“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 wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes” (Haggai 1:6).
There are a lot of activities churches are engaged in these days. There are loads of programs inside the church setting and there are evangelistic and social outreaches of various kinds that go on outside the church. I am speaking for the most part about the church in America. There is also the other side where a large part of the church membership is happy to go and fulfill their little Sunday morning commitment and then go on the rest of the week with their worldly business as usual. On one hand, we have a church that is busy with doing a lot of things like the church in Ephesus who lost their first love. “And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love” (Revelation 2:3-4). Then on the other hand, we have a church like the one that is seen in Samaria when the king of Assyria sent men from Babylon and other nations to go and dwell there. “And the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon, and from Cuthah, and from Ava, and from Hamath, and from Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel: and they possessed Samaria, and dwelt in the cities thereof…. . They feared the LORD, and served their own gods, after the manner of the nations whom they carried away from thence” (II Kings 17:24,33). The last verse of the chapter says, “So these nations feared the LORD, and served their graven images, both their children, and their children’s children: as did their fathers, so do they unto this day” (II Kings 17:41). So from generation to generation, we have had a church full of Babylonians who claim they fear the Lord, but they serve their graven images. People may not literally bow down to statues, but when men seek after riches and success, instead of God, then they are serving false idols. Come on saints, you know there are those who say they love God, but yet they still serve their appetites and seek acceptance in this world. They go through the religious rituals on Sunday morning and then live like the world from Sunday afternoon till church starts again next Sunday.
With much of the church in the condition that she is in, she is like a bag with a hole in it. I have lost some change because I put them in my pant pocket that had a hole in it. What if the church were to experience a great successful season of evangelism and lost sinners were coming to Christ. If the church continues to have a hole in it, those new members of the body of Christ will enter the church, but will eventually fall out of the church.
I am convinced that this is the reason the Lord has put such a strong burden on my heart for His church. That is why the focus of ministry today needs to be concerned with the spiritual health of the church first. Ministers, as well as the whole body of Christ need to once again understand the reason the church exists. To make as simple of an analogy as possible, I ask this question. If you were going berry picking, but discovered your container had a hole in it, would you not close up the hole first before you went to pick the berries? Of course you would. In the same way, don’t you think the Lord wants the church to be strong and healthy with no hole in it before He is going to put a fresh picked harvest in it?
I have a thought that I want to share with you. It is certainly not a conventional thought of our day. What if the Lord is postponing the conversion of souls until the church seals up the hole that is in her? What if the Spirit of God is keeping conviction down, in particular lost souls, until He has a church that is ready to receive them? Could it be that the Spirit is withholding His power to save souls until the timing is right? Just as you would not be so foolish as to collect berries in a container with a hole, God as well would not be so foolish as to save people only to put them in a place that they would just fall out and be lost again. Haggai says, you sow much, but bring in little. This could be the very reason much sowing is being done by the church, but little has come in. It could be the very hand of God that keeps the lost reserved for a day when His vessel, His church, is mended and ready to be filled with souls.
I suppose there are some skeptical Christians who would think that the church will never be mended. I am not one of those. I have the highest hope that God will have for Himself, in this generation and this nation, a church that will fully represent Him. A church that represents Christ and has an abundance of His presence amongst them, is a church that has no hole in it. It is a safe place. It is a place where God can send freshly saved souls to grow. A place He knows they will be discipled and perfected into real genuine men and women of God.
I have run into many so-called Christians who don’t believe in church any more. Some of them are just rebels against authority or not even really Christians. But then there are those genuine born-again believers who have been hurt by the church to such a point that they no longer attend. There are those people who were saved, but then brought into a church that has a lot of false doctrine or a lot of bickering and it eventually left them on the outside all confused. I know of a precious elderly sister in Christ who found herself, after many years of faithful church attendance, being rejected by some of the saints in her church. They would force on her some false doctrines that had come in. The church developed a hole and she fell out. She was so frustrated that she said she would never attend church again. Thank the Lord that she was not true to those words and did find a healthy church. Now she flows with such love she has become a patch to close up any hole.
When churches forget that they are called to make disciples, not just converts, then a hole is created. The main reason the church is to gather is, “For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12). When the ministers and elders of any church understand this, then it keeps their churches from having a hole in it. It is then that they can begin to sow much and reap much.
I understand that any believer can fall away from the church, but let it not be because the church has a hole in it.