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The Last Days Of The Church IV

 This teaching hopes to answer the question of what the spiritual condition of the last-day church will be like according to Scripture. That’s the caveat, as it always is: it must be according to the Word of God and not to what we would like it to be, hope it will be, or what others have told us it surely would be. If it’s anything resembling the church of Laodicea, and by all accounts, it is, then much of what calls itself the church is in for a rude awakening and the reaction to the realization that singing God’s got an army marching through the land, and being part of God’s army are two different things.

Three things precipitated Christ’s rebuke and His warning that the Laodicean church would be vomited out of His mouth lest they repent. Whenever the word because appears in a given text, we are given to understand the why of something previously declared. Christ’s rebuke was not unwarranted, and He outlined why it was necessary. His anger, likewise, was not kindled just because. There were reasons for it, well-founded and irrefutable, even though the Laodiceans thought all was going swimmingly and everything was in order.

Revelation 3:14-18, “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. 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 eye salve, that you may see.’”

Although few like pointing it out, a different word for saying someone is a casual Christian is superficial. Superficial Christianity is en vogue. We each have our truth, which we think supersedes God’s truth. That the customer is always right has become so ingrained in our thinking that many in the church today believe wholeheartedly that just because they think it, it must be so, and God will have to acquiesce at some point. Although we are apathetic toward the Word and will of God on our best days, we’re still willing to talk anyone’s ear off about how righteous we are given half the chance.

The first thing Jesus highlighted as unacceptable in His sight was a lukewarm believer. Casual, impermanent, and occasional Christianity is so off-putting to Him that it initiates his gag reflex. Although the word used in the English vernacular is to vomit, the root of this denotes something worse. When you need to throw up, you throw up, and that’s that. The word used in Greek is more akin to gastroesophageal reflux disease, where the stomach acid repeatedly flows back up into the esophagus, causing the individual to wretch uncontrollably.

It’s sobering to realize that what passes for Christianity in most churches is what makes Jesus vomit. It’s not hyperbole; it’s reality. This space so many are comfortable in, of having one foot in the world and one foot in the church, playing hopscotch with grace, having divided loyalties, and not fully surrendering to one master or the other, is the worst of three things you can be in His sight.

If you’re hot, you’re fully committed, and your course is established. That’s the thing few in the contemporary church understand. The men of the early church were all in, with no emergency exit, no safety net, and no life to go back to if this Jesus thing didn’t work out. Walking in the way was not something reserved for weekends, and their lives weren’t compartmentalized where a certain portion of their day was devoted to the pursuits of the flesh and the other to godly pursuits. They were true and faithful servants of Christ even when the road got hard, and what they were called upon to sacrifice wasn’t a handful of shekels but their lives. 

If you’re cold, then you’re cold, and that in itself is self-explanatory. The lukewarm, however, is something God cannot abide. Their identity is not in Christ. Because they cling to the old and refuse to be transformed, the environment in which they wallow is one of compromise, and if a better deal comes along, they’ll monkey branch to the other thing, the shiny new thing, the exciting thing, without a second thought. They want to continue living in sin without being held accountable for their sinfulness. They want to pay God lip service while their hearts are pining for the darkness and claim to serve God so long as it’s beneficial to their flesh.

Coincidentally, it’s also those who exist in the lukewarm environment God finds so offputting who decry the notion of striving or making any effort to grow in God, mature, and pursue righteousness. To such individuals, the notion of obedience is anathema because obedience presupposes submission to someone other than oneself, and that just won’t do. We’re saved, secure, and free to do as we will when we will, with no consequences for our actions or rebuke from the God we claim to serve.  

The second thing Jesus took issue with was the Laodicean church’s self-assurance in their self-sufficiency. “Because you say I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing.” Somehow, the Laodicean church had convinced itself that there was nothing money couldn’t buy, and as long as they had an excess of material things, there was nothing else they needed. It’s difficult to think of a more myopic scenario than a church body believing that as long as they had money, everything else was negligible.

One of the hardest lessons we can learn as individuals is the true measure of our impotence. We may think ourselves strong and immune, able to leap over boulders and climb every mountain, only to be felled by a pebble because we trusted in ourselves rather than God.

Jeremiah 17:5-8, “Thus says the Lord: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the Lord. For he shall be like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see when good comes, but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land which is not inhabited.”’

Somewhere along the way, the Laodicean church had forgotten that every good gift and every perfect gift is from above and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. They’d lost their way, all the while insisting they were still of the way, groping about in the dark while convinced they were walking in the light.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Posted on 7 July 2024 | 11:04 am

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