"The Life of a Church"
These last three churches show us what it is like to be dead as a church, even when we think we are alive. Another is strong and small in the sight of the world. The last is lukewarm and is no longer serving its purpose.
The Life of a Church
A. You have read about, seen news stories, or watched enough TV shows to see paramedics arrive on the scene of a an accident where the victim is crossing the barrier between life and death. There is no heartbeat, breathing has stopped and all vital signs of life are absent. But the dedicated paramedics do not accept this death as final. They begin CPR, perhaps injecting a drug that stimulates the heart and for a few more frantic moments nothing happens. Then, the victim begins to cough, take a few ragged breaths, and the heartbeat gets stronger. Instead of sending a copse to the morgue, the ambulance takes a patient to the hospital. But here’s the question: Was the victim really dead?
B. Without getting to theological or technical, we would probably answer, yes. If not for the expert care of the paramedics, the person would remained dead. But we know, that this kind of death, doesn’t have to final if the proper stimulus can help revive the victim.
C. So we come to the last three churches of this group of seven. God proclaims one as dead, but can wake up. Another, God opens a door that no one can shut. And the third has Jesus knocking at their door, wanting to come to church. The life of a church is seen in this group of seven congregations. Each one has a message that we need to hear.
I. Looks Can Be Deceiving
A. READ Rev. 3:1-2. Few people have the ability to do self-reflection well. Either they are overly critical of themselves or overly confident in their abilities. But as a congregation it is even more difficult to judge the health of us. Sometimes, churches turn to outside help in guiding them through a process of finding out their strengths, weakness and how to move forward. Sardis was a church that didn’t see themselves the same way Jesus saw them.
B. To have a reputation of being alive, means someone made a positive judgement call concerning this congregation. They had “works,” that made them seem like they were alive. But Jesus calls them dead. Paul said to Timothy there is coming a time when people will “have the appearance of godliness, but deny its power.” That really seems to be what is happening in this congregation. They look fine, but they have denied the power of Jesus.
C. When we reflect on us a congregation, we have ask ourselves more than just what ministries are we doing. We have ask about our connection to Jesus. Ministry is never about us, our kindness, our generosity – it is about showing Jesus to people who need him. If it misses that point it fails in its greatest purpose. We are more than good people who do nice things. We are a church that belongs to Jesus to help unsaved people find salvation in the only name that makes any difference.
D. When our focus is on Jesus, our connection is strong with him and our works are complete in him, the future is one of being dress in white robes and whose name is written in the only book that matters.
II. The Open Door Church
A. Rev. 3:7-8. I believe one might not have known about this church in Philadelphia had it not been for this short letter tucked into the revelation giving to John. Jesus says “I know you have little power/strength.” I don’t know what that phrase means, but I do know what Jesus said when he walked on this earth: “If you have faith as a mustard seed you could move a mountain” (Matt. 17:20). This church had that type of faith. What seemed like a powerless church was really a powerful church in the eyes of Jesus.
B. By the way, who defeated Goliath? Before you answer David, think about what he said (1 Sam. 17:45-46). David knew the power to defeat Goliath was not in him, but in the LORD of hosts. Jesus told this church that he would open a door no one will shut.
C. This congregation, you and me, belong to a church that has the power of Jesus behind us. Don’t let the world tells us that we are not strong enough to march against the gates of hell, for Jesus promised his church could just that. Let’s take hold of the power by living as people of faith, love, and holding true to the word of God.
III. Jesus Knocks At The Church Door
A. The last church we will examine today is where our reading came from. READ Rev. 3:14-17. Paul spoke of a letter that he wrote to this church that we don’t have a copy of. I know nothing of their history, but I believe that this church is probably the easiest to imitate.
B. This was a church that from the outside seemed to have it all. They seem to a financially secure congregation. A church that had little need for any help of any kind. Yet when Jesus saw them, he saw them as spiritually poor, blind and wretched. He calls them “lukewarm.”
C. From a geographical perspective Laodicea had the hot springs in the north that many believed had healing powers. To the south they had deep cool wells of water that were refreshing. Both the hot and the cold were useful and desirable, but Jesus called this church lukewarm. The point is this church brought forth nothing of value and Jesus was read to spit them out of his mouth.
D. Jesus paints a picture that we need to see as we close (READ Rev. 3:19-20). How sad it is that Jesus is outside the door of this church wanting to come in. But he knocks because he loves them and wants them to receive him as their Lord and Savior. Jesus offers hope to a church that didn’t know they needed it.
A. Individually, we might be like this church. We might not even realize that we need Jesus. I pray for eyes to see me as Jesus sees me. Today, I hope you will walk with Jesus, trusting and obeying him. If we can encourage that walk, come as we stand and sing.
May God Bless You,