Revelation 1:5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, 6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
Revelation 22:14,15 “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.””
ATONEMENT: GOD’S SOLUTION TO SIN
“We cannot wash ourselves from sin; hence the glory belongs not to us. Nobody else can cleanse us but Christ: hence the glory belongs to nobody else. Nothing can cleanse us but his blood; hence the glory belongs alone to his atonement.” According to the logics of jurisprudence, perfect justice is based upon the principle of equivalence. That is, perfect justice demands an adjustment or punishment, equal to the crime committed. Therefore: only blood, which is life, can atone for sin, which is death. Leviticus 17:11; Ezekiel 18:4. Because blood is life – only life can atone for death! We must never complain about the cost of redemption. We have not been required to pay the price. Animals have paid with blood and God has paid with blood, but we are the benefactors. Hebrews 12:4. The blood of the righteous Christ cleanses us, breaking the power of the fallen nature in us, commending us to new fellowship and communion with the Father.
Romans 8:2; Colossians 2:13-15. At the preaching of the Word, the mystical powers of the Holy Spirit bring men to contrition for their sin life. In obedience to the Word of God, the man repents. This is conversion. I Peter 1:23; John 16:8; Matthew 18:3.
Revelation 2:5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.
Three things that have always been the major causes of spiritual deterioration of the church. 1) First of all, there were the Christians themselves. Every Christian is a saint, but every saint is [potentially] a sinner. 2) Secondly, there is the Bible. In a way the Bible is plain. But because it is the Word of God it is also very deep. It took the church centuries to study out the meaning of the Bible, and that task is not yet finished. The ancient church [The Catholic church and the period known as the Dark Ages] misinterpreted certain teachings of the [scriptures]. 3) Thirdly, there was the heathen environment (surroundings). For centuries heathenism continued to exist. The church grew and developed in a heathen world. The … life of the people was saturated with heathen ideas. When Constantine the Great gave the Christians freedom of religion and when he showered favors upon the church, thousands of heathen flocked into the church without having been converted. A flood of worldliness engulfed the church. It was overwhelmed. So many heathen clamored for admission that the church was not able to instruct them all properly in the Christian religion. They took their heathen ideas along with them into the church. The moment of the church’s victory over heathenism became the hour of the church’s greatest danger from heathenism. An in-depth study of the historical condition of the seven churches of Revelation chapters 2 and 3 would reveal that these three causes have remained throughout the centuries of the history of the church as the three major causes of moral deterioration within the church. 1) Carnal Christians who exert worldly philosophical influences upon the church contrary to the knowledge of the Word of God. 2) Misinterpretation of scripture by ambitious men, 3) The osmosis affect upon the church by the influx of believers coming into the church from the world. See Revelation 3:17. It should also be noted here that Evangelical churches which preach conversion and reach out to the sinner has an influx condition in the local church life that historical churches without this evangelistic influx do not have. Historical church members have long a long line of family history in the established church they attend who in most cases are of middle class or higher. Evangelical churches have to deal with the problems converts bring with them into the church from the world. For this reason, with much wisdom and love in the Holy Spirit we must not allow or tolerate worldliness to come into the church in order to keep the convert. In the end you’ll lose the sinner and render the church spiritually impotent. Teaching and not compromise brings holiness. As in Sardis, you may not have as many, but three walking with Him in white is better than a Laodicean super church full of people who are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked and don’t know it! Revelation 3:17.
Revelation 3:4 Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.
“In most unlikely and adverse places God points out worthy and undefiled souls who shall walk with him in white. If they remained undefiled in Sardis, is it not possible for you to abide so in the place where you live?” “A few names” reminds us of the Lord’s teaching on the narrow way – “and few there be that find it.” In the most wicked heathen environments the Lord has His few, the remnant. So we know that it is not the environment a man is in that determines his holy character, but rather the heart of the man within himself. Only a “few” did not defile their garments; meaning if only a few then they all could have done the same, but didn’t. “Which have not defiled their garments.” This was their own choice and will. They refused to allow their garments to be stained. This is the initiative of the believer. “Who shall walk with me in white.” Only garments kept clean in “Sardis” will be clean still in heaven. These are beautiful words worthy to be set to music. What a glorious prospect praying, holy people have; to walk with the Lord in heaven white! “For they are worthy.” While we have been programmed against self-righteousness, here Jesus commends us for self-righteousness. They could only be called “worthy” if they had assumed and asserted their own righteousness upon the evil all around them. Their righteousness was based upon their faith in the rightness of what Jesus did and taught. For this kind of self-righteousness they are commended.
