There has never been a time in the history of the Christian Church that is greater than the one you and I have been privileged to live in! I know that is quite a statement, but I believe it to be true. In terms of technology, there has never been a time where there are greater opportunities to take the message of the Cross, the simple gospel message of Christ and Him crucified and risen again to the great masses of humanity. It is extremely exciting to be a part of that which the Lord is doing in terms of what I believe will be a great harvest of souls in these potentially last days and hours of the Last Days.
To be honest with you, I don’t really see revival coming to the Church. I preached and taught for years that there was coming a great revival in the Church just prior to the rapture of the Church, I no longer believe that. Let me explain why I say this. If the seven churches of Revelation are by law of double reference indicative of an overview of Church history, then the final church, Laodicea; would be the Church on the earth just prior to the rapture, or catching away of the Church. What about this church? Jesus said concerning this church, Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked. [Rev. 3:17] What did this Church of Laodicea do? They equated the increase in material goods with spiritual blessings, which they were not. In another place the Lord said, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.[Luke 12:15]
The great Apostle Paul spoke of false teachers and false teachings that were in the Church of his day and certainly are today, among which are those who suppose that “gain is godliness”. [1 Tim. 6:5] Paul told Timothy to “withdraw thyself” from them. Paul was speaking in this passage directly of those who equate specifically the acquisition of money as being evidence of godliness, or even worse, that the acquisition of money would be the motivation to seek godliness. Either way, this is a teaching to withdraw from. That is not to say that God does not bless His people both materially and financially as they walk faithfully according to His Word, for He does. The point is we should not make financial blessing our focus. Our faith must be solely in Christ and His finished work at Calvary’s Cross. Christ is the source and the Cross is the means whereby everything else is given to us.
Our Lord asks an interesting question at the end of His parable concerning the unjust judge in Luke 18. He asks in the latter part of 18:8, Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth? In the Greek text before the word, faith, is what is known as the definite article (or simply “The article”), making this more accurately translated, the faith. So, Jesus asks, Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find the faith on the earth? [Emphasis added] I submit to you that this is the same, “The faith” that Paul warned many would depart from in the “Latter times.” [See 1 Tim. 4:1] What is, “The faith?” It is the body of established truth, the set of essential doctrines that all Christians accept that defines and separates the Christian faith from all others. I am not speaking of individual doctrines, creeds, and practices among the various denominational and non-denominational groups that make up the modern Church. There are genuinely born-again individuals in all of these. “The Faith” refers specifically to the “faith once delivered unto the saints.” [See Jude 3] This is the faith that is being departed from.
I know I have addressed this in the past, and really did not set out to do so again; however I see the Church in a sad state of affairs. It has been said recently that the Christian Church is in it’s worse condition since the Reformation. Sadly, I must agree with this assessment. Biblical illiteracy is at an all-time high. A good number of Christians aren’t reading their Bibles, and it shows. If the scriptures are not our standard, how are we to determine truth from error? The Psalmist wrote,For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven. [Ps. 119:89] “Settled” is the Hebrew, nawsab and it is to “Stand erect, strong, sure, steadfast.” You can also get the word, “deputy” from this Hebrew verb. When I think of a deputy, I can’t help but think of Deputy Barney Fife of the old Andy Griffith Show. He was always standing ready to, “Nip it in the bud!” whenever trouble arose in Mayberry.
In a very real sense, the Word of God stands ready to do that for us. That is, “Nip it in the bud” whenever lies, false doctrine, and assorted other nonsense is presented to the child of God purporting to be the Truth. You see, since the Word is “settled”, it never changes. God and His Word are one. God never changes, His Word never changes. Various fads go through the Church, and it seems they come in phases and cycles. There really is nothing new “under the Sun”, as Solomon so wisely wrote many years ago. The same errors and false doctrines have cycled through the Church for centuries now. They occasionally are re-named and re-packaged for a new generation of gullible saints, but they are the same old errors nonetheless.
