The Vision of Hope for Laodicea

Daytona Beach sunrise.

Daytona Beach sunrise.

In the late fall of 2006 I bought a brand new car. A few days later, or nights actually, I lay in my bed wide awake. I glanced at the clock as it read 4 AM. Then the idea hit me. If I jump in my brand-new car right now, I can travel across Florida to the east coast in time to watch the sun rise. I had seen several sunsets on the west coast where I live, so wouldn’t it be novel to say I have seen the sun rise on one coast and then watch it set on the other?

Ah the joys of bachelor life! Moments later I was in my car headed down I-4 towards Daytona Beach. For my devotional and prayer time I popped a CD of the book of Revelation in my brand new car’s CD player. It was 2006 and finally I had a car that played CDs. So there I was in the middle of Florida in the middle of the night,  listening to the letters to the seven churches. Finally John got to the letter to Laodicea. Jesus had nothing good at all to say about this last day church. He started out with compliments to all the other churches, and then would gradually work around to a few things they could work on. However when He got to the last day church there were no compliments to be handed out. Jesus quickly got to the crux of His message when He said,

“And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.” Revelation 3:17 NLT

Not exactly a “way to go!” good ole boy pat on the back. Maybe Jesus was not passing out any compliments to this church because it had already become delusional by complimenting itself over nothing?

I remember playing on a soccer team in an intramural league at Southern Adventist University. I loved soccer and this was the first time I got to play in an organized league. For years I had watched professionals put the ball in the back of the net and then heard the crowd go wild with excitement. My dream was to do the same. In my first game, we were down 5-0 and finally that moment came. I put the ball in the back of the net, and I was ready to celebrate! My celebration quickly ended when the team captain reminded me that we were still down 4 goals and I needed to get my head back in the game and stop celebrating!

Could Jesus’ message be just that? Could He be telling us, it’s not time celebrate just yet? We still have more victories to gain, and we need to keep our head in the game? (I understand this is real life and not a game at all!)

Just because we may consider ourselves the remnant church, it in no way means we have arrived or are perfect in any way. Remnant simply means “like the original.” The original church was never perfect. As Seventh-day Adventists we pride ourselves that we are the remnant church coming out of the dark ages of the Roman church. Wait a minute! While the Romans crucified Jesus, they only did it at the insistence and demands of God’s commandment-keeping people! Just because they were God’s people and had the truth did not mean they were perfect or had arrived, and much less should be patting each other on the back like good ole boys!

But I digress. So there I was gliding down the highway in my brand new car listening to Jesus telling His church how wretched they were, when suddenly He surprised me! In Revelation 3:21 NLT just after telling the church how wretched it was, He said,

Those who are victorious will sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat with my Father on his throne.”

There in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere I began to grasp what was going on. Jesus was not kicking this self-righteous wretched group of people to the curb! He totally intends for this self-righteous, miserable, poor blind and spiritually naked people to be victorious just as He was victorious over sin! Jesus is not giving up! There is hope! More than giving us hope, while Jesus is telling us our current condition He is also telling us what He intends for the end result to be. Victory! And not just any victory but the same victory He experienced.

As a man He supplicated the throne of God till His humanity was charged with a heavenly current that should connect humanity with divinity. Through continual communion He received life from God, that He might impart life to the world. His experience is to be ours–Ellen White, Desire of Ages, Page 363 (Emphasis mine.)

While Jesus asked every church to overcome and be victorious, He asks the last day church, the one experiencing the cleansing of the sanctuary and investigative judgment, to do something He asked of no other church, to be victorious just as He was victorious. Jesus knew the church could never accomplish this in its legalistic state, so He tells the church:

I advise you to buy gold from me—gold that has been purified by fire. Then you will be rich. Also buy white garments from me so you will not be shamed by your nakedness, and ointment for your eyes so you will be able to see. Revelation 3:19 NLT

Why is Jesus telling us to buy white garments when salvation is free? Jesus must be talking about the bartering system. If we trade in our filthy self-righteous robes and delusional pride, He will give us in return His white garments. If we stop trying to win over sin in our own power and for our own pride and glory, He will let us overcome in His own power and for His own glory!

