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The Laodicean condition

Query for the Month

of

February 2005

Next up-date: March 1st 2005 (God willing).

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Some perpetual questions ....

Is there really an immortal soul?

Do you know the difference between the "love" that is of Christianity
and the "love" that is of the world?
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Query:

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Revelation 3:

14 And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things says the Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the beginning [Beginner] of the creation of God; 15 "I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot: I would you were cold or hot. 16 So then because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue you out of My mouth.

17 "Because you say, ‘I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing;’ and know not that you are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked, 18 I counsel you to buy of Me gold tried in the fire, that you may be rich; and white raiment, that you may be clothed, and that the shame of your nakedness do not appear; and anoint your eyes with eyesalve, that you may see.

19 "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me.

21 "To him that overcomes [himself] will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne. 22 He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."

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  What really is the Laodicean CONDITION?

 

Answer:

In answering this query we need first of all to establish that this message is not given to condemn, but to make us aware of our condition and offer a way out of it. Therefore it is addressed to those who are not Christians, as well as those who profess that they are, but who are not moving in that experience. The problem, as Christ points out, is that we are not aware of our condition, so we need to be handled carefully, yet firmly.

Christ says that He knows our works (or practise) of Christianity, and He is calling that into question. To this end it is written, "Yea, a man may say, ‘You have faith, and I have works: show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God; you do well: the devils also believe, and tremble [what do you do?]." James 2:18-19.

These "works" are not just deeds of goodness to others, for even sinners look after sinners (Luke 6:32-33), but are works of righteousness whereby we overcome temptation and sin.

We need to ask ourselves:

Am I in the Laodicean church? The answer is that if you are claiming to be a Christian in a Commandment-keeping group then you are in the Laodicean church because it is the last church to exist before the second coming.

The next question is:

Am I in the Laodicean condition? The answer is that only God can tell you as you measure yourself against the yardstick of His Christ. But we do need to do this because Christ’s warning is that the majority of us have not had the experience which turns us from natural humans into Christian humans. And He tells us that we are not aware of this lack! So we need to KNOW that we "HAVE passed from death unto life." How do we know that? Here’s one way: "We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brothers [and sisters]. He that loves not his brother abides [stays] in death. Whosoever hates his brother is a murderer: and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him." 1 John 3:14-15. Jesus told us that to look in the wrong way is to lust. Matthew 5:28. In the same way, murder is condemning, criticising, despising, talking about, etc.

The True Witness counsels us to buy of Him three things; gold tried in the fire, white raiment, and eyesalve, so that we may be overcomers. Verse 21.

The gold here recommended as having been tried in the fire is faith "which works [is actuated] by love." Galatians 5:6. It makes the heart rich for it has been purged until it is pure, and the more it is tested by temptation the more brilliant is its lustre. God says: "I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir." Isaiah 13:12. And, "That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ." 1 Peter 1:7.

The white raiment is purity of character, the righteousness of Christ imparted to the sinner. This is indeed a garment of heavenly texture that can be bought only from Christ, for a life of willing obedience. "I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels." Isaiah 61:10. This robe, woven in the loom of heaven, has in it not one thread of human devising. Christ in His humanity wrought out a perfect character, and this character He offers to impute and impart to us. We are told that "All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags," therefore everything that we can do of ourselves is defiled by sin. Isaiah 64:6. However, when we submit ourselves to Christ, our heart is united with His heart, our will is merged in His will, our mind becomes one with His mind, our thoughts are brought into captivity to Him; we live His life. This is what it means to be clothed with the garment of His righteousness.

The eyesalve is that wisdom and grace which is given with the Spirit and which enables us to discern between the evil and the good, and to detect sin under any guise. "And to man He said, ‘Behold, the fear of the LORD, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding’." Job 28:28.

God has given us spiritual eyes which He requires us to anoint with wisdom, that we may see clearly; but many among us would put out those eyes if they could, for they don’t want their deeds to come to the light, lest they should be reproved by the word. John 3:19-20. However, the divine eyesalve will impart clearness to the understanding.

Christ is the holder of all the graces. He says: "Buy of Me," and warns that we should be aware that it takes all to do this. "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like to a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it." Matthew 13:45-46. This means that we must give up all our ideas, beliefs and prejudices and accept His merits in place of ours.

Put simply, not to trust in ourselves anymore.

"And He spoke this parable to certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others. ‘Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee [a busy religious person, outwardly keeping the commandments], and the other a publican [a person working for the enemy while professing to be a follower of God].

"The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, "God, I thank You, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess." And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes to heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, ‘God be merciful to me a sinner.’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalts himself shall be abased; and he that humbles himself shall be exalted." [That’s another sign of the change of nature.]  Luke 18:9-14.

The condition described in Laodicea is one of ignorance about the foundation of the Christian life. Those of us who think we are "rich" believe that we are genuine Christians, but we have not applied the practical tests to see whether this is so, or just a figment of our imagination!

