The Laodicean Church Era

By COGwriter

Laodicea is the seventh of the seven churches listed in the Book of Revelation. The Laodicean Church became predominant towards the end of the twentieth century.

Jesus told the Laodicea Church:

14 And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, 'These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God:
15 "I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot.
16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.
17 Because you say, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing'--and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked--
18 I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.
19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.
20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.
21 To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.
22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." ' " (Revelation 3:14-22, NKJV throughout).

There are several differences in the statements to the church of the Laodiceans that do not seem to be included in the messages to the other churches.

These unique statements include: being lukewarm (vs.15-16), being vomited out (vs.16), thinking they are self-sufficient while not knowing that they are miserable and blind (vs. 17), being counseled to buy gold refined in the fire (vs. 18), that those among them that Jesus loves will be rebuked and chastened (vs. 19), and that Jesus has to knock to find out if any will answer (vs. 20).

Many of these negative statements will be cited in this paper to help demonstrate the identity of those part of the church of the Laodiceans.

Laodicea

According to Strong's Greek concordance, Laodicea is a combination of two words, laos which it defines as "people" and dike, which is defined by Strong's as "right," "judgment," "punish," and "vengeance."

Notice something published by the old Global Church of God:

Smith's Bible Dictionary defines Laodicea to mean "justice of the people." Might the term Laodicean convey that the predominant characteristic of this Church is that people rule, people judge--or even that the people are judgmental? (Thiel B. Philadelphia & Laodicea. Global Church News, July-August 1998, p. 12).

Laodicean's improperly judge and improperly change the Church's direction. This has happened with to nearly all COG groups.

I personally have long felt that the term Laodicea conveys a difference in governance and direction. Since the Philadelphians are admonished to "Hold fast what you have" (Revelation 3:11) and the Laodiceans say, "I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing" (vs. 17) it would seem that most Laodiceans have rejected other biblical truths as well.

Were the Laodiceans Expected by the Philadelphians?

While Herbert Armstrong was alive, he or his subordinates, wrote the following about the Laodicean era of the Church:

...the final generation of the Church shall be LUKEWARM -- not less emotional, but more 'liberal,' more secular and less spiritual -- less strictly biblical --" "Speaking of the present 'Philadelphia' era, it says...because we have kept God's Word faithfully, not liberalizing nor watering down, God will keep us from the 'hour of temptation, which shall come upon all them that dwell on the earth' to try and test them. (Armstrong HW. Personal from Herbert W. Armstrong. Plain Truth, August 1980).

But, the BAD NEWS, as it appears today, my dear brethren, is that we, undoubtedly of the Philadelphian era...are in serious danger of BECOMING also the Laodicean era. I am personally much concerned about that. If YOU are NOT concerned, then indeed we are in mortal DANGER. (Armstrong HW. Personal from Herbert W. Armstrong. Good News, August 1979).

It is the Church of Laodicea who had no vital part in the work of God today even though they live today and are part of the generation which will see Christ return (What is the Laodicean Church? Good News, August 1959, p.12).

Just as the remnants of the Sardis era of the Church exist side by side with the Philadelphia era, SO WE WILL CONTINUE OUR WORK to the very "end time" when another group will appear -- a group not accounted worthy to escape the coming tribulation. Another separate work is yet to arise -- made up of begotten individuals who are spiritually lukewarm! WOE BE TO ANY OF US IF WE TAKE PART IN SUCH A WORK! Here is a work, yet to arise because of our preaching" (True History of the True Church, 1959).

Thus, the Philadelphia portion of the Church of God has long taught that near the end, a separate work (which also happens to be a series of separated works) of those who are lukewarm will emerge. A work that is not hot and apparently less strictly biblical.

And sadly, this has occurred. And while it is not absolutely clear when the bulk of the Church of God (COG) became Laodicean, it is clear that Herbert Armstrong died in 1986 and that his successors in WCG discarded nearly every 'COG doctrine' that WCG once had. Hence, this is why I decided to use 1986 as the date of Laodicea's predominance (though there were many Laodiceans prior to that date).

Now in spite the the quotes from HWA and the old Good News, some believe that HWA only taught that Laodicea could not arise until after the Philadelphians go to a place of safety. Those who do this simply do not understand HWA's written clarifications of this, nor the scriptures.

Recall that Jesus chastised the Laodicean Church for a lukewarm work. If the existence of the the Laodicean Church only comes at the beginning of the great tribulation and their main work is to be persecuted and killed, it does not seem that this would be considered to be lukewarm. Hence, the Laodiceans MUST be around prior to the great tribulation. And that means that they will be severely persecuted during the time of the Great Tribulation (please also see the article Persecutions from Church and State). Think on this!

