Study for Month October, 2012
Whole Gospel Minstries
THE LAODICEAN CHURCH
And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write;
These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the beginning of the creation of God. I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot. I would that thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of My mouth.” Rev. 3:14-16 (KJV)
Laodicea: the Age of Judgment: From 1844 to the final sifting of the final test of the mark of the beast with the outpouring of the sealing latter rain. Then, the purified, final generation of the church triumphant emerges.
Laodicea. “This name has been defined as meaning, ‘judging the people,’ or ‘a people adjudged.’ The latter appears preferable here. By road the distance to Philadelphia to the Asia Minor city of Laodicea is some 40 miles. The latter was founded by the Seleucid king Antiochus II Theos (261-246 B.C.), and named in honor of his wife, Laodice. Situated in the Valley of the Lycus River, Laodicea was a prosperous commercial center in John’s day, specializing in the production of woolen goods. It lay within a few miles of the cities Colossae and Hieropoli, and at an early date there were Christians in each of these cities (see Col. 4:13). By the time Revelation was written, the church at Laodicea had probably been in existence some 40 years. Paul took a distinct interest in this congregation and directed the Colossians to exchange epistles with the Laodiceans (Col. 4:16; see Vol. V, p. 183). “- Footnotes,” An Exhaustive E.G. White Commentary on Revelation, vol. 2, p. 610.
Dr. John D. Davis says Laodicea was:
“A city originally called Diospolis, city of Zeus, which was enlarged and improved by Antiochus II, and named by him, Laodicea, after his wife Laodice. It was the chief city of Phrygia Pracatiana, in Asia Minor. . . . . It manufactured cloth and garments from the black wool produced by a breed of sheep in its vicinity; and it was the seat of a medical school, whose physicians prepared the Phrygian powder for the cure of ophthalmia. It numbered many Jews among its inhabitants (Ant. xiv.1o, 20). Epaphras labored there (Col. 4: 12, 13), and is considered as the founder of its Christian church. . . . About the year 65 of the Christian era, Laodicea, Colossae, and Hierapolis were destroyed by an earthquake. Its citizens rebuilt Laodicea out of their own resources, without the customary aid from Rome.”- A Dictionary of the Bible, Presbyterian Board, 4th Revised edition, Westminster Press, PA, 1942.
Halley’s Bible Handbook with the NIV version has this entry:
“Laodicea was a leading banking center. In 51 B.C., Cicero, en route for his Sicilian province, cashed drafts there.” – (Completely revised and expanded 25th edition, p. 925, published by Zondervan).
The Church in the Laodicean Condition
Let me repeat what I wrote in our past studies of the seven churches: Contrary to what I previously understood in the initial reading of these Scriptures, as influenced by the opinions of some of the contemporary analysts and critics of the church and its condition, including some among the earliest believers of the 1844 Advent movement (as recorded in some of their oldest periodicals which are in my possession), the name Laodicea, does not mean “lukewarm” or “spewed out of the mouth of God.”
Rather, when a careful exegesis of the 2300-day prophecy of Daniel 8:14 and the all-encompassing sanctuary doctrine* are examined without preconceived opinions, this name, as reckoned in the successive seven-stage evolution of church and denominational history means, “judging the people.” Or, as some state it, “a people adjudged.” The latter appears preferable here. Notice:
“Oh, that every lukewarm professor could realize what will be required of him, in order to pass the close and searching test of the Judgment. Dear readers do not deceive yourselves concerning your condition. You cannot deceive God. Says the true Witness, ‘I know thy works.’” – Review & Herald, April 8, 1880.
This concluding, yet progressive study of the seven churches precisely sustains this interpretation. The emergence of the law-upholding, Sabbath-keeping worldwide church coincides precisely with the commencement of the investigative or pre-advent judgment begun 1844 at the culmination of the 2-300 day prophecy of Daniel 8:14.
“Since the messages to the seven churches reflect the entire course of the history of the Christian church (see chs. 1:11; 2:1), the seventh message must represent the experience of the church during the closing period of earth’s history. The name Laodicea implies the final step in the Christian process of history, that of perfecting ‘a people adjudged’ (see on ch. 3:14) righteous. Further, it implies that the preparation of such a people and the divine process of adjudging them righteous will be achieved by the close of the period (see on Dan. 8:13, 14; Rev. 3:8; 14:6, 7).
