Monday, November 2, 2015
Did we go wrong? Haven’t we quoted our favorite slogan, “Speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where the Bible is silent” so all will know what our authority is? Aren’t we interested in being the New Testament church? Haven’t we been successful in reaching that divine goal? How long did it take for us to restore the problem described by Paul in 1 Corinthians 1:10-13! Oh, we’re not “of Paul,” or “of Apollos,” or “of Cephas,” or “of Christ.” None of those four were responsible in teaching error to Corinth or anyone else. No, the four Corinthian denominations were more comfortable with what they, not the Lord, developed! Have we been guilty of following their lead and justifying our choices?
Time has a way of building confidence in one’s choices and convincing him of their validity. Aren’t there New Testament churches today that mimic those of the first century? Dead ones like Sardis (Revelation 3:1-6)? Rich ones like Laodicea (3:14-22)? Loveless ones like Ephesus (Revelation 2:4)? Tolerant ones like Thyatira (2:20)? Proud or Prideful ones like Corinth (1 Corinthians 5:2 NIV; Luke 10:9)? Those that use grace to justify sins (Romans 6:1)? Those that favor tradition and call it truth (Matthew 15:9)? Those who are convinced that what is written on our signs is more important than what is found in our hearts? If that illustrates our success, are we really proud of the finished product?
We read about the multiple problems in Corinth and shrug them off with, “Yes, but they were still the Lord’s church.” How far off, in doctrine and practice, may a congregation drift, yet still continue to belong to Christ? We admit they were “the church of God,” in spite of their multiple problems, because Paul so informs us (1 Corinthians 1:2). May one be a member of such a congregation today without losing his soul? Inspiration answers that question in Revelation 2 and 3. Here are the Lord’s letters to seven assemblies. One of the seven is pronounced “dead” (Revelation 3:1-6). Dead, yet some were “worthy” (3:4). Can you imagine a congregation like that today? We have the idea that one cannot walk with Jesus, much less be worthy, if he is in a dead church. To be in such, according to some, means one partakes of that “deadness” with his attendance, contribution, and work and loses all worthiness. Preachers leave such congregations to save their reputations. How can anyone be thought “worthy” or capable of walking with the Lord in such a congregation? The creed becomes, “Flee or Fry”!
Is it possible to be in a dead church, yet be worthy in God’s sight and capable of walking with Jesus? Doesn’t Sardis answers that question?