The late John Ogwyn wrote and warned:

In Revelation 3, we read of two final phases of the history of the Church of God. The Church of Philadelphia was to be characterized by a zeal to do the Work. God promised to set before them an 'open door' as well as to protect them from the future Great Tribulation. However, there is a final seventh stage of the Church described, as the Church at Laodicea. This church was to be described by spiritual lukewarmness and lethargy. It is described as a worldly church, and certainly one which fit in with the spirit of these permissive, modern times...Some of God's people have been overwhelmed by the cares and problems of this life or by personal problems and have dropped by the wayside. Others have been deceived by false prophets and have gone into apostasy. Still others have become so lethargic and softened by comfort that they have lost their vision and merely wish to maintain local churches, no longer caring about doing the Work (Ogwyn, John. God's Church Through the Ages. Booklet. 1995).

It may be of interest to note that John Ogwyn originally wrote the above prior to 1995 (and it was published prior to March 1995) and prior to the time that most people left the Worldwide Church of God (WCG). Sadly, he was quite correct about what would happen.

Roderick C. Meredith wrote:

One of the primary dangers for all of us in God’s Church is Laodiceanism. We are definitely in what the Bible indicates is the “last era”—the last church age of God’s Church just before the Tribulation. The Apostle John was inspired to describe this era in very clear terms in Revelation 3:14–22. Note...those who are Laodiceans may have a “watered-down” approach to doctrine in general, but they appear to have most of the Truth. It is just that they are complacent and may say, in effect: “I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing” (v. 17). Yet, in God’s eyes, they are “wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked.” Where do I stand? Where do you stand? Each of us must constantly try to objectively evaluate ourselves—not other people. And I warn you solemnly that not all Laodiceans are in the “other groups!” For we in the Living Church of God have a certain number of Laodiceans, and all of us are in danger of becoming that way if we succumb to the dominant “spirit” of this church age—and of the society around us. discouraged by the continuing captivity of his people and perhaps the general malaise among them, he began to zealously seek God... Each of us must constantly try to objectively evaluate ourselves—not other people. And I warn you solemnly that not all Laodiceans are in the “other groups!” (Meredith, Roderick. Editorial. Living Church News, July-August 2002, p.3).

Roderick C. Meredith was correct. Simply being a member of the church that contains part of a remnant of the Philadelphia era of the true Church of God, does NOT make one a Philadelphian--and sadly Laodiceanism increased to the point in LCG that the Continuing Church of God had to form. Perhaps I should mention that during the years when I was an official (by his appointment) advisor to Dr. Meredith, I repeatedly told him that he seemed to have a major problem in being able to distinguish between Laodiceans and Philadelphians. The end result of that is that LCG is no longer the leader of the Philadelphian remnant and is primarily composed of Laodiceans and people who will end up that way if they stay there too long. Additionally, by defining its uniqueness by its improper falling away doctrine (see The Falling Away: The Bible and WCG Teachings), LCG publicly proclaimed that it was in essence, improperly changing its direction (plus took others steps away from thr truth).

Notice also something that was accurate in 2001:

The Living Church of God cannot claim that all its members are Philadelphian, but we do believe we are a uniquely Philadelphian remnant... Of course, simply attending with the Living Church of God does not make one a Philadelphian; individual members must do their part, and must not allow their lives to be cluttered by the cares of this world so that they themselves become lukewarm (Laodicean)...there are Philadelphians outside the Living Church of God. (Thiel R. What Is a Philadelphian? Living Church News. July-August 2001).

This is the time for Laodicea and it has been for over two decades, and Laodiceanism is increasing. Back in/near 2009, despite it still then (in my view) having the 'Philadelphia mantle' within it, when I was asked if I felt that the majority in the Living Church of God were Philadelphian, I responded with "No." The majority there were Laodicean then and this has increasingly become a problem there since (see also Why Bob Thiel Left the Living Church of God and What About the Living Church of God? Are there Doctrinal Differences with the Continuing Church of God?).

Background on Laodiceans

It has been taught that the churches mentioned in Revelation 2 & 3 probably have at least three applications in that they represent seven contemporaneous churches, the seven successive eras of the New Testament Church, and probably seven successive eras in the Old Testament Church. That latter teaching has the first Laodicean era beginning with the Maccabean revolt and existing at the time of Jesus (McNair, Carl. Idols of the Heart. LCG videotape VTE122, 3/24/01). During Jesus' day, there were two main religious groups within Israel, the Sadducees and the Pharisees (plus others, some of which were not considered part of the Church). Since it is apparent that we are currently living during the Laodicean era, is it not likely that there are modern Sadducees and Pharisees?

The Maccabean's revolted because "Antiochus polluted the altar by offering a sow upon it. He declared the daily sacrifices and other Mosaic ceremonies illegal and committed an abomination of desolation by erecting an image of Zeus in the holy place...Mattathias, father of five sons, refused to offer sacrifices in a profane manner...He and his sons fled to the mountains and began the famous Maccabean revolt" (The Nelson Study Bible, 1997. Notes, page 1442).

