Summary: New Testament churches do not naturally die; they are so constituted that they cannot die a natural death. They may, however, be killed, but even in this, they can hardly be killed by outsiders except by the annihilation of the entire membership. Churches
Intro: New Testament churches do not naturally die; they are so constituted that they cannot die a natural death. They may, however, be killed, but even in this, they can hardly be killed by outsiders except by the annihilation of the entire membership. Churches are most often killed form the inside; their own members kill them. A church is not just an organization; it is also an organism; a living thing, and as such, it has the potential of either growing or thriving, or of languishing and dying. The Lord promised that His church, considered as an institution, would not die, Matt. 16:18. How then may a local church be killed?
I. BY SECLUSION ( Hebrews 10:23-25)
The Scriptures liken church members to the members of a physical body, I Cor. 12:12-20, and just as certain organs of the human body cannot be removed without death coming to the body, so it is with the church, the body of Christ. When members of the church start forsaking, this soon leads to its death.
This is a gradual thing….starting first with the attitude "it doesn't matter whether I am there or not. The night services—Wednesday/Sunday are really the acid test of a church member's love for the Lord, for many people come to church for the morning services simply because there is nothing else to do except stay home. But the same excuses that are thought valid for staying away from church services, will not do when one is invited to a party, or when money is to be made by being in a certain place, etc. But the Lord will one day settle up the accounts (II Cor. 5:10; Rom. 14:10).
II. BY STARVATION (Acts 2:47)
A church lives and grows only by conversions and the additions of those converts to its number, and therefore if it is not nourished by conversions as a result of preaching and praying, it will soon die off from lack of additions. Souls being saved are a blood transfusion to any church. God does the adding to the church, yet He does it through the preaching, teaching, praying, and the witnessing of His people.
III. BY STRIFE IN IT (I Cor. 3:1, 3)
Strife has probably killed almost as many churches as any other one thing. When two people are in disagreement, and both are utterly selfish, it will cause a strife which will grow until it consumes the whole church, unless the church takes steps to end the strife. Strife is a mark of spiritual immaturity and carnality: Strife generally has its roots in pride, for where there is strife, both parties proudly assume that they are right, and will not admit even the possibility of being wrong.
One of the most tragic forms of church strife is when a member, or group of members, get their feelings hurt by the preaching (which is very common when the preacher is faithful to preach against sin, and to declare the members' duty). Often the dissident members’ most common excuse used is that he is a "dictator." Now we have no sympathy with a genuine dictator in the pulpit, but before a man of God is stigmatized as a dictator, men had best consider what the preacher is commissioned and commanded to do: Check out II Tim. 4:2; I Tim. 5:20; Tit. 1: 13.
On the basis of these, and the many other similar texts, the preacher has a duty to not only declare the truth, but also to rebuke those members who are living wayward lives, and no one has a right to call him a dictator for only doing his duty. Acts 20:28; Heb. 13:17; I Tim. 5:17-19.
IV. BY STUBBORNNESS (I Sam. 15:22-23)
In the Scriptures, stubbornness is a sin that is compared to witchcraft and idolatry. some people seem to delight in stubbornly resisting all spiritual progress and activity in the church. It is no virtue to be so set in one's ways that one hinders a church from changing for the better. No church was ever so perfect when it started but that it has room to change for the better. Indeed, sanctification is itself a progressive changing for the better of individuals, and if the members daily change for the better, so should the church. The sin of the Sardis Church was that it stubbornly refused to repent of sin, Rev. 3:3, and consequently it slowly died on the vine, all the while refusing to admit its cold and indifferent state. There is such a thing as dead orthodoxy - a doctrinal soundness which is devoid of any real love to Christ.
Some say, "Well, it is my life, and it is my business whether I repent or not," but this is not true, for every person is an example to someone else, and his bad example will lead others astray, perhaps concerning something much worse. Besides, the corruption of a church member is a corruption of that much of the church, and "A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump, " I Cor. 5:6. No one can afford to indulge any sin, because sin and neglect in church members is what kills churches. Future generations may not have opportunity to hear the gospel and to be saved because a church was destroyed by the apathy of its members. The attitude of some is "I'm saved, so let the rest of the world go to hell for all I care." Such an attitude hardly evidences genuine salvation.