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May 10, 2022 4:00 am
When you see a church with beautiful buildings, popular programs, strong attendance, energetic singing, all. All of these things can give the impression that the church is a vibrant church lease from the outside. Today on Truth for Life will hear how Jesus sees past the appearances, Alister biggest teaching from chapter 3 in the book of Revelation. These are the words of verse one of chapter 3.
Who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars, and as Leon Morris says for one so fond of symbolism.
These things can hardly be without significance. Well, when we come to this first verse we discover that Mr. Smith who was present at our local Bible study immediately was a luncheon with a word of personal testimony about what the number seven has meant to him in his life and also he very quickly going to tell you that he knows the identity of the angel of the church in Sardis what are we going to do with you, Mr. Smith and his kindly wife Ethel who is not in all the time.
As Mr. Smith begins to launch into this minor exposition. What is a leader to do well first the leaders to do their homework so that we have studied the text of Scripture. We have studied those who have said helpful things about it so that we are prepared to recognize that there is a clarity to this then is a brevity to it and it is all purposeful. The person who is leading the group, having done their homework will know that you can get a PhD doing what Mr. Smith is now about to do in the local Bible study group, namely, explaining who the angel of the church is is so you pick up one, Janet says that the angel is the messenger you pick up another, Janet says that the angel is the pastor or the bishop or the leader of the church. I don't know if you brought your pastor with your if you left behind, but I'm not sure if my cohesion back in Cleveland when they think pastor immediately think angel that I don't know that many of them are referring to me as the angel of the church in Parkside is over. At the moment and skate nest actually have a number of designations for me on the well determined that Angel is not one of them. Especially they spent any time with my wife with my children. But as one of the explanations. Then one other explanation is that the angel means angel is an intriguing idea that Angel means angel. One of the chairs are that Angel is expressive of this of these congregations so that he is addressing he is personalizing as it were the church the entity the body itself. The angel of the church than simply as an expression of its prevailing spirit.
Note for myself. I think three or four is probably where we ought to be, but we don't need to tie herself up in knots about what is uncertain and thereby get confused about what is clear, because the message that is given to this angel whose identity is obviously cloudy is a message that is clearly meant for the church and so we say well we can say with absolute certainty. Just who or what this angel is. But we do know that the Lord Jesus has spoken very very clearly and he's identified himself here words coming from him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven star's now. Each time Jesus is designated and these messages follow a pattern throughout this government ties back in to the vision of Christ that is given for us by John from the ninth Verizon in chapter 1 and here is no exception. Jesus is identified in terms of his majesty and his authority, but who are then the seven spirits of God are what are the seven spirits of God.
It may be a symbolic expression of the full range of the exercises of the divine power in the seven churches. It may be expressive of my heavenly entourage with our two in verse four of chapter 1, or it may be, is the footnote in the NIV seems to suggest a reference to the seven fold operation of the spirit of God that is referred to back in Isaiah chapter 11 in verse two. Make a note of that and just put it on for homework. Isaiah 11 to? Visit the Revelation 31. Again, meaning stumble over what is easy, because Lord Jesus says very quickly. I am the majestic one.
I am the authoritative one. I am the one who holds all of the deeds and the responsibilities of these churches I move among them, and I want you to know that I know your deeds.
I know your deeds, just pause for a minute and think about the amazing nature of that phrase.
I know your deeds. Who knows you see will my wife knows me.
My kids know me. My boss knows me. Whatever.
Who knows the spirit of a man except the thoughts of a Mandarin the only one who actually knows is the one who writes this letter sound misunderstandings and so Lord you have searched me and you know me you know when I sit down, you know, when I stand up. You know the thoughts of my heart you know my words before I even speak them. Such knowledge is high.
I cannot attain to small wonder that the Bible says, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom that is an awesomeness about the simplicity of this phrase written to this church in the first century relevant to the congregations.
We left behind. This morning the risen Christ looks upon as he says I know I can remember.
The program wasn't I just comes to my mind as I speak with her was that there was a line a lady used to say some like Thora Hart used to say she know you know I remember I was is irrelevant now the Lord Jesus knows and he writes to this church in Sardis and he says I know your deep I know what you do. I know that you have a reputation of being alive, but your dad is not difficult to grasp. Is it pretty succinct statement.
Hey Sardis I know everybody says you're a great place.
I know they all think you're fantastic but I know that your dad had a great reputation apparently is having a vital ministry but it's only in in name alone. It's only in reputation. Start says quoting the comings and goings of the people.
He says what alive church. You have here in Sardis, visitors would explain with admiration when he attended services or what's this activities and so no doubt, it appeared that things were not as they appear unless the significance of their's to wake up strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found. And this is a phrase I've not found your deeds complete in the sight of God and find your deeds complete what he means is this your deeds are like a shell if you if you go beyond the routine of them. There's nothing there.
