Sardis – Reviving a Dead Church

A Dead Church Needs to Repent of Hypocrisy

Revelation 3:1-6



I.         Introduction (Rev 3:1; Jude 1:12)


A.      The seven churches of the Book of the Revelation are a real eye-opener, as far as what Jesus expects of His churches, and what He finds!

B.       In studying these seven churches, we will find some surprising things going on, that you would not think would be going on, and yet they are in churches

C.       Every church has problems in it. That’s because it has PEOPLE in it. Only its foundation, and structure is perfect (Eph 2:19,20)

D.      Christ died to obtain His church – His bride – His people

E.       He expects us to be


1.        Alive – a living organism, not an organization

2.        Super-natural

3.        Full of faith and confidence in the Lord

4.        Soundness – realness – not fake “christians” - counterfeits


F.       When we allow ourselves to ACT out our Christianity, instead of LIVE BY IT, then we need to REPENT and get back to being the BRIDE Jesus loved first day!


II.       Review


A.      This is our fifth church we are studying in this series

B.       There are seven churches that Jesus examines, and tries to keep pure and right

C.       The first four churches dealt with:


1.        Ephesus - Keeping our First Love, First

2.        Smyrna - Staying faithful, consistent, dependable as Christians

3.        Pergamos – A Worldly church needed to repent of compromise

4.        Thyatira – Purifying an Impure Church


D.      Today we want to look at the needs of the fifth church – Sardis. A church in a city of Asia minor (modern Turkey)

E.       As is always the case – this is not any human who is being judgmental, no, no! There are always PLENTY of those kind of judges. This is the Lord Jesus Christ HIMSELF, looking down at the hearts and reins of Christians, and telling it as it really is!

F.       We have a double-header, so-to-speak.


1.        Learn about this church which is so typical of many churches today

2.        Actually see that these churches reflect Church-history, before  church history even took place! That part will be taught tonight!


III.     Message – Sardis – Reviving a Dead Church (Revelation 3:1-6)


A.      The Main Problem (Rev 3:1) – Hypocrisy


1.        These Christians had a NAME, but were DEAD - Counterfeits


a.       Here's a church that is a dead church, and yet it has a reputation for being a “live” church.


1)       They had a reputation for being alive, but are dead now.

2)       While the membership in this church was growing, the members were not growing!


b.       The true church of the Lord Jesus Christ is a living body - an organism (Jn 15:1-3; 1Cor 12:12,13,27) - but the situation here is the description of a dead body - an organization. God have mercy upon the pastors of a church like that!


1)       They are all over the world.

2)       They have a reputation, and that's all they have. That reputation now days is being built on the 'pastor', or upon the “heritage.” KJV churches are following the same path - it has happened, it is happening and it will continue to happen. Such a shame!


c.       EX: Many churches are like an ailing lung with a few cells doing the breathing. As a matter of fact, most churches are like that. They're like an ailing lung, where one or two cells are doing the breathing. In real life, there's a few Spirit-filled people in there, and they just keep the church from becoming an animated corpse.

d.       Lutherans have a name.


1)       You know where Lutherans got their name? They got their name from Martin Luther. If Martin Luther would come back to Lutheran churches, today, he would not be 'a happy camper.'

2)       Martin Luther used to call King Henry VIII "that damnable rottenness." When Martin Luther wrote to the pope, he called him, "Greetings, most hellish father." "Greetings, your hellishness,". In fact, if Martin Luther lived today, even the Baptists couldn't tolerate him!

3)       Now, they have a name. They have a name, but they're dead. They're dead.


e.       You take John Wesley. The Methodists have a name.


1)       That's quite a name they've got. You know, the people who brought real revival to America, they weren't Baptists, they were Methodists. The Baptists, they just came under their own in about 1930 under J. Frank Norris; the people who shook England and America up were Methodists.

2)       They were Culpepper and Morrison and Sam Jones and Peter Cartwright and Bob Jones Sr.

3)       If John Wesley came back into any Methodist Church, he'd have a heart attack before he went by the first ashtray! John Wesley believed in holy living. Oh, yes! That man believed you ought to pray to God while you're in your conscious waking moments, and love God with all your heart, soul, and mind, 60 seconds a minute, and 60 minutes an hour.

4)       They had a name, but now they're dead.


f.        Did you know that Baptists have a name?


1)       I mean, why pick on favourites? The Baptists have a name.


a)       Did you ever read the history of early America, taking Roger Williams and driving him out in the snow,

b)       and the Puritans taking Baptists and whipping them at the stake and throwing them in jail,

c)       and taking ol' John Bunyan and putting him in the Bedford jail for twelve years because he would preach in a bishop's jurisdiction; his little old blind girl coming around to him, begging him to get out of jail, and they'd tell him, "We'll let you out, John, if you'd just quit preaching."