In like manner, most rightly left WCG because of various abominations that they saw occur. For example, WCG now uses a cross now as part of its identification which is on the property in Pasadena (I have seen it) and "In 46 B.C., Roman coins show Jupiter holding a scepter terminating in a cross. This was his symbol" (Babylon Mystery Religion, 1966, page 53). It is of interest to note that Jupiter is simply the Roman name for the Greek god Zeus--hence there appears to be a historical parallel here.

Just like the Maccabean revolt ultimately ended with groups that did not hold fast to all the truth (hence they became Sadducees and Pharisees), the same type of thing seems to have happened in modern times.

Sadducee Laodiceans

Smith's Bible Dictionary says that the Sadducees "were for the most part judges, and individuals of the governing class...The leading tenet of the Sadducees was the negation of the leading tenet of their opponents...The second distinguishing doctrine of the Sadducees was the denial of man's resurrection after death." Halley's Bible Handbook says the Sadducees "were a priestly clique...irreligious...they were rationalistic and worldly minded." In addition Josephus wrote, "Sadducees...think it an instance of virtue to dispute with those teachers of philosophy whom they frequent...Sadducees...say... that they may act as they please...But the behavior of the Sadducees ones towards another is in some degrees wild; and their conversation with those that are of their own party is as barbarous as if they were strangers to them." Thus the Sadducees were a mixture of independents and semi-independent individuals.

Scripture confirms that many of the Sadducees were associated with the priesthood and that they were somewhat hostile to the true Church, "Then the high priest rose up, and all those who were with him (which is the sect of the Sadducees), and they were filled with indignation, And laid their hands on the apostles and put them in the common prison" (Acts 5:17-18). There exists great indignation among many of the so-called independents of what they refer to a 'corporate churches'; there also exists a great deal of indignation among those who are ministers in various COGs to be under the authority of the primary one God is doing His main work through today. The Sadducees may have been prophesied, "How can you say, "We are wise, And the law of the LORD is with us'?...Behold they have rejected the word of the LORD; So what wisdom do they have?" (Jeremiah 8:8-9).

The Sadducees apparently considered human governance and position more important than God's as John wrote, "The chief priests answered, "We have no king but Caesar!" " (John 19:15). They also would not teach the whole plan of salvation, "For Sadducees say that there is no resurrection--and no angel or spirit" (Acts 23:8). "Then some Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Him...Jesus answered and said to them, "Are you not therefore mistaken, because you do not know the Scriptures nor the power of God?" " (Mark 12:18,24).

There are many today whose leading tenet seems to be the denial of the doctrine of God's governance. They are mistaken because they do not know the Scriptures (for further information please read the article Should a Christian Vote? and The Falling Away: The Bible and WCG Teachings). They are candidates to be modern Sadducees. Interestingly, many who reject God's governance also have denied God's system of financing and have done away with some teachings concerning tithing. The most common rejection of tithing comes from those who claim that the governments of the world have taken over caring for the needy, and thus they do not believe they need to pay third tithe (here is an article Is Third Tithe Still Valid Today? which addresses many of the arguments against third tithe). This clearly is a worldly attitude.

Like the Sadducees of Jesus' day, modern Sadducees also do not teach the whole plan of God and they seem to disagree amongst themselves on specifics. Some will not teach that we are to be born again to be part of God's family. Some do not teach that we are begotten by God's Spirit. Some deny that there are eras of God's Church. Some do not teach that some of God's promises to Israel were fulfilled with the blessings given the the British descendant peoples. Some deny scriptures such as Matthew 18 (see Why Bob Thiel Left the Living Church of God) and Matthew 28:19 (see Is Matthew 28:19 in the Bible?). Most do not consider that the top priority of the Church should be proclaiming the Gospel to the world as a witness (and some who do overly compromise with parts of the message). Many observe birthdays. Some do not teach their is a place of safety, or if they do, they teach the place is not Petra. Some are independent of all organized efforts to proclaim the Gospel. Some are irreligious, and like the Sadducees of old, they just do not know the power of God and will not let it rule their lives. Others who claim to belive in biblical church governance instead have decided to rely a bit more on their organization than they have the word of God.

Perhaps the bulk of those that were once part of WCG and still claim to be part of the Church of God appear to be in this Sadduccee category of Laodiceans.

Pharisee Laodiceans

Halley's Bible Handbook states that the, "Pharisees were the most numerous and influential of the religious sects of Jesus' day. They were strict legalists. They stood for the rigid observance of the letter and forms of the Law, and also for the Traditions".

According to Smith's Bible Dictionary, "The fundamental principle of the Pharisees...is that...there was an oral law to complete and explain the written law, given to Moses".

A biblical example of that would be Matthew 15:1-2, "Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus saying, 'Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread'". The Pharisees were quite concerned about 'the tradition of the elders' even though there was no biblical requirement to wash hands before eating bread. Some modern Pharisees seem to focus more on traditions, such as their interpretation of some teaching of Herbert Armstrong, than the Bible.

