Wednesday, March 25, 2009

What Is a Dead Church?

According to the Holy Scriptures, there are many churches that have the appearance of being alive, but they are spiritually dead. They have their scheduled times of meetings, they go through their readings, saying of prayers, and even make reference to the Bible. But they are dead. How so?

Revelation 3:1-6 ESV Revelation 3:1 ¶ "And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: 'The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. "'I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. 3 Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you. 4 Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. 5 The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. 6 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'

First, the Scripture says they are asleep spiritually. They are not sensitive to the working of God in their midst. Their focus is not on the Lord Jesus Christ; their emphasis is on the working of man. The Bible clearly teaches that our sole purpose in life is to glorify God in all that we do. The dead church does not do that; they exist only for themselves. When they run up against something in the Bible that runs contrary to their traditions, they are heard to say the seven last words of a dead church: “We’ve never done it that way before.” And when a church says that, they are displaying their lack of commitment to the Word of God and their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God” (v.2).

Secondly, a dead church has forgotten the great teachings that they had first received and heard. Jesus tells them, “Keep it and repent (v.3). God has told His churches to preach the Word of God without compromise. God’s churches are to be bastions of Truth. In today’s world, churches need to be powerful in the delivery of the Word of God – without compromise and without apology. Jesus is to be the central focus of our preaching. He came and lived a sinless life, carried all the sins of His people and nailed them on the Cross in His body, died and rose again in three days, and is living today at the right hand of God. Jesus will soon come again to judge His Church and the world. Churches who are not preaching these truths must repent of their sins, and keep these holy truths before all the people who come to their services.

Lastly, we are told that even in dead churches, there are some “who have not soiled their garments, and they walk with Me in white, for they are worthy (v.4). This is a word of encouragement to those who are remaining faithful in these dying churches. They are the salt that has kept the local church from totally dying. Keep up the good work, faithful ones. As you confess the name of Jesus before others, Jesus will confess your name “before My Father (v.5).” Through your faithfulness to Christ, there is still hope for churches that are dying – who, in fact, appear to be dead. Repent of your sins and return to Christ and His message of repentance.

No comments: