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Resurrecting a Dead Church

Resurrecting a Dead Church

Hallelujah! Though there are still several steps to go through before it is in print, I have finished writing my latest book. It is called, Resurrecting a Dead Church. Its purpose is to spark a revival in our dead and dying churches and to help strengthen our living churches. I also believe it will be profitable in sparking reveal in one’s personal life. To help whet your appetite, I thought I would share a part of its introduction, which will further explain its purpose. I also ask that you would pray for God to use it for its stated purpose-revival.

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“To the angel of the church in Sardis write: He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars, says this: ‘I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God. So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you. But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Revelation 3:1-6 NASB

            Being the only apocalyptic book in the New Testament, Revelation has often struck fear in the hearts of many with its visions of judgments, dragons, and beasts. Though it speaks of these things with the intent of bringing repentance to the unbeliever, its other purpose was to encourage the first-century church. Though the majority of The Book of Revelation is about an awful and truly fearful future tribulation that will impact the whole world, one of its main purposes is to be a source of strength and encouragement to the church in times of trouble.

The first-century church experienced some of the fiercest persecution the Christian church has ever seen. The Apostle John, who introduced himself in Revelation 1:9 as, “Your brother and fellow partaker in tribulation,” was on a small island called Patmos as a form of persecution in exile because of “the word of God, and the testimony of Jesus.” Though he was a fellow partaker of this tribulation, he was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day worshiping the very one of whom he was suffering for, His Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

While in the Spirit on the Lords day, John heard behind him a loud voice as demanding as the sound of a trumpet. When he turned to see whose voice it was, he saw Jesus, but in a way, he’d never seen Him before. He saw the revealed Christ. John gives the title to Revelation in Revelation 1:1. It is, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ.” A revelation is an unveiling. Imagine being at an art exhibit. The newest exhibit is before the audience ready to be revealed, but it has a veil over it hiding what’s beneath. Everyone knows that it is there, but they have yet to see its beauty. It is still vailed. Once everyone’s attention has been directed to the exhibit, the vail will be removed, and all will gasp at its beauty.

The Book of Revelation is the unveiling of Jesus Christ. It is the revelation of Jesus Christ in all of His glory and splendor unveiled for all to see. When Jesus returns, He will not return as the suffering servant. Rather, He will return as the conquering King of Kings and Lord of Lords. What greater source of encouragement is there to a persecuted church than knowing when their Lord returns every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that He is Lord? Even John, the beloved disciple, fell at Jesus’ feet as a dead man when he saw Jesus in His unveiled state.

Just before John turned to see Jesus, he heard Him say, “Write in a book what you see, and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.” (Revelation 1:11). These were seven churches that existed in John’s day that Jesus had an individual and specific message. There were obviously more than seven churches that existed at this time which was toward the end of the first century. More than likely, most, if not all, of these churches ended up with their own copy of Revelation. Though it wasn’t directly addressed to them, no doubt each church took heed to the message. At the same time, as with all of scripture, the messages Jesus gave to the seven churches are lessons we can, and should, learn from today knowing that we still face these issues.

Jesus wanted these churches to know who He was. He addressed each church individually and disclosed to each church a part of His revelation of Himself that they specifically needed to know. Not only did Jesus want the churches to know who He was, He also wanted them to know that He knew who they were as well. He told the church of Sardis, “I know your deeds.” (Revelation 3:1). When John saw Jesus, he saw Him in the middle of the seven golden lampstands. In Revelation 1:20, Jesus told John that the seven golden lampstands are the seven churches. Jesus is amid His church, and He knows what’s going on. This truth should both encourage us amid trials and convict us amid disobedience.

Jesus had something against all but two of His churches. He had nothing negative to say to the churches of Smyrna or Philadelphia. To all but two of the churches Jesus also had words of praise. However, to the churches of Sardis and Laodicea Jesus had nothing good to say. To the church of Sardis Jesus said, “you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.” (Revelation 3:1). Is there anything positive that Jesus can say to a dead church? Of course not. Their message from Jesus was one of the need to repent.

They had a reputation, a name, of being alive, but they were dead. They were dead but didn’t know they were dead. Only Jesus knew they were dead. Everyone else thought the church of Sardis was alive and active. Unless a church is heretical or blasphemous, it isn’t our place to try and figure out who the dead church is. That is not the purpose of this book. The purpose of this book is to make the church look within itself and seek the council of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit to figure out where they are personally. It is a frightening thing to think that our church, though we think it is alive, can truly be dead and other churches, though we think are alive and vibrant, are truly dead.

