We continue our sermon series ‘The seven churches of Revelation’. Preaching from guest speaker Ed Ball. Service led by Richard Sills.
William Ramsey, the great 19th Century archaeologist, suggested that the city of Sardis’ history provides us with the key for unlocking the ideas within Chapter 3 (about the church at Sardis)
Sardis the city HAD been one of the great and richest of the Greek cities (in Asia) from a thousand years before. However, when at the pinnacle of power, their city was attacked from an unexpected direction, and they were overcome. Their power and prestige collapsed overnight. It never regained its former position. It went into sudden and irrecoverable decline as an independent power; their former glory was merely a memory. This may have been the picture from which Jesus reminds the Christian in Sardis of the terrible consequences of not staying awake… of not “being on watch”, “of staining their garments” and of letting their spiritual life die.
But is Christian decline inevitable and unrecoverable?
The church at Sardis was in an extremely poor state of health. It was dead inside and was warned it would soon cease to exist unless it repented.
1. Reputations and Reality
Is this warning for the whole church. or for the individual?
Note. the letter to Laodicea was penned to the whole church yet Jesus included an appeal to INDIVIDUALS “If anyone hears my voice”. Always, it is important to see that God speaks to individuals not just large groups:
Here, “the one who is victorious.”/ shall NOT have his name blotted out from the book of life.
2. Is this irrecoverable
NO..BUT there is a spiritual emergency which if not attended to has fatal results.
3. The Lord calls us to emergency self-treatment
Note the whole message of the Bible is that where there is failure there are steps to recovery and revival.
a) Wake up
4. These are time limited promises
However, there is not a “Mission Impossible” deadline. We do not know when the deadline is at all! It could be all over in 10 seconds!
5. Blessings given to “The one who “overcomes”/is “victorious”
a) Beautiful spiritual clothing
b|) Eternal life
c) Loving recognition by the Father in Heaven
6) Over to you and me!
Questions for further study
- (Verse 1) About churches: What do you think are the key factors
why churches fall into decline in today’s Britain? Look at the following areas:
- Their holiness and compromise with wicked stained behaviour and pagan thought (see 2 Corinthians 7 v1
- Their love for the Lord (see Matthew 24v 12)
- their spiritual service of worship (see Romans 12 v1-2)
- Their doctrine and witness to the world about the bible see Jude 1vs3-4)
- Their evangelising and their discipling of converts (Matthew 28 vs 18-30)
- (About us as individuals) How can we “wake ourselves up”? (the word is related to “watchfulness”, and the “watchmen who needs to wake himself from his drowsy mentality) What reasons does this verse give us for waking up/ being watchful, and what do these reasons mean in real terms?
- How much value, as individuals and as churches, do we give to learning from the past ways in which God has spoken to us as individuals when we first became Christians? What about the standards of commitment and discipleship that once may have been expected from church members, but which now may have been relaxed
- How urgent is this need to change? Compare Revelations 16v 15, Luke 12;39-40; 1Thess 5v2,4-6 and 2 Peter 3v 10, in how they describe the urgency of change.
Sermon Title: Is Christian decline inevitable?
Bible Reading: Rev. 3:1-6 (Sardis)
Preacher: Ed Ball
Worship Leader: Richard Sills