Some have even suggested that some of Mr. Armstrong's teachings are at least equal to scripture. While I believe that God used Herbert Armstrong to restore much truth to the Church, the Bible and not Herbert Armstrong must be the ultimate standard for the Church--it has to be the Bible (II Timothy 3:16).

The Pharisees of old said, "Teacher, we know that You are true, and care about no one; for You do not regard the person of men, but teach the way of God in truth" (Mark 12:14), but they did not do what Jesus taught. Some modern Pharisees say that Herbert Armstrong should be followed, but they will not follow his example of proclaiming the Gospel.

Jesus often called the Pharisees hypocrites (Mat 15:7;16:3;22:18;23:23,25,27,29; Mk 7:6). According to Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, the Greek word Jesus used that was translated as hypocrite means, "an actor under an assumed role". Likewise, modern Pharisees may pretend they are part of the Philadelphia era, while they are actually a part of the Laodicean era.

Though they have a form of governance, the Pharisees reject the one that God is primarily working through (see also The Bible, Peter, Paul, John, Polycarp, Herbert W. Armstrong, Roderick C. Meredith, and Bob Thiel on Church Government).

There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, "Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him." (John 3:1-2).

Then the Pharisees went and plotted how they might entangle Him in His talk. And they sent to Him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, "Teacher, we know that You are true, and teach the way of God in truth" (Matthew 22:15-16).

When morning came, all the chief priests and elders of the people plotted against Jesus to put Him to death (Matthew 27:1),

Then Judas, having received a detachment of troops, and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, came there with lanterns, torches, and weapons (John 18:3),

they had handed Him over because of envy (Matthew 27:18).

The Pharisees eliminated the competition so-to-speak, instead of supporting the one that taught the truth of God and did the work. Some Sadducees were also involved in this, cf. Matthew 16:1-12).

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!" (Matthew 23:23-24).

There are those today who focus on insignificant points, yet overlook more important ones--this is a trait of Pharisee Laodiceans.

But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass by justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone (Luke 11:42).

Also according to Strong's, Philadelphia means "fraternal affection," "brotherly love," "love of the brethren," "fond of the brethren." While the Philadelphians show the love of God by placing their top priority on proclaiming the Gospel to the world as a witness, the modern Pharisees do not. They like the old-time, "Pharisees and lawyers rejected the will of God for themselves" (Luke 7:30).

Many modern Pharisees often quote Herbert Armstrong and claim that only be following their interpretation of his teachings can one be a Philadelphian. Yet, Herbert Armstrong warned against those who had twigs but not the trunk of the tree.

In his November 19, 1976 letter Herbert Armstrong wrote, "It is true that Baptists, fundamental Methodists, and other Protestant denominations, do teach some things as we do--but they have the branches and twigs of the tree--NOT ONE OF THEM has the real TRUNK of the tree--with its MAIN BRANCHES...But Christ said to His Philadelphia era Church, that because we have but little strength, He would OPEN THOSE DOORS TO US (Rev. 3:8).

Furthermore, you cannot read anywhere in the Bible where it suggests that the top priority of the New Testament Church should not be proclaiming the Gospel. For further proof, please read the article Should the Church's Top Priority be Proclaiming the Gospel or Did Herbert Armstrong Change that Priority? This article proves that Herbert Armstrong did not change this priority as many modern Pharisees have claimed.

The modern Pharisees seem to place their interpretation of what Herbert Armstrong wrote ahead of the Bible, they focus on twigs, miss the weightier matters of the law, do not have the love of God in any major way, and do not obey the Bible when it comes to proclaiming the Gospel as a witness as their top priority. Although the modern Pharisees seem to all have these characteristics, they seem to have separated based on their interpretation of HWA's writings.

Why the Laodiceans are Not Part of Philadelphia

Many Laodicean groups, especially those who publicly consider themselves to be Philadelphian and/or the most faithful to HWA's teachings, fail to realize what Jesus taught the main reason was that He condemned the Laodiceans for.

In Jesus' own words notice:

...the church of the Laodiceans write, 'These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth (Revelation 3:14-16).

Jesus condemned the Laodiceans for their work. Not because it was no good (cold), but because it was not hot. They compromised too much!

Was it because the Laodiceans truly continue the work of the Philadelphians? Is it because they place the same priority, the same scriptural and resource emphasis, on continuing the work of the Philadelphia era?

No, to both questions.

Why? Because this is what Jesus said:

"to the...church in Philadelphia write, 'These things says He who is holy, He who is true, "He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens": I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name" ' (Revelation 3:7-8).

