7 Churches | week 5: Keeping Up Appearances
A well-known American church grew to be very large and influential. The pastor wrote books, hosted conferences, and took on celebrity status. The church prided themselves on being “seeker friendly” and each week scores of new people would fill the seats. The church appeared vibrant, active, and seemed to be doing everything a church ought to being doing. For ten years this continued. When the leaders decided to conduct a study about spiritual development and growth, they were astonished to discover the results. Most people in the church had not matured or developed spiritually. Many were at the same place they had been 10 years prior. This church went from being an example of what to do, to being an example of what not to do. We all must watch out for appearing to be spiritually healthy when in fact we are feeble and spiritually immature. We are filled with the Holy Spirit as a result of our salvation. The Spirit helps us to become the people we were called to be; to produce good fruit and to become mature and strong. “If you want to be led by the Spirit, you must be in step with the Spirit.”
READ Matthew 13:3, 5-6
Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed…. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.
READ this passage again and consider these related questions.
What are the roots of a spiritually healthy follower of Jesus?
What kind of nourishment is needed to be spiritually healthy?
What is the danger of lacking roots and nourishment?
Read Revelation 3:1-6
1. What kinds of things can lead us to a place in life where we are just going through the motions?
2. Look at John 15:5. Is there a quality difference between genetically modified fruits and naturally grown fruits? Which one looks healthier? Which one is healthier? Apply it to Sardis.
3. In verse 2 Jesus tells them to “wake up.” What is he calling them to pay attention to?
Read 2 Peter 1:5-9
4. What does it mean to “add to” your faith?
5. Consider each of these qualities. How does this good fruit prevent us becoming ineffective and unproductive (v.8)?
6. Verse 8 says to possess these things in ”increasing measure.” How do we do that?
7. In Rev. 3:4, what makes the people with unsoiled cloths “worthy”? Relate it to v.3.
8. Jesus’ mention of the sevenfold Spirit of God (v.1) is a reference to the completeness of the Holy Spirit and his work. Connect this to what Jesus is calling to the attention of this church?