To the Church at Laodicea:
This was Jesus' letter to the Lukewarm church. Looking around at churches today, is it SO hard to believe that an entire 'church' could lack one believer? Not really. True believers are so much rarer than we think.
Though millions call themselves Christian, the actual number is quite small. We'd have to erase most Catholics from the group, and most Eastern Orthodox, and many Charismatics, and all cults that call themselves Christian, including Mormons.
Here Jesus uses the word many to remind us of the fate of the unsaved:
Jesus said, "On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name? Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’’" (Matthew 7:22-23).
Jesus said, “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many." (Matthew 7:13)
In both those verses, the word for many in Greek is polloi. It means a "multitude, numerous, great in amount." So, no, it isn't hard to believe that churches could be full and there be not a believer among them. After all, on the day of judgment for the Cities of the Plain, among the bustling cities of Admah, Zeboiim, Sodom, and Gomorrah, there were found only three true believers.
We read the following from 2 Timothy 4:4, "For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,"
We usually envision that verse as one which the teacher has accumulated the people, as an Osteen or a Joyce Meyer has accumulated. But the verse depicts the reverse: the people will heap up false teachers to themselves. What people? People calling themselves Christian but lacking discernment, or even true faith, they will follow the false ones who bring a pleasing but Gospel-less message. The Greek word for 'heap up" [teachers] means "to obtain a multitude of."
When Jesus said He will destroy the cities Abraham asked Jesus if, for the sake of 50 righteous, would the Lord destroy the city? For the sake of Lot and any believers, Abraham contended for them with Jesus. Abraham dwindled the number down and down until he got to ten:
Then he said, “Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak again but this once. Suppose ten are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of ten I will not destroy it.” And the Lord went his way, when he had finished speaking to Abraham, and Abraham returned to his place." (Genesis 18:32-33)
The Lord is gracious and merciful! And again, we see in the Revelation verse, if there be one inside the church, the Lord will come in and sup with him and he with Him.
Many inside the church are lost!
AW Tozer said in his devotional,
So skilled is error at imitating truth, that the two are constantly being mistaken for each another. It takes a sharp eye these days to know which brother is Cain and which is Abel.So what is to be done? Here is what we can do in these waning days:
1. Do not automatically assume that every church member or teacher who calls themselves Christian actually are. (1 Peter 4:17).
2. Give the benefit of the doubt, certainly, but also test what they say, watch for fruit, and exhort for holy living. (1 Peter 1:16). This is important for two reasons. First of course is the Lord's glory. Second, when one exhorts for holy living, the holy will appreciate it. The lost will be flushed out, because they will react badly.
3. Pray, pray, pray ceaselessly. Pray for your brethren inside your own local church. Pray for your local church; for protection, clarity and wisdom for the leaders, for discernment for the members. The Spirit gives discernment. (1 Corinthians 2:14). Therefore pray to Him for the wisdom we need in these terrible days. (Psalm 119:125).
4. Pray for the global body. Appeal to Jesus on behalf of the brethren who are in places where apostasy is likely or present. (1 Corinthians 12:12–14; more here)
5. Pray for yourself, for all of the above; wisdom, clarity, discernment, protection. (James 1:5; Proverbs 2:6, Psalm 5:11)
6. Repent often so that your purity is of the highest levels. (Matthew 3:8).
How utterly tragic that in some congregations all or most believers are so devoid of Spirit that Jesus is outside the church! It makes it all the more joyous to anticipate glorious, perfect worship in true, righteous unity in heaven!
1 Thessalonians 4:14–18
"For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words."
In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.
What does the bible say about heaven?
Spurgeon, Faith's Checkbook, "It Will Not Be Long"
"Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh." (James 5:8)
Spurgeon: "The last word in the Canticle of love is, "Make haste, my beloved," and among the last words of the Apocalypse we read, "The Spirit and the Bride say, Come"; to which the heavenly Bridegroom answers, "Surely I come quickly." Love longs for the glorious appearing of the Lord and enjoys this sweet promise - "The coming of the Lord draweth nigh." This stays our minds as to the future. We look out with hope through this window."
"This sacred "window of agate" lets in a flood of light upon the present and puts us into fine condition for immediate work or suffering. Are we tired? Then the nearness of our joy whispers patience. Are we growing weary because we do not see the harvest of our seed-sowing? Again this glorious truth cries to us, "Be patient." Do our multiplied temptations cause us in the least to waver? Then the assurance that before long the Lord will be here preaches to us from this text, "Stablish your hearts." Be firm, be stable, be constant, "stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord." Soon will you hear the silver trumpet which announces the coming of your King. Be not in the least afraid. Hold the fort, for He is coming; yea, He may appear this very day."