I cannot even imagine how many articles and books have been written on this subject. Until the Lord calls His remnant of true believers home, there will be more. This is just one of them.
The question has been asked many times: “Would the early church recognize the Church today?” I guess you would have to ask, “Which Church?” In this series of articles we have already discussed several forms that the Church has taken over the last 2000 years. We have had the Confused Compromising Church, the Loveless Church, the Unprincipled Church, and the Dead Church. The fifth Church that does not meet the standards of the Head of the Church, Jesus Christ, is the Apostate Church. After taking a good look at the Apostate Church, we will finish the series by looking at the Persecuted Church, and the Faithful Church.
Of all the descriptions given by the Messiah of the Church, the description of the Laodicean Church is the most incriminating! The message Jesus gave to this church has no positive commendation. How is this possible? Revelation 3:14-22 reads:
And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, “These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: ‘I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have 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 rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eyesalve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”’ (NKJV)
The most striking comment Jesus made to this Church is that He saw it as “lukewarm” (lacking ardor, enthusiasm or conviction; moderate, mild, unemotional, half-hearted; hesitant, indecisive, irresolute, uncertain, uncommitted, unresponsive, indifferent, impassive, languid, phlegmatic, apathetic, nonchalant; lackadaisical). As a Christ-follower, I would not want my God to see my commitment to His call on my life in these terms! Would you? Yet, this is very much how the commitment of most church-goers in our time must be defined. “You’re being judgmental!” you say? What we just read are not my words, but His. It seems that too many of us who claim to be followers of Christ today have been lulled to sleep on a sunny beach and have forgotten that we are in the middle of a gruesome war between good and evil!
The attacks on Christianity in many parts of the world are quite obvious. Because of television and the worldwide internet, there is no lack of information about the horrendous persecution that Christians are going through, particularly in the Middle East. We can hear these reports as well as see the gruesome photos from different locations where these atrocities are happening. And, because we belong to the same family of believers…we promise to pray for them.
Attacks, whether by brute force or subtle temptation, come in varied ways. For us in Western countries, we have entertainment available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week; in theaters, television, internet, or in giant sports stadiums. People today are addicted to TV and seemingly limitless special programming. Others are addicted to video games or pornography. Our entertainment stars, whether they are from Hollywood, our favorite sports teams, or top musicians, are bigger than life for so many. Stadiums, amphitheatres, auditoriums, and coliseums are always full to overflowing with crowds by the tens of thousands who come to be entertained.
Another subtlety the enemy uses is materialism. I am reminded of what is said in 1 John 2:15-17:
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. For all that is in the world–the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life–is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. (NKJV)
The word “lust” here could be interchanged for crave, covet, or desire. The Amplified Bible says, “craving for sensual gratification.” It is not used exclusively for a sexual desire. Yet, the word is a more appropriate description of how we live our lives than we would like to admit. Our true priorities in life are often not quite as we pretend. How do our actions and decisions match the priorities of the life of a true child of God?
We find in Scripture that we are to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength…and our neighbor as ourself. I’m afraid if we are brutally honest, many of us just squeeze God in wherever we can fit Him in. That often also describes the reality of the second portion of God’s command in our lives. So…does God expect us all to sell everything we have and go into the mission field? In a sense, yes…yet, no. Many of us made that kind of commitment to the Master when we first committed our lives into His hands. But, over time, something has happened that took the edge off of our dedication to Him. It becomes more of an assumed commitment than a true reality.
When we get comfortable, we begin to draw away from the commitment we once had. We don’t like to admit it; in fact, we will often strongly deny it. How is it that we begin taking more and more control over the decisions and actions of our lives instead of the Lord whom we have committed our decisions and actions to? Brand new Christians are usually excited, exuberant and generous in their giving. They can’t get enough of God’s Word and they never seem to tire of fellowshipping with other believers–whether in church, private homes, or out ministering to the lost. Of course God is in total control! The Lord could ask them for anything, and they would give or do—without question! It isn’t until later, after God has blessed with His abundance, that we begin to pull back and gradually get set in our own ways, thinking that it is we who accomplished everything.