2)       There were great Baptist preachers that started great works - but today, they have died - folks just tried to live on the man's name. J. Frank Norris – Jack Hyles – Peter Ruckman. Yes folks, even most of the KJV folks today live on the 'name' of their man!


a)       They come because of the man, not the Book

b)       They leave because of the man, not because of the Book!


2.        This church lived a LIE – the world can tell it right away! NO joy, satisfaction, no substance, no stability or strength!


a.       Supposed to be a body of born-again, believers in JESUS CHRIST


1)       Not in the sacraments

2)       Not in the holy mother church and her doctrines

3)       Not even believing in THEMSELVES


b.       Supposed to be a group that held to and lived by THE BIBLE!


1)        Nothing's deader than a Catholic mass. Some of you folks who have been saved, you ought to go back to mass some time to visit, and just test the spirits. But you'd be amazed to see what God has done for you, when you see the difference between how it feels now and how it felt then! I mean, when you go in there now with the Holy Spirit in you and feel that thing around you like that, it's a strange feeling, man! That guy gets up there and starts that "Ah dominus fee fi fo fum, e pluribus unum," boy, you'll wonder what's going on.


c.       Supposed to LIVE the same at home as they do at church – 24/7!


3.        This Church was a SHAME


a.       Jesus was mad at them for bringing such disrepute on HIS name

b.       Jesus went to the cross, and DIED, and then GOT UP AGAIN, and here was church that had started out right, but ended up DEAD


B.       The Only Procedure (Rev 3:2,3)


1.        Examine – be observant – pay close attention (1Cor 11:28)


a.       Guess what – that’s what SUNDAY’S are for – us to allow this Book to help us examine ourselves (Jn 15:22)

b.       Don’t get upset with me if the preaching stirs up a mess in your life – evidently it was there all along, and the hot water just revealed it

c.       To be watchful means to step out of your life for a moment and take a good look into it and see what God sees (1Sam 16:7)

d.       This preacher watches for your souls – it’s pretty important for you to watch out for YOUR OWN soul too (Heb 13:7)


2.        Strengthen what is left – build-up, or even rebuild what has become torn-down


a.       Feed the parts that dying


1)       LOTS of time in the Bible for the sick soul

2)       LOTS of fellowship for hungry hearts

3)       STUDY this book and build your faith strong on what IT says


b.       Nurture each other – disciple and hold up each other

c.       Exercise your faith

d.       Get into a regimentation


1)       EVERY Sunday

2)       Tithing every paypacket

3)       Reading your Bible EVERY day – I don’t know HOW you keep afloat without your Bible

4)       Be a faithful witness

5)       These are all simple things that keep us alive


e.       EX: of a ship on an ocean – to keep it from sinking, everyone must have a part in keeping it afloat, and in motion!


3.        Remember what you used to have when you first got saved


a.       HYMNS

b.       Preaching from the BIBLE only

c.       JOY

d.       Child-like faith

e.       If you can’t remember any of that in your past, YOU AINT SAVED!


4.        Repent


a.       All of us get back-slid at times

b.       But very few repent – I think this is God’s greatest grief. Not that we sin, but that we don’t care that we sin!!!

c.       The only difference between a defeated Christian, and a victorious Christian is REPENTANCE – did they repent when they fell?


5.        MOST other churches over-look this formula and instead


a.       Re-make their public “image” – more and more modern

b.       Put less and less importance on the Bible and its message

c.       Welcome any change as long as people are getting together


C.       The Warning (Rev 3:3b)


1.        Here is just how serious Jesus is about HIS church

2.        He expects us to OBEY His commands


a.       Not suggestions (Act 13:48)

b.       Especially for Christians


1)       This is not a free for all kind of life – I am bought with a price

2)       We have the WHOLE revelation in this Bible

3)       God expects more of us than He did of the Israelites

4)       If anybody should be satisfied enough to obey, it should be US


3.        If we think we can ignore His commands, and yet still call ourselves a church, we have another thing coming – JUDGMENT (Cf 1Pet 4:7)


a.       He will Remove your power source (Rev 2:5) -

b.       Remove His presence (Rev 3:20) – at least the awareness of it

c.       Pounce upon even HIS OWN PEOPLE – like He did to the Jews by Nebuchadnezzar, and Senacherib


1)       I used to fight every day against the flow of the Holy Spirit of God so that I could live my own way