Well, that’s not very encouraging now, is it? Not if we stop here. Fortunately, Jesus gave the church of Sardis advice to take ahold of if they wanted to live again. He gave them hope. Can a church be resurrected? Can a man be resurrected? Paul wrote in I Corinthians 15:16-17, “For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.” So, let’s stop asking foolish questions and get on with the task at hand, which is seeing our churches resurrected through walking by faith and living in obedience to Jesus Christ.

Though we wouldn’t normally attribute resurrection to a church if a church is dead and comes to life again what greater word is there? Most of the time we would call this revival or renewal. I will mostly use the word revival in this book. Regardless of what you call it, the point is clear, to those who place their faith in Jesus, there is resurrection and life-restoring power readily available. No doubt, this is clearly the will of Jesus for His church. That’s why He advised the church of Sardis to repent. His heart was to see them come to life again and thrive. So, take courage. If your church is dead or dying, know that through faith and obedience in Jesus, it can not only live again, it can thrive.

As previously stated, statistics today are grim and outright depressing. Baptisms, attendance, service, commitment, and giving are all at all-time lows. Many of our church have already closed their doors never to open again while many are on the verge. Countless churches are simply in a state of existence with no vision or focus. Many of them have been stuck in this rut for decades. Many of them are in a rut and don’t know it. This isn’t what God had planned for His church. Something needs to change; and soon. So, what do we do? Where do we turn? Who will show us how to climb out of this rut? Jesus!

Jesus gave the church of Sardis five commands that if acted upon would turn their church around. It would bring revival and resurrection power breathing new life into their dead church. In this book, I am going to take a close look at these five commands so we can learn from them and apply them to our churches today. No doubt, these are timeless principle that is still able to breathe new life into our dead churches in our day. Even if your church isn’t dead, these are principles every church should live by to ensure its continued vitality.

If a church can be thought of as alive by all yet considered dead by Jesus, how can we genuinely know a dead church from one that is alive? We will no doubt find the answer by taking an in-depth look at the letter Jesus gave to the church of Sardis in Revelation 3:1-6. There, we will see why Jesus considered Sardis a dead church, though they had a reputation of being alive. By doing this, we will see through the eyes of Jesus, rather than the eyes of the world, what a dead church looks like and more importantly, through the instruction of Jesus, how to be a vibrant living church that honors Jesus and lives in obedience to Him.

A healthy vibrant church should be of the utmost importance to every Christian. If our churches are healthy, we will have a heart to raise the spiritual atmosphere of our church and our world, and we will send out workers into the field with the power of the gospel reaping a great harvest of the lost. Once the lost are saved, they will bring those new believers into a healthy church to be properly discipled where in turn they will be sent out as workers for the kingdom as well. Every Christian personally benefits from a healthy church, as do our families, our communities, our nation, and the world. At the same time, everyone suffers from unhealthy churches. Satan’s kingdom thrives when our churches are dead and ineffective. Our passion should be to see our churches healthy, vibrant, and full of life. Then, and only then, will we honor Jesus, and for the glory of God, have a true, lasting, and eternal impact upon our world.

A good doctor will look at the symptoms of their patient to know what type of sickness they have so they can properly treat them. In the same way, we need to look at the symptoms of an unhealthy church to know what it needs. The purpose of this isn’t to be grim or negative. The ultimate purpose is to bring a restoration of life and good health. Fortunately for us, we can learn from the prescription of life and good health that Jesus gave to the church of Sardis so our churches can live again and be healthy.

Jesus told John in Revelation 1:17-18, “I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.” Immediately after telling John this He told John, “Therefore write.” Jesus wanted His churches to know that He, and He alone, has authority over life and death. There is nothing a doctor can do for those who have died but praise God; Jesus is more than able.

Rusty Kuhn

www.rustykuhn.com 

 

 
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Posted by on March 14, 2019 in Bible Study, Book, Uncategorized

 

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Peace on Earth

Peace on Earth

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Luke 2:14

Every year throughout the Christmas season, in one form or another, carolers gather to sing of the wonderful news the angels pronounced to the shepherds that first Christmas night. One of the most popular themes recorded in song is “Peace on earth, and good will toward men.” Yet, we must ask ourselves, what did the angels mean when they spoke of peace on earth?