When we lose the initial excitement of our experience with the Lord, our first love for the Lord is soon lost. If we don’t recognize it for what it is, it can easily lead to the lukewarm condition that is described in the Revelation 3 passage above. I believe all the recommendations Jesus gave to the churches in Revelation 2 & 3, if not handled as He prescribes, can lead to spiritual apostasy. The Laodicean Church is described as lukewarm and Jesus prescribes a cure, but if there is no repentance as He requires, it a short distance from where they are at to falling into apostasy. This is the condition of much of the Church today. The lukewarm condition is from a pseudo-satisfaction in ourselves and our assumed spiritual “maturity.” The message to the Laodiceans says that this satisfaction is based on a presumption that all of the “blessings” being experienced are a sign of being highly pleasing to God. What could one want beyond living in happiness, satisfaction, and wealth? For many today, the teaching of God’s promised blessings to His people has gone to extremes which have never been part of God’s Word. The drive for God’s blessing has taken on too much of an earthly tone and as a result, many have “progressed” into a life of luxury and opulence, but have digressed to a grave condition spiritually. Having wealth is not a sin, but allowing wealth to have any control in our lives opens the door to corruption of all kinds.
Many people at this late stage of the age have become friends with the world. Much of the Church is spiritually dead and in a nauseating condition before God! The teaching that prosperity is God’s will for all has been taken out of scriptural context to the point where (as described by an author friend) many now “feel entitled to merchandise from the heavenly commissary, which is stocked wall to wall to assure our material needs are met in full.”
Much of the blame for the condition of the Church today rests on the pulpit. Too few preachers and pastors genuinely seek God as their initial “calling from God” has become just a profession or career. It may be that many who are filling the pulpits of America’s churches today (and Europe as well), were never really called by God to be pastors. Some may have experienced a warm fuzzy feeling early in life and mistook it for the call of God. Many evangelists have also been guilty of “commissioning” a young person into the ministry, but God had absolutely nothing to do with it! This may be harsh, yet it is absolutely true. I remember listening to the late Judson Cornwall speak at a Bible college chapel service years ago. What I remember most from his teaching that day was his insistence that the students must receive a genuine supernatural call of God before they decide to ever go into any field of ministry, and that there must be a true witness of the Spirit of God, along with His confirmation. If there is not a true call of God, all the effort, prayer, fasting, and sacrifice will not bring the desired results. Cornwall then told how he had brought more missionaries back home from the field than he had ever sent out!
How many pastors today are simply career pastors instead of anointed pastors? I wonder how many ministries are on “automatic replay”? Year after year goes by and yet very little really changes. Parts are played but there is no fire in the pulpit and no fire from the pulpit. It is true that believers must not rely only on Sunday morning sermons to feed them spiritually, but the teaching from the pulpit must be inspired by the Holy Spirit and delivered in keeping with His leading, coming forth from a depth in relationship with God. Those of us in ministry, regardless of what ministry it is, can go through all the motions–or even emotions–and not accomplish anything of spiritual value…and the congregation will become clones of the same unless they follow the leading of God’s Spirit into deeper things in Him for themselves.
If there has ever been a time for church leadership to spend quality time alone with God it is today! This takes time! Time away from all the things that occupy our time and energy. Most pastors have not experienced this self-imposed fast from all distractions. Many leaders think they are pursuing a deeper walk with God, but are fooled into believing the pursuit is defined by their spiritual busy-ness? How often is the life of “ministry” a treadmill of meetings, events, conferences, counseling sessions, seminars, church growth programs, ad nauseum! Where is the alone time with God? The alone time that results in development of a walking/talking relationship with the Master, which in turn develops the depth and maturity base from which anointed sermon material can flow.
