September 3, 2008

Praying in Laodicea, Part 3

While John’s documentation of Laodicea in Revelation provides the precise, indisputable words of Jesus, the Church’s interpretation of Laodicea throughout church history provides contradiction. When the Church has felt that world events or human reasoning contradicted the practicality of prophecy, interpretations were altered – even if the Scriptures had to be hidden. When the Church has been rich and powerful, the prophetic belief that Christ would return and set up an earthly kingdom has been abandoned. The morality of the Church has always dictated its theology.

Interpreting Revelation 2 and 3 as a prophetic description of seven distinct time periods in the history of the Church is often referred to as the “dispensational” view. It is a Scriptural truth revealed during the time of church history when the Church was experiencing unprecedented evangelization and missionary endeavor despite its little strength and little wealth. Jesus’ indisputable words described this type of church by saying that those who oppose it will know that I have loved thee (Revelation 3:9).

Over the past 100 years of church history the Church has once again become rich and powerful. In recent years there has also been re-interpretation of prophecies of church history, the Lord’s return, and His kingdom. There has been an unprecedented attack upon the dispensational view of prophecy. Famous Christian men proclaim that the details of prophecy are none of the believer’s business and they laugh at dispensationalists proclaiming them ignorant. Jesus’ indisputable words described this type of church by saying I will spue thee out of my mouth (Revelation 3:16). Praise the Lord that He has always had a remnant – those who embrace the truth of His Word despite world events, church wealth, or human reasoning – those who have an ear to hear what the Spirit sayeth to the churches (Revelation 2:7,11,17,29; 3:6,12,22).
Both John’s documentation of Laodicea and the Church’s interpretation of Laodicea give understanding to Praying In Laodicea. But today’s manifestation of Laodicea provides more than mere understanding – it moves the remnant to the absolute necessity of Praying in Laodicea!

Today’s Manifestation of Laodicea

Part One: The Conception of Laodicea

Living in the midst of Laodicea can be much like a fish living in water who does not realize that he is wet because he has never known anything else. It is hard to believe that such a church as Laodicea could exist. Surely no one would choose to be a part of the Laodicean church, yet its numbers are immense. It is filled with those who, like the fish, know nothing else. Jesus’ indisputable words in Revelation 3:14-22 reveal how this nauseating church was conceived, how it received evil, how it perceived itself, and how it was deceived.

The conception of Laodicea is revealed by contrast to Jesus’ manifestation of Himself to the church. He appears to Laodicea as the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God (v 14). As the Amen, He is the final authority. As the faithful and true witness, He is free from falsehood. As the beginning of the creation of God, He is not a new progressive idea. He proclaims by His appearance that truth is not alterable by the environment of the world.

The beloved church of Philadelphia became the distasteful church of Laodicea by embracing the lies of the worldly culture. The evangelistic and missionary successes of Philadelphia were God ordained. Jesus said that in spite of their little strength, He opened doors for the Philadelphian Church that no man could shut. (See Revelation 3:7.) When the Philadelphian Church became enamored with its successes, it turned its eyes from God to success and became Laodicea. By embracing the lie that success is of supreme importance, the Laodicean Church rejected the truth that God should be of supreme importance. Once the twisted truth or iniquity was embraced, the iniquity abounded. (See Matthew 24:12.) The church of Laodicea has become a church that bases much of its functioning on ever-increasing lies.

Until the days of the Laodicean Church, practice of Christian worship was based in the family unit and celebrated on a corporate basis of joining the families together in a local church. Paul provided guidelines for how the family was to function both in the home and in the church. Toward the end of the 1800s the world entered into what has been called the industrial revolution, an event which changed almost every aspect of life. Before the mid-1800s, birthdays were neither celebrated nor designated with any importance. The 1850 US Census did not record ages. Children did not regularly associate with other children their same age. They related to others of various ages. The whole family attended church and social events together. There were no schedule demands. It was not until 1884 that 25 nations met in Washington, D.C. to establish global time zones and the 24-hour time keeping. Prior to that time, days were determined by the sun’s rising and setting. But the employment demands of the industrial revolution changed how the family functioned.

At the same time on the educational front, Darwin’s theory of evolution became the sophisticated replacement of the truth of creation. While the church rejected this lie on the surface, as time progressed it embraced many of its influences. Horace Mann and John Dewey, often referred to as the father of modern education, utilized the new emphasis on time and the evolutionary thinking to mark educational progress with the passing of time. They believed that the aging from a child to a man was a picture of the evolutionary process of life. Based on their philosophy, for the first time in history, students were separated by age so they could progress with others just like themselves and not be “threatened” by more mature children. This new method of education also changed how the family functioned. Children were no longer secure in their family unit. Their security began to center around their peers. By the 1930s an adolescent subculture was formed. Teens had their own music, literature, clothing styles, language, and etiquette. By the 1970s the youth subculture became the dominant culture in our society. Children longed to be teens. Adults longed to be identified with them. Immaturity, rather than maturity, had become the goal.

While the progressive world embraced the lie of the supremacy of success in both commerce and education, interest in the Philadelphian Church, robed in the beauty of truth and holiness, began to decrease. Sadly, the Church did not remain confident in Jesus’ words in Revelation 3:7 when He said that not only does He open doors that no man can shut, but He shuts doors that no man can open! But the Church embraced the same lie that the progressive world embraced. Success was to be supreme – not the Lord and His true Word. Not wanting to loose its success of the past, the Church chose to cater to the youth of the culture by developing any new idea it could find to entice their participation. This approach destroyed the family units within the church. The very backbone of the church had been the family unit. Fathers who had remained faithful to lead family worship had to finally cave in to the demands of the church schedule. Believers who had remained faithful to personal devotional times yielded to the tyranny of the urgent demanded by the church schedule. Rather than holding to the truth of Scripture that the elders were to be respected, the Church embraced the lie that the youth subculture was to be served. Discovering that this priority to the youth only held them until they became adults, churches began to search for young, inexperienced pastors who would attract the young couples. Relying upon novices as pastors has only made the Church more vulnerable to the lies of the world’s culture.

As always with abounding iniquity, or belief in lies, the Laodicean Church has moved from one lie to another, to another, and to another. The values of the Philadelphian Church are hard to find in Laodicea where prideful success is worshiped and humility is spurned, where youth is glorified and elders are disregarded, where buildings are immense and needs are disguised – if even allowed to exist! The Laodicean Church became Laodicea one lie at a time!

Perfect Your Praying In Laodicea

God’s Word Says:

For thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name … I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee. (concerning Philadelphia in Revelation 3:8,9)
So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing … (concerning Laodicea in Revelation 3:16,17)

Note: There are several indications in Jesus’ words to the first three churches that imply they will not be around when Jesus returns. However, He speaks of returning for the churches of Thyratira (the Roman Catholic Church), of Sardis (the Reformed Church), and of Philadelphia (the Missionary Church). Laodicea (the Culture-Conformed Church) will also be in existence upon His return. Therefore, today there are four types of churches in existence.

Tell God:
The reason you are a member of your local church.
The distinctives you hold dear if you are searching for a church home.

Ask God:
To teach you to love that which has little strength.
To teach you to discern the folly of success and having need of nothing.

Christ's bondservant,
Rob Finley

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