Fall 2015: The Wedding of Laodicea and Cultural Adventism
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Summary: In the timeless struggle between the church and the world, a growing crisis in the last days promises to leave many church members unprepared for the soon coming of Jesus. While the final Laodicean church suffers a barrage of divisive attacks from the outside world, a more sinister division has reared within the church, between those who have genuine Biblical faith and those who mimic this lifestyle through their reliance upon the mere religious culture of Adventism.

In the timeless struggle between the church and the world, a growing crisis in the last days promises to leave many church members unprepared for the soon coming of Jesus. While the final Laodicean church suffers a barrage of divisive attacks from the outside world, a more sinister division has reared within the church, between those who have genuine Biblical faith and those who mimic this lifestyle through their reliance upon the mere religious culture of Adventism.

This division is not a new one, and we need only go back to the Genesis account where we find two twins, Jacob and Esau, who could not be more illustrative of the issue. It should be noted that both were raised in the faith (church) by their parents, knew truth, and had a knowledge of God. It is from this point that the similarities of these two twins radically diverge. Esau quickly cast off the restraints of his religious upbringing at the first temptation of his fleshly nature, as evidenced by the selling of his birthright for a temporary, earthly indulgence which influenced the course of his life. However, Jacob found a life altering power through a new birth experience from his faith and submission to God at Bethel.

Both started out with the same spiritual foundation, so what made the difference? Esau was immersed in the faith of his fathers as a child, but his preference for the culture of his faith rather than possessing faith itself did not lead him to seek transformation of heart and character as did Jacob. He sought the blessing of God and benefit of the culture simply for earthly gain. As one minister duly noted, "Being born in the truth is not the same as being true." How accurate for many today as well!

Jesus also rebuked this superficial mimicry of true faith. In the gospel of John, we read His words, "...you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life." John 6:26,27. They followed Jesus to have their stomachs filled with bread rather than their heart filled with His Spirit and presence. They ate from His hand but not His heart. Religious culture wishes to sit at Jesus' feet but only to be fed conveniently in this life without any discomfort of preparation for the next. Biblical faith will seek the spiritual bread even at the expense of earthly bread.

Herein lies the heart of the problem of Adventism today. Those whose lifestyles find common ground with genuine Christianity, but only have a form thereof, cannot testify of an external power which transforms them. They can only confess that they have been immersed for a time in the culture of Adventist Christianity and seek the benefits which come from such a lifestyle. They may appear to drink of the water of life, and yet be as destitute as the hills of Gilboa. A life enriched by Adventist culture without living faith cannot live above the world, but only comfortably in it. Without an entire surrender of the will, they do not experience genuine conversion. And without this, they neither come to Christ, nor practice self denial to lead others to him.

The 25th chapter of Matthew prophetically describes the distinct division that exists among God's people right before He comes. A contemporary view of the parable and its application would allow us to say that there are those cultural Adventists who have secluded themselves from the world, understood truth, and yet they still enjoy the world's pleasures and benefits. They want deliverance from evil but not from sin. Consequently, they seek their own kingdom rather than His. True Adventism, by contrast, seeks not only escape from the consequence of sin, but more importantly receives freedom from the root of sin itself through surrender to Jesus in everything. As a result, the new heart seeks actively to advance the kingdom of God through sharing its faith under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It is a grace empowered endeavor, and the person constantly relies upon Christ for its accomplishment. In addition, true Biblical faith views God's commandments and counsel as grace filled truth that brings an abundant life, not as merely irrelevant "church rules." It accepts the plain, straight truth of the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy with joy, recognizing that it is out of infinite love and the strong delusion of sin that God gives such straightforward instruction. Anything short of this is a sure indicator that one is only culturally Adventist, but not a transformed Adventist.

This distinction being made, it should be noted that there is nothing objectionable with Biblical Adventist culture, as long as it is driven by true Adventist faith. The two can exist together with hope of eternal life, but the former cannot save without the latter and will only result in eternal loss. Adventist culture alone will not meet the requirement in the judgement when we stand before God. We must each seek God personally with all our heart while He is seeking us with all of His and be truly born again through living faith in Christ. To live each moment saturated with faith, not simply parroting the culture we know so well, is the sure remedy for Laodiceanism in Adventism today. To revive the first love, or sadly for many who are baptized members in the church already, the need to discover it for the first time, is of paramount importance for each of us personally as we live on the edge of the final prophetic crisis. Yet, there is rich hope for any who look to Him today in earnest, heartfelt faith.

Are you experiencing true Adventist faith or merely a cultural experience? Your answer today is of eternal, life and death significance. Choose faith. Choose life.

Warmly, Pastor Wes Peppers, Lansing Adventist Church Michigan Conference

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