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“The Transition to Laodicea”
by Art Sadlier   
August 1st, 2008

In revelation chapters 2-3 we have letters written to 7 different churches. These churches:

1) Existed in the first century,

2) Were representative churches,

3) Would each hear a message that would be of great value to churches and individuals all down through the church age,

4) Present to us church history in advance (Prophecy) in 7 different stages or time periods,

5) Give us a message about apostasy.

Apostasy is a turning away from truth. Apostasy began in the Church of Ephesus in the first century and has grown all down through church age. Apostasy will climax in the last church of the church age, with Laodicea being spewed out of the Lord’s mouth into the tribulation period (Rev. 3:16).

An appropriate title for Rev. 2-3 would be “The great apostasy of the last days traced from the beginning of church history”.

Remember these two chapters were prophetic in John’s day, but they are almost now all history. John confirms in Rev. 1:3 that the whole book is prophetic; therefore chapters 2 & 3 must have prophetic application.

Today we can look back over church history and see how these letters prophesied events exactly as they have happened.

1. The Letter to Ephesus reveals a picture of the powerful, dynamic church of the first century, with the beginning of apostasy as Ephesus comes to the end of its age.

2. The Letter to Smyrna describes the 2nd to 3rd centuries with the martyrdom and persecution of that period. The persecuted church was a pure church.

3. The Letter to Pergamos reveals the compromise and the marriage of the church to the world in the 4th and 5th centuries under Constantine.

4. The Letter to Thyatira reveals the period of the dark ages of apostasy from the 6th to 15th centuries, under Catholicism.

5. The Letter to Sardis tells about the reformation, the rise of Protestantism and its ultimate apostasy.

The last two Churches are Philadelphia and Laodicea: these two churches are found running side by side in the world, in the years immediately preceding the rapture.

Philadelphia came first and was a church that was (is) pleasing to the Lord, a church who received no condemnation only commendation. Philadelphia loved the Lord and His Word. They earnestly contended for the Word, for the Faith and defended the name of the Lord. They were a church who evangelized and yet they were weak in the things of this world. Philadelphia was promised that she would not go through the tribulation period (Rev. 3:10). As Laodicea comes on the scene Philadelphia becomes a remnant, functioning today beneath the world’s radar screen.

Laodicea is the last of the seven churches and its letter is the shortest. To this church alone the Lord finds nothing good to say.

The Lord completes His work in cycles of seven, these seven churches combined, present the seven stages of the church on earth. Beginning at Pentecost and concluding at the Rapture. The harlot church is a counterfeit and does not in any way relate to the bride of Christ.

As we view Laodicea we see the tares continue to increase in the wheat, the buzzards continue to gather in the trees of Christendom, and the leaven of evil gains momentum in the church. Laodicea is the church of the end times and depicts the condition of the church when the Rapture takes place.

Laodicea means, “Rights of the people”, a definition which perfectly describes the evangelical church of the present day.

It must be understood that Laodicea is not Thyatira; the Catholic Church that is still present in the world. Although it dominated the world scene from 600-1517, it is no longer dominant. It will continue to the end of the age and go into the tribulation period as a part of the harlot church.

Laodicea is not Sardis; mainline Protestantism had its day of prominence from 1517-1750. Its day of prominence is over, but it also continues in the world in apostasy and will go into the tribulation period as a part of the harlot church.

Laodicea is not Philadelphia; fundamentalism which was the prominent church from 1750-1950. It still exists in the world but only as a remnant. She will be caught up in the Rapture as the Lord promised her.

Laodicea and Philadelphia are side by side in the world today under the name “evangelical”.

The Lord rebukes Laodicea in Rev. 3:17. This is a description of an unsaved church. In verses 18 and 20 our Lord gives Laodicea an invitation to salvation.

A recent survey tells us that 57% of evangelicals no longer believe that Christ is the only way of salvation. This is apostasy and describes an unsaved church.

Some 15 years ago I heard the leader of one of the large missions say, after talking to many leading pastors of American churches, that those pastors believed that upwards of 75% of evangelicals were not saved.

Our Lord confirms that Laodicea is an unsaved church in Rev. 3:16. A very large section of the evangelical church today fits our Lord’s description of Laodicea. Half hearted, uncommitted, choosing to remain neutral, unwilling to separate from New Evangelicalism, not contending for the faith, and satisfied with one service a week and make it entertaining. They have unwittingly embraced the social gospel and seek to win the approval of the world. The Lord says in effect, you make me sick to my stomach! I will spew you out into the tribulation period.

The most tragic story of our time is that multiplied millions of evangelicals who believe they are saved are not! When the trumpet sounds they will be cast into the tribulation period. We read about them in Matthew 7:21-23

In the last 50 years there has been a transition among evangelicals from Philadelphia to Laodicea. The transition has been so subtle that most evangelicals are not even aware of what has happened. This is the great religious deception about which Jesus forewarned for the last days.

In Matthew 24 Jesus emphasized that the greatest sign just before His Return will be great religious deception. Listen to the religious deception of Laodicea in Rev. 3:17. “…and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:”

This is the deception Jesus talked about, the deception the evangelical church, is to a large extent now caught up in!

The church of Sardis made a transition, in one generation, from a saved church to a largely unsaved church, through the vehicle of infant baptism. The church of Laodicea has made a transition in one generation, from a saved church to a largely unsaved church, through error of New Evangelicalism.

The Bible tells us about two “Day of the Lord” Judgments: in the Old Testament—there was a ”Day of the Lord” judgment when the wrath of God fell upon those who thought they were God’s children and were not, it fell upon Israel.

As Jeremiah viewed the situation it broke his heart! “Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!” Jer. 9:1. That’s how I feel as I look out on the evangelical church today.

Jeremiah’s warning came to pass! God’s judgment fell upon those who were self-deceived into believing they were the children of God. (Jer. 19:9, 11)

Today the world is facing the soon coming final great “Day of the Lord” which the O.T. “Day of the Lord” foreshadowed.

God’s program for apostasy is to isolate it, to separate from it (Rom. 16:17; 2 Thess. 3:6). For 50 years many have refused to do that and the error has multiplied. It is a grievous sin for Philadelphians to refuse to confront Laodiceans about apostasy and to allow them to go on in their blindness. Who is the one that loves Laodiceans? Is it the one who confronts them about apostasy or the one who says nothing and joins in with them?

I urge the Lord’s Shepherds to ask God to reveal to them whether this article is truth or error. And then by faith, determine to commit to what the Lord says to you.

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