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The Last Days Of The Church II

 It’s easy to get caught up in the enthusiasm of crowds. It’s easy to gravitate toward ideas that paint a rosy picture of the future and validate our current spiritual condition because it confirms what we hoped it would, that being rich, and wealthy and in need of nothing is God’s seal of approval and His way of validating this new Christianity absent Christ. There’s no fruit, no repentance, no mention of Jesus or the cross, but we have stuff! We’re rich, baby, and I’m not talking about upper-middle-class folk who think they’re rich; I’m talking about private jet and limousine rich.

Is there anything wrong with being rich? No, not in and of itself. But when wealth becomes a de facto god, and the having thereof is touted as a sign of God’s favor and validation of the life you choose to live, a life not in accordance with His Word and will, then it becomes a problem.

As far as human nature is concerned and how men attempt to twist the Word of God, there is nothing new under the sun. Everything one could say about justifying oneself spiritually by how much one has materially has already been said. It’s not as though this generation is the first to attempt the sleight of hand of worshipping possessions rather than God and justifying it by pointing to possessions as a means of God’s favor. I have stuff; therefore, I am righteous. I have stuff; therefore, I’m spiritual. I have stuff; therefore, I am in the will of God!

A very well-to-do church tried the same tactic, and it didn’t work then either. If possessions were a sign or evidence of sanctification, then the most hedonistic people in the world, who advocate for the most disturbing perversions, would be assumed to likewise be the most righteous walking among us.

The church of Laodicea was rich, influential, well-spoken of, and for its time, likely the first mega-church in existence. For history nerds such as myself, it was eye-opening to discover that the church of Laodicea was also the first multi-campus church in existence. If you study the ruins and the placement, the Laodicean church was comprised of three buildings and, given the context of the words Jesus addressed to it, thought very highly of itself.

The popularity of materialism among believers isn’t something new and heretofore unheard of that prosperity preachers happened upon the last few decades; it’s been around since the early church. The difference is that during the early church, there were still those among the leaders of the time to call them out and rebuke them for taking their focus off Jesus.

It’s no coincidence that thirty years before John the Revelator wrote what would become the Revelation of Jesus, Paul instructed the leadership of the church of Collosae to likewise read the epistle to the church of Laodicea and warn the leader at the time, a man named Archippus, to fulfill the ministry he received in the Lord.

Of the seven churches of Revelation, it was the only one to be sent a warning three decades before Jesus thoroughly rebuked them.

Colossians 4:16-17, “Now when this epistle is read among you, see that it is read also in the church of the Laodiceans, and that you likewise read the epistle from Laodicea. And say to Archippus, “Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it.’”

The road to spiritual ruination was not a short one. It did not happen instantaneously for the Laodiceans; rather, it was gradual, incremental, something that would go unnoticed by the naked eye, sort of like being around someone who lost thirty pounds over the course of six months. Because you see the person every day, you don’t notice the subtle changes, but if you run into someone you haven’t seen in six months and they’re thirty pounds lighter, you’ll notice and make mention of it.

It took time to reach the wretched state they found themselves in when Jesus rebuked them. Paul had received word of their deviations from the truth thirty years before John penned Revelation, and he instructed that the letter he sent the Colossians also be read to the Laodiceans.

Whether Laodicea never bothered to send an epistle back to the Colossians or what it contained was so antithetical to scripture that it was not worthy of mention is unknown, but there is no further mention of a reciprocal letter in the Bible. Throughout the centuries, manuscripts have sprouted up, alluding to the possibility that it may be the letter in question, but it was never proven or substantiated.

Paul saw the road the Laodicean church was headed down and lovingly warned the leadership to reassess their priorities and pay heed to the ministry he had received in the Lord. Given the rebuke Jesus offered thirty years later, it seems Paul’s warning went unheeded, and rather than course correct, the church continued its descent into apathy and indifference.

Where we are isn’t where we were as little as a decade ago. By we, I mean the church in general and anyone who’s been paying attention to all the things we’ve validated, okayed, dismissed, encouraged, co-signed, and went along with forms and undeniable pattern. We are not headed in the right direction. We are not walking the straight and narrow path, and with each passing day, we draw further away from the truth and the light, beating our chests with ever-increasing fervor, insisting that when God made us, He broke the mold, and there has never been a generation so brimming with power and authority as this.

There’s a meme floating around on the Internet that says if Paul were alive today, most churches would be getting a letter. On its face, it’s worthy of a chuckle, but when you realize the implications, it robs it of any humorous undertones. What this generation has managed to pull off is convincing the sheep that as long as enough established and well-known individuals co-sign and peer review aberrant teaching, then it makes it scriptural and biblical.

It’s easy to spot the pattern if you’re looking. The same faces glad-handing and talking each other up as being brilliant luminary minds who possess a deeper understanding of the ways of God than any of us peons can ever aspire to, guest-hosting each other’s programs or being the special speaker for another round of flock-fleecing, and because it’s men’s egos driving their ministries rather than fulfilling the ministry of rightly dividing the Word, they indulge each other and revel in baseless praise.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Posted on 5 July 2024 | 11:34 am

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