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7605
“Understanding the Hour in Which we LIve”
by Art Sadlier   
September 1st, 2009

It is vitally important for believers to understand the times in which we live. We need to understand that we are living in the Laodicean age and we need to understand the implications of that.

In Revelation 2-3 our Lord gives a message to each of seven churches.  Who are these seven churches?

First – There were seven literal assemblies of believers which were in existence in John’s day in the first century.

Second – The seven churches represent a picture of different kinds of churches that exist in every period of church history.

Third – We are reminded in Revelation 1:3 that the book of Revelation is a prophecy. So we are not surprised to discover that each of these seven churches represent a period of church history.

Now that the church age is almost completed, we can look back over the church age and see that the seven churches are indeed a progressive picture of church history from the day of Pentecost to the end of the church age. Each of the seven churches dominated a period of church history. Each era of church history had a dominant church that had the characteristics of one of the seven churches.

Ephesus – Existed in the first century and it had its own peculiar characteristics. It began as a model church and became a lukewarm Church.

Smyrna – The church of the 2nd to 3rd centuries, it was a suffering Church.

Pergamos – The church of the 4th to 5th centuries and it was a compromising Church.

Thyatira – The church of the 6th to 16th century represents the Roman Catholic Church and it is the church of false doctrine and spiritual fornication.

Sardis – The church of the reformation in the 17th to 18th century was the church that came out of Rome and returned to the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith alone. They are the state churches or the mainline churches of our day. Although they rediscovered the truth of the gospel, they did not go far enough and soon died spiritually. They didn’t live up to what they had discovered.

Philadelphia – The church of the mid 18th to mid 20th centuries is the fundamentalist, missionary church. Laodicea – The church of the mid 20th century to the present day is an unregenerate church.

Understand that Thyatira, the Roman Catholic Church, is still in the world though its day in the ascendency is past. It will continue right on into the tribulation period according to Revelation 2:22.

Sardis is represented by the mainline churches which are still in the world though their day in the ascendancy is past. It will also continue and go into the tribulation period, Revelation 3:3.

Philadelphia, is the Fundamentalist church that is filled with love and zeal for Christ it is also still in the world.  Though its day of ascendency is also past, it will continue as a remnant and be caught up in the rapture prior to the tribulation, Revelation 3:10.

Laodicea, is the Evangelical church that is today in the ascendancy. It is a church that holds the truth but is spiritually dead. It will continue on and miss the rapture and go into the tribulation period to become a part of the Harlot church of Revelation 17. Though it is evangelical in name, it is in name only; it is spiritually dead; according to Revelation 3:16, 17, it is an unsaved church.

The need of the hour is to understand that we are now living in Laodicean age.  We need to understand that the Evangelical church has become the Laodicean church. We also need to understand that it is possible to remain Philadelphian and separate from Laodicea.

There are similarities between Philadelphia and Laodicea, read Revelation 3; 7-22.

Both hold to sound doctrine – Though other churches, Pergamos, Thyatira and Sardis are all warned of false doctrine. No such warning comes to Philadelphia or Laodicea.  Philadelphia is commended, Laodicea is condemned but not for false doctrine or unorthodoxy. Doctrinally there is no significant difference between the two churches. Basically, Philadelphia barred the front door to liberalism and Laodicea came in the back door with her lukewarmness and worldliness and compromise.  I believe that the Emergent church is not Laodicean, but the beginning of the Harlot church, which Laodiceans are in danger of being drawn into.

Both exist side by side until the rapture of the church – Philadelphia will be caught up in the rapture, Revelation 3:10. Laodicea will be cast into the tribulation period, Revelation 3:15.

The differences between the two churches – There is a profound difference between evangelical Philadelphians and evangelical Laodiceans.

Philadelphia has a passion for souls, Rev., 3:8, a missionary passion, a passion to witness. That was the dominant characteristic of evangelicals 50 years ago. Today much of evangelical missions do not involve soul-winning and church planting as it did in the past.  Today most evangelicals have a passion to be like the world so that the world will be drawn to them; the end result is that the world wins the church back into the world from which it came. That is reverse evangelism. Today there is almost no discernable difference between Laodiceans and the world.

Philadelphia is despised by the world – In the days gone by evangelicals were despised by the world. They were called uneducated narrow minded bigots, they were called simple and naive and ignorant.   They were called Funnymentalists.  Look at the contrast, Laodicea is accepted by the world, Laodicea impresses the world, Rev., 3:17.  They have lots of money, beautiful expensive buildings, entertainment and wonderful programs and the world is impressed.