Revelation 3:17 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:
“Because thou sayest.” Today it’s the word of the neo-fundamental theology against the plain Word of God. The more “say” we have, the less pure Bible holiness doctrine we get. It’s not what “Thou sayest,” but “Thus saith the Lord!” How can a person be “wretched and miserable and poor, and blind, and naked,” and not know it? There is only one answer; they do not have the Holy Spirit, Jude 19. And yet God calls this apostate church to repent and be restored.
THE ERRORS OF THE LAODICEAN MOVEMENT
The Laodicean philosophy is creating a whole new theology based on a combination of Body-Bible imperatives. The new humanistic fundamentalism is a philosophy derived from the fundamental faith. When you think apart from the revelation of the Word, you think wrong and generate wrong doctrine and wrong doctrine produces wrong living and wrong Christians. Thank God for the Book! Biblical divine authority is still with us. “Have you hugged your Bible today?”
TEACHING THAT CONTRIBUTES TO LAODICEANISM
1. The emphasis of personality over character. A religion pre-occupied with who you are or were, and what you can do, with little or no regard for the character qualities, holiness and godliness.
2. That holiness (striving for moral excellence) can be achieved apart from the initiative of the believer.
3. That sanctified at the cross and believing in Christ apart from sanctification (separation) is acceptable to God, or, that moral excellence can be achieved apart from separation, one of the two functions or operations of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer.
There is no way to possess or have a right standing with God or achieve moral excellence apart from separation from the world! James 4:4 addresses adulterers and adulteresses as figurative speech to the masculine and feminine genders as proven by the second phrase of this verse when he says, whosoever (that means universally, no one is exempted from the fact!) therefore will be a friend of this world is the enemy of God.
Separation is where the will of God and the will of the new creature meet, agree and are bonded together in a common effort to apply the principles of obedience to the commandments of Jesus. Hebrews 12:14. Too many modern commentators who write on the subject of holiness are basing their conclusions on their own prayerless and carnal struggles and frustrations, rather than the clear teaching of scripture. There are going to be frustrations and failures, but our personal experiences dare not eclipse the real and actual goals set up for us in scripture. Because you have not achieved what scripture defines as possible through Christ by His Spirit doesn’t mean that the scripture is faulty! but my own failure to appropriate the powers of the cross through prayer and fasting feasting only on His word. If it seems that spiritual laws are not working for me then something is wrong on my end of the relationship! Not on Christ’s end. A dysfunctional spiritual life is the result of my own thinking interfering with the operation of the Spirit that blocks His efforts in me.
What I have not yet achieved does not make the Word of God of none effect. A stymied, frustrated life does not mean it is un-achievable! Humanism pants in failure, “It just can’t be done” and capitulates to liberalism. But true faith keeps brushing itself off after each fall pressing for the mark, looks up to the prize before him, and moves on toward the impossible goal shining brightly in the pages of holy writ! It is not the achieving of the goal that is as important that we are determined to pressing on toward that goal of perfection we have been called to keep on believing God when it seems impossible. That is holy faith! It is much like the commandment of God to seek my face, which is actually forbidden and yet is achieved by those who in the end have battled through life to have the ultimate revelation of “seeing His face.” Revelation 22:4.
4. They refer to holiness as “legalism.” It is hard to believe that Satan uses God’s people to discredit and throw clouds of suspicion and non-credibility over a doctrine as cardinal as sanctification. These apostates apparently have never made a serious study of the doctrine and so do not teach it. Some older men raised in holiness as a child by godly parents in the holiness church have turned against living the holy life of separation from the world making themselves the enemy of truth. They have either been exposed to some inconsistencies of holiness professing Christians or they rebelled against the word of God and in particular the practice of separation. They had never surrendered their hearts, presenting their bodies as a living sacrifice to the Christ who gave up heaven that they might gain heaven and gave His all for their redemption. Whatever the case, these people are without excuse for speaking against the law and commandments of the kingdom.
Recently I was given a book by a very liberal love cult Christian. As he was leaving he dropped the book on my desk as he was saying goodbye, and fled. They cannot defend their heresy of worldliness from the Scriptures and for that reason they do not, will not, calmly debate their doctrine that liberates the flesh nature from Spirit control with a person who is knowledgeable in the word. I read the book and made notes of doctrinal error on every page! The book was a tirade against the holiness teaching by a man raised in a holiness home. He was trying to prove that the separation lifestyle of the holiness people was legalism. It was full of doctrinal error! The author was doctrinally ignorant on most of the empirical doctrines from grace to soteriology.
If you have a true understanding of the doctrine of salvation (soteriology), it is impossible to construct a belief in any liberal error that in these last days become accepted and tolerated in the church and in individual Christian lives by osmosis. Apostate non-doctrinal Christianity has become the popular Christianity worldwide! The truth of pure doctrine is out and a Christianity without pure doctrine has taken over. The modern church thinks this non doctrinal stance puts them in better relationship with the world system. Actually, a church that has become God’s enemy has not only, like Samson of old, lost God and don’t know it, but a church without contrast (biblical separation standards) to the world is contemptible in the eyes of the people they hoped to appease. The world only respects a Christianity that clings to its bible and lives by it alone!
Pepper Thompson says, “A Christianity diluted into a very cheerful and sensible religion, in which God’s act of redemption in Christ has dropped out of notice, is emphatically of Satan. A sensible and optimistic doctrine of ‘progress’, from which all realization of the costly suffering and pain of overcoming evil is eliminated, is a perennial masterpiece of Satan. A conception of Christian discipleship reduced to common sense, in which there is no room for ‘foolishness of the cross’, is a Satanic triumph.” The hope for our society is in the restoration of our sense of moral vision and purpose. This moral vision will not come from any place other than the pulpit. The greatest challenge for the church of Jesus Christ today is to have the courage to stand against the culture – to dare to be different. The church has become a mirror reflection of the American value system, which is consumed with egocentricity and materialism. The church has shaped the Gospel into a “what’s in it for me?” message, which proclaims that when you become a Christian, all your problems will go away, God will heal your hangnails, you will have two cars, your job will prosper, and your life will be wonderful. That message is pure heresy. The church needs to present the Christ of the scriptures and it needs to challenge people to have the courage to live the Gospel and to dare to be different. This may put the church at sharp odds and distinction with our culture, but if we don’t have an alternate to the world’s values, we are just going to become another one of the world’s systems. We should be offering people an alternative. Too many churches, particularly television preachers, have tried to adopt the world’s methodologies and techniques and have created an epidemic of what Bonnhoefer called, “cheap grace.” They promise people that if they turn to God, He’ll bail them out. But no one talks about repentance, surrender, commitment, service, confession, altruism, mortification, separation and holiness. We have undermined the whole rationale of Christ’s biblical call by letting the values of the world take us over. It’s time that we had the courage to stand up and be different. Jeromy Taylor said, “Poverty is better than riches, and a mean fortune to be chosen before a great and splendid one. It is indeed despised, and makes men contemptible; it exposes a man to the insolence of evil persons, and leaves a man defenseless; it is always suspected; its stories are counted lies, and all its counsels follies; it puts a man from all employment; it makes a man’s discourses tedious, and his society troublesome. This is the worst of it; and yet all this, and far worse than this, the apostles suffered for being Christians; and Christianity itself may be esteemed an affliction as well as poverty, if this be all that can be aid against it; for the apostles and the most eminent Christians were really poor, and were used contemptuously; and yet, that poverty … despised may be an argument to commend it, if it be despised by none but persons vicious and ignorant. However, certain it is that a great fortune is a great vanity, and riches is nothing but danger, trouble and temptation; like a garment that is too long and bears a train – Poverty is the sister of a good mind, the parent of sober counsels, and the nurse of all virtue.” How foreign this voice from the church age past sounds to us today. Jeromy Taylor could never make it today (to heaven, yes, but not) on television. Scripture promotes the well-being of the spiritual man and upholds the very principles Jeromy Taylor describes; yet today’s modern TV evangelist promotes the welfare of the physical life and contradicts everything once beloved and accepted in the church in the not-too-distant past! The moral issues of life are God’s essentials: all else, however important, still are incidentals. It’s a bit of the moral topsy-turvy of sin that God’s incidentals become man’s essentials: God’s essentials, man’s incidentals… Modern amoral Christianity has put great emphasis on the incidentals of the flesh life. He has become concerned with luxury, prosperity, wealth, possessions, and made these matters of “gain” essentials. This is covetous humanism! Humanism emphasizes the securities and pleasure of human existence and human life by human means. It find its resources in the world. On the other hand, the spiritual man emphasizes matters of righteousness, sanctification and moral perfection as God’s essentials by divine means. It finds its resources in God.”
Isaiah 42:18 “Hear ye deaf; and look ye blind, that ye may see.” Our choices reveal our moral preferences. Here, Isaiah cries out to the deaf and to the blind, commanding them to hear and see, indicating that they are deaf by choice and blind by their own choosing. He is not so concerned that they are deaf and blind, but that they have chosen to be so and still have the choice not to be so. I Peter 4:3,4; Hebrews 11:25. “Because you say, ‘I am rich and prosperous, and in need of nothing,’ and do not realize that you are wretched and pitiable, poor, and blind and naked.” (Hugh J. Schonfield) Jeremiah 7:8-10.
Revelation 7:14 And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
The throng around God’s throne in heaven will ascribe their purity not to their performances in this life, how well they did, nor to their patience in tribulation, but to the cleansing blood of the Lamb. All Blood righteousness, all our holiness is because of the Lamb.
Revelation 13:3 And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.
Evil is persistent and therefore can only be overcome by the moral persistence of the God empowered saint.
Revelation 18:4 Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins,
An urgent cry to those joined to the harlot (Catholic) church.
Revelation 19:8 To her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.
White stands for purity. Indicates perfection. Speaks of plainness and against being fashionable, ornamental, ostentatious and aesthetic beauty. He gives us a white robe at conversion that we may instantly see any spots of impurity that chance to light upon it. He makes it easy to notice, discern those impurities we can so easily contract in the daily course of life at new birth. He gives us a white conscience, a white book, a white soul, a white tongue, a white outlook with a bright future! To allow the soils of uncleanness is to lapse back into the former state of high tolerance for sin.
Revelation 22:8 And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things.
THE AWESOME PRESENCE OF THE HOLY
As Daniel, Moses, Ezekiel and all those recorded in scripture who experienced the divine encounter, John’s spirit went from him and fell before the angelic messenger. Scripture teaches the dignity of God and a regard for the holy. Careless demanding prayers shouted over the heads of the people, ill manners, irreverence walking around while prayer is being offered and slouchy posture is not becoming to the presence of God. Children running, laughing, eating – it’s all happening in the sanctuary. One church installed a giant TV screen in the fellowship hall because the super-bowl was being played close to church time. Immediately after the main service everyone who chose simply went to the fellowship hall and watched the super-bowl with refreshments provided. Let us, as God’s holy people, “perfect holiness” in our churches and improve where we are lacking, where we have slipped, where our holiness needs perfecting. Our sense of the sanctuary being holy and dedicated only for God’s holy purposes, not regarded produces careless and presumptive attitudes toward all “holy” things until there is nothing really dedicated anymore. Dedication means to be set aside and used for holy purposes only.
Revelation 22:14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.
Christians who have thrown off the admonition to “be holy even as I am holy” and done despite unto grace refusing the gracious demeanor of holiness; are not worthy of the title, “Christian.” Humans with dog-like natures will not be welcome in heaven. When the redeemed are finally gathered into the city of God and the coronation anthems are bouncing off the stars, the “dogs” will be yipping outside to get in. Luke 13:24,25