What Can Kill A Local Church?
For most congregations all they have to do is continuing what they are now doing.
In Revelation 3:1, the church at Sardis was described as a "dead" church.
Even while they continued in their existence.
This reveals that churches can die - and they often do.
Where are the congregations we read of in the New Testament?
At some point in their history, they died.
We never hear of vibrant congregations dying.
Often we hear of congregations closing up the local work, and the members go to other congregations.
Most of us have witnessed congregations close their doors and wonder why they did not continue.
There could be many reasons that we are not aware of.
Some of those reasons could be valid reasons.
We might be so arrogant to consider that our congregation would never cease operations, but that would be naïve.
When it comes down to it, we must know that there are reasons congregations die and cease working together.
There are two ways in which a church can die:
It can simply cease to exist, and the members decide where they will go.
Or it can die inwardly even while it still continues outwardly.
The churches in Revelation 2 and 3 had the threat of having their candlestick removed if they did not turn things around.
Having their candlestick removed was an indication that they were no longer in favor with God.
Some of these groups had some who were faithful and some who were losing their relationship with God.
Apparently a few of the larger ones only had a few faithful ones.
Why Local Churches Die
When we look at all the reasons, we shall determine that there are only four basic reasons that congregations die.
We will notice that these things are the work of Satan.
Are we aware of the different weapons Satan can use to destroy us?
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.
Today we will look at only one of these problems.
Each of these are tools of Satan working to destroy the church.
Future lessons will focus upon the other three things.
SATAN HAS OFTEN RESORTED TO PHYSICAL PERSECUTION...
Acts 8:1 “…And on that day a great persecution arose against the church in Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.”
Acts 8:3 “But Saul began ravaging the church, entering house after house; and dragging off men and women, he would put them in prison.”
What was their crime?
They were not Jews, and they did not follow the Jewish leaders.
Satan and his angels were against the church at Smyrna
Revelation 2:9,10 “I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich), and the blasphemy by those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear what you are about to suffer., Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”
Satan did so against many churches in the first century.
1 Peter 5:8-9 “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seek someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.”
We should not be surprised if he does so today.
Notice what else Peter wrote:
1 Peter 4:12-14 “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share in the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.”
People have responded to persecution in two ways:
Many are just silenced. In other words, they have responded by shutting up.
John 12:42-43 “Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God.”
Others rejoice because of persecution because this is what Jesus promised to His faithful ones.
Matthew 5:11-12 “Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me. Rejoice and be glad for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Acts 5:41 ‘So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name”
Romans 5:3-5 “And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance proven character; and proven character hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
James 1:2-3 “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance, and let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
Even if persecution comes our way, the Lord will know how we respond to it.
As the Lord took note of the church in Pergamos
Revelation 2:13 “I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is; and you hold fasts My name, and did not deny My faith, even in the days of Antipas, My witness, My faithful one, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells”.
As the Lord took note of those in Philadelphia.
Revelation 3:8 “I know your deeds. Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name”.
God knows what we have to deal with, and He knows how we respond to these things.
Some of us feel persecuted because someone mocks us and makes fun of us for going to church and trying to share the message of salvation.
Somehow, we just cannot deal with those who hurt our feelings, and we wish we did not have to deal with them.
Sadly, many find that giving in and shutting up will solve our temporary persecution.
Folks, that is when Satan wins the battle.
Where is our strength when it comes to persecution.
We have to deal with insults and all the snickering and talking behind our backs.
The Christians in the first century had to deal with being thrown into prison.
And before long, being killed for sport.
Yet, we see even with that persecution they remained faithful to God.
Could we say the same thing?
Conclusion (part one)
There are many factors that can kill a church.
We must be resolved to not allow this to happen to us.
We must be strong in the faith.
We all must be strong in the faith (not just a few).
Persecution is bad, but if we allow Satan to keep us from serving God the way we should, he wins and our soul will be lost.
Do not let that happen to you.
By Carey Scott
Return to the Sermon Outlines page
Home / Bible studies / Bible Survey / Special Studies / General Articles / Non-Bible Articles / Sermons / Sermon Outlines / Links / Questions and Answers / What Saith The Scriptures /Daily Devotional / Correspondence Courses / What is the Church of Christ / Book: Christian Growth / Website Policy / E-mail / About Me /