“Appropriately, then, the Laodicean message may be thought of applying in a special sense to the church from 1844 to the close of time. . . and the period of time thus represented may be characterized as the Age of Judgment. The Laodicean message is applicable to all who profess to be Christians (see 6T 77). [Moreover], For more than a century Seventh-day Adventists have recognized that the message to the Laodiceans also has a special application to themselves (see James White, RH Oct. 16, 1856; cf. 1T 141-44). A recognition of this application stands as a constant rebuke to self-satisfaction and an encouragement to live wholeheartedly according to the pattern of the perfect life in Christ Jesus (see on ch. 3:18).” – “Footnotes,” An Exhaustive E.G. White Commentary on Revelation, vol. 2, p. 616-7.
*The precious sanctuary doctrine taught throughout the Old Testament Jewish economy and in the epistles of Apostles Paul and John in the New Testament, are what separate Seventh-day Adventists from the other Christian denominations—and rightfully so. Without these distinctive Biblical doctrines we would be as sheep led to the slaughter through the “wine of Babylon,”—the apostate and counterfeit doctrines that have rendered the Christian world spiritually inebriated.
Am I ever grateful to God for leading me, a lost sheep, into this present, sealing truth.
By God’s grace, I hope to remain faithful and continue sharing these sanctifying, sealing messages in every possible way and opportunity until the church is finally purified of all the dross in the hands of the master Refiner and emerges as the last edition of the church triumphant of the ages. It is the fold of Jesus in these last days. All “other sheep of His” will be led into this fold of truth by the Holy Spirit working in and through the “three angels” of Revelation 14, as directed by the gentle Shepherd who is also the mighty Lion of the tribe of Judah!
How about you, dear friend? Are you sure of the faith you profess to believe? Are you “ready to give an answer to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear”? (1 Pet. 3:15).
“The Amen.”- “The coupling of this title with ‘the faithful and true witness’’ identifies it as a title of Christ (see ch. 1:5), who is the author of the epistles to the seven churches. For comment on the meaning of ‘amen’ see on Deut. 7:9; Matt. 5:18. The application of this term to Christ may be compared with Isa. 65:16, where, in Hebrew, the Lord is called ‘Elohe amen,’ ‘the God of amen.’ In the present passage this title may be understood as a declaration that Christ is truth (see John 14:6). Accordingly, His message to the Laodicean church is to be accepted without question.” – Ibid.
Who is the “the faithful and True Witness?” “In the Greek this title stands in apposition [juxtaposition] with ‘Jesus Christ,’ which is in the ablative [designating, or pertaining to] case. . ., and the phrase ‘faithful witness’ would normally be in the same case. Nevertheless, like the divine title for the Father (see on v. 4), it stands here unchanged in the nominative case. Some suggest that John thereby implies the deity of Christ and His equality with the Father. . . . Christ is the ‘faithful witness’ in that He is the perfect representative of God’s character, mind, and will to mankind (see on John 1:1, 14). His sinless life among men and His sacrificial death testify to the Father’s holiness and love (see John 14:10; see on ch. 3:16).” – Ibid.
This special title first applies to Christ, and secondarily, to the Holy Spirit as Christ’s appointed Successor on earth when He ascended to the sanctuary above to perform His closing work as High Priest (Advocate and Mediator). His first office was as the Prophet/Teacher; the last, as King, at His glorious second coming.
“The Holy Spirit is greatly needed . . . . This divine agency comes to the world as Christ’s Representative. It is not only the Faithful and True Witness of the Word of God, but it is the Searcher of the thoughts and purposes of the heart. It is the source to which we must look for efficiency in the restoration of the moral image in man. The Holy Spirit was eagerly sought in the school of the prophets; its transforming influence was to bring even the thoughts into harmony with the will of God, and establish a living connection between earth and heaven.” – Fundaments of Christian Education, p. 526.
