But you are dead!
(John Angell James, "Earnestness in Religion")
"I know your works; you have a reputation for
being alive, but you are dead!" Revelation 3:1
One most impressive lessons which is taught here,
is that churches may have a reputation for being
in a flourishing condition--and yet be all the while
in a state of progressive decay!
How many churches are flattering themselves that they
are in a flourishing condition! The place of worship may be
commodious, elegant, and free from debt. The minister may
be popular, and approved by his flock. The congregation
may be large, respectable, and influential. The finances may
be good, and even prosperous. In short, there may be every
mark of external prosperity--until the church flatters itself
into the idea of its being in a high state of spiritual health.
But examine its internal state! Inquire into its condition as
viewed by God! Inspect the private conduct of its members
--and what a different aspect of things is seen then!
How prevalent is the spirit of the world in their social
fellowship! Games and parties, scarcely differing from
the fashionable circles of the worldly and the mirthful, are
kept up at much expense, and with every accompaniment
of frivolity and levity! Let a godly person of devotional taste,
spiritual affections, and tenderness of conscience, enter into
the parties of such a congregation--and what a destitution
of vital piety, and what prevailing worldliness would he find!
Let us look beneath the illusive covering of external
prosperity--and examine whether disease and decay
are lurking underneath!
There is often a strange contrast between the
'heavenliness' which a church professes--and the
'worldliness' of her conduct.
"For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need
nothing; not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable,
poor, blind, and naked." (Revelation 3:17)