Many of us believe that we are on the right foundation because we have the truth. We rejoice in its clearness and boast of the powerful arguments in proof of the correctness of our position. We reckon ourselves among the chosen, peculiar people of God, yet we don’t experience His presence and power to save us from yielding to temptation and folly on a daily basis. The word of God says, If we are tempted – can we reject the temptation? If not, then we are a slave to sin. Romans 7:14-15. If yes, we can reject it, why didn’t we? Romans 8:2. If we CHOOSE to sin then we are dishonouring God!

Which is worse? To be a slave and helpless, or a willing sinner spitting in His face? The slave has the hope of deliverance, the sinner has rejected that offer. "For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins [there’s nothing extra, but Christ still presents His original offer], but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries [rejecters]." Hebrews 10:26-27. Only a knowledge of His love can awaken in us a response (a love that works) to stop us from sinning.

We need to understand that unless there is a possibility of yielding, temptation is not temptation.

Temptation is resisted when we are powerfully influenced to do a wrong action; and, knowing that we can do it, we resist, by faith, with a firm hold upon divine power. "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you." James 4:7-8. Don’t just resist, but submit!

Many of us profess to know God, yet in our works deny Him. How great is our darkness! The love of the world with many, the deceitfulness of riches with others, have choked the word, and we have become unfruitful. See Matthew 13:1-23. Of course, not all Laodiceans are like that, but there are more than enough for Christ to say that this condition is the general position of the last church.

Christ told His disciples the story of the ten virgins, by their experience illustrating the experience of the church that exists now just before His second coming. Matthew 25:1-13.

The two classes of watchers represent the two classes who profess to be waiting for their LORD. They are called virgins because they profess a pure faith. By the lamps is represented the word of God. The psalmist says, "Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path." Psalm 119:105. The oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit as the power of the lamps. The Bible has a definite self-illuminating ability, but there is need of the Holy Spirit in certain circumstances.

In the parable, all the ten virgins went out to meet the bridegroom. All had lamps and extra containers for oil, although some containers were empty. For a time there was seen no difference between them. So with the church that lives now just before Christ's second coming. All have a knowledge of the Scriptures. All have heard the message of Christ's near approach, and confidently expect His appearing. But as in the parable, so it is now. A time of waiting intervenes, faith is tried; and when the cry is heard, "Behold, the Bridegroom comes; go you out to meet Him," many will be unready. They have no oil in their containers with their lamps. They are destitute of the Holy Spirit in their daily lives.

This means that without the Spirit of God in the life a knowledge of His word is of no avail. The theory of truth, unaccompanied by the Holy Spirit, cannot quicken the mind or sanctify the heart. One may be familiar with the commands and promises of the Bible; but unless the Spirit of God sets the truth home, the character will not be transformed. Without the enlightenment of the Spirit, men will not be able to distinguish truth from error, and they will fall under the masterful temptations of Satan.

The class represented by the foolish virgins are not hypocrites, pretending to be something they are not. They have a regard for the truth, they have advocated the truth, they are attracted to those who believe the truth, they have joined the church; but they have not yielded themselves to the Holy Spirit's working. They have not fallen upon the Rock, Christ Jesus, and permitted their old nature to be broken up.

This class are represented also by the stony-ground hearers. Mark 4:5-6. They receive the word with readiness, but they fail of assimilating its principles. Its influence is not abiding. The Spirit works upon man's heart, according to his desire and consent implanting in him a new nature; but the class represented by the foolish virgins have been content with a superficial work. They do not know God intimately. They have not studied His character; they have not held communion with Him; therefore they do not know how to trust, how to look and live. Their service to God degenerates into a form. He says, "They come to you as the people come, and they sit before you as My people, and they hear your words, but they will not do them; for with their mouth they show much love, but their heart goes after their covetousness." Ezekiel 33:31.

The apostle Paul also points out that this will be the special characteristic of those who live just before Christ's second coming. He says, "In the last days perilous times shall come: for men shall be lovers of their own selves; . . . lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof." 2 Timothy 3:1-5.

Therefore the only hope for the majority of us in the Laodicean church is a clear view of our own standing before God, a knowledge of the nature of our disease. We are neither cold nor hot; we occupy a neutral position, and at the same time flatter ourselves that we are in need of nothing. The True Witness hates this lukewarmness for it means that we are lost to Him. He loathes the indifference of this class of persons. Said He: "I would you were cold or hot" for then He might have a chance with us. Like lukewarm water, we are nauseous to His taste. We are neither unconcerned like the lost coin, nor selfishly stubborn like the prodigal son, yet we do not engage thoroughly and heartily in the work of God, identifying ourselves with its interests, but hold ourselves aloof and are ready to leave our posts of duty whenever our personal interests demand it.

