For SERMON OUTLINE
1 Minute Testimony – Jesus tells the church in Sardis to remember what they have received and heard (Rev 3:3). Challenge each group member to share, in one minute or less, how they first heard about and accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior. Even if your group has shared their testimony before, sharing again is a good way to remember what you have received and heard.
Spring Walk – Take your group for a short walk outside. Have group members look for signs in nature of death and decay from this winter, as well as signs of life and new birth from spring. Marvel at the symbolism of life after death that God has painted for us in nature each year. Ask each group member to find an object outside that represents their current spiritual life and explain it. (Ex. Someone who has fallen away from the Lord may choose a dead leaf that has fallen off a tree, whereas someone who has just started digging into the Bible for the first time may choose a flower bud that is just starting to pop out of the ground.)
Read Revelation 3:1-6
1. What is the role of deeds in a church and an individual Christian's life? How do deeds relate to a person’s salvation?
• Intent: By grace we’re saved by faith in Jesus Christ. As a result, we do good works out of love for our Savior and to please Him. The Holy Spirit empowers us to do good works. These are often done in the context of a church body. Eph. 2:8-10 – Saved by faith; I Cor. 12:7-11 - A variety of gifts for ministry; Acts 1:8 – Holy Spirit brings power for our witness.
2. In verse 2b, Jesus says, “for I have not found your deeds completed (Gr.- Peplērōmena-to be or become satisfied concerning the requirements or expectations of a contract or promise) in the sight of My God” (NAS). What are some deeds that a church should be doing?
• Intent: Basic deeds a church should be doing include: the greatest commandment, love God and others (Mt. 22:36-40), new commandment, love as Jesus loves us (Jn. 13:34), and the great commission, go into all the world to share the gospel (Mt. 28:19-20). Many deeds flow out of these. Discuss how a church’s deeds may be incomplete because some deeds are missing, or how a deed may be incomplete because of wrong motivation, the nature of the deed itself, or other factors – which may include outright sin, see Rev. 3:4, soiled garments.
3. What are the dangers of the church having a good reputation in the community? Read Matthew 23:27-28, How does that differ from the Lord calling its deeds complete?
• Intent: While having a good reputation has value, that is not our goal. Rather, it is to please the Lord. The community probably likes the good deeds the church does to help others physically but may not like the spiritual counsel we give.
4. Have you ever had a “rude awakening,” realizing you were unprepared in some way for what was ahead of you? Describe the actions or inactions that led up to that awakening.
• Intent: Explore being prepared and alert.
5. In verses 2-3 what do you think Jesus is implying by telling them to "wake up”? How might this directive apply to you and what is an example?
• Intent: We all have blind spots that we may become aware of only through probing self-assessment, prayer, and input from others. See 1 Pet. 5:8 – be alert; the devil seeks someone to devour.
6. The letters to the seven churches use the word “overcome” frequently. What do you think the church in Sardis is being encouraged to overcome in Revelation 3:5? What will be the result if they do?
• Intent: It appears that this wealthy church had fallen into complacency regarding their task. Verse 4 speaks of soiled garments, so they may have given in to the local deities such as Artemis. In any event, it appears to result in sin. The result of overcoming is being clothed in white and the Lord confessing their name before the Father.
As a group, pray for the leadership team of Bethel. Specifically, pray that if the church’s deeds are incomplete in the eyes of God, the leadership team will be prompted by the Holy Spirit to recognize the incomplete deeds and “wake up” before it’s too late. Also, pray that our church reputation and our reputation in the community is secondary to pleasing the Lord.
Related to question 2, what is a deed in your life that the Lord may say is incomplete, either because it’s missing or because of wrong motivation? What will you do to correct this?