About Jesus   Steve Sweetman

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Judgment Comes To The Church


"Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trials you are suffering as though something strange were happening to you …  For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God, and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God". (1 Peter 4:12-17)  What does Peter mean when he speaks of God judging His own family?  


Peter understood that painful suffering from an anti-Christ culture was a form of divine judgment on God's people, and in this case, the church.  He told his readers not to think of this as being strange.  As severe as this suffering was, it was something God does from time to time.  Judgment is meant to purify God's family; separate the sheep from the goats, the wheat from the weeds.


During the process of painful suffering, the believer's trust in Jesus is tested.  If the suffering saint survives the test, he's strengthened and remains a vital part in a purified church.  If he fails the test, he joins the ranks of those "who do not obey the gospel of God".  His judgment will end up being much more severe.  


I believe it's a Biblical principle that before God judges any culture, He first judges His people who live in that culture.  An example would be when God judged Israel by allowing Babylon to overthrow her.  He then judged Babylon for her treatment of Israel by allowing the Medes and Persians to overthrow her.       


It's clear to me that judgment is coming to the western world, and eventually to the whole world.  It's also clear to me that before these judgments are fully realized, God will judge the church by allowing us to suffer at the hands of an anti-Christ culture.  Then, God will judge the anti-Christ culture for its treatment of us. 


From my vantage point, we as the church are in desperate need of purification.  I'm amazed at how that which is called church, including Evangelicals, has so quickly departed from Biblical truth.  If judgment was needed for the church in Peter's day, I suggest it's needed more now than it was needed back then.    


I believe the Laodicean church of Revelation 3:14 – 22 is prophetic of an apostate fallen church that is seen at the end of this age.  Jesus describes this church this way.  "You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing'.  But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked". (Revelation 3:17)  Assuming we're nearing the end of the age, and even if we aren't, today's church in my thinking is becoming this Laodicean style church.  Whatever the case, as Revelation 3:16 says, Jesus will vomit lukewarm Laodicean style church goers out of His mouth if they don't repent".     


How does Jesus vomit a big chunk of the church out of His mouth?  I believe that painful suffering from an anti-Christ culture is an act of divine judgment that causes the expulsion of unrepentant Laodicean style church goers out of the church.  This expulsion might be how Jesus vomits the unrepentant out of His mouth.       


We should be prepared, not only for God to judge our anti-Christ culture, but also for Him to judge our progressively more anti-Christ church.  I know some of you may not appreciate my last statement, but if you think about it, knowing what's going on in the world of church these days, you might agree with me.  A good chunk of what we call church doesn’t even believe in the Deity of Christ.  I'd call that an anti-Christ church. Just remember, when the suffering begins, rejoice that you are following in the suffering steps of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 4:13)


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