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In these last words of an apostle, who will soon be executed for the convictions of his faith, Paul instructs young Timothy through the guidance of the Holy Spirit to not engage in word wars (v. 14). Church was never meant to be a theological Berkley where every man gets equal air time to espouse what he thinks about metaphysical truth. We are not a people who evolved out of a melting pot of religious ideas. We are a people who are born again through the cleansing effect of God's divinely revealed word. By the power of His Holy Spirit we were created anew in Christ; not as a people of psychology or philosophy, or human speculation, but a people of the word. Which is why we diligently work to rightly handle every verse of Scripture (v. 15). Thus verse 16 ... we avoid irreverent babble, worldly chatter, the speculating ideas of Darwin, Spencer, Skinner, Freud, L. Ron Hubbard, Joseph Smith, or Charles Taze Russell because once you mingle the faulty rhetoric of fallen man with the divinely revealed truth of a holy God, the result is always heresy and it spreads like gangrene (v. 17) causing people to swerve from truth (v. 18) resulting in dishonorable vessels (v. 20) that the Master of this great house cannot and will not use because a steady diet of error is displeasing to a holy God of truth. Thus vessels for honorable use have to be clean ... head (v. 21) and heart (v. 22) then in today's text he deals not with the what of verse 16, or the why of verse 21, but the how of verses 23ff how we are to communicate with spiritually dead men.
LIVE AS A CHRIST-CENTERED CHURCH: through a Faithful Gospel Witness in a Prosperous and Idolatrous World (Revelation 2:18-29 • Message #7) 12-05-2010
INTRODUCTION. 1. The Church of Sardis: “Sardis was a city of wealth and fame… It was at Sardis that gold and silver coins were first struck” . . . Sardis had “an exceptionally large (160x300ft) temple dedicated to Artemis… it was destroyed in 499 B.C. and reconstructed but never completely finished in the time of Alexander the Great… Like the unfinished temple of Artemis, the works of the church constantly fell short of completion” (Robert Mounce, The Book of Revelation, pp92,94). ● “The city’s easy wealth seems to have made for slackness. It was captured by Cyrus the Persian (549 BC) and by Antiochus (218 BC), both times because of its slackness. . . . On both occasions, enemy troops scaled the precipice [steep cliff] by night and found that the over-confident Sardians had set no guard” (Leon Morris, Revelation, p74). ● “Sardis was full of sophisticated paganism… That no mention of persecution against Christians is mentioned in such a city is significant… Jesus’ followers seem to have coexisted peacefully with the synagogue community, and therefore likely coexisted peacefully with the city establishment as a whole. Lacking the world’s opposition, they may have grown comfortable in their relationship with the world” (Craig S. Keener, Revelation, pp142-43). ● Summary: borrowing from David Garland’s critique of the church in Corinth (which had a similar background to Sardis), one could say “the problem was not that the church was in [Sardis], but that too much of [Sardis] was in the church” (1 Corinthians, p8 – Garland references G.D. Fee for this insight). 2. The Relevance of Today’s Message. 1. JESUS' SELF-INTRODUCTION. ● Jesus reigns as Lord: in the heavens and over His Church (v1). 2. JESUS' PROPHETIC WORD TO THIS CHURCH. ● a Rebuke and a Command (vs1-3). ● a Warning: Christ will judge you (v3). ● Praise: for a Faithful Remnant (v4). 3. JESUS' PROMISE & EXHORTATION. ● The one who conquers is blessed eternally by and with Jesus: so take to heart the prophetic word (vs5-6). 4. A CHRIST-CENTERED CHURCH... ● stays spiritually alert and on guard: against the dangers of prosperity and the compromise of idolatry. ● lives a faithful-gospel witness: and is motivated by the 2nd Coming.