I know for many a series of posts like this are laborious to read, in fact possibly boring.  Others find them disturbing, still others feel they are too negative and for that reason won’t take the time it takes to read through the post.  I would like to avoid going further into this subject but feel that it has greater significance and importance to our future than knowing the many details of what all is going on—which I will get back to, I promise.

Once again, I ask you to hear me out on all this—not because I’m such a special person. I’m really not!  Besides this, there are others that are more articulate with what needs to be said.  These things really are coming from God’s Spirit, not out of my own head.  If none of this applies to you, that’s great, but if any of it does, get it remedied now, rather than putting it off till later.  Don’t play with time, because we have very little of it left before God drastically changes the order of things on this earth.

There are two movements in process that I’d like to point out for you to consider:

  • There is a major move around the world that is drawing masses of peoples to a point of realization that the only way the world is going to survive is to learn to cooperate, and that includes every part of our existence.   World religions are certainly part of this.  There is an ecumenical movement that has been gaining steam for many years now, and is actively drawing all religions together into a collection of every kind of belief system on earth.  The ecumenical movement is making astounding progress at weaving them all together into a religious system that does not offend anyone—because all “offensive” beliefs are being removed.  This includes many mainline Christian church denominations who feel it is God’s will to make the appropriate sacrifice of removing doctrines that others see as too dogmatic or divisive.
  • There is also another great move that is causing true Christian people to realize that Heaven will not have a Baptist street, nor a Methodist, Assemblies of God, Lutheran, or any other of this kind.  This move is being brought about by the Holy Spirit.  The non-negotiable doctrines laid out by the Almighty are what we are to rule our lives by.  This movement also is hearing from the Throne of God on many fronts that time, as we know it, is swiftly running out, and God is warning His people that it is time to take a good look at our relationship with Him and see to it that it truly lines up with what He expects of us.  This is not being implemented in a legalistic way, but rather in a true lifestyle that represents the life of Christ to all those around us.

Obviously, the second movement is the one we want to be part of.  If we aren’t, we will miss the mark completely and will regret that for eternity.

We have all kinds of religious intellectuals telling us how unfair it would be of God to send any human to an eternal hell.  It seems a difficult thing for humans to realize that God has gone out of His way to make sure people make the right decision while they are still living this very short earthly life.  He follows us throughout our lives and all it takes is for us to humble ourselves enough to bend a knee, express our recognition of Who He is, ask His forgiveness for the sins in our lives, accept His forgiveness, and allow Him to be LORD from that day on.  It’s pretty simple.  In the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy it tells us to “choose today who it is that we are going to serve.”  It is the contrast of blessing or the curse, life or death.  Then He says, “Choose life so that you and your seed can live!”  Pretty elementary, but hard on our ego to admit we need help.  It is amazing how stubborn human nature is!

The slot of time that we find ourselves in is pretty unique.  It is not that either good or evil have changed.  God has not changed, and the devil certainly hasn’t either.  Society today has grown a rather sophisticated façade though.  We are pretty proud of our achievements, our status, our wealth, recognition we achieve, education that we think so highly of etc.  People today are arrogant enough to challenge God, and would debate Him if they had the chance!  We think we could do a much better job running earth’s affairs than He can.  In fact, we figure that we’ll run the universe without Him in due time.  Yet, when one looks at the condition of things on earth, man has not done such a good job.  The human race is hurtling towards destruction, and it is all due to decisions.   It is not God’s failure that has brought the world to this place.  Man has done it all on his own, and God steps back when He is ignored.  Man’s circumstance quickly changes when God’s blessing is removed.

It’s pretty obvious by some of the things that I write that my biggest concern has to do with the true condition of people that claim Christ to be their Lord and Master.  It’s one thing to make the claim of being a Christian,  but it is another to actually follow through and live it.   Words are cheap.  In America, we live a very comfortable and convenient life.  We complain that the devil is after us, but we have not suffered any true persecution yet.  Even though things are swiftly changing, we still don’t put our lives on the line by claiming Jesus as our Lord.  We still live comfortably, and get together with other Christians—not because we crave the close fellowship of like-minded people, but when we are in the mood.  Church isn’t the key to everything of course, but most people don’t do much thinking about their relationship with God at home—unless they’re in trouble.  The problem is that we’ve forgotten WHO it is that God really is!   We have lost our “AWE”!

