Bible Answer

Is the Seventh Letter of Revelation universally true?

When you state that the present age corresponds to the church of Laodicea, are you keeping in mind that although this is the case in this country and the western world, there are many places, closed to westerners, where the Gospel and Christ's church is thriving much as it did in the New Testament period? Perhaps, as time passes, apostasy will creep in those areas as well. But it hasn't yet.

First, Pastor Armstrong's interpretation of the letters to the churches in the book of Revelation holds that each letter defines the nature of a period of church history. The seven letters reflect seven sequential periods of church history, and according to this view, the church of our day is the fulfillment of the seventh and final period of history prior to the return of Christ for the Church.

The seventh period of church history is a time of apostasy, according to the seventh letter and according to Paul. Paul says in the last days, those who gather as the church consists largely of unbelievers or very weak believers who lack a solid understanding of the faith and Gospel. The church will follow after false teachers and will not sit for sound doctrine, according to Paul.

As Pastor Armstrong taught, the seven periods of church history each reflect their respective church letter in an accurate yet general sense. In all periods of history, the church has always included exceptions to the rule. For example, the first-century church was described as having a strong love for Christ and intolerance for false teachers, according to the letter to Ephesus, which represents the nature of the first century period. Nevertheless, the first century also included churches that embraced false teachers, like the church in Galatia.

Though the first-century church was generally patterned on the letter to Ephesus, we could still find the occasional church that did not fit the pattern. Likewise, the church today is moving strongly in the direction of the Laodicean church, yet we can still find exceptions. Today we can find strong churches in various places, but they are the exceptions that prove the rule. The vast majority of churches are not strong Bible-teaching churches. On the contrary, more and more churches are following after false teaching and fads, mirroring the description of Laodicea.

Also, we would challenge your assertion that the pattern of Laodicea is not limited to the Western church only. While the gospel is spreading faster in developing countries, particularly in the Far East, Asia and the Middle East, these areas are not immune to the Laodicea trend.  Sadly, churches in every region are falling for prosperity gospel teaching, word-faith movement and other faddish unbiblical trends, which often get their start in Western churches.

Pastor Armstrong and VBVM Board members frequently travel and minister in developing regions of the world, and they report that churches on every continent are rapidly succumbing to false teaching, replacing strong orthodox biblical understanding and practice. Our age is, indeed, the Laodicean period, reminding us the Lord's return is closer than ever.