Monday, June 15, 2009

Lifeless "Christianity"

"In the Day of Thy Power" is a book about revival and restoration. But at the end, Arthur Wallis puts the focus of attention on the alternative: judgment! Wallis used the letters to the 7 churches in Revelation as a backdrop to describe what may very well be true in our day. Very revealing is his treatment of the church in Sardis, the one with the reputation for being alive, yet in reality it was dead. Wallis describes the church first as one that lived in the glory of its past reputation, then moves on with more devastating doses of truth:

"Men are impressed by externalities, the Lord only by realities. When the saints at Sardis lost that "single eye" that was set on pleasing the Lord, they became occupied with maintaining forms and traditions, "sadly contended with a show of things". Activity and organization continued, but life and power waned. The church had striven to maintain appearances, and she had succeeded- "Thou hast a name that thou livest," but a the cost of her life - "Thou art dead." Sardis had become like the Necropolis of Cairo, whose streets and houses appear from a distance like those of a thriving community, but when viewed from within it is discovered that the houses are roofless, and in place of the hearthstone there is a tombstone.

Secondly, Sardis was a church not fulfilling her works. "Be thou watchful, and stablish the thing that remain, which were ready to die: for I have found no works of thine fulfilled before My God" (Rev 3:2). It has already been pointed out that the deadness of Sardis was not to be accounted for on the ground of her inactivity. It was the quality rather than the quantity of her works that revealed that she was dead "The Lord is a God of knowledge, and by Him actions are weighed" (I Samuel 2:3). The output of this church , when placed upon the balance of the sanctuary, was found to be deficient of that vital element,"the spirit of life'. Here was the activity of converted men without the activity of God. Here was the action without unction. here was a form of religion that, despite its orthodoxy, denied the power thereof.

Thus with all the energy put forth there was no consummation and no fruition. Before God the works were unfulfilled, that is, the divine purpose in them was not being achieved. There was gospel testimony with no conversions; prayer gatherings with no spirit of intercession and no answers from heaven; ministry of the word with no enrichment to the church; much being done but nothing being achieved. "I have found no works of thine fulfilled". Unless the life of the Spirit was pulsating through her activities, how could there be fulfilment so as to satisfy the eye of God? She was working in the energy of the flesh, and it is always true that "they that are in the flesh cannot please God" (Romans 8:8). The case of Sardis is a vivid illustration of the truth that "the mind of the flesh is death" (Romans 8:6). She was sowing to the flesh, and thus she could not reap fruition and fulfillment, only corruption (Galatians 6:8) Well might the Lord have said to Sardis what He said to Israel years before: "Consider your ways. Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wates earneth wages to put into a bag with holes " (Haggai 1:5-6).

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