As part of the high honor and privilege, yet-highly-accountable role as “God’s appointed agency for the salvation of men” (AA9), the remnant church is divinely authorized and empowered, and thus expected of God to be “a witness and ground of truth” (see on 1 Tim. 3:15). And yet some members do not half realize this awesome individual privilege and grave responsibility and accountability. If we fail to do our appointed work, the blood of the loss of those souls specifically brought to our attention will be upon us! That’s exactly what the Bible and Testimonies tell us! Notice (emphasis mine): —
“Falsehood and deception of every cast is sin against the God of truth and verity. The word of God is plain upon these points. ‘Ye shall not deal falsely, neither lie to one another.’ All liars shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.’ [Rev. 14:10; 20: 6, 14]. God is a God of sincerity The church is the witness and ground of truth.and truth. The word of God is a book of truth. Jesus is a faithful and true Witness. All the precepts of the Most High are true and righteous altogether” [Ps. 19:9].”- Testimonies, vol. 4, p. 336.
“In a special sense Seventh-day Adventists have been set in the world as watchmen and light bearers. To them has been entrusted the last warning for a perishing world. On them is shining wonderful light from the word of God. They have been given a work of the most solemn import—the proclamation of the first, second, and third angels’ messages. There is no other work of so great an importance. They are to allow nothing else to absorb their attention.
The most solemn truths ever entrusted to mortals have been given us to proclaim to the world. The proclamation of these truths is to be our work. The world is to be warned, and God’s people are to be true to the trust committed to them. They are not to engage in speculation, neither are they to enter into business enterprises with unbelievers; for this would hinder them in their God-given work.
Christ says of His people: ‘Ye are the light of the world.’ Matt. 5: 14. It is not a small matter that the counsels and plans of God have been so clearly opened to us. It is a wonderful privilege to be able to understand the will of God as revealed in the sure word of prophecy [2 Pet. 1: 19-21]. This places on us a heavy responsibility. God expects us to impart to others the knowledge that He has given us. It is His purpose that divine and human instrumentalities shall unite in the proclamation of the warning messages.
So far as his opportunities extent, everyone who has received the light of truth is under the same responsibility as was the prophet of Israel to whom came the word: ‘Son of man, I have set thee a watch man unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at My mouth, and warn them from Me. When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Nevertheless, if thou warn the wicked of his way to turn from it; if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul.’ Ezekiel 33: 7-9.
Are we to wait until the fulfillment of the prophecies of the end before we say anything concerning them? Of what value will be our words then? Shall we wait until God’s judgments fall before the transgressor before we tell them how to avoid them? Where is our faith in the word of God? Must we see things foretold come to pass before we believe that He has said? In clear, distinct rays light has come to us, showing us that the great day of the Lord in near at hand, ‘even at the doors.’ Let us read and understand before it is too late.
We are to be consecrated channels, through which the heavenly life is to flow to others. The Holy Spirit is to animate and pervade the whole church, purifying and cementing hearts. Those who have buried with Christ in baptism are to rise in newness of life, giving a living representation of the life of Christ. Upon us is laid a sacred charge. The commission has been given us: ‘Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all nations [Matt. 28: 19, 20, margin quoted]. You are dedicated to the work of making known the gospel of salvation. Heaven’s perfection is to be your power.” – Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 9, pp. 19-21.
The Beginning of the creation of God. – “Many have stumbled over this phrase, hastily concluding that this text proves that Christ was the first of the created brings of God—not a co-equal with the Father. But to do so would make the inspired writers of the Bible contradict themselves and do violence to the perfect spiritual harmony of Scriptures. Some of the earliest believers in the Advent message, having just come out from many deeply-ingrained papal errors, reached this conclusion, too. But the honest and humble abandoned it when shown the preponderance of evidence from the Word. Those who still insist in clinging to this error include those who subscribe to preteristic or futuristic interpretation of prophecy such as Antiochus Epiphanes is the “little horn power” of Daniel 8:9, 10, etc., etc.
“Greek arche, a word that has both a passive and active sense. Taken passively, it refers to that which is acted upon at the beginning. So interpreted here, it would mean that Christ was the first creature created. But this obviously could not be the correct translation, for Christ is not a created being. Taken actively, arche refers to that which initiates an action, a first cause, a prime mover. So understood here, it declares Christ to be the Creator. Such is plainly the meaning of the present passage, for Christ is portrayed repeatedly in this same role elsewhere in the New Testament (see on John 1:3; Heb. 1:2). The strikingly similar statement of Col. 1:15, 16 had been read by the Laodicean church many years before (cf. Col. 4:16).”-Ibid.
