Monday, August 31, 2015

The Spirit of Laodicea

Our Lord Jesus Christ chastised the Church at Laodicea for being lukewarm toward their relationship with Him in Revelation 3:14-22. Unfortunately we are in the Laodicean phase of the Church Age. But as individuals personally accountable to our Savior, just because we are in the Laodicean Age, it doesn't mean we have to be Laodicean believers. I am convinced that one of the top reasons people have become Laodicean believers is the growing view that Scripture has too many human-introduced flaws to be trusted.

For any relationship to work, communication is required between the parties involved. We have fellowship with our Lord when we speak to Him in prayer and He speaks to us through many means including our circumstances, thoughts, others and the Bible. Of all the ways God speaks to us, the most important is the Bible. We often think God is speaking to us about something when in reality it may be our own preferences making us think that. The Lord has given us His Word to authenticate what is really from Him; God is not going to contradict Himself.

We can trust God's Word to reveal His heart about a matter because, "all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" (2 Timothy 3:16, NKJV). People who don't accept the inerrancy of Scripture have an inadequate understanding of the power of God. God is Almighty enough to have accurately given us and preserved His Word even using his flawed subjects. When people have doubts about whether God's Word can be trusted, they'll not spend much time reading or studying it and their relationship with the Lord will suffer as a result.

The enemies of God have been very successful in sowing doubt about God's Word in the church. In fact this was the tactic used by Satan when he tempted Eve in the garden:  “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1). The biggest areas in which Laodicean believers have come to doubt God's Word the most is in beginning and ending things. The creation account in Genesis is viewed as myth to accommodate theistic evolution and the prophecies of the Lord's return are seen as symbolic rather than literal thus making them only useful for conveying some spiritual truth.

It is instructive that people believe the spiritual truths conveyed by God's prophetic Word always requires interpretation by a scholarly theologian. Our alarm bells should go off when we need a religious professional to tell us what God really means by what He has said. If we are to have a personal relationship with our Savior, He must have made a way for us to know what He is saying to us without needing some intermediary to "interpret" God's Word for us. Jesus has given us the capacity to understand His Word directly in giving us the Holy Spirit, see John 14:26 & 16:13. Scholarly theologians have their place but only to augment our understanding of Scripture, not to direct it. Religious leaders having interpretive power over people is what cults do.

It seems I have found myself having to spend way too much time defending the inerrancy of God's Word with people. Usually is it comes up when I'm discussing God's prophetic Word and the other party is a preterit who believes all prophecies were fulfilled in 70 AD with the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. They believe there will be no literal Millennial reign of Christ on earth and when Jesus returns all promises God gave Israel and the Church will be fulfilled in the Eternal State. The term which applies to this collection of beliefs is Amillennialism. Most who profess to follow Christ today are Amillennialists but that doesn't make this doctrine correct. Most Christians are Amillennialists because they only have a superficial understanding of God's Word at least when it comes to prophecy.  

The evidence that Amillennialists have only a superficial understanding of God's prophetic Word is that they have no problems with conflicts in Scripture. Yes we are human and there are things we don't understand but if God's Word is inerrant, any conflict represents a gap in our understanding that we should seek to resolve if we want to grow in our relationship with the Lord. "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15). Since God gave us His Word so that we may know Him, you have to wonder about those who are content with only the superficial milk of God's Word. People not wanting to go deep into the solid food of Scripture are like unbelievers who have no desire to know God (1 Corinthians 3:2). 

The classic conflict that reveals the error of Amillennialism is the "new heavens and new earth" described in Isaiah 65:17-25. This passage has to be referring to a future literal Millennial reign of Christ on earth. The Isaiah 65 passage can not be fulfilled in the Eternal State as Amillennialists believe it to be because it addresses mortal people being born and dying during this future Age. Thus the "new heavens and new earth" of Isaiah 65 can not be the Eternal State when there will be no death per Revelation 21:4.

Committed Amillennialists will be just fine living with the conflict between Isaiah 65 and Revelation 21 but I would challenge them that they are stunting an important aspect of their fellowship with Christ. Jesus admonished us to watch for His coming in Matthew 24:42... it is hard to do that if you don't believe His prophetic Word means what it says.

We think we are making Scripture more relevant to the culture when we "interpret" God's Word to compromise with the world. But in fact we are doing just the opposite. Look at the demise of churches in Europe and the mainstream denominations in the USA. Compromise with the world is how we got to where we are in the church today. There is nothing more relevant to our world today than God's prophetic Word. How else can we prove that Scripture really is from God? Only God can declare "the end from the beginning" (Isaiah 46:10). "For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy" (Revelation 19:10).

The Church is still here to help everyone who will listen see the relevance of God's Word to their lives in the here and now. And Bible prophecy is the most powerful tool God has blessed us with to do that. So, until the Lord takes us home, let us, "preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching" (2 Timothy 4:2).

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