Sleepy Church

Revelation Study 5) Sardis – Sleepy Church (Chapter 3.1-6) word doc available here

This is the 5th church to receive a letter from Jesus. To their credit the church at Sardis had not given in to false teaching or sinful living as some of the other churches had, but Jesus still has a tough message for them – there were things that needed to be put right, and quickly.

  1. How would you describe the church in Sardis in your own words to someone who was a new Christian? What does the reference to chapter 1.16 at the start of the letter signify?
  2. Sardis had a reputation for being alive, but in reality was dead. If a reputation can be so misleading, should we strive to have a good reputation (compare 1 Timothy 3.7)? What are the danger signs that we are relying on our reputation rather than the Spirit?
  3. If being asleep is characterised by a lack of alertness and zeal for the things of God, do you think this a particular danger in our day? How can we guard against slowly drifting off to sleep and becoming comfortably numb?
  4. In v3 Jesus tells Sardis to remember, obey and repent. What things were they to remember? Compare chapter 2.5, 16 & 22. Why do you think repentance is so important to Jesus in these letters? Why is this spiritual discipline so unfashionable?
  5. In times of revival, history shows that they were preceded by steadfast prayer and spontaneous repentance. Is a lack of repentance hindering the movement of God’s reviving Spirit? Are we willing to take the pain of being woken up by God? Do you pray for revival in our day?
  6. V4 tells us that not all of Sardis was asleep – there were some who were awake. What things are promised to the obedient in verses 4 and 5? What is the significance of the white robes (compare Revelation 4.4, 6.11, 7.9 & 13-14, 19.14)?
  7. Read Revelation 14.14-20. How do you think Sardis and Thyatira would respond to such visions of judgement? Why do you think Jesus complements his warnings and admonitions with visions of the future?

The point of Jesus’ message to the church in Sardis is this – watch out and wake up! The application for us is not to take the place of Jesus, sitting in judgement of others we believe are sleeping, but rather to make sure this can never be said of us. We must avoid pride and a judgemental spirit, as much as spiritual apathy. May God grant that we would combine faithfulness with fervency, passion and purity, in the work of the Lord, and may He give us a heart that is burdened for the needs of the lost, the purity of the church and the glory of His name.

“Oh bless me Lord, bless me Lord”, you know it’s all I ever hear, no aches, no one bleeds, no one even sheds one tear, but he cries, he weeps, he bleeds and he cares for your needs, but you just lay back and keep soaking it in…The world is sleeping in the dark, that the church just can’t fight cause it’s asleep in the light. How can you be so dead when you’ve been so well fed? Jesus rose from the grave, and you, you can’t even get out of bed. Keith Green “Asleep in the Light”

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