The End Of The Church Age
By Nathaniel K. Haney
The Last Two Churches Jesus Addressed: Philadelphia and Laodicea
We will look first at Philadelphia, which was located in the Valley of the Cogamus. This city was named for Attalus II Philadelphus (159-138 B.C.), who at that time was the king of Pergamum. Philadelphus had a brother named Eumenes to whom he was very close. There was a strong love and devotion between them. It is stated that this city was built by Eumenes in honor of his brother. The name Philadelphia means brotherly love. This church plays a very significant role in church history, and it symbolically follows the Reformation period.
As we already noted, the Reformation was short-lived, and soon many who had made their exit from a contaminated church returned and settled back into apostasy. However, not all those who received light and truth went back but continued to follow the path of Truth that the Lord Jesus had revealed to them, translating them from the kingdom of darkness into His marvelous light. We see this in the fact that there have always been people who have followed the teachings the Lord Jesus Christ proclaimed through the apostles to the first century church.
We have record of this in the Book of Acts that is confirmed by extrabiblical historical writings. This doctrine was simple. They preached the Christ as Lord and Savior, proclaiming His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension. When the people believed, they repented of their sins, were baptized in Jesus Name, and received the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in tongues. These believers have multiplied by the millions, continuing in the apostle’s doctrine, and following the Spirit of Truth right into the Philadelphia church age.
God’s plan was to bring not just a remnant but also the masses who felt they were part of the church back to the apostolic experience and doctrine. The Philadelphia church represents the great Pentecostal revival and doctrines of the apostles that began to be restored in 1901. This church, in prophetic teaching, represents the True Church on the Earth at the time of the Rapture. Of all the churches, the Philadelphia church receives perhaps the highest commendation. It has kept the Word of His patience and is a Bible church built on the apostles’ teachings. It is made up of the people of The Name, God’s called-out ones.
It is important to notice they did not deny His Name. The battle has always been over the Name of Jesus. To other religions, the term God is acceptable and considered greater than Jesus. And even though the Bible teaches Jesus is absolute and is called God, they reject Him. It is also interesting to note that many Christians will use Jesus Name in some areas but refuse His Name in water baptism. But the church of Philadelphia still teaches the same doctrines of the first century church, which includes water baptism in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Revelation 3:8 says, “I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door; and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.”
Notice the words little strength. This must be understood in the context of their natural abilities. If Philadelphia is strong only in the natural, then God would not be able to use them in a powerful way in the end-time revival. Our perceived weaknesses become our strengths, thus allowing God to be the great and powerful force working in and through us. The Philadelphia church was a perfect church; they kept God’s Word, properly interpreting it in the context in which God had given it. Therefore their doctrines were strong and right. They were a people of great faith. They were not known for their talents or abilities like the world possessed and considered important. What they were known for was their steadfastness and their unwavering faith in God and His Word.
They were weak by the world’s standards, but were strong in faith. Since Philadelphia kept the Word of God, it was evident they had been well taught and understood the principle of sowing and reaping. In obeying this truth, they had a full harvest of finances with which to support the work of God. They were obedient to the commandment of God in tithing and giving of offerings, and they received the same results that any tither would receive who gave in faith. This being God’s plan for the financial support of His work, He will open the windows of heaven and pour out financial blessings.
Philadelphia was in no way inferior to the Laodicians in earthly and material wealth as some suppose, but rather were superior to them. The difference is, the Laodicians earned their wealth by the systems of the world, whereas the Philadelphia church followed God’s plan in tithe and offering. What we accomplish in our flesh we often glory in and drive God away from our lives. The Laodician church always boasted in what they did. The Philadelphia church looked at what God did through them and humbly gave worship and testimony to God’s greatness. This is why a little strength is the great key of success that Philadelphia had.
The world has always hated the church, but God in this end-time is giving us influence and favor with them to bring them to Truth. Philadelphia had true success with God, and He said that He loved them. The little strength in the context of Revelation 3:8 clearly refers to the natural world. It is obvious that their spiritual state of being was powerful and mighty in contrast to the weakness and frailty of Laodicia. Notice, under some very harsh conditions Philadelphia, through the power of the Holy Ghost, was able to keep God’s Word. To keep something from the enemy, who is constantly after you, you have to be strong in the Lord. You have to have a stable mind and God’s wisdom. They were up against the world’s persecution and Satan’s deceits and lies. Yet, for all of this, Satan could not take the Word from them.
Neither could he steal their faith. These people were anchored deep in Truth, which included repentance of sin, baptism in the Name of Jesus, and the infilling of the Holy Ghost. What they lacked in natural strength, God made up with supernatural anointing. In the natural they had a little strength, but in the spiritual they were giants of faith whom Satan could not defeat.
