One of my posts on 28 April, was entitled COVID-19 Is a Slow-Motion 9/11 in it Pastor Sam Rohrer of the American Pastors Network set forth 10 definitive needs every “Christian” must understand and live by after choosing to serve the Lord. I thought I would look at each one individually over the next two weeks.
Yesterday we looked at why we should Embrace Biblical Authority, today in Part 2 we will examine:
3. Know that the ‘Church’ is disobedient, lethargic and asleep. (Christ’s warnings to the seven churches and to Laodicea—Revelation 2-3; Revelation 3:14-22)
Just as in the beginning (New Testament times) churches had issues so to today modern churches will have them. That is not the point here and should not be the point for those looking for that “perfect church.” I think this says it best:
The point here is not on the individuals that make up the church for we know the body of believers is comprised of sinners saved by grace. The point is the church itself as a whole will always have issues, it is how they are dealt with and how the church carries out it’s biblical mandates that matter.
What is the church mandate?
Nowhere (at least that I can find) does the bible cleanly and neatly lay out the Biblical mandate for churches. However it can easily be found with a little bit of studying. The following is my interpretation of it:
The first mandate is to Worship God: Luke 4:8; John 4:23; Rev. 4:10
Preach the uncompromised Word of God: 2 Tim 4:2
The study of God’s Word: 2 Tim. 2:15; 1 Cor. 4:6
To Equip body of believers for Evangelism: Matt. 28:18-20; Eph. 4:12
If I had to pick one verse in the Bible as my go to definition of Biblical Church Mandate it would be Acts 2:42 it provides the Quadfecta of duties or purposes for the church:
1) Teach/Preach PURE Biblical Doctrine
2) Provide a Place of Fellowship for the body of believers
3) Observe the Lord’s Supper
4) Corporate Prayer
There are other things like James 1:27 that the church (not the state) should be caring for widows and orphans of their congregations.
What is meant by Know that the ‘Church’ is disobedient, lethargic and asleep?
I think the easiest way for me to approach this is to look at the 7 churches John wrote about in Revelation 2-3:
EHPESUS – Once a church on fire to God now just humming along with the same old routine. They are indifferent to the changing world around them. Oh they may have their favorite “missions” they support but don’t ask them to stray outside that comfort zone.
SMYRNA – This is a small seemly insignificant church (we read little of it) but it is ever faithful and determined to be obedient to God. There are thousands of these small (membership under 150) churches scattered across the US and the world, some doing GREAT things for the kingdom (and will receive their Crown) and other not so much. The question is where does you church land?
PERGAMOS – These folks had itchy ears and were taken by the latest trends in false teaching and false doctrines all in the name of getting folks in the door. You know their kind all fluff and no stuff, 40 minutes of music followed by 20 minutes of “preaching” a watered down let me make you feel good message. Forget Expository preaching through God’s word, they may stumble upon a verse they can’t handle.
THYATIRA – These folks are basically pagans wrapped in a church exterior. They were idolatrous had corrupt beliefs and did not believe in the WHOLE UNCOMPROMISED GOSPEL. You know churches like this today, they claim things like, ‘oh that was just back then for the Apostles times’ or ‘that’s just your interpretation’ on things like same sex unions, abortion, women preachers and so much more.
SARDIS – This is a church in name only it is lifeless has no real body (maybe a few active members) it is Spiritually Dead. Churches “die” for many reasons; sometimes because folks just move away but far to often there is division and the remnant becomes lethargic and withers. Is this your church, do not be a contributor to it slow and painful demise. Get busy reinvigorating life into it today.
PHILADELPHIA – The opposite of SMYRNA this is a BIG Church. As the Greek word implies this is a church filled with God’s love, but even more importantly they are truly Faithful to God’s Word (and will receive their Crown). I am not a fan of Mega churches, I am convinced that a church once it grows beyond 250 or so members needs to plant another. My reasoning is based upon my extensive military career and the leadership experiences there. Even with plurality of Elders/Pastors (which is not enjoyed by many churches) I do not see how a someone could personally shepherd (counsel on a personal level) that many folks. There are exception the church here in Philly being one, but it is not the norm.
