Volume 11, Number 1, July-August 2007

Falling Away from the Laodicean Church

I’ve heard more excuses lately for not meeting on the Sabbath and  for groups splitting up than you can shake a stick at. Some are splitting over doctrine, but quite often things so petty and silly it’s practically unbelievable! Like song books or even single words in songs! Some are starting to keep the Sabbath whenever they want, however they want—or not hosting Sabbath Services for troubling reasons that compel me to speak.

“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away,” (2Tim 3:1-5).

State of Independent Churches

This heartfelt article indicates some of the problems that are occurring in the church at this time. These specific problems seem to occur more frequently in independent groups than in hierarchical groups, where a certain standard of behavior is expected or enforced. Brethren in independent groups need to realize that the price of freedom from this enforcement is that each of them, as an individual, is now required to have a close relationship with God and to look to Him to “keep them on track”.

For years, Servants’ News, and other publications have carried articles about the sins and errors of church hierarchical leaders. Satan certainly attacked and tempted those leaders and he sometimes won. That writing was necessary and sometimes helped those involved to see the problems and change, or to leave those who would not change.

But Satan also attacks the leaders and individuals in independent congregations. Are the independent groups setting a much better example of submitting to Christ and overcoming Satan? Many people left big churches because the corporate ministry was spending too much to take care of themselves rather than preaching the gospel and feeding the flock. Are independent believers also spending too much to take care of themselves and not preaching the gospel or feeding the flock?

Because they are independent, these groups cover the whole spectrum: Some are very diligent to serve our Father, doing much with little. Other groups, while they quote the scriptures continually, are such a poor example to the outside world that they are an embarrassment to our Father. Independence is of little value if it produces no fruit.

A short article like this cannot begin to solve all of these problems. But independent believers need to realize that there is much, much more to submitting to Christ than just leaving a church hierarchy. Rewards are not based upon knowledge, or upon a governmental system, but upon what we do:

...and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire (1Cor 11:13-15).

For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged (1Cor 11:31).

.    —NSE

It dawned on me the other day that these verses are not only about people outside the church, but about US! I never thought so until recently.

Excuses Overheard

Read the following examples of excuses of people not meeting on the Sabbath, of people pleasing themselves, doing what they please, as they please, and not pleasing God.

Remark: “It doesn’t feel like the Sabbath to me if I host Sabbath Services. It’s too much work.”

Answer: It’s not about how you feel, it’s about obeying the command that the Sabbath is a holy convocation (Lev. 23 & Heb. 10:25). Did the priests of old, say “I’m not slaughtering those bulls today. It’s too much work?” Godward.org states, “Jesus referred to the law wherein the priests would work on the Sabbath and are blameless” (Num. 28:9). Okay, that settles that, but what about this next excuse?

Remark: “It’s too expensive to host Sabbath Services.”

Answer: This seems like a manufactured excuse when, instead of potluck, you have a catered meal fit for a wedding party. Church is not supposed to be about the food anyway. And a lot of the excuses seem to be about food. Food has become, not an enhancement, but the focal point, and a stumbling block.

Remark: “I have to make sure I have a full meal prepared for Sabbath in case someone doesn’t bring something.”

Answer: Forget the food, eat before you leave home, have the service and fellowship, go home and eat. Simple. Sabbath services, in too many cases have become little more than social events that revolve around eating.

Let’s Examine Ourselves

The answers to all three excuses are the most hard-hitting in the Contemporary English Version:

“Some people have gotten out of the habit of meeting for worship, but we must not do that. We should keep on encouraging one another, especially since you know that the day of the Lord’s coming is getting closer” (Heb 10:25).

“Obeying God is always for our good and is part of how we show love to God,” states Don Haney (1) (Duet. 10:12-13). In other words, it’s our responsibility to obey God. I don’t see much responsibility in the Church these days, I see irresponsibility.

The Holy Days have been attacked with this “Do Your Own Thing Virus” as well, as in the following example: “We keep the Passover as the spirit moves us with whatever we have, including pop and pretzels. That’s not wrong, is it?” they ask. Answer: Yes, it is.

For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body (1Cor. 11:29).

