Does God Judge the Local Church?

By Dr. Ken Matto

The answer to this question is yes indeed! How does God judge it? He allows the abomination of desolation to take its seat in the local assembly. This means that the church has become permeated with false gospels which has absolutely no salvation capability. He may allow the apostasy to continue from generation to generation. Look at some of the main line denominations which have become so apostate, even to the point of ordaining homosexuals. This is when God removes the candlesticks. (Rev 2:5 KJV) Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. Notice that Christ will visit that church and judge it by removing the candlestick of truth.

Sometimes churches slip into apostasy slowly and do not know when they have crossed over the line of apostasy to the point that Christ has removed any possibility of the church reversing the situation. When a local assembly becomes apostate, this is when the believer flees to Christ, he does not look back because Christians should have nothing to do with apostasy. (2 Cor 6:14-15 KJV) Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? {15} And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? Then the Lord goes on to tell the true believer to come out from among them. This is so they will retain their spiritual strength. The abomination of desolation could actually take it seat in a believer’s life. Look at Solomon:

(1 Ki 11:1-10 KJV) But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites; {2} Of the nations concerning which the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love. {3} And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart. {4} For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father. {5} For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. {6} And Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and went not fully after the LORD, as did David his father. {7} Then did Solomon build an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon. {8} And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods. {9} And the LORD was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from the LORD God of Israel, which had appeared unto him twice, {10} And had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods: but he kept not that which the LORD commanded.

Solomon had disobeyed the Lord and did not heed the warning that the Lord gave him but allowed false gods and strange women to rule his life. His lust for women had overpowered his spirituality and caused him to sin mightily in the sight of the Lord. Yet, we do know that Solomon was a child of God. (Neh 13:26 KJV) Did not Solomon king of Israel sin by these things? yet among many nations was there no king like him, who was beloved of his God, and God made him king over all Israel: nevertheless even him did outlandish women cause to sin.

The truth of the matter is that God does not judge Church “A” for the actions of Church “B.” God deals with individual congregations. Out of the seven churches in Revelation, six were warned to stop tolerating false teachings. God did not admonish Philadelphia for the sin of Sardis. Each of the seven churches were named after a city.

(Rev 2:1 KJV) Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;

All of the seven churches are addressed as “church” of the….. The word in the Greek for church is plural which means there were more than one congregation in every district. These seven warnings were to all the churches then, as these seven warnings are to all the churches today. So one cannot say that the church of Ephesus is gone because there may have been other congregations in that area also. In fact, Smyrna was the first area where the Romans tried to kill every Christian. So without taking these facts into consideration, one can erroneously conclude that the churches were all judged and dissolved, when in essence they all went underground when the 10 major persecutions of the church took place between 64-313 AD.

It is also a fact of church history that Asia Minor, where the seven churches of Revelation were, even at the year of 325 AD was still the center of concentrated Christianity in the east. Even after the major persecutions by the Roman Empire, Christianity still influenced Asia Minor. In fact, at the end of the first century, there were about 100,000 Christians in Antioch. During the persecutions of Asia Minor which lasted about ten years, there was a systematic destruction of church buildings and any and all manuscripts which were found were burned.

This is not to downplay the warnings that Christ gave to each individual congregation though these letters. If they were obedient and faithful, they would continue, but if not they would be judged. Revelation was written about 95 AD. This was in the middle of the second great Roman persecution of Christians under Emperor Domitian. It was under his rule that John was boiled in oil and banished to Patmos where he received the book of Revelation. Timothy was also martyred under his reign. When you look at these letters to the churches which were written under a time of severe persecution, you can understand that these churches in these districts did not disappear from God’s judgment, but rather they went underground. God was encouraging them that during this time of persecution to hold fast to the truth and not to compromise. This is why the word “overcometh” appears eleven times in Scripture and eight of those times in the charge to the churches. The word is used only by John.

(Rev 2:7 KJV) He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

When God deals with a congregation, He does not judge one congregation for the sin of another congregation. We live in a day when there is world wide apostasy in the churches and no one will doubt that. The truth is not every congregation has gone apostate. There are still many faithful congregations all over this world.