Revelation 3:1b, "...I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead." This is quite a startling statement made by our Lord. Especially when we realize that He is making it to a local New Testament church. I am confident that the church in Sardis was not unlike many churches today. They no doubt has worship services where the Word of God was preached, hymns were sung, and offerings of praise were made. But Jesus said that they were dead! How can this be? Let me illustrate.
You are walking outside and hear an airplane passing overhead. You look up and observe that the plane is travelling from east to west. While in flight, the pilot has a massive heart attack and is dead instantly. The plane will continue to fly for some time before it crashes to the ground. We assume that the pilot is alive and in control, but unless we can actually look into the cockpit we cannot know for sure. Jesus Christ is the One who walks in the midst of the candlesticks, or the local churches. He knows our works!
Not only can this be true of churches, it can be true of individuals as well. It seems that the term "born-again" has lost its true meaning. Everyone is born-again, from presidents to pornographers. Many claim the term, but few understand it! Recently, I was talking with a man and I asked him if he was right with God. His answer, "Well, I was baptized..." Is that what it is all about? Baptism, church membership, prayer, Sunday school, etc? Absolutely not!
I. Spiritual Birth Means Salvation. cf. 1 John 3:5-10
A. Evidence of Life
1. There are certain signs that are present when a person is alive.
2. Medical personnel use the term "vital-signs".
3. When in the hospital they will take these vital-signs periodically and compare them with a standard.
4. These may include:
a. pulse: indication of a heart that is working.
b. blood pressure: indicates how well your heart is working.
c. temperature: indicates if there is any infection that the body may be fighting.
5. Note: When the nurse comes in to check these signs she doesn't ask the patient if they are alright; she personally checks them and compares with the standard.
a. 72 beats per minute b. 120/80 c. 98.6 F.
B. Evidence of Spiritual Life.
1. This is not determined by what we say.
2. Many people are talking Christ, but how many are actually walking Christ?
3. We are not saved by what we do, but what we do, or don't do, is an indication of whether or not we are saved.
C. Satan is a deceiver.
1. Satan will bring you down an aisle to pray a prayer and get false assurance in order to send your soul to hell.
2. He will try to convince you that you don't need to repent!
3. Sign a card, pray a prayer, be baptized, do this or do that; but don't repent.
4. Jesus said, "...Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish." cf. Luke 13:3
II. There Are False Professions.
A. Note: Matthew 7:20-23
1. You will know them by their fruits.
2. This is important: Jesus did not say that you would know them by their works!
3. Fruit is what develops from a persons character.
4. These folks had done many wonderful works in the name of Jesus, but they were not born- again!
B. Note: Titus 1:10-16
1. Paul is writing to Titus concerning the local church.
2. He said that are "many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers" Where? in the church!
3. They profess and deny.
a. profess with their mouths that they know God.
b. but in works they deny Him.
C. Note: Matthew 13:24-30; 37-43
1. The greatest enemy to the local church...
a. not communism
b. not materialism
c. not liberalism
2. The greatest enemy of the local church is imitation Christians!
3. You have to beg them...
a. to serve God...
b. to come to church and Sunday School...
c. to pray...
d. to tithe and give to missions...
e. to witness...
4. Judas was a preacher, Jesus called him a devil, but he was such a good fake that none of the other disciples had any idea that he would be the one to betray Christ.
III. Evidence of a Genuine Salvation.
A. A Changed Life.
1. "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new." 2 Co. 5:17
2. "Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son." Colossians 1:13
3. "But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth from all sin." 1 John 1:7
4. When a person gets saved, then their life ought to show it!
B. A Chastised Life.
1. God chastens His children when they do wrong! cf. He. 12:6-8
a. If you can sin and God doesn't convict you of that sin and chastise you for it, then you better check your spiritual birth certificate, because it may be a counterfeit!
b. God only disciplines His own children!
2. A Christian cannot be happy in sin! cf. He. 12:11
3. God's chastening begins with the heart.
a. We sin and God breaks our hearts about it
b. That's when we come to God and confess our sins to Him
c. He is always faithful to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. cf. 1 John 1:9
4. If we harden our hearts toward God's conviction, He may bring a catastrophe into our lives to bring us to our knees.
Conclusion: Are you spiritually alive today? Check your vital-signs against this standard. Don't be deceived into thinking that it isn't important that your life change. Don't be fooled today. You can know that you are saved. God's salvation isn't a think- so, hope-so, maybe-so ... it is a know- so salvation. cf 1 John 5:13 If you aren't sure you are saved today, you need to come in repentance and faith accepting the blood of Christ as the only way of salvation. Christians, what kind of fruit is in your lives? Jesus said, "...by their fruits ye shall know them."