During this series, I have mentioned the Laodicean church that Jesus dictated a letter to
in the book of Revelation.
Have you ever read and pondered the whole description of His direct words to them?
While there are many parallels in several of the 7 letters written there, I tend to think the modern church can most closely relate and identify with the letter written to Laodicea.
I personally believe that this description is as close as it could possibly get to the spoiled church of today.
If Jesus were to write to us, specifically, and by name,
it is my opinion that His words would sound very similar to these.
See what you think.
"I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
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;
and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
I counsel thee to buy of Me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich;
and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent."
Do you agree?
Do you concur that the modern church, as a whole, believes itself to be
"rich, and increased with goods, and that it has need of nothing"?
There are very few among us who are living in poverty.
Most of us are increased with goods to the extent that we have way too much excess in our homes, way too many commitments in our schedule books,
way too much baggage in our spiritual lives,
and way too much of the world in our hearts.
We seem to have the foolish idea that we don't need anything...spiritually-speaking...
no more truth,
no more admonishment for our sins,
no more old-time preaching that is anointed to the point that we hear clearly from Heaven,
no more Holy Ghost conviction falling so heavily that we are forced to make a choice.
Tell me, when is the last time you heard that kind of preaching?
I hope it was Sunday.
I hope you are in a Holy Spirit-filled church with a pastor who has a spine and who preaches the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but.
I hope your spiritual overseer stands up for Jesus and the unadulterated precepts of His Word,
and who would rather lay down his life than to bow to the pressure of political correctness
or to bend and twist and distort the Word of God.
If you are, my friend, you should fall to your knees and generously praise God,
and you should get behind that man of God with all your might.
Because, let me tell you something.
Men like your pastor are extremely rare.
They are few and far between.
A vanishing breed.
The Laodicean church was grossly deceived.
They thought they had it all figured out, when, in actuality,
they were spiritually, "wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked".
Do you see the contrast?
Between what they perceived themselves to be...and what they really were?
They were lukewarm.
Content with what they had and wanting nothing more from God.
Jesus said to "be zealous, and repent."
What does it mean to repent?
Does true repentance require us to only "come forward", "accept Jesus",
and shake the preacher's hand?
Does this satisfy God's demand for repentance?
Sadly, this is what many are being told by the preachers they love and trust.
The original Greek for the word "repent" in this verse is "metanoeo",
and this is what it means:
to change one's mind or purpose
to change one's mind for the better
heartily to amend with abhorrence of one's past sins
conduct worthy of a heart changed and abhorring sin
to withdraw or turn one's soul from
To repent is to take step #4 and turn from our wicked ways.
True repentance requires change, my friends.
It demands a complete turnaround.
When the woman who was taken in adultery was brought to Jesus,
He cast no judgment upon her, He handled her with utmost kindness,
and He told her the truth.
She would have to change.
She would have to stop sinning.
He told her the truth, because He loved her with all of His heart.
He knew that if she continued on the path of sinful behavior,
she would be forever separated from Him throughout eternity.
He loved her enough to tell her the truth.
"When Jesus had lifted up Himself, and saw none but the woman, He said unto her,
Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?
She said, No man, Lord.
And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more."
Friends, I hate to say it, but I believe one of the most vital parts of "turning from our wicked ways"
is going to have to happen at the top,
within the leadership of the church.
The pastors and preachers who stand in pulpits Sunday after Sunday.
Those who are called to minister the Word of God.
Those who are called to be the "watchmen on the wall".
Those whose commission is to,
"Feed the flock of God which is among you,
taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly;
not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;
Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being examples to the flock."
I Peter 5:2-3
Oh, that all preachers could stand in the presence of Almighty God and honestly proclaim,
along with the Apostle Paul,
"For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God"!
With this burden in mind, and with all due respect and honor,
I direct the remainder of this post to those who minister and handle the Word of God.
Ezekiel 33 paints a very clear, distinctive picture of the weighty responsibility that
automatically accompanies the Divine call to the post of "watchman".
