Tag Archives: Bible study

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”

The Too Tolerant Church

Revelation Study 4) Thyatira: The Too Tolerant Church (Chapter 2.18-29) – word doc available here.

The church in Thyatira had become corrupted with false teaching. An influential leader, calling herself aprophetess, had led many of the church into sexual immorality and idolatry. In a powerful and scathingcritique of her true motivations and methods, Jesus calls back his wayward church to repentance and a deep-hearted commitment to his authority alone.

1. In Jim’s sermon he summarised Jesus’ message to this church as “hold on and look up” – what had they been given to hold onto? Why did they need to look up? How similar is our situation in 21st century Dundee to theirs?

2. What are the physical metaphors that Jesus uses to describe himself in v18? How does this compare with the description in chapter 1.14-15? Why do you think his eyes and feet are specifically mentioned? How does the fact that Jesus sees and knows all things make you feel?

3. What five characteristics does Jesus use to describe his examination of this church in v19? What does this say about how Jesus assesses the spiritual condition of a church and individual believer? Which of these five areas do we need to strengthen and how?

4. In v20 Jesus compares one of their false prophets to Jezebel. What were the sins of Jezebel? (1Kings 16.29-32, 18.4, 21.7-10)? How was she able to exert such an influence over Israel (1 Kings 21.25)? How is the “prophetess” in Thyatira similar to Jezebel?

5. What does v22 teach about the connection between sin and suffering? How does this verse compare with John 9.1-3 and 1 Corinthians 11.29-32? Given these verses, how do we avoid the false extremes of attributing all or none of our suffering to the consequences of our sin?

6. Jim reminded us that at the heart of the immorality at Thyatira was a misplaced allegiance. They were listening to the words of a false prophetess over Jesus’ words. What or who strives for our allegiance today? Who would Jesus name “Jezebel” in our day?

7. Not all the church had been deceived by the prophetess – what task is given to these believers? Why would what Jesus says in v26-28 encourage them to remain faithful?

The church is given a stark choice, repent and return or receive the punishment. It is a final warning to a wayward church. If this is how Jesus responded to a single corrupt church, how his heart must break when he looks at the state of the church in the UK today. Surely great judgement is awaiting many of our churches that have abandoned the truths they were given to hold on to. May we be found diligently defending and declaring the gospel that was handed down to us by our forefathers.

“And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.” 2 Timothy 2.2