The Dead Church

The Church at Sardis 02

By: R.S. Helms
By: R.S. Helms

The church at Sardis, the second that Jesus had no good thing to say, but a church that had enough people left in the congregation, who possessed enough genuine spirituality that life, (genuine Spirit filled life), was possible. Revival was not a condition no longer attainable for this church, which, in Jesus’ words when speaking to the Pharisees, ‘like a whitewashed sepulchre, clean on the outside, but inside, full of dead men’s bones.’(My paraphrase). The church “appeared” to be vibrant and alive, but only a few left who were alive spiritually.

Rev. 3:1—6… 1). “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write. These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars:  ‘I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. 3). ‘Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God.  3). ‘Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent.  Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you not know what hour I will come upon you. 4). ‘You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy.  5). ‘He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life, but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.  6). ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” ‘

Again, Jesus addresses the angle of the church, the messenger and overseer. Then continues with what should have been a commendation, instead He said that He knew their works, which were not anything more than they had a reputation in Sardis as being alive; and then he says, “But you are dead.” They were not apparently engaging in outright sin, fornication, sexual immorality and such, but nonetheless, it is sin for a church to be dead. Have you ever visited a dead church? It is church robbed of its spiritual vigor; the Holy Spirit is quenched, it has no spiritual life. I am not indorsing the Pentecostal church, nor the Assembly of God, because any Christian church, or Christian can grieve the Holy Spirit.

In the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 23 verse 27.  “Woe to you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  ‘For you are like whitewashed sepulchres, (tombs), which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and uncleanness.’ “ Vs. 28. “Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

In the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 21 verse 19. And seeing a fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it but leaves, and said to it, “Let no fruit grow on you ever again.”  Immediately the fig tree withered away.

This church, in appearance was alive, but open it up and you have the bones of dead Christians.  The church did not produce life; it had no fruit, if I may.  Nevertheless, there is good news, unlike the fig tree; Jesus found some of the Christians there still holding fast to the faith.

There was some fruit among the lush leaves, like the fig tree, it was not just all show, it was dead, but a few showed signs of life.  Jesus said to be watchful, which in this case means to get involved in being watchful, or be watching.  Because first those who had signs of life would walk with him.  In addition, the others, should they repent, he would not blot their names from the Book of Life, but rather profess them before His Father. The un-repentful on the other hand, He would come on them like the thief in the night.  They would not know the hour that he would come.

Today, the Christian church is in decline. Why?  There are several causes, but one deals more to the condition at Sardis, and perhaps tops of the list of causes in the nation.  Progressivism, for years we have been trying to keep up with the progressive culture, as we have worked our committed people to death.  Keeping up with the world, is not what church is about.  Do you remember the church at Ephesus?  The church, which fell from its first love doing the work of the ministry of Jesus.  The same is happening throughout the Christian churches in the nation.

Some of the reasons are culture progressivism, which effected the millennial generation, (the Y generation), which in any case the ones who seem to put the birthdates on generations are not very sure, and leave it off at being born between 1980—1995.  Nonetheless, lost is everyone under 20 years old.  To be brutally honest that is the generation, which could end the church.  The church in the United States would be dead, with no hope reviving.

Of course, there would be pocket churches, Christians in underground pockets around the nation, the “remnant” of God’s children; just as the remnant of God’s children during the dark ages.  They would be the ones to bring revival to the church, and awaking to the nation.

Jesus’ warning to be watchful, simply said, being engaged in keeping our already spiritually alive disciples alive, those who are dead may never want to be alive and they are the problem of Jesus.  We cannot judge the heart, only the fruit, we cannot condemn those who are already condemned; nor absolve those condemned.  Being watchful means ‘watching’.

Another enemy of a living church is the progressive culture.  With all the technical advances of our culture, we have the progression of ideas, and with that a curse, if you will, ideas of how to do things better, how to do things more efficient, and make more money, to have more creature comforts.  In America, we have the American dream, (what is left of it); we are only as great as we ‘want’ to be.

Our American culture can progress, that is a good thing, and nevertheless, the church cannot change to keep the world happy.  Changing things in the church should be changing to honor God, not what some generation may be requiring in their comfort zone.  The big change in the Christian church must be to disciple those whom the Lord brings to its doors.

What happens when a church does not make true disciples?  It soon dies.  The largest church in Huston TX. Is actually not a church.  Entertaining comfort church that mentions God while it teaches how to make God fit into your creature comforts.  God IS love, nevertheless, God is also a Holy God who wants to love us but he has given us parameters of acceptable life, and due respect and honor to who He is.  When we move beyond those parameters it is called sin, and only God can judge, and give absolution for sin, He also by the nature of His holiness, must condemn and punish the disobedience.  He did all of it through the work of redemption through Jesus Christ … God incarnate, who bought the disobedience with His shed blood.

That precious blood redeemed the condemned to God.  Moreover, do not be so foolish as to believe there is any other way of redemption.  That is a free will choice, just as the free will choice not to.  If there is enough demonization of the solid Christian church, it will surrender to the liberal agenda.

Perhaps it is time to examine yourself, and your church; making a list with two columns, one is for the negative factors the other for the Spiritual positives; your score will indicate how much spiritual work is needed.