Dry Bones and Dying Churches

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All of us know it is humanly impossible for anyone to raise someone from the dead? But, I have seen it attempted.
I’ve conducted hundreds of funerals over my 34 years in the ministry. I have watched many different ways people have expressed grief, one woman particularly stands out.
W.C. Harper died and Faye tried to shake him awake.
No matter how hard you shake a dead person they are not waking up. There are many things that are impossible for us as human beings to do in this life. However, let me remind you that NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR GOD!!! God’s power is so great, He can do anything. God can even raise the dead, if He chooses.
Keeping this truth in mind, there are countless churches all over America which are dead or are dying.
Over 82% of American churches are in decline or on a plateau.
Each year 3,500 to 4,000 churches die in North America (900 last year in the SBC).
50-60 churches in North America close their doors (permanent) every week.
Of churches which are 50 years or older, only 9.2% are growing.
Study done by NOBTS’ Leavell Center for Evangelism and Church Health discovered in a sequence of studies (2003, 2007, 2010), that only 6.8 of our SBC churches are healthy. That means 3,087 of our 45,727 SBC churches are healthy the rest are plateaued or dying.
These are the hard facts of a sad truth, Churches in America need revitalization. We, the Church of Jesus Christ, need revival.
We must hear what God said to Ezekiel, “Can these bones live again?” Can dead and dying churches live again? Remembering our truth, NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR GOD, we must believe He can restore life again to dead and dying churches. God reveals to Ezekiel how He does it.
I. The
I. The Church Must Admit Its Current Condition (37:1-3)
A. The Reality of the Condition (37:1-2)
Sin has caused the church’s sickness, but it doesn't have to be terminal.
7 For He is our God,
And we are the people of His pasture,
And the sheep of His hand.
Today, if you will hear His voice:
8 “Do not harden your hearts, as in the rebellion,
As in the day of trial in the wilderness,
9 When your fathers tested Me;
They tried Me, though they saw My work.
10 For forty years I was grieved with that generation,
And said, ‘It is a people who go astray in their hearts,
And they do not know My ways.’
11 So I swore in My wrath,
‘They shall not enter My rest.’ ”
In the margin of my Bible I wrote this on 12/27/2010
Lord, how many years have I grieved you?
B. The Remedy for the Condition (37:3)
This verse reveals the biblical principle for personal or corporate revitalization. God is powerful enough to do what dying and divided Christians and churches need: Breath life where there is no life and unite those who cannot be united. Bryan Croft states in his book, Biblical Church Revitalization:How does God revitalize a dying and divided church? Here is the answer:
A church is revitalized by the power of God through the Spirit of God at work through the Word of God by means of a faithful shepherd of God.
II. The Church Must Hear God’s Word (37:4-6)
The Bible says, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” What does the Bible (Word of God) do.
A. The Word Brings Life (37:4-5)
B. The Word Puts Us Back Together (37:6a)
Life can fall apart, but the Bible can put us back together.
A Bible that is falling apart usually belongs to one who’s not.
C. The Word Points Us to God (37:6b)
“You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of me” ()
III. The Church Must Connect Its Membership to Purpose (37:7-8)
A Christian cannot be “up” on Jesus and “down” on His Church or its members. However, this is the reality in many churches today.
20 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? 21 And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.
20 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? 21 And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.
When a dying church’s members begin to hear and obey God’s Word they begin to come together. These verses tell us that the first sign of life coming back to a dying church is that the members begin to click or get together. The foot-bone was connected to the anklebone. The anklebone was connected to the shinbone. The shinbone connected to the knee bone and so it went until a skeleton was formed.
Paul referenced this truth of connection to the disconnected church in Corinth. (see )
Everybody is somebody in the Lord’s body—His Church.
God has no use in church revitalization for mere “wishbones.” These folks are those who wish things we different, but are not willing to work to bring about positive change. Also, God has no use in church revitalization for “knucklebones.” You see these folks in sick and dying churches. They are willing to fight everybody and every thing in order to get their way.
IV. The Church Must Depend Upon the Holy Spirit (37:9-14)
It is not enough to be a skeleton, or a corpse, a body needs life. It is not enough for the members of a dying church to get connected to their purpose, they must actually do something together. They must work together to fulfill the Great Commission. The power and energy to do God’s work does not come from the members. The power and energy comes upon us, from God!
The word “breath” is the Hebrew word ruach which means “spirit.” The OT word has a NT companion; it is the Greek word pneuma which also means “spirit.” Only when God’s Holy Spirit gets control of our lives will we live again. The Holy Spirit convicts us of our sins. Repentance leads to forgiveness and revitalization.
Only when God’s Spirit breathes life into us will we be able to stand as a vast army for God (church).
Vss.14 The former spiritually dry believer/church member is brought back into God’s Promised Land. This is symbolic of the Victorious Christian life. Graham Scroggie wrote:
What historically was the land of rest, spiritually is the life of rest. To the Israelites the sphere of rest was a place, but to us, it is a Person, “in Christ in heavenly places” (). Christ is our inheritance, as Canaan was theirs, and our appropriation of the Lord is the antitype of their possession of the land.
God fully forgives and revives all who repent and trust Him. Revitalization is being restored back to God in sweet intimate fellowship and empowered service for His glory.
Israel was spiritually dead. They had lost their spiritual life. How many Christians and local churches are dead or dying. They have lost their spiritual life and usefulness for God. There is hope for dead or dying churches. God is able to do what is humanly impossible. God is able to raise the dead!!
Hear His Word. Obey His Word. Let His Spirit convict you of your sins. Repent and God will breath life (Spirit-life) back into you. Then, and only then, will you experience victory in you life and empowerment for Christian service.
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