word “checkup” is a popular word in our vocabulary.
Our cars need checkups. Our houses need checkups for
pests, our bankbooks need checkups for errors, and our
bodies need checkups health purposes. Perhaps we also
need to have spiritual checkups to evaluate our spiritual
strength. The apostle Paul admonishes in 2 Corinthians
13:5: “Examine yourselves, as to whether you are in the
faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know
yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?--unless indeed you
are disqualified.” Listen to what the Great Physician
tells the congregation that was located in Laodicea in
Revelation 3:17-19: “Because you say, 'I am rich, having
become wealthy; and have need of nothing'--and do not know
that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked―I
counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that
you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not
be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you
may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten.
Therefore be zealous and repent.” Doesn't that church sound
like their spiritual checkup was showing many signs of
weakness? Weren't they dying spiritually? And
wasn't Jesus trying to help them to change the course of the
direction in which they were going? Let's return to
physical checkups for just a moment. The American
Cancer Society has what they called “Seven Danger Signs of
Cancer”. These are symptoms that warn that cancer
could be in the making. To help you remember them, you
must use “caution”: C = Change in bowel or bladder habits, A
= A sore that doesn't heal, U = Unusual bleeding or
discharge, T = Thickening or lump in the breast, testicles,
or elsewhere, I = Indigestion or difficulty in swallowing, O
= Obvious change in size, color, shape, or thickness of a
wart, mole, or mouth sore, and N = Nagging cough or
hoarseness. These symptoms help to warn us if cancer
may be present. Now let's go back to the spiritual.
Another preacher has come up with seven symptoms to help
you determine if you are dying spiritual and another
individual suggests ten symptoms to determine if a
congregation is dying spiritually. Let's examine
ourselves spiritually this morning to see if we have any of
the symptoms of dying spiritually, first as a congregation,
and then as an individual.
Here were ten symptoms to check if your congregation is
dying spiritually. Notice this chart and see where you
would rank the Prescott church of Christ. There are
four answers to each symptom: never, seldom, frequent,
1. We make excuses about the way things are instead of
working to solve the problems (never, seldom, frequent,
2. We are content with receiving people rather than seeking
to find them (never, seldom, frequent, always).
3. We are more focused on the natural instead of relying on
the supernatural (never, seldom, frequent, always).
4. We view success in terms of “feeling pumped up” instead
of fulfilling the Great Commission (never, seldom, frequent,
5. We view everything as ho-hum instead of having a sense of
urgency: hell is no longer hot, sin is no longer wrong, and
the cross is no longer moving (never, seldom, frequent,
6. We put more importance on connecting with culture than
following the Bible's teaching (never, seldom, frequent,
7. We are reactive (letting things happen; being passive)
rather than being proactive (making things happen; be
involved) (never, seldom, frequent, always).
8. We want to maintain the status quo and never consider
making any changes (never, seldom, frequent, always).
9. We do not care about the obvious and spiritual needs of
our community (never, seldom, frequent, always).
10. We allow the preacher to do most of the church work
instead of getting all members involved (never, seldom,
How many of these symptoms does our congregation have?
Does this little checkup reveal that we are strong or weak
spiritually? If we are proven to be weak, is some
repentance in order?
Now let's look at seven symptoms for individuals that
another preacher has suggested. The first symptom is
this: Is the Gospel no longer moving to you? Even in
the first century, there were people who viewed the Gospel
as foolishness. “For since, in the wisdom of God, the world
through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the
foolishness of the message preached to save those who
believe. For the Jews request a sign, and the Greeks
seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the
Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to
those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power
of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:21-25).
Paul says that the death, resurrection, and exaltation of
Jesus is God's power to bring about salvation to all people
(Romans 1:16). Jesus told His disciples to preach this
good news everywhere (Mark 16:15-16): “And He said to them:
'Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every
creature. He who believes and is baptized will be
saved; but he who does not believed will be condemned.”
You obeyed the Gospel because the story of Jesus' death,
resurrection, and exaltation moved and touched you.
Its tremendous story must continue to motivate us: “Nor is
there salvation in any other, for there is no other name
under heaven given among men, by which we must be saved”
(Acts 4:12). Now the Lord Supper helps us to remember
that great story, but does the routine ritual of this
activity cause us to become numb to its transforming
significance? There is no emotion or gratitude in the
prayers that are prayed at the Lord's Table. For many
Christians, the Gospel has become no more than just academic
knowledge and knowing where passages can be located.
Their yawns, glazed eyes, and nodding heads show that they
are basically bored when the Gospel is being preached.