Here is a congregation that is known for. Perhaps its size, or for his influence for the way in which it is been able to put its programs together in the way it's been able to develop certain strategies and are well known throughout the Christian community and people, and take a Sunday off from another congregation in order that he might go and see what's going on, and so they all flow into Sardis, Jesus, as I see this I do like the proper motivation and your lack of the same time spiritual orientation. Therefore, your stuff is a sham.
See, we need to face the fact that the essence of a church is not its programs or its buildings or his achievements or his reputation. Norris institutional greatness or its formal constituted doctrinal clarity as important as that is. But the real issue of the church is it spiritual is anyone alive in the course of pastoral ministry are seven funeral homes more than I ever wanted to. Eventually I will in one myself, but unlike his I will be aware of it but on the occasions that I have been aware of it.
I don't really like it in there. The undertakers put you in back rooms with all kinds of things behind curtains that I don't even want to look behind the one thing that struck me about it is, is deathly and there you know there's no coughing, you don't hear anybody whistling. You know, in booth number two it on and down and down and the one over the corridor was right here we go here we go. Just in the states. They dress them up paint them.
Some people I haven't even recognize in their coffins. They look so good. By the time the finish with a little better than they did when they were alive, but then beware of making yourself look good. Talking the lie talk. I know this. I've been there. We've done this, we are developing that we are this is Christ who knows the deeds walks amongst us and says you know, I know it looks good. You have a problem. The problem in this church in Sardis would appear to be from verse four. Given that there were some people who were distinct from the majority the problem of moral laxity in verse four he says you've a few people in Sardis who haven't soiled their clothes. In other words, the exception in this group are those who are living purely's. The majority of the place is the most scathing statements. Incidentally, of the seven messages are in this one, and in the last one message five missing seven which they asked me dictate first.
Maybe it's to get the worst over immediately so that we can end on a more encouraging orbit. These are difficult messages to proclaim I'm sure is not easy for you to listen. The majority of your he says soiled your clothes. Sardis was known as a place of licentiousness.
The pagan environment was almost overwhelming and apparently what happened was at this church despite the fight that it gave the impression to people who were not able to discern the reality of things that it was really vibrant.
It was really going on. Well, if you'd be able to look down on the inside of it is the risen Christ. It you would've seen that the majority of the people at least fiddling and time putting with the moral laxity that was represented in the prevailing culture. Now listen, my dear friends and listen carefully. This is where contemporary Christianity is, in more cases than we are prepared to admit the book is supposed to be in the water but the water is not supposed to be in the boats and in the realm of student ministry. If you probe and you listen you will discover that students university students. Many are prepared to allow the flash of a moral inconsistency Psalter sweep over them as soon lose the purity and vibrancy that is to be the heirs living in obedience to the standards of the Lord Jesus Christ.
If people could see into our living rooms, let alone into our minds. The amount of material that contemporary Christianity tanks on board on a weekly basis. Is it any wonder that we are as ineffectual as we is it any wonder that we cut as little as we do we say nothing because we have nothing to say because there's nothing that will seal your lips are tight your tongue like the poverty of your own spiritual experience. You can go to the man next door and don't get rid of the dandelions out of your grass here because all blowing over to my place when you've got a natural patch like of which the botanical gardens would be delighted to have support calling the kettle black over the attendance was good or the singing was grace. They knew that you were to lift up holy hands.
They had decided they would just lift up Hanan's because they weren't holy. Some of the artists sit on our hands for a while.
We settle the issues in the secret place of our life's for he who walks amongst the lampstands says through Sardis into our lives today. I know you can't fool me. So don't let the vibrancy of our singing or the intensity of our preaching or the consistency of our attending ever become a cover for the absence of our spiritual vitality or waking up first to waken up Sardis that it was impregnable the way it was billed. I move into the details of it is largely extraneous, but are regarded itself as an impregnable place. It was never ever taken by a direct assault on the gates and walls of the city, but twice it was taken by stealth under the cover of darkness and when they thought they were impregnable then the marauding forces came in and managed to cripple the city. It was his very sense of sheltered ease which worked against its some of us are bemoaning our circumstances were bemoaning how difficult things are the challenges we face the disappointment is not as it once was. It seems to be a more difficult day and so long.
Listen, my dear friends what you want ease ease is no good sunshine all the time. You only have desert the Lord chastens those he loves India rebukes those whom he cares for and in order that he might save us from settling down into the stern, comfortable, complacent easiness, which makes as so vulnerable to the subtle internal attacks of those who love to sleep. It's funny is I guess we are asleep. You don't know you're asleep, not exactly a deep thought. I admit to know exactly a philosophical breakthrough, but it is interesting is that that when you're asleep. You know you're asleep is only when you wake up you knew you were asleep and it was a silly things like that.
It only wake up to go out with Ashley. Yes, all is good because everyone asleep on probably dead exactly.
