Revelation 3:1 “To the angel of the church in Sardis write: He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars, says this: ‘I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.’”
One writer described this church as a morgue with a steeple, a congregation of corpses; he said they have undertakers for ushers, embalmers for elders, morticians for ministers, and the pastor graduated from the cemetery.
Ever wonder if your church is dead or alive? We drive by churches and see a parking lot full of cars and we think now that church must be doing something right! May I remind you what appears to be, is not always the way it appears!
There was a brilliant young pianist giving his very first concert. As the final chord of his flawless performance reverberated in the hall, the audience rose to its feet and broke out in thunderous applause. Only one member of the audience remained seated. The pianist’s eyes began to well up with tears and his head dropped slightly as he left the stage in utter defeat. The stage manager in the great hall was a sensitive and observant man who had noticed the lone gentleman and saw how this cool response affected the star performer. “Son,” he said, “you’re a hit! Everyone was overwhelmed. The critic from the Times was in tears. By morning you’ll be famous. Don’t let one guy get you down.” “You don’t understand,” the dejected young man replied, “That man was my piano teacher. It only matters what he thinks.”
When it comes to a church being dead or alive it does not matter what you think or I think, it only matters what the teacher thinks. A church may have all the publicity, all the popularity, and all the population, why, it has a name that is alive and it means nothing to Jesus! If you want to know a church that is alive from dead, look no further than the church that had a name that they were!
If we learn anything from the previous 4 churches, all 4 churches experienced persecution – not the church at Sardis! One writer called the church at Sardis, “the perfect model of inoffensive Christianity.” Evidently the Jews and the Romans didn’t bother the church because the church didn’t bother them. Evidently the devil didn’t bother them because they never bothered the devil! Do you know who loves the kind of church that never bothers them? The community – this was the very first community church!
Why did they not experience persecution!? Revelation 3:3, “So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you.” What did they forget that they needed to remember? The gospel received and the gospel heard – they were not keeping it. They believed it, they were just not keeping it!
No wonder why the community never bothered them. Who wants to hear repent of your sins and turn from them and believe that your only hope for heaven is Jesus? Who wants to hear they are not good enough, that on your best day you are not good enough, you must be perfect as your father in heaven is perfect? Who wants to hear that if you reject this message, if you refuse to repent and receive Jesus as your only hope for heaven, you will perish and be eternally damned from the presence of God in a real hell?
So if you want to know a church that is alive from dead – the church that is alive irritates the system with a sermon and that sermon causes the system to irritate the saints.