There are few topics in the church as divisive as the end times. Denominations feel strongly about their views on what happens—and in what order—during the days leading up to Jesus’ Second Coming.
But while the church is busy fighting about these matters, the devil is distracting God’s people from an important task: sounding the alarm. This is a huge problem, says Jeff LaBorg, lead pastor of Fairview Baptist Church in Knoxville, Tennessee.
We may not know the day or the hour Jesus will return, but we know that day is drawing closer. That’s why it’s important, now more than ever, for the church to point people to the hope they can have in Christ.
Freedom From Addiction
LaBorg has experienced this transformative hope for himself. As a teenager, he dropped out of high school twice because of his severe addiction to drugs and alcohol.
“I was living in my car in different places, feeding my addictions,” he says. “It was a miserable existence.”
He finally found a little stability when a friend’s mother-in-law allowed him to park his camper trailer on her property, giving him a temporary “home.”
With his reckless lifestyle, though, LaBorg was a terrible tenant, and his friend’s mother-in-law almost kicked him out. Almost. Instead, she felt the Lord leading her to let LaBorg stay. It was a blessing she did, because months later, LaBorg gave his life to Christ.
“When I came to Christ, I went up to the door to tell her that I had been born again,” he says. “She walked me out to that little camper trailer. I had never noticed it, but there was a path around that little camper where she was getting up at 2, 3, and 4 in the morning to walk around, praying for God to save me.”
Since then, LaBorg has gone into ministry, led numerous revival meetings, and furthered his education. The two-time high school dropout now has a GED and two master’s degrees and is about to complete his Ph.D. as he continues to preach the gospel.
Praying for a Lukewarm Church
In his studies and experience as a pastor, LaBorg has learned amazing truths about God and His people. But he’s also found some disturbing parallels—namely between the Western church and the church of Laodicea.
In Revelation 3:14-22, Jesus rebukes the Laodicean church for being lukewarm. Because of their arrogance and greed, Jesus says He would “spit [them] out of [His] mouth” unless they repent (Revelation 3:16, ESV).
LaBorg believes the Laodicean church was a literal church at that time as well as a foreshadowing of what the church would be like in the days leading up to the Second Coming.
“The word Laodicea literally means in the original tongue ‘ruled by the people,’” LaBorg says. “They’re ruled by bylaws and business meetings, by politics and policies.”
Just as the Laodicean Christians boasted about their riches, there are many churches in the West that are dangerously close to relying on their lavish buildings, expensive programs, massive parking lots, and padded pews, says LaBorg. And while these things aren’t wrong (and, in fact, his church has many of them), relying on our wealth can easily lead us into lukewarm living.
A Fresh Revival
One interesting thing about the Laodiceans’ church services, LaBorg noticed, is that Jesus is not there. He’s outside the door, knocking.
“Only those with an ear to hear can perceive that subtle knocking,” he says. “If we will let Him back in His church, there'll be a last-days revival.”
LaBorg believes that revival is the church’s only hope against lukewarm living. If we want to see revival, though, we need to become desperate for Jesus. We can’t settle for an independent mindset—we need to hunger for God.
“Desperation is an awareness that even my best 30 seconds are filthy rags in the face of a holy God,” LaBorg says. “Leonard Ravenhill said it best. He said, ‘We have all the revival we want.’ Think about that. We beg God for revival, but the truth is, He’s far more willing to give it than we are to receive it.”
LaBorg is hoping and praying the church in America will, indeed, become desperate for God and realize just how deep His love is that He would send His Son for even the worst of sinners. That’s why LaBorg is excited about preaching at the upcoming 40 Days & Nights of Gospel Music at the Ark Encounter in Williamstown, Kentucky.
“I’m praying that, at the end of the 40 days,” he says, “there will have been such a stirring that, like embers of a fire, each person will leave the Ark Encounter and take back a spark of hope and faith and that it, in turn, creates a burning passion.”
Be encouraged and challenged as you listen to Pastor Jeff LaBorg preach live at the Ark Encounter on August 13 and 14. Get your tickets today!