CHURCH PROBLEMS – WHY CHURCHES DIE
“Paul visited the commercial and political center of western Asia at the end of his second missionary journey. We read of his preaching in Ephesus in Acts 18:19-23, and then returned to Antioch, leaving Priscilla and Aquila behind. Then Apollos (a Jewish scholar) worked with Priscilla and Aquila in Ephesus after his conversion and, soon thereafter, Apollos becomes a missionary. Then Paul came back on his third missionary journey where he would spend two and one-half years, aiding the brethren and preaching in Ephesus.
In his work there Paul debated in the Ephesian synagogue and almost caused a riot, because the leaders of the synagogue stood against the teaching of Christ as the Messiah. Further, everyone came to know Paul and who he stood for, and many of the Gentiles, and some of the Jews, converted to Christ. Indeed, the Lord’s message flourished and prevailed (Acts 19:17-20).
The enemies became more and more outspoken. The idol makers were upset that they could not sell their idols and gods, and Paul would say to the Corinthians brethren “But I will stay in Ephesus until Pentecost, for a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.” (1 Corinthians 16:8-9). Adversity seemed to be a given in his work for the Lord.
The church at Ephesus had its problems. It seemed that the labor Paul had put into that church was threatened because of immaturity, “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. (Ephesians 4:11-14)
Consider next, what Paul had to say to them in Ephesians 4:29-32 “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
Then, in Ephesians 5:3-5 tells us that some of the brethren there may have had a problem with “. . . . sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. You might take the sinner out of the sin, but that doesn’t guarantee that they will not go back.
Then consider Ephesians 5:21-6:4 where Paul advises about familial relationships – husband and wives and children and parents. Sound much like today, doesn’t it!
Paul wrote to Timothy in 1 Timothy 1:18-20 to give him advice as he worked with the church at Ephesus. “This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme. Was this the same Alexander that defended Paul in Acts 19, yet now he had blasphemed. And in 2 Timothy 2:16-18 Hymenaeus was accused of “. . . deviating from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already taken place.” (2 Timothy 2:16-18).
A church that had problems! Does this surprise us? Are we surprised when there are problems among brothers and sisters in Christ? Problems with sin, false teaching, and failings to love one another! It is nothing new.
We make the difference! It all depends on our hearts and our commitment to the Lord. We must remember that we are a part of the family of God, and that we all need HELP in getting to heaven. I need you!
Let us know how we can help you build and bolster your relationship with God!
Many of the ideas for this article came from WHY CHURCHES DIE By Mac Brunson and Ergun Caner. We do not endorse all they say in the book, yet it does give us some thoughts about ourselves. Tommy