“I Know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I would you were cold or hot. So then because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of My mouth.” Rev. 3: 15, 16.
“The tepid spiritual condition of the Laodicean church [is] more dangerous than if the church [is] cold. Lukewarm Christianity preserves enough of the form, and even of the content of the gospel, to dull the perceptive powers of the spirit and renders men oblivious to the earnest effort necessary to the attainment of the high ideal of a victorious life in Christ. The typical Laodicean Christian is content with the things as they are and [is] proud of the little progress he has made. It is almost impossible to convince him of his great need and of how far he is from the goal of perfection.” – “Footnotes,” An Exhaustive E.G. W. Commentary on Revelation, vol.2, p. 616.
The Terrible Condition of Spiritual Lukewarmness
Decreased spiritual alertness and awareness
“A lukewarm spiritual state results in decreased alertness, a slow response, and indecisive action. If the Laodicean church were cold, the Spirit of God might more the readily convince it of its dangerous condition. The following statement throws light on why a ‘cold’ condition is preferable to a ‘lukewarm’ one.” – Ibid.
Continual weight and stumbling block
“It would be more pleasing to the Lord if lukewarm professors of religion had never named His name. They are a continual weight to those who would be faithful followers of Jesus. They are a stumbling block to unbelievers.” – Testimonies, vol. 1, p. 188.
Conformed more to the world than to the Word
“Many who profess to be looking for the speedy coming of Christ are becoming conformed to this world and seek more earnestly the applause of those around them than the approbation of God. They are cold and formal, like the nominal churches from which they but a short time since separated. The words addressed to the Laodicean church describe their condition perfectly. They are ‘neither cold nor hot’ but ‘lukewarm.’ And unless they heed the counsel of the ‘faithful and true Witness,’ and zealously repent and obtain ‘gold tried in the fire,’ ‘white raiment,’ and ‘eyesalve, he will spew them out of His mouth.” –Early Writings, pp. 107-8.
“Many are flattering themselves that they are right with God, when they have not the principles of the truth in their hearts. This class can be brought into working order only by seeking with diligent, persevering earnestness to heed the counsel of the True Witness. They are in a cold, formal, backslidden state. These are addresses by the True Witness [Rev. 3:15-19 quoted].”- Testimonies, vol. 4, pp. 227-8.
Combination character so utterly worthless
“This is the condition of the Laodicean church. At first there seems to be some self and some of Christ. But soon it is all self and none of Christ. The root of selfishness is revealed. It continues to grow, striking its roots deeper and deeper, till its branches are covered with objectionable fruit. Christ looks with pitying tenderness of all who have combination characters. Those with such a character have a connection with Christ so frail that it us utterly worthless.” – Letter 105, 1893.
Satan can use as decoys
“Satan is willing that you should be a Christian in name, for you can suit his purposes better. You can have a form and not true godliness, and Satan can use you to decoy others in the same self-deceived way.” – Spiritual Gifts, vol. 2, p. 262 (1T 162).
“We are coworkers with Christ, or coworkers with the enemy. We either gather with Christ or scatter abroad. We are decided, wholehearted Christians, or none at all. Says Christ, ‘I would thou wert cold or hot [Rev. 3:15, 16 quoted].”- Testimonies, vol. 1, p. 126.
“The Lord Jesus demands that every soul make a reality of truth. Show that you believe that you are not half with Christ and half with the world.” – Testimonies to Ministers, p. 130.
Worse than infidels (they are neither here nor there; fence-sitters)
“Half-hearted Christians are worse than infidels; for their deceptive words and noncommittal position lead many astray. The infidel shows his colors. The lukewarm Christian deceives both parties. He is neither a good worldling nor a good Christian. Satan uses him to do a work that no one else can do.’ – Letter 44, 1903. (This is one of those rebukes whose sting burns!)
Insipid religion (Insipid, “without taste or savor; vapid; wanting in spirit; uninteresting; flat; dull”- Webster.)
“The message to the Laodicean church applies most decidedly to those whose religious experiences is insipid, who do not bear a decided witness in favor of the truth.”- Letter 98, 1901.
