LAODICEA

(Trumpet Ministries, Inc. / Word of Righteousness)

LAODICEA Copyright Š 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved

We now are approaching the age of Laodicea. We are in the closing days of the rule of man. People have become lovers of themselves and are increasingly concerned with their "rights." Humanism is the religion of the hour. Laodicea speaks of the Lampstand of God, the Christian Church, corrupted by man-centeredness. The Laodicean "gospel" does not look to the coming world of righteousness but concentrates on making the present world safe and comfortable for Christians.

Table of Contents

The Amen

Image Male and female Fruitfulness Dominion

The Faithful and True Witness

The Beginning of the Creation of God

Foreword

The wickedness of the church of Laodicea proceeds from a false image—the image of man as the center of the universe and God as the means by which man becomes that center. The spirit of Laodicea abounds in the Christian churches of today.

The true saints of Christ will never be satisfied with the Laodicean churches. They understand that the Gospel of the Kingdom of God is not a plan for the advancement of mankind but the witness of the coming of God’s Kingdom and the doing of God’s will in the earth.

LAODICEA 

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; (Revelation 3:4)

We now are approaching the age of Laodicea, the era when man, apart from God, attains the climax of his exaltation on the earth. The people of today are in love with themselves and increasingly are concerned with their "rights"—much more than they are with the rights of God or His Christ. Men are lovers of themselves, as Paul prophesied. Humanism is the religion of the hour. The Laodicean "gospel" does not look to the coming world of righteousness but concentrates on making the present world safe and comfortable for Christians.

The emphasis on man and his comfort and pleasure has entered the thinking of Christian people. The unscriptural doctrine of the pre-tribulation rapture, with its emphasis on not allowing the believers to suffer, fits well into a humanistic, man-centered civilization.

In our time the Gospel of Christ is being preached as the God-given means of making people happy. It is taught that through Christ we can be prosperous and at ease in the present world. Through grace we shall enter Paradise when we die even though we have not been a true disciple of Christ. None of this is true.

The concept is widely held among Christians that Christ suffered so we will not be required to suffer. The truth is, we Christians are called to suffer much for the Kingdom of God.

Christ suffered in order to redeem mankind from the authority and power of Satan, not in order that people may live merrily in the world and still have fellowship with God. Through Christ we can be transformed so our behavior no longer merits Divine wrath. The process of transformation includes much pain and perplexity, much tribulation.

Christ spoke to the Laodiceans about the need for their faith to be tested in the fires of tribulation: 

I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich;.... (Revelation 3:18)

Self-centered Christianity would not be widespread if men were not becoming lovers of themselves. The believers would be better able to discern the present errors.

As we examine the Word of Christ to the church of the Laodiceans we can recognize the characteristics of some of the churches of our own time.

The church of the Laodiceans represents, according to our understanding, the type of Christianity that will be common during the great tribulation and the reign of Antichrist. Since we are drawing near to this last era we can in our own day observe many of the flaws of the church of the Laodiceans.

To those who may have been taught there will be no Christian churches on the earth during the great tribulation we point to the following: 

. . . These are they which came out of [the] great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. (Revelation 7:14)

The concept of the verse (above) is that the "great multitude, that no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues" (Revelation 7:9) were pressured by the great tribulation into developing righteous behavior through the authority and power of the blood of the Lamb ("washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb"). The purpose of the great tribulation is to make the Wife of the Lamb perfect and complete in preparation for her marriage to the Lord.

Also, the twenty-fourth chapter of the Book of Matthew, the principal scriptural description of the coming of the Lord, reveals that Christ’s coming will take place "immediately after the tribulation of those days."

As for the saints living on the earth during the reign of Antichrist, it is clear that Antichrist has been on the earth since the first century and that in the closing days of this age he will wage war against the saints and will overcome them (I John 2:18; Revelation 13:7).

The Laodicean church, the last of the seven golden lampstands, is wretched in the sight of the Lord. Such a church never could be termed "the Wife of the Lamb." But a remnant will come out of the Laodicean churches and buy the refined gold of faith purified by suffering.

Compare: 

My dove, my undefiled is but one; she is the only one of her mother, she is the choice one of her that bare her. The daughters saw her, and blessed her; yea, the queens and the concubines, and they praised her. Who is she that looketh forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners? (Song of Solomon 6:9,10)

So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because 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 3:16,17)

What possibly could take place on the earth to convert her who is destined to be so undefiled and precious in her Lord’s eyes into one who is "wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked"?

The world, Satan, and our own lusts and self-will continually attempt to keep us blind and naked. The ready availability of all forms of sin will cause the majority of the people of the last days to become cold in their attitude toward God and His Christ.

Also, Babylon (man-directed Christianity), Antichrist, and the False Prophet will be major forces of corruption in the end-time. Babylon is the spirit of religious organization, that is, of man attempting to build the Kingdom of God in his own wisdom and strength. The spirit of Babylon is the worship of churches.

Antichrist is the effort to make man the center of the universe. The False Prophet is the spirit of religious deception, the attempt of people acting in their own soulish wisdom and strength to imitate the power and righteousness of Christ. The False Prophet will assist Antichrist in setting up a one-world government.

The False Prophet is Christianity minus the personal cross of the believer.

In the end, the kings of the earth who give their power and strength to Antichrist will make Babylon "desolate and naked, and will eat her flesh, and burn her with fire" (Revelation 17:16). This means that the forces of the world finally will turn against the huge Christian organization. By that time the worldly church will have become wealthy and powerful, a threat to Antichrist. Until then, Babylon and Antichrist will join hands in the effort to corrupt the Wife of the Lamb.

Laodicea received no praise from the Lord. Yet it was one of the seven lampstands of God and can attain the throne of Christ if it repents and serves Christ.

Antichrist, the False Prophet, and the institutional spirit of Babylon never were and never shall be of God. The spirit of Babylon is revealed in the Catholic Church and in her daughters, the Protestant churches. They all are spiritual prostitutes, selling their favors in the attempt to please the world.

The purpose of the great tribulation is to pressure each of the Lord’s chosen people to such an extent he or she becomes part of the holy minority. Those who do not become part of the end-time holy remnant will take their place in the Laodicean majority, will become part of Babylon, and will "drink of the wine of the wrath of God" (Revelation 14:10).

No middle ground is acceptable or even possible. The way of the Lord must be made straight.

The Lord Jesus appears in a different manner to each of the seven churches. The way in which He comes to each church has to do with the issues associated with the particular church.

Notice how the Lord Jesus appears to Laodicea:

As the Amen.

As the faithful and true Witness.

As the Beginning of the creation of God. 

The Amen

The Lord Christ is the "Amen" of God. Jesus always affirms all that God Is, all that God has spoken, all that God wills and plans. In Christ there is no wavering whatever. "For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, to the glory of God by us" (II Corinthians 1:20).

We Christians also are to be the Amen of God. Whatever God has stated, that is what is true as far as we are concerned. There is to be no doubting, no wavering. No matter what our surroundings seem to indicate is true we are to hold fast to what God has spoken.

God’s holy Word controlled the past, is controlling the present, and will control the future. "He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true" (John 3:33). God does not change. He who would follow the Lord Jesus in victory must become the Amen of God.

In the beginning God created all things. At that time God created not only the physical world but everything else through to the installation of the new Jerusalem on the new earth. The Christian who does not understand that all things were completed from the creation of the world will have a difficult time entering the "rest" of God.

The redeeming Lamb was slain, man and the universe were created, the brothers of Christ were created in His image and also glorified, the Wife of the Lamb was brought to total maturity and unity, wars were fought, Satan was overthrown, and the Kingdom of God was brought down from Heaven to the earth. Finally God rested. All this happened in the vision of God. Then God created the heavens and the earth.

It is the sole duty of man to enter that rest through the Lord Jesus Christ. We are to enter the program of God, which is carrying us as an individual forward to the place in the new world which was created for us.

Christ is the Amen of God. One of the issues surrounding the church of the Laodiceans is that of saying Amen to the will, the Kingdom of God. He who would be an overcomer, a member of the spotless Bride of the Lamb, must become part of the Amen— the Lord Jesus Christ.

Those who add their Amen to that of the Lord Jesus will enter the rest of God, ceasing from their own works. Those who do not add their Amen to the Amen that is Christ will fall in the wilderness of unbelief. They will be overcome by the pressures of life. 

Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. (Hebrews 4:11)

After God created the heavens and the earth, man’s environment, God spoke four proclamations concerning man—a fourfold Divine declaration. Then God rested. It is the whole duty of man to say Amen to each of these four proclamations, thus entering the rest of God.

Satan, Antichrist, Babylon, our bodily lusts, and our self-centered soul all work desperately to keep us from saying Amen to the Divine declaration and from entering the rest of God. It is because of such strong opposition that we are required to labor, to fight in order to enter the rest of God (Hebrews 4:10, 11). We must overcome Satan in every instance by the word of our testimony, that is, by proclaiming that what God has said is true and unchanging. 

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. (Genesis 1:27, 28)

The four pronouncements of God, of which the Lord Jesus Christ is the Amen, the Verification, concern four areas of being, behavior, and destiny:

Man will be in God’s image.

Man will be male and female.

Man will be fruitful.

Man will have dominion.

This holy Word has governed human history, is governing human history today, and will continue to govern human history through to the coming down of the new Jerusalem to rest on the new earth. This is why it can be declared that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His eternal purpose in Christ (Romans 8:28).

Christ is the Amen of all of God’s purpose. Our whole business in life is to add our total Amen to the Amen of Christ and to rest with the Lord Jesus as God brings all of Christ’s enemies under His feet (Hebrews 10:13).

All that you and I are destined to become in being, in behavior, in relationships, and in role was brought to perfection in the mind of God before He created the heavens and the earth. Either we say Amen to God’s Word and labor to enter God’s rest, or else we destroy our destiny by striving according to our own will to determine our being, our behavior, our relationships, and our role in the Kingdom of God.

Either we rest with God or else we set out to create our own heavens, earth, and kingdom. Here is the most significant of all the choices a human being makes.

It is easy to understand why entering the Amen of God would be such an issue in the church of the Laodiceans, the church of the rights of the people, of man-centeredness, of primary emphasis on the welfare of people rather than on the will and eternal purpose of God and His Christ.

God, in timeless vision, already has completed His works from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21. Now God is resting. Either we strive to enter the finished works of God or else we go forth to plan our own destiny. Faith in God brings us into His rest. Unbelief prevents us from entering His rest.

If we do not obey God and Christ we will not enter the place that has been prepared for us from the beginning, even though God’s works have been finished from the creation of the world. 

. . . As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. (Hebrews 4:3)

For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end; (Hebrews 3:14)

For many are called, but few are chosen. (Matthew 22:14)

If we would not be rejected with the majority we must enter fully into that which God has spoken concerning us.

God through His sovereign workings has brought you and me out of Egypt into the wilderness of tribulations. The tribulations are designed to make us fit for the land of promise, for the place in Christ in God where we are abiding in perfect love, joy, and peace. Either we place our faith in Christ until we enter the promised-land rest of God or else we fall in the wilderness of temptation and testing because of our unbelief. Which is it going to be?

Let us consider the fourfold Divine declaration:

Image

Male and female

Fruitfulness

Dominion

In the beginning these four aspects were interpreted on a primitive level, a rough draft of what God has in mind. 

Image in the fullest interpretation, is what Christ Is. Christ is the only Man we have seen who fulfills the first of the four proclamations. Christ is the complete, perfect Image of God—exactly the Personality God desires in each of His sons. 

Male and female speaks of man’s unique characteristic of incompleteness. Unlike the other creatures of God, man cannot exist by himself. Apart from union with God and with others of his kind, man is an incomplete creation. 

Fruitfulness has to do with man’s charge to multiply the image of God, which at its highest level is Christ, throughout the creation. 

Dominion is concerned with man’s role of rulership in the universe. It has been given to man to govern all the works of God’s hands.

These four attributes are what "man" is. Man is nothing more nor nothing less than these. It is to this supremely high calling that Christ is the Amen, the Verification. By emphasizing the "rights" of people, Laodicea limits man to the stature of an intelligent animal. But man is called to fellowship with God. Therefore the man-centered spirit of Laodicea is a perverse foe of every human being.

Let us examine these four a bit more closely.

Image. Man is destined to be in the image of God. Each person is a unique creation and will remain a unique creation—a unique expression of the Father through Christ.

God is a holy, life-giving Spirit. He works righteousness. His appearance is Glory, Holiness, Majesty, and unlimited Authority and Power.

Each son of God has been predestined to be in the image of Christ (Romans 8:29). This means we are not being perfected as a living soul, as a child of Adam, but are being re-created as a life-giving spirit (I Corinthians 15:45). We are being trained to practice righteousness. When Jesus appears we shall be like Him (I John 3:2).

We are to be of the Being of God, of the behavior of God, and we are to be godlike in appearance. Such is man’s destiny. We are being created in the image of God. 

Thou madest him [man] a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands: (Hebrews 2:7)

In order to make the image perfect and complete, God through Christ will enter us and make His eternal abode in us. The end will be a perfected revelation of God to the nations of the earth. The new Jerusalem is the Wife of the Lamb. She is the complement of Christ—the glorious enlargement and fullness of the incarnation of the invisible God.

For man to attempt to shape his own image is to introduce chaos into the universe. Man has made some strides in science and the arts. But in the realm of moral personality and behavior, man is at a loss. He is ignorant of his own composition. Satan, who has his own image to consider, strives mightily to keep man ignorant of the realities of personality and behavior—realities governed by principles of cause and effect that in turn are governed by God’s requirements concerning His creatures.

For example, a psychiatrist may have a patient who is filled with rage. The psychiatrist might, for example, counsel his patient to vent his anger with a great deal of profanity. The psychiatrist, in this case, does not understand the spiritual basis of the rage and that exercising the devil does not cure anger just as taking the pressure cap off the radiator of a gasoline engine will not prevent its overheating. Both are naive assumptions based on an ignorance of the factors involved.

In the physical realm there are instances where releasing stress solves a problem, such as the release of air from an overinflated tire. But this analogy does not apply to the cooling of an engine by removing the radiator cap (the engine will boil over) or to the venting of rage by an indulgence in profanity.

One must understand the composition and governing principles of the elements under consideration.

It requires the touch of the Spirit of God to remove rage from the human personality. Prayer is the correct technique. To indulge in profanity only exercises and strengthens the unclean spirits causing the rage. It is not our point of view that there is no place for the medical doctor, the psychologist or the psychiatrist. But such professionals are dealing with God’s creation and are extremely limited in their understanding of the human mechanism and the spiritual forces that influence the human personality.

Apart from the wisdom of the Holy Spirit the doctor and the psychiatrist are largely incompetent. Not only did God create people in God’s image but He continues to intervene in their personality and behavior. The professional who seeks to repair or change an individual apart from the individual’s Creator and Father may do more harm than good.

It appears likely that the medical and behavioral scientists increasingly will join forces with occult practitioners and with the governments of the world in the attempt to control the image of man. They will attack the determination of the churches to use the Scriptures in the shaping of man’s image, especially in the education of children. We expect persecution in this arena.

The motive of the misguided efforts of the government, the witches, and the scientists is the desire of Antichrist to place man at the center of the universe. To acknowledge the sovereignty of God is to remove from the brain and hands of man (the mark in the forehead and in the hand) the control over man’s image.

The hypothesis of evolution, for example, which certainly lacks the credentials of authentic scientific law, is nothing more than an effort to thrust aside the Creator so that man can be free to shape his own image as it pleases him without any interference from God, without any moral restraints. The attempt is ridiculous, given spiritual reality, but this is what is taking place in the world as we drift toward Antichrist, the great tribulation, and Laodicea.

God despises the image of the wicked. The wicked never will find peace or joy because God makes what they are and what they do desolate, corrupt, and miserable.

The Christian who would enter God’s rest must cooperate with the Holy Spirit in the process of change from the lawless Adam into the holy, life-giving spirit who works righteousness and is godlike in appearance. We already have been called, justified, and glorified in the mind of God (Romans 8:30). There remains only our continuing trust and patience as we endure the battles designed to bring us to the state to which we have been called.