"Son of man, speak to the children of thy people, and say unto them,
When I bring the sword upon a land, if the people of the land take a man of their coasts,
and set him for their watchman:
If when he seeth the sword come upon the land, he blow the trumpet, and warn the people;
Then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning;
if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head.
He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning; his blood shall be upon him.
But he that taketh warning shall deliver his soul.
But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned;
if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity;
but his blood will I require at the watchman's hand.
So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel;
therefore thou shalt hear the word at My mouth, and warn them from Me.
When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die;
if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity;
but his blood will I require at thine hand.
Nevertheless, if thou warn the wicked of his way to turn from it;
if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul."
Strong words, huh?
Strong, but uncomplicated and not difficult to comprehend.
If you hold the position of watchman, and God gives you a message of warning
and commands you to "blow the trumpet" of truth,
and you shirk the duty of minding God,
you will be held accountable for the souls you failed to warn.
If you deliver the God-given burden and warn the people, and they choose to ignore the alarm,
you will be guiltless before God.
"I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem,which shall never hold their peace day nor night:
ye that make mention of the LORD, keep not silence..."
There is an alarm to sound!
The sword has come to our world.
The enemy has launched into full-attack mode.
Souls stand in jeopardy, and they need to be warned.
God has placed you where you are...upon "the wall" to keep alert.
To stay awake and watchful.
To be vigilant at your post.
If you are a pastor, your duty is enormous.
God has placed you where you are as a shepherd who is, in a great degree,
responsible for the spiritual health and well-being of the lambs and sheep who are
within the fold of your congregation.
Do you sense the conditions?
Are you aware of the blatancy of sin?
Have you allowed yourself, and consequently your preaching, to become desensitized and apathetic?
Are you on the watch?
Do you discern the danger surrounding the wall?
Are you choosing to ignore it all, hoping it will go away?
Do you realize that if you do that, the sheep within your fold may perish?
Are you more interested in your parishioners liking you
than you are concerned about them being eternally saved?
Are you so numbers-focused that it is clouding your better judgment?
Does the magnitude of your obligation somehow escape you?
God is counting on you.
That's why He called you and placed you exactly where you are.
The souls who listen to you preach are depending upon your accuracy in speaking the truth.
Unfortunately, many of them do not think independently, when it comes to spiritual matters.
Some never pick up a Bible, other than during your weekly sermons.
They, far too often, rely solely upon you to be their spiritual guide.
To put it bluntly,
(and please know that I speak this in much love and from a heavily burdened heart),
if you are not proclaiming the full truth to your listeners,
it is high time you turn from your own wicked ways.
It is high time to....
1. Stop fearing their faces.
I know it is difficult.
As a dear brother in the Lord once told me,
during a time that I stood in the face of a humanly impossible ministerial challenge,
"If it was easy, anyone could do it."
When God called you to preach His Word,
He endowed you with a sacred trust.
In I Timothy 6:20, the Apostle Paul told Timothy,
"O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust..."
He knew you could handle this when He called you.
He never makes a mistake.
Stand firm upon the Rock of Ages, and be faithful to deliver His Word,
regardless who is staring back at you from the pews.
"And thou, son of man, be not afraid of them, neither be afraid of their words,
though briers and thorns be with thee, and thou dost dwell among scorpions:
be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks, though they be a rebellious house."
"As an adamant harder than flint have I made thy forehead:
fear them not, neither be dismayed at their looks, though they be a rebellious house."
"Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee;
and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee,
and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.
...thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak.
Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD.
Thou therefore gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee:
be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them.
And they shall fight against thee; but they shall not prevail against thee;
for I am with thee, saith the LORD, to deliver thee."
Be determined to stand your ground, no matter how satan contests you
or who does or does not support you.
Be stiff-backed and thick-skinned.
Don't back down from the truth.
Please listen to the words of this song, if you will,
and let them sink deep into your mind and heart.
