The Expository Files

 

The Local Church ~ Dead or Alive


While the New Testament says that a local church can die (Rev. 3:1), we should not be rash in expressing that judgment. First, we do not enjoy the insight and authority of the One who gave the verdict against Sardis. Further, there are some things easy to overlook in our haste.

1. Before you get too far into evaluating a group, be certain you evaluate yourself (Matt. 7:1-6). The Lord hasn’t called us to walk into churches and pronounce them dead. He has called us to evaluate ourselves by the highest standard, be patient, avoid grumbling and pitch in and help. Judgment from a distance and without self-examination is often flawed.

2. Most of the spiritual life of a local church will not be visible when the church is assembled. There are members helping needy members privately; preachers and elders encouraging and studying with members and other events private in nature (Matt. 6:1-18). There are members living righteously against the struggles of life, praying, talking to people about the Lord and raising their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Much of this may not be announced, publicized or obvious between 9:30 and noon Sunday morning.

3. Scriptural leadership is critical to the life of a local church. But there are cases where some resist good oversight. An entire congregation and/or the elders should not be adversely judged by the misconduct of some.

4. The consistent preaching and teaching of the Word of God is essential. If the Word is being presented (even if not in a style or venue you prefer), you should be capable of taking the Word and the lessons from it out of the building and into your life.

5. The care of the members for each other is a sign of life. This care must run far deeper and practical than just the shaking of hands and the smiling of faces. Your judgment about the “emotional tenor” of the group is personal, preferential and subjective. Quick criticism based on “what I want” can express more about me than the group.

6. The life of a local church must never be dismissed based on money, numbers or building. While it is true that faithful members will give to best of their ability, seek to convert people and make the best provision they can for assembling, these three things are not the primary signs of spiritual life. {Many churches pass the test of money, numbers and physical building – but fail to meet the test of submission to Christ.}

7. The key to the life of any local church is, honoring Christ. Poor people and old people can honor Christ can’t they? They may not seem to be lively to the eyes of some. God knows.

 

By Warren E. Berkley 
The Final Page
From Expository Files 16.2; February 2009

 

 

 

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