2)       Then I got saved and fought against the flow of the world

3)       What a travesty to get back to living against the will of God


D.      Some Praise (Rev 3:4)


1.        This church had a FEW names (Cf Pr 22:1)

2.        There were some whose garments were still clean


a.       God didn’t WASH us in the blood of Christ for us to get all filthy again!

b.       God’s favourite testimony is of a Christian, who has kept themselves UNSPOTTED from the world (Jam 1:27)


3.        When we sin wilfully, we soil the clean life that Jesus gave us at salvation

4.        We can get it cleansed again and again, but the continual soiling of a garment does two things


a.       It begins to darken its colour

b.       It gets tattered from too many washes


5.        I wonder if our hearts are a bit tattered, and stained from all the sin we keep having to get washed again in the blood of Christ!!!

6.        What defiles us?


a.       The stuff that’s in our hearts – anger, envy, pride, lust

b.       The stuff that is in so many Christian’s mouths – cigarettes

c.       The stuff that’s in so many Christian’s homes – wicked TV

d.       The stuff that’s in so many refrigerators – beer!


7.        Jesus wants to look down and see a church that has the victory over that stuff!


E.       Christ’s Challenge (Rev 3:4b-6)


1.        Overcome


a.       Being the minority – Go ahead and BE in the minority

b.       Disobedience – so hard for adults as much as teenagers

c.       Hypocrisy – be real, and yet striving


2.        What you can miss out on


a.       A closeness in your walk with God HERE

b.       A testimony of cleanness – as if to say, “I still have my old garment, and it is still white and beautiful” – like a Mom handing her wedding dress down to her daughter

c.       Salvation


1)       Not that you will lose it

2)       But that you will only be showing that you never had it to begin with (Mt 7)

I.         Conclusion


A.      Can We Deal With Possibly OUR Main Problem? – Hypocrisy Some of you may only have a NAME, but are DEAD - Counterfeits

B.       The Procedure is straightforward – self-examination, rebuild

C.       The Warning is Clear – Jesus is so serious

D.      The Praise is for a few – clean lives

E.       The Challenge is for us all – overcome, or a lot will miss out!


II.       Church History


A.      Seven churches – Didn’t address ALL churches around at the day (95 AD), but to 7 specific churches that would show us our5selves, and the state we get ourselves in if we do not stay close to THIS BOOK, and to the Lord Jesus!

B.       Seven periods of time in Church history over the past 2,000 years


1.        Ephesus - This church represents clearly the first church period from 33 AD to 200 AD, which includes the Apostles, then the “Church Fathers”. This church period emphasized Doctrine, and labouring for Christ.

2.       Smyrna


a.       The Smyrna period last from 200 to 325 AD consisting of the TEN official Roman persecutions against the Christian Church. This is the “martyr’s” Church.

b.       This is the church that is soul-winning, getting persecuted, killed, tortured, and doing what God intended it to be doing, and it was paying the price.


3.        Pergamos - Spiritually: This is the Worldly church!


a.       In type, this church is “fortified” by the world, and settles down comfortably with the world (like in a marriage). These began to think that the “Kingdom” had come (heaven on earth)!


1)       They quit winning souls

2)       They begin to build big elaborate buildings

3)       They begin to “dissertate” instead of preach!

4)       They preach only “love”, and neglect missions

5)       They become “the only one true church” (Catholic)


b.       Historically:


1)       The Pergamos period lasts from 325 to 500 AD and marks the creation of the Roman Catholic Church. The marriage of “Church” and “State” at the counsel of Nicea in 325 AD under Constantine.

2)       The church at Smyrna had so affected the world at that time that Constantine had to get along with it in order to keep his empire from splitting, which prepared the way for the church of Pergamos.


c.       Their Weak Areas (Rev 2:14,15)


1)       False Teachers abounding – this is sad – wolves in sheep’s clothing


a)       Unsaved people teaching in the church (not born-again) just religious

b)       Untaught people – untrained

c)       Unconcerned people – not concerned about clear truth

d)       So, these people ended up teaching FALSE doctrines (1Tim 4:1-3)

e)       This goes for false PREACHERS too!