There in the car I realized that the same Jesus who told us how miserable we are is also telling us what we can become and will become according to His plan.

I have been studying with a large family here in Florida for several years. When we first began studying together, the youngest was about six, and she had a children’s picture Bible, as she could not read yet. When we would look up verses, of course, all she had was pictures, but we would help her find the right picture and humor her by telling her that was the correct “verse.” Well that was several years ago, and I had pretty much forgotten about those days. That is until a few weeks ago, while we were studying, she volunteered to read a verse, which was nothing new to her now, but as she was reading a particular passage as fluently as anyone, she seemed to bring alive the rich poetic beauty  of the classical King James Version. As she finished reading, my mind flashed back for a moment to the days when she brought her picture Bible to the studies because she could not read. Those days are long gone! So far gone I had almost completely forgotten about them.

Whatever your condition is now it does not always have to be that way. Just as Jesus changed my young friend’s reading experience, Jesus is ready to change your spiritual experience and give you the same victorious experience He has!

There are those who have known the pardoning love of Christ and who really desire to be children of God, yet they realize that their character is imperfect, their life faulty, and they are ready to doubt whether their hearts have been renewed by the Holy Spirit. To such I would say, Do not draw back in despair. We shall often have to bow down and weep at the feet of Jesus because of our shortcomings and mistakes, but we are not to be discouraged. Even if we are overcome by the enemy, we are not cast off, not forsaken and rejected of God. No; Christ is at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Said the beloved John, “These things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” 1 John 2:1. And do not forget the words of Christ, “The Father Himself loveth you.” John 16:27. He desires to restore you to Himself, to see His own purity and holiness reflected in you. And if you will but yield yourself to Him, He that hath begun a good work in you will carry it forward to the day of Jesus Christ. Pray more fervently; believe more fully. As we come to distrust our own power, let us trust the power of our Redeemer, and we shall praise Him who is the health of our countenance.  –Ellen White, Steps to Christ, Page 64.  



The Vision of Hope for Laodicea — 14 Comments

  1. Laodicea says, "I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!" We do say we're rich. In fact, the Adventist church is the richest protestant denomination in the world—it operates the largest number of schools and hospitals. There's something about earthly riches that propels a person into state of complacency and lukewarm-ness. Look at David. He had humble beginnings. But the moment he became a king, he killed an innocent man. A lot of living examples even from our own lives. Jesus nailed it when he said, "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” The only way to counteract this pattern is: as God increases your wealth, increase the time you spend on your knees in front of Him.

  2. William,
    First, I love the thought of just driving to see the sunrise. I also love the reminder that even though Jesus sometimes has harsh words for us, they are never meant to push us away but to remind us of our constant need for Him. Thank you for that.

  3. In Rev 12:17 Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring—those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus.; we see REMNANT under war attack!

    I think that this traditional whine on our riches is not corect interpretation of Bible text.
    I dont see in our church superiority over nothing.
    Mother Teresa also have had great number of hospitals and charity facilities.
    If google her one can be suprised of what number is spoken.

    • Goran, perhaps the reason why we see things that way is because we as a people have a tendency to view scripture from a physical point of view rather than from the spiritual. While I think that there is something to be said about our monetary wealth the real focus seems to be on what we view as spiritual wealth. We feel that WE have the truth and tend to look down on others as having lesser value in the eyes of God because of it. The parable of the two worshipers in Lk 18:9-14 comes to mind on this.

      • I agree, that tendency is real: to despised others.
        But if it is that only, than it is easy to read Luke to the part when say:
        I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.
        That message is clear and I dont think spiritual miserables are rich in any sense, also they can be so low to even think big on themselves.

        The part we forget is that Pharisees was really good gays not just think to be good. They have leading position in Nation. Are we SDAs have that position?
        If we imagining to be better from others I agree that those which are really great need to hear Luke, but there are few of them.
        Mostly we are not so great Spiritual or Material peoples.