We must possess our soul in great patience, for it is the salvation, the re-creation, of our soul that is in the balance. It is possible to let our own soul slip from our grasp by not being true to God.

Male and female. Man has been given the characteristic of incompleteness. This incompleteness makes man significantly different from the angels.

The Lord Jesus is the Head, the Divine Male. The members of His Body are the female. This is the highest expression of the Divine proclamation that created man male and female in the image of God.

Only in union with God and with people can man find lasting joy. Joy is the one true eternal source of being, behavior, fruitfulness, and dominion. Joy is infinitely more than pleasure. Joy is the Divine, eternal motivation for personality and actions. Joy and peace can proceed only from love, that is, from union.

To die and go to Heaven is to be "gathered to our people, " to be reunited with our loved ones. Heaven would be a dreary place indeed if we were not one with Christ and also brought into loving, joyous, and peaceful relationships with people.

The "treasures" we are laying up in Heaven are relationships. Isn’t that true? Can you think of any other kind of treasure in Heaven?

The person who dies is welcomed by loved ones and friends. This is what makes Heaven "heaven." As we grow older we begin to look with joyous expectation toward passing into the spirit realm, not always because of release from dread and pain but because of the union with God and with people that we anticipate.

How true it is that the major source of pain in the earth (as well as of joy) often is in the area of relationships. It appears that our experiences with other people during our formative years have much to do with what we become, with how we behave. Psychiatrists and other behavioral specialists deal continually with tangled, destructive relationships.

Sometimes it seems that our main purpose on earth is to grow in constructive relationships; first with God and then with people. The individual who loves God with all his heart and his neighbor as himself is fulfilling all the Law and the Prophets.

Apart from loving, joyous, peaceful relationships the human organism does not function properly. One of the harmful aspects of a technical civilization is that "things" are given priority over people. A society that hopes to achieve righteousness, peace, and joy can make no greater mistake than to suppose that these goals can be attained by money, by things, by knowledge, by power. Righteousness, peace, and joy are attainable only through right relationships with God and people.

Man has been created male and female, which is to say, his whole personality and life is based on union with God and people. If God had created man male only or female only, his attainment of joy and peace would come about in a manner of which we cannot conceive. We cannot conceive of it because what we are is male and female. The thought of man being an "it" leaves us with a sense of incompleteness. We expect to see men and women, boys and girls, not "its," in the world to come.

In the resurrection people will be "equal to the angels," that is, they will be eternal spiritual beings. But men never will become angels and angels never will become men. The angels cannot be in union with God. There are no angels in the Wife of the Lamb. Man is unique among the creatures of God in that he is male and female, meaning he is capable of union. The union of the members of the Body of Christ with Christ and with one another appears in the form of the new Jerusalem. Angels, because of their different composition, cannot be included in the union of the Lamb and His Wife.

How the concept of male and female, of gender, will be carried beyond the grave we do not know. The animal aspect of male and female is a temporary arrangement, not destined to be carried forward to the new world. We are not certain if the abstract concept of gender will persevere into the new age. We understand that relationships based on flesh and blood are not to be carried forward. Even in the world we recognize that flesh and blood relationships are frail and faulty at best. But spiritual relationships, such as the relationship between the Lord Jesus and the believer, are eternal. They are carried forward intact.

Some of the bonds of love and friendship being established now in the Body of Christ may be of eternal quality. Paul implied this by stating that the people to whom he ministered are to be his crown in the Day of the Lord. 

For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? (I Thessalonians 2:19)

The holiest of all the statements made by the Lord Jesus are contained in John 17:21-23. Here is the Most Holy Place and it has to do with our union with God through Christ and with one another—a union that will last for eternity: 

That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. (John 17:21-23)

The union of the Father and the Son is total, perfect, eternal. We are being called to be a part of this indescribably holy union. The truest, highest aim of every human being on the earth is to enter this rest, this union, this Amen.

One of the dangers to which the modern Charismatic is exposed is that of seeking to gain the power and glory of Jesus apart from union with Jesus. Antichrist and the False Prophet attempt to be like Jesus apart from union with Jesus.

We hear people praying for power, for wealth, for health, for this, for that. There are times to pray for necessary things and other needs. But such objectives should form a minor part of our prayers. The truest, highest prayer is for union with Him who is the Source of all things and benefits. When we are in union with the Amen of God, who is Christ, we have everything of value in the universe. But when we are not in union with the Amen of God we are void of everything of value. Apart from Him we have no place in the Kingdom of God.

The great tribulation will cause the Lord’s chosen to understand that only in union with Him is there righteousness, peace and joy.

We enter the rest, the Amen of God, by faith—faith that what God spoke in the first chapter of Genesis indeed will come to pass in our life.

God knows the relationships that are essential to our being, that alone can bring the joy that gives us reason to be, to behave, to be fruitful, to exercise dominion. We enter rest only when we turn over to God all our relationships, saying Amen to His perfect will.

Fruitfulness. Man has been charged with reproducing the image of God throughout the universe. It is the will of the invisible God that the image of Christ be found in every person, thing, and circumstance in the entire creation of God.

To this end the Church, the elect of God, has been chosen from among the ranks of mankind.

It is important Christians understand that the Church is not a set of favorites whom God has chosen to "go to Heaven" to play games while the remainder of mankind perishes in ignorance and sin.

It is true rather that the Church is a firstfruits of mankind, God’s firstborn whom God has chosen from among men for His own possession. The Church is an elder son, as it were, an elder son to whom God has given the firstfruits of the Holy Spirit. The reason God has given to His elect the firstfruits of the Holy Spirit is that they may be a light to the nations of the earth, a revelation of the Person and will of Almighty God.

Christ is the true Light. Because we are part of Christ we also are that true Light.

The light of God is the works of righteousness that Christ performs, and that we perform when Christ lives in us. God is righteous. This the world does not fully understand and as a result lives in corruption and death. It is God’s will that the nations of the earth behold His righteousness in the Church.

When the righteous works of God are not being seen in the members of Christ’s Body, the world is without a true revelation of God.

The fruit for which God is waiting is His moral image in people. We Christians bear fruit when God’s righteousness is performed in us and from us extends to other people so they also do God’s will. 

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)

The Laodicean churches embrace the teaching of imputed (ascribed) righteousness because this doctrine benefits man without making any demands on him. But they do not understand the righteousness of personality and behavior that the Holy Spirit intends to work in the personality of the believer. Therefore the Laodicean churches have no light, no good works for men to see. They are barren.

The Laodicean churches love ascribed righteousness because it seems to point toward a God who is willing that man be blessed even though he is wicked in nature. An overemphasis on imputed righteousness goes along very well with the philosophy of the rights of people.

But since actual works of righteousness necessitate a denial of man’s pleasures, actual righteousness is regarded by the Laodicean believers as the "works" against which Paul warned us. The Laodiceans distort the Scriptures to their own destruction.

Ascribed righteousness will not cause the nations to glorify God. The nations glorify God only when God’s people reveal God’s righteous and holy nature in their personality and behavior. 

Having your conversation [behavior] honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation. (I Peter 2:12)

God from the creation of the world has appointed His elect to be the bearers of His image, an image that reproduces itself when it is witnessed by the nations of the earth. 

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)

Fruit bearing is associated with election. 

Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. (John 15:16)

Christ is the true Vine. Each member of the Body of Christ is a branch. God desires that the fruit of godliness appear on the branch. The fruit of godliness indeed will appear on our branch if we abide in Christ through prayer, faith, patience, and obedience.

But if we do not bear the fruit of godliness the Father removes us from the Vine. We are useless as far as the purpose of God is concerned. God’s purpose in calling us in Christ is that we may show His Person and will to the nations of the earth. If we, after having received Christ, continue to live according to the appetites of our body and soul, we will not bear the fruit of godliness in our personality. No substantial change will take place in us.

How many Christians of today have been taught we can receive Christ, live according to the flesh and soul, continue in ungodliness, and then be accepted by grace ?

Of what use in the Kingdom of God is a member of the elect, of the royal priesthood, who is not becoming a new creation? He has received the grace of God in vain. He is a branch without fruit. He will be removed from Christ. He is of no use in the Kingdom of God. He is as tasteless salt.

By overemphasizing the doctrine of ascribed righteousness, today’s Christian scholars are destroying the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. They are producing a generation of saints in name only who are fruitless and who, because of their disbelief in God and their readiness to live to themselves, are not entering the Amen that governs their creation as man. If they do not repent they will not partake of Christ. Such is the clear, consistent teaching of the Scriptures (Hebrews, Chapter Three).

Dominion. Man has been charged with enforcing the will of God, the rule of God, throughout the creation. Whatever kinds of beings there may be throughout the universe, man is the ruler of them all. Man is destined to govern all the works of God’s hand. 

Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him. (Hebrews 2:8)

Man, the only creature in God’s image, has been given through Christ the authority to judge moral behavior. Man is destined to sit on the throne of glory with Christ.

Here is one of the principal issues of Laodicea. The spirit of Antichrist abounds in Laodicea. Antichrist desires that man be at the center of everything. God is viewed as man’s means of putting himself at the head of the creation.

Laodicea is correct in seeking to make man the ruler of God’s creation but incorrect in assigning the rulership to uncrucified man, to man who has not lost and then gained his life in Christ.

There is one essential difference between the spirit of Antichrist and the Divine declaration. It is that the Divine declaration gives to man the rulership on the condition that God dwells in man and man is sternly, totally obedient to God’s will.

Antichrist desires the rulership but is not willing to surrender his own will to the will of God.

The means that God has provided for the development of His rulers is suffering.

God is seeking victorious saints, conquerors, those who through faith and obedience will endure every tribulation, every prison, every delayed gratification, every humbling until each nerve in them has been tested to the limit. These will sit with Christ on His throne and govern all the works of God’s hands.

The saint who is called to rule must, like Joseph, spend his appointed time in prison. There is no other path to dominion. Those who would reign must suffer. Only the cross produces the crown.

The reason the rulers must suffer is that obedience can be learned only through suffering. 

Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; (Hebrews 5:8)

The individual who has not suffered is self-seeking. If God were to give him the authority and power of Divine dominion he would take the glory to himself. The believer who has learned humility and obedience by taking up his cross and following Jesus has experienced the destruction of his own self-seeking and self-centeredness. God has become his Center.

God will not give His glory to another person. God in Christ is to be the Center of every one of His rulers.

The Laodicean believer will not tolerate the idea that he is to suffer. His spiritual leaders have pointed out to him that God, being love, is not willing that any of His children should suffer. Because their stomach is their God these so-called "shepherds" have neglected the Scriptures that describe the role of suffering.

The Laodicean spirit is seen in the doctrine of the pre-tribulation rapture—a flight to Heaven to escape suffering. The doctrine of the pre-tribulation rapture is an enemy of the Spirit of Christ. The Spirit of Christ always teaches us of the sufferings of Christ and of all who are part of Him, for members of His Body must come to know the fellowship of His sufferings. The Spirit of Christ teaches us also of the glory that follows the bearing of the cross (I Peter 1:11).

How can we experience the power of His resurrection apart from sharing His sufferings? (Philippians 3:10).

It is Antichrist and the False Prophet who seek to rule the works of God’s hands apart from bearing the cross behind Christ.

Laodicea emphasizes the rights and welfare of people. The cross emphasizes the obedience of people to the will of God. Laodicea is deeply, essentially rebellious in spirit.

So it is today. Rebellion is being taught in many Christian churches. People are being taught that God’s love will prevent their suffering. The opposite is true. It is the love of God which, recognizing our lawless condition, our perverted image, sends suffering on us with the intention of converting us into the image of God.

There are aspects of God’s workings that are somewhat permissive. As Jesus spoke to His brothers, "Your time is always ready" (John 7:6).

Such is not the case with God’s chosen. Their times are in God’s hands (Psalms 31:15). They have been called out from mankind and then chosen from among the called. They are a Gideon’s army of rulers, each being a prince.

All things of the creation are working together for their good. As Christ is, so are they (Judges 8:18). God very carefully is training and preparing them for places of dominion. No aspect of their personality is overlooked. Because they have been given much, much is demanded of them. They must be imprisoned and suffer until their obedience to the Father is beyond any doubt.

After the king-priests have drunk the full cup of suffering they will be granted dominion and will tear down all the forces of Hell that corrupt the earth. They will bring the righteousness, peace and joy of the Holy Spirit to mankind.

They, after the Lord Jesus who is their elder Brother, are the fullest response to the Divine declaration that assigns to man the rulership over the works of God’s hands. They are the conquerors, the sons of God. They shall inherit all things (Revelation 21:7).

The Laodicean era is a state of spiritual blindness and nakedness. It is fitting that it is during this era, the era of greatest rebellion against the Lord, that the most majestic of all the promises of dominion are given.

First, that Christ, the King, will enter and dine with whomever will overcome the self-love of the Laodicean era. 

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. (Revelation 3:20)

Second, which is the consequence of the first, he who overcomes will sit with Christ in the highest of all thrones: 

To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. (Revelation 3:21)

Here is total dominion over all the works of God’s hands. It is given to the saint who lives a God-centered life during the age of self-love.

One moment the saint is in prison. The next moment, as in the case of Joseph, he is lifted to the throne that governs the universe. The overcomer becomes lord of the creation under the Lord Jesus, who Himself is Lord under the Father. This is the Kingdom of God (Genesis 41:40-44).

The Lord Jesus overcame the world and has ascended to the throne of the Father. Now it is our turn to overcome and to attain our predestined place in the throne of Christ.

Tribulations cause us to open the door of our personality to Jesus to an ever-increasing extent. The King then enters into us, dines with us, and establishes His throne, the Throne of God, in us.

We must step down from the throne of our own life and allow the Lord Jesus and the Father to sit on that throne. Then, when every area of our personality has been reconciled to God and is in harmony with the will of God, we shall be allowed to sit once more on the throne of our own personality. But now it is the Father, the Son, and we who are sitting on the throne.

Because the Laodicean churches exist at such a miserable depth of soulish rebellion, self-centeredness, and fleshly lusts, and the victorious saints through Jesus are ascending to the right hand of the Father, a great gulf will divide the two sets of Christians. The Laodiceans will despise the holy remnant, and the holy remnant will be able to have little fellowship with the Laodiceans.

The Laodiceans, being filled with the spirit of Babylon and the spirit of Antichrist, will join with the governments of the earth in persecuting the true witnesses of Christ. While they are persecuting the true saints, the Laodicean Christians will speak of being witnesses of Christ and of going into all the world to preach the Gospel. So it was with the Pharisees who adhered strictly to the Law and the Prophets and then compassed land and sea to make proselytes. Yet they crucified their own Christ. Man-centered religion always murders the prophets of the Lord.

Every human being has been invited to find his own place in the ranks of mankind on the new earth. The sole duty of each person is to receive the Lord Jesus and through the Lord Jesus to enter the rest of God: that is, into the flowing of Divine wisdom and energy that is bringing into view the new creation.

But there is a problem.

Satan, a cherub, desires that man be in his image, that man find joy through obeying the lusts of Satan, that man reproduce Satan’s image, and that Satan’s will be done in the creation— especially in the earth.

Also, the world, and the bodily lusts and soulish self-seeking of the believer in Christ, add to his inability to simply enter the rest of God, to allow God to work His will in the earth and in him as an individual.

Satan is a death-giving spirit. He is wicked in personality and behavior. He is horribly grotesque in appearance. Every human being who obeys Satan takes on Satan’s image although it may not be obvious in its early stages.

Satan is not a human being and so he cannot find joy in loving relationships. The closest Satan can come to love is lust, perversion, and cannibalism. Also, Satan is filled with hatred, murder, violence, revenge, spite. He is not a son of God, not a peacemaker.

Satan enters the flesh of willing men and women and seeks joy and release through various physical and emotional excesses.

For example, Satan cannot love a child. He can only harm it in some manner, molest it, or murder it. This is how Satan seeks joy and how his followers seek joy. Satan is incapable of joy. Also, all who follow his desires are incapable of true joy.

Satan cannot love God or any human being. He only can manipulate the bodily and soulish passions in a frenzied, frustrating attempt to gain pleasure and release. The end result is a wretched orgy of perversion, rape, and destruction as the ancient serpent seeks to appease his appetite for the "dust." The person who is filled with Satan cannot love God or any human being. His life is one of frantic seeking after joy, after something he never can attain because he is seeking it in the wrong manner.

Satan desires that his own image be reproduced among men, and so the Satan-driven individual seeks to influence others. The wicked justify themselves and strive to persuade others to join them.

Satan seeks to enforce his will in the earth. The Satan-inspired individual often is violent as he seeks to gain his own ends. He will murder, burn, torture, crush, rape any who stand in his way. He is seeking joy and release but joy and release are unattainable by him. He already is in Hell and when he dies he will continue in Hell, in the environment he has obtained by his behavior.

In like manner, the believer who is resting in the Amen of Christ is already in the Paradise of God (although he may be suffering for a season in order to be shaped and perfected according to his destiny). When he dies he will continue in Paradise, in the environment he has gained by abiding in Christ.

Sometimes God permits Satan to destroy our image, our relationships, our fruitfulness, and our dominion. The purpose of this is to insure that nothing of our original personality remains in us. All that is of our adamic nature is perishable and must be replaced with the Divine Nature.

This was the case with Job. But Job was reborn in God, so to speak, and his image, relationships, fruitfulness, and dominion were multiplied and restored to him.

So it is true that if we will trust God with our image, our relationships, our fruitfulness, and our dominion, God will multiply them a thousandfold and restore them to us.

The Christian believer who refuses to allow Christ to bring into being his predestined image may find himself hating other people because their images do not please him and may end up in despair and suicidal because his own image does not satisfy him. Man is permitted to finally bear no other image than that of God.

The Christian believer who refuses to allow Christ to determine his relationships will be bound in idolatry as he permits his coveted relationships to make him their slave.

The Christian believer who refuses to allow Christ to provide his fruitfulness will increase in personal ambition and self-seeking as he strives continually for recognition. His personality will be displeasing to those around him as they perceive his selfish desire to be preeminent. The joy he is seeking always will elude him, for true joy can be found only in loving, joyous relationships with God and people.

The Christian believer who refuses to take up his cross and follow Jesus, who is unwilling to give up his right to govern himself and his surroundings, will develop a rebellious spirit that will cut him off from his God. He will be treated as a rebel. He will dwell continually in a desolate wilderness, always demanding his own way and never attaining control over anything of eternal value.

Man is called to be at rest in Christ in God. Apart from Christ, who is the Amen of God, man attains hatred, strife, impatience, vexation of spirit, despair, suicidal thoughts and actions, covetousness, personal ambition, and rebellion against his Creator. His end, if he does not repent and accept the finished work of God, is to be a wandering star for whom eternal darkness has been reserved (Jude 1:13). He despised the opportunity to gain loving, joyous relationships with God and people and now dwells alone forever in the darkest of nights.

The Laodicean believer will be vomited from the mouth of Christ.

As we have stated, Babylon and Antichrist are ready to welcome the lukewarm Laodiceans. 

Babylon is the worship of the church, of church organizations and denominations. The church makes itself God. The Christian churches partake of the spirit of Babylon when they are directed by uncrucified men rather than by the Spirit of Christ. Men attempt to gain image, joy, fruitfulness, and dominion through the exercise of religion apart from the Person and Presence of Christ. The churches are worshiped in place of Christ.

Such speak much about the historical Jesus but they do not know the living Jesus. Statuary and other art forms, including music, take the place of the living Presence of Christ.

Babylon always is ready to accept the help of the world and to have intercourse with the world, hoping thereby to convert the world to itself. But in the end the world will turn against the great Christian organization of the last days and will burn her with fire (Revelation 17:16). 

Antichrist and his image are the worship of man whereas Babylon represents the worship of the churches. Man makes himself God. Antichrist places man at the center of the universe and attempts to use God as the means of placing him there.

Antichrist is an imitation of Christ. He has the face of a civilized, humane man but the heart of a wild, venomous, treacherous beast. Antichrist imitates Christ but rejects the cross. He rejects union with God through Christ. He rejects the concept of the subordination of the human will.

Today, as the Apostle John claimed, there are many antichrists. There are many who, even in fervent Christian churches, are stressing how the Divine salvation profits man as man seeks to better himself. "You can do all things through Christ" they proclaim as they attempt to employ the Scriptures in a program of self-glorification. It is not Christ who is exalted, it is the person who believes in Christ so that through his belief God is forced to do what the believer desires. Numerous believers have fallen into this snare.

Antichrist speaks the words of Christ. But he has the mark of human works in his right hand and the mark of human thinking in his forehead (Revelation 13:16).

The Spirit of truth is in the land today, and those who are of the truth will hear and turn to the Lord Jesus. But the majority of the believers in Christ will sink ever deeper into the pit of self-seeking religion.

Church-centered Christianity (Babylon) is doomed to fall (Revelation 14:8), and those who worship man are destined to be "tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb" (Revelation 14:10).

The False Prophet is the religious spirit of the last days that will seek to do the miracles of Christ apart from patient waiting on the Lord. The recent "faith" and "prosperity" doctrines are examples of the False Prophet. The False Prophet arises from the "earth," that is, from the soul of man. As a result, imaging and other supernatural practices are included in his methods of gaining control of the material world.

The False Prophet is not patient and meek. He demands the answer now and seeks to get what he desires by "speaking the word of faith."

The False Prophet will assist the man-centered governments to rule the world, thinking the will of Christ is being done. We see this today as Charismatic leaders go to the leaders of government and tell them all they are required to do is acknowledge the facts of salvation and speak in tongues. They do not warn them of God’s insistence on thorough repentance, on self-control, on judgment to come.

The Charismatic ministers boast of how this official and that official have "accepted Christ." But in many instances the "saved" officials are not disciples of the Lord. They have "accepted Christ" because it appears to them to be advantageous in terms of their own desires and ambitions.

Will they stand when they are required to give up everything to please the Lord?

Will these "Christian" officials serve the Lord when they are forced to lose everything for the Gospel’s sake? Will they buy the refined gold of faith tried in the fire of suffering? Will they proclaim the name of the Lord Jesus when it means loss of prestige, imprisonment, torture, martyrdom?

If not, their profession of Christ is superficial. They are not true disciples of the Lord Jesus. 

And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. (Revelation 13:11, 12)

"Another beast" is the False Prophet. He exercises the full power (two horns) of the Lamb (Christ) but his voice is that of the dragon (Satan).

The False Prophet will support the Antichrist government with miraculous signs. 

And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live. (Revelation 13:13, 14)

Antichrist, with the help of the False Prophet and Babylon, will persecute the Lord’s elect viciously, but their efforts to destroy the anointed saints will result in the purifying of the Bride of the Lamb.

There will be a holy remnant in the last days, saints who patiently bear their cross behind Jesus, who keep the commandments of God, and who hold steadfastly to their faith in the Lord Jesus (Revelation 14:12). They will escape the deceptions of Babylon, Antichrist, and the False Prophet.

They will enter into the Amen of Christ, into the rest of God: 

And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them. (Revelation 14:13)

The victorious saints die "in the Lord." They are "beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God" (Revelation 20:4). This means they have abandoned their own thinking and plans concerning their image, their relationships, their fruitfulness, and their dominion. They have entered the Amen of God.

They have ceased from their own works. Therefore the works of God follow them wherever they go. They have attained the glory, the union with God available to all who are willing to turn aside from their own life and follow Christ wherever He goes.

This is why those who die "in the Lord" are blessed and why their works follow them. It is because they now have entered the stream of God’s power and wisdom. They are resting in God and with God, and the fruit they have been foreordained to bear is beginning to come forth (Ephesians 2:10).

One cannot grow fruit in the wilderness. It is only as we are abiding in the rest of God, in the land of promise, that we can have our "farms," so to speak, and grow the fruit of God, the spiritual perfections the Lord is seeking.

The reason Revelation 14:13 specifies a time ("from henceforth") is that we die in the Lord and rest from our own labors as soon as the "Babylon" in us has fallen, our attempt to be God has been burned in the fires of tribulation, and we have learned the patience of keeping the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus to the point of rejecting entirely the Antichrist spirit of our fallen nature.

As we have stated previously, "Babylon" represents the mixture of religion and the world, and the efforts of men to reach Heaven by their own efforts (Revelation 18:2). It includes the worship of churches, of religious institutions.

Notice once again: 

And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live. And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. (Revelation 13:13-15)

The "beast and his image" signify, according to our understanding, the attempt of man to be god, as we see today even among some Christians. (Revelation 13:15).

King Nebuchadnezzar desired to be worshiped as God. He made an image of gold and commanded throughout his realm that his subjects should bow down and worship the image of gold he had made. Those who did not worship were to be killed immediately. 

Then an herald cried aloud, To you it is commanded, O people, nations, and languages, That at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up: And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. (Daniel 3:4-6)

The image that Antichrist portrays is that of man—man as the center of all things; man as god. The gold of Nebuchadnezzar’s image means that man makes himself god by means of money.

The welfare of man is of supreme importance in this image. If we can amass enough money all will be well. Such is the false image being presented in our time.

But the heart of Antichrist and of all who elevate man as the center of the universe is that of a wild beast. God revealed this to be true of Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 4:33). The heart of Antichrist is that of a beast because he has rejected the cross. He has rejected that which God has given to slay our old, sinful nature. Antichrist speaks religious words, "loving" words, words of seeming concern and compassion. But Antichrist, in spite of all of his professed concern for people, never will take up his cross and follow the Lord Jesus!

So it is true that many of today’s Christian churches have an appearance of Christ’s image. But the heart often is that of a dangerous beast, of Antichrist. There is an abundance of talk about how much God loves people and how much we should love people and promote their welfare. There are endless pleas for money because money rather than the living God is viewed as the solution to the problems of the world. But there is no true love of God or of people in it.

Humanistic "love" is of the flesh and Satan. The ministers and the people are rejecting the way of the cross, the way of patient suffering in the Lord. The true love of God is not in them.

We can observe in the Apostle Peter the false love of which we are speaking. Peter, in a burst of concern for Jesus’ welfare, sought to prevent Christ from going to the cross. But Jesus turned and addressed Satan in Peter: "Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men" (Mark 8:33).

The image of the beast, as we understand it, includes the portrayal of God as being indulgent toward the behavior of people. God is seen as placing the welfare of people in the position of highest importance. The Christian salvation is the Divine means of uplifting man so he can be free to follow the inclinations of his flesh and soul. God’s grace in Christ has been given for the purpose of excusing the behavior of lustful, self-centered believers.

This false image, man making himself god by means of gold, abounds today and has destroyed the Christian churches. The Christians are worshiping the Beast and his image. The image of the Beast is governing the conduct of the Christian people and has overcome their spiritual life. The believers would be far more godly in behavior if they had any idea of how God actually is viewing the Christian churches of today.

A careful study of the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation provides a true picture of how God and Christ react to the behavior of Christians. God and His Christ stand ready to give to every one of us according to his or her works (Revelation 2:23).

The believers in Christ have been taught (unscripturally) that God will not judge their sins; that they will not suffer for their neglect of His salvation in Christ. Indeed, God does have a great love for His people, and for all people. But God’s love is not human love. It is the love of a Spirit for those whom He has brought into being. God has a standard for human behavior and nothing short of it will ever be accepted by Him.

God’s wrath is against all unrighteousness. God has made a way for each human being to escape unrighteousness and to come into fellowship with God. This is a far different concept from that of God striving to make people happy—as though He owed them something for creating them.

We humans exist for the Glory of God. God does not exist for our pleasure or welfare.

The wickedness of Laodicea is this false image—the image of man as the center of the universe and material wealth as the power by which man solves his problems. The spirit of Laodicea abounds today in the Christian churches.

The only possible means of discerning and escaping this subtle, insidious, totally destructive deception is to take up one’s cross and follow Jesus faithfully and patiently throughout the tribulations of life. To refuse to take up one’s cross, to seek for a means of serving Christ while at the same time holding to one’s own desires, is to guarantee deception—the destruction of his or her ability to perceive spiritual realities.

He who would sleep in the lap of Delilah will lose his spiritual strength and will have his eyes blinded.

There only is one way of keeping our spiritual strength and a true vision of Jesus Christ. We must obey the Scriptures and hold steadfastly to the end our faith in Christ. If we do we will bear the fruit of the Spirit of God.

The Antichrist churches, because they fear and hate the cross—the personal cross that the disciple is required to bear, tell us we are saved by grace and it no longer is necessary to keep the commandments of God. They are blind leaders of the blind, for spiritual sight comes only as we keep the commandments of God (II Peter 1:9). It is impossible to enter the rest of God other than by exercising patience, keeping the commandments of God, and having faith in the Lord Jesus.

If it indeed is true that God has completed all things from the creation of the world, if God knows the destiny of each of us to this extent, why then do people, including the believers in Christ, have such problems?

We all have the problems we do because we do not believe that God knows what He is doing with the world or with us as individuals. It is only as we believe that we enter God’s rest (Hebrews 4:3). It is a matter of faith and trust in God.

We race about seeking our own welfare, driven by the lusts of the flesh, driven by personal ambition, by fear, by duty, by ignorance. We constantly are in an a state of fear, anxiety, and unrest hoping that some new thing, circumstance, or relationship will bring joy and peace to our heart.

Does the fact that God has completed all things in His timeless vision mean that no matter what we do we will end up where we are supposed to be? Not at all! We are commanded to labor, to strive to enter God’s rest (Hebrews 4:11).

Why must we strive to enter God’s rest? It is because Satan, our mind, the world, the lusts of our flesh, and our self-seeking soul all work diligently to persuade us to create the heavens and the earth according to our own understanding. We cannot let go and trust God with our life.

Is it a matter of just relaxing and allowing God to move in us? Not at all! The person who waits passively for God to move in his life will fall into deception.

Rather it is a case of understanding deeply, thoroughly, and finally that all things are working together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His eternal purpose in Christ. Then we approach each day of our life with the intention of abiding in Christ throughout the particular day.

This may sound easy but it can be very difficult at times. For Christ keeps stepping back. Each day He steps back and says, "Follow Me here."

Christ deals with us every day because He is crucifying our old nature. He continues to bring us into situations that crucify the "old man" of our personality and bring forth the new creation that God has planted in us.

The process of crucifixion and resurrection continues until every element of our personality has died and been born again in Christ; until all that we are praises the Lord in righteousness, in holiness, and in obedience to God; until every atom of our being worships God in spirit and in truth.

Entering the rest of God is attainable in this present life, as we understand from the exhortation of Hebrews 4:1. But the path that leads to the rest of God is the path to eternal life and few there are who find it.

Attaining the rest, the Amen of God, is difficult but not impossible (although we would not minimize the degree of patience required as the saint keeps looking to the Lord). It is not a case of sinless perfection or even of meeting the standards of other people or our own standards. The issue is that of ceasing to attempt to create our own image, relationships, fruitfulness, and dominion.

There does come a day when our warfare has been accomplished, our rebellion has been pardoned (Isaiah 40:2). Then we are ready to begin an eternity of ever-developing image; loving, joyous, and peaceful relationships; Abraham-like fruitfulness; and universal dominion. This is what it means to die in the Lord, to rest from our own labors, and to have our works follow us as the natural outcome of our rest in the finished creation of God.

It is the fear of the Lord that is the beginning of wisdom. The individual who finds out what God has spoken, and then affirms it to be true with his whole personality, finally will obtain righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.

God is God. He will not be mocked. God has put the world into our heart in such a manner that we cannot possibly understand truth apart from God. 

He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end. (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

The foolishness of God is exceedingly wiser than the most penetrating, profound wisdom man can apply by means of his own mind. The truly wise person grows to understand this and humbles himself before God. The foolish person keeps on attempting to solve life’s dilemmas by his own reasonings and will come to ruin in the end.

Let the Christian churches hear: Christ is the Amen of God. No human reasonings need be applied, just stern, consistent obedience to all Christ says to us. 

The Faithful and True Witness

The Laodicean age is one of treachery and covenant-breaking. "It does not matter what I agreed to at some previous time, this is what I want now."

The spirit of pleasure-seeking abounds in the Christian churches. The concept of the pre-tribulation "rapture" of the saints to avoid suffering is preventing the maturing of the soldiers of Christ. The believers are not arming themselves with a mind to suffer. Life is filled with suffering. In order to avoid suffering we must keep on shifting our position, breaking the covenants we have made.

Every one of our decisions is tested by fire. Neither God nor Satan is interested primarily in our religious beliefs. What is of concern to the spirit realm is what we are as a person—our thoughts, words, and deeds. He who would escape suffering must break the laws of God, and this is what God and Satan watch for in the human being.

Often God’s ministers are not bearing a true witness. Those who do preach discipleship are accused of not having "love"—a typical Laodicean reaction. But it is a fact that the Christian discipleship in many instances requires the setting aside of the "rights" and welfare of the individual, or so it appears at the time of the testing.

Let us say there were two sons. The father of one son gave his boy nearly everything he asked for, if he could afford it. The father of the other son considered carefully each request in terms of the safety and character of his boy and gave him only what he considered to be safe and profitable for him.

The first father gave his son a shotgun when he was twelve and a motorcycle when he was thirteen. Yet, he knew of accidents in the neighborhood that had occurred when children had been given guns and motorcycles. The second father gave his son a shotgun when he was eighteen, and the boy was not able to own a motorcycle until he was old enough to earn the money to buy one.

Now, which of the two fathers loved his son the most? The answer is obvious.

Did the first father love his son? Yes, he did, in a sentimental manner. Did he give him what he pleaded for because he cared for his well-being? Obviously not. He indulged him and gave him dangerous items because he wanted his son to love him, not because he loved his son. The first father was self-centered. He was in love with himself.

Peter was in love with himself when he exhorted Jesus not to go to the cross. Peter was identifying with Jesus and thinking of the possible consequences to himself. Peter was not considering God’s will or judgment in the matter or what truly was best for the Lord.

Many times the second father had to resist the pleading of his son. But when the boy was older he recognized his father loved him and took proper care of him.

So it is today. The ministers who do not confront their congregations with the discipleship demands of Christ but who say pleasant things to them in order to "keep them coming to church," do not truly love their listeners. Rather, these shepherds love to be loved. They are in love with themselves.

But the preachers who warn their congregations of the coming wrath of God against all lukewarmness; who point out clearly that an individual cannot possibly be a Christian unless he forsakes his own life, takes up his cross, and follows Jesus—they are the ones who love their congregations. Their listeners will understand that fact clearly when they stand before Christ.

The first minister is "loved" today. But it will be a different story when he stands with his spiritually apathetic congregation before a frowning Christ in the Day of the Lord. The second minister may not be popular today. But those who follow his teachings will be glad when they stand with him before Christ and are blessed with the "Well done!" of the Lord.

He who has God’s Word, let him speak it faithfully. It does not matter whether or not the people like it or him. We are called to please the Lord Jesus. If we please Christ we will bring our listeners to glory. If we attempt to please our congregations we will bring them down to destruction.

One important reason for the pitifully weak Christian witness of today is that the ministry considers its job is to "save souls." God did not give us the power of His Spirit so that we would be able to save souls, except in a secondary sense. God gave us His Spirit so we would have power to bear witness of His Person and ways. There can be a great difference between "saving souls" and bearing witness.

The Scriptures do not stress that the believers should go forth and "save souls." Rather, the Scriptures emphasize that we should live a godly life in Christ so those who see us will glorify God. What a vast difference there is between the concept of saving souls and of bearing witness by a godly life!

There is a special "ministerial" witness. We see this in the power exhibited by the early apostles as they went forth under a special anointing. They worked the powerful works of God and through them the Divine oracle was given. They labored under a dispensation of God, a dispensation defined as to a particular time and place according to the need for the advancement of the Messianic Kingdom. They were witnesses "chosen before of God" (Acts 10:41). There have been such apostles in every generation of the Christian Era.

There are gifts in the Body of Christ that perform "personal work" with individual people, and other gifts that reach out to the world in the task of evangelism. These are part of the "ministerial" witness. It is true, however, that the bulk of the gifts and ministries given by the Holy Spirit are for the building up of the saints into the full stature of the Body of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-13).

For most of us, most of the time, our witness is the good works that are seen in us because of the Life of Christ in us. By good works we mean upright character, humility, purity, and obedience and praise to God. This is the testimony of God that the world is waiting to behold in the Body of Christ (Isaiah 61:11).

When we are under the impression that it is our duty to "save souls" we set out to "sell" the Gospel, to convert people to our way of thinking. The idea is to bring people into our church (not necessarily into the Kingdom of God). Since Christ’s statements and demands are offensive to many people of our day we stress only the parts of the Scriptures that speak well of people and lift them up emotionally. Our purpose in "stressing the positive" is to "win people for Christ"—or so we suppose.

In actual fact, we are seeking to add them to ourselves.

We destroy the true witness of God in our anxiety to please people and draw them to our group.

The true witness of God speaks the Words of God. He is not seeking to draw people to himself or his group. He is striving to portray correctly what God wants revealed.

No one ever has borne witness of God as faithfully and as truly as did Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus never sought to attract people to Himself. Rather He strove to portray correctly what God wanted revealed at the time.

The stress on "saving souls" is entirely in keeping with the philosophy of the age of Laodicea because the welfare of man is being emphasized.

The stress on bearing a true witness of God is not at all in keeping with the philosophy of Laodicea because the welfare of God and not of man is being emphasized. The welfare of man actually is being sought by God’s true witnesses, even though the true witnesses may be preaching the need to suffer for the Gospel. But the shortsightedness of the flesh cannot grasp eternal values.

The Spirit of God dwells in every true Christian. This means every Christian has in himself the Spirit of prophecy. The Spirit of prophecy always bears a true witness of God. Every Spirit-filled saint is a prophet and a witness of God in the sense that he portrays what God Is, what God requires of man, what God has done and yet will do, and the current attitude of God toward His churches and toward the world.

Every Christian should portray in himself or herself what God is thinking, doing, and speaking in the present hour. God’s prophets should proclaim what God is saying, and the remainder of the saints must bear witness by giving their Amen to what the prophets are declaring. Each of the members of the Body of Christ is to give his or her Amen to what the Head is declaring to his own heart and proclaiming through the prophets of the churches.

But it is often true that the prophets are seeking their own welfare, and the Christians are living according to the appetites and desires of their body and soul and therefore are not aware of what the Head is thinking, speaking, or doing.

The spirit realm is the enduring realm and the source of all lasting joy and power. The material realm was created by the spirit realm. Each human being abides in the present material realm for a brief period of his existence. But he lives eternally in the spirit realm. It is important individual understand what he will face when he leaves the present material realm and takes up his abode in the realm of spirits.

It is the Spirit of prophecy that bears witness of the attitude of God and His Christ and of the true state of the realm of spirits. A false witness of the attitude of God and Christ, and of the true state of the spirit realm, leaves the individual with a false impression of what he will face when he dies physically.

It is the writer’s point of view that many (perhaps most) of the Christian churches of our day are bearing a false witness concerning the attitude of God toward His churches and toward the world. One reason for the false testimony is the current misunderstanding of the role of grace and of imputed (ascribed) righteousness in the Christian redemption. A second reason for the false testimony is the man-centered, pleasure-loving spirit that has entered the Christian churches.

We believe that the typical church member is astonished when he dies and discovers he is not ushered into the Presence of Christ in the new Jerusalem, into a fabulous mansion, but rather is appointed to a place in keeping with his spiritual development and in which he receives instruction in spiritual growth and understanding.

We believe the typical church member will be astonished to find the Lord Jesus does not approach him and exclaim, "Well done, good and faithful servant"; but is as far off as He has been on earth.

The devout, victorious saints are not astonished when they die. They live close to Jesus in the world and that closeness carries over into the spirit realm. One of the greatest of all the misunderstandings that plague Christian thinking is the belief that physical death causes us to become a better person.

The Christian churches (and the world to a certain extent because of the testimony of the churches) are picturing God as being loving and kind, ready to forgive all who turn to Him. Jesus is seen as the one who died for the sins of mankind so people will not be punished in Hell when they die.

This is true as far as it goes. But because the remainder of the picture has not been painted, the vision is distorted.

In the first place, God is of supreme importance. Man is not of supreme importance. Man was created for God’s pleasure—that he would fulfill all God’s will.

God’s requirements for human conduct are strict indeed. God does not expect humans to meet His requirements by their own efforts. Rather, God has extended grace through Christ so that each person can begin to grow into God’s requirements concerning his personality and conduct.

Until our image, our relationships, our fruitfulness and our rulership are in perfect, complete accord with what God has envisioned, we shall experience chastening. It is not true, as we understand the Scriptures and the spirit realm, that such correction is limited to the physical realm. Correction and growth will occur independently of whether we are in the body or out of the body until we have met every one of the Divine requirements. How could it be otherwise?

What Scripture is it that states that after we die physically we no longer experience correction or pain? Does being saved mean we are frozen in stature when we die and that the fullness of our inheritance will be given to us because spiritual maturity has been imputed (ascribed) to us?

Or are we saved in order that we may have the opportunity to attain image, relationships, fruitfulness, and rulership according to God’s will for us as an individual?

Is the spirit realm a land in which the apathetic believer suddenly is transformed into a victorious saint? Or is it not rather a common sense, practical realm in which what we are is revealed in what we think, speak, and do?

If the spirit realm is a place of magical transformation in character, why, then, does God waste His time and our time teaching us virtue in the world? Why not just bring us to the place of magical transformation?

Does spiritual growth take place in us because Christ is being woven into our personality in a process of death and resurrection? And if such is the case, will this process cease after we die physically? First Corinthians 3:15 speaks of the fruitless believer being saved, yet so as by fire. Is this "fire" limited to tribulations in the present world?

What happens to the believer after he dies is not clear in the Scriptures. Since there is no evidence whatever that dying and passing into the spirit realm makes the believer in Christ a better person, or that he will stand in glory as a son and heir of God, as a king and priest over the works of God’s hands, even though he has not overcome the problems of life on earth, we must assume that his status in the spirit realm will depend on what he is as a person.

The Scriptures are much clearer concerning what will happen to the believer in the Day of Christ. At that time the believer will be rewarded precisely in terms of his works, that is, according to the manner in which he has conducted himself as a Christian. His resurrection will be according to his behavior during his lifetime on the earth.

Grace and imputation (assigned righteousness) will not operate in the Day of Christ so as to prevent the believer from being rewarded according to his works. Rather, grace and ascribed righteousness are given to the believer during his lifetime on the earth so he can escape the clutches of the devil and become a holy one of God. This is the true grace of God.

We understand, therefore, that a false witness is being borne. The believers have been deceived concerning the realities of the spirit realm and of the Kingdom of God. Deception is one of the principal concerns of the last days, and numerous Christians are abiding in deception and seduction.

The majority of the Christian preachers are presenting the Gospel of the Kingdom of God as a ticket to a Paradise in outer space. Also, the impression often is given that God will not permit His people to suffer; and that while calamities may occur in the world, God has nothing to do with such human suffering. 

This is a false witness. It is not the faithful and true witness of God or His Kingdom.

We would ask the reader of these words to approach God through the Lord Jesus. Ask God what is true of His current attitude; what the future holds for the Christian churches and the world; what he as an individual believer will experience after his physical death.

Great suffering is at hand, not only for the unsaved but also for the Christians who are not living as self-denying disciples of the Lord Jesus. God is a Spirit. He does not view human suffering as we do, although He is compassionate toward us.

God sees our spiritual state, primarily. God sends calamities and sufferings of all kinds because such fire is necessary if the flesh is to be put down and the spiritual man is to be saved.

In many instances the Christian churches are lukewarm and filled with fleshly and soulish lusts. They are bearing a false witness of God. Their traditions concerning the Christian salvation have accumulated until they are an extensive myth. The archaic term "mansions," of John 14:2, although a complete misrepresentation of the actual word that Jesus employed, remains the basis for the current concept of the goal of the Divine redemption. The fallacy here must be apparent to any competent observer; yet nothing is done about it.

The myth of mansions in Heaven passes from generation to generation with few teachers pointing out the fact that no passage of the Scriptures teaches the saints will live in mansions in Heaven or even that going to Heaven is the goal of the Christian redemption.

The true witness of God declares that great tribulation is coming upon the earth. One of the purposes of the great tribulation is the purifying of the Christian churches so the saints can lift up holy hands in praise, intercession, and supplication.

The true witness of God declares that every Christian will reap what he or she is sowing.

The true witness of God declares that judgment begins in the house of God.

The true witness of God declares that the promises of life, authority, and closeness to God will come only to the saints who through Jesus have overcome the world, Satan, Antichrist, and their own sins and self-love.

The true witness of God declares that only the royal priesthood, the conquerors, will participate in the first resurrection from among the dead.

The true witness of God declares that God has called His elect out of the world so they may become His witnesses, the light of the world, not so they may go to live in mansions in Heaven while the nations continue to stumble about in ignorance, sin, corruption, and death.

The true witness of God declares that every aspect of redemption takes place in the believer, not on the basis of his dying physically and passing into the spirit realm but on the basis of his setting aside his own life so that Christ can re-create him in the image of God. 

The truth concerning God, His Christ, what will happen to the human being when he dies, and what will happen to the human being in the day of resurrection, is the most important information in the world.

Yet the witness being given today by the Christian Churches is not true and is based on conjecture, conclusions, hearsay, tradition, fables, and the human desire to win friends and influence people.

The Lord Jesus is looking for a believer who will set aside his own life and give himself to seeking the face of the Lord. Let not that individual think that what God reveals to him or her will be received warmly by the churches for the Laodicean churches will always resist bitterly the true witness of the Lord.

Every true witness of God becomes eternal. Noah, Job, John, and Paul still are bearing witness to us today. What they saw and heard they yet are declaring to us. Will you lay aside your life in order to join the ranks of the eternal witnesses of the Lord?

The Lord Jesus Christ is the faithful and true Witness of God. Let us who are being fashioned in the image of Christ also be faithful and true witnesses of God.

The believers of Laodicea have a great desire to hear pleasant things. They think they desire Christ but they want the Fire of Israel to be nice to them. Satan understands this and will invade the ranks of Christendom by speaking pleasant things to the believers in the name of Christ. This is taking place today.

Satan’s strategy for the last days is to make friends with the churches of Christ. Satan understands that persecuting the churches makes them stronger and purer, that attacking the Christians often produces results that are the opposite of what he intended.

Satan perceives that God’s people enjoy being comfortable, being flattered, being set at ease. They regard as a friend anyone who will give them what they desire. Therefore Satan intends to destroy the churches with money, prosperity, and ease. He already is employing this technique successfully among the believers in many nations of the world.

The voice of Antichrist and of the False Prophet is being heard in the Christian churches, including the Charismatic churches. The voice of Antichrist and the False Prophet can be detected by its appeal to the self-love and self-interests of the believers. The followers of Jesus are to be rich, healthy, and have every other advantage in the world. It is not Christ who is being presented but techniques for using Christ for the gain of the believers. The Christian becomes king and Christ is his servant.

The spirit of the False Prophet is the attempt to realize Kingdom power and blessings apart from the Lord Jesus Christ.

The False Prophet is man-centeredness in the spirit realm.

Antichrist is man-centeredness in the political realm.

Babylon is man-centeredness in the ecclesiastical realm.

It is not yet time for the glory of the manifestation of the sons of God. Ours is the hour of patient, cross-carrying obedience to Christ. There are sufferings that must be borne on behalf of the Body of Christ. Satan always is tempting us to reach for the glory of the Kingdom before our time has come, just as he tempted the Lord Jesus.

Let us beware! Let us examine those who profess to be apostles of Christ but who are telling us we can reign as kings in the world. The fruit of their lives will reveal they are liars. They are the enemies of the cross. Their god, which they worship devoutly, is their own belly. 

The Beginning of the Creation of God

All things and personages, whether they are things in the heavens or things on the earth, were created by and for the Lord Jesus Christ. All exist in Him and He is over all.

Through Christ, the eternal Logos, God created all things including the personages of the heavens. Now Christ has died on the cross, bringing to an end the entire first creation. Christ has risen as the Firstborn from the dead, the Beginning of the new creation of God. All who would be saved to eternal life must enter His resurrection, for the old creation is dead. 

And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. (Colossians 1:18)

We see, therefore, that the Lord Jesus Christ is supreme in every respect. The God of Heaven desires that all eyes, human and angelic, be fastened on Christ. He is destined to become the Center of all things of the creation. 

That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: (Ephesians 1:10)

"Both which are in heaven, and which are on earth." The Lord Jesus is the Center and the Circumference of all things!

The tendency of Laodicea is to exalt men who tell us about Christ. Christ is not the Center in this instance. The leaders do not always reveal Christ in themselves, they just talk about Christ. It is not Christ who is central, it is the teacher or system that becomes central.

Today there are a number of outstanding ministers of the Gospel. In some cases they are receiving the exaltation that belongs to Christ alone. They will be humbled before the Presence of the Lord.

Tomorrow the emphasis will be on collective action. The church of Laodicea will accomplish things by group action. Hand will join hand to work the works of the human mind. The cry will be "togetherness." It will be a conspiracy against God. Man, not Christ, will be the center.

The true saints will bear the reproach that always follows Christ, a disgrace brought on them by the Laodicean churches and by the Antichrist government that will make the Laodicean churches a part of its system. The Antichrist government will gain the friendship of the Christian people by accepting them, but will insist that the Christian churches work with the government in promoting world peace and prosperity.

Many of the Christian churches, because of their eagerness for acceptance by anyone, especially by the leaders of the government, will receive the overtures of the government with the greatest gladness.

The Laodicean churches will be rich and increased with material goods because they are socially acceptable and influential. They will be in harmony with the world government that is seeking worldwide peace and prosperity. Satan will not be opposed to this material prosperity because he is able to slay a church’s spiritual life when the church becomes popular and prosperous.

The government will accept and aid the efforts of the churches to promote social welfare, but it will not permit the Christians to raise their voices in the denunciation of sin and perversion. Also, the government will take a direct hand in the supervision of what children are taught, especially with regard to the topics of the Scriptures that have to do with the nature of the coming Kingdom of God rather than with the promotion of the current needs of the people of the world.

The Christian churches always can win friends by working to assist people in a material way. The conflict is joined when the churches proclaim the witness of God against the image and works of Satan in the earth.

The true saints, those who are living in the Spirit of God, will be persecuted and scattered on the face of the earth. The persecuted saints will exalt only the Lord Jesus Christ.

The prominent ministers of today state they are exalting Christ. But because they are ministering out of their life rather than out of their death, it is they themselves who are exalted.

If we are willing to die in the Lord, the Lord will come to us in the spiritual fulfillment of the Old Testament feast of Tabernacles (Leviticus 23:34). When we experience the spiritual fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles the Lord Jesus is exalted in us above all else.

The difference between the church of Laodicea and the Wife of the Lamb is brought into focus as soon as we consider the new creation—that of which the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ is the Beginning. The church of Laodicea consists of religious men and women who believe, to a certain extent, in the theological facts concerning Jesus and who work together to promote in the earth what they believe to be the will of Christ concerning mankind.

The Wife of the Lamb does not consist of religious men and women, except in an exterior, "husk" sense. The inner life of the Wife of the Lamb has been born of God. It is not of the world. The members do not work together to promote in the earth what they think is Christ’s will concerning mankind, except as a by-product of something totally different in essence from anything experienced by the church of Laodicea.

The Wife of the Lamb is a new creation. She has died with Christ on the cross and has risen with Christ in newness of life. She is seated in Christ at the right hand of the Father.

The world understands the church of Laodicea very well. The world does not understand the Wife of the Lamb. The world does not understand the new creation.

The world and the church of Laodicea are of the first creation. They both consist of human beings who are attempting to lead a happy, productive life. The world understands very well indeed the attempts of the Laodicean church to raise money and gain members.

The Bride of the Lamb is a part of God. She belongs to another world, another Kingdom. She was born into the present world, and then was born again into another world. It is the profit of the second world that she is seeking. Therefore she is the archenemy, not the friend, of the world. She soon has reason to know that whoever will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God (James 4:4).

The members of the Laodicean churches will talk about being born again and about the new creation. But to them these are points of doctrine, not a new life. The Laodicean never has laid down his life in Christ to the extent that the new life of the Kingdom of God has taken over his thoughts, words, and deeds. He assents to such experiences, but they are doctrines to be believed, not radical changes in his image, his relationships, and in the manner in which he achieves accomplishment and rulership.

In order to enter the new creation an individual must be crucified and then raised with Christ. The crucifixion and resurrection take place every day of his life. They are painful to the natural man, to the old nature, to the first creation.

The concept of suffering in Christ is the opposite of what Laodicea is in spirit, of what Laodicea believes and teaches. Laodicea views the Gospel of Christ as making man immediately happy and prosperous. The idea of delayed gratification of desires in the hope of achieving joy in some future time and place is distasteful and unrealistic. The idea of laying aside one’s life and patiently following Christ in cross-carrying obedience and patience does not come as good news to the Laodicean.

The Pharisees were doctrinally correct but they murdered Jesus of Nazareth because He threatened their self-centered existence. As we understand it, the Laodicean churches will be doctrinally correct in terms of Christian doctrine but they will murder the prophets of the Lord.

The spirit of Laodicea is among us already. Even today we find that many Christians tend to shun anyone who is preaching cross-carrying obedience to Christ. They find such preaching negative, gloomy, harsh, unloving—not at all what they equate with the "happy, loving Jesus."

Someone is incorrect. Either the Words of Christ are incorrect or else the modern presentation of the Lord Jesus is incorrect.

The concept of the "happy, loving Jesus" is the product of the attempts of the old, adamic creation to make the Gospel of the Kingdom attractive to men and women.

It is not a true concept of Christ or His Gospel. Indeed, the Lord Jesus is happy and loving. But in order for us to attain His image, union with Him, fruitfulness in Him, and rulership in Him, all that we think, say, and do must be brought down to the death of the cross. Death is just that—death! There is nothing pleasant about it. The motive that keeps a true saint plowing ahead is the hope of the glory to be revealed at some future date.

The Lord Jesus created all things, and then brought that creation to a close on the cross of Calvary. After this He was raised from the dead by the Glory of the Father as the beginning of a wholly new creation. The same Holy Spirit who raised the Lord from the dead brings each true saint into the likeness of the death of the Lord and into the power of His resurrection, making him an eternal part of the new creation of God.

There is no manner in which the old can become the new except through death and resurrection. No fellowship is possible between the old and the new. The old understands the old and the new understands the new. They are irreconcilable. The true saints and the worldly churches always will distrust and resist one another. They represent two different kingdoms and they are at war. Only one will emerge in victory.

In the present hour the members of the first creation are enjoying the things of the world. But in the Day of the Lord the members of the new creation will inherit everything, and the people of the first creation will be judged for their works.

Let each of us lay down his life so the Spirit of God can bring forth the new creation in him. Let us pray that Christ will be exalted in us. We must decrease but He must increase until He fills the universe. Christ alone is the true Beginning and the true End of all things. He is the Amen of God. Every other individual who would be exalted is a thief, a liar, a usurper. 

I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. (Revelation 3:15)

Christ always knows our works. God is very practical. We Christians often place emphasis on our doctrines, on our intentions, on what we think we are, on what we intend to be or what we think we ought to be doing. But God is much more realistic than this. God judges us by what we actually do.

It often is said among Christians that Christ will not judge the believer according to his works. This is one of the greatest errors of our time. The one comment that Christ makes to all the churches is, "I know thy works."

As for the concept that Christ does not judge the works of Christians: 

... I will give unto every one of you [Christians] according to your works. (Revelation 2:23)

The Laodicean age is one of apathy, of indifference toward the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. The Christians in the wealthy nations of the so-called "free world" (free politically but bound with the chains of covetousness, lust, and self-will) are spiritually lukewarm because of the material comforts they enjoy every day. It is difficult to become excited about an invisible kingdom when all around us there seem to be security and pleasure (although the security is an illusion and the pleasure is frantic and temporary, being based on what is passing away).

The majority of the Christians in the wealthy nations are not burning with zeal toward God. They do not want to be consumed with Christ, neither do they desire to be consumed with Satan. They prefer to give their verbal allegiance to Christ while retaining some of their sins and disobedience.

Such lukewarm, apathetic "believers" are nauseous to Christ. They are worthless to the Kingdom of God. If they were cold they would serve as a testimony of the end result of serving Satan. If they were hot they would serve as a testimony of the end result of serving Christ and would participate in the Kingdom purposes of the Lord.

But a believer who is not burning with zeal toward Christ, whose heart is divided between Christ and his comforts and activities in the present world, is as worthless as salt that has lost its flavor. He is good for nothing.

The Christian people of today who are entangled with the affairs of the present world while hoping to escape to Heaven in a "rapture" are not firmly established in the Kingdom of God. They are the fruit of the current misunderstanding of Paul’s teaching concerning grace, and of the related errors such as the overemphasis on the love of God.

This is Satan’s work. He has infiltrated the churches until they consist of one huge nursery of spiritual babies who pose no threat to his control of the nations of the earth. They are sick babies because they are being fed candy instead of the pure milk of the Word of God. Their teachers are not feeding them on the Word of God but on the frivolous contemporary traditions.

How sad it is that men who subscribe firmly to the Divine inspiration of the Scriptures are not preaching those Scriptures but fables that have been handed down to them! One will search the Scriptures in vain for an emphasis on flying away to Heaven, which is the central topic of the preaching and teaching of numerous Christian churches. One has but to commence reading an epistle of the New Testament and he will be exhorted to live a righteous, holy, and obedient life—a life offered continually as a whole burnt offering to the Lord. But how many contemporary churches are emphasizing a righteous, holy, and obedient life?

The above manifestly is true. Believers are complaining they are not being fed. Nevertheless the apathy continues. It appears that the Christians of the wealthy nations (as well as the non-Christians of those nations) have a deep sense that a sword is hanging over them. But they are hoping to live one more day without their house caving in on them. The Christians trust that their teachers are speaking the truth when they state there is no need for us worry because any moment now we will be whisked off to Paradise where we can continue a carefree, pleasurable life.

How are such immature believers going to feel toward their teachers when they experience in this life or in the next the consequences of their ungodly works?

There is no doubt that the doctrine of the pre-tribulation rapture is playing a major role in causing the current lukewarmness among God’s people. They believe they will be caught up by grace to a comfortable position from which they can view the Jews who, without the help of the Holy Spirit, will at that time be preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom in the face of Antichrist.

Why should the Gentile believers seek the Lord with intensity? They have been taught they already have been rescued from all danger and suffering.

Apathy, as under discussion here because of the Lord’s expressed attitude toward the lukewarm Laodicean believers, is indifference toward the Lord and His Kingdom. The believer agrees with the Christian Gospel, not because he loves God and His righteousness but because he desires a guarantee he will not suffer pain now or in the future.

He is halfhearted. He has not really come out from the world. He has not laid down his life, taken up his cross, and followed the Lord to death to all that he is and possesses.

He enjoys teachers who minimize the demands of the Gospel. He wants to know the minimum effort needed to insure his happiness in Heaven. Those teachers, who indeed are worshipers of their own bellies, are using Paul’s doctrine of grace as a minimal response, a minimal effort that will guarantee entrance into Paradise after death. The current deception has gained the ground that it has because of the contemporary humanistic self-love of people.

"Do you owe a thousand dollars? Take your bill and write fifty."

We have just stated that the doctrine of the pre-tribulation rapture is producing a deadly state of spiritual apathy, of indifference to seeking the Lord and His righteousness. Let us explain why we believe this to be the case.

The believer in the pre-tribulation rapture tradition views his life as a waiting for the Lord to come and deliver him from the tribulations of the world. Because he believes he is saved by grace and not by works, his interest in righteousness, holiness, and obedience to God is secondary. He subscribes to such virtues but is under the impression that God understands that the believer cannot keep His commandments and therefore will catch him up to Paradise so he will not suffer.

(There are believers in the pre-tribulation rapture who are strong disciples of the Lord. We are not referring to them but to the majority of the Christian believers in the wealthy nations.)

This traditional view tends to produce lukewarm believers. How could it produce anything else? There is no real challenge or demand to it. It is precisely what the old nature of fallen man wants to hear.

On the other hand, the believer who has read the Scriptures and knows what God has said views his life as a strict discipleship. He is working out his own salvation with fear and trembling. He is confessing his sins to God and is repenting of them. He continually is guarding his actions and his tongue so that his personality is lining up with the written Word of God.

He is purifying himself by the Spirit of God and the blood of the Lamb so the wicked one cannot touch him. He has laid down his life, counting himself as crucified to the world and the world to him. He knows he is not of the world but that Christ has chosen him out of the world to be a saint (holy one).

He understands that if he is to live before God he must, through the Spirit, put to death the deeds of his flesh. He realizes he must remain in the "prison" in which the Lord places him, being faithful unto death—figuratively, and sometimes literally.

He knows if he is to have fellowship with God he must not be entangled in the uncleanness and idolatry of the world. He has learned how quickly the cares of the world can choke out the Divine Seed, the Word of God that has been born in him.

He is wary, watchful, continuing in prayer and in the study of the Old and New Testaments. He gathers together with fervent believers as often as he can.

The believer who has read the Scriptures understands that the spiritual deception that will abound during the great tribulation will cause the lukewarm members of the churches to lose contact with the Holy Spirit. They will gladly receive the assistance that the Antichrist government will offer. He knows that the true saints will be forced out of the cities of the earth and will not be able to partake any longer of the comforts of material affluence. He therefore is arming himself to suffer, to endure hardness as a good soldier of Christ.

The goal of the scriptural believer is to be able to stand in the Presence of Christ and hear His "Well done!"

The goal of the "rapture" believer is to go to Paradise in order to avoid suffering.

Which of these two goals sounds like God to you?

The doctrine of the pre-tribulation rapture has produced a multitude of spiritual babies. They are not truly abiding with God and they are not comfortable with the excesses of the world. They are not "hot" toward Christ and they are not "hot" toward the world.

They often are slow to learn, spiritually lazy, and foolish in their attitude. Yet they expect to reign over the rebellious nations as royal priests of God. Surely, common sense suggests their expectation is impractical.

The teachers of the pre-tribulation rapture recognize it is the victorious saints who will receive the Divinely ordained rewards. But they define to overcome as meaning to make a doctrinally-correct statement concerning Christ. They are declaring that every individual who professes belief in Christ is by that fact an overcomer and therefore eligible to receive the crown of life and glory. We have made the Word of God of no effect by our traditions. No wonder there is spiritual apathy in the ranks of the Christians!

The believer who has been taught that to overcome is to make a profession of belief in Christ, to thus identify himself with the Overcomer, should read for himself the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation. He will find that the rebukes of the Lord are concerned with "works." Christ did not find the Laodiceans nauseating because of their incorrect doctrinal position but because of their personality and behavior.

The belief that Jesus is Christ of God does not make a rebellious, self-centered, lustful person acceptable to the Lord. The demons themselves understand very well that there is a God and that Jesus is the Holy One who has come from God.

Modern preaching and teaching, especially the teachings that all believers in Christ receive the same reward; that overcoming merely is a matter of doctrinal position; and that God loves Gentile Christians too much to allow them to suffer; is producing lukewarm, apathetic, indifferent believers. They are neglecting their salvation and shall not escape punishment.

The believers of the Laodicean age will be exposed to the most terrible hour of tribulation and lawlessness mankind has known. Only the purest and most fervent of the believers of that hour will be able to escape being destroyed spiritually by the things that will come to pass and to stand in victory before the Son of Man. 

So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. (Revelation 3:16)

Christ does not rebuke us because our doctrine is not perfect but because our whole personality is not aflame with love and zeal toward Himself. The lukewarm believers, who constitute the majority of the Christians in the wealthy nations of our day, will not enter the Kingdom of God. They will be vomited from the mouth of Christ. Let God be true and every man a liar. 

Because 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)

Notice that Jesus is not rebuking the Laodicean believers because they do not believe He is Christ but because they regard material wealth as the sign of the blessing of God. The Laodicean worships money. Money is his God. He has no need of the true God because money protects him from all danger (he supposes).

We see therefore, that to "overcome," in spite of what many are claiming, has little to do with a doctrinal position. To overcome is to live victoriously in Christ, successfully resisting the claims of the world, the lusts of our flesh, and our self-centeredness.

Antichrist will persecute viciously the true saints of the Lord but he will subsidize the Christian churches that choose to serve Christ in their own strength. Antichrist will not do away with the Christian institutions. Rather, he will leave their "dead bodies in the street" of the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (Revelation 11:8).

Notice the tremendous deception that prevails in the Laodicean churches. The Laodiceans say to the Lord, "We don’t need you, we are rich and increased with goods. We have need of nothing." Jesus responds, "You are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked."

The Laodiceans are ignorant of the attitude of Christ toward them. They are in a state of delusion. Can you imagine the shock that the Laodicean experiences when he dies and passes into the realm of spiritual realities?

Why are the Laodiceans so deceived?

It is because they do not have a true witness of God among them. There is no individual who is standing in the Presence of God and showing them God’s Person, His ways, His will, His eternal purpose in Christ.

The Laodiceans have had Christian ministry but few of their ministers are portraying a true picture of God.

We see this today in the churches. There is an abundance of ministry. But where is the true witness of God? Numerous Christians think of God as a kind of Santa Claus, as a good-natured gentleman in the sky who is always blessing people, desiring only that human beings love Him and understand how merciful He is.

One Christian described the Lord as "good old Jesus" and would not listen to the words of repentance and godly living, declaring that "good old Jesus" would always take care of her. The subsequent events in the life of that individual and her family were tragic indeed, not because she was presumptuous in speaking of the King of kings in such a manner but because being a Christian does not make us immune from the laws of cause and effect, of sowing and reaping.

How many Christian people have ended up in prison because they thought God was winking at their behavior and that the punishment that fell on unsaved sinners could never fall on Christian sinners!

In some instances current Christian teaching is presenting a false concept of God. Our God is a consuming Fire, the Creator of all things. God is not human. Jesus was born a human being. God the Father however is not human. He is a Spirit. God does not think as we do. He is not sentimental as we are. His love is different from ours. His love sent His only begotten Son to the cross.

God requires the shedding of blood in order for His wrath to be appeased. That fact alone should warn us we are not dealing with a human being but with a Spirit who in countless ways is totally different from us.

It is only as Jesus, our High Priest, intercedes for us in the Presence of God that we are saved from destruction.

God is love—pure, holy love. It is His will to reveal His love to human beings and to give them the desires of their heart.

God also is wrath—pure, holy wrath. He cannot and will not accept unrighteousness—behavior alien to His sense of right and wrong, to His Nature.

It is the Lord Jesus who teaches us how to approach God, meanwhile adding to us His own holy Person and Presence so we can become a sweet fragrance, recognized by God as belonging to His Son.

The Laodiceans do not understand this. They think believing in Christ makes them immune to God’s wrath so they may behave presumptuously and carelessly in the Presence of God. They are in delusion. Some of them may be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and the Lamb (Revelation 14:10).

The Laodicean Christian never would apply Revelation 14:10 to himself, supposing that the Scripture is referring to a heathen individual somewhere in a far off land. Revelation 14:10 does not apply to the ignorant heathen but to the lukewarm Christians. Many Christians of today clearly stand in danger of Revelation 14:10. Yet, in their delusion they think they have need of nothing. 

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 sulfur in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: (Revelation 14:10)

Ours is an era of deception. One characteristic of deception is we do not know when we are deceived. We believe we have need of nothing, when in the sight of the Lord we are close to the fire. May God open our eyes before we die and pass into the realities of the spirit realm.

Antichrist has succeeded, and will continue to succeed, in conquering Christian believers through deception. This especially is true in the wealthy nations. Antichrist deceives the believers by offering them the opportunity to prosper in the world and yet keep their "Christian testimony." We think that an examination of the lack of spiritual fervor of the believers in the wealthy, "free" nations of today will support our position.

In the last days a person will be either a typical fleshly believer or else a truly consecrated saint. There will not be, as there is today, a mixture in the churches of the lovers of "Egypt" and the dedicated saints. Such division into the cold and the hot is necessary to make straight the way of the Lord. The filthy must be filthy. The holy must be holy. It is God’s will that both sin and righteousness, the tares and the wheat, come to maturity in the earth.

Laodicea is characterized by the worship of mammon, of money. The devil of covetousness, mammon, is the only pagan God of whom Jesus spoke, saying, "No man can serve both God and mammon." Few other gods of ancient times or of today were of sufficient danger or significance to warrant the Lord’s speaking of them to His disciples.

Throughout the Scriptures there are instances of the ruin brought about by covetousness. The deaths of Ananias and Sapphira are an example to us of the Lord’s attitude toward covetousness in His Church. The love of money is the root of all evil.

Yet, what do we hear being preached in some of the Christian churches? "God desires that His people be rich in the things of the world."

Multiplied thousands of Charismatic believers are believing the gospel of material wealth and can see nothing wrong with it. Antichrist is a master deceiver. The believers are looking for Antichrist to rise up out of the sea in the form of a prehistoric monster. At the same time they are rejoicing as he preaches from the pulpits of their churches.

The Laodicean believers will be accepted and helped by the Antichrist government. It will be their point of view that Antichrist, while he may not be a born-again Christian, at least recognizes the value of the Christian religion and is tolerant of it. In fact, Antichrist may claim to be born again in Christ! Antichrist will be so persuasive that the Christians, who are sheep, who love peace and riches, will believe he is a worthy individual, a competent administrator who is able to reconcile various religions and ideologies and bring peace to the world.

We think it will be later on, when Antichrist has the world under his control, that he will begin to claim to be God. By then it will be so painful to resist him that the Christians will fall into line with his economic program—especially if he continues to allow them to meet in their buildings and continue with their activities in the realm of human welfare.

One may say, Antichrist never will be able to deceive the Christian churches. The truth is, Antichrist already is overcoming the saints. He has entered Christian doctrine until the churches are filled with spiritual babies who represent no threat to the rule of Satan over the earth.

Today the civil governments in so-called Christian nations are giving legal stature to homosexuality and abortion and are moving in the direction of preventing parents from disciplining their children. Are not the governments making themselves gods? Are the Christian people able to do anything to stop this trend? Rather, the Christian people often occupy themselves in their buildings with the mysteries of their religion.

When the Christians do step into the moral arena, such as in the education of their children in Christian schools or in the protesting of moral abominations, they begin to feel the iron fist of their "Christian" government. They are harassed by governmental agencies or sued by their outraged fellow citizens. We are not far from the reign of Antichrist.

In the United States of America it is unlawful to invite a group of public school students to invite Jesus into their hearts. Yet it is not unlawful to invite the same students to welcome demons into their personalities, calling the demons (familiar spirits) globes of light, rays of peace, or some other "acceptable" name, or to practice the Hindu Yoga. Chinese dragons are paraded around the school playground. An Aztec idol was recently constructed in a city of California.

The continual uproar concerning the separation of the church and state in America is a smoke screen. It is a device to silence Christianity while admitting any number of demonic religions. No moral or intellectual strength is maintaining the doctrine of separation of church and state. The doctrine is pure evil.

In some instances Christian people may be required take a stand against immorality. However, we must keep firmly in mind that Jesus’ Kingdom is not of this world. Christians who desire to step into governmental positions and command the unbelieving to behave according to biblical standards of morality may be making a premature move. It is premature because we still are in the Church Age, not in the Kingdom Age; and because Christ is not dwelling in us to the extent necessary for the proper conduct of the Kingdom of God.

We will succeed only in bringing persecution on ourselves if we attempt by physical means to force the keeping of the laws of the Kingdom of God in the present hour. The role of the saints during the Church Age is to bear witness of the soon coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.

The only threat to Satan’s rule is the Lord Jesus Christ. The church of the Laodiceans is human. It derives its strength from "togetherness, " the working together of people to bring the Kingdom of God to the earth. The Laodiceans cannot grasp the fact that their enemy is not a human being but a rebellious cherub who formerly occupied a high position in the spirit realm. Human weapons, including voting in a democratic society, are useless against a cherub, against Satan.

The Laodicean churches do not enjoy the concept that Christ is brought forth only as the believers are willing to die to the world, to their own lusts, and to their self-love and self-centeredness. Rather, the Laodicean churches stress that through the Lord Jesus we can get the most good out of life, bringing forth the "potential" that is in our adamic personality.

The Laodicean church cries, "You can do all things through Christ! Set your goal as high as you desire and through faith you can attain it."

This is what is being preached today and God’s people cannot understand that it is the opposite of the Gospel of Christ. The true Gospel is, "You can do all things through Christ." The emphasis is on Christ, not on you.

Christ cries, "Lay down your life for My sake and the Gospel’s. Turn away from your own ambitions and desires. Crucify your flesh with its lusts. Take up your cross and follow Me. I died for you, and now you belong to Me. Be faithful to death in the world and I will give you a crown of life when I appear."

Can you see the difference? The first is the voice of Antichrist and it is preaching from Christian pulpits. The second is the voice of the Spirit of God, and only the victorious saints have ears to hear the Spirit’s voice.

One could preach both messages to the same group and many of them would say Amen to each. They are not able to discern the difference. They are in a state of spiritual insensibility. They are dull of hearing.

In order to keep from being deceived in an hour of deception the believer in Christ must lay down his life as a whole burnt offering to God. He must pray without ceasing. He must practice the virtues set forth in the Epistles of the Apostles of Christ.

The Christian must come out of the present lukewarm churches, as the Lord leads, and seek a fellowship of fervent disciples. Divine judgment is operating in the house of God. The Lord is separating His true Bride from those whose destiny is to be tormented in the Presence of the Lamb.

The Christians who are wealthy have the feeling of being blessed and in the Lord’s will. While they may speak of the need for Christians to seek the Lord with all their heart they are not personally fervent in this regard. People who have an abundance of money tend to trust in the security that money appears to give, whether or not they are Christians. The poor are more apt to cry out to God in sincerity because they are insecure in the present world.

The rich find it extremely difficult to enter the Kingdom of God. They have no idea they are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked. They walk in the light of the world, supposing they are privileged, fortunate people of great understanding who are clothed appropriately. They are living in delusion. Their money has blinded their eyes.

Material wealth is not a sign of the blessing of God, as far as the Gospel of Christ is concerned. In Old Testament days, material wealth was an indication of the blessing of God. But the treasures of the Christian saint are in the spirit realm. We have left all and followed Christ so when He comes we may be rewarded in the Kingdom of God.

Those who today are seeking to be rich are opening themselves to the deceptions of Antichrist. Unless they repent they never will enter the Kingdom of God. Let us buy the truth and not sell it. If we do not choose the truth, God Himself will send a strong delusion upon us so we will believe a lie (II Thessalonians 2:11).

No person can serve both God and money. Each believer in Christ must decide which of the two is his God. For he will come to love one and hate the other.

Those who are preaching that Christians are to be rich in money are deceived and are bringing their listeners into the kingdom of Antichrist.

Having food and clothing let us be content. Godliness with contentment is greater gain than all the money in the world. 

I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. (Revelation 3:18)

Gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich.

White raiment, that thou mayest be clothed.

Anoint thine eyes with eye salve, that thou mayest see.

The Laodicean believers are rich in money but poor in faith.

The members of the church in Smyrna were poor in material wealth but rich before God (Revelation 2:9).

James speaks of those who are poor in the world but "rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom" (James 2:5).

Not only are we to be rich in faith but the gold of our faith must be refined in the fires of tribulation and suffering: 

That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: (I Peter 1:7)

If we would be rich in the things of Christ our faith must undergo prolonged, severe testing. The true saint follows the Lord and expects to encounter many pains and problems in the present world. He hopes to receive glory and honor at the revelation of Christ.

The Laodicean believer continually looks for ways in which he can gain from the Gospel. He hopes to profit in this life from his relationship with Christ. He perceives the sufferings of the cross as something to be avoided if at all possible.

Antichrist will help the Laodicean become rich in material goods, knowing this will impoverish him in the things of the Kingdom of God.

The Laodicean believer has enough money to buy clothes. But he is naked before God. His spiritual clothing is torn, and spotted with the filth of the world.

The white raiment of the Bride of the Lamb is the righteous acts of the saints (Revelation 19:8). The true saint is being clothed spiritually as he serves the Lord diligently. He continually washes his robe (his spiritual "robe" of righteousness) by confessing his sins and forsaking them. The blood of Jesus removes the spots while the hot iron of tribulation presses out the wrinkles.

A great number of believers will leave the Laodicean churches during the great tribulation, choosing to be adorned in the spotless robes of the redeemed: 

... These are they which came out of [the] great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. (Revelation 7:14)

This "great multitude, which no man could number," decided to suffer affliction with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season. "Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them" (Revelation 7:15).

Such have purchased faith that is gold tried in the fires of suffering, and also white robes washed in the blood of the Lamb as they have confessed and repented of their sins.

But woe to those who accept the ways of the church of the Laodiceans!

The Laodicean believer "sees" very well by the light of the present world. But he is blind to the things of the Spirit. The world has put out his eyes just as the eyes of Samson were blinded by the Philistines.

In the Scriptures, godliness and spiritual sight go together: 

Thine eyes [of the righteous] shall see the king in his beauty: they shall behold the land that is very far off. (Isaiah 33:17)

But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. (II Peter 1:9)

Only the pure in heart can see God. Apart from holy living no man can behold the Lord (Hebrews 12:14).

It is true also of the interpretation of the Scriptures. They were written by holy men who were moved by the Holy Spirit. The Scriptures cannot be understood by the ungodly.

The Laodicean believer is surrounded with elaborate communication devices. But the filth of the world has blinded him. In addition, he is unable to hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches.

The overcomer chooses the pure gold of tested faith and the white raiment of righteous, holy behavior. He sees ever more clearly what Christ is doing and hears what Christ is saying. His eyes and ears are opening to his true life that is in Heaven at the right hand of God. He "buys" these abilities by his obedience to Christ. 

As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. (Revelation 3:19)

Because the Laodicean believers define love as the giving of immediate satisfaction and pleasure to people, they cannot accept that Christ rebukes and chastens those whom He loves. The Laodicean supposes that God has given us faith so we will not suffer any pain or discomfort in the world.

The truth is, God is stricter with the fervent saints than He is with those who are not as close to Himself.

The reason for this is that the whole world is under a curse. The earth is filled with sin and rebellion against God. Satan goes about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Each of us has been born in sin and shaped in sinfulness. Is it any wonder, therefore, that Christ continually is rebuking and chastising those who are closest to Himself just as a father the son who is dear to him? Even the righteous are saved with difficulty. It is only as we are rebuked and chastened that we have any hope at all of escaping destruction (II Thessalonians 1:5; I Peter 4:17-19).

Antichrist will persuade the Laodicean believer that the world is his friend and that he deserves to live a happy, carefree life in Christ. The Laodicean readily receives the concept that God is love but he is not able to conceive of God as a furnace of wrath.

Satan knows of the lake that burns with fire and sulfur but he conceals this spiritual reality from the Laodicean. The Laodicean believer holds a completely false concept of God, of Christ, of the Holy Spirit, of the holy angels, and of the other realities of which the present world merely is the grossest reflection.

Jesus rebukes and chastens us constantly so we may escape the spiritual perils of life in the world and be perfect in spirit, in soul, and in body, being completely prepared for His appearing and His Kingdom. We are to respond to His rebuke and chastening by repenting zealously. The true saint keeps his heart open before the Lord and is quick to repent at the slightest reproof from the Spirit of God.

The Laodicean believer cannot believe that Christ ever would rebuke him, much less bring judgment and tribulation upon him. The Laodicean does not understand the nature or operations of Divine love, knowing only of human love—that which strives to insure the immediate comfort and pleasures of the body and soul. 

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. (Revelation 3:20)

This verse often is used by evangelists for bringing the unsaved to Christ, but it actually is directed toward Laodicean Christians. Self-centered Christians, such as the Laodiceans, conduct their church activities apart from the Presence of Christ. Christ is kept on the outside although the believers are not aware that such is the case.

Christ comes to a busy church member and knocks at the door of his personality. The knocking may come in the form of calamity. Jesus does what is necessary to gain the attention of the individual. Sometimes we must suffer a great deal before we become aware that God is speaking to us.

After the "earthquake and fire" comes the "still small voice" of the Lord Jesus (I Kings 19:12). It is the voice of God calling to Adam. "Where are you? What are you doing here? Why are you confused and upset?"

How wonderful it is when the Lord of the churches becomes known to us. We strive so hard to survive the problems of life and to do what we think God expects of us. Then the Lord Jesus comes to us walking on the stormy waters. He is a sanctuary, a place of refuge for us. We run into Him and are saved.

Christ desires to dine with us. He sets a table before us in the presence of our enemies. No matter what is taking place on the outside, the Lord and His saint are having fellowship within. The deepest, most enduring of all joys becomes ours. Sometimes the pressures of the world are so great that there is not much joy reflected in our outward appearance. But the eternal peace has been established in the core of our personality.

We dine with the Lord on His body and blood. It is by eating the Lamb that we are married to the Lamb. It is the "eagles" who live by the body and blood of the Lamb that will be caught up to the "Carcass" when He is revealed in the heaven above us.

God is calling us to total oneness with Himself through Christ. We can enter that oneness only by feeding upon and living by the body and blood of the Lord. 

He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. (John 6:56, 57)

Revelation 3:20 is one of the greatest of all the promises of Scripture, and it is announced to the believers of Laodicea.

The Laodiceans are last in time but are given the opportunity to be first in the Kingdom of God, in the inner kingdom that is the dwelling of the Father and Christ in us.

There is an outer kingdom. Notice the following: 

And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God. And, behold, there are last which shall be first, and there are first which shall be last. (Luke 13:29, 30)

There also is an inner kingdom. 

Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof. (Matthew 13:31,32)

The Lord is willing to enter us and to dine with us if we are willing to receive Him, if we have the time for Him and are ready to cease from our own striving in order to have fellowship with Him. 

He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love. (Song of Solomon 2:4)

The new covenant has two dimensions.

The first dimension has to do with our keeping the many commandments and exhortations of the New Testament.

For example: 

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; (Matthew 5:44)

But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance [appropriate to repentance]. (Acts 26:20)

God is interested that all people everywhere, especially His elect, turn from their wicked ways and live a righteous and holy life. We see this in the Great Commission: "Teaching them (the baptized of the nations) to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: . . . " (Matthew 28:20).

We have changed the Great Commission to mean we are to present the mysteries of the Christian faith to the peoples of the nations so they will build churches and attend the services on Sundays.

This is not what the Great Commission means. The Great Commission means that the individuals whom God has called out from the nations of the earth are to be baptized in the name of Christ, recognizing Him as Lord, and then begin to "do works meet for repentance [appropriate to repentance]": that is, they are to put away their sins in the fear of God and begin to keep the Lord’s commandments.

We have substituted ecclesiastical ceremonies and forms in place of what God is seeking: upright conduct, mercy, and living in faith and meekness in the sight of God. 

Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame. (I Corinthians 15:34)

Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another. (Ephesians 4:25)

Does God expect the believers in Jesus to keep the commandments of righteous and holy living?

 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. (I John 2:3)

Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. (Revelation 14:12)

One of the great lies that serves as a basis of Christian teaching is that it is impossible to keep God’s commandments, that grace is an alternative to keeping God’s commandments. The truth is, God is our Father and we, by the help of the Holy Spirit, are to keep all of His commandments without fail. Then—and only then—are we obedient children.

Because of this prime axiom of Christian teaching (grace is an alternative to keeping God's commandments), and in order to evade moral responsibility, it is taught that the Jews are obliged to keep the commandments of God but we believing Gentiles are saved "by grace" and so we are not required to keep the commandments of God.

Here is a massive deception! Satan knows that God is more interested in our behavior than He is in our doctrinal position. Satan has introduced the concept that our doctrinal position (being saved "by grace") is of primary importance while our behavior is secondary in importance and not crucial to our salvation.

Righteous, holy, and obedient behavior, the fundamental characteristic of the Kingdom of God, often is missing from the churches of Christ because of erroneous doctrine.

There are hundreds of commandments contained in the New Testament. We are to keep them, through the grace of Christ. The Spirit of God assists us as we pray without ceasing and learn to walk in the Spirit of God. 

This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. (Galatians 5:16)

The commandments of the new covenant are much more demanding than is true of the commandments and statutes of the old covenant. The new-covenant commandments require obedience from the heart. We are not to ignore them. We are to seek the Lord continually for the grace to do what He has commanded us: to forgive those who wound us; to trust in God rather than in money; to shun adultery and fornication; to turn away from violence, drunkenness, and revelry; to be sober and godly in speech and behavior, setting an example for others to follow; to seek first and continually the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.

Our righteousness of behavior must exceed the righteousness of behavior of the Scribes and Pharisees.

It appears most Christians never accept this first dimension of the new covenant, that is, the need to take seriously the commandments of the Lord and to achieve victory over sin through the power and wisdom of the Spirit of God.

As we have stated, many teachers insist that since we are saved by grace it is not necessary to become overly concerned about the commandments found in the New Testament. There is great error in this. The fruit of this teaching can be seen in the contemporary churches.

Indeed, we are to do all that is written in the New Testament, as the Spirit of God enables us. When we do not obey the Lord’s commandments the judgment of God comes upon us. Many Christians are sick, and some die prematurely, because they are not keeping Christ’s commandments through His Apostles.

We have stated that the new covenant has two dimensions. The first dimension is our keeping, through the power and wisdom of the Spirit of God, the commandments found in the New Testament writings.

If we keep the commandments of the Lord we come to the second dimension of the new covenant. The second dimension of the new covenant is the forming and dwelling of Christ in us.

Every true Christian has the Spirit of Christ in him. But in order for us to receive the full indwelling of the Father and the Son we must be faithful to do what is written in the Scriptures. As we obey the Holy Spirit we are strengthened by the Spirit in our inner nature. Then Christ is able to dwell in us to a much greater extent than we have known.

Speaking to Christians, Paul says: 

That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; . . . . (Ephesians 3:16, 17)

Many—perhaps most—Christian people never come to the second dimension because they have not been faithful in the first.

Notice how diligence in adhering to the Word of Christ leads us into the second dimension: 

Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. (John 14:23)

The entering of the Father and the Son into us, in the spiritual fulfillment of the Old Testament feast of Tabernacles, depends on our faithfulness in keeping the Words, the commandments of Christ.

Peter states the same thing:

 We have also a more sure word of prophecy [the Scriptures]; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: (II Peter 1:19)

The "more sure word of prophecy" is the written Word of God, both Old Testament and New Testament. We are to read the Word and take heed to its admonitions. Although we are not under the Law of Moses there are many admonitions and inspiring passages in the Old Testament that are as applicable today as they were twenty-five hundred years ago. 

He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to practice righteousness, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? (Micah 6:8)

After we are saved we are to meditate in the Word of God day and night, waiting on the Lord constantly in order that we may begin to be able to conform to His Word and will.

If we are consistent in our pursuit of the Lord the day will arrive when we hear the voice of the Lord. The Lord Jesus is seeking a full entrance into our personality. He enters us bringing the Father with Him.

Now we begin to understand the new covenant. The keeping of the written Word has served as a scaffolding until the new creation in us, the inner Kingdom of God, has had the opportunity to mature to the point we can begin to partake of its glory.

The Kingdom of God is in us. The Kingdom enters us when we are born again. But because the Kingdom of God begins as a Seed, our life goes on much as before. The keeping of the Lord’s commandments, as found in the New Testament, holds us in line until the Divine Seed matures to the level we can notice the new Divine Life in us.

As Peter says, we are to take heed to the written "prophecy" until the day dawns and the Day Star arises in our heart.

That "day" is the Day of the Lord. It is the coming of the Kingdom of God, the doing of God’s will in the earth as it is in Heaven. It is the Day when the Lord alone is exalted. It is the Day when the wolf dwells with the lamb and the little child leads them. It is the Day when we can ask what we will and it shall be done for us.

The Day Star, Christ, arises in us. Before the Day of the Lord can come to the earth it first must dawn in the hearts of the saints. For it is through the saints that the Day of the Lord, the reign of Christ, will be brought to the earth. All the written commandments are intended to serve until the new creation comes forth in us.

The essential aspect of the Kingdom of God is in the individual. The churches of our own day emphasize an external salvation by stressing the ascension ("rapture") of the saints. The churches of Laodicea will emphasize an external salvation by stressing group activity and human welfare.

The Kingdom of God indeed does have an external dimension and it will be revealed throughout all the earth. Also, group activities and human welfare do have a place in the Kingdom of God. God is concerned that people live together in love and harmony and that the needs and desires of the individual are satisfied.

But the most important dimension of the Kingdom of God is the establishing of Christ in the individual. The Kingdom of God does not come by observation but grows in us. When we can say, "It is not I who live but Christ who lives in me," then we have become part of the Kingdom, the rule of God.

The Lord Jesus Christ will be revealed to the world. But before Christ is revealed to the world He will be revealed in His saints (John 14:18-23). As soon as we begin to dine with the Lord in the Most Holy Place in us, our Christian life takes on a different character.

Prior to the forming of Christ in us and the entering of Christ through the Spirit into our transformed inner man, our Christian discipleship consists largely of a daily battle against the world, Satan, and our own lusts and self-will. In the Laodicean age, only the most determined individuals will be willing to forsake the abundance of pleasure and ease that so readily will be available to them and give themselves wholly to seeking the Lord.

The battle, the struggle against the pleasures of the world, goes on seemingly without end. But one day the Lord comes. Because the saint has been holding himself in readiness he can hear the voice of the Lord. He opens the door of his heart and the Lord enters.

The battles continue. The trials of faith may become more demanding than ever. But there is a difference. The Christian pilgrimage changes from a seemingly hopeless, blind effort to obey the Scriptures into a romance. Now the Song of Solomon begins to take on increased significance.

This does not mean the battles are over, that there are no more temptations, that the flesh must not be subdued constantly. But when our eyes are opened to the indwelling of the Lord and we begin to gain a glimpse of our destination, our discipleship becomes more joyful, more certain of ultimate victory and fulfillment. The passages of Scripture concerning crucifixion of self and denying the flesh that used to be so irksome are now accepted as the means by which we shall come to exceedingly great glory.

The typical Laodicean believer, possessing an abundance of material wealth, can enter the Kingdom of God only with the greatest difficulty. Material wealth, with its emphasis on the visible, physical world, blinds us to the desirability of the invisible Kingdom of God.

It nearly is impossible for a wealthy individual to enter the Kingdom. Wealth is power in the visible, external realm, while the Kingdom of God is invisible and is formed in us. He who would be rich falls into a snare as far as the Kingdom of God is concerned because he is too occupied with that which is external, to the detriment of the development of the Kingdom of God in him.

Satan works in the hearts of people. The only manner in which Satan can be conquered and cast down is by the entrance of Christ into the heart. The entrance of Christ the King into us results in the casting down of Satan. Christ takes His place as the rightful King of our personality.

This is why Satan strives unceasingly to keep people (especially Christians) busy with externals. When Christ is enthroned in the heart Satan’s kingdom is destroyed.

The faithful Christian soon learns he cannot serve both God and money. He must come out from the economic life of Laodicea and give himself to the Kingdom being formed in him.

The mark of the Beast already is present in the world. The mark of the Beast is the love of money and the pursuit of money (the mark in the mind and the hand).

Increasingly the major corporations of the world will demand not only the time but also the souls of their employees. It will not be enough to work each day for the company. The company will demand a "marriage, " a giving of the heart of the employee to the company, its efforts, its policies. He who is not willing to give himself to this extent, but who insists on spending time with his family and in the seeking of the Lord, will suffer economic penalties. To some degree this is taking place already.

The Laodicean believer will become so caught up in the new, prosperous, creative society that he will not be able to hear the voice of Christ. The external world will be so attractive, so stimulating, so full of interest, challenge, fun, so seemingly "Christian" in many ways, that only the hardiest of saints will possess enough strength of character to resist the allurements of the world and to defy the economic penalties that will fall on the "different" individual.

The believer who does not resist but who falls into line with the new age of social betterment will come to a terrible end: 

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 14:11)

But the saint who stands true in the Laodicean age will experience the spiritual coming of the Lord, the spiritual fulfillment of the Old Testament feast of Tabernacles.

There are two comings of the Lord in the last days. One coming of the Lord Jesus is to the dedicated saint (John 14:21). It is the appearing of Christ in the saint.

There is no scriptural support, in either the Old Testament or the New Testament, for a "secret rapture" as currently taught. But there are Old Testament types and New Testament direct teaching that speak of the appearing of Christ to the faithful saint in an inner, spiritual fulfillment of the Old Testament feast of Tabernacles.

The manifestation of Christ to the saint but not to the world is taught clearly in the fourteenth chapter of the Book of John, is portrayed in the Levitical feast of Tabernacles, and is spoken of by the Hebrew Prophets (Malachi 3:1).

The other coming is that of Christ, and His saints in whom He is dwelling, in visible glory to the nations of the earth. In that Day every eye will behold Him. Then the world will know that the Father has sent Christ and that the Father loves the saints as He loves Christ.

The nations will behold Christ, and God in Him, in the saints. 

When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day. (II Thessalonians 1:10)

The saint to whom Christ is revealing Himself from within is being filled with the fullness of the love of God. He is being drawn upward with increasing strength, although sometimes he feels weak and helpless and that God is far from him. The Christian discipleship still is a battle against the forces of darkness and death. God still is testing him and stretching him so he can attain the fullness of his inheritance.

But the Day Star is rising in his heart and the Day of the Lord is dawning for him.

The entering of Christ and the Father into the believer is a powerful, eternal experience. It grows increasingly powerful as the saint learns to live by Christ as Christ lives by the Father. The Spirit of God is his life and comfort. The Word of God becomes his necessary food. The pull of Heaven on him becomes stronger than the attractions of the world.

How wonderful it is that God offers such revelation and power during the period that Christians are being tempted and oppressed by the supreme efforts of Hell, by the most insidious and perverse devices that fallen angels are able to manufacture! Darkness abounds but God’s grace increasingly abounds during the Laodicean period.

Soon it will be impossible for most people, even many believers in Christ, to resist temptation—particularly physical lust. Lawlessness will be the normal environment. In that hour only those who are filled with the Spirit of Christ will be able to serve the Lord with a pure heart. Those who are holy will remain holy. Those who are filthy will remain filthy. The way of the Lord shall be made straight.

Christ stands at the door of your heart today. To this point you are saved by the atoning blood. Also, the Spirit of God is dwelling in you and bringing you ever further into Christ.

Now Christ is asking if you desire to become the eternal habitation of God. Are you ready for Jesus to enter you in His fullness until there no longer is a gap between you and Him?

You have experienced the water to the ankles and to the knees. Do you wish now to enter waters "to the loins," "waters to swim in," a river that cannot be passed over (Ezekiel 47:5)?

Do you desire to be filled with "all the fulness of God" (Ephesians 3:19)?

Give yourself wholly to Christ. Allow Him to enter you. From this point forward seek to find His will instead of attempting to persuade Him to do your will.

While we are at Pentecost, so to speak, we are seeking the Lord and His anointing. When we proceed forward to Tabernacles we continue as before, but we find that now we are progressing into a deeper realm of God—one in which God becomes preeminent and is guiding us more fully. Our goal is to attain perfect and complete rest in God so that it no longer is we who are living but Christ who is living in us.

How marvelous that God, during an era in which man’s self-love is nearing its peak, should invite people to become an integral part of Himself, to give their life back to God and become part of God’s Life!

Truly, many who are last in time have the opportunity to become first in the Kingdom of God! 

To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. (Revelation 3:21)

To sit with Christ in His throne? Is it God who has authorized such a statement as this?

God the Father has exalted Christ to the highest throne of the universe, making Jesus God with Himself: 

But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. (Hebrews 1:8)

The Book of Hebrews, when defining man, portrays man as lord over the entire creation of God, and Christ as being representative Man and the Captain over many sons who are to be brought to glory. 

But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him? Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands: Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him. (Hebrews 2:6-8)

We see, therefore, that both Revelation and Hebrews emphasize that man, by Divine declaration, has been appointed to govern all the works of God’s hands.

Whatever other kinds of creatures there may be in the universe, man is to be the ruler over them.

Christ is on the supreme throne and His younger brothers are called to that throne. Jesus had to overcome the obstacles placed before Him and now He is seated on the high throne. We also through Him are to overcome every enemy and then to rise to be seated with Him on His throne.

In the present hour the Throne of God is in Heaven. In fact, Heaven is the Throne of God (Acts 7:49).

But the Throne of God is to be established forever in the new Jerusalem. 

And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: (Revelation 22:3)

The new Jerusalem is the Church, the Wife of the Lamb. The establishing of the Throne of God and of the Lamb in the new Jerusalem means that God’s throne is to be created in the personalities of the members of the Body of Christ.

Man is bound by so many chains today it is difficult to grasp the fact that it is man who has been chosen of God to rule all the works of God’s hands.

It is worthy of note that it is during the Laodicean age, the period when man is attempting to become the center of the universe, that God reveals His intention for man to become the ruler of the universe. The difference between the Laodicean presumption and the Divine declaration is that it is given to man to rule only as man is filled with Christ and is an eternal part of Christ. This is the essential difference.

God never will give His glory to another. Man becomes lord of the universe only as man becomes a branch of Christ, who is the only rightful King and Lord.

In Jesus we are the heirs of all things. Out of Jesus we are the dust of the ground and have no eternal life.

It is not a coincidence that Revelation 3:20 and 3:21 are placed together in the Scriptures. When the Lord Jesus enters us the Throne of God enters us.

Revelation 3:20 speaks of our opening the door of our personality and inviting the King, Jesus, to enter us and abide with us, just as the two disciples on the way to Emmaus invited Him to be with them and dine with them (Luke 24:29).

Remember, the Lord Jesus is the Throne of God. God dwells in Him and governs through Him (Matthew 28:18).

The Father and the Son take Their place as the lawful Ruler of our personality. We sit with Jesus on the throne of our own personality (which is Jesus’ lawful throne), and the Father remains on the throne of Jesus’ personality. In this manner the Throne of God and of the Lamb is established in the new Jerusalem, which is the Body of Christ, the Church, the Wife of the Lamb.

Again, in Revelation 2:26-28, the Morning Star is placed together with our ruling over the nations of the earth. The Morning Star is the Lord Jesus. The giving of the Morning Star to us means that Christ enters us and becomes our Life. Only then are we fit to rule the nations of the earth.

It never shall be given to man, even to redeemed man, to rule the nations of the earth. There is one true Ruler—God. God has chosen Jesus to be His throne, to be the place from which God rules.

It is given to man to rule only to the extent that man has become the throne of Christ. Apart from the rule of Christ in him, religious man soon would bring chaos to the nations.

The central problem of the universe is disobedience to the will of God. The nations of the earth refuse to obey God. Therefore they dwell in suffering, corruption, and death.

God cannot bless the nations because they are disobedient.

God has enough power to force people to do His will. But if God were to force people to perform His will, people would become puppets. A puppet cannot love God and have fellowship with God. The children of God are not puppets.

Adam disobeyed God. Abraham obeyed God and became the "father" of the Seed in whom all the nations of the earth will be blessed.

The issue is obedience. The issue is that of who is sitting on the throne.

The Lord Jesus Himself was perfected in obedience to God through the things He suffered (Hebrews 5:8).

Christ always does the things that please God. This is the Kingdom of God, the rule of God.

Now it is the turn of the saints. They must learn to obey God.

Most Christians are at the salvation level, the thirtyfold level. They are in waters to their ankles, so to speak.

A smaller group of Christians is marching in the ranks of the Pentecostals. They are at the sixtyfold level, being in waters to their knees.

An even smaller group of Christians is being drawn from the Pentecostals. The smaller group is reaching toward the mark of the "Tabernacles" level, the place of the fullness of God. Here is the hundredfold level, waters to the loins, and finally waters to swim in (Ezekiel 47:3-5).

It is this "Gideon’s army" with which God is dealing so rigorously. The saints have many obstacles that must be overcome. They are learning obedience through the things they are suffering.

Each of us was born in rebellion against God. The world in which we are attempting to serve God is in rebellion against God. Our own personality and the world about us counsel us continually to disobey God.

Obedience to God begins in Christ. Obedience to God will spread from Christ to the victorious saints—the hundredfold, victorious saints. From the hundredfold it will spread to the sixtyfold, and finally to every saved person on the earth. This is how the Kingdom of God will come to the earth.

The Kingdom of God is the rule of God in Christ in the saints over the nations of the earth. The Kingdom of God is an actual Kingdom with a king, a nobility, an army, and various officers, priests, judges, teachers, and ministers and helpers of all kinds. 

God’s will shall be done in earth as it is in Heaven.

The Kingdom of God begins to come to the earth as the Throne of God is established in the victorious saints. They will sit with Jesus in the throne of their own heart. They will rule all the works of God’s hands.

The highest calling of man is to become a son of God and to rule the works of God’s hands. Such authority and power have been given to no other creature of God.

Apart from Christ, man is the dust of the ground. Joined to Christ, as a branch coming out from Him, man becomes part of God and a lord over the creation. But it is only as Christ rules in us that we will rule the nations of the earth.

The holy city, the new Jerusalem is the highest expression of the law of God. The Lord Jesus is the beginning of the new creation. As He enters us we die to our first personality and become a new creation in Christ. Now we not only adhere to the necessary commandments that are written in the Scriptures but in fact actually become the Word of God, the holy city.

Through the Lord Jesus we are the flesh becoming the word, the law, of God. Christ—Head and Body—is the living expression of the eternal law of God.

It is in the heart of Jesus to rule all the works of God’s hands. This is why Satan, understanding the commission of Christ to rule, tempted Christ to take a short cut to His inheritance by worshiping Satan. "If you will worship me, all the kingdoms of the world shall be yours."

The church of the Laodiceans falls into the temptation of Satan and seeks to place man at the center of the creation apart from union with God and His Christ. The spirit of Antichrist, man making himself God, abounds among the Laodicean believers.

The closer religious man draws to God the greater are the opportunities for power and glory and the greater is the danger of falling into the pride of the devil. The only manner in which we can escape falling into the pride of the devil is by taking up our personal cross and following the Master, Jesus. Those who seek to avoid the sufferings of the cross are exposing themselves to deception.

God expresses His power through Christ along different lines. There is power to cast out Satan. There is power to restore the physical body. There is power to overcome natural laws, such as the law of gravity.

But the greatest expression of Divine power has to do with overcoming sin and rebellion in the creation.

God’s will shall be done in the earth. The reason God’s will is not being done in the earth today is that not enough Divine power to force compliance with God’s laws is being exerted on the nations.

Righteousness is a matter of power.

The reason God desires to raise His saints to the highest throne is that He needs them as obedient channels of His supreme power. The saints will deliver people from the chains of Satan. They will heal sick bodies. They will have power over the laws of nature.

But the greatest power that will be exerted through the throne-dwellers is the power of righteousness. They will rule the nations with a rod of iron and will crush all resistance to the will of God.

God spoke concerning His Christ that He would "set judgment in the earth" (Isaiah 42:4). Judgment was not established among the nations of the earth when Jesus came two thousand years ago. But judgment and justice shall be established among the nations when Jesus appears with the members of His Body, with those whose Life He Is (Colossians 3:4). God will place on the heads of His victorious saints the crown of life and righteousness and place the scepter of righteousness in their hands. Then they will go forth in the fullness of His Presence, commanding and teaching the nations of the earth to please God (Romans 8:19).

The Lord Jesus has received all authority in Heaven and on the earth. This is the inheritance of man, for to man has been given all authority over the works of God’s hands. The Lord Jesus, our great elder Brother, already has received the inheritance that one day will be shared by His coheirs, His younger brothers.

The fullness of Divine authority and power will be given to the victorious saints so they can bring the Kingdom of God, the performing of God’s will, into the earth.

But first, those same victorious saints must be perfected in obedience themselves. Learning obedience requires a long period of cross-carrying service to Christ. It is a sore trial of our faith. We are stretched to the maximum. Let us not grumble and complain, for if we do we will die in the wilderness. We will not become sharers in the inheritance of Christ.

When Christ is formed in us and enters us, a great love for God and for those whom God has chosen grows in us. When we experience the profound, eternal love of God we understand the Gospel of the Kingdom. We truly understand the motive of God and of Christ in all They are doing.

Prior to the love of Christ entering us we may be involved in the various aspects of the Christian religion. The Laodicean believers will be fairly well instructed in the gifts of the Spirit and in the other elements of spiritual life. But they always will seek to turn such blessings to their own advantage.

The Laodiceans seek spiritual power, not primarily because of a desire to promote the doing of God’s will in the earth but because they have been taught that one can get what he wants by prayer, faith, the knowledge of God, and spiritual power.

Such an attempted misuse of Divine power is occurring already in Charismatic circles. People are being taught that wealth, political power, and other natural advantages will come to them if they accept Christ, use their faith to get what they want, and give liberally to the ministry. They are "commanding the stone to turn to bread."

The Charismatic move, in many instances, is becoming filled with the spirit of the False Prophet. It may be noticed that hatred of the Jews, a typical Antichrist attitude, is noticeable in some of the Charismatic leaders, particularly those who are espousing "reconstructionism." These leaders have fallen into deception because they are seeking a way around patient, cross-carrying obedience to God.

The spirit of religious delusion works hand in hand with the government of Antichrist. We believe that many of the Laodicean churches will be Christian in doctrine, having a name among Christian believers that they are alive. But in the sight of Jesus they will be dead because the Spirit of God will not be in them.

They will be active, growing congregations. Human talents will be in evidence. The cross of Christ will be extolled. But the need for the believer to bear his personal cross will not be preached with conviction. The outer Kingdom of God will be imitated as the Christian leaders attempt to influence their national governments with Christian principles. But the necessary inner Kingdom, the throne of God, will not be formed in the believers.

The Father and Christ will never enter any human being until he has forsaken his life in the world, has taken up his cross, and has begun to follow Christ. Antichrist teaches us that Christ came to enhance our life, to give us greater security, pleasure, and achievement. But Christ requires of us that we lose our life, becoming part of His death on the cross. We are to be "crucified with Christ."

It is impossible to enter the Kingdom of God, to experience the Life of the Father and the Son in us, until we are willing to forsake our entire first personality.

We enter the Kingdom of God, not by our religious life but by the death of the cross. It is the cross on which the believer is nailed that always divides between Laodicea and the true Church of Christ. Both Laodicea and the true saints will preach the cross of Christ. But Laodicea will never do more than talk about the cross of the believer, while the fervent saints, the true members of the Body of Christ, will experience deep, complete crucifixion. They will learn to glory in their cross, in their afflictions.

Elevation to the Throne of God and rulership over the nations are associated with suffering and with the Day Star. The rule of God in Christ is the rule of Divine love. It is only as sin and self-centeredness are destroyed out of us, and Christ, the only true Day Star, ascends to the throne of our heart, that it is possible for us to sit with Christ in His throne.

The love of God in Christ grows in us until our salvation truly becomes a romance. Now we understand the Song of Solomon. While the daughters of Jerusalem are busy with the affairs of King Solomon (who represents the church hierarchy, culture, and activities), the true Bride is hearing the voice of her Shepherd. He is calling her away to be with Himself.

The "daughters of Jerusalem" and the officials of the churches seek to know and understand the Bride. But the Lord always will prevent them from awakening her "until she pleases." She is the one whom the Lord desires. He will not allow her to be spoiled by the self-serving institutional churches.

There are numerous "queens and concubines." But the Bride is one. She is the only one of her mother.

It is so like the Lord that the throne of power should be offered to the saints who overcome the errors of the Laodiceans.

Laodicea represents the finest experience that Satan and self-centered man can develop by working together. Laodicea will bring into existence the kind of man-centered Christianity that has been desired by ambitious religious people of all ages. And this in a world of apparent peace and safety!

But the true members of the Bride will refuse the new age of worldly Christianity. They have been called out from the world by the Lord. There is a holy discontent in them. They enter the "secret place of the stairs" and climb faithfully, patiently upward while others rejoice in the accomplishments at hand.

Such always has been true of the Lord’s elect. They are an enigma, and a thorn in the side of the majority of Israel.

The second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation are a love letter from Jesus to the Bride, and only the Bride can hear what is being said and understand it.

Love conquers all and rules over all. Love will draw the true Bride upward to the throne of all authority and power. The victorious saints care not for power but for the love of Jesus. This is why God will permit only them to rule the nations of the earth.

The love of God in Christ causes the true saints to say Amen! to the image to which God has predestined them, to the relationships God has determined for them, to the time and manner of fruitfulness that God has reserved for them, and to the dominion to which they have been assigned from the foundation of the world.

The love of God in Christ causes the saints to be true and faithful witnesses of God and of His Christ. They do not seek to please people but to please God who tests their hearts.

The love of God in Christ causes the saints to abandon their first personalities and to become new creations, of whom the Lord Jesus is the Beginning, the Firstborn from the dead. 

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. (Revelation 3:22)

The Christian churches contain multitudes of people. The Lord Jesus is calling out individual believers and insisting they overcome, through His Divine Nature, the sins and problems found in the churches.

The Lord Jesus is tolerating for a season the abominations of the nations and the abominations of the Christian churches because of His exceedingly great love toward the Bride whom He is calling out.

The true members of the Bride have ears to hear. The call of the Shepherd is stronger in their lives than the lures of the world. They are being drawn upward, while the "deaf" believers are busily engaged in the various interests of the churches.

The Bride suffers much in the world and often in the churches. The Christian churches do not understand the Bride. The Spirit gives gifts to the churches, just as Eliezer gave gifts to the relatives of Rebecca so they would be willing to allow her to return with him to Isaac (Genesis 24:53).

One day the voice of the Bridegroom and the Bride will be gone from Babylon, from organized Christianity.

The last days will be characterized by spiritual deception. Already we can behold the remarkable effectiveness of the devices of Antichrist. The believers in Christ can be deceived easily, particularly if the deception is a counterfeit of the Gospel and offers prosperity and ease to them. God Himself sends delusion on them because they have not chosen, obeyed, and loved the truth. They have attempted to evade their cross.

Let us who are hearing the voice of Jesus open our heart to Him. Let us give first priority in our life to the growth of the Kingdom of God in us. Let us take up our cross and follow Jesus, even when He leads us through tribulations and afflictions. Let us accept our sufferings now so we can rejoice with Him at His glorious appearing.

In an age when Christians are busily endeavoring to secure their rights and welfare, let us go forth to meet our Shepherd and Bridegroom.