Many years ago when I was preparing to answer the Lord’s call to the ministry, two dear Baptist brothers were serving as my mentors. I stand eternally grateful for the strong doctrinal foundation they built in me. One of those brethren gave me my first study Bible. I still have that Bible, and it is one of my very most prized possessions. In the fly leaf of this Bible the brother wrote a short inscription that reads, “To a brother in Christ. 2 Timothy 2:15.” This passage remains one of my “life verses.” It reads, Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. [2 Tim. 2:15] There is much in this verse, however, I want to look particularly at the word, “study” for our purposes here.
First, it is the Greek word, spoudazo. This is a Greek verb that appears some twelve times in the KJV. It carries with it much more than our English verb, study. In our usage, it typically describes, “application of the mind to the acquisition of knowledge, as by reading, investigation, or reflection.” However, the Greek word, spoudazo can be translated variously as, diligence, diligent, do (twice), endeavor, forward, labor, and study (only translated one time as such, in 2 Tim. 2:15). It is to make every effort. To do one’s best. It does not describe someone who approaches the things of God in a lackadaisical manner. And yet, so much of the modern Church is doing exactly that. If again we are living in the “Laodicean Age” with regard to our point in history, then it certainly fits the pattern because Jesus described them as neither “hot” or “cold” but rather, “Lukewarm.” Going back to Revelation 3 Jesus said,
I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. [Rev. 3:14, 15] Historically speaking this had direct meaning for this church on the local level. Laodicea lays in a valley, and because of this in John’s day it was very difficult to get water to the city. History tells us that the people of Laodicea built an elaborate aqueduct system to get cold water down from the Phrygian Mountains. When it left the mountain, the water was ice cold. However, by the time it made the trip to Laodicea it was lukewarm. Cold water is refreshing and tastes great. Lukewarm water just isn’t any good.
The Laodiceans looked to the hot springs that were in the valley where the Lycus River joins the Maeander River for their hot water. To this day the springs there are so hot that they produce steam. In fact, the Turkish government has capped it and is using it today. Sources say they intend to develop its use since it is there in such abundance. In ancient times they would take this water up to Laodicea, but by the time it got there it was no longer hot, but lukewarm. Hot water has many wonderful uses, lukewarm water just isn’t any good. Jesus no doubt had the water issue in Laodicea in mind when He told this church they too were neither hot or cold but lukewarm. These people had been drinking nasty, lukewarm water for years and had apparently grown accustomed to it. They had grown accustomed to being lukewarm spiritually as well. Much of the Christian Church is in the same condition. The modern Church by and large, is satisfied with what we might refer to as, “Status Quo” Christianity.
Many, if not most Christians are perfectly content with attending their favorite church with their yuppie Pastor that probably would be better fitted to being a motivational speaker or a car salesman. Their ears get tickled and their flesh stroked for yet another week. They are never confronted, never challenged, never compelled to go farther in their Christian walk. No, the masses are being further lulled into slumber. Satan couldn’t be happier! As we stated earlier, revival is not coming to the Laodicean Church! What hope is there then? Plenty. Look back at our pattern, Revelation 3. This time lets look at verse 20, Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. [Rev. 3:20 – 22]
I know this passage is typically applied to the lost, to unbelievers; and there is limited application there I suppose. However, Jesus was speaking to a church here keep in mind. Earlier in the messages to the seven churches Jesus is seen standing in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks (churches). By the time we get to the last church the Lord is outside the church, knocking on the door to be let back in. What a sad picture this is, and what an alarming commentary on the condition of the modern church. Where is the hope? What is the Lord doing in this hour? I submit to you that the Lord is calling to individuals in this hour. He is working in and through those who will listen to His voice, who will respond to the call; who will return. Return to what? Return to whom? Return to the Cross. Return to Him.
