Laodicea-- What Happened?
by Tom Stewart
July 5, 1999
The Master Himself described the Church of Laodicea as lukewarm--
being "neither cold nor hot" (Revelation 3:16)-- with the result that the LORD vomits them "out of [His] mouth" (3:16). Standing outside of the
Church of Laodicea, the Saviour seeks entrance. "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"
(3:20). As if the Heavenly Bridegroom was inviting Deceived Laodicea to repent and
receive Him in true faith, in preparation for the "Marriage
Supper of the Lamb" (19:9), He counsels Laodicea to purchase
His "True Riches"
(Luke 16:11), i.e., "gold tried in the
fire" (Revelation 3:18), and to buy the Heavenly Clothing
of His Righteousness, that they should "not
be found naked" (2Corinthians 5:3), i.e., "white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that
the shame of thy nakedness do not appear" (Revelation
3:18). He also gives Laodicea instructions for the restoration of spiritual sight
by the divinely anointed clay, i.e., "anoint
thy eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see" (3:18).
What a powerful but pathetic description of any church!
Now that the Laodicean Church Age is about over, what did the LORD Jesus Christ mean when He said to Lukewarm Laodicea, "Thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked" (Revelation 3:17)? Was it that Laodicea had no concept of the "love of money" being the "root of all evil" (1Timothy 6:10)? No, Laodicea's sin is deeper. They interpreted their sense of material well-being as justification that their Intellectual-Only-Faith was the all-sufficient Evangelical Faith of the Scripture, i.e., spiritually they felt that they had "need of nothing" (Revelation 3:17). And, they neglected the basic characteristic of Saving Faith-- faith works, and that, by love. "For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love" (Galatians 5:6).
Laodiceanism is synonymous with antinomianism, which is not simply anti-legalism, for Scripture declares that we are not saved by the self-righteous works of the Law. "Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the Law: for by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified" (Galatians 2:16). Antinomianism declares that Saving Faith is not a decision, i.e., a free will act, but merely the conviction or persuasion that something is true. "But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?" (James 2:20). Further, antinomianism-- as it is taught in this Laodicean Church Age-- makes vehement cries against Salvation By Works, e.g. declaring that persevering in faith to the end is unnecessary to be finally saved. But, "what saith the Scripture?" (Romans 4:3). "He that endureth to the end shall be saved" (Matthew 10:22). Viewing the addition of any further Condition for Eternal Salvation than a type of Intellectual Faith, Laodicea cries out, "Legalism!" or "Works Salvation!" But again, "what saith the Scripture?" (Romans 4:3). "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling" (Philippians 2:12). [For a better understanding of this all-important doctrine of justification by faith, please see our article, "Is Faith the Only Condition for Eternal Salvation?" ---New Window]
By purposefully omitting such necessary conditions from Gospel Salvation, as persevering to the end, Laodicea makes possible the Endtime situation of Professing Christians intentionally taking the Mark of the Beast-- and still expecting to go to Heaven. But, "9 ...If any man worship the Beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, 10 The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of His indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: 11 And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the Beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name" (Revelation 14:9-11).
How did Laodicea come to the conclusion that an intellectual perception or conviction of the Truth was all that was necessary for Evangelical Faith? "For unto us was the Gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the Word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it" (Hebrews 4:2). Laodicea wrongly reasoned: Since all men are born into this world as sinners, then salvation only makes them saved sinners. And, if sinners still, then the difference between sinning and not sinning, cannot have the slightest effect upon salvation. Consequently, things other than holiness must attest to spiritual well-being. Hence, a sense of material well-being must be as good as any evidence that God is pleased. "Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools" (Romans 1:22).
In response: Mankind is not born into this world as sinners, for sin is only the willful act of a moral agent in defiance of the Commands of God. "Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the Law: for sin is the transgression of the Law" (1John 3:4). Eternal Salvation occurs only when the sinner becomes willing to do the will of Christ. "And being made perfect, He became the Author of Eternal Salvation unto all them that obey Him" (Hebrews 5:9). Holiness can be omitted only on pain of Eternal Punishment. "Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the LORD" (12:14). And, the Saint's Obedience-- not any sense of material well-being-- is the evidence that we are saved, and that we spiritually prosper. "And hereby we do know that we know Him, if we keep His Commandments" (1John 2:3). And, "2 Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth. 3 For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the Truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the Truth. 4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in Truth" (3John 2-4).
May the LORD Jesus Christ deliver us from the deception of Laodicea.
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