Okay, let’s go on.  We live in a time period defined in Revelation 3: 14-21.  This is the description the risen and glorified Jesus gave John, the only apostle still alive when he was imprisoned on the small island of Patmos in the Mediterranean Sea.  He was right where God wanted Him.  Here is what this Scripture says:

These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation.  I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot.  I wish you were either one or the other!  So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.  You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’  But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.  I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich, and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness, and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.  Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline.  So be earnest, and repent.  Here I am!  I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.  To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I 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.” (Revelation 3: 14-22  NIV)

In the part 3 of this series I brought up what Jesus said to the church of Sardis.  He spoke of them as a church that had a reputation of being alive, but in His eyes nearly dead spiritually.  We as people struggle with any criticism from others, even God.  In this passage God speaks to us as someone needing discipline, even as children, and as adults we chafe at that.  We don’t like to be told anything by anyone.  But, let’s get real here!  We are dealing with the One that created us!!  He is a Being that is so far beyond anything that we can imagine that we allow ourselves to see Him as nothing much more than a Super-Hero, a couple levels beyond the X-men!  BIG MISTAKE!  Many don’t see God as anything more than a Great Cosmic Fairy Tale!  You know what??  That’s perfectly acceptable to the devil.

But, that brings up another problem.  We see the devil as a figment of our imaginations too.  This great angel which was originally the most powerful in the Kingdom of Heaven was called Lucifer, and then fell!  His end is already determined, and because God created the human race as a very special being that has the capacity of a deeper intimate relationship than the angels themselves, HE HATES US WITH A PASSION WE CANNOT FATHOM!  What adds to our relationship with this Great Creator God of ours is the fact that God paid the ultimate price to redeem us.  This is a fact that I have brought up again and again, but always will because it is the ONLY means of peace with the God who created us.  Without making that peace, we’re doomed to an eternity without Him.  Can you fathom the length of eternity?  I have a hard time doing so.  I’ll tell you this for sure, I’ll pay ANY price to avoid insulting this loving God that was willing to bankrupt Heaven to provide me a way of living at peace with Him throughout eternity in His, and through my inheritance promised from Him, my Heaven as well!  Wow…

Now, to the description of this Laodicean Church.  Through the abundant available historical material available about this literal city at the time of John the Apostle, it didn’t take much research to put together some main points where the Laodicean Church and the Church in America are very much alike.  Some of these items have to do with the culture, economics, politics, science, education, and philosophy of the day, but the church of both eras has allowed the secular world to integrate itself within the heart of the church.  For the record, one of my main sources for this came from an article written by Grant Phillips for the Website, “Rapture Ready”.    Here is an interesting list that influenced both the physical early church, as well as the one we live in today.

  • Medical Field
  • Various Religions
  • Politics
  • Finance
  • Science
  • Agriculture
  • Trade
  • Geography
  • Sports
  • Art
  • Entertainment
  • Beautiful Buildings
  • Justice Centers
  • Manufacturing
  • Freedom

History has proven over and over that a life of ease has never been good for the spiritual life of a church.  Never!  It was the case in the Old Testament as God tried again and again to bless His people, but then they would stray—badly.  That is the case today.  The church of Laodicea USA has most definitely become wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked.  I do hope it is understood that I am not saying that there isn’t a remnant of God’s people that are sold out to Him and have rejected the “tantalizing fruit from the Tree”, much as in the Garden of Eden.

