Oct 7, 2008

Laodiceanism: The End of a Cycle

By Gary Stearman

It is said that we live in the days of the Laodicean church, in a material culture that places its trust in money, pharmaceuticals and the government, rather than God. True spirituality has cooled, and is likened to an unappetizing lukewarm beverage that is fit only to be rejected in disgust. With this image in view, how do we, as modern believers, measure ourselves and our world?

The most all-encompassing and objective panorama of the church – the body of Christ – is found in the second and third chapters of Revelation, where the Seven Churches of Asia Minor prophesy the succession of victories and catastrophes that will chart its future course. Its destiny falls far short of the idealized and victorious body often visualized in homilies and sermons. Even the most cursory reading of this amazing prophecy reveals that from its very beginning, the age of the church was destined to experience many detours and pitfalls.

It is a procession of church types that begins with the Apostolic zeal of Ephesus, and ends with the indulgent dissipation of Laodicea, where we find a congregation totally consumed by devotion to worldly wealth. Knowing in advance that this would be the case, why would the Lord ordain a church that so quickly fell into lockstep with the world, in what seems to be a failure of the Gospel?

Based upon the natural assumption that the role of the church is to spread the Gospel, this is a legitimate question. But as in every other case where the Bible poses a question, it provides the answer. It is found in the early prophetic doctrines of the Apostolic period. Their careful teaching provides the obvious answer to this question.