        • The evaluation of God's last day church as "rich and increased with goods" comes from Jesus Christ himself. Why would He say that? Could He be talking about us? Who me?!
          We need to know what is going on in the healthcare system to really understand ($5M+. salary in 1 year? $3.5M salary annual - more than CEOs of John Hopkins and Mayo Clinic systems combined?). It also is in the education system on a different premise (if pride quantifies like money). How about a structure where as leaders you have the power to spend other people's money on yourself - any amount you have the power to vote: for travel and transport, for food and hotels, for lavishing on your buddy what he in return can lavish on you? And we thought the Congress of the USA had it great. "Have need of nothing" when we know that the brethren will keep giving and giving and giving to meet our expenses. Notice the top of the system is getting larger and larger; and taking more and more control. Prophets not invited; voices disallowed.
          Buy of me gold? gold? Wow! How about meeting the psychological crave with metaphor? And white clothing? Our Lord is looking for purity of heart - authentic Christianity. Anointed to serve.
          HE still anticipates a victory celebration. Still has a few good "men".

  4. Thanks to everyone for adding thoughtful comments to the discussion. Newton, I really like your application of Jesus' illustration of a rich man trying to enter the kingdom of heaven. It is not only hard for those who are rich in possessions, but also those who see themselves rich spiritually. Wow! I had never thought of that application for Jesus' illustration. Powerful!

    • William, thanks for sharing a wonderful experience of the Holy Spirit's leading, and teaching you. Profound. Indeed the Blessed Hope, as we anticipate HIS victory, in and with us. Wonderful quotes from EGW, calling for continual communion in relationship with Him, fervency in prayer, and trusting more fully. Praise goes to HIM.

      • Ok. I see your point. Powerful argumentation.
        Just thinking, that looks like the Laodicean message is just for SDA bureaucracy ?!
        What about us believers?
        If remember, E.W. directed that message to all of us I think in context of leaving Legalism and receiving Faith in Jesus.
        Is not, if true, that kind of behavior in bureaucracy system clear example of falling in criminal activities like Pyramidal system in spiritual sense?

        • The message to Laodicea is corporate only in how it applies to each individual. Jesus' invitation to "buy of me" is personal, and thus affects the the whole church. No one is truly of the remnant by association only, but only if they are like Jesus in trusting God as fully as their knowledge of Him allows, while they continue to search for a more perfect knowledge of God.

          The positive self-assessment is due to the blindness they are accurately diagnosed with. I'm sure most can recall when they first realized how true this is. Jesus is entreating by revealing the true condition that places every soul in peril who remains in that condition, and Laodicea's victory will bring an end to the reign of sin.

          Yes, we buy. The coin? Repentance. And no one can say they can't afford the required price. Study the prodigal son to understand this. What is repentance? Leaving the pigs behind, going to the Father without excuses and accepting His mercy by receiving His gifts. This means trading our rags for his "best robe"! Who would turn this down?!

          Yes, there is great hope for all who believe and repent.

  5. I prefer to think of it like this.

    Titus 3:3-9

    3 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, and wrong. We were slaves to passions and pleasures of all kinds. We spent our lives in malice and envy; others hated us and we hated them. 4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior was revealed, 5 he saved us. It was not because of any good deeds that we ourselves had done, but because of his own mercy that he saved us, through the Holy Spirit, who gives us new birth and new life by washing us. 6 God poured out the Holy Spirit abundantly on us through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that by his grace we might be put right with God and come into possession of the eternal life we hope for. 8 This is a true saying.

    I want you to give special emphasis to these matters, so that those who believe in God may be concerned with giving their time to doing good deeds, which are good and useful for everyone. 9 But avoid stupid arguments, long lists of ancestors, quarrels, and fights about the Law. They are useless and worthless.

    When Peter looked at what he was doing, he sank. Look to Jesus!

  6. I really like your post on the remnant: It is very well described. For me the SDA Church needs to stop and think twice before they consider themselves as the remant. We really don't think that we are poor we need to buy your gold from Jesus Christ. We are very arrogant because we keep the Sabbath. There is a lot to do to be able to have what we need to please God. I am a Seventh-day Adventist member but I feel that the Church does not do enough to keep the youth in. Please think about the youth and what to do to make them as ease. Thank you very much.

  7. Reproof should be translated as guidance, leading, shepherding. Proverbs 6:23. Revelation 3 was not ment to condemn, but to lead us down a path that follows the will of our Father. Lead on oh King eternal. The congregation and William said, "exactly John".


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