For many live as enemies of the cross of Christ; I have often told you of them, and now I tell you even with tears. Their end is destruction; their god is the belly; and their glory is in their shame; their minds are set on earthly things (Phil 3:18-19).

I doubt very much, if any, of this is of God. The Sabbath (and Holy Days) are intended as signs  between ourselves and God (Ex. 31:13). By not meeting on these days, we are taking down our signs! Could it be that this is what was meant when Christ said, “Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8).

And what about another sign? Love. Where is it? This is another sign that’s hard to find anymore. First, perhaps we need to be reminded what love is!

A new commandment I give unto you. That ye love one another, as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another,” (John 13:34-35).

Squabbling over song books, making up excuses to not meet together, and generally making a mockery of the commitment we once had is not love! “We don’t have to agree with each other on every point of doctrine to love one another,” says Brian Knowles (2). It is possible to disagree without being disagreeable. We can agree to disagree and remain friends. We can grow up, and quit focusing on food, and picking at every little thing. If not, God may take us to the wood shed for a thrashing, and you can bet it’s not going to be as comfortable as if we disciplined ourselves.

“We need to really consider,” continues Don Haney, “Do we come off as arrogant or humble? This latest tragic satanic attack [referring to the shooting in the Living Church of God], ought to encourage us to examine ourselves and to really be humble, and not to at all exalt ourselves!” We wouldn’t do that would we?

Deceitfulness of Sin

Apparently, we would. We are taking down our signs, hiding our lights under bushel baskets, burying our heads in the sand, and saying we are just fine: “... Thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked [spiritually unclothed]...” (Rev. 3:17). We need to be reminded of the deceitfulness of sin. In the tape/CD entitled, “The Passover Mystery,” Duane Nicol (3) does just that. He says “if nothing has changed in us, we have fallen into [sin’s] trap,” and are experiencing the deceitfulness of sin. If we have adjusted to our sins, done things without thinking about them, we are still carnal. It’s also carnal to think we are doing just fine, when it is obvious to everyone but ourselves that we aren’t. “Take care, brothers and sisters, that none of you may have an evil, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” so that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Heb 3:12-13, NRSV).

The theme of Ron Dart’s (4) recent CEM letter was also about sin being alive and well, and finding a comfy home in the church: “In something as small as Paul’s ‘a little leaven leavens the whole lump’, we are reminded that we are accountable for maintaining the integrity of the church. And if we don’t, the whole church can be corrupted by a very small matter tolerated over a long period of time.” He offered a taped sermon on the subject, “The Church Accountable,” delivered four years ago at Pentecost. He warns, however, “...be aware, this sermon will pinch more than a little. It will pinch you and your church.”

We all ought to be “pinched,” as Ron Dart put it, “more than a little” by the following. Kenneth Westby (5) says, “A.M. Rosenthal of the New York Times writes, ‘The shocking untold story of our times is that more Christians have died this century simply for being Christians than in the first nineteen centuries after the birth of Christ.’” While we in comfortable, relatively safe America let our candles flicker out, other Christians in China, Sudan, Mauritania, Pakistan, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, Egypt, Nigeria, Cuba, Laos and Uzbekistan are being persecuted. Westby says China is the worst, and that is hard to believe when you consider dissidents and Christians in North Korea may be being gassed, not just individuals, but whole families (6),

While distant brethren faithfully and bravely suffer, the Church of: “God Is Too Much Trouble” is in danger of falling away from the Laodicean Church, the one Christ says He will spew out (Rev. 3:16). Why? Because we can’t be bothered to even try reaching the “high” standards of the most lukewarm church in the Bible. We need to wake up and grow up before it’s too late. As Christ said, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent” (Rev. 3:19).

Hopefully, we still have time to do that.          &


(1) Haney, Don, “A Wake Up Call to a House in Mourning”, (godward.org)

(2) Knowles, Brian, “On Being a Christian in Troubled Times”, (godward.org)

(3) Nicol, Duane, “The Passover Mystery”, Church of God, International

(4) Dart, Ron, CEM letter, May 1, 2005

(5) Westby, Kenneth, “ACD newsletter”, “Keeping Watch”, (godward.org)

(6) World Net Daily, “Claim: North Korea Gassing Citizens,”



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