July 17, 2011
Jesus told the congregation at Sardis, “I know your works, that you have a name that you live, and you are dead. Watch, and establish the things that remain, that are ready to die: for I have found none of your works complete before my God. Therefore, remember how you have received and heard; and keep it and repent.” (Revelation 3:1-3)
Some congreagations are alive only in name. They have a reputation that they are enthusiastically working, but they are spiritually dead. They are not growing spiritually or numerically. Everybody is satisfied with maintaining status quo. Few to none of the members put forth the effort to teach co-workers, fellow students, community neighbors, or unbelieving family members and friends!
One of the most obvious signs of “spiritual death” is lack of enthusiasm when singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. We are specifically told to “sing and make melody with the heart” (Ephesians 5:19). God demands that if we appreciate what he has done for us in the system of redemption that we joyously sing about it! Sing up and sing out! Sing it like you mean it. I have heard congregations sing songs so slow and so low that you would think you were in a funeral home. In part, this mentality comes from the traditional viewpoint that when you sing loudly and enthusiastically with rhythm that it is indecent and out of order. Nothing is further from the truth. In some ways, singing sets the “pace” for the entire assembly’s worship! If you appreciate God’s grace, mercy, love, and salvation, then tell the whole world about it by singing with the heart!
Another sign of a congregation being spiritually dead is when people complain about the preaching being too loud, too hard, too direct, and too enthusiastic. Some of the people who complain about the preaching of God’s word are not even aware of the nature of their complaint because they do more sleeping (or pretending to be) than they do listening; more whispering than they do encouraging and more rejecting than they do correcting their ways before the Lord. The New Testament tells us that the apostles were forceful, bold, and plain (Acts 2:14; Eph. 6:17-20). We should openly encourage and support the preaching of God’s work. We should expect the pulpit to be a place of burning enthusiasm (Acts 18:24-25).
Remember the forthcoming religious debate that Ron will have with Baptist preacher Billy Jenkins, at 7pm on August 12th, 2011 in Louisville, Ky. Mr. Jenkins will affirm: “The New Testament teaches that a person is saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, to the glory of God alone.”