The writers of these beloved carols seem to think they were referring to world peace here on this earth. Edmund H. Sears, a unitarian minister who made no mention of Christ in his carol, was bothered by the social conditions that ultimately led to the Civil War when he wrote, It Came Upon a Midnight Clear. Henry Longfellow wrote, I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day, amid great personal tragedy during the Civil War. The newest of Christmas Carols, Do You Hear What I Hear, was written with concern of the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.

Though there will be perfect peace on this earth when the Prince of Peace returns, Christ’s first coming was not at all intended to bring world peace. Jesus Himself said in Matthew 10:34, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” The purpose of Jesus first coming was to bring peace between God and Man.

The bible clearly teaches that all have sinned, and our sin puts us at enmity against God. In a sense, our sins are a declaration of war against an all sovereign God. Though God has not wronged us in any way, He has initiated a peace offering. His Son, Jesus, is that peace offering. Jesus is God’s means of reconciliation.

Prior to the host of angel’s declaration of peace on earth, a single angel announced the birth of a Savior who was born in the city of David, which was Bethlehem. (Luke 2:11). That Savior was Jesus who was born into this world to live a perfect life that would ultimately be laid down on the cross of Calvary as an atoning sacrifice for the sins of mankind.

Today, for those who repent and turn to Jesus by faith, their sins will be forgiven and washed away, they will be justified, in other words put in right relationship with God, and they will have peace with God. Romans 5:1 says, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” This is a true peace, and this peace is the gift God gave to this world on the first Christmas day; a gift that is still available to anyone who will put their faith in Jesus.

For more information about Rusty Kuhn Ministries visit, www.rustykuhn.com

 
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Posted by on December 26, 2018 in Devotional, Uncategorized

 

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Silent Night a Christmas Devotional

A Christmas Devotional on Silent Night. Give your mess to the Master and He will make a masterpiece out of it. This is a part of my Behind the Carol Christmas Program that I do looking at the history or meaning of the Christmas carols. I will post a different one each morning this week.

 
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Posted by on December 17, 2018 in Devotional, Music, Uncategorized

 

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Missions, Ministry, and Evangelism

Missions, Ministry, and Evangelism

It’s time that I get back to writing. It’s been three years since I was diagnosed with cancer and I have written very little since. Starting next week I will start posting every Monday morning a series of blogs titled, Missions, Ministry, and Evangelism. They will focus on my years of experience as a pastor, a church planter, and an evangelist. I will write about things that I’ve seen work well, and not so well. I will give practical advice and results, good and bad, of my past labors along with what I’ve seen others do. This will be geared toward pastors, churches and lay leaders who have a heart for missions, ministry, and evangelism. My prayer is that it will motivate our churches to get out beyond their walls and into the field for the purpose of reaping a great harvest. I don’t claim to be the best writer, or even good writer, nor do I claim to have the best advice, I simply want to share my passion and pray that it will be contagious. So, stay tuned!

 
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Posted by on April 9, 2018 in Devotional, Uncategorized

 

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Convincing of Righteousness

Convincing of Righteousness

As we continue to look at how the Holy Spirit convicts the world of sin, righteousness and judgment, we will now look at how the Holy Spirit will convict the world, the sinner, of God’s righteousness. The Holy Spirit cannot convict the sinner of his own righteousness, for he has none. Romans 3:10 states, “There is none righteous, not even one.” Not only is there none who is righteous, there is none who seek for righteousness. Romans 3:11 says, “There is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God.” Apart from the Holy Spirit convicting the sinner of God’s righteousness he would be left abandoned to his own unrighteousness never to seek or long for God’s.

We should give God the highest praise that He has sent the Holy Spirit to convict us of sin, righteousness, and judgment. Apart from that conviction we would be hopeless. Jesus would be useless to us because apart from the Holy Spirit we cannot see, or know Jesus. Jesus said in John 16:10 that the Holy Spirit convicts the world of righteousness, “Because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me.” As stated earlier, the Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin by convicting us of Jesus Lordship. In the same way, the Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin by convincing us of Jesus righteousness, and allowing us to know we are utterly lost in hopeless unrighteousness on our own.

