Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Church of Sardis

We were treated today with to very sobering pictures of the church in the early twenty-first century. Dr. James McGoldrick is pulpit supply at Second Presbyterian Church (link opens sermon) in Greenville. He is professor of Church History at Greenville Presbyterian Seminary.

We heard of the church at Thyratira (the "Compromising Church") and the church at Sardis (the "Dead Church"). As bad as the theology at Thyratira was, the dead orthodoxy at Sardis was even worse! If my understanding of the churches is correct, then the long history of the Thyratiran church was played out in the around 1066 years between the last church counsel (AD 451) and the beginning of the Reformation (Oct. 31, 1517). With the Reformation attention turned to purity of doctrine. This presented the appearance of "life," but in reality of the breath of God was gone.

There is a danger among conservative, "traditionalist" churches like the one I am a member of to have all the right doctrine while the outreach beyond the historically significant walls is next to nil. We have to praye for Philadelphian fire that is seen in the evangelistic zeal that arose from the Westminster Confession (AD 1646) that spread the gospel to the ends of the earth in two short centuries. Unfortunately, as I see it, this flame burned out, giving way to the putrid Laodicean era (AD 1848 to AD 1914).

If I am right, we are in the endtimes, building up in a crescendo to a climax by mid century. If the cues in typology are correct, this "age" will be "as in the days of Noah" -- 120 years! We need individual congregations, and even denominations, to rekindle the Philadelphian spirit to survive the coming onslaught of the world. Even in the Sardinian and Laodicean churches, though, there were believers that had the life of God in them. It is those that breathe the air of heaven that will move the body on earth!

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