They think: “On brother, here it comes again. The same
old cross and tomb stuff, yada, yada, yada.” They have
lost all excitement. They don't weep over Jesus' shed
blood, they don't perk up when His resurrection is
mentioned, and they show no positive facial movement when
His glorification is announced! When they hear a
passage like Revelation 1:5: “To Him who loved us and washed
us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and
princes to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion
forever and ever”, it just draws the same old blank stare
with all its display of deadness. If Gospel no
longer moves you, it is a danger sign. This symptom
means that something is wrong with you spiritually!
The next danger sign is this: “Have you left your first
love?” Jesus said in John 14:15: “If you love Me, keep
My commandments.” Our love for Jesus prompts our
obedience to His teachings. Jesus told the church in
Ephesus in Revelation 2:4: “Nevertheless I have this against
you, that you have left your first love ... repent, and do
the first works.” “The congregation at
Ephesus had a diseased heart, and their love for Jesus was
now diminishing. Their original devotion was expressed
in eagerness and gratitude, but now these members just
practice rituals and habits ... without any enthusiasm or
appreciation” (McGuiggan). Devotion and affection have
been replaced with doubt and suspicion. Here's an old
poem that's a little difficult but listen closely: “Love is
not love which alters when it alteration finds, or bends
with the remover to remove. O, no, it is an ever fixed
mark, that looks on storms and is never shaken. It is
the [steadfast] star to every wandering [ship] ... Love
alters not with [life's] brief hours and weeks, but bears it
out even to the edge of doom” (Shakespeare). How close
and devoted to Jesus are you? When was the last time
you shed some tears because of Him? When was the last
time you rejoiced or laughed because of Him? When was
the last time you stuck up for Him when someone else tried
to put Him down? When was the last time you either
thanked Him for some kindness or you did act of kindness in
His name? Is the Lord still the first love of your
life? “He who loves father and mother more than Me is
not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter
more than me is not worthy of Me” (Mt. 10:37). Are you
still singing with feeling and devotion: “All to Jesus, I
surrender; all to Him I freely give. I will ever love
and trust Him, in His presence daily love” (De Venter)?
If you are in the process of leaving your first love, you
are in serious spiritual trouble. It takes great
honesty to admit this. The prodigal son told his
father, “Give me”, but before the story ends, He says, “Make
me”. Are you still letting Jesus be the Lord of your
life and loving Him for the transformation He continues to
bring about in your life? Don't fool yourself.
Think seriously! Have you left your first?
The next symptom is this: Do church services bore you?
Listen to two Old Testament passages. The first is
Amos 8:4-6: “Hear this, you who swallow up the needy, and
make the poor of that land fail. Saying: 'When will
the New Moon be past, that we may sell grain? And the
Sabbath, that we may trade wheat? Making the ephah
small and the shekel large, falsifying the scales by deceit,
that we may buy the poor for silver, and the needy for a
pair sandals, even sell the bad wheat?'” Here's a
paraphrase: “We just can't wait for the Sabbath day to be
ended, so that we can start cheating people with dishonest
deals!” Do you feel like you just can't wait until the
dismissal prayer is over so that you can blank (and you can
fill in the blank with whatever your heart is desiring)?
Now look at the second passage in Malachi 1:1-12: “'But you
profane it [God's name] in that you say: 'The table of the
Lord is defiled, and its fruit, its food, is contemptible.'
You also say: '“Oh, what a weariness!” and you sneer at it,'
says the Lord of hosts.” Have you ever heard some
member here complain about the Lord's Supper coming at the
end of the worship? “You see,” they say, “if it came
earlier we could get it over with, and get on about our
business.” “Oh what a weariness! And you sneer
at it!” This surely sounds like worship is a burden to
be endured rather than a blessing to be enjoyed. Have
you ever noticed that some members never crack open a
songbook, but they sure don't mind checking their cell
phones regularly? Have you ever noticed how some
members never bring a Bible to worship nor do they ever use
the New Testaments provided in the pews? Have you ever
noticed that if we have a baptism on Sunday morning, some
members either won't stay or they start tapping their
watches to remind us all that we've gone way over schedule?
“Oh what a weariness!” No, it should be: “Oh what a
blessedness!” To praise God! To thank Jesus!
To adore the Holy Spirit! Aren't they the real
audience in worship? To pray for one another! To
strengthen one another! To complement one another!
To forgive one another! Don't we all need that
brotherly love? To hear God's Word! To remember
our Redeemer who gave His all for us! To keep heaven
as the ultimate goal! To help support the expansion of
the New Testament church! Don't we all need the
spiritual nourishment that these activities provide?
One last question: How much of yourself are you putting into
the worship service? You could be dying spiritually if
church services bore you!