The Laodiceans have a different work. Yet it is the Philadelphians that continue the Philadelphia work until the end. That is what HWA's COG used to teach:

Philadelphia has little strength to do this great work that God has given it to do. God has opened the door, and yet look how insignificant, how weak, how little strength we as a Church have to do that work...Revelation 3:7-13: "And to the angel of the Church in Philadelphia write these things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that OPENETH, and no man SHUTTETH; and SHUTTETH and no man openeth." The great door that God has opened to this work is the facility to go into all the world and preach the gospel; the door of radio, the door of the printing press, plus many other such doors. God has set before us an open door and no MAN can shut it. God can shut it, and He will when the work is finished and the Philadelphia Church goes to a place of safety. ...The Laodicean Church is not going to he worthy to escape to a place of safety. When it is too late, they will find that the Church of Philadelphia has gone to safety (What Is the "LAODICEAN CHURCH"? Good News August 1959 Vol. VIII, Number 8).

Notice also that Jesus taught:

18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them. (Matthew 7:18-20)

The Laodiceans do not seem to understand why their primary mission should be to continue the work of proclaiming the whole Gospel to the world as a witness. Some of them claim to, but without success. Some of them, do not even bother to try.

Today's Laodiceans Seem to be the Modern Sadducees and Pharisees

Notice this from the Old Testament:

How can you say, 'We are wise, And the law of the Lord is with us'? Look, the false pen of the scribe certainly works falsehood. The wise men are ashamed, They are dismayed and taken. Behold, they have rejected the word of the Lord; So what wisdom do they have? (Jeremiah 8:8-9).

The parallels are undeniable. The Maccabeans started out intending to be faithful, but then drifted to become the Sadducees, Pharisees, and others which were apparently not part of the Old Testament Church. Many of those that originally left WCG, left for valid reasons as well, but then drifted. There are many individuals and groups which were once part of WCG which appear to fall into the camp of the Sadducees and Pharisees.

Interestingly, here is something that Herbert Armstrong wrote:

Suppose He had tried to join with, and work with the Pharisees, the Sadducees and the hypocritical Scribes of the days of His earthly Ministry. JESUS DIDN'T DO THAT! He called young men -- fishermen, taxcollectors -- took them into HIS OWN PRIVATE SCHOOL -- so to speak -- taught them the TRUE Gospel God had sent Him to proclaim, trained them for carrying on GOD'S WORK! (Letter, February 1, 1965).

The Pharisees, Sadducees, and many others in Jesus' day, simply would not back doing the work that Jesus wanted done. Sadly, this same situation occurs today.

The core of the problem seems to be pride. Dr. Winnail wrote the following:

Humility—Key to Unity: David wrote, “How good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity” (Psalm 133:1). The Apostle Paul urged Christians to “walk worthy” of their calling “with all lowliness and gentleness… endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1-3). He stated that the work of the ministry is to edify (build up) the body (the Church) “till we all come to the unity of the faith” (Ephesians 4:12-13). Paul also told contentious Corinthians that they should be “perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Corinthians 1:10). But what causes contentions that disrupt unity? The Scriptures reveal that pride is an underlying cause of contentions (Proverbs 13:10) and that pride will contribute to a person’s downfall and destruction (Proverbs 16:18). Insisting on doing things our own way also causes dissentions and strife (James 4:1). However, humility will eventually bring a person honor (Proverbs 15:33; 29:23) and will promote peace and unity (James 3:17-18). Jesus Christ was of “one mind” with His Father (John 10:30), and He was exalted because He humbled Himself and followed His Father’s instructions (Philippians 2:5-9). As Christians, we are encouraged to be subject to government (within and without the Church) and not to resist authority (Romans 13:1-2), to treat each other with respect, to be humble and not conceited about your own opinions (Romans 12:10-18). (Living Church of God, World Ahead Weekly Update, July 15, 2010).

Since Laodicea essentially means "people decide," people decide that they have their own reasons to not unify to accept proper Philadelphia era governance and priority on doing the work. Pride seems to be a factor for Laodicea. And there was so much in LCG that the Continuing Church of God had to form.

The Laodiceans are to be Rebuked and Chastened

Unlike other eras of the COG, Jesus has primarily negative statements to the church of the Laodiceans. He has to knock, hoping that some will answer:

18 I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.
19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.
20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock.

The Book of Daniel seems to discuss something similar:

And he said, "Go your way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. Many shall be purified, made white, and refined (Daniel 12:9-10).

Notice that Daniel is writing a prophecy for the end time. That is the time of the Laodiceans.

This seems to suggest that the Laodiceans will have to suffer through the great tribulation, unlike the Philadelphians who are promised:

10 Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth (Revelation 3:10).

The Laodiceans need to be rebuked and chastened. Apparently, part of the reason is that since they rejected Jesus' command to persevere and be part of the Philadelphia work. Notice that the promise of protection is ONLY given to the Philadelphians. Perhaps those that repent will have a part of the work during the tribulation (see article Who are The Two Witnesses?).

Those who are in Church of God groups that do not believe that Jesus emphasized public proclamation should also meditate on the following scripture:

30... he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad (Matthew 12:30).

