WHY CHURCH FALLS (PART IV)
By Akin Ojumu
In His letters, written by Apostle John on the Island of Patmos, to the seven Churches of Asia Minor (namely, Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea), the Lord Jesus gave us what can be described as the Christian roadmap for sustaining the fire of the faith and manual for living an enduring Christian life. In the letters to five of the seven Churches, the Lord provided us a codebook for discerning the fading glory from a Christian ministry and He showed us the path that leads to lukewarmness.
The Church at Ephesus (Revelations 2:1-7) – Religiously Loveless
A Church that reduces the believers walk in the faith to cold orthodoxy and where spiritual service of worship becomes dutiful drudgery devoid of deep-seated devotion and heart-felt love for the Lover of our soul will soon become a compromised Church that assimilates with the world and becomes indistinguishable from the outside world.
The Church at Pergamum (Revelations 2:12-17) – Liberally Compromising
A compromised Church that assimilates with the world and becomes indistinguishable from the outside world will soon fall into error and veer into heretical doctrine. This is a Church where the boundary between what’s considered righteous and unrighteous has been obliterated. Those who belong to this type of Church accept everything and anything done in the “name of the Lord” as though approved by the Lord.
The Church at Thyatira (Revelations 2:18-29) – Tolerantly Licentious
Sound doctrines produce sound Christians. When a Church falls into error and teaches heretical doctrine, it'll soon fall into all kinds of immorality, idolatry, and depravity. Wherever there’s error, lawlessness abounds. Sexual scandals and financial malfeasance always follow false teachers. In the absence of sound doctrines, the people cast off restraint and plunge headlong into all kinds of lascivious acts.
The Church that suppresses the Truth of God by preaching doctrines of demons is a Church that God will soon give up to dishonorable passions. The people that go there will God abandon to the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves.
The Church at Sardis (Revelations 3:1-6) – Catatonically Comatose
An erroneous, idolatrous, and depraved Church is a Church that soon becomes spiritually dead but retains an appearance of being alive. These are places where the fire of God’s fervor once burned, but the fire has now been replaced by performative religiosity. Deep devotion has given way to trendy, seeker-friendly, people-pleasing, attention-grabbing, public displays of faith.
The tree of faith cannot grow in the soil of error. A thirsty soul cannot be quenched by the polluted waters of falsehood. Those who feed on false teachings are unwittingly poisoning their soul with Satan’s toxins. Heretic doctrine, like festering gangrene, will metastasize to consume the whole body in a paroxysm of pain and death.
The Church at Laodicea (Revelations 3:14-22) – Pathetically Lukewarm
A lifeless Church is one that will soon become lukewarm and insipid. Such a church has a false sense of being rich, prosperous with no need for anything, without realizing it is wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked. A lukewarm Church is a deadly Church. Such a Church employs the scale of materialism to measure the depth of their spirituality.
Because of the massive Church building, five Sunday services that are packed to the rafters, huge haul in tithes and offerings, and the assorted exotic vehicles in the parking lot, they think they’ve arrived. The pastor lives in a palace and flies around in private jets, the pastor’s wife is a fashionista whose self-image is woven into the fabrics of the dress she puts on, the messages are powerful teachings on the secrets of wealth creation and investment strategies.
The Church landscape is composed of predominantly modern-day Laodiceans. These are ministries and ministers who consider themselves to be rich, prosperous, and living the good life, without realizing that they are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.
To be continued...