If Jesus wrote a letter to your church, would your cheeks glow from His encouragement or burn from His rebuke?
Jesus applauded the church at Philadelphia’s faithfulness and encouraged them with gracious promises (Rev. 3:7–12). But the church in Laodicea received a scathing letter. Jesus said He would spit them out of His mouth (Rev. 3:7–19).
What would Jesus write to your church? Consider your church’s view of God in light of these eight character traits.
God Is Sovereign and Supreme
God is in control of everything. There’s no power above Him. He never authors evil, but even evil requires His permission (Lam. 3:37–39, Dan. 4:35; Job 42:2; Isa. 46:9; 1 Chron. 29:11; 2 Chron. 20:6; Psalm 135:6).
Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases. (Psalm 115:3)
Now evaluate your church’s view of God’s sovereignty and supremacy:
- Focuses sermons and worship music on exalting Christ and teaching God’s Word to draw hearers to confess and turn from sin and fully surrender to Christ.
- Ensures the church's name, logo, and materials exalt God, not themselves.
- Maintains a culture of praise, grace, openness, and submission to God’s will and authority, especially when questioned or criticized.
- Focuses sermons and worship music on creating an emotional experience to lead hearers to feel loved and accepted.
- Adopts church name, logo, and/or materials primarily to stay relevant and reflect popular cultural and/or business trends.
- Exudes either a permissive or defensive posture, especially when questioned or criticized.
God Is Faithful
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. (Heb. 10:23)
Evaluate your church’s view of God’s faithfulness:
- Depends on God’s Spirit to ensure the salvation of those who’ve repented of their sin and surrendered to Christ.
- Submits itself to the authority of God’s Word, trusting that God faithfully communicated His Word through divine inspiration and has preserved it throughout the ages.
- Trusts God to meet its needs in His timing and ways.
- Depends on praying a prayer and/or doing good works to ensure members’ salvation.
- Questions Scripture’s accuracy, inspiration, and authority, and/or maintains that human experiences are as true and valid as Scripture.
- Coerces members to provide for the church’s (and leaders’) needs.
God Is Love
Anyone who does not love does not know God because God is love. (1 John 4:8)
Evaluate your church’s view of God’s love:
- Encourages love for God and His Word over love of self and the world.
- Serves church members with sacrificial and—when necessary—tough love.
- Serves its community with grace, truth, and love.
- Embraces unbiblical cultural norms as acceptable on the basis of “God’s love.”
- Ignores community/members’ needs.
- Projects attitude of arrogance and/or judgmentalism.
God Is Merciful and Forgiving
God doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve. He showers daily blessings on even His enemies and declares His children’s debt for sin as paid in full by Christ. He remembers their sins no more (Psalm 86:5; 103:10; Luke 6:36; Eph. 2:4–5; Heb. 4:16; 8:12; 1 John 1:9).
To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against him. (Dan. 9:9)
Evaluate your church’s view of God’s mercy and forgiveness:
- Practices church discipline for restoration.
- Evangelizes even the most unlikely candidates.
- Forgives much and freely because its members have been fully forgiven by Christ.
- Slow to restore repentant sinners back into fellowship.
- Demands apology, restitution, and reparations for wrongs or perceived offences.
- Exudes a critical/unforgiving spirit.
God Is Powerful
I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. (Job 42:2)
Evaluate your church’s view of God’s power.
- Trusts the gospel’s power to transform hearts and affect change.
- Brings their needs to God through prayer and trusts Him to answer as He knows best.
- Displays peace, contentment, and faith that God’s power is at work in their trials for His glory and their good.
- Adopts worldly methods and programs to transform hearts and affect change.
- Tells God how to answer their prayers and uses “in Jesus’ name” to obligate Him to answer.
- Emphasizes spiritual warfare and Satan’s power and activity.
God Is Patient
The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. (Psalm 145:8)
Evaluate your church’s view of God’s patience.
- Handles people with patience because God has been patient with it.
- Trusts the Holy Spirit to work in His timing and ways to mature believers and save unbelievers.
- Emphasizes prayer and faithful preaching of God’s Word to build its attendance and membership.
- Mistakes God’s patience for approval or indifference.
- Elevates people into positions of leadership before they’ve displayed consistent maturity and fruitfulness.
God Is Holy
And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” (Isa. 6:3)
Evaluate your church’s view of God’s holiness:
- Commits to obeying God’s Word and practicing corporate and personal holiness.
- Prays for each other and holds each other accountable.
- Walks in humility and brokenness before God and man.
- Commits itself to ensuring visitors/members don’t feel offended.
- Guards privacy and views accountability as intrusive.
- Avoids talking about or naming sin.
God Is Good
Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! (Psalm 34:8)
Evaluate your church’s view of God’s goodness:
- Walks in confidence and anticipation about what God is doing, even when it can’t see Him working.
- Enjoys God in times of plenty and need, even when God’s enemies prosper.
- Understands that every aspect of God is good—including His wrath and judgment.
- Believes God would never bring or allow evil to touch His children, but that He only allows blessings.
- Willing to compromise or manipulate in order to achieve a desired outcome.
- Compares and complains when others prosper as if God is unfair.
Stop Looking for the Perfect Church
We’re more likely to find the lost city of Atlantis than a perfect church. Nevertheless, God calls His Church to a high and holy view of Him in all we do.
If I had never joined a church till I had found one that was perfect, I should never have joined one at all! And the moment I did join it, if I had found one, I should have spoiled it, for it would not have been a perfect church after I had become a member of it. Still, imperfect as it is, it is the dearest place on earth to us.1
—Charles H. Spurgeon
If your church’s view of God seems low like the church of Laodicea, pray. If needed, humbly approach your pastor or leadership about your concerns. God will direct you as you seek and trust Him.
If your church’s view of God seems high like the in church of Philadelphia, praise Him—not yourselves. And keep walking in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God (Col. 1:9–10).
1 C. H. Spurgeon, The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons (vol. 37; London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1891), 633.