The word of God to them is a dead letter
“To those who do not practice it, the word of God is a dead letter.”- E.G.W Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 963. Truth is no truth unless it is practiced.
Self-righteous and proud
“Were you cold, there would be some hope that you would be converted; but where self-righteousness girds one about, instead of the righteousness of Christ, the deception is so difficult to be seen, and the self-righteousness so hard to put away, that the case is the most difficult to reach. An unconverted, godless sinner stands in a more favorable condition than such.”- Testimonies, vol. 2, pp. 175-6. Note the last sentence!
Thus all church members are instructed: “Read the whole of the third chapter of Revelation, and to make an application of it. The message to the church of the Laodiceans applies especially to the people of God today. It is a message to professing Christians who have become so much like the world that no difference can be seen [verses 14-18 quoted].”- Review & Herald, Aug. 20, 1903.
“I will spue thee out of My mouth.”– What does God mean by this? In the KJV “spue” is the Greek emeo, meaning, vomit. The English “spew” means “to eject from or as from the stomach; vomit; pour forth; that which is spewed; vomit.” Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Fifth edition. If we were to strictly go by these definitions without due regard to church history, as chronicled in the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation, we would summarily conclude that all lukewarm Christians have already been literally vomited out of the mouth of Christ, thus, hopelessly lost! Is this true? Or is there hope still remaining? What is really meant by this phrase?
“The figure of spewing out of His mouth means that He cannot offer up your prayers or your expressions of love to God. He cannot endorse your teaching of His word or your spiritual work in anywise. He cannot present your religious exercises with the request that grace be given you.” – Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 408.
Thus there are at least five points that we should seriously consider regarding the “straight testimony to the Laodiceans,” particularly in the warning, “I will spue thee out.” They are as follows:
1. He cannot offer up our prayers and expressions of love to God. We are instructed to “pray without ceasing” and yet many who do, find in exasperation that many a prayer request remains strangely unanswered—some even for years. Others have simply given up, not realizing that there is a science for answered prayers—even as there is a science of salvation. One of that is found right here—when we pray while cherishing spiritually lukewarmness, or known sins, our prayers will remain unanswered. “If I regard iniquity in my heart the Lord will not hear.” “One who turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be an abomination.” Ps. 66: 18; Prov. 28:9, N.K.J.V.
2. He cannot endorse our expression of love for God. How often the expression “We love God” is thundered in the very same pulpits that also declare that “the law has been done away with” and that “there is no judgment;” “that we are already saved by His blood—obedience to the law is legalism, etc.” Thus countless congregants openly enjoy the pleasures of this world lulled with a false sense of security. They “worship God with their lips” with hearts whose treasures are “the world and the things of the world.”1 John 2:15-17. According to the Word, such expressions of love for God are in vain. Jesus, our only merciful Intercessor and Mediator, cannot endorse to the Father such lavish expressions of love for God while knowingly ignoring the conditions specified for its acceptance. Jesus openly rebuked the religious leaders and their countless credulous followers in His day with the same words He inspired the prophet Isaiah to declare to ancient Israel: “Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their hear is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” Matt. 15: 8; cf.Isa. 28: 13.
3. He cannot endorse our teaching of His word. This is perhaps why so much Bible teaching and preaching today have to be “spiced up” with entertainment-like trappings and “new-modeled,” allegedly in order to be “relevant” to the times, likes and tastes of this last-days wicked generation. But to do so is to lower God’s standards. Man, machinery, methods (as in gimmickry), and money have replaced the power of the Holy Spirit which alone can truly convict the heart and produce genuine transformation of character.
4. He cannot endorse our spiritual works in any way. This is self-explanatory whose answers are found among the other four, particularly No. 5.
5. He cannot present our religious exercises. All efforts to study the word of God, to do missionary work, to worship Him particularly in public exercises and convocations, even if we asked for His grace to perform such, will be in vain. Jesus will not simply endorse it and contradict Himself.
