THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT
Program Air Date - 11-19-06
LESSON TITLE: "THE SEVEN CHURCHES OF ASIA: THE CHURCH AT SARDIS"
In the sermon on the Mount, Jesus once proclaimed, "the pure in heart will see God!" Are you living in such a way and striving to keep your heart pure, so that you will see your God?
Thank you for choosing to be with us today for the Living Word program. We are excited to have you with us for this time of offering and encouragement, as we participate in the things of God. We are glad that you have joined us for this worship to our Savior.
Our commitment this morning is to give glory to the Creator through the singing of songs of praise and through the study of His Word. I hope and pray that each of us will do our part to make this service acceptable in His sight. Now will you bow with me in prayer.
One of the blessed privileges we share as God's Creations is that He has called us all unto obedience. Our first song of the morning reminds us that His call is always ready and waiting. So, at this time, won't you join in with the congregation as we sing together, "God Is Calling The Prodigal."
(SONG # 1)
In Psalms 51:10, we find some of the most beautiful and thought provoking words every written by David. There he said, "Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me."
What a wonderful spirit we see in this child of God as he prostrated himself before the almighty to confess his need for help. In this passage we find that David clearly implied the problem of sin in his life, because of his request for a clean heart.
How many of us struggle with the sin and temptations of this life? How often do we find ourselves slipping or falling into things which are not approved of by God? You see, David was there also, he suffered as we do, and he also fell short at times as we do!
This request for a clean heart also would imply that David wanted to be more like his Creator. Remember the cries by God throughout the Old Testament as He pleaded with His people to, "Be Holy, for I am Holy," Leviticus 11:45. It is from this knowledge that you and I must also plead with God to give us a clean heart. Furthermore, keeping in mind that today because of Christ we have the ability for complete forgiveness of these sins - if we will but ask and follow His will.
Finally, notice the second part of David's request, when he said, "And renew a steadfast spirit within me." Here we find another plea from this great servant of God, that the Lord gave Him a renewed strength and the ability to do as the Savior had asked Him to. Oh, what a wonderful church we would have today if we all would rely on God and make similar requests for His Help.
Our Lord can help us to have a clean heart. Our God can help us to have a renewed Spirit, and our Savior can help us to have the strength to do His will. The question is, "are we willing to do our part?" Are you committed to following God and to a complete obedience of His Will? Why not choose today to recommit yourself to the most important service on this earth - that is, being a faithful Child of God! Will you accept the challenge?
Today, we are happy to have brother Jerry Sullins with us to lead our main lesson thoughts of the day. Brother Sullins is the Director of the Bible Institute of Missouri, here in Springfield. We thank him for being with us this Lord's day.
As far as our topic of study this morning, will be considering "The Church At Sardis." This is our next lesson in our series on "The Seven Churches Of Asia." So, please continue with us this morning, and after our next song together Brother Jerry Sullins will return with this study from God's Word. The name of our next hymn is, "Hark The Gentle Voice Of Jesus!"
(SONG # 2)
Speaker: Jerry Sullins
I appreciate so much this opportunity to be a part of this program today and we're so thankful that you tuned in to hear another portion from God's Holy Word. It's a very interesting study that we're having through these few weeks, the study on "The Seven Churches of Asia," and God's revelation to them.
We might note that in the very first part of the book of Revelation, that is Revelation chapter 1, that this is the revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave Him to show His Servants. So God the Father gave Jesus Christ this revelation to show to His servant, John, while he was in exile on the Isle of Patmus to receive these revelations that he might present these to the seven churches of Asia. Now some people are confused sometimes as to who the church actually is and you might notice that I said, "Who the church is," because the church of Jesus Christ is made up of baptized believers and so the situation is this: throughout Asia Minor in that day and time, there were seven churches that the Lord Jesus actually presented these truths to through John given by God the Father to actually instruct these churches and to try to bring to the attention of these Christians in these assemblies in these different places the importance of their following after what God was directing them to follow.
Now we might also note that when we view this scripture this morning and we're going to be looking at Revelation 3 verses 1-5, we might note that God is speaking to the churches here and especially instructing them in matters that pertain to eternal life. There was a reason for this instruction. In fact, all of the different churches that are mentioned in the book of Revelation, these seven churches, all had different problems and so God is instructing them as to how to handle these problems. We might note also that as far as we are concerned as God's children, we should be more interested in what God has to say about us rather than what man has to say about us.
As you know in Isaiah chapter 55 verses 8-9, the prophet Isaiah said concerning God Himself, "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways says the Lord, for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts."
So friend as we turn to the book of Revelation chapter 3, we note that God here is giving instruction to the church at Sardis. This was a very unusual congregation in someways, but not much likened to all of the other churches except for the church at Philadelphia to whom God was writing here in the first three chapters of the book of Revelation. The city of Sardis was a very prominent commercial center in its day and time. In fact, it was sitting on top of a hill. As it was sitting on the top of that hill there in that region, they evidently adopted a very attitude of being arrogant and proud thinking of themselves being higher than other people and greater than other people.
Another very important thing to consider about this city as well as in many of the other cities of Asia was their immorality. They were very much we might say were filled with many immoral practices.
But we see a revelation about these people. As people look at the church today, that is the success of the church, people actually gage it in different ways than God would gage it. In fact, when people talk about the church and how great it is, they'll mention, "Oh well there's a thousand people who assemble at that location." They might say, "And then look at the wealth of those people." Well read in James 2 and verse 5, we shouldn't be concerned about how much wealth people might have in the church. Then they'll say, "Well, look at that beautiful complex they have. Surely the Spirit of God dwells in them because they have such a beautiful facility and their members are so educated." But yet we know that this is not the way that God looks at the church as being successful. In fact, how does God look at the church? He looks at the church as being successful if it is engaged in pure practices and having a pure life.