So when you go and oppose you, and you find your grandfather like that you give Marie shake because it is not asleep is dead. No signs of life until so the word is a waken strengthen what remains. Remember what you receive a bid and repent boom boom boom boom boom there was or what was supposed to do now will the Lord Jesus tells us that he very clearly.
He issues a warning, you better keep awake. He says the city was overtaken by stealth your church meal be overtaken in the same way. Now it's clear that it wasn't all hypocrisy and Sardis. There were some who were still marked by loyalty. That's the significance of verse four.
There's a few people there were still marked by loyalty. They walk with me there dressed in white.
They are worthy answer Jesus as I want you to look at those who are still loyal to those who are still awake. I want you to find in them an incentive and encouragement to be like them.
Rouse yourself from your slumber's. Some of us are in churches when it would appear to be only a small group of us are able to keep going and every so often we say. I wonder should I still do people remember when I was about 17 getting in the car and hopefully once I got my drivers license in the Baroque through a few friends in there along with me and offered me the journey through Harrogate and over to your always on a Sunday afternoon. The reason being that we wanted to go to Saint Michael the belfry where the late David Watson was teaching the Bible in the Sunday evening services. What a thrill it was.
Especially when I realize having got there the first evening and had to watch it on closed-circuit television. I made sure I never did that again got in time the next time so that I would be in the actual building itself. When I realized that David Watson is a young Kulik had been sent to Saint Michael the belfry because the church was in disrepair.
It was physically and disrepair was falling apart.
It was spiritually in disrepair.
It was a dead place and maybe having one or two that were sleepy folks who needed a pincushion in our pin from the pincushion in, but by and large, he was sent there by the diocese so they can kind of practice on the dead and the dying and the sleeping because after all the plans for the die by the diocese was shut Saint Michael the belfry down.
Nice try, not in the plans of Jesus. Unfortunately, thank you administrator from the bishops office and suddenly the students of the University are there.
Suddenly the people of their suddenly the singing is vibrant.
What is happened when they woke up who woke them up. The risen Lord Jesus, I would anyway, taking them in his hands, filling them with his spirit driving them again to their knees showing them inconsistency of their pilgrimage, and of course before God called I David Hall services are moved to another church and then the guest services were being held in York Minster. I look at this church in Sardis and it shows me, I find myself single breath of life come sweeping through us and revive your church with life and power cleansers renew us and fit your church to meet this the promise you will notice there is so very clear.
He who overcomes will like them.
Verse five be dressed in white. I'll never raise his name from the book of life. I'm so glad my saying that in my name from the palms of his hands, eternity, Canada race because there there marked with indelible grace of the gravity of the situation calls for the severity of Christ's assessment and the severity of the Lord Jesus is assessment is an occasion for hope and encouragement, because he is speaking to those of our six who have ears to hear, he was an ear, let him hear what the Spirit is saying to the church can be uncomfortable to hear a hard message from Jesus, but it's still a message of hope increases chastens the ones he loves and gives us the opportunity to change listing to Truth for Life with Alister Bragg.
We are seeing how important it is to understand and apply Scripture in our lives.
The course our mission the Truth for Life is to teach God's word without adding to it, or taking away from it. It's teaching that you can trust because it points us back to the only source that can make us wise for salvation. I think most of you know the Truth for Life is entirely listener funded the teaching you hear on this program is brought to you each day because of listeners like you who pray for this ministry and to give regularly to cover the cost associated with distributing Alister's teaching. If you been a regular listener or you've enjoyed being able to download messages for free from our website or our mobile app we want to ask you to include Truth for Life in your prayers and consider becoming a monthly truth partner. When you give financially. You can request the book women and God hard questions. Beautiful truth in this book the author explores Scripture to better understand God's design for women. And as you read the book you learn how unique female attributes are an essential part of God's plan for marriage for singleness for the church and for society, request the book women and God. When you give a one time donation or when you become a monthly truth partner go to Truth for Life.org/donate or call us at 888-588-7884 and if you rather mail your donation along with the request for the book right to Truth for Life at PO Box 39, 8000, Cleveland, OH 44139 the last week. Alister hosted the basics conference at Parkside church. If you are in pastoral ministry and were not able to attend basics or if you did attend but would like to dive deeper into the insight Alister had for pastors we want to recommend a study for you.
It's called the basics of pastoral ministry. There are four modules available online that include 30 sermons and lectures from Alister in this series. He teaches how to lead a local church you learn about the marks of persuasive preaching. The benefits of expository preaching. The power and pitfalls of the pulpit, along with studies on leadership practical issues pastors face each module includes a downloadable study guide the basics of pastoral ministry provides a solid framework. If you're an aspiring is also a great refresher and the source of encouragement for a veteran. All four modules and corresponding online study guides are completely free. Just visit Truth for Life.org and search for the basics of pastoral ministry Bob Lapine thanks for listing. God wants us to be people who share his life in our surrounding community. Join us tomorrow to find out how wealth can sometimes go. You're showing the Bible teaching of Alister Bragg is furnished by Truth for Life learning is prolific