Now this is a bleak condition and certainly most discouraging until we realize with great humility and relief that all these are conditional. If—the biggest small word in the Bible–we truly repent, all these will be reversed! Jesus will lovingly offer up all our prayers enveloping them with the fragrant incense of His perfect righteousness. He will endorse all our humanly inadequate and flawed expressions of love with His perfect love, having presented by the Holy spirit “with groanings that cannot be uttered” (Rom. 8:26). He will endorse all our teachings of the Word, making them powerful through the convicting power of His Holy Spirit upon the conscience of the hearer. He will endorse, as in signing one’s name on a check, all our spiritual works. He will present all our religious exercises with His enabling grace, perfumed with His righteousness, to the Father causing the church in heaven and on earth to rejoice with praises and thanksgiving to God for His love, wisdom, mercy, and justice.
“Men and women professing godliness and expecting translation to heaven without seeing death, I warn you to be less greedy of gain, less self-caring. Redeem your godlike manhood, your noble womanhood, by noble acts of disinterested benevolence. Heartily despise your former avaricious spirit and regain true nobility of soul. From what God has shown me, unless you zealously repent, Christ will spew you out of His mouth. Sabbath-keeping Adventists profess to be followers of Christ, but the works of many belie their profession. ‘Ye shall know them by their fruits.’ ‘Not everyone that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven.” [See Matt. 7: 20-23].- Testimonies, vol. 3, p. 482.
“God brings against ministers and people the heavy charge of spiritual feebleness, saying, [Rev. 3:15-18 quoted]. God calls for a spiritual revival and a spiritual reformation. Unless this takes place, those who are lukewarm will continue to grow more abhorrent to the Lord, until He will refuse to acknowledge them as His children.” – Selected Messages, vol. 1, pp. 127-8.
“The time has come when God requires a change in this respect. He calls upon young and old to be zealous and repent. If they continue in their state of lukewarmness, He will spue them out of His mouth. Says the True Witness, ‘I know thy works.’ – Testimonies, vol. 1, p. 485.
Those among us who nurse the belief that this fearful warning of the True Witness, the Holy Spirit, does not apply to us should take a second look again! Notice:
“I am commissioned now to say to our brethren, Humble yourselves, and confess your sins, else God will humble you. The message to the Laodicean church comes home to those who do not apply it to themselves. . . .”- Counsels to Writers and Editors, pp. 99-100.
I read this quote many years ago which proved invaluable in increasing my lateral vision–expanding my understanding regarding the remnant church and its standing before God in these last days. I learned that the “straight testimony to the Laodiceans,” corporately addressed to all the churches in the Christian mainstream, and, in a very special sense to the remnant church, is, in greater urgency addressed to me! It is addressed to every professed individual member of the Seventh-day Adventist church!
The great problem is that much like the Jews in Christ’s time, many of us do not make special efforts to fully comprehend what the state of lukewarmness means in the sight of God, perhaps till now! This attitude is a great part of the terrible blindness pointed out in the Laodicean message! But that same moment we earnestly seek the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit through the written and spoken word by our willing consent, the blindness begins to disappear. That first important first step is the realization that:–
—If I do not personally accept the cutting reproofs and counsels that reveal my true spiritual condition, it simply means that I am guilty! Worse, I am grieving the Holy Spirit away! That’s how simple the matter is! I hope you see the point!
“At this time the Laodicean message is to be given, to arouse a slumbering church. Let the thought of the shortness of time stimulate you [that is, me!] to earnest, untiring effort. Remember that Satan has come down with great power, to work with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish [2 Thess. 2:10]. ”- Selected Messages, vol. 1, p. 196.
Satan is working overtime while souls are sleeping overtime. This is how Satan, “our adversary, like a roaring lion” is going about seeking whom he may devour.” 1 Pet. 5: 8. It is no coincidence that in the Bible the lion is primarily the animal symbol of Babylon.
As in all cases, these strong censures and stinging rebukes of Jesus to His professed people does not apply to the individual members who are quietly striving by God’s grace, against all odds, to maintain the purity of the truth in thought, word, and deed. This must be kept in mind as we study and apply all of the divine scathing rebukes throughout the Bible and the Testimonies. They only apply to the guilty ones—a matter best determined between the individual and God through the conviction of the Holy Spirit. It is often the case that we hastily and presumptuously claim the merciful promises of the Bible for ourselves but almost automatically apply the painful and humbling reproofs and censures to others. This self-deceiving, self-destructing habit should be broken now. It causes spiritual blindness.