In many of our churches today believers are so busy working for God, they aren’t taking the time to get to know Him! The Lord is calling us back to intimacy with Him. Calling us away from our hectic, activity filled lives to get quiet enough so that we can again hear His voice, and in some cases, hear it for the first time. If Jesus does not thrill your heart today more than when you first made Him the Lord of your life, you need to repent. Return to Him. This is what He is calling us to do. Secondly, return to the Cross. The Cross? Yes, the Cross.
Someone might ask, “But isn’t the Cross a place of death?” In a sense, yes. It is the place where we die to our way, and identify ourselves with His way. It is the place where we lay down our supposed superiority, and realize that indeed the ground is level at the foot of the Cross. It is the place we realize the truth of Romans 3:23 that indeed, For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. Yes, in this sense the Cross is a place of death. However, the Cross is also the greatest place of victory. The Cross, a place of victory? Yes, the Cross, and more importantly, what Jesus there did, is the greatest victory of all time.
I know thinking of the Cross as a place of victory is a strange concept for many. To be honest, it was extremely strange to me too when I first began to see this. However, the Cross was not a place of defeat as many have taught. Satan did not defeat Christ at Calvary! Just the opposite is true. Look at Colossians 2:15, And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it. “It” what? Clearly the Cross. Look at verse 14, Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross. Couple that with verse 15, and the application becomes clear. That dark day when Jesus hung suspended between Heaven and Earth many things occurred in both the natural and spiritual realms. Scripture speaks of many of the things that occurred in the natural. However, in the spiritual, our Lord carried every sin, every disease, every affect of the curse, everything that sin had brought into the earth realm on Himself. Forget this, “Jesus died spiritually” heresy that has become popular in some circles. Our Lord fulfilled the type of the Passover lamb perfectly. He was absolutely spotless and pure throughout. He could not have been any less.
He did not have to go to the torment side of Hell and suffer as a sinner and be born-again in Hell. Such a notion is blasphemy to be honest with you. No, please understand that while He had our sin upon Him, it never entered within Him. We dare not miss this. When the crowd that stood around the Cross looked at Jesus, they saw a beaten, emaciated, stripped bare, barely recognizable as a human being man that certainly did not look victorious in any way. However, when God the Father looked at Him, when He looked at that Cross He saw an Altar upon which the Lamb of God who takes way the Sin of the World was offered. Pilate may have written, “This is Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews” above His Cross, but the Father wrote another one. What did the Father write? He wrote the ordinances—He wrote the Ten Commandments. He wrote a law which I cannot keep, ordinances which I am guilty of breaking. When Christ died there, He did not die because He broke them; He was sinless. But it was because I broke them, because I am a sinner, and because you are.
When Jesus uttered that seventh of seven sayings from the Cross, “It is finished!”, He meant all of the claims of divine justice were satisfied, He meant the debt was paid, He meant fellowship was restored, Satan was defeated, and forever Jesus was Lord! Somebody may ask, “Hold it Brother Kevin. What about the resurrection? Was not the victory actually won there?” No, it was not. Does that mean I am downplaying the resurrection? Certainly not. However, with the victory won at Calvary, the resurrection was guaranteed! In fact, when Jesus stepped out of that tomb it was the greatest testament to the victory won at Calvary that could have been offered! Had even one sin, I submit to you, not been atoned for, Jesus would have remained in the tomb. But praise be to God, He came out of that tomb over death triumphant! We serve a living Savior who is in the world today, as the songwriter so aptly penned.
Yes, our Lord is calling to individuals in this hour. Individuals who will hear His voice and obey. He is calling us back to intimate fellowship with Him. To a relationship not predicated on a set of man-made laws and rules, but a simple love relationship which only has faith in Him and His finished work on the Cross as its object. Yes, He is calling us back to Himself and the Cross. This will lead to an awakening in the remnant of the Church that will heed the call.
I believe also it will lead to a great harvest of souls. Many in this hour will come to a saving knowledge of the Lord. I for one, want to be a part of it. How about you?