The internal work of grace is wanting in our hearts. Yet God says, "A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you shall keep My judgments, and do them." Ezekiel 36:26-27. He says He will do it all, but we have to accept it before it can become ours.

To those who have not this experience it is said: "You say, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing [I am a Christian]; and know not that you are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked [still a natural person]." The greatest of all deceptions is self-deception! We need to take Him at His word and accept justification "by faith".

We also need much more knowledge; we need to be enlightened in regard to the plans of salvation and redemption. (That’s part of what is called "sanctification.") There is not one in one hundred who understands for him or herself the Bible truth on these subjects that are so necessary to our present and eternal welfare. When light begins to shine forth to make clear the plan of redemption to us, the enemy works with all diligence that the light may be shut away from our hearts. But if we will come to the Word of God with a teachable, humble spirit, the rubbish of error in our minds will be swept away, and gems of truth, long hidden from our eyes, will be discovered through the eyesalve.

The testimony to the Laodicean church has often been received, but then used in an unfortunate way. Instead of applying it to their own hearts, so as to be benefited by it themselves, some have used the warning to oppress others. This has had a blighting influence, and has caused some to turn away from the testimony on the subject almost entirely. The design of the message to the Laodiceans is to rid the church of just such fanatical influences, but the effort of Satan has been to corrupt the message, and destroy its influence. He is better pleased to have fanatical persons embrace the testimony, and use it in his cause, than to have them remain in a lukewarm state.

It is not the purpose of the warning to lead any brother or sister to sit in judgment over another brother or sister, to tell him or her what to do, and just how far to go; but it is meant for each individual to search his own heart, and attend to his or her own individual work on the Day of Atonement. "And this shall be a statute for ever to you: that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict your souls [search your heart for your motives], and do no work at all, whether it be one of your own country, or a stranger that sojourns among you [all should do it individually]: for on that day shall the Priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, that you may be clean from all your sins before the LORD. It shall be a sabbath of rest to you, and you shall afflict your souls, by a statute for ever." Leviticus 16:29-31.

(It is the work of the angels to watch the development of others’ characters, and weigh their moral worth. See Matthew 13:49-50.)

The warning for the last church must be made known to all who claim to be Christians, but what they do with it is their responsibility. Ezekiel 33:8-9. The Laodicean message, like a sharp, two-edged sword, must go to all the professed Christian churches if it is to be effective. We have little enough of Christ's character. We need it through all our ranks. We must reveal that love which dwelt in Jesus. Then we shall keep the commandment that we love one another, which not one in a hundred of those who claim to believe the truth for this time are keeping. Jesus told His disciples, "A new commandment I give to you, That you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this shall all men know that you are My disciples [followers], if you have love one to another." John 13:34-35.

By this message God calls for a spiritual revival and a spiritual reformation. Unless this takes place, those who are lukewarm will continue to grow more absent from the LORD, until He will not be able to acknowledge them as His children. "Many will say to Me in that day, ‘LORD, LORD, have we not prophesied in Your name? And in Your name have cast out devils? And in Your name done many wonderful works?’ And then will I profess to them, I never knew you: depart from Me, you that work iniquity." Matthew 7:22-23.

Conclusion:

The term "lukewarm" is applicable to those of us who profess to love the truth for this time, yet are deficient in Christian fervour and devotion because we are not "born again." We dare not give up wholly and run the risk of the unbeliever, yet we are unwilling to die to self and follow out closely the principles of our faith. We are cold and formal, like the nominal churches.

The words addressed to the Laodicean church describe our present condition perfectly. We are "neither cold nor hot," but "lukewarm". And unless we heed the counsel of the "faithful and true Witness," and zealously repent and obtain "gold tried in the fire," "white raiment," and "eye-salve," He will have to spue us out of His mouth.

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Who wants to add (or subtract!) from these thoughts? I won't argue as I have stated, but I will publish your Scriptures so that we may review all the words of God on the subject.
Some of the comments on this page are adapted from books in my library.  No recognition is given because they are not intended as authorities, but are used because they express my understanding clearly.
Next query. To be discussed from February 1st 2005.

Daniel 7:9-10

I beheld till the thrones were cast down [placed], and the ancient/ of days [God] did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of His head like the pure wool: His throne was like the fiery flame, and His wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream [river] issued and came forth from before Him: thousand thousands ministered to Him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him: the judgment was set [begun], and the books were opened. 

 Revelation 20:4

And I saw thrones, and they [the resurrected saints] sat upon them, and judgment was given to them.  And I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and [those] which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 

 Matthew 25:31-33

When the Son of man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory: and before Him shall be gathered all nations: and He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats: and He shall set the sheep on His right hand [in a position of honour], but the goats on the left.

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 Here are three occasions of judgment – one by God the Father, one by the resurrected Christians and Christ, and one by Christ alone.  How can we reconcile these three?

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