Keep in mind the description that Jesus gave of the modern church of Laodicea while I describe what we see today.  No expense is spared in many of our buildings.  It isn’t just the Catholic churches that display an obscene amount of wealth to be seen.  It is explained away by saying that we should give and represent God with the very best!  May of our churches don’t have all the money that other do, but how quickly we get full of ourselves!  We brag about all of our accomplishments “in the Name of the Lord” of course.  We have every want and desire met in our churches, the services, and with our buildings—which many have spared no expense to build.  No comfort is left out!  People also see to it that the “entertainment” is up to par with the world around us!  WHY?  People go and soon get wrapped up in the programming.  It tantalizes the senses, for sure.  People even find themselves wanting to contribute to the massive cost of the machinery that has been built—“for God”!  Oh, how the dollars flow in—for a time.  People are taught that as they donate to “God’s Work”, He will return it to them 100 times over.  That is a horrible distortion of the intent of Scripture at best!  Much of the money that could have gone to much more worthy ministries is sunk into a reservoir of opulence and waste.  How the devil must roar in laughter!  The unbelievable wasted wealth that is flushed down the toilet is unbelievable!  I believe in Christian leaders being well taken care of by those being ministered to, but the excesses in the last four decades has led millions of average people to bankruptcy, bitterness, destroyed families, and for many, a rejection of the very God that they were taught that they were going to be favored by through their generosity.  There are many Christian organizational CEO’s that are going to have to give answer to the One on the Throne one of these days for all this.  Leaders get lifted up on such a high pedestal that they really begin to believe that they have earned the obscene salaries, mansions, and other benefits that mainly come out of the pockets of poor people.  How many orphanages could have been bought, stocked, and properly maintained with the salaries of even one of our Christian “Kings or Queens.”

Not only is the misuse of money an area where today’s Church has mimicked the early Laodicean one, but so is the spiritual attitude found in way too many churches today.  We ridicule the Pharisees with their special ornamental robes and long tassels of the first century, but the arrogant prideful attitude that they had then is on full display today as well.

Oh how we (we is used generically for the important men of the cloth), love those glorious titles!  We have great pride in the number of letters behind our names, because it gives us special titles.  This puts us in a higher league than the spiritual peasants that sacrifice to support us!  The modern day “castles” and exotic automobiles, and even jets are considered an earned “right” because we feel of more value than others!  When attending conferences or special meetings, we demand to be displayed on the platform.  Oh how radiant we are with the halos that we think must be visible to everyone.  I could go on…

What’s my point?  GOD HATES IT ALL!  It’s way too easy to forget the fact that the greatest in the Kingdom, really are those that humble themselves and SERVE, not TAKE, TAKE, TAKE!  Those of us that claim to be “men of the cloth” need to reread Hebrews 11 and see how God sees the greatest in His Kingdom!  They were considered the filth of the earth to most of the world around them.

I remember reading a novel by Randy Alcorn, called “Safely Home”.  I have never been affected by any book as I was with this one.  I decided to read it about once a year just to keep the true Christian life in perspective.  I was so moved by it in fact, that I bought a whole bunch of them.  I sent them to my own grown kids and friends.  I’ve also had it go out of my personal library many times.

The reason I bring it up is because of the story line.  I want to bring in one scene in this book.  I can’t possibly give a proper introduction to the storyline because of the length of this post already, but here’s the basic scene.  One of the main characters of the book was a Chinese man that had had a provision made for him to go to Harvard.  He was very successful in his studies and intended to go back and build a career as a professor in China.  To make a long story short, in time as he grew in his faith in God, he found that he did not have the freedom to share with people around him.  The police force with the governmental backing did not even allow home churches.  Quan did so anyway, eventually becoming pastor of his little group when his own pastor was imprisoned.  Eventually he became imprisoned as well, having to leave a wife and little boy at home.

While in prison, he was of course very badly treated, mostly because of his beliefs.  He received regular brutal beatings that often left broken bones, etc.  The cells there do not have access to weight rooms, good food, means of earning spending money, protection from the elements, or even a toilet.  We can’t even imagine here in America.

Quan had had opportunities to share off and on in the prison, but gradually ended up in solitary confinement more and more.  This really bothered him because he felt useless to Jesus.  He lived to share the love of God with anyone he could—no matter what the cost.  He prayed and prayed, needing to find a way to be able to fulfill the Great Commission.  When he was thinking about the condition of his life in this filthy cell, an idea came to his mind.  He then acted on it and asked the main guard (who happened to hate him the most), if he (Quan) could do a service for him.  He said that he knows how disgusting it must be for the guard to check on the prisoners because of the filth, open sewage, rats, and everything else imaginable.  He offered to scrub each cell on his hands and knees if a bucket with water, soap, and a brush could be made available to him.  The guard thought about it and figured that if Quan wanted to scrub sewage, more power to him!

