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And The Church Died

What Can Kill A Church

INTRODUCTION

  1. 1. In Rev 3:1, the church at Sardis was described as a “dead” church….
  2. 2. This reveals that churches can die – and they often do…
    1. Where are the congregations we read of in the New Testament?
    2. At some point in their history, they died.
  3. There are at least two ways a church may die…
    1. It may cease to exist.
    2. It may die inwardly, even while it still lives outwardly.
  4. What can kill a church?
    1. Are we aware of the different weapons Satan can use to destroy us?
    2. Are there things that threaten our very existence even now?

(In this lesson, “What Can Kill A Church”, we will examine four things that can jeopardize any congregation of God’s people. The first is perhaps a rather obvious one.)

I. PERSECUTION
A. SATAN HAS OFTER RESORTED TO PHYSICAL PERSECUTION……

  1. E.g. against the church at Smyrna Rev 2:9,10.
  2. Indeed, he did so against many churches in the first century 1 Peter 5:8-9

We should not be surprised if he does so today 1 Peter 4:12

B. PEOPLE RESPOND TO PERSECUTION DIFFERENTLY..

  1. Some are silenced by it – cf Jn 12:42-43
  2. Others rejoice in it – Acts 5:41-42; Ro 5:1-5; Ja 1:2-2

C. HOW WE REACT WILL DETERMINE OUR FUTURE AS A CHURCH….

  1. 1. A church that is silenced by persecution will soon die.
  2. 2. A church that rejoices in persecution will not go unnoticed by the Lord Mt 5:11-12
    1. As the Lord took note of the church in Pergamos Rev 2:13
    2. As the Lord took note of those in Philadephia Rev 3:8

(But persecution is not the only weapon Satan’s arsenal; when a congregation resists persecution, he will often seek to it through another means…)

II. FALSE TEACHING
A. SATAN HAS USED THIS TACTIC TO THREATEN MANY CHURCHES…

  1. It threatened the church at Ephesus, but they had overcome. Rev 2:2, 6.
  2. It threatened the church at Pergamos, who while handling persecution faithfully, they were floundering with error in their midst Rev 2:13-15.

Both Paul and Peter warned of the danger of error Ac 20:29-30, 2 Peter 2:1-2.

B. TWO THINGS ARE NECESSARY IN GUARDING AGAINST ERROR…

  1. We must not turn away from sound doctrine 2 Tim 4:3-4.
    1. Sound doctrine involves preaching the word, which includes both negative (“rebuke”) and positive (“exhort”) elements 2Tim 4:1-2.
    2. We must beware of “pop” preaching which is simply entertains rather than instructs.
  2. We must not support those who teach contrary to the doctrine of Christ 2Jn 9-11

(When a church stands strong against persecution and false doctrine, that is certainly a good sign; but that does not mean Satan cannot yet kill it. Many “sound” churches have been destroyed by one of two more tools used by Satan. The first of these is…)

III. WORLDINESS
A. WORDLINESS INCLUDES IMMORALITY AND MATERIALISM…

  1. Immorality is the lust of the flesh.
  2. Materialism involves the lust of the eyes.
    — Both are included in “the love of the world” 1 Jn 2:15-17.

B. SATAN USES WORDLINESS TO DESTROY CHURCHES…

  1. E.g, The church at Thyatira was threatened by the influence of Jezebel Re 2:20-23
  2. Immorality has made havoc of many Churches today.
  3. Materialism has drawn many Christians away from their service to the Lord.
    –Churches are hindered when their members are rendered fruitless by worldliness
    c.f Lk 8:14.

C. TO WARD OFF WORLDINESS…

  1. We must have “the love of the Father” – 1 Jn 2:15-17; cf. Ja 4:4
  2. We must not be conformed to this world, but transformed by the renewing of our minds – Ro 12:1-2.
  3. We must “watch and pray” – cf. Lk 21:34-36

(A church that is sound on certain issues can still be a dead church or dying church if worldliness is allowed to infect its members. A similar spiritual malady that Satan can use to destroy churches is…)

IV. INDIFFERENCE
A. A SUBTLE, YET EFFECTIVE WEAPON USED BY SATAN…

  1. It jeopardized the standing of the church at Ephesus, who had left their “first love” Re 2:4
  2. It characterised the church at Laodicea, making it almost repulsive to Christ. Re 3:15-17.
    — We do not have to oppose the church to kill it, just be slothful and indifferent!
    Cf. Pro 18:9; Mt 12:30

B. SYMPTOMS OF INDIFFERENCE…..

  1. Irregular attendance of services.
  2. Lack of participation in the services (worship, Bible classes)
  3. Consistently arriving late to services.
  4. Waning efforts to win souls to Christ.
  5. No personal and private devotions (Bible study and prayers).

C. FERVENT SERVICE ISTHE ONLY ANTIDOTE TO INDIFFERENCE…

  1. We must not grow weary in doing good – Ga 6:9.
  2. We must be diligent, and not become sluggish – He 6:11-12.
  3. We must hold fast the hope we confess by encouraging one another – He 10:24-25.

CONCLUSION

  1. While there might be more ways to kill a church, these four are certainly effective:
    1. Persecution
    2. False teaching
    3. Worldliness
    4. Indifference
  2. What about this congregation? Is Satan making any progress in killing us?
    1. We might be free from physical persecution, and be known as a “sound” church.
    2. But is worldliness and indifference taking its toll?
  3. To be forewarned is to be forearmed…
    1. We need to be honest with ourselves – are we vulnerable in some area’s?
    2. Don’t let the Great Deceiver succeed in deceiving us!

May we each do our part in bolstering our defences against the one who seeks to destroy us! As Paul wrote:
“lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.” (2 Cor 2:11)

As we conclude this lesson, I want you to begin to apply this lesson to yourself, knowing that you are the body of Christ.
Realizing that the Church is a Body and you are made up of that body, the enemy strategy is also against you, so as we have studied this lesson, apply this to yourself. Let us arise and fight the good fight of faith and put the devil where he belongs.
Let us run with patience the race set before us as we look to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.