Jesus said, “The gates of hell shall not prevail against the church . .” When you look at our own period of time, the church is standing against the world’s forces that are empowered by Satan and his fallen angels. Corrupt and activist judges, who rule in favor of the wicked, change the laws to discriminate against the church. They hate God and His laws. We deal with a news media that constantly belittles, mocks, and chips away at the image of Christianity to make Christians look like weak fools. We are dealing with men and women who are demon possessed who produce movies that constantly preach day in and day out against Christianity. There is cooperation among actors, celebrities, singers, and professional people who use their influence to put down the church.
Also involved are professors who do not believe in God who have filled our universities across the nation, teaching a perverted education. We are dealing with corrupt social and school systems that, behind the scenes for over fifty years, have been rewriting American history to erase every trace of Christianity, replacing it with humanism, socialism, communism, and other religions. They would like to totally erase Christ Jesus from the American landscape. They have taken nativity scenes off government properties and removed the Ten Commandments from public buildings. Government funds are used to plan parenthood for people who should have been more responsible in their sexual activities. Instead, children that are the results of irresponsibility in the passions and heat of a moment are being killed.
All these natural powers, strengthened by the hand of Satan, are strong and mighty in comparison to the church in the natural realm. And in that light it is easy to see how the
church has a little strength a few Christian movies, a few Christian television stations, a few Christian radio stations, schools, professionals, etc. But when we as a church switch gears from the little strength of the natural world into the might and power of the spirit world, things begin to change. Satan and his system that dominates the human race is no match against a church that knows how to be weak in the flesh but strong in the Lord. It is important that we understand that a little strength is not a reference to spiritual weakness but, rather, is a reference to our dependency upon God and His great and mighty power working through us.
In our dependency upon Him, God has opened a door that no one on Planet Earth, from the power of the United Nations to the unions of Hollywood, or to the wickedness of godless government officials, will ever be able to shut. Truly the Philadelphia church is the body of Christ that the fires of hell, the powers of darkness, and the deceits and lies of the enemy cannot stop. Yes, not only do we have an open door to be raptured when Christ calls His church home, but an open door to reach our world with the Truth.
The church of Philadelphia had been faithful in two things that moved the Lord Jesus to give them a promise of an open door that no man could shut:
* They had kept God’s Word.
* They had not denied His Name.
Revelation 3:10 says, “Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.” Notice, the Hour of Temptation is something that God is going to put on the whole inhabited Earth. The word hour is a specific period of time that God has designated for the world. It is the period of time referred to as the Great Tribulation. It is going to come upon the whole Earth, not just a limited portion but all of the inhabitants will encounter this hour of trial. Scripture references that depict this well-known hour of testing can be found in the following verses: Daniel 9:27; 12:1 Zechariah 14:1-4 Matthew 24:5-31 Revelation 6:12-17; 14:7,16
The purpose of this hour is to try them that dwell on the Earth. This will expose the true character of Earth’s inhabitants and reveal their trust in or rebellion against God.
Revelation 16:9 says, “And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory ”
Revelation 16:11 says, “And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds.”
The Great Tribulation will bring God’s justice by the wrath that He will pour out upon all mankind. It will provide the evidence in the Court of Heaven for the judgments by which the Lord will try Earth’s inhabitants. The church of Philadelphia has a great promise. The Lord Jesus told them, “. . . I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation . . . ” (Revelation 3:10). Some people have supposed that Christ is going to preserve them while they endure the Tribulation, but this is far from the meaning of what Christ is saying in this passage of Scripture. The focal point of the phrase “I also will keep thee from the hour” is the Greek preposition ek, which is our English word from, and, according to Walter Bauer’s Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament (page 234), the word ek means “from out of / away from.” Walter Bauer states it means to keep or protect someone from something (page 815).
Look at the phrase, “I also will keep you from.” This is a promise that states “I will protect you from the Great Tribulation.” The grammar used in this phrase is the same as a schoolteacher would use to say to a student, “I’m going to keep you from graduating,” or a judge would tell someone, “I’m going to keep you from going to jail.” It would be foolish to think you were going to go through the graduation ceremony after the teacher had specifically told you he was going to keep you from graduating. It would be equally foolish to assume you were going to be placed in a jail cell after the judge had promised to keep you out of jail.
The same is true to assume that God is going to let the church go through the Tribulation but preserve it while it goes through it. The whole ideal is foreign to the passage in which Jesus specifically said, “I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation.” The grammar here does not permit preservation within, but it is protection in a position outside of this hour. There is a vast difference between “keep you from” (words of Christ) and “preserve you through” (man’s words). When Jesus said, “I’m going to keep you from,” He actually meant that this will be accomplished through the Rapture when He removes His bride from the Earth, taking her to heaven before His judgments begin to fall.
It is the Philadelphia church that Jesus Christ is coming back for. These people are in love with Jesus, and His Word is more important than man’s traditions. The Name of Jesus is very precious to them. This is the apostolic church where miracles abound and healings flow freely, where prayer is heard often, and millions receive the Holy Ghost by the Bible evidence of other tongues. This church is holy and separated from the spotted masses that call themselves Christian. They are those who have been washed in the blood of Jesus and have totally committed to His service, and who will live or die for Truth and never be ashamed of our Lord Jesus.
