Laodicea, Part 2
Dec 31, 2015
In Revelation 3:17, 18 Christ advises the church of Laodicea,
17 Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind, and naked, 18 I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire, that you may become rich, and white garments, that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and eyesalve to anoint your eyes, that you may see.
The first thing to note is that the church was blind to its true condition. It believed itself to be rich, because it measured riches in monetary terms, not seeing things through God’s eyes and with His perspective. Secondly, the church was naked—again, without realizing it. In short, this church was in captivity to Babylon and had adopted the Babylonian world view, while thinking it was seeing things as God saw them.
The worst feature of spiritual blindness is that the one who is blind does not know it. Because he sees with his physical eyes and can imagine things with his soulish eyes, he believes that he can see spiritually as well. Perhaps the foremost problem is that he cannot distinguish between his spirit and his soul, nor between faith and positive thinking.
Israel of old was also blind. Even after Israel had been tested in the wilderness under Moses for forty years, the prophet told them in Deuteronomy 29:4, 5,
4 Yet to this day the Lord has not given you a heart to know, nor eyes to see, nor ears to hear. 5 And I have led you forty years in the wilderness…
During the first year of Israel’s wilderness journey, Moses had to put a veil over his face, because the people were not prepared to see the glory of God—that is, to know Truth fully. Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 3:14, 15 that this veil did not blind Moses’ eyes, but rather that it blinded the people from seeing the glory of God in Moses’ face. He tells us that the veil is the result of the Old Covenant, which blinds the people and hides the truth from them.
It appears that the same veil had come upon the eyes of the Laodicea church as it began to forsake the New Covenant and to adopt the carnal rituals and perspective of the Old Covenant. Yet because their practices were religious in nature, they did not know that they were spiritually blind. They could not tell the difference between spiritual things and religious views and activities.
Of course, God took credit for bringing about this condition. Isaiah 29:9, 10 says,
9 Be delayed and wait. Blind yourselves and be blind. They become drunk, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong drink. 10 For the Lord has poured over you a spirit of deep sleep; He has shut your eyes, the prophets; and He has covered your heads, the seers.
In other words, God commanded the people to blind themselves, and they did so. God thus poured over them a spirit of deep sleep, shutting their eyes and covering their heads. This seems to be inherent in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit—that is, in Pentecost.
The Pentecostal Movement
In the final years of the Philadelphia church, the Holy Spirit was poured out from 1900-1914, giving rise to the modern Pentecostal movement. It was the church’s final opportunity to repent and thereby avoid the captivity that was soon to come. A few did, but their numbers were insufficient to prevent the captivity of the Laodicea church which began in 1914.
Here is where it again is important to understand how King Saul was a Pentecostal type of the church, having been crowned on the day of “wheat harvest,” later known as Pentecost (1 Samuel 12:17). The main problem with Saul was that the people wanted a man to rule over them, rather than being ruled directly by God (Christ). Hence, the main problem of Pentecost was the spirit of denominationalism, where men rule the people through religion, rather than being ruled by Christ and being led by the Spirit.
In the early 1900’s the Pentecostal movement was almost fully denominationalized between 1909 and 1912. They followed the pattern of the Israelites who had demanded a king, and as a result the captivity was ensured. With this came “a spirit of deep sleep,” as Isaiah tells us, and Old Covenant way of thinking settled into the movement. In their desire for holiness, they became legalistic, establishing standards about outward things that were not mandated in the divine law but were rather just the traditions of men.
They also began to support Jewish Zionism’s claim to the “Holy Land,” and their terrorist methods of gaining control. They began to believe that it was in God’s will to support the genocide and expulsion of the existing Palestinian peoples as if they were Canaanites being destroyed by Joshua under the Old Covenant. They began to interpret Scripture by Old Covenant thinking, focusing upon externals, rather than upon matters of the heart.