The next danger sign is this: Have you lost interest in
saving souls? What did the apostle Paul do immediately
after his conversion? Acts 9:20 tells us that he
entered into the Jewish synagogues and began trying to
persuade his fellow Jews that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son
of God. Sharing good news is usually a pretty easy
thing to do. And many of you probably used to teach
others about Jesus and His church! You were proud to
be a member of the Lord's church and share the plan of
salvation with your friends and neighbors. But
something has happened. “Now the ones that fell among
thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are
choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring
no fruit to maturity” (Luke 8:14). Who sowed the thorns
that choked us? Our culture. There was the
materialism of the 60s, followed by the secularism of the
70s. Then came the hedonism of the 80s, followed by
the liberalism of the 90s and the postmodernism of the past
decades. Some of our elders and preachers became
ashamed of our pleas and saw our restoration stance as
arrogant and egotistical. In our age of tolerance, how
dare we call anybody “unsaved, or lost, or a sinner”!
Yes, political correctness has now replaced biblical
correctness, and the plant of evangelism has just about been
choked death in many congregations. Many members are
now ashamed of the plan of salvation and don't even know
five scriptures that could explain it to another!
Jesus accused the Pharisees once of not lifting a finger to
help bear the burdens of others. Would Jesus accuse us
today of not moving a finger to reach out to those who are
perishing in wickedness? The old spiritual says: “If
you cannot sing like angels and if you cannot preach like
Paul, you can tell the love of Jesus and say He died for
all!” Yes, telling about Jesus' love is not just the
church leader’s job, it's all members' responsibility.
“Therefore, those who were scattered went everywhere
preaching the word” (Acts 8:4). “But some of them were
men from Cyprus and Cyrene, who, when they had come to
Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists, preaching the Lord Jesus”
(Acts 11:20). “Walk in wisdom towards those who are
outside, redeeming the time” (Colossians 4:5). Now all
these passage show us that common ordinary Christians CAN
spread the good news about Jesus and be effective in
converting others to Him! Do you realize that when we
don't share the Gospel with others we are displaying an
attitude that is not at all like Jesus? “The Spirit of
the Lord is upon Me, because He has appointed Me to preach
the Gospel to the poor (Luke 4:1).” “For the Son of
Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke
19:10). “Let us go into the next towns, that I may
preach there also, because for this purpose I have come
forth” (Mark 1:38). Jesus was continually going,
seeking, preaching, and saving. Now if He is the
Teacher and we are His disciples (or students), shouldn't we
be imitating those same actions in our lives and in our
world? According to Luke 15, there is joy in heaven
when a sinner repents, and God Himself even throws a big
“Welcome Home” celebration! You too will share in that
great joy as you watch another person being born again in
baptism! If you have lost interest in saving souls,
then you are dying spiritually.
The next symptom is this: Do things of the world attract
you? This was the downfall of Bro. Demas in 1 Timothy
4:9-10: “Be diligent to come to me quickly; for Demas has
forsaken me, having loved this present world.” John
warns us very frankly in 1 John 2:15: “Do not love the world
or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world,
the love of the Father is not in him.” We are supposed
to be children of light and not children of lusts! You
are dying spiritually if you find your satisfaction in the
allurements and pleasures of this world! Don't settle
for the temporal because the world and its lusts are passing
away (1 John 2:17)
The next danger sign is this: Are you accepting the world's
standards? The world teaches: “Just go to church about
twice a year. God won't punish sin, and everybody will
be saved. Jesus and His disciples were probably
homosexuals. A moral life makes no difference in
today's world. Truth is no longer important.
It's wonderful to make up the rules as you go. It's
not the destination, but the journey that's important.
There are no wrongs; there are just differences.”
Every statement just made was a lie that undermines
scriptural truths, and they are a sandy foundation on which
to build a life. If you are buying into the world's
lies, you are dying spiritually!
The last symptom is this: Are you failing to live
righteously? Jesus wants us to have an abundant life,
even while we live on this planet (John 10:10). The
apostle Paul exhorts: “For the grace of God that brings
salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying
ungodliness and worldly lusts , we should live soberly,
righteously, and godly in the present age” (Titus 2:11-12).
And the apostle John is very clear: “Little children, let no
one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is
righteous, just as Jesus is righteous” (1 John 3:7).
Failing to live righteously means that you are succeeding to
live wickedly and to die spiritually!
Symptoms of cancer should not be taken lightly, and symptoms
of dying spiritually should not be just brushed aside.
Do you have any of these symptoms? Do you need to ask
the Great Physician to help you make changes? Consider
these symptoms seriously.