It needs to be pointed out that although Laodiceans seem to believe that they are just like the Philadelphians, that they still are not protected. The Bible makes it clear that simply being a saint will not protect one from the great tribulation:

17 And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ (Revelation 12:17).

11 And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name." 12 Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus (Revelation 14:11-12).

The Laodiceans do have the testimony of Jesus Christ and do keep the ten commandments. But they simply do not have the same priority on the work as the Philadelphians in fulfilling Matthew 24:14 (see also The Final Phase of the Work). Because the Laodiceans are lukewarm, Jesus does not promise to protect them from the hour on trial, but instead states that He will vomit the unrepentant Laodiceans out!

Who would want that?

The Laodiceans are mainly "the offspring" of the true Philadelphia church. Biblically, it would be logical that the Laodiceans still keep the Sabbath, still observe Passover, still do not teach false doctrines such as the immortality of the soul, etc. But unlike the Philadelphians who are protected, the Laodiceans are not. Jesus allows that dragon to make war upon them!

No wonder Jesus tells them now to repent!

Laodiceans Often Do Not Realize that They Are Not Being Truly Faithful to the Word of God

The Philadelphians do not deny Christ's words (Revelation 3:8) and truly put the Bible above traditions of men. Yet, the Laodiceans have problems that way.

Various groups and semi-groups with origins in the old WCG have come up with doctrines that disagree with the Bible. For details, please see the following:

Comments on the Teachings of Ron Wallen, Philip Neal, Kenneth W., GRUMPS, Jesse Arellano, and others who Profess(ed) that WCG has God's Authority Can one still believe what Herbert W. Armstrong used to teach and still be in WCG? This article addresses this important issue.
Independent Members of the COG: Herbert W. Armstrong Comments, Plus Questions and Answers What did Herbert W. Armstrong teach about being independent of the organized Church? Should independents who claim to accept Herbert W. Armstrong's teachings support the end time Philadelphian work?
Differences between the Living Church of God and United Church of God This article provides quotes information from the two of the largest groups which had their origins in WCG as well as commentary.
Concerns about Church of God, a Worldwide Association Known as COGWA, this is the largest group that came out of the United Church of God.  Here is some history and concerns about it. UCG's former president Clyde Kilough and UK CEO Peter Hawkins are part of it.
Teachings Unique to the Philadelphia Church of God Simply calling oneself 'Philadelphia' does not make one so (see Revelation 3:7-9), nor does Gerald Flurry calling himself "that prophet" make it so. This article provides many quotes from this group which tries to look faithful.
In Their Own Words: Doctrinal Differences Between the old United Church of God and the old Global Church of God Older quotes from the leadership and some of the membership of these two organizations are included without added commentary (until the end and the 7/31/98 update) which highlighted some of the differences between them.
Church of God, an International Community (COG aic) This is the group led by David Hulme. It seems to minimize parts of biblical prophecy.
Beware, Doctrinal Compromise is in the Air! Discusses some doctrines that CGCF may have had to change in order to merge with United.
Teachings of the Christian Churches of God This group reject's the deity of Jesus and has other unusual teachings.
Why Not the Restored Church of God? This group, led by David Pack, claims to be the most faithful. The information in this article suggests otherwise. Here is a version in the Spanish language: ¿Por qué no la Iglesia de Dios Restaurada?
It's Not Stedfast This group, was led by Arlen Berkey. It claimed it was the most faithful, but like others had different priorities.
God's Church, Worldwide is another group to claim it is the most faithful, but like others has different priorities.
Intercontinental Church of God ICG was Garner Ted Armstrong's last group; it is now led by Mark Armstrong.
Teachings of the Church of God, International This article focuses on where CGI differs from the old WCG.
Teachings and Practices of Legacy Institute Works mainly in Asia and is led by Leon Sexton. It has various misunderstandings.
Church of God, Southern California This article discusses some of how David Antion's group differs from the old WCG.
Church of God Outreach Ministries This was a CGI spin-off that says it is not a church.
Teachings of the Christian Churches of God This group, led by Wade Cox, reject's the deity of Jesus and has other unusual teachings.
Teachings of Triumph Prophetic Ministries William Dankenbring's ministry--incorrectly speculates on various dates and holds to some odd doctrines.
Concerns About Ronald Weinland's Church of God-Preparing for the Kingdom of God Ronald Weinland falsely claimed to be one of the two witnesses God is raising up, that the Great Tribulation began on December 14, 2008, Jesus would return late September 2011, that Jesus would return on May 27, 2012, and now that Jesus will return on May 19, 2013. Why else does the Bible show that Ron Weinland is a false prophet? He has other views which show he is not part of the Church of God.?
Worldwide Assembly of Yahweh This is what I'd call a sacred name group.
Church of God, In Truth
This is what I'd call a calendar group.
Church of the Great God This group, led by John Ritenbaugh, says the bride must first be made ready (it de-emphasizes the priority of public proclamation of the gospel). Might this lead to a selfish bride? This group also seriously seems to misunderstand end-time prophecy.
Error-Ridden James Malm Not Doing an Elijah Work James Malm is an 'independent' who misunderstands and improperly maligns.
Teachings of Christian Educational Ministries Ron Dart's confederation (not a church).
Christian Renewal Ministries International They teach Hebrew.
Is the Genuine Church of God a Cult? There are misleading statements on the internet that this article tries to address.
Christian Biblical Church of God and its Teachings Fred Coulter's group--they tend to explain conspiracies, calendar issues, and have a "sea of glass" teaching.  Plus they produce books on various subjects.