Like family, like church. – It does, however, sadly apply to the prevailing general spiritual condition of the remnant church. More accurately, the condition of the church-at-large may ultimately be traced to the condition of the families and homes that make up the church, for, like human society, the family is the basic unit of the church. What we are at home we simply bring to the church. Before there was a church, as we know it, there was first a family in the Garden of Eden. The fall of mankind began with the First Couple, the father and mother of mankind. Their very first son, Cain, became the very first murderer when he killed his brother Abel because the latter chose to explicitly obey God’s requirements for worship and sacrifice that was acceptable to Him!
It’s been said: “It does not matter what you look at, it’s what you see!” And many, without pausing to giving this sound byte a thought enough thought, repeat it as though it were gospel truth. But it certainly isn’t as E.G. White says (emphasis in italics and bold, by this writer):
“The message to the Laodicean church is highly applicable to us as a people. It has been placed before us for a long time, but has not been heeded as it should have been. When the work of repentance is earnest and deep, the individual members of the church will buy the rich goods of heaven [Rev. 3:18 quoted]. Oh, how many behold things in a perverted light, in the light which Satan would have them to see. You may manifest zeal in missionary effort, and yet because it is corrupted with selfishness, and tastes strongly of self, it is nought in the sight of God; for it is a tainted, corrupted offering. Unless the door of the heart is open to Jesus, unless He occupies the soul temple, unless the heart is imbued with His divine attributes, human actions, when weighed in the heavenly balances, will be pronounced, ‘Wanting.’ The love of Christ would make you rich; but many do not realize the value of His love. Many do not realize that the spirit which they cherish is destitute of the meekness and lowliness of Christ, destitute of that love that would constitute them channels of light.”- MS 33, 1894.
In effect, the greatest amount of work yet to be accomplished in these closing hours of probation for the revival and reformation of the church will have to take place in the homes, in the hearts and lives of its inmates—in the individual—you and me!
Throughout the Old Testament times when God through His prophets employed such strong words as “stubborn,” “hard-hearted,” “backslidden,” and even “a harlot,” to chasten apostate Israel (10 northern kingdoms) and backslidden Judah—His chosen people, He continued pleading with them, addressing them as “My people” in most instances, later on, “these people;” “thy people.” The strong words, mistaken by some as final rejection, were actually stinging censures and rebukes of divine love designed to awaken them to their true condition and bring them to genuine repentance, revival, and reformation. However, except for a “faithful remnant,” their corporate reaction was to ridicule, abuse, and even “stone and kill the prophets” sent of God to do the thankless and even fatal job of trying to save them from their sins and hardness of heart! Matt. 23: 37; John 10: 31, 32; 11:38; Acts 5:26; 7: 48, 59; 14: 19; 2 Cor. 11: 25; Heb. 11:37. Such is the last message of the Faithful and True Witness–Christ Himself in the Holy Spirit—to the remnant church today that has become almost totally spiritually blind to its true corporate condition. Indeed: “This message to the Laodicean church reveals our condition as a people” (Review & Herald, Dec. 15, 1904).
Will we also stone those whom God has called to give this unpopular yet soul-saving message and who, faithfully and courageously proclaim the message by pen and voice, ignoring ridicule, censure, and loss of friends?
A. We need not literally stone them with rocks but we do exactly the same when in prejudice and hatred towards the truth that cuts like a tw0-edged sword, we cast aspersions on their work by blackening their reputation through evil-speaking, gossip, and evil-surmising. God forbid! Moreover, this special message, particularly addressed and entrusted to the remnant church of prophecy must also be given to all the other churches and denominations as Providence opens the way! Why? Because this is also the very spiritual condition–in all its expanded phases and various applications–of America, the “beast with lamb-like horns” of prophecy and the professed Christian churches so soon to become the “image of the beast” of Revelation 13! They must be given the final opportunity of hearing the antitypical combined messages of Elijah and John the Baptist, i.e., —the call to genuine repentance and to stop “halting between two opinions” as to who they will continue serving—the Lord of the Sabbath or the “god of this world” and his counterfeit Sabbath!
