Why Laodiceans Do Not Change

Laodicea = “the people judge” or “judgment of the people”.  If your organization is constantly engaged in a superior, holier-than-thou, we-are-better-than-everyone-else type of attitude, then its love is already growing cold.  It is already lukewarm.

As the saying goes, be careful pointing the finger, as the other four are pointing back at you (cf Isa 58:9).  In the midst of a society that in spite of its economic issues (or, perhaps even more focused because of them) is still involved in crass materialism, don’t each of us owe it to ourselves and Our Creator to examine ourselves?

Because Laodiceans feel they are already superior, why change?  They are already rich.  They feel they are already increased in both the spiritual and physical.  Most of all, they “have need of nothing”, not even from Jesus Himself.  So, why change?

Unfortunately, it will probably be only after God strips them down bare physically that most of them will begin to ponder their true spiritual condition.

You do not have to live in a specific “era” or time period to be unloving, apathetic and uncaring towards another, either.  The Pharisees of Jesus’ day were judgmental and were only concerned with outward appearances.  They could have been loving, reflecting Jesus’ form of love.  Or, they could have been as cold as the iron that represented the Roman Empire.  However, they were neither, and so they were lukewarm.

Just like the current swarm of Pharisees who pretend to be loving but are more interested in a variety of other idols: the broadcasts, books and articles of a dead man, the place of safety (i.e., saving their behinds), government (needing to be led by men rather than the Spirit), physical blessings (a spin-off of the prosperity gospel), etc.

I am not an evangelist for any particular organization, either.  I am interested in spreading the words that Jesus spoke and that (real) Apostles wrote.  Sure, I’d love it if you came to church with me on Sabbath.  Perhaps I’ll come to yours one day, assuming they really do speak the words of God and not of men.  This life is temporary.  Our own bodies will decay in the ground and get eaten by worms.  Organizations of men will likewise form, split and crumble.

In other words that are probably better than I can say myself:

So, just offering a thought: could that be related to all the other Trojan horses out there in the sense that perhaps, when we think that way, we are not part of Philadelphia at all? Maybe if that is the way I think about myself, maybe I actually should look at the other church descriptions and see if any of those apply to me because the chances are I am going to find some that do, and if I do, then why shouldn’t I look at those and try to repent and overcome them as opposed to simply saying: Ah, it is so good to be a Philadelphian – put my feet up and enjoy this while I can.

You see I am just saying there is a potential danger here. We all think we are part of Philadelphia and because we live in a particular time period, near the end of the age, and because, well Laodicea hasn’t been punished yet, maybe we are just all Philadelphia , but maybe we are not. True Philadelphians won’t have to worry about their fate, if they are true Philadelphians, but how do we know whether we are? Can we honestly examine ourselves in light of what Christ says here to the seven churches and both individually and collectively determine what we need to change? How we can repent; see ourselves as we really are; do we recognize our weaknesses and sins; do I recognize mine; do you recognize yours; do we collectively recognize them; do we have a collective personality or collective character that says: This is the Church of God? Do we recognize the need for the sacrifice of Christ? Do we come to the Passover with the complete appreciation for all that has been done for us?

~ Larry Salyer, http://www.ucg.org/sermons/2008/six-trojan-horses.htm.


  1. author@ptgbook.org

    Whether one is a Laodicean or not is primarily a matter of personal spiritual condition of the individual, not organizational affiliation. Sometimes there can be a connection between our spiritual condition and the organization we choose to affiliate with.

    But for the man or woman who is Laodicean, there is hope that he or she will repent. Most probably will not, but some few might. That is one reason Christ gave us the messages to the seven churches in Revelation, so that by reading them and examining ourselves we may see where we fall short, and change.

    You mention that some people might make government in the Church an idol, and I agree. If the ministry of a Church of God fellowship refuses to engage in open discussions about whether decisions on governance made fifteen years ago might be a mistake, if that subject has become sacred and "off-limits" for discussion, if they refuse to even consider revisiting that decision to see if a better decision could be made, then it may be that the ministry of that fellowship has made an idol out of their decision about governance.

  2. Most of us who have internet access are aware of the touchy doctrinal issues that strike nerves between different CoGs, different bloggers. Which also includes us who post on them. And as far as accepting church era teaching, who would say it is necessary in order to be saved? However how we treat our fellow workers because of it, it indeed can become a salvation issue. Or when it's used to create divisions.

    In my opinion by looking at the general condition between CoGs, the last 100 years of history between the different organizations. Where it shows how zealously all sides are interpreting scripture, how everyone is rather hot about our own understanding and what they mean. I am left wondering if it could be said, that maybe the CoG movement as being an example over time never left Sardis?