Why Bob Thiel Left the Living Church of God Several have speculated reasons, but here is the truth. (En el idioma español: ¿Por qué Bob Thiel dejó la Iglesia del Dios Viviente?)
Journal Report on Continuing Church of God Leader Bob Thiel Bob Thiel was interviewed by The Journal News of the Churches of God related to him being a prophet, the proclamation goals of the Continuing Church of God, and why he left LCG.
What About the Living Church of God? Are there Doctrinal Differences with the Continuing Church of God? This article explains some information and doctrines of the Living Church of God as led by Roderick C. Meredith and some concerns about them. (En el idioma español: ¿Qué hay acerca de la Iglesia de Dios Viviente? ¿Hay diferencias doctrinales con la Continuación de la Iglesia de Dios?)

We in the Continuing Church of God continue to put the word of God above positions or traditions of men and strive to be Philadelphian.

Yet, There Will Be A Laodicean Work During the Time of the Great Tribulation

Since they will be subject to the "hour of trial" that includes the Great Tribulation, the Laodiceans will in essence have one or two works during this time.

Jesus condemns the Church of the Laodiceans because they have a work that is lukewarm and not one that is cold or hot (Revelation 3:14-15).  All the Churches of Revelation 2 & 3, except Smyrna, which has died out, and Philadelphia, a portion of which remains are all criticized for their work and/or behavior.Many had a lukewarmness towards the work. This lukewarmness towards the work of God, while existing to some degree by some throughout history, became more prevalent after the death of Herbert W. Armstrong in 1986. 

Over time, it has become clearer and clearer who were representing the gospel proclaiming, faithful Philadelphians, and who choose to have differing types of Laodicean works. 

Although people associated with Laodicea seem to be pleased with their lukewarm works, Christ clearly is not--and He will have them change or else (Revelation 3:14-19).

During the tribulation, the Laodiceans and others, remnants of Thyatira and Sardis will become more fully involved in the work of God whether or not they know that now.  Some will be hot, persecuted and probably martyred while others will be cold, denying the faith.

As mentioned before, notice that Satan the dragon will unleash persecution against that part of the true Church that is not protected:

17 And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ (Revelation 12:17).

So during this time, the work of Laodicea, Sardis, and Thyatira will essentially show that they can still keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.  That will be part of the “patience of the saints” (Revelation 14:12).

I also suspect that some of these people will also help the two witnesses during this time as well by providing places to stay, food, and even probably encouragement.  Additionally, I believe that the offspring of the church which is subject to persecution will also be providing the testimony of Jesus Christ to some who will respond to the message of the two witnesses as well.

Notice that the Bible shows that ten-horned beast ends up with the remaining saints for that 3 ½ years:

24 The ten horns are ten kings Who shall arise from this kingdom.  And another shall rise after them;  He shall be different from the first ones, And shall subdue three kings. 25 He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, Shall persecute the saints of the Most High, And shall intend to change times and law. Then the saints shall be given into his hand For a time and times and half a time (Daniel 7:24-25).

1 And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns…4 Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?" 5 And he was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and he was given authority to continue for forty-two months. 6 Then he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven. 7 It was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them (Revelation 13:4-7).

The Bible does teach that the faithful who are killed will be blest (Revelation 14:13).  Circumstances suggest that they might, to a degree, help a multitude of people come out this tribulation (cf. Revelation 7:9,14).

So, there will be several works being done by the true Church during the Great Tribulation.  However, since Jesus condemns all the remaining Churches in Revelation 2 & 3 at the end, except the Philadelphian portion, then Christians should strive to be Philadelphian in holding fast to true doctrine while also placing their whole beings into supporting the work of that era to complete its mission as taught by Jesus in Matthew 24:14.

Remember that seven times related to the seven Churches of Revelation 2 & 3, Jesus states:

"He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches" (Revelation 2:7,11,17,29:3:6,13,22).

Thus the biblical messages to each of the churches is important for people to heed.  People need to ask themselves which church they should support.

Do they want to “persevere” (Revelation 3:10) and support the Philadelphia work?  Or do they want to be part of the “people decide” group that Christ will vomit from His mouth (Revelation 3:16)?

