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Which Church Would You Join?

Chapters two and three of Revelation contain messages by Jesus Himself to seven local churches located in Asia Minor within a fifty-mile radius of each other. The Lord issued appropriate commendations and rebukes to each congregation, and followed up His admonitions with a command to repent. The only church that needed no repentance was the church at Smyrna, the suffering church. Jesus pronounced this church spiritually rich in the midst of devastating poverty. He revealed Himself as the dead and risen Lord, and promised crowns of life, and immunity from the second death, to the faithful who overcame.  

By the way, it is doubtful that this church could afford to pay the salary of a full-time pastor. He was probably bivocational, and persecution may have cost him his job. Nevertheless, the analysis of Jesus destroys the myth that there is a direct relationship between Holy Ghost power and the size of the offerings. 

These messages also contain a prophetic element. Many see the seven churches of the Revelation as representing seven kinds (types) of churches that would characterize the church age. In addition, the seven churches are seen as representing seven distinct and successive periods of the Church age beginning at the first century and ending at His Coming. In this interpretive view, the last period is the Laodicean. No doubt we are in that period! 

The word Laodicea is a combination of two words. The first is laos, meaning people. The second is dike, meaning right or justice. Together they signify a people’s justice, or rights of a people. The Laodicean church age is one in which the people determine what is right and just, and likewise defend their personal rights.  

The fundamental issue is one of authority, and who calls the shots. The New Testament model is a Christocracy, where the Lord Jesus calls the shots. His pastors and or elders are called to proclaim His authoritative Word, and to provide spiritual leadership under His authority. The Laodicean church is a democracy, where the people constitute the final authority, and call the shots. I was made aware of a church situation recently where the members retained the services of legal counsel to help them oust their pastor. Why? He was calling too many shots. Please pray for the new pastor. When the honeymoon is over, they will no doubt put him on a leash to ensure that the shots that count are theirs.  

In contrast to the poverty-stricken, God-anointed church at Smyrna is the cash-rich, spiritually impoverished church at Laodicea. Its lukewarmness made Jesus sick to His stomach. The invitation offered in Revelation 3:20, "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock," indicates that a significant portion of its membership was still unregenerate, dead in trespasses and sins. Do you suppose their pastor was full-time?  

Which of these two churches would you join? What does it say about a church when the absence of cash flow raises more red flags than the absence of Holy Ghost power?


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