I of course believe the Lord’s seven letters to seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3 had meanings to the seven historical churches that the letters are addressed to. Even so, the seven letters also gives instruction to all believers. I also believe that these letters are prophetically addressing the seven eras of the Church age on earth.
In the prophetic application Jesus is talking to the predominate visible Christian identity on earth. The letters are in chronological sequence. Jesus speaks prophetically to each person within these seven visible identities through the words in these seven letters.
For the purpose of this post, I will just reflect on the prophetic. In Revelation, Jesus is dealing with the seven church types that identify with Him throughout the entire Church Age on earth. One might even call the letters to the seven churches in Revelation “Acts 2” in advance. (The message given is how the Church age plays out through time.)
The seven churches in Revelation are Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea. I give a full explanations of the message to these seven churches in Chapters 2 and 3 of my Revelation commentary. In short, the seven churches and church ages are:
- Ephesus – The apostolic church
- Smyrna – The early persecuted church
- Pergamos – The church that went into harlotry with the world
- Thyatria – Roman Catholicism rules in this harlotry with the world
- Sardis – Protestantism separates from Rome into denominations but becomes near dead when their clergy question the infallibility of the scripture and embrace blind ritual and worldly philosophies.
- Philadelphia – The missionary orientated church that preaches the good news to the world and looks for the Lord’s soon coming
- Laodicea – The rich lukewarm apathetic churches of the end times. Their main hope is not spiritual life, it is living their best life now. They live under false security. Christ in not in them.
I firmly believe that the church type that represents most of Christianity today is Laodicea. While it is true that Thyatria, Sardis and Philadelphia still represent many Christians on earth today, the numbers in these identities are declining. Many members of these prior identities are following the 12 steps to Laodicea script.
For example, many Catholics (identified with Thyatria) have even abandoned the teachings of Catholicism. Many are just doing what is right in their own eyes. For many, the Roman Catholic religion is nothing more than a ritual, tradition or a way to appease their own sin guilt. They largely pick and choose which Catholic doctrines they will follow and they reject whatever does not suit their fancy.
The second example, is the liberal mainstream old protestant denominations (Sardis). These churches are declining in members and dying because they just go through rituals and usually teach some social gospel. Some members that were going to these churches were leaving and joining the Bible churches but now they most often are joining with the Laodicean seeker and prosperity mega churches.
The final example is Philadelphia. This church type knows sound doctrine. They teach it to equip the saints and so that others can be saved. They are Bible believing Christians that are looking for the second coming of Christ. Those in Philadelphia are still alive and well, but I think the identity of this missionary era on earth is in decline.
The primary identity of visible Christianity in modern times is Laodicea. It is the most visible church on earth just before the Second Coming. I wrote an article on the Laodicean age several years ago and it still applies. Although I think Laodicea is the church era of today many in Christianity are still identified with one of the earlier church types.
Since many people love twelve steps to almost everything these days. I will give a twelve step program into apathetic Laodicea. The hope is that we all will take heed and not take these steps to lukewarm apathy.
12 steps to Laodicea
- Choosing to reject fellowship with other believers
- Becoming too lazy and undisciplined to read the Bible on your own on a regular basis
- Not taking regular time to get alone to communicate with God (rote prayer does not count)
- Choosing to attend a church where the gospel of salvation is not taught and there is no equipping or maturing of the saints
- Believing that emotional trips or obsessions over disputed doctrines brings about Christian maturity (even Bible prophecy)
- Doing nothing for nobody – not giving offerings for the work of Christ on earth
- Believing those who claim that God must give you riches on earth if you follow their formula
- Believing that you can have a spiritual relationship with God using mystical techniques
- Choosing not to learn from God-given gifted teachers and more mature Christians
- Believing that Christ and scripture teach that we should not oppose evil tyrants who are oppressing people and killing the innocent
- Never talking about or displaying your Christian beliefs to others
- Expecting any interfaith 12 step program to actually bring you to spiritual maturity
Editor note: This article is a modified version of my article written Dec 8, 2009. It is on my old blog.