Conclusion

The Bible prophesied that there would be people who were part of the Church of God that would feel that that they basically needed nothing. They did not see the need to have to persevere in certain areas, truly be faithful to the word of God, and strongly support the final phase of the work as the Philadelphia portion of the Church of God would be doing.

Since the apostasy in the Worldwide Church of God, people have decided what to do about it. Many have become independent. Many have decided to become part of groups that water-down doctrines held by the Philadelphia portion of the Church of God. Many others have become pharisaical. Nearly all have changed priorities.

The bulk of those in the COG who were once part of the WCG or who were called later are now Laodicean. Only a relative few decided to continue to support the work of the Philadelphia portion of the Church of God, as is being led by the Continuing Church of God. While that does not mean that there cannot be any Laodiceans in Continuing Church of God, it does help show where the Philadelphia mantle resides.

And while the Laodiceans will have some part of the work during the Great Tribulation, it is not a work that Jesus encourages any to be part of it they can avoid it--which is why He tells the Laodiceans to repent or face the consquences (Revelation 3:16-19).

Will you heed Jesus' warnings?

What will you do about them?

Want to see more of ancient Laodicea? Then go to Joyces Photos of Laodicea

Previous Church was Philadelphia                                                                                 Next is the Millennium  

Back to COGwriter home page                                                                                   Back to Early Christianity Page

B. Thiel, Ph.D. The Laodicean Church Era. www.cogwriter.com (c) 2006 2007 2008/2009/2010/2012/2013/2014 0321

Links of Historical Interest May Include:

The Churches of Revelation 2 & 3 from 31 A.D. to present
The Ephesus Church Era
predominant from 31 A.D. to circa 135 A.D.
The Smyrna Church Era predominant circa 135 A.D. to circa 450 A.D.
The Pergamos Church Era predominant circa 450 A.D. to circa 1050 A.D.
The Thyatira Church Era predominant circa 1050 A.D. to circa 1600 A.D.
The Sardis Church Era predominant circa 1600A.D. to circa 1933 A.D.
The Philadelphia Church Era predominant circa 1933 A.D. to 1986 A.D.
The Laodicean Church Era predominant circa 1986 A.D. to present

Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from 31 A.D. to 2014.

Some articles of related interest may be:

Laodicean Warning for God's People Is there really a place of safety? Do God's people need to be warned? Warned for what?
Comments on the Teachings of Ron Wallen, Philip Neal, Kenneth W., GRUMPS, Jesse Arellano, and others who Profess(ed) that WCG has God's Authority Can one still believe what HWA used to teach and still be in WCG? This article addresses this important issue.
Independent Members of the COG: HWA Comments, Plus Questions and Answers What did HWA teach about being independent of the organized Church?
Differences between the Living Church of God and United Church of God This article provides quotes information from the two largest groups which had their origins in WCG as well as commentary.
Teachings Unique to the Philadelphia Church of God Simply calling oneself 'Philadelphia' does not make one so (see Revelation 3:7-9). This article provides quotes from this group which claims to be faithful.
In Their Own Words: Doctrinal Differences Between the old United Church of God and the old Global Church of God Older quotes from the leadership and some of the membership of these two organizations are included without added commentary (until the end and the 7/31/98 update) which highlighted some of the differences between them.
Church of God, an International Community This is the group led by David Hulme.
Beware, Doctrinal Compromise is in the Air! Discusses some doctrines that CGCF may have had to change in order to merge with United.
Teachings of the Christian Churches of God This group reject's the deity of Jesus and has other unusual teachings.
Why Not the Restored Church of God? This group claims to be the most faithful. The information in this article suggests otherwise.
It's Not Stedfast This is one of the newest groups to claim it is the most faithful, but like others has different priorities.
God's Church, Worldwide is another group to claim it is the most faithful, but like others has different priorities.
Intercontinental Church of God Garner Ted Armstrong's last group.
Teachings of the Church of God, International This article focuses on where CGI differs from the old WCG.
Teachings and Practices of Legacy Institute Works mainly in Asia.
Church of God, Southern California This article discusses some of how David Antion's group differs from the old WCG.
Church of God Outreach Ministries This was a CGI spin-off who says it is not a church.
Teachings of the Christian Churches of God
This group reject's the deity of Jesus and has other unusual teachings.
Teachings of Triumph Prophetic Ministries W. Dankenbring's ministry--speculates on various dates.
Brief Article on Church of God-Preparing for the Kingdom This is Ronald Weinland's apparent group.
Worldwide Assembly of Yahweh This is what I'd call a sacred name group.
Church of God, In Truth
This is what I'd call a calendar group.
Church of the Great God This group says the bride must first be made ready. Might this lead to a selfish bride?
Christian Educational Ministries Ron Dart's confederation (not a church).
Christian Renewal Ministries International They teach Hebrew.
Christian Biblical Church of God Fred Coulter's group--they tend to support conspiracy theories and calendar issues.

Links to the above group's websites can be found at COGlinks.