In contrast, the last church Christ addressed, the Laodicea church, does not have the same passionate love for Christ. Laodicea means the voice of the people, for the people rule. This brings us to the closing days of the church on Earth. 2 Timothy 4:3 says, “For the time will come when . . . after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; ” First of all, God’s voice will not be listened to by the people. Secondly, godly leadership will not be respected.
The Laodicea church rules from the pew rather than the pulpit. These people resent apostolic authority. They hate the prophets and abhor the five-fold ministry because of a heart that is vile and evil. Their god is self and money and their by-word is rebellion, a spirit that is so prevalent in this world today. It is so thoroughly woven into the fibers of the Laodiceans that only God’s Word can divide the soul and spirit, and the good from the evil. This age will blend into the Philadelphia Age and will be the predominant spirit of the churches at the close of the Church Age. However, the preeminence of apostasy in the world will greatly contrast with the True Church, giving the sinner multitudes a clear and pure picture of real Christianity. God has so ordained it to be.
This rebellious attitude has brought about the picture in Revelation 3:15 that says, “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot . . .” In the city of Laodicea they had a problem with their water. They had built aqueducts to bring cold water to the city for drinking and hot mineral water for baths, and had spent much money, time, labor, and effort to accomplish this. But after these were built, they still had a problem with their water. By the time the water reached the city, the cold water was no longer cold but was lukewarm, and the hot mineral water was no longer hot. It had become lukewarm. So, the water they had brought in for drinking was not pleasant, neither was the water they had brought in for their mineral baths.
You can imagine the feeling that God has with the Laodicea church.
When He looks at the lukewarm church, He says, “I wish you were cold for drinking that I might quench my thirst, or hot for my pleasure, but, instead, you are lukewarm. Because of this, I will spew you out of my mouth.” Yes, the church of that city understood what Christ was saying in the letter He had written to it. He also said, “I know thy works.” Admittedly, this church had its works of charity but not Holy Ghost-inspired works. Works are good, but they do not save. Since rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, Christ will be ruled out of this church because He is the head and the final authority, and rebellion hates authority. We need little investigation to find that a lukewarm spirit rules in Christianity today. God would rather one be cold or hot than to be lukewarm. He hates lukewarmness among His people.
If this is the condition of the last church, one wonders if there is going to be a revival taking place when Jesus comes to take His church home. I’m glad to say, as long as the Philadelphia church is here there will be revival, for it has the Spirit of the Lord Who is ever reaching for lost souls.
Revelation 3:16 tells us what will happen to the lukewarm people and churches that are present when Christ returns. They will be spewed out of God’s mouth. This apostate church will be spewed into the Great Tribulation. Only those who keep the spirit of Philadelphia burning in their hearts will be raptured. Being baptized in Jesus Name and receiving the Holy Ghost is not enough; one must be ablaze with fire and passion.
The problem with the Laodicea church was not only its rebellion, but it trusted in riches more than in God. This church was very rich in finances but was very poor in spirit. This can be seen quite clearly in the nations of America and Europe. God is more than generous in giving material wealth to His people, but, with these gifts, He requires stewardship that includes tithes and generous offerings to support His work. When we speak of the Philadelphia church, we must remember they also had a full supply of wealth to finance the work of God. There should be no question that there were many individuals, as there are now, who had great wealth and had not been tainted by the world. They were on fire for God and used their wealth to bless His kingdom, as is also the case today.
I have personally known several people God has entrusted with wealth who used it for His glory. It is God’s promise to people who give that He will pour out blessings, which includes finances. God knows His Kingdom needs money, and He desires to use His people to provide it and to bless them if they will support the work. But, for the most part, many in the church have little material and worldly treasures. Although, in time, with the proper teaching, this always changes as the laws of sowing and reaping are activated. Yet one should never forget that for real Christians, no matter what their financial state is here, their real treasures are beyond the blue in a home that was built by Christ for them called Heaven.
In this era of time in which we live, known as the Last Days, there are many people who are indifferent toward Truth and are willing to compromise everything for unity among all religions. But Christ is looking for a church that has a deep love and devotion toward Him as their head, and they as His body. It is in the Philadelphia church that He has found passionate love toward Him like that of the First Church. It is this group of people who love His Name and His Word. They do not have the political strength often associated with the Mother of Harlots church, but they do have genuine power with God! This power ultimately controls all things because Jesus is Lord of the universe. This is really what matters. While many people are willing to compromise Truth for acceptance, the Philadelphia church wanted only to be accepted by Jesus.
This article was taken from the book A Mystery No More: Biblical Prophecy Series, Volume 2 By: Nathaniel K. Haney
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