As we turn to the scripture in Ephesians chapter 5 verses 25-27, there the apostle Paul said, "Husbands love your wives even as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it." Now listen. For what reason did Jesus give Himself for the church? "That He might sanctify (that is sanctify us) and cleanse us with the washing of water by the Word that He might present her (that is the church) to Himself a glorious church not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing but she should be whole and without blemish."
Now you know as well as I do that there are many church organizations today who are involving themselves in sanctioning and practicing things that are directly in many ways condemned by God Almighty. In fact, His scripture condemns such things. They accept alternative lifestyles. They appoint women to the priesthood. They open up congregations that will appeal to any type of lifestyle that a person might desire to enjoy. Even recently I heard of a congregation who said, "We're having a special communion service. We want you to bring your pet so that they can also be a part of this special communion service." What has the church come to? Well, first of all, we might put those churches beside the Word of God itself and see if they're truly a church that Jesus would sanction and certainly this would not be the case.
So how are we supposed to view the church today? As God views the church. God demands faithfulness to doctrine.
I turn your attention back to Revelation chapter 3 concerning the church at Sardis. Listen to what He says to this congregation. Beginning in verse 2, "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. Be watchful and strengthen the things which remain that are ready to die for I have not found your works perfect before God." So how was God looking at this church? Well everyone was saying, "This church is alive. This church is well. This church is doing many wonderful works. There should be no reason," they say, "that we should condemn any action of this congregation because look at what they're accomplishing in the community and in the world today." But they were looked upon as being alive by people, but as far as God was concerned they were dead. And so what did the Holy Spirit say that the father said to the church here at Sardis? "Be watchful and strengthen the things which remain for I have not found your works perfect before God." So how does God look upon us is really what matters.
And how do we work for the Lord? Are we working for the Lord or are we working for the elevation of ourselves? Are we like the church at Sardis filled with arrogance and pride as Sardis was sitting on that hill and it felt itself politically and in many other ways to be above so many other people. The church had developed that same concept. Is that the way you feel about yourself?
See, God looks upon man in a different way. His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. His ways are higher than our ways. But whose opinion really counts in this life, as far as our spiritual welfare is concerned? It is the opinion of God. It's how God views us not how man views us.
What was God's standard for acceptance? That's one thing we need to consider in this life. What does God expect of us? The scripture is very clear on what the mission of the church, that is we who are the called out of this world, we who have been baptized for the remission of our sins. What is our purpose? It is very clear in the book of Ephesians what our purpose is. Our purpose is to evangelize the world. No doubt we understand the need to do that. Would anyone in this audience today look to this world or even look to the United States of America as it is now verses how it was ten years ago and say, "Oh well we live in a greater moral society today than we did ten years ago. We have people desiring to follow God's Will more today than ever before." Would any of us say that? Would any of us look at our families and say. "Well, our families are just as strong as they were ten years ago." Would anyone look at ourselves and say, "We're just as strong as we were ten years ago." God expects us to evangelize the world. He gave the Great Commission, "Go ye in to all the world or go ye therefore and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." Is that what we're doing? You notice He said, "Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." Well what did God command His disciples to do? "To go ye therefore and make disciples of all nations."
We're supposed to be involved in edification of one another. Ephesians 4:11-15. To edify and to build one another up in a spirit of love, but sometimes we can't stop fussing and fighting and finding fault with one another long enough so that we can have the proper love for each other.
We're supposed to be benevolent to those people of this world and to one another, to take care of the needs of not only those in the church, Galatians 6 verse 10, but also the needs of those who are outside the church.
The mission of the church is not to entertain. The mission of the church is not to provide an atmosphere of social prestige. The mission of the church is not to involve itself in the political scene although we do have a responsibility to vote and to let our voice be known politically, but we should not be involved in the political scene.
So what did God say in Revelation 3 verse 3? "Remember therefore how ye 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." And then He said, "There are a few names in Sardis who have not defiled their garments." And He said, "He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments and I will not blot his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels."
My brothers and sisters in Christ and friends this morning, God's opinion of us is all that matters. The Lord knows true values. He's given us all of those moral values that we are supposed to have in this life. The Lord urges His people to make preparation for His coming as we have just read here in Revelation 3 verse 3. The possibility is that we may have our names blotted out of the Book of Life if we do not understand what God's Will is for us and what God expects of us in this life. And can we overcome? Certainly we can. We can overcome the things of this world as John said in the book of 1 John that "Faith is the victory that helps and assists us to overcome the things of this world and to be found true and just in His sight." The church must meet the Lord's approval. This is the One we must hasten in our lives to make sure that we are acceptable before Him. Being acceptable before Him is all that matters and I urge you this morning, you who are members of the Lord's church, to do everything you can in this life to make sure that you will be found acceptable before Him.
Let's close by looking at 2 Corinthians 5 verse 9. There the apostle Paul said, "Therefore, we make it our aim whether present or absent to be well-pleasing to Him." I challenge you this morning to do whatever you can in this life to make sure that whether you are with other Christians or not with other Christians that you will do one thing and that is to certainly be well-pleasing unto your Lord and your God.
Thank you for tuning in today and please tune in next week.
(SONG # 3 - "How Great Thou Art!")
Again, let me thank you for choosing to be with us this morning. I hope we all have been encouraged through our time spent together. Please, remember you are invited to join us every Sunday morning at 7:30, as we commit ourselves to this service of God.
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Hopefully we have learned today that we can be guilty as the Lord's church of being dead! May we always have the proper spirit before God and strive to be alive in Him, that the world might truly know how great our God is!