One of the main keys to such blindness was their belief that one’s genealogical descent from Abraham made a person “chosen,” regardless of his lack of faith in Christ. In so doing, they overthrew a great portion of Paul’s teaching, particular Galatians and the book of Hebrews. The result was that the Laodicea church gave its inheritance to Jews who yet hated Jesus Christ. Putting it another way, the Laodicea church became enslaved to Mystery Babylon. Paul’s warning not to allow “false brethren” to “bring us into bondage” to the Old Covenant (Galatians 2:4) went unheeded.
Even as the Hezekiah church prepared the way for the Captivity church under the Old Covenant, so also the Philadelphia church prepared the way for the Laodicea church to go into captivity.
In God’s mercy, He blinded the eyes of the church so that they would not realize what they were doing. Blindness lessened their accountability. Sleep seemed to shorten their days in captivity. They could enjoy the blessings of the Holy Spirit, healings, and miracles without being encumbered by truth.
During this captivity to Mystery Babylon, the church has thought of itself as being rich. There is little doubt that Babylon brought apparent prosperity to the West, though most of it was at the expense of third-world countries. Most people were unaware that the Federal Reserve Act had given the power to create money to twelve powerful banking families. These were happy to loan huge sums of money to governments, who issued bonds (debt notes) in exchange. With all this newly-created money at their disposal, they had the appearance of wealth and tried to forget that every new dollar was actually a debt note.
The church prospered and said, “I am rich and have become wealthy.” In the 1950’s the age of mega-churches was born, and men marveled at these new Charismatic Cathedrals that were even greater than the Roman Catholic cathedrals of past centuries.
Along with this rise in wealth came the power of positive thinking, whose roots lay in the writings of Charles Filmore during the early days of the Pentecostal movement. Filmore pretended to be a Christian, and even used biblical terms, but he redefined them according to his Metaphysical Dictionary, which he entitled, The Revealing Word. Sin was redefined as ignorance. The cross was redefined as “that state of consciousness termed ‘mortal mind’.” Faith became positive thinking. God became impersonal. Our relationship to God was bound up in our ability to derive wealth by thinking positively and by the power of sowing and reaping.
Both the Pentecostal and the Metaphysical movements were birthed at the same time in the early 1900’s. Norman Vincent Peale popularized the Metaphysical movement in his book, The Power of Positive Thinking, and others brought this into the church with minor adjustments. The result is that the church of Laodicea no longer has the ability to discern between the soulish and the spiritual. The law of sowing and reaping is used often to defraud the people, as preachers tell them to “sow” into their own ministries. Ministries become wealthy; most of the people remain poor.
God advises the church “to buy from Me gold refined by fire, that you may become rich” (Revelation 3:18). He was referring to 1 Peter 1:6, 7, which says,
6 In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, 7 that the proof your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Faith is compared to physical gold (or wealth in general). Even as gold is refined by fire, so also is our faith refined “by various trials.” Hence, Christ was telling the Laodicea church that they ought to seek genuine faith that is proven and tested by experience. Since “faith comes by hearing the word” (Romans 10:17), it is clear that refined faith comes by putting it to the test—that is, by applying the revelation of the word experientially.
This is why Revelation 3:19 says,
19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; be zealous therefore, and repent.
God’s discipline is the “fire” that tests our faith and refines it to the point where it works. Many have faith, but it does not yet really work for them. What is lacking is the refinement process.
It is not enough to learn the word or even to hear God’s voice. The word must bring about an active response in order for it to be refined and usable. The foundational difference between Metaphysical Christianity and True Christianity is this: Metaphysical Christians decide for themselves what they want, or what is good for them, and then they use positive thinking to fulfill their goals. True faith hears God’s voice, determines His will, and then seeks to put that into experience. False Christianity begins with man’s will; true Christianity begins by seeking God’s will.
It is surprisingly difficult for even Christians to understand the difference. Gold (or money itself) is not the difference. The difference is whose will is being done. Let us buy true gold and not the world’s Fool’s Gold.
This is part 34 of a series titled "Studies in the Book of Revelation." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones