Message to Laodicea - Rebuke and Remedy, Pt. 2

Scripture: Revelation 3:14-22, 1 Peter 4:17
Date: 12/10/2011 
This is the second of a two-part series on the message to the church of Laodicea as spoken in Revelation 3.
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Note: This is a verbatim transcript of the live broadcast. It is presented as spoken.

If you were not here last Sabbath, then you may not know that our presentation this morning, our study, is going to be the continuation of something we began last week dealing with the last of the seven churches in Revelation chapters 2 and 3. This would be the church of Laodicea. So the message today is “The Message to Laodicea—Rebuke & Remedy,” and this is part two of that.

I know I did it in the past (I don’t remember how long ago it was); I told you about a very interesting character from history, in particular, San Francisco history, by the name of Joshua Abraham Norton. He lived between 1819 and 1880, and he showed up in about 1859 in San Francisco wearing sort of a hodgepodge uniform that he had fabricated from the Civil War and some other things he had, with some bands. He carried a sword, and he told everybody that he was the Emperor of the United States, Joshua Norton I—and the protector of Mexico, too. They weren’t sure if he was crazy or just very eccentric, but he believed it. He used to march around San Francisco issuing proclamations and declarations because he said he was the emperor of the United States. He had these very high ideas.

People were sort of bemused by it all, and they found out that he was such an oddity, they began to feed him in the restaurants of San Francisco for free because if you had Emperor Norton in your restaurant it would attract other business, and he had become something of a celebrity. He actually once proclaimed one time they needed to put a bridge across the San Francisco Bay, which they finally did, and it was called the Golden Gate Bridge. His most famous declaration was the one to abolish Congress, which we’re still waiting on.

Once there was quite a stir in San Francisco because a policeman who didn’t know what was going on realized there was a madman walking around the streets, and he arrested Joshua Norton, put him in jail, and there was such an outcry—the newspapers absolutely excoriated the police department, that the police chief from then on ordered all of his officers (they released Norton), that they were to salute him! So for the rest of his life, wherever he went, when the policemen saw him, they would salute him. When he died, 30,000 people showed up for his funeral. Here’s this crazy guy going around San Francisco; he thinks he’s the Emperor of the United States, and we laugh right now because he had these delusions of grandeur, and we think that’s funny.

But what’s not so funny is the Lord tells His church in the last days we have delusions of grandeur also. We think that we’re really okie dokie when we’re inky stinky. That’s actually a quote from Lucille Ball. We think we’re rich and increased with goods and everything is just fine, and we don’t know that we’re poor and wretched. As a matter of fact, why don’t we, for review, let’s go to Revelation chapter 3. I’d like to just read this for you again. Revelation chapter 3, in the message to the church of Laodicea…

It probably would be good just to review the seven churches a little bit and what they represent. I won’t go through all the different churches. These seven churches not only were messages to those churches in the area of Asia, a circle… There you have a map we’re going to put up on the screen that shows… Jesus appeared among seven candlesticks, and it represented these seven churches in Asia that were at the crossroads of the Roman Empire, and it began with the church of Ephesus, then Smyrna, Sardis, Philadelphia, and you had Thyatira, and then you have Laodicea, the message that we’re going to be dealing with more specifically today, and Pergamos I left out also.

Those churches represent a panorama of the church’s history prophetically. Each of those messages sort of represented a different age of the church in the order that they would play out in history, and it has proven true thus far. We must believe that it is still true. Something interesting, many of the churches had both condemnations, things they were doing wrong, but there was almost always a commendation. The church of Laodicea has no commendation, but it does have a condemnation. The church of Philadelphia had no condemnation (the one prior to the age of Laodicea), but it is only commended. It did nothing wrong. Philadelphia was a time of great revival and brotherly love. It was a great reformation, the time of Wesley and Whitefield and Jonathan Edwards and David Brainerd and the revivals that were happening in England. Missionary societies were formed; Bible societies were formed. It was a great time of revival. The Puritans and the Quakers, and while there were many different denominations, they were very dedicated. There was a spirit of brotherly love, which is why you have the name Philadelphia.

I was just going to read to you in Revelation, but something I should read to you from the church of Philadelphia that plays out in Laodicea, if you read in Revelation 3:10, this is to the church of Philadelphia, “Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world.” So the church of Philadelphia is being told, “Your church is going to close its chapter. You will rest in your graves. You’ll sleep waiting for the resurrection. I am going to keep you from an hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole earth in the days of the church of Laodicea”—obviously; it’s the last church. “The hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those….” A big test is coming during the days of Laodicea. Does prophecy tell us there is going to be a test like the test that happened in the days of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego—are we going to bow down; are we going to receive the mark of the beast or the seal of God?

Then He closes that by saying, “Behold, I am coming quickly!” So at the end of the church of Philadelphia, He says, “I’m going to spare you from this hour of trial that’s going to come during the age of Laodicea. Behold, I am coming quickly,” meaning He comes during the time of Laodicea. As a matter of fact, at the end of the age of Laodicea, He declares, “I am the Amen.” So it’s all over with the church of Laodicea. We are living in that age right now that is going to see an hour of trial come upon the whole earth, and He says that we are the ones who have a message, “Behold, He comes quickly!” That’s especially relevant to Seventh-day Adventists. We are a people who are supposed to believe in and be passionate about and be proclaiming the imminent advent of Jesus. He is coming soon. So that’s a little background of these seven churches.

I want to read again; go to Revelation 3, and let’s quickly read, starting in verse 14, the message to the Laodiceans. “And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write,

“‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will [spue] you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked—I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness [does not appear or is not] revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him [or sup with him], and he with Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.”’” What a privilege!

“‘“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”’” God, God’s Spirit, is speaking to the churches today, and this is a message from Jesus to His church, and we are God’s people, but we are living during the time of the age of Laodicea.

I shared with you a little bit about the town of Laodicea. It was the crossroads. It was a very wealthy city. They had been destroyed by an earthquake in 60 B.C. They told the emperor, “We’re okay. We can rebuild ourselves,” because they had so much money. They had banking going on there. They had a textile business, a very rare silky soft, black wool that was used by kings, and they also had a medical school where they made, among other things, an eye salve that was put in tablet forms and sent throughout the Roman Empire. Laodicea was famous for that. The problem was that the cold springs that came from Colossae, by the time they got to Laodicea, they were lukewarm. The hot springs that came down from Hierapolis, by the time they got there, they were also lukewarm, and so they had a problem with just plain lukewarm water. Running water is usually safe to drink. Boiled water is safe to drink. Lukewarm water—you start drinking out of puddles, and you can get sick. The Lord is saying that the self sufficiency of Laodicea is dangerous.

You might be thinking to yourself, “I know who He’s talking to,” and you might be looking to your right and looking to your left, and say, “Sure enough, church is lukewarm.” In the church we have what we typically categorize as, we have conservatives and we have liberals. We have the conservative Pharisees and the liberal Sadducees. By the way, they both got together when it came time to crucify Jesus. You might be hot or cold on that side. Do you know that there is a danger of a person being lukewarm? You can be a lukewarm conservative, and you can be a lukewarm liberal. Are there people in the Bible that were so legalistic that they still didn’t have the Spirit? Then you have those who presume so much on grace that they live wicked lives. They’re both in the lukewarm category. What He’s talking about is having the real thing, and we’ll get to that in just a minute. But what’s especially scary about the message to the church of Laodicea is they are indistinguishable from the world around them; they’re slumbering in a materialistic stupor. Do people know that you are on fire for the Lord, that you’re zealous about your faith? Do you know what your spiritual condition is? That’s a big danger of Laodicea. It says they “do not know.”

When I think about that passage of them not knowing, I’m taken back to the story in the book of Judges. In Judges chapter 16, several times Delilah lured or lulled (she did both) Samson to sleep on her knees, and then he would tell her, “Oh yes, the secret of my strength is just, whatever you do, don’t weave my hair into a web” or “into a loom,” and he kept giving her these crazy ideas about where his strength came from, and then she’d wake him up and say, “The Philistines are upon thee, Samson!” And he’d get up and he’d rub the sleep from his eyes, he’d shake himself free, and just throw Philistines right and left everywhere. Supernatural strength, but he kept playing with the devil, and finally she badgered him to the point where he despaired of life, and he said, “All right. Here’s the secret.”

You would have thought he would have known something was wrong. But do you know, that’s how it works when you’re growing lukewarm is you hang out with the enemy until pretty soon you don’t realize you crossed that line. You know the old adage about boiling a frog? Finally she said (shaved off his head, last time), “Samson, the Philistines are upon you!” And he got up, and he went to shake himself as other times, and it says he said, “I will go out as before, at other times, and shake myself free!” After all, I’m Samson. But notice this. “He did not know that the Lord had departed from him.” He went to shake himself free, and he had no strength. He had no strength beyond any other man. They tied him up and plucked out his eyes and put him off to grind in their prison house.

Thinking you have the Spirit and later finding out at the critical moment that you don’t; thinking you have the power, and then at the critical moment you find out you don’t—that frightens me, the idea, and it should frighten you. You know what that says to me? Could it be I don’t know where I stand with God? Could it be that I am secure in my mind, but I’m not secure in heaven? That’s dangerous not to know what your condition is! It’s lethal! Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 13:5 [KJV], “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves…?” That’s one of the last things you’re going to hear in a lot of churches today. Everybody says, “Whatever you do, don’t look at yourself. Just look at Jesus,” and that’s true, and that’s good, but there is a time to examine yourself.

Do you know the principal way that cancer is discovered is not by doctors? It’s by people going to the doctors saying, “Something’s wrong. I found a lump.” “Some of the plumbing isn’t working.” “I’ve got these symptoms.” Then they do a test and they realize that they have cancer. But you have to be in tune with your body and say, “Doc, something’s not right,” and then he can help you with the diagnosis. But you have to be in tune with your spirit all the time as a Christian. We ought to be thinking about, “Where am I? What am I thinking about?” You have to be thinking about what you’re thinking about. That tells you something about where your mind is. Are you thinking about the Lord? Does He have the priority in your life? Otherwise you’re in danger of drifting off into that lukewarm category, and it’s amazing how far it can take you.

I shared with you the story of David, where here he had killed a friend, taken his wife, committed adultery, lied and deceived the people, and he just went on back to his job like everything was normal. And he even went so far as to condemn this fictitious man in a story that Nathan gave him. He said, “That man will die! He is going to pay fourfold!” And Nathan had to say, “You’re the man.” David didn’t know what had happened to him. Sin is sneaky. It’s creepy. It sneaks and it creeps into our lives, and you can be a Christian and it can be creeping in, and selfishness and indifference and the Laodicean lukewarm attitudes can kind of sneak up on us, and we don’t know. People can be in the church for years, and it happens so slowly that they end up becoming the frozen chosen, and they don’t know when they stopped moving. They just get settled into talking about this experience they had once 20 years ago, and they don’t have a new experience each day. We need to have a fresh relationship with the Lord. Amen?

Matthew 7:22 [KJV]. What is Jesus declaring to a lot of people when He comes? “Many”—this is the majority—“Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord,” we’re in the church; we know You. We’re on speaking terms. “Have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name…” They have the name “Christian.” They do all these things in His name. We’ve “done many wonderful works.” “And … I [will] profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” You notice it says here they say, “Lord, Lord.” They say it twice. Another time, Jesus said, “Not everyone that says unto Me, Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven, but they that do the will of My Father in heaven.”

So one of the dangers of Laodicea, because we are doing some works, and because we look at the world around us, we have this horizontal view and we say, “The Lord has blessed us. We’re rich and increased with goods. Obviously He has blessed us because we are good, and we’re not doing the same sins as the world,” but we’re not really completely surrendered and holy and pure as God is calling us to be. We’re kind of in this lukewarm limbo between really being what the Lord wants us to be… We figure as long as we’re just a couple of notches above the world we’re okay, and that’s when you’re in—do any of you remember the twilight zone? “You’ve now entered the twilight zone.” Well, if you’re a Christian, the scariest thing you could hear is, “You’re now entering lukewarm limbo.” To be in that zone where you say, “I’m not like the world,” but you’re not holy as Christ is calling us to be and get content with your experience so you’ve lost that zeal, that passion, that hunger for holiness. The Bible says we should hunger and thirst after righteousness. They don’t know.

So what’s the answer? King David learned the hard way. He prayed in Psalm 139:23, 24, “Search me, O God, and know my heart,” because we don’t know our own hearts, do we? “Try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any”—any—“wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” “Lord, help me to know, help me to understand where I stand in Your sight,” because ultimately He is the judge.

That’s probably a good place to segue into… I haven’t really talked to you about what the name Laodicea means. Laodicea was named after the wife—her name was Laodice—the wife of Antiochus II, and he lived about 260 B.C. The name Laodicea or Laodice means—and they’re not exactly sure; it means either a just people or a judged people. It works either way because if Jesus had talked to the church of Laodicea and they’re a just people, that means maybe they’re a self-righteous people. They claim, “We are just.” Or more likely what it means is a people who are living in a time of judgment, a people who will be judged, which is a sober thought to consider—a judging of the people.

If you’re taking notes, you might want to check on this. 1 Peter 4:17 [KJV] says, “For the time is come that judgment must begin,” where? Judgment begins “at the house of God.” That’s the church. “And if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel…?” So judgment begins with those who profess to know the gospel. And he says, “If it starts with those who profess to know the gospel, what will be the end of those who don’t even claim to believe the gospel?” I think that Peter is quoting from a very important prophecy in Ezekiel 9.

How many of you know that scary prophecy in Ezekiel 9 about the angels with the destroying weapons? Let me just review it for you quickly. If you go to Ezekiel 9, there in vision, and Ezekiel is reciting all this, God sees these people in the temple, and the angels are told to go through Jerusalem. There are six angels that are given these destroying weapons, and we don’t know exactly what they are. Might be the same kind of weapons the angels used when they fought with each other in heaven; we don’t know. I think the translation even translates something like a battle ax, but it’s some kind of a destroying weapon. Then there’s a seventh angel—it says one angel among them, a seventh one, and he has a writer’s inkhorn. I don’t know whether they use permanent marker or what those angels use. Then the angels are instructed. The first angel is instructed to go through Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads—. When you hear “mark in the forehead,” you think, “Run for cover! That’s bad!” No, you want this mark. “Put a mark on the foreheads of [those] who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done [in Jerusalem].” By the way, that’s Ezekiel 9:4. “Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads”—does mark on the foreheads sound familiar?—“of [those] who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it.” What does that mean?

I’ve talked about hot being on fire, out preaching, zealous for the Lord. Cold would be repentant, praying for revival, sighing and crying, humbling yourself. Hot and cold doesn’t mean saved and lost. God would never say, “Would you were lost.” Hot and cold means on fire, doing the work; cold means in a state of repentance, pleading for the Spirit, pleading for revival, asking for the forgiveness of God’s people. It says this group gets a mark on their forehead. That’s a mark I don’t think people see; the angels see it.

Have you ever gone to some kind of an event where they stamp you on your way in; you look at your hand, and you say, “I don’t see a stamp.” Then you go through the turnstile, and they have an infrared light and you have to have this light, and then you say, “Oh, yes, I guess I have this stamp that I’m allowed in the event, and they’re going to check our hands.” It’s hard to forge those stamps. You probably have radioactive stuff in your skin now, but hard to forge those. These angels, I think their mark is something like that. They put a mark that we don’t see, but angels see it.

Then after all of God’s servants are marked, notice what He said. “To the others,” with the battle weapons, “He said in my hearing, ‘Go after him through the city and kill; do not let your eye spare, nor have any pity.’” It’s interesting because angels, I guess, have the capacity to spare and have pity. “‘Utterly slay old and young men, maidens and little children and women.’” This was to be total annihilation, just like when the Flood came or like Sodom and Gomorra. “‘Utterly slay…; but do not come near anyone on whom is the mark.’” I want that mark, don’t you?

Notice where this judgment begins. “‘And begin at My sanctuary.’ So they began with the elders who were before the temple.” Not only in the sanctuary, they began with the ones in the sanctuary who were the oldest. Why? They had lived the longest and had the most opportunities and had the most knowledge, so judgment began with them. I’ve had kids come up to me before, “Pastor Doug, I’m afraid I’ve committed the unpardonable sin.” Or, “Judgment has begun in heaven. Maybe my case has already come up and it’s too late for me.” I said, “Don’t worry; He’s going to start with the old people first.” Do you remember when that woman was caught in the act of adultery in the temple, and Jesus said, “He without sin, let him cast the first stone at her”? And then Jesus began to write in the dust of the temple floor, and probably writing their sins, and it says they went out, beginning at the eldest, even unto the least. The eldest had lived the longest. They had the most things to repent of. They were most conscious of their record. But where did that all take place?

In the temple. There was this judgment in the temple. They were all condemning the woman, and they were all the ones who ultimately were the ones being judged. All these things, I think, tie together. Judgment must begin at the house of God. James 5:9, “Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned.” We shouldn’t be talking and grumbling and grousing about each other. He goes on to say, “Behold,” why? “the Judge is standing at the door!” Notice “standing at the door.” Do we find Someone standing at the door in Revelation? The Judge is standing at the door.

Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all,” this is all the duty of man. “For God will bring every work into judgment.” Jesus said, “I know your works” in the message to the Laodiceans. We’re saved by grace, but our works tell whether or not we are saved. I “will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether [it is] good or evil.” By the way, if you just make a note, you can read a little later Ecclesiastes 11:9, where he says, Young men, you might go out, enjoy yourself, eat, drink, but know that for all these things you will be brought into judgment someday. So we’re reminded through this book that there is a judgment. We’re living in the age of the church where the Judge is at the door, and He’s wanting to come in to our lives.

Jesus tells us He has counsel for us. We’re counseled to buy from Christ. Doesn’t that sound strange? I thought everything about Jesus was free. Why does He say to the church of Laodicea, “I counsel you to buy from Me”? Buy? “Lord, I thought You paid for it all.” I think there’s a little bit of holy, sanctified sarcasm here, in that Jesus is saying, “You think you’re rich and increased with goods. City fell in an earthquake and you told the Caesar you don’t need any help rebuilding it. You probably have so much money you wouldn’t take the gift of salvation. Well, then, let me sell it to you.”

It’s really free, and the way you know that is you look at Isaiah 55. This is an appeal from God. Isaiah 55:1, “Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; [he that has] no money, come, buy and eat.” How do you buy with no money? Someone has to pay for it for you. “Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” It’s talking about the milk of the Word and the wine of the covenant, Christ’s blood, without money; without price. So when Jesus said “buy,” don’t think, “Oh, I don’t have enough money in my checkbook to buy that gold.” Everybody can buy it because He basically has bought the coupons for you. Amen?

Revelation 22:17 [KJV], Jesus said, “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will”—whoever will, “let him [come and] take the water of life freely”—how? This is the same book, Revelation. Jesus is saying “everybody.” You can come. Everyone is invited. He says, “Come, come, come. Take the water of life freely.” If you don’t take the things that Jesus is counseling us to buy, it’s your own fault, because He’s really telling us, “I’ll buy it. I’ve paid for it.”

Then He goes into what the specifics are. He says, “I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.” First of all, Jesus said, “I counsel you.” I won’t ask for a show of hands, but have you ever talked to counselor before? The Bible says it’s good. “In a multitude of counsel there is safety.” Do you have any wise friends that you go to when you’re looking for counsel? I do. I think it’s a good idea to have people that you can counsel with. Some people get paid for their counsel, and it’s not worth much. Some people will sell you their counsel. They’re called consultants or financial advisors. But who would be the best Counselor in the world? If Jesus said, “Can I give you some advice?” and you say, “No thanks, I have it. I have it covered, Lord. Don’t need any advice, not from You,” is that a good idea? If the Lord says, “I have some counsel for you. You think you’re rich and increased with goods, but can I give you a tip? Can I give you some advice?”

He says, “I counsel you to buy from Me gold.” Everywhere you turn today there are commercials for gold, right? And the gold has really gone up. It’s gone way up, and it went back down; it’s going back up again—a lot of volatility with the dollar. People want something secure, something that could last all the changes in the economy, and so they’re selling gold. Everywhere you turn there’s a commercial, gold, gold, gold, gold, gold, because it seems it has stood the test of time. It’s a very interesting metal. It’s the most malleable metal in the world. It’s extremely durable. I understand you can take an ounce of gold and hammer it so thin it will cover a tennis court. I forget what the measurements are, but you can take an ounce of gold and string it out into a wire that will go miles, because you can almost get it down to just the atomic level and it’ll stick together. Gold is an amazing substance. That’s why Jesus is using it in materials in the New Jerusalem, right? He’s offering us that gold.

What is the gold? When I get to the raiment and what it represents, and the eye salve, I think everyone sort of understands that, but what specifically is that gold? 1 Peter 1:6, 7, he says gold tried in the fire—not any gold; this is gold that has been purified. 1 Peter 1:6, “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold…” So faith—gold? Gold “much more precious than [even] gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” I think it’s interesting he says that gold is like faith, and he mentions the revelation of Jesus. By the way, I have a quote here from the book Christ’s Object Lessons, page 158. It’s very simple. “The gold tried in the fire is faith that works by love. Only this can bring us into harmony with God.” That’s what it is. It’s faith. That gold is faith that works by love. We’re not saved by our works. We’re saved by faith. But it’s a faith that works by love.

1 Peter 4:8, “And above all things have fervent love for one another.” That’s the same book where he talked about the gold of faith. “Fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins.’” Psalm 119:127, “Therefore I love Your commandments more than gold, yes, than fine gold!” So having that gold—it’s talking about having the Word of God living in us, His commandments being expressed in faith and love, having the real thing in our hearts.

Next thing is the eye ointment. Do you remember when Jesus said if the blind lead the blind, they all fall in the ditch, right? So here He’s telling us how much we need that salve for our eyes. Matthew 6:22, “The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” We individually need to have our eyes opened to the things of the Spirit, to be able to have that spiritual discernment to see things for what they really are. Your eyes represent your vision, your understanding, and without the Holy Spirit it’s hard for us to understand what’s really going on in the world. Your whole worldview is off-kilter.

You don’t often find red letter in the book of Acts. You have some red letter in Revelation; you have red letter, of course, in the Gospels, but there are a few places you’re going to find red letters, the words of Christ, in Acts. Acts 26 you have the words of Jesus. Acts 26:18, Christ tells Paul that He is sending him “to open [the] eyes [of the blind], in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God.” So having your eyes open is having the power of God in your life. “That they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.”

I want to take this just a little further. What are the eyes? This is a message to the what of Laodicea? Church of Laodicea. So is it a message to one person or to a people? Do people need eyes? What are the eyes of the church? I’m not talking about the apostles, but one of the gifts of the Spirit is, not only apostles, it’s prophets. You know what prophets are called in the Old Testament? Seers, like a person who sees, a see-er. By the way, that’s 2 Samuel 24:11. “Now when David arose in the morning, the word of the Lord came to the prophet Gad, David’s seer.” So if you have a church that either does not have, or is neglecting, the gift of prophecy—you with me? Are you listening?—you have Laodicea. And I believe God gave this church that gift. But when we come to the place where we’re lukewarm and we’re neglecting the gift…

I’ll say this as plainly as I can say it. I firmly believe that the writings of Ellen White are inspired, that they were given to God’s people in the last days. I read it, and I don’t know how people can be so critical. It is such wonderful truth. But I think one of the things the devil is doing to the church in the last days is he is intimidating and badgering Seventh-day Adventists where they’re almost apologetic that we believe in the gift of prophecy. You show me a Seventh-day Adventist that’s drifting from their moorings or that is getting swallowed up in liberal thinking; you can almost always find out they are not reading the Spirit of Prophecy. They have lost their eyes. But if you have a Christian who is reading the Bible and the inspired writings that God has given us, that’s the only thing that’s going to keep this church on a straight keel in this age where there are so many wild and whacky messages that are going out there in the name of Jesus. We need the seer. We need to have the eyes healed in the church.

Then He says “white raiment.” What is that white raiment? Mark 9:3, when Jesus appeared with Moses and Elijah, it says, “His clothes became shining, exceedingly white, like snow, such as no launderer on earth can whiten them.” I like hearing Mark try and find words. He said we don’t have any detergent, there’s no wash person on earth that can get them this white. Acts 10:30, Cornelius is telling about this angel that appears, and he says, “Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and behold, a man stood before me in [very] bright clothing.” Revelation 7:14. Let the Bible interpret itself, and you can let Revelation interpret Revelation. “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in”—what?—“the blood of the Lamb.” That doesn’t make sense, how you would wash something in blood and have it white. So that whiteness is not talking about just fabric softener or bleach, it’s talking about being washed from sin.

Then the last verse I’ll give you on the white raiment, Revelation 19:7, 8. If you have any doubt, this is the one that clears it all up. “Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife,” the bride, the church, “has made herself ready.” He’s coming for a bride without spot or wrinkle. “To her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.” So through our lives being washed in the blood of the Lamb—being washed in the blood means that you then actually live a different kind of life. You’ve been cleansed, and it says that we live lives of righteousness. It’s the righteous acts of the saints. Because our hearts are changed, our works are changed. Isn’t that right?

Finally He says, “As many as I love, I rebuke.” This is a very important truth. Love rebukes. I have a picture up on the screen of Samuel rebuking Saul the king. He loved Saul. Some of you remember he prayed all night for Saul. It broke his heart when Saul finally grieved away the Holy Spirit. But when you love somebody, you’re going to say, “You’re on the wrong track. You shouldn’t be doing that.” Sometimes we think the loving thing is you just don’t judge, you don’t say anything. No, love rebukes. You have to be tasteful; you have to be loving, but the Bible is pretty clear on that. Sometimes if you love a person you rebuke him.

Hebrews 12:5. By the way, Paul is quoting Proverbs, so you find this a few places in the Bible. Hebrews 12:5, “And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: ‘My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him.’” This is good news. The message of Laodicea is good news because God says, “I rebuke the ones I love.” Does He rebuke the church? Yes. Why? Because He loves it. That’s good news. “As many as I love, I rebuke.” “Do not despise the chastening of the Lord, … for whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.” We might be punished by the Lord, but it means He loves us.

Let me give you another one on that point. Titus 2:13-15, “Looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you.”

How many of you like being rebuked? If it’s by someone I love, then that’s important. Sometimes Karen will challenge me, and it’s okay for husbands and wives to have those talks, and she’ll say, “Doug,…” Just last night, we were driving home. Nathan was talking to me, and I didn’t answer him. I was in another world. She said, “Doug, are you going to answer him? He just asked you a question,” and I thought, “Oh, she’s right. I need to pay attention.” So I deserved it. I’m glad. How are you going to ever change if no one ever tells you the truth, right? So do you want the Lord to rebuke you if you need it? Yes, it’s going to save you! I’d much rather know. “Who I love, I rebuke.”

Colossians 4:13 [KJV], “For I [do testify to him], that he hath [much] zeal for you, and them that are in Laodicea, and them in Hierapolis. Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you. Salute the brethren which are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the church which is in his house.” So we’re to have the zeal that he’s talking about. He says be zealous and repent.

There’s so much here. I’m rushing along here, and not only did He offer white raiment, He says, “I’m giving you white raiment that the shame of your nakedness doesn’t appear.” I’m not going to show you a picture of nakedness on the screen. I think we all understand when Adam and Eve sinned, what happened? They discovered their nakedness. And He’s wanting to cover our shame. We have no righteousness. That garment represents the righteousness that Christ offers us.

Then He tells us (verse 20), “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.” There’s a song about this. Do any of you know that song? “Behold, I stand at the door and knock, and if any man hears My voice, and open…” Anyone know that song? Good. There’s a whole song on this verse right here. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” He’s telling us He wants to abide with us, that He stands at the door. For the church of Laodicea, the Lord says, “I’m at the threshold. I’m at the door.” The history of the world is about to close. We are living in that last age of the church, and He’s counseling us to repent, to turn from our sins, to humble ourselves. We’re asking Him to shake us up and wake us up and get us out of this Laodicean lethargy that we’re in, because He’s at the door and we want to be ready.

There’s a verse—as a matter of fact, my friend Richard Marker gave this to me last week, and I looked at it and thought, “I’ve read this before, but I hadn’t made the connection.” Song of Solomon—you usually don’t think about Song of Solomon in connection with Revelation. Song of Solomon 5:2, and in the beautiful poetry of this soliloquy of love, it says, “I sleep, but my heart is awake; It is the voice of my beloved! He knocks, saying, ‘Open for me, my sister, my love, my dove, my perfect one;…. My beloved put his hand by the latch of the door, and my heart yearned for him. I arose to open for my beloved, and my hands dripped with myrrh, my fingers with liquid myrrh, on the handles of the lock. I opened for my beloved, but my beloved had turned away and was gone. I sought him, but I could not find him; I called him, but he gave me no answer.”

Have you ever heard someone ring the doorbell or knock on the door, and there are a few people in the house and so you figure, “Somebody will get it; I’m busy”? So you wait, and they knock a couple of times, and you think, “Aren’t they going to get that?” Finally you go up and you go to the door, and the UPS man drives off with that thing you’ve been waiting for. It’s a lonely feeling.

This week someone came to our door and they knocked. I thought, “Nathan will hear it,” and I didn’t get up. I was in my office. I was busy doing important things. They knocked again, and they didn’t hear it. Finally I realized, “Maybe they’re going to leave,” so I got up and I went to the door, and they were just driving away. I caught them. They had left flowers, come to bring us flowers, and they were just leaning them up against the door. Here Jesus has come to bring us salvation, and He’s knocking.

You know what else He says? He says, “I stand … and [I] knock. If anyone hears My voice…” So not only is He knocking, but His voice is that doorbell. He’s going, “Hello? Hello? I love you! Are you going to let Me in? Are you going to open your life?” If we just leave Him out there knocking, that’s pretty rude to leave someone at the door, isn’t it?

Sometimes I’m working in the office and the kids are in the back room, and their little friends come over and knock, and I think, “Oh, I keep getting up!” Especially in the summertime, I always keep getting up and letting the kids in and out, and a couple times I sat there, and they’ve knocked and I knew who it was, and I thought, “Oh, I have work to do,” and the Lord says, “You have to love the little children. Would you want to leave the little child outside the door?” And I think it’s like, “inasmuch as you’ve done it to the least of these, you’ve done it to Me,” and I thought, “That would be like leaving Jesus outside!” So I get up again, or I’m on the phone, and I say, “Can you please hold a minute? Someone’s at the door.” When someone’s at the door, it’s sort of a priority, isn’t it? You don’t want to just leave them out there.

Jesus even tells a parable about a man who comes to visit his friend and he knocks on the door, and he doesn’t even open the door. He sticks his head out the window and says, “What do you want? It’s late at night; my family’s in bed with me,” and he said, “I have some visitors. I need a loaf of bread.” He finally comes down, and he opens the door, because that’s just courtesy.

If we wait too long, our Beloved may leave. You know the parable about the five wise virgins and the five foolish ones, and the foolish ones did not prepare to go through the door when there was an opportunity. If we don’t let the Lord in our lives when He’s knocking, the Bible tells us there’s a day when we may knock. Have you read that? Matthew 25, “And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut.” Noah got on the ark with his family, but those that waited too long, they waited for the rain to start; then the door was shut. “Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord,…’” Does that sound familiar when it says it twice like that? They know His name. “‘…open to us!’ But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’” Jesus said in Luke 12:35, “Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning; and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him”—here’s the word—“immediately.” “Open to Him immediately.” It says He knocks and He calls. “My sheep hear My voice.” Do you hear Jesus knocking?

He says, “I want to come in and sup with you.” What does that mean, to be able to dine with the Lord? When He had sup with the apostles, they received the new covenant. He wants to come in and help us to receive His blood and His bread and that new covenant, be cleansed and get a new heart and a new life.

But He knocks, and you have to open, and He won’t force His way in. By the way, Jesus has manners. He will not force His way in. One of the pictures we have of Jesus knocking on the door (I don’t know—you may have already seen it), it’s very interesting, there is no doorknob on Jesus’ side. Then there’s even a picture Harry Anderson painted—it’s very clever. The United Nations building looks like a big door. You’ve seen it before. And Jesus is there knocking, asking the world to let Him in, and there’s no handle, which means it needs to be opened from the other side. So if you want Jesus is your life, if we want Jesus in the church—He wants to come in; that’s why He’s calling; that’s why He’s knocking—why would you make Him wait? Why not invite Him in now?

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