  3. John D Carmack

    author@ptgbook.org wrote: "Whether one is a Laodicean or not is primarily a matter of personal spiritual condition of the individual, not organizational affiliation. Sometimes there can be a connection between our spiritual condition and the organization we choose to affiliate with."

    Yes, that is a nice concise way to put it. While on the whole, the people make up the organization, but there can be people of different attitudes "on the fringe" so to speak.

    Christ addresses the sections to each of the churches, but it is very important to note that he stresses individuals within each church as well.

  4. John D Carmack

    @Norbert: I have wondered the same thing from time to time, actually. Looking at some of the proposed timelines and the reality of the state of the churches really made me question the entire era deal early on.

    If the Church is spiritually dead, it did it to itself, though. It seems to have a zeal without knowledge. It is turned inwards and not outwards for the most part. Most groups are stuck in a mold that was created by a man who has been dead for almost 25 years. Progress is measured by corporate standards. It is procedural, it is counted physically and it is mostly drained of love.

    You know, it is very interesting when you look at some of the supposed timelines for the eras of the COG. Why are some so short when some are so long? According to COGWriter at the bottom of the page at The Sardis Church Era, you will note that Pergamos is supposedly 600 years. However, Philadelphian era is only 53 years.

    Frankly, it always seemed somewhat arbitrary to me. All previous timelines were usually laid out to prove the people putting them together were in one era or another. It was usually quite contrived and, therefore, wrong.

    Now, the people I've read that vigorously support eras won't cross the line and say those who are not in Philadelphia won't be saved, but they do push at that line, don't they? You certainly will go through the Great Tribulation, they say (and, that's an exaggeration of what Jesus said, BTW).

    That's a lot of what bugs me about this and some of the other controversies. The "doctrines", which are not doctrines, are used to club others over the heads instead of prioritizing upon what is really important.

    Those who hold the view of eras will occasionally throw other groups bones and say, "Well, they are still part of God's true Church." Yet in the next breath, one group in particular says to break the Commandments and shun your own mother and father if they are part of "those groups".

    The real question remains of whether Jesus intended the messages to the churches to be used to beat each other over the head, or were they intended to measure ourselves and our own organizations to see if we are hitting the mark?

    It is obvious by their words and actions that some prefer the former interpretation.

  5. John,

    I'm all for presenting ideas and questions that may lead to edification, that further the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. And both you and Dr. Thiel have some thought provoking thoughts on the subject, as different as they are, they do make me think and try to come to terms with the teaching as the measure of faith given to me (Rm 12:3).

    I'm not one for parroting something and want to be more mindful of what I am capable of understanding fully.

    However if left to my own imagination I think it is quite possible to try and fit Church history to show that CoG's are still in the Sardis era. To manipulate ideas and events to suite my own pet theory and fix them into a historical presentation too.

    Yet all that would lead to is, "But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, quarrels, and fights about the law, because they are useless and empty." (Titus 3:9 NET) Albeit in this case it is NT prophecy and not the law. So for now the teaching of church era's is still very much a shadow to me of what hasn't fully formed into substance yet.

    So let's hope what is going on in the blogasphere is the former case of making statements that can lead to something edifiying and not the latter case of foolish controversies for anyone.

    And on the encouraging side, all of us should be mindful of one scripture, "My brethren, be not many teachers, knowing that we shall receive the severer judgment. For in many things 'we all offend'…" (Jm 3:1-2) and if I could I would underline the "all", which is something James, as a leader and providing leadership is writing about himself too.

  6. John D Carmack

    Norbert wrote: "So let's hope what is going on in the blogasphere is the former case of making statements that can lead to something edifiying and not the latter case of foolish controversies for anyone."

    Well, you can tell me after tomorrow's post if the methods behind the madness hit that mark or not. However, it first seems to be necessary to shake people to get them to wake up. It seems that the 1990s woke some up, but then some rolled over and went back to sleep. They are not truly remaining watchful, and I hope the danger in that is evident.

    There are so many preconceived notions about the seven churches that it seems to take a spiritual machete just to clear the jungle within our minds enough to see what the verses really say.

    There is nothing in the Book of Revelation that says that all seven churches cannot exist at the time of the end. The teaching of eras obscures that immensely. Even the word "era", in my opinion, is not used correctly. The connotations of the word lead to false conclusions. The way the teaching is used most often leads to division instead of unity, false accusations instead of cooperation and complacency instead of earnestness.

    Frankly, I don't care nearly as much about eras as I do the end result. Do you know what you believe and why? If you believe in eras, what are you going to do about it? If you do not, what are you going to do about that?

    The funny thing is that the correct answer to both of those last 2 questions should be the same, and the fact that some think they have different answers is troublesome.