Jesus asked in Mark 10:18, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.” The bible is clear that Jesus is God, and that He is righteous. He is perfectly righteous as is the Father and the Holy Spirit. God alone is righteous. Jesus proved His righteousness by going to be with the Father. Had Jesus not fulfilled all righteousness the Father would not have accepted Him. Yet, the Father did accept Him; therefore we clearly know that all righteousness has been fulfilled through Christ.

Jesus had nothing to prove by fulfilling all righteousness. He was perfectly righteous prior to taking upon the flesh and He remained so after He became flesh. Jesus fulfilled all righteousness, not for His own sake, but for ours; for we have none. II Corinthians 5:21 says, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” Since the wages of sin is death Jesus took upon the penalty for our sake. Since Jesus was sinless, death had no hold or claim on Him, therefore, Jesus arose from the grave defeating death. When one repents from their sin and turns to Jesus not only is their sins wiped away but God replaces the sin of the flesh with Jesus righteousness. Just as the Father would not have accepted Jesus apart from Jesus fulfilling all righteousness neither will He accept us apart from Jesus righteousness placed upon us through the acceptance of Jesus sacrifice to sin.

For this reason the Holy Spirit convinces the sinner, through His convicting power, first, that he has no righteousness of His own, second, that Jesus is perfectly righteousness, and third, that Jesus paid the price for our sins, will blot out our sins, and give to us His righteousness if we simply repent of our sins and turn to Jesus. Wow, that was a long sentence; but it is an amazing work that God offers to those who will receive. Apart from the convicting power of the Holy Spirit and the submission to the conviction, the sinner will remain in his sins, unrepentant, thinking that he is sufficient on his own when he clearly isn’t. Only God’s righteousness is sufficient, and only Jesus paid the price for sin where we can be redeemed and receive His righteousness. Truly, that is amazing grace!

 
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Posted by on February 25, 2017 in Bible Study, Devotional, Uncategorized

 

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Living Stones

Living Stones

Jesus asked the disciples in Matthew 16:13, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” They said in the next verse, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” Jesus then asked them in verse fifteen, “But who do you say that I am?” At this time Simon boldly answered in verse sixteen, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” In the next verse we see that Jesus was greatly pleased with Simon’s answer and said, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.” Jesus then renamed Simon Peter saying, “I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church.”

When Jesus renamed Simon He called him Peter which is Petros in Greek. Petros is a small stone or a rock. A brick can fall under the category of a petros. It is certainly not a foundational stone that someone would build a house on. Rather it would be the small stones, like bricks, that would rest upon the foundational stone.

After Jesus named Simon Petros, He said “upon this rock I will build my church.” The word that Jesus used for rock was a different word than the one He used for Simon Peter. Jesus used the Greek word petra as the rock that the church would be built upon. Petra is a large rock, a foundational stone that is much different than the small stone, petros, Simon was called. Clearly Peter is not the foundational stone that the church is built upon; Jesus is. Jesus is the one who gave His life so He could redeem the church. To say any other is the foundation of the church is not only biblically inaccurate, it is outright blasphemous.

Peter clearly understood what Jesus was talking about. Peter wrote in I Peter 2:4-5, “And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house.” Who is the living stone? Jesus is. He is the one that was rejected by men, but choice and precious in the sight of God. We are the ones who come to Him also as living stones that are being built up as a spiritual house. This is the perfect portrait of the church.

The church is not a physical building, an address, or location. The church is a spiritual house. Jesus is the living stone that is the foundation. We are living stones being built up on that foundation. Just as bricks are laid atop of the foundation of the building we are laid atop of Jesus who is the foundation of the church. We are also laid atop of all of the other believers who came before us such as Peter. Peter was named Petros because he was the first to confess Jesus as the Christ. Upon our confession of Christ we are saved and therefore laid atop of the foundation of Christ as the church.

After Peter gave us this wonderful picture of the structure of God’s spiritual house he then gave us an understanding of its function. He said in I Peter 2:9, “you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” Jesus didn’t save us to give us a get out of hell free card. He saved us out of darkness and into light so we would have a relationship with Him and so we would proclaim to the rest of the world, which remains in darkness, of His excellencies and His marvelous light so they too would be drawn to the light and have a relationship with Him and not stand in darkness separated from God doomed to eternal condemnation. Clearly, this is one of the main functions of the church; the whole church.