Philadelphia has a zeal for God and His Word, Rev., 3:8. In days gone by evangelicals declared that their only rule of life and practice was the Word of God. They held tenaciously to it, they defended it, they lived it. They preached it exclusively and proclaimed it wherever they could. Today a majority of evangelical pastors do not preach the Word of God exclusively, they mix God’s Word with philosophy and psychology, and they build messages around stories with good moral analogies. Today evangelicals stand on the inerrancy of God’s Word, but fail to preach it, they fail to obey it and they fail to live it.

 

Warning to all those Philadelphians who have not yet become Laodiceans:

Today we are exposed to Laodiceanism; it comes at us in a thousand ways. Today there is not a church, Bible school or believer that is not bombarded with Laodicean/New Evangelicalism, and tragically many are unaware of the menace. It is a total contradiction of the New Testament pattern for the church. Don’t be caught up in it!  Don’t compromise with it! That is the message that needs to be sounded today! If you are in it, come out of it!

Gradually over the last 50 years Philadelphia has been giving way to Laodicea. There are still Philadelphian churches around and Philadelphian believers around, but their numbers are shrinking fast!

An Analogy – I have stood on the shores of the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans and watched the tide come in.  There is something fascinating about seeing the tide come in. It is almost imperceptible, you have to watch carefully for a while before you can tell whether the tide is rising or falling. The casual passerby does not notice the gradual change that is taking place.

For nearly 2000 years of church history there has been a constant changing situation in the visible church of Jesus Christ. At the end of the first century Ephesus the ideal church gave way to the church of Smyrna, the suffering church. In the fourth century Pergamos, the compromising church replaced Smyrna. In the sixth century Thyatira, the corrupt church replaced Pergamos.  In the sixteenth century Sardis, the reformation church moved to the fore in place of Thyatira. In the middle of the eighteenth century Philadelphia came out of Sardis because of its deadness. Sometimes the change was sudden and dramatic; sometimes the change was slow and almost imperceptible, like the incoming tide. The last church of history is the Laodicean church. For some time now the tide of change from Philadelphia to Laodicea has been imperceptibly creeping over evangelicalism.  Change so slow and gradual that to the average Christian it goes unnoticed.  Like the rising tide an inch at time with changes that are profound and fundamental and drastic.

Those evangelical fundamentalists, who made up the church 50- 70 years ago, would not recognize the evangelical church today as having anything in common with them. The amazing thing is that we do not perceive that we have changed! We are blind to the profound changes which have taken place in the evangelical church; this is why the Lord called the Laodicean church blind. “And knowest not that thou art.......blind”, Rev., 3:17. Blindness is one of the characteristics of Laodicea.

Jeffrey E. Wilson of the Edinburgh Banner of Truth stated, “Today’s Christianity is in a state of decay and disarray and the condition is deteriorating year by year. The truth of God’s Word has been watered down and compromised to reach a common denominator that will appeal to and accommodate the largest number of participants. The result is a hybrid Christianity which is essentially man centered, materialistic, worldly and shamefully dishonouring to the Lord Jesus Christ”.

Today there is a change in the worship service that is sweeping through Evangelical churches. One Pastor in BC told me, we must make the worship service interesting or people will not come back. True worship is focused on God; new worship is focused on man. These changes are taking place to satisfy the growing numbers of unsaved in evangelicalism who are false professors of faith in Christ.

The evidences of this catastrophe that is sweeping over the evangelical church are all around us. Surveys show that only 6% of evangelicals tithe. Divorce rates are higher among evangelicals than in the rest of society.  It has been reported by Chuck Swindoll that 50% of evangelical men are involved in internet pornography, and that 37% of pastors are seriously involved with internet pornography. We are talking about an unregenerate church. I believe Jesus was talking about evangelicals when He said in Matthew 7:21-23, “I never knew you”.

I believe, with all my heart, that by far the greatest single threat to the body of Christ today is the creeping spread of Laodicean New Evangelicalism. The transition from Philadelphia to Laodicea is nearly complete, thank God for the remnant that is holding true to God and His Word.

What the Lord said to the Church of Philadelphia is for us today, “Behold I come quickly:  hold fast that which thou hast, that no man take thy crown” Rev. 3:11. Here is how to lose your crown, just follow the Laodiceans, follow their example; just emulate their lukewarmness; just lose your passion for souls; lose your spiritual humility and your zeal for Christ and fall in love with the world AND your crown is gone!

Brothers and sisters in Christ we are living under the sound of the trumpet!  It will not be long! The rise of the Laodicean church is a sure sign of Christ`s soon return. This is no time to yield to the lukewarmness and spiritual apathy that is all around us. Stir up your passion for souls, rekindle your love for Christ, fan your zeal for God`s Word, turn away from the love of the world. ”Hold fast that which thou hast” - “Behold I come quickly”

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