What really struck me in this story was how overjoyed Quan was when he got this opportunity.  He then started at one end of the worst part of the prison and scrubbed each and every cell until he got to the end.  Then he would start all over.  While in each cell, he had many opportunities to share the love of God with these men.  In many cases, he was able to assist them because they were so badly injured.  All of them knew that they were going to die there, and many accepted God’s free gift of forgiveness and an eternity in Heaven.

Now, you might say, well that is only a novel.  But, the conditions in China are exactly as described in this book.  The story is based on actual life events in China today.  We just don’t hear about it here.

Contrast that to what so many Christians see as “service” today?  Quan was grateful to be able to scrub other prisoners feces off of the floor—while he was going through his regular beatings, also knowing that he would never get out to live with his wife and son again.  His whole life was service, and he knew he would die there.   Today, many raise unholy hell if they aren’t provided the presidential suite at the best hotel in town while they are in town for Gospel meetings!

This is why Jesus said such harsh things to the Church of Laodicea which represents the 20th & 21st century church.   This is why Jesus called the Pharisees wolves in sheep’s clothing.  The Scribes and Pharisees are alive and quite well today!

I said earlier in this post that mental assent to Jesus and His requirements is not enough.  Unless we actually put feet to our words, our nice sounding words aren’t worth anything more than used toilet paper.  I know I sound crude and rude, but don’t care.  We’ve run out of time!  Even if Jesus were not to call His own home today or tomorrow, what guarantee do you have that you will live through the day?  You don’t!  Neither do I!  David Wilkerson, famed evangelist, and true prophet of God died in a head-on collision yesterday.  He is in the Lord’s presence today, but he had no idea that he was going to die.  One minute he was here, the next gone!

How about you?  Are you prepared for eternity?  You can’t get prepared after you’re gone!  How about those of you that go to church regularly?  Do you just go through the motions?  Do you go to be entertained?  Do you go to take care of your “duty”?  Do you go to be seen doing the right thing?  None of those reasons are worth anything.

How about all you pastors?  Are you afraid to speak about the things that might hurt the weekly offerings, or attendance?  Are you afraid to deal with the things happening in our world today?  Where I live right now, we are not facing any catastrophes, and so people don’t want to hear about them.  But, what about the people in the south-eastern part of the country?  How about the people in different parts of the country that have had unprecedented events intersect with their lives?

People NEED to hear about what is happening for several reasons.  One:  Jesus told us to keep watch so that we don’t get caught off guard.  We are very close, and many will be caught off guard!  I don’t want to have anyone’s blood on my hands because I was too politically correct or “seeker-friendly” to speak about what is really going on.  Do you?  Two:  Jesus made it very clear what the things were that we are to be watching for!  This is so that we EXPECT His return!  People in most churches today have no idea what to expect next!  That’s because church leadership in most churches don’t know, and those that do, don’t find it very convenient to speak of these things.  They don’t sound positive!!  What is positive?  Jesus’ answer to it all!  Three:  God commands us to teach the “full council” of God.  That means that we can’t afford to leave uncomfortable sections out and avoid them!  Four: It is a powerful tool for evangelism!  The problem for many leaders is that the truth of what is happening in our world, including America, which is nearing collapse, interferes with our own programs.  Now, that is a sad thing!  When we think that letting people in on what is happening prophetically interferes with our building programs, or fund raisers, we’re going off track.

As I’ve already made clear, I am not an advocate of doing nothing but studying prophecy, current events, and how it all fits the Biblical pattern.  Jesus also taught us how we should live.  We also need to know what it is that constitutes a life lived in the Spirit, and so very much more.  Let’s take the whole book though, and not just the excerpts that we like the best…

And this is my prayer:  that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that yu may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:9  NIV)

My next post will have a couple powerful prophetic statements given at two earlier times, but now being fulfilled.  You’ll find them interesting, to say the least.  God Bless, and Keep Looking Up!

Jake

2 thoughts on “So, How Should We Then Live? Part 4, The Church of Laodicea

  1. Hey Jake,

    Once again, you are direct, to the point, & right on!!! I couldn’t agree more as to how you compare Christ’s words to the Laodician church with today’s church condition. — I encourage you to continue to speak openly & boldly about these things. This IS what the people need to hear, even though they may not realize it. Truth is, God was and never has been, politically correct. He never intended to be.

    Red

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