A. In Revelation 3:1, the church at Sardis was described as a “dead” church
1. This reveals that churches can die – and they often do…
a. Where are the congregations we read of in the New Testament?
b. At some point in their history, they died
2. There are at least two ways a church may die…
a. It may cease to exist
b. It may die inwardly, even while it still lives outwardly
B. What can kill a church?
1. Are we aware of the different weapons Satan can use to destroy us?
2. Are there things that threaten our very existence even now?
C. In this lesson we will consider “What Can Kill A Church” – we will examine four things that can jeopardize any congregation of God’s people. The first is perhaps a rather obvious one…
1. Satan has often resorted to physical persecution…
a. For example, against the church at Smyrna – Revelation 2:9-10
b. Indeed, he did so against many churches in the first century – 1 Peter 5:8-9
c. We should not be surprised if he does so today – 1 Peter 4:12
2. People respond to persecution differently…
a. Some are silenced by it – John 12:42-43
b. Others rejoice in it
1) Acts 5:41-42
2) Romans 5:1-5
3) James 1:2-3
3. How we react will determine our future as a church…
a. A church that is silenced by persecution will soon die
b. A church that rejoices in persecution will not go unnoticed by the Lord – Matthew 5:11-12
1) As the Lord took note of the church in Pergamos – Revelation 2:13
2) As the Lord took note of the church in Philadelphia – Revelation 3:8
4. But persecution is not the only weapon in Satan’s arsenal; when a congregation resists persecution, he will often seek to kill it through another means…
1. Satan has used this tactic to threaten many churches…
a. It threatened the church at Ephesus, but they had overcome – Revelation 2:2, 6
b. It threatened the church at Pergamos, who while handling persecution faithfully, they were floundering with error in their midst – Revelation 2:13-15
c. Both Paul and Peter warned of the danger of error
1) Acts 20:29-30
2) 2 Peter 2:1-2
2. Two things are necessary in guarding against error…
a. We must not turn away from sound doctrine – 2 Timothy 4:3-4
1) Sound doctrine involves preaching the word, which includes both negative (“rebuke”) and positive (“exhort”) elements – 2 Timothy 4:1-2
2) We must beware of “pop” preaching which simply entertains rather than instructs
b. We must not support those who teach contrary to the doctrine of Christ – 2 John 9-11
3. When a church stands strong against persecution and false doctrine, that is certainly a good sign; but that does not mean Satan cannot yet kill it. Many “sound” churches have been destroyed by one of two more tools used by Satan. The first of these is…
1. Worldliness includes immorality and materialism…
a. Immorality is the lust of the flesh
b. Materialism involves the lust of the eyes
c. Both are included in “the love of the world”- 1 John 2:15-17
2. Satan uses worldliness to destroy churches…
a. For example, the church at Thyatira was threatened by the influence of Jezebel – Revelation 2:20-23
b. Immorality has made havoc of many churches today
c. Materialism has drawn many Christians away from their service to the Lord
d. Churches are hindered when members are rendered fruitless by worldliness – Luke 8:14
3. To ward off worldliness…
a. We must have “the love of the Father”
1) 1 John 2:15-17
2) James 4:4
b. We must not be conformed to this world, but transformed by the renewing of our minds – Romans 12:1-2
c. We must “watch and pray” – Luke 21:34-36
4. A church that is “sound” on certain issues can still be a dead or dying church if worldliness is allowed to infect its members. A similar spiritual malady that Satan can use to destroy churches is…
1. A subtle, yet effective weapon used by Satan…
a. It jeopardized the standing of the church at Ephesus, who had left their “first love” – Revelation 2:4
b. It characterized the church at Laodicea, making it almost repulsive to Christ – Revelation 3:15-17
c. We do not have to oppose the church to kill it, just be slothful and indifferent!
1) Proverbs 18:9
2) Matthew 12:30
2. Symptoms of indifference…
a. Irregular attendance of services
b. Lack of participation in the services (worship, Bible classes)
c. Consistently arriving late to services
d. Waning efforts to win souls to Christ
e. No personal and private devotions (Bible study and prayers)
3. Fervent service is the only antidote to indifference…
a. We must not grow weary in doing good – Galatians 6:9
b. We must be diligent, and not become sluggish – Hebrews 6:11-12
c. We must hold fast the hope we confess by encouraging one another – Hebrews 10:24-25
A. While there might be more ways to kill a church, these four are certainly effective…
1. Persecution
2. False teaching
3. Worldliness
4. Indifference
B. What about this congregation? Is Satan making any progress in killing us…?
1. We might be free from physical persecution, and be known as a “sound” church
2. But are worldliness and indifference taking their toll?
C. To be forewarned is to be forearmed…
1. We need to be honest with ourselves – are we vulnerable in some areas?
2. Don’t let the Great Deceiver succeed in deceiving us!
D. May we each do our part in bolstering our defenses against the one who seeks to destroy us! As Paul wrote: “so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.” (2 Cor. 2:11; ESV)

Tom Moore
Park Heights church of Christ
P. O. Box 107
1300 East Boynton Street
Hamilton, Texas 76531

“A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and sings it back to you when you have forgotten how it goes.”

About from the Preachers PC

Gospel Preacher for the Park Heights church of Christ in Hamilton, TX. I stand for and defend the truth of God's word. All other degrees and diplomas mean very little in comparison.
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