Welcome to Laodicea :: by Howard Green

What is it about Bible prophecy and end times dialogue that sets some Christian’s teeth on edge? The reason I’m asking this question is because I can’t remember a time when apathy regarding the Lord’s return has been so widespread. If we were talking about a pagan view of the last days…the previous statement wouldn’t seem so provocative. We are discussing apathy of so many in the church…that is why the matter is of deep concern.

I have defended the importance of Bible prophecy and it’s not my intention to review the subject. What I want to focus on—is a “heart’” issue. I want to make a clear distinction between those who “love His appearing” and those who couldn’t care less.

Just like some people in the 1st century church, we also have people inside the church now who are lukewarm, complacent, and slumbering. Welcome to Laodicea: Many inside of our churches today aren’t watching and waiting. Instead, they are scoffing.

Is it just me, or have you also noticed a growing disconnect between some professing believers and those of us who are longing for the Lord’s return? I know spiritual apathy has always been around, but the level and fervor of the scoffers inside the church is reaching a fever pitch. This lukewarm condition inside the church captured my full-attention after I read an article on the Christian Post that was about prophetic events and our time.

While I found the article interesting, that wasn’t what captured my attention. It was all of the comments following it that stunned me. I understand just because a media outlet has the word “Christian” in its name, it doesn’t necessarily make every article biblical. I’m simply highlighting the fact that a majority of the readers of these publications would most likely call themselves Christians.

I rarely look at the comments at the end of articles in secular media because that is there where you will find the most vitriolic, hateful, crass, and demeaning words one person could ever write to another. It is just the sad reality of our day and a clear lens into the condition of the unregenerate human heart. Occasionally I do read some of the comments that follow a piece in so called “Christian media” simply to get the pulse of where we are as the Body of Christ.

As I started reading the comments referring to the end-time article, I was stunned. I decided to research other very recent articles written about Bible prophecy in recent weeks and what I found was the same complacent, slumbering, faithless mindset comments that I found below the original article. It wasn’t necessarily the apathetic nature of the comments that stuck me, as much as the sheer numbers of self-professing “Christians” and their animosity toward other believers that was so sad.

I believe the growing disconnect among a growing number of some “Christians” toward those of us who love His appearing is a direct result of being lukewarm. Remember who the Lord was addressing—the church in Laodicea (they were not outsiders). These were people who named the name of Jesus, stood during the same worship time, and perhaps prayed alongside other believers.

Revelation 3:14- 22:

“And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation. I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.

I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock.

If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

Can you hear the tenderness in Jesus’ words? Isn’t it just like our Lord to reprove us with stern words of warning just as any loving father would? The point is that He is telling those in the 1st century Laodicean church the same thing He is telling people today:

I’m standing at the door now. I want you to know Me and I want all of you, not just on one day a week. You are smug in your prosperity and self-reliance, not even aware that you have nothing apart from Me. My return is near…are you ready?

Can’t you see the Lord reaching out to those He loves with mercy and asking them to repent and turn to Him?

Our God is a jealous God and He won’t compete for attention. Being lukewarm is a symptom of a heart that may be content with “religious activity” and all this life has to offer. But true lasting contentment is found in Christ alone. That is why Jesus is imploring the lukewarm of John’s day, and now in our day to get off of the fence and throw open the door to Him. What is on the other side of the door?

Nothing less than the fullness of God through the person of Jesus and His presence. He promises the repentant lukewarm “believer”: I will be with you, I will know you, and you will be with me on My throne. How do we conquer and overcome? It’s not by religious activity, piety, or human effort. It can only be done by the work of the Holy Spirit of God living in and through us. His mercy and grace extends to us even now…He is ready to answer anyone who calls on His name by faith.

Now let’s look at how different the heart that’s been regenerated and sanctified by the grace of God differs from the heart of the lukewarm person who claims to be a believer. Some of these are statements I’ve read by “professing Christians” and I’m paraphrasing:

This is nightly news or newspaper eschatology! This Great Tribulation stuff is silly…it all happened in the 1st century. Every time something happens…the doom and gloomers come out of the woodwork. These things have been going on for years…here they go again trying to sell books and get rich. It’s been 2,000 years and people are still falling for this tripe. People have been saying we are in the end times for hundreds of years…when haven’t we not been? Funny how many people believed the end times would be in THEIR lifetime…it’s terribly egocentric.

Far from being edifying, the previous statements are clearly indicative of lukewarm hearts focused on the here and now instead of the will of God. These are not the railings of a worldly person who thinks Christians are out of touch, but the railings from the hearts of lukewarm “Christians.”

By contrast, the heart that’s centered in God’s will and walking by His Spirit will be known by its fruit. It is the heart that prays: “Come quickly Lord Jesus.” It is this kind of believer that is in this world, but not of it. It is the heart of the kind of believer that can look at the world’s news headlines and know…surely His coming is at the door.

I want to close with this, friends: I expect pressure from the world and in reality, isn’t that the way it has always been for followers of Jesus?

What I am coming to expect now…is increasing pressure from inside. The time we live in is very unique. Not only are we feeling pressure from the world, but now more and more “Christians” are also turned off because we expect the soon Rapture of the church as a real distinct possibility. Scoffers in the world wagging their fingers at the notion we believe Christ’s coming is at the door is one thing, but the fact that many of those doing the finger wagging are “inside” the church, is very telling.

2 Peter 3:1-4: “ This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, ‘Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.’”

Since we live at a time when so many are scoffing at the fact that Jesus will return soon…it encourages me to be ready all the more. It makes me want to reach out to those who are stuck in the lukewarm mire right now. Some of you may be asking, “Isn’t that casting pearls…?” I would say no…unless our loving admonishment is met by a continued “unrepentant” life pattern by one claiming to be a Christian. Then it may be time to move on and lovingly warn others while continuing to pray for those with unrepentant hearts.

Jesus stands at the door and knocks. We have the truth of the Bible when we tell people with confidence: In His own words Jesus said He was coming soon, three times in Revelation 22. Nothing cuts through the mire of the heart like the Bible does.

It is a loving thing to bring a brother or sister to repentance, but repeated scoffing and hard-heartedness toward the things of God is another matter all together.

I want those of us who love His appearing to get in the practice of encouraging one another as we see the day approaching. Many in the world and inside the church don’t want to hear that Jesus is coming back for His people and that judgment will follow. Keep on faithfully proclaiming the gospel and the soon return of the Lord.