(i)       Unsaved – not born-again – just religious

(ii)     Untaught – start various denominations

(iii)    Unconcerned – just wanting a following


2)       False Teaching, Doctrine – Two things were being exposed here by Christ


a)       What are these two “doctrines”


(i)       Balaam’s doctrine

(ii)     The doctrine, or teaching of the Nicolaitanes


b)       Doctrine of Balaam


(i)       Taught God’s people, who are supposed to be devoid of all idols, to have idols in their homes, and churches – compromise so to seem more like the world around them

(ii)     Taught God’s people to fornicate – vile and wicked


(a)     By getting Christian girls to date unsaved boys

(b)     By getting Christian boys to date and marry unsaved girls

(c)     DATING leads NOT to purity, but to FORNICATION

(d)     Used to be a good thing to be a virgin, but dropping our standards, and compromising causes our young ladies and young men to fornicate, and then, fall away!

(e)     Today’s TV is presented to 3 year olds

(f)      Radios are on ALL DAY LONG with filth and fornication


(iii)    These two things caused Israel to stumble and fall on the way to the Promised Land

(iv)   Christ’s CHURCH is not to have this going on


(a)     Guys and girls kissing before marriage – sin

(b)     Worshipping music stars, and movies stars and sports

(c)     If there is the world cup on a Sunday, you had better be HERE


c)       Doctrine of the Nicolatines


(i)       It was the Roman church controlling the laity – common people

(ii)     Hierarchy

(iii)    Jesus HATES this doctrine


4.        Thyatira - Spiritually and Historically: This is the Lax church!


a.       In type, this Church represents two groups: 1) those Churches that stand out as bright lights in a dark world under persecution, and 2) “churches” that don’t care WHAT is taught, nor WHO is teaching. They just don’t care - but you had better believe that the Lord does!!!.

b.       The Thyatira period lasts from 500 to 1000 AD which is the heart of the “Dark” ages, and represents the bright lights that existed during that time of oppression. St. Patrick of Ireland, the Paulicians, and the Huguenots of France are some examples.


c.       The Time of Jezebel


1)       Speaks FOR God - Calls herself a prophetess – a woman preacher (the MOTHER Church)


a)       She teaches – she methodically instructs - programs

b)       She seduces – she makes it seem OH SO BEAUTIFUL and right

c)       Jezebel was a persecutor of the prophets of the Lord, and a great patroness of idolaters and false prophets. The sin of these seducers was that they attempted to draw the servants of God into fornication, and to offer sacrifices to idols;

d)       Yet, they called themselves prophets, and so would claim a superior authority to the Bible.


(i)       They made use of the name of God to oppose the truth of his doctrine and worship; this very much aggravated their sin.

(ii)     They abused the patience of God to harden themselves in their wickedness.  God gave them space for repentance, but they repented not.


2)       All so to ruin God’s people


a)       Through fornication


(i)       Physical sin

(ii)     Spiritual sin – spiritual adultery (James 4:4)


b)       Idolatry – the worship of anything other than God

c)       These things bring God’s judgment, even on Bible believing Christians. God’s people can’t be defeated – but they can invite judgment from God


(i)       As the Israelites did in the wilderness – Baalim

(ii)     As they did before Nebuchadnezzar was sent

(iii)    As the Corinthians did in 1Cor 11:29,30


3)       Beware of people who SEEM charismatic, and good intentioned, but OUT of God’s revealed will


a)       Women preachers (1Cor 11:3; 14:34,35; 1Tim 2:11,12; Eph 5:23,24)

b)       Seducers (Mk 13:22; 1Tim 4:1; 2Tim 3:13)

c)       Idolaters in cloak – in disguise


(i)       Promoting materialism

(ii)     Promoting me-first

(iii)    Promoting special powers and miracles


d.       God had given HER an opportunity to REPENT, and she chose not to


5.        Sardis - Spiritually and Historically: This is a DEAD CHURCH!


a.       This church represents all the churches that have buildings, and people, and programs, and money, and literature, and gold altars, and vestments, and everything that makes it look, smell, walk, and sound like a church, but as far as God is concerned, it is DEAD!

b.       The Sardis period lasts from 1000 to 1500 AD and consists of the last half of the dark ages, where the entire world basically spiritually “falls apart!”


1)       The eight “Crusades” of the Catholic Church - the most notorious was the “children’s crusade” of 1212 AD, which was led by Pope Nicholas, and ended with most drowning, or sold into slavery, or slaughtered!

2)       Monastic orders popping up everywhere - especially in France and Ireland.

3)       Two popes calling each other the Antichrist (1378)

4)       Three popes “reigning” at one time (1406-1415) - Avignon, Rome, etc.