Something to think about is this: We see how Christianity is being attacked all over the world now. What makes us think that it could not happen here? Christianity is already the most attacked religious belief system within America! What if we found out next month that it has become illegal for Christians to meet in our churches? What if we went to church this next weekend and found that the doors had been barred shut? Would we be ready for that? How many pastors have really prepared their congregations for the worst of situations? I am a firm believer in the Rapture of the true Church before the wrath of God is poured out on a rebellious planet, but that does not mean that we might not go through some very heavy events before that happens…things that lead directly into the Great Tribulation. I believe we are much closer than most would like to admit.
I found a video of an excerpt of a sermon by Pastor John Kilpatrick a few months back. I was so impacted by the words that were spoken to him by the Holy Spirit at the beginning, and then what he had to say afterward, that I transcribed it. I would like to share these words here. Please read them slowly and prayerfully.
The Holy Spirit says: “I have many ministers and they are speaking on my behalf, but what is missing is the urgency in their voice!”
John Kilpatrick the adds: “Too many churches are really cognizant not to offend people and they’re really careful when they get up to preach to make sure everybody leaves feeling really good. Preachers refuse to preach on the coming of Jesus Christ! Where is the urgency? I have never seen America in the place where we are right now. If you think all of the persecution is going to remain in Iraq against Christians, you’d better think again. It’s already coming into this country right now. If we don’t tell people what they need to hear, God’s going to hold us accountable! Their blood will be on our hands. Whenever we preach we’ve got to preach with an urgency in our voice that we should be right with God if anything were to happen to us. There are things right now in motion that may change our nation almost overnight and for me to stand here and act like everything is alright—I just can’t do that! The politicians in Washington can do that and lead you to believe that everything is going to be okay, but in the house of God, there has to arise a siren that says “BLAST, BLAST, BLAST, ATTENTION! ATTENTION! ATTENTION! Things are changing and they’re changing quickly! We have to have preachers in the pulpit that are saying, WATCH OUT! WARNING! RED LIGHT! WARNING! People know something is going on in the Middle East, they know something is going on in Iraq, Iran, and Damascus! People who are not even scripturally literate are trying to answer these things and they’re missing it by a million miles! GOD is saying to the preachers, “GET UP AND TELL THEM!” It’s time to get up and tell them what God is doing! People are seeking the LORD; People are seeking Christ, and if they don’t find Him in the Chruch, where are they going to find Him? I have a question…Where is the urgency??
I read a quote recently, though I do not know who the author is, but it says: “Is God through with revival? God says, “No, The next time will be in tandem with endtime events.”
There were some things that God spoke to me in the 1990’s. One of these, which I did not share very often, did not bring many positive responses. It still doesn’t, but the resistance has become much less intense. The Lord had been showing me for some time that America was taking some very bad turns…turns that eventually could not be turned back from. In 1996 God told me that America is going completely in the wrong direction because it was turned away from Him, and in rebellion. He added that America would not turn back. It was now too late! This has been proving out ever since. It has now become quite obvious. The leadership that we have in our nation today might seem to be the wrong leadership, but really, it is the right leadership! God allowed the leadership that we have because this is what the nation has chosen, and God will allow this leadership to bring the nation down. This is not a political statement. It is a spiritual one.
God also showed me over 20 years ago that a massive “storm” is going to come to the United States of America. It will be the worst storm we have ever experienced. That storm, now after all these years, is coming ashore. I think it will be in 2015 and continue on through 2016 onward until the nation has been destroyed. A great many others have been shown the very same scenario. There are many details to this but it will have to be saved for a special article coming out within a few days.
My point in sharing these thoughts is this: Are you ready for whatever is on the horizon? The only way to be ready is to have a blameless relationship with the One who created us. This is Jesus Christ, and none other! Today is the day of salvation. Today is also the day to clear out all the cobwebs in your relationship with the Almighty GOD. There is only one way, and that is through the mighty cleansing BLOOD of Jesus Christ, the true Messiah. It is time to put away all of the distractions, all of the busy-ness, all of the church-playing, all of the ministry role-playing, and fall on our faces before GOD, humbling ourselves before Him. We must begin to live as we should, knowing that we are at the midnight hour. It is 11:59 and 30 seconds! Where is your urgency???