There are dead churches all over the world. The problem is not primarily faulty doctrine. The problem is not that there is no one who loves God in these churches. The problem is not because there are no church members who love people or want to minister. It is not primarily because church members have lost their first love. It is because churches are filled with dead bodies. These bodies have their names on a church membership roll. At some point these spiritually dead people made some type of “decision”. They walked an aisle, prayed a prayer, signed a card, lifted a hand, got dunked under water, or something else of the sort. Those can all be good things; however none of them impart Life. I capitalized Life because Life is not a thing, an idea, or a force. Life is a Person. Jesus is Life. The Bible says that the one who has the Son of God has life and the one who does not have the Son does not have life. These dead bodies who sit in churches are for the most part good people, people who are trying to live good and moral lives pleasing to the Lord and loving toward other people. They mean no harm to anyone but they are in great danger.
The great danger is that they think their past “decision” is evidence of the presence of Life in them, i.e. that they have been “saved”. As an evangelical Christian, I am greatly concerned that those we witness to about Christ get just enough of the message to be vaccinated against Life. They have a decision in their past, but they did not need a decision. Rather, they needed a revelation of Christ that led to a decision. The Bible records many “decisions for trusting God” in both the Old and New Testaments. In every instance, God revealed Himself to a person, and then the person put their faith and trust in Him. Without God revealing Himself, no real conversion is possible. Otherwise, the result will be a spiritually dead person doing his best to live a “Christian” life, going to church, loving people, ministering in Christ’s name, living in harmony with selfish people like himself, giving tithes and offerings, submitting to authority, and the list goes on and on and on and on. At times, things will seem ok, maybe even good, but much of the time, there will be frustration, disharmony, lack of joy, lack of love.
Christ told believers in Him that they would recognize other believers by the fruit in their lives. The Bible speaks of fruit in many places and describes it in many ways, but Galatians 5:22-23 spells it out more clearly than any other place. Spiritual fruit is love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control. Spiritually dead people try to produce fruit on their own. They try many things, reading the Bible, keeping moral codes, helping the poor, serving in the church, having daily devotions, having longer prayer times, etc. and etc. None of these are fruits of the Spirit. No thing or action is a fruit of the Spirit. The fruits of the Spirit are character traits; they are evidences of having new nature; they indicate that we are a new creation in Christ; they show that we now have Life. The good things and actions we have mentioned will come but they will only satisfy if we have Life. Trying to do those things without Life will only frustrate us because we will never measure up. We need people with Life in our churches. He who has the Son has Life and also the Way and the Truth and the Resurrection and Peace and Wisdom and — .. — Everyone else is dead and separated from God.