What Can Kill a Church?

Text: Revelation 3:1-6

 

I.         The certainty of life is that it will eventually be followed by death - Ecclesiastes 9:5

            A.        And it is not just people who die, churches die as well.

                        1.         Unlike people, churches don’t have to die, but they do.

            B.        The church at Sardis appeared to be alive, but the Lord declared that it was dead. Not completely dead, but it was close enough that it might as well be dead - Revelation 3:1-2

            C.        If you consider the history of the congregations around the country, you realize that there are not that many “old” churches, even though the church has been in this country for several hundred years.

            D.        The letters to the churches in Asia serve as warnings as to what can cause churches to fall away.

II.        A Lack of Love - Revelation 2:1-7

            A.        Ephesus was a faithful church.

                        1.         It took strong stands against false teachers

                        2.         It had weathered difficult times and showed the ability to persevere

                        3.         It was doing all the right things, but it lacked the proper motive

            B.        Love is key to the commandments - Matthew 22:36-40

                        1.         Love is the defining element of being a Christian - John 13:34-35

                        2.         Without love for God there is no motivation to remain obedient - John 14:15

            C.        Without love for our brethren we die - I John 3:14-18

            D.        The problem in Ephesus is much the same problem addressed in II John 4-8

                        1.         John commends their faithfulness, but reminds her that a part of that faithfulness is to love the brethren

                        2.         It is a command just like any other

                        3.         Without it she would fall prey to the very deceivers she was standing against

            E.        Love is not an option

                        1.         Only by love of each other can we know God - I John 4:7-12, 20-21

                        2.         Only through love can we remain faithful - I John 5:1-3

III.       Pursuing Sensuality - Revelation 2:12-29

            A.        Both Pergamun and Thyatira had members following the course of this world

                        1.         Teachers had arose encouraging the acceptance of idols and sexual immorality

            B.        Becoming soft on sin, accepting things that make you feel good, is a common way for false teachers to peddle their doctrine - II Peter 2:1-3, 12-19

            C.        Desire for the world is key to the entrance of sin - I John 2:15-17

            D.        But being a Christian is marked by holiness - I Peter 1:13-16

                        1.         We are to be set apart - I Thessalonians 4:1-8

                        2.         We are to be separate - II Corinthians 6:17-7:1

IV.      Avoiding Making Waves - Revelation 3:14-22

            A.        Laodicea strove for the middle ground.

                        1.         She was neither hot nor cold in what she did

                        2.         She saw no need for improvement

                        3.         Such contributed to the death of Israel - I Kings 18:21

                        4.         Christianity is not about having it both ways - Matthew 6:24

            B.        There is an appeal to avoiding problems

                        1.         It makes it look like something good is being done

                        2.         But the truth is that nothing is being done - Psalm 123:4

                        3.         They become prideful, and cannot see destruction on the door step - Isaiah 47:8-9

                                    a.         A church that avoids problems means they are inexperienced in handling problems

                                    b.         When those problems arise, as they surely must, they are overwhelmed

            C.        The lack of zeal means there will be no true growth

                        1.         We are to be fervent in spirit - Romans 12:11

                        2.         Some groups strive for a more neutral ground

                                    a.         If we don’t make waves, more people will stay

                                    b.         If we don’t take a strong stand, people won’t become offended and leave

                        3.         But then we are not fully with Christ - Matthew 12:30

            D.        Christ found the middle ground disgusting

                        1.         On fire is what he wants

                        2.         But even cold is preferable – at least it is a more honest assessment of their true status - II Peter 2:21

                        3.         The middle ground is a lie

V.        Will this church survive?

            A.        It has been in existence for 34 years, but that doesn’t mean it will continue

            B.        Without love, purity, and zeal it will die like others before it

            C.        And it a few can’t prop up a dying church

                        1.         Sardis had some who were faithful - Revelation 3:4

                        2.         But they would could not stem the tide

                        3.         A preacher, elders, or a few faithful members can’t keep a church alive – not on their own.