Paul wrote in Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” If the gospel is truly the power of God for salvation, as the Word of God says that it is, and we refuse to share the gospel we are then guilty of condemning this world to hell. How will they repent of their sins if we don’t tell? How will they walk out of darkness and into the marvelous light if we don’t tell? How will they know their sins will eternally condemn them if we don’t tell? “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!” (Romans 10:14-15).

The feet that carry the good news may become callused, bruised, and bloody; they may become dusty, dirty, and grimy; they may become tired, weary, and worn, but they are beautiful to God. Far, they are bringing the good news of Jesus to a lost world of whom He loves.

 
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Posted by on February 21, 2017 in Bible Study, Devotional, Uncategorized

 

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The Gospel Must be Communicated

The Gospel Must be Communicated

Have you ever heard someone say “I allow my life to be my witness?” Clearly the bible teaches we should do good works. Titus 3:8 says, “This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men.” Jesus Himself said, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16). Godly living and good works should go hand in hand. However, good works alone is an insufficient witness.

Clearly we want the unreached world to see our good works so our Father who is in heaven will be glorified. However, good works alone can be dangerously misleading. The bible clearly states that we are not saved by our good works and that we are only saved by placing our faith in the works of Christ. (Ephesians 2:8, 9). Titus 3:5 says, “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit”

If we fail to communicate the gospel, which is the works of Christ that lead to salvation, we can lead the lost world into believing that their good life and good works are sufficient to save them. They will think they simply have to be a good person and perform good works to get to heaven. Paul said of those who teach this perverted form of the gospel, which is really no gospel at all, “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!” (Galatians 1:8, 9). This is usually not the intention of the one who desires his life to be a witness. However, this is the danger of living a good life and doing good works without communicating the gospel.

True biblical evangelism consists of communication. Jesus said in Mark 16:15, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” One cannot preach without communication. The word preach means to proclaim. We are commanded to proclaim the gospel to all creation. We are called to be witnesses of Jesus and his teachings to the whole world starting where we are at. (Acts 1:8).

In the Word of God we find two distinct calls to preach. Paul tells Timothy, who is the pastor of Ephesus, in II Timothy 4:2, “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.” This type of preaching is pastoral preaching. It is preaching directed to the church with instruction that leads to godly living.

The other type of preaching is what Jesus commanded in Mark 16:15-preach the gospel. It is evangelistic preaching, or proclaiming. It is preaching directed to the lost with instruction of how to be saved. The Greek word used here is euaggelizesthai. It means, to evangelize. To evangelize is to share, preach, proclaim the gospel. Euaggelizesthai is a verb. It is a word that demands action. This word is used fifty two times in the New Testament.

Preaching is God’s choice of the communication of His gospel message. I Corinthians 1:21 says, “For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.” Whether we are proclaiming to the masses or sharing with individuals we must communicate, preach, proclaim the clear message of the gospel. Every Christian is called to this task.

In the Word of God we find two ways that the gospel can, and should be, communicated. Clearly the first way is verbal. Acts 14:1 says of Paul and Barnabus, “In Iconium they entered the synagogue of the Jews together, and spoke in such a manner that a large number of people believed, both of Jews and of Greeks.” The spoken word is the most prominent form of communicating the gospel in the New Testament. However, it is not the only form of communicating the gospel.

John said in I John 5:8, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.” Luke also stated his purpose in writing the book of Luke in Luke 1:3, 4 where he wrote, “it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught.” A quick read through the book of Romans will show you that it is the greatest gospel tract ever written. Writing isn’t preaching, but it is a wonderful form of communication that God has given to us to share His gospel message.

Whether we choose to preach, proclaim, share the gospel through the spoken word or the written word we must clearly communicate it. We are called and should be compelled to proclaim the gospel with the lost with every available opportunity we have. Apart from the proclamation of the gospel the lost world stands condemned to an eternal hell. When we proclaim the gospel they may chose to reject. Regardless of their decision, we have given them an opportunity to make a decision by communicating the gospel. If we however reject the call to proclaim, we not only stand in rebellion against God, we also have to ask, how then will they ever have the opportunity to make the choice?

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2017 in Bible Study, Devotional, Uncategorized

 

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