“The spirit of worldly conformity is invading the churches throughout Christendom [written over 100 years ago]. Robert Atkins, in a sermon preached in London, draws a dark picture of the spiritual declension that prevails in England: ‘The truly righteous are diminished form the earth, and no man layeth it to heart. The professors of religion of the present day, in every church, are lovers of the world, conformers to the world, lovers of creature comfort, and aspirers of respectability. They are called to suffer with Christ, but they shrink from even reproach…..Apostasy, apostasy, apostasy, is engraven on the very front of every church; and did they know it, and did they feel it, there might be hope; but, alas! They cry, ‘We are rich, and increased with goods, and stand in need of nothing.’”- Second Advent Library, tract No. 39/Great Controversy, p. 388.
“Never were sadder words than Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and John, depicting the awful fate of God’s children who departed from Him. It is infinitely sadder to think of a church to whom has come great light and privilege, and through whom God has worked mightily in the salvation of souls, turning from her trust, her opportunities, her privileges, from the great message which made her all that she is, and trusting in herself and her own charms, her own riches, her own beauties, in union with the world, go down to her destruction. When that time comes, God’s plea comes not to the church but to each individual alone. ‘If any man hear My voice, and opens the door [of his heart], I will come unto him and sup with him, and he with Me.’”- Wilcox, Editorial, Signs of the Times, Feb. 1, 1920, p. 499.
The very last call given to all the fallen churches and the world itself just before probation closes is the latter-rain-powered final loud cry of Revelation 18, “Come out of her, My people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues, for her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities, Rev. 18: 4, 5.
Q. Who has been divinely-appointed to give this message to the other churches? The remnant church of prophecy! Do the members realize this awesome responsibility?
“The Laodicean message has been sounding. Take this message in all its phases and sound it forth to the people wherever Providence opens the way. Justification by faith and the righteousness of Christ are the themes to be presented to a perishing world.’ – Letter 24, 1892.
“The warning for the last church also must be proclaimed to all who claim to be Christians. The Laodicean message, like a sharp, two-edged sword, must go to all the churches. (Rev. 15-19). It is our work to proclaim this message. Are we putting every effort that the churches may be warned?”- Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 77.
Here is another area where overzealousness may cause some to make unkind thrusts at the churches identified in Revelation as “Babylon is fallen is fallen” with railing accusations and a combative spirit—which Christ Himself denounces.
“It is our work to speak the truth in love, and not to mix in with the truth the unsanctified elements of the natural heart, and speak things that savor of the same spirit possessed by our enemies. All sharp thrusts will come back to us in double measure when the power is in the hands of those who can exercise it for our injury.”- Counsels to Writers & Editors, p. 60.
“The Lord wants His workers to represent Him, the greatest Missionary Worker. The manifestation of rashness always does harm. . . .He who is careless and heedless in uttering words or in writing words for publication to be sent broadcast into the world, sending forth expressions that can never be taken back, is disqualifying himself to be entrusted with the sacred work that devolves around Christ’s followers at this time. Those who practice giving hard thrusts, are forming habits that will strengthen by repetition, and will have to be repented of. . . .Satan is standing ready, burning with zeal to inspire the whole confederacy of satanic agencies, that he may cause them to unite with evil men, and bring upon the believers of truth speedy and sever suffering. Every unwise word that is uttered through our brethren will be treasured up by the prince of darkness.” Ibid, p. 61.
“To ridicule the position held by those who are in error, will not open their blind eyes, nor attract them to the truth. When men lose sight of Christ’s example, and do not pattern after His manner of teaching, they become self-sufficient, and go forth to meet Satan with his own manner of weapons. The enemy knows well how to turn his weapons upon those who use them. Jesus spoke only words of pure truth and righteousness . . We grieve the Lord Jesus Christ by our harshness, by our unchristlike thrusts.”- Ibid, p. 63.
“We should not go out of our way to make hard thrusts at Catholics. Among the Catholics there are many who are most conscientious Christians, and who walk in all the light that shines upon them, and God will work in their behalf. Those who have had great privileges and opportunities, and who have failed to improve their physical, mental, and moral powers, but who have lived to please themselves, and have refuse to bear responsibility, are in greater danger and in greater condemnation before God than those who are in error upon doctrinal points, yet who seek to live to do good to others. Do not censure others; do not condemn them.” – Ibid.
Prayerfully ponder all these thoughts, counsels, and warnings, and repent. This is the solution to our lukewarmness that is the cause of our listlessness and weakness. (To be continued on next month’s study).