THE SADDEST DAY FOR ANY CHURCH!!!
1. What happens to individuals to bring about happiness or sadness can also happen to congregations.
2. We are prone to want to remember good things and happy things that have occurred to us and happened to us in our lives.
A. We like to remember the very day that such happened.
1) A special birthday or holiday. The day of your baptism into Christ. Engagement, Marriage. The birth of your first child. Graduation of that child. Baptism of the child. Marriage of the child. Birth of the first grandchild.
3. But, on the other hand, we do not like to recall or remember the sad occasions of our lives.
A. We do not want to think of a particular day that a sad thing happened.
1) Death--loss of a job--maiming accident--a loved one turns away from the Lord. etc.
4. Any church that has been in existence for any length of time, will have had its share of sad days.
5. Beloved brethren and sisters die and are separated from us.
6. Some are transferred in their jobs and move away.
7. Some devout young person marries and moves away.
8. Some have to be withdrawn from because of their conduct.
9. But, most of the time, the saddest day of all passes by unnoticed.
I. THE DAY THAT THE LORD REMOVES THE CANDLESTICK.
A. This is the day that He ceases to accept a congregation as a true body of His people...the day He blots out their name.
B. Candlesticks are represented as being churches, Rev. 1:20.
1. Ephesus, at one time, was a strong church, Rev. 2:1-5.
2. Laodicea, thought they were in good form and had need of nothing, Rev. 3:14-16.
3. Actually, geographically and physically, everyone of these seven churches ceased to exist.
II. HOW AND WHY DO CHURCHES CEASE TO EXIST?
A. Some because of one thing and some because of another.
B. But all, wihout exception, cease to exist one step at a time, little by little.
C. The same thing happens to individuals.
1. The prodigal son. One step at at time.
2. The alcoholic, one drink at a time.
3. The drug adict, one dose or fix at a time.
4. The fornicator, one loose act at a time.
c. Music, etc.
D. Did Ephesus and Laodicea go along in fine fettle and all of a sudden, one day, right out of the blue, the bottom just fell out for them?
1. No Way! What happened to them, happened step by step, little by little.
E. As an individual or congregation, goes up the ladder of success, rung by rung, step by step, so he or it descends in the same way.
1. The individuals seem to lose the zeal that they had right after their baptism. This ultimately affects the congregation as well.
2. Most of the time such slow descension is not even noticed until it is too late.
III. THE COMPLEX ORGANIZATION OF THE ROMAN CATHOLIC HIERARCHY, OR EVEN OTHER MAJOR DENOMINATIONS OF OUR DAY.
A. How did they evolve from the simplicity of the New Testament pattern of the organization of the church?
1. They did so, one step at a time, little by little.
a. Maybe they appointed a chairman of a regular business meeting of the church to be the permanent chairman.
1) Such would be overlooked as incidental, not worthy of even being called a step.
B. Brother N.B. Hardeman, in the Hardeman Tabernacle Sermons, delivered in Nashvile, TN in 1942, made the following statement: "Again, I say to you with caution and thought, it is not the work of the church to furnish entertainment for the members. And yet, many churches have drifted in such an effort. They have enlarged their basements, put in gymnastic apparatus, and make every sort of appeal to the young people of the congregation. I have never read anything in the Bible that indicated to me that such was a part of the work of the church. I am wholly ignorant of any scripture that even points in that direction."
1, Most gospel preachers back then would have given a hearty "Amen" to such a statement.
2. Most all of the churches stood for such teaching back then.
3. Now, such activity as mentioned by brother Hardeman would not even touch the tip of the iceberg.
a. It seems that there is hardly anything that churches won't engage in to draw a crowd today.
4. But, don't dare to question such activities.
a. If you do, you will be considered an "old fogey, anti."
C. But, how did such churches reach such state of affairs?
1. One step at a time, little by little.
D. Whenever the day comes, and I hope that such is a long way off, in fact never happens, that the Lord decides to remove the candlestick of the church where you are now attending, you can be assured that the ruin will have come upon it one step at a time, little by little.
IV. WHAT ARE THE CONTRIBUTING FACTORS OF SUCH APOSTASY?
A. Through internal corruption, not by outside opposition.
1. The church at Ephesus had faced all kinds of outside foes and had won every battle. Rev. 2:2,6.
2. The church, no doubt, where you now attend, has met many outside foes and have won.
a. I am personally happy to say, that the outside forces of this community have tried to dictate policy to this congregation, and have utterly failed.
b. But one of the greatest threats facing any church, including this one, is and will be internal corruption, brought on step by step, little by little. 1 Cor. 5:6; Phil. 2:14, 15; Heb. 12:14,15.
V. HOW CAN SUCH BE PREVENTED OR THE DAY PUSHED BACK?
A. By good Biblical teaching:
1. Sound teaching.
2. Book, chapter and verse teaching.
3. Complete teaching, Acts 20:20,26,27.
4. Repetitive teaching, not just a one shot effort, but time and time again.
5. Earnest teaching, Acts 20:31.
B. By good leadership.
1. Leaders that can see beyond the tip of their own noses.
a. Having vision, on down the line, for good and against evil. Acts 20: l7; 28-32.
C. Good training of the young. Jdgs. 2:8,10.
1. Joshua set up monuments of rememberance and laws to abide by, but the parents of the young failed to use them.
2. We too, as parents, have all those things that were written afore time for our learning.
3. Parents need to lead their children by example. Not try to drive them.
D. Good grounding of new converts. Mt. 28:19,20.
1. Always keep in mind the seven churches of Asia.
1. I have no idea how many candlesticks that the Lord is looking upon as He looks down upon this world of darkness.
2. But I hope and pray that this congregation has its lamp all trimmed, full of oil, and burning brightly.
A. What do you think of it?
B. If every member is just like you, how brightly is our candlestick shining?
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