis) 10 to 20% involvement
d. Now, I’m not sure how precise these %’s are – but they do point to a reality.
“The farther along a church is in these stages, the less involved it’s people are.”
I once heard of a preacher in large church who addressed his congregation of several thousand “how many of you are involved, or want to become involved in some form of ministry for Jesus – stand up.” About 60 percent of the audience stood. Then the preacher said to those who were seated: “If you don’t intend to get involved with ministry – when you leave today, don’t come back.”
II. WORSHIP WITHOUT WASHING
A. At Sardis, most of the members had defiled their garments.
1. This is also true of Churches today!
a. The problems comes when there is no washing or cleansing.
b. 1 Jn 1:9 tells us how we are to “rid” our lives of sin.
1 John 1:9
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
When was the last time we earnestly and honestly searched our hearts, confessing our sins to the Lord?
2. To often we have grieved or quenched the Holy Spirit of God so there is no Quickening power in our lives or of the Church.
Isaiah writes in Isa 1:15-16
“And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood. Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil;”
3. We don’t need more money, or more programs in the Church,
a. We need more brokenness, (not this superficial – make it look good for others – but serious – brokenness
b. More confession, (serious confession of our recent sins and past sins)
c. More repentance (serious repentance not this “I sorry” repentance”)
It was the brokenness, & the confession of our inability, and faith in Christ’s ability that made the difference.
III. The COMMITTED in the Church. Vs.4-6.
There is hope for the dead church, Christian. He has some words concerning–
A. The FAITHFUL FEW. V.4.
1) “few names.”
· A dedicated remnant.
· God always has them in every church.
· The truly committed never a majority.
2) Characteristics of the committed:
· “not defiled…”
o Garments symbolize character.
o Take care about the wardrobe of your soul.
o Keep life clean for Jesus.
o Illus. Operating room–must be impeccably clean. No germs, infections.
· “walk with me in white”–one day share His glory.
o Too many Christians walk in GRAY.
· “are worthy”–He makes us worthy.
B. The FANTASTIC FUTURE. V. 5. The word to the overcomers.
1) “clothed in white raiment”–final robbing of saints.
Ex. White robes used in banquets, victory parades (in Triumphal marches, Roman citizens wore white togas).
2) ”not blot…Book of life” –
· Does this teach can lose salvation?
o This is not threat, But a promise.
· “Book of life”–
o Evidently all born physically have names in Book/life.
o Potentially, can be saved.
o But, if die w/o Jesus, name blotted out.
· Then, at final judgment Book/life contains only names of saved (Rev. 20:12-15).
“Confess name…Father, His angels.”
Jesus said would do this.
Sardis, a church in name only but without any spiritual life.
A city with a rich history trying to live on a past reputation
Had a name but had no substance to it:
Illustration: Wax fruit or artificial flowers
Sardis is the “Chocolate Bunny Church” –
Simple: Sardis was like a chocolate bunny.
1) They look huge to look at but actually they are hollow on the inside.
2) Jesus told the Pharisees: outside they looked lovely, newly whitewashed tombs, but on the inside they were full of dead men’s bones.
Jesus said, I come to give life and life more abundantly!
We must ask ourselves the questions:
1. Do we have Faith without works?
2. Worship without Washing?
If we do not and others around us in Church do not, then maybe our Church has a name, but God knows that it is dead or dying.
What about you?
Living on what you done in past?
What doing for Jesus now?
What are you planning to do tomorrow?