5)       Indulgences, “Peter’s Pence”, and Simony (the purchasing of offices and positions in the Roman Catholic church)


c.       It is at the end of this period historically, that Martin Luther gets fed up with Rome and splits Germany, and that John Huss (1369), William Tyndale (1494), Savonarola (1452) have a heyday at turning millions to Christ as they get burned at the stake and tortured for preaching the true Gospel of the Grace of God!!!.

d.       This is the age that is headed-up by the massacre of the Huguenots and the St. Bartholomew Day Massacre, where the Pope gave a medal to armed Catholics who were able to kill unarmed Protestants.

e.       This age begins with the Crusades and with the invasions of Saladin and Ghengis Khan. We find the One Hundred Years War between England and France. We find the beginnings of the Renaissance and writings of Dante, Boccaico, Balzac, and Omar Khayyam; we find the influx of Asiatic culture and civilization going back into Europe, by means of the Crusades. Hindu and Moslem philosophy and learning comes up into Spain and up through Greece.

f.        We find in this period, the multiplacaiton of the Greek "Textus Receptus" manuscripts found in the Greek Orthodox Church and traveling up through Hungary, Bohemia and Bulgaria into Martin Luther's Germany. Never in the 1000 years previous to this time that God never used the Latin (Jerome's Vulgate) of the Roman Catholic Church for any kind of a revival. The line of revival is NOT Augustine and Origen (Alexandria, Egypt), up through a Latin Church in Italy and over into the Spanish Inquisition. That is the line of spiritual degeneration and scriptural corruption.

g.       Peter Waldo (1176) put great emphasis on the scriptures and scriptural methods. He translated portions of the Bible into the vernacular - the common language of his people. He also stressed preaching by the 'laymen' on the street and he taught that the Roman Catholic Church was not infallible. With this, the catholic family became more hostile to his followers and finally they tortured, murdered, shot, drowned, hung, stabbed and by any other 'creative' means, gave them God's 'loving corrections'!

h.       John Wycliffe (1324-1384) was a Biblical reformer bringing the teaching of scriptures to bear on practices of the Roman Church. He was branded as a heretic. Today, the Knights of Columbus (Catholic) states that every man who returns to the scriptures is a rebel against the authority of God given to Rome. Wycliffe was educated at Oxford and was able to reach the upper class of English people because of his education. He opposed the infallibility of the pope - he emphasized the invisible church and stressed the responsibility of the of the clergy to preach the word of God rather than rule over the people. He was a good evangelical Christian and trained scores of preachers called Lollards.

i.         John Huss (1369-1415) preached around Bohemia and was influenced by Wycliffe. Huss is proof that the line of revival was from Germany to England by way of the Balkans, not from Italy to Spain. When a man returns to Italy for his authority, he proves that he is nothing but a medieval archaic superstitious pagan. Italy has never had anything in its religions which was scriptural. There is nothing about Italy or Rome that resembles Biblical Christianity, other than a profession to believe certain correct statements, but of course, the devil also believes all the correct statements, too.

j.         One of the most remarkable figures in Europe during the latter part of the 15th century was Girolamo Savonarola, (1452-1498). He was a Catholic monk who became a street preacher. He preached sermons in Florence, Italy and led a reform movement there. He preached pre-millennialism. He attacked the corruption in the Roman Catholic Church, including the authority of the pope. Subsequently, he was martyred. First, the pope tried to shut him up and said, "I'll give you a red hat." (meaning a Cardinal's hat.) Savonarola replied, "I'll take a red hat of blood." - meaning a marty'rs hat of blood and that was the hat that he received! Savonarola also said, "You can separate me from the church militant -- the one down here -- but you can't separate me from the church triumphant -- the one up there!"

k.       It was Martin Luther, the son of a German coal miner, who gave direction to the "explosion" which we now call the Protestant "Reformation". He was, perhaps, hated more than any man in the world, outside of King Henry VIII. Martin Luther is hated today because he took Germany away from the pope. King Henry VIII is hated because he took England from the Pope. The pope lost his power to control the earth largely because of these two men - for he lost the German and British Empires, which would have included the US, Australia and Canada.


6.        For the last 500 years, then, the Roman Catholic church has been trying to bring England and Germany back into the fold. Consequently, we wouldn't be surprised to find that Hitler and his gang were Roman Catholics.

7.        Today, we see how Germany has returned, as has England, and has America. We have an ambassador to the Vatican, etc. etc. etc. The world is reuniting with the Pope. The Reformation is OVER - officially over. The paper work has been signed. Kaputz - DONE! He finally did it by doing the very same thing he was trying to do during the pre-reformation days - taking away the Book - but this time, he had to do it by 'replacing' the Bible with a non-bible! And without firing a shot!


III.     Final Conclusion


A.      What Kind of Church are we going to be?

B.       The best church is yet to come – the Church at Phidelphia