Letters to Seven Churches (Part Six): Sardis
Dead Men Walking
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Sermon; #1480; 76 minutes
Richard Ritenbaugh, reflecting on the purpose of the obituary as a document to aid the living, indicates that the letter to the Church of God in Sardis reads like an obituary, warning us who are alive but lacking zeal to repent and become serious about our calling before the sun sets on our day of salvation. Relishing their comfortable lifestyle in a prosperous city, the Sardis congregation risk-averse, compromising whenever necessary to avoid even the mildest level of persecution. Unlike the members of the Ephesian Church, their zeal burned at the level of a pilot light. Well can we describe them as the "Church of the Living Dead" or "Dead Men Walking." Because the people of the Sardinian Church had returned to so many of the world's habits, they had become spiritually comatose and catatonic, as if in a cryogenic state. Because most of the Sardinians were content with a low level of spiritual activity, God had placed them on spiritual "life-support," with only a few struggling against the strong cultural currents. If the world's people cannot distinguish between themselves and us, we are probably just as spiritually dead as the Sardis congregation. The white garments promised to the few faithful of the Sardis congregation (and for all of God's called-out ones) must be earned through repenting, qualifying, building character, and zealously doing the works God has prepared for us (Ephesians 2:10). God's people must set their hand to serving God with vigor, never allowing themselves to become content with doing the bare minimum. Our lives depend on it!
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