The Sardis of Today - How Far The Church Has Fallen!
Hear the words of Jesus to the church in Sardis:
"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.'"
The message to this church was that it was dead. This church had "a name," so it was a popular and recognized church among the people, today's equivalent to our mega-churches. In our generation this might apply to churches with loud music, maybe strobe lights, and a feel-good message - a seeker-friendly church, a church that brings in the trappings of current society in order to attract people. To all appearances, it looks wonderful. But it reminds one of the words of Jesus to the Pharisees, they appear beautiful on the outside, but they're actually dead inside:
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!
For you are like whitewashed tombs
WHICH INDEED APPEAR BEAUTIFUL OUTWARDLY,
but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.
Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men,
but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness."
The story of the church of Sardis then is a story of degeneration. It undoubtedly started out good, but it went downhill probably under the pride of its beauty; isn’t that reminiscent of a being who fell because of the pride of his beauty! Sardis became a great church ...of unsaved people going through the motions of happy religion. But a dead church won't have the benefit of the living power of the Holy Spirit to bring about repentance, nor would it have leaders who were godly and who manifested the humility, life and power of God.
The church in Sardis was the very reverse of the church in neighboring Smyrna. Smyrna was persecuted, some of its members put to death and yet God said it lived; Sardis on the other hand, appeared to be alive and beautiful, yet was dead.
It is amazing that most of this country's ivy-league colleges and the universities of today actually started out as seminaries to train men to preach the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. 106 of the first 108 colleges in the United States were started on the foundation of the Bible. By the end of 1860 there were 246 colleges in America, most were founded by Christian denominations or by individuals who avowed a religious purpose.
Today they are all, to a one, centers of "New Age" teachings and practices with hardly a reference to Christ anywhere. HOW FAR we have fallen! I worked one summer at one of these colleges, definitely one of the most beautiful colleges in the country. Mesmerized by its beauty, I was absolutely shocked to find what was going on behind those ivy-vined walls. It sure was an object lesson that I will never forget. After that, I would never again be impressed by outward beauty. God only knows what hides behind the luxury of what men revere.
Jesus gives a warning to the church at Sardis, telling them that if they continue as they are, they will not know the hour when the Bridegroom comes for the believers, and to them he will come ...as a thief.
"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 will not know what hour I will come upon you."
It's reminiscent of the passage about the five wise and five foolish virgins (Matthew 25:1-13). They were all waiting for the Bridegroom but five of them, or half of those who call themselves Christians, were left behind when the Bridegroom came. They did not have oil in their lamps, oil being a symbol of the Holy Spirit. They didn't know the Word of God, they were just practicing religion, so they walked in darkness and were left behind when the Bridegroom came. Notice: HALF of those calling themselves "Christians" were left behind.
Be sure of which group you belong to, and don't assume you're of the five wise. Ask the Lord to show you if you are in error or deception, if you're just practicing religion, and commit to him that you will co-operate with him in all humility and will seek him in spirit and truth.
“...the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth;
for the Father is seeking such to worship him.”