LAODICEA – Know as the lukewarm church they receive the greatest insult from God, 3:16 (AMP) So because you are lukewarm (spiritually useless), and neither hot nor cold, I will vomit you out of My mouth [rejecting you with disgust]. Ouch, I do not think it can get much worse than being called spiritually useless if you are a church.
Unfortunately that sums up the state of churches in America as a whole. They are disobedient, lethargic and asleep just as the church here in Laodicea. Let me give three examples for my reasoning:
Abortion: Many churches (unfortunately not all) have rallied around this issue. Yet where was the church in 1973 when Roe v. Wade was going through the courts? They were silent.
School Prayer: Even fewer churches across the US ever speak about then impact the removal of school prayer has had upon our nation. Yet once again when the issue was going through he courts in 1962 Churches were all but absent from the discussions.
The Johnson Amendment is a provision in the U.S. tax code, since 1954, that prohibits all 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations from endorsing or opposing political candidates. So many churches have adopted a policy to avoid ANY discussions that remotely could be considered political from the pulpit, THIS IS UNBIBLICAL. Avoiding the tough subject and pointing out the proper (ethical biblical) way for believers to decided on who to vote for is not a violation of this act.
Why is it so important?
Anyone who knows the past knows it can easily be repeated if we do not learn from past mistakes. They do not have to be our own they can be lessons learned from history. Here we have a historical account of the Seven Churches of Revelation and we can learn from each of these churches. Two were worthy of being copied five held dire consequences.
The church is one body with many members 1 Corinthians 12:12–27 that needs to work together as a cohesive unit in order to accomplish the Biblical Mandate of the Church.
Develop a healthy fear of God. (Have no other god before Me—Exodus 20:1-6; Obey God, serve Him and fear Him—Deuteronomy 13:4; Rehearse history and teach of God’s power so your children learn to fear God—Deuteronomy 31:13; It is whole duty of mankind—Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)
Re-embrace the biblical authority of Scripture. (All Scripture is profitable for life and living—2 Timothy 3:16: Living it establishes a person’s path—Psalm 119:11)
Know that the ‘Church’ is disobedient, lethargic and asleep. (Christ’s warnings to the seven churches and to Laodicea—Revelation 2-3; Revelation 3:14-22)
Be aware that 70% of the pulpits in America are occupied by ‘hirelings.’ (Hirelings refuse to warn of spiritual danger and the wolves—John 10:12-13)
Be bold to identify and call out the false prophets in the wolves among us. (Christ warned of the false prophets and wolves—Matthew 7:15, Matthew 10:16, Matthew 24:24; Jesus warned of mass deception in the last days—Matthew 24:4-5)
Understand that national blessing or national judgment hinges on the actions of the remnant. (“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”—2 Chronicles 7:14)
Accept the reality that persecution is coming and is normal for the believer and those still standing for truth. (All who live according to God commands will suffer persecution—2 Timothy 3:12; the enemies of truth will persecute you—Luke 21:12; John 15:20)
Discover that the preparation for prayer and meeting God’s requirements for prayer is far more important than the act of praying. (God demands a broken spirit and obedience before sacrifice—Psalm 51:16-17; God demands we pray His way: No unconfessed sin—Psalm 66:18)
Realize that the continuance of freedom is a result of God’s blessing, which hinges on obedience and conformity to God’s commands. (Don’t forget that all blessings came from God and if you forget and become ungrateful, God will replace blessings with bondage—Deuteronomy 8:1-20, 1:19-20; 30:1-20)
Understand that the choice for president or other elected leaders, while critically important, is secondary to repentance toward God and the choice for God. (Obey, and I’ll make even your enemies to be at peace with you—Proverbs 16:7)