Let the wisdom of the words encourage and empower you to press on
and fight the good fight of faith.
"The words of the wise are as goads..."
(Just an interesting tidbit, the great Gospel songwriter, Dianne Wilkinson wrote this incredible song, and she is the blonde-haired lady who is seated behind then-Kingdom Heirs member, Steve French, and current-Kingdom Heirs member, Jeff Chapman, in this video.
2. Stop apologizing for the truth.
You didn't write it.
You are just called to preach it.
Ask God for holy boldness, that enables you to speak the truth in love.
"And He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists;
and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry,
for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith,
and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man,
unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ:
That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro,
and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness,
whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love,
may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ..."
"Buy the truth, and sell it not..."
Hold firm to the pure doctrine of the Word of God,
and determine to defend it at any personal cost and without apology.
Don't sympathize with sin, regardless who is doing the sinning.
"Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show My people their transgression..."
And speak the pure, unadulterated truth.
3. Stop sugar-coating the truth.
Believe it or not, there are plenty of us out here who want to hear it straight.
There are those of us who realize that if we don't make adjustments here,
there will be no opportunity to do that after mercy's door is closed.
I'll let another one of the greatest Gospel Songwriters of our time, Rodney Griffin,
sing his God-inspired lyrics here.
4. Stop avoiding the cross.
"...without shedding of blood is no remission."
I never thought I would see the day that there would be such a thing as a Christian church without a cross.
Without the cross of Jesus Christ, we have no hope of redemption.
Without His sacrificial death, there would be no atonement.
The bridge between God and man would never have been spanned.
Without the cross, there is no Gospel.
How can we even hope to justify the removal of the cross from our chapels...
or worse, from our preaching?
We have become soft.
We don't want to preach anything uncomfortable.
What could be remotely more distressing than to imagine our precious Lord
bleeding and dying upon an old, rugged cross?
We fear offending monetary donors and upsetting the "powers that be".
After all, if we preach the more unsightly parts, we may see a drop in attendance.
So, instead of preaching Jesus, His holiness, the great price He paid,
and God's demand that we follow in His self-sacrificing footprints,
we substitute our own ideas, opinions, and a more pleasing-to-the-flesh doctrine.
Is the current generation even aware of the incalculable value of the cross?
All I can say is "shame on us!"
Whoever dreamed we would reach such a deplorable, distant-from-God state?
"For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified."
I Corinthians 2:2
What other hope do we have?
It is time to get back to the basics.
It is time to lay aside opinions, differences, and fear...and just preach Jesus.
Preaching Jesus will bring us back to the cross,
where the cleansing, healing stream of which Zechariah prophesied still flows.
"In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David
and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness."
The only antidote for sin and uncleanness is this fountain.
And the only way to find it is by way of the cross.
The cross of Jesus Christ is truly our only hope.
It is time we tell the world.
God is looking for a few, good men.
Are you up for the challenge?
Will you step up to the plate?
Will you stand up, and be counted in the number on the Lord's side?
In the closing, (or at least the pause), of this series entitled "A Spoiled Church",
I leave you with a few pointed questions.
Have you humbled yourself?
Are you praying?
Are you earnestly seeking God's face?
Have you repented, and are you turning from your wicked ways?
If we sincerely and thoroughly take these four required steps,
God promises to hear from Heaven, forgive our sins, and heal our land.
I feel I have delivered this burden, for the most part...for now.
As I wrap it up, I feel a deep sense of sadness to depart from this.
And even though it has been lengthy, I feel I have only skimmed the top of the surface.
There is just so much more, and I feel that my efforts have fallen so terribly short.
I can't say whether God will have me pick up the series and continue it later on,
but, for now, I feel that He is assuring me, I have been faithful in delivering what
He has laid so heavily upon my heart.
It is still there...ever present.
It never leaves, nor will it, until we see revival.
God help us all.
Stay tuned for a one year update on The Brown Family.
Coming soon, Lord willing!!