Monday, 24 May 2010

The Church at Laodicea


The apostle John’s prophecy of Jesus’ returning in the Spirit communing in the end-time in the midst of His seven Churches
In the Book of Revelation, chapters 1-3, we read about Jesus' invisible coming in the end-time, in and by the Holy Spirit, in the midst of His seven churches. He then comes to bring his Church, which has strayed and fallen asleep in sin, and typified here in seven different types of churches, unto sincere repentance, unto restoration and actual victory over satan[1] and sin.
We will now look at His Word directed to the last of the seven types of churches of the end-time, namely the church at Laodicea.

In the grip of mammon
Laodicea is a church of the so-called "rich countries", thus also of the Netherlands.
Revelation 3:14-16 "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; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth."
Jesus here presents Himself as the true and faithful Witness of the situation of the church of Laodicea, whereto we also belong.

The wandering state of the Church
1) She is lukewarm, not hot/on fire and reprehensible in the eyes of Jesus: "I shall spue you out of My mouth".
2) Wrongly, she deems herself blessed by God because of her material wealth.
Because of the temptation of being able to gather material riches this Church forgot the next Word of God, which warns us:
Matthew 6:19-25 "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness (itself)! No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for you body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?"

Who or what reigns in your heart?
Proverbs 4:23 "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life."
What are you looking for in this life? If the mammon, the idol of the lust for money, lives in your heart, and your eyes are filled with, and are focused on, wealth; when your heart trusts in money, bank accounts or material possessions, or when it longs for them, then the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ is no longer in your heart, even if you go to church regularly, perform religious acts, and speak and sing of Jesus Christ.
Your conscience has then been scorched by the mammon, and you do not recognise your real spiritual state.
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."
You do not know that spiritually you are "miserable, wretched, poor, and blind, and naked". It is God's grace if the light of the Holy Spirit comes over you, and you then discover, who you really are spiritually, and that that material wealth is not a blessing from God.
Search yourself closely: Who or what reigns on the table of our heart? Is it the Lord Jesus, an idol, or our own "I"? Which lusts reign in your heart? Is it money? Material wealth? Is it sex, or power, or the greatness of this worldly life? These then are as many idols, and we have left our first love. If we really seek eternal life, which Jesus Christ offers us, then we are to make a definite choice in this life; namely we must be willing to love Him above all, even above our own life; and we must be willing to follow Him on His road, the way of the cross, to God, our Father.
Luke 14:25-27 "And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them, If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple."
We must love the Lord Jesus Christ above all, He must fill our heart and life; and no earthly desires, no matter how beautiful, which become idols in our heart and life.

What more does the sinner have to do?
The Lord Jesus comes unto the Laodiceans with the following advice:
Revelation 3:18-19 "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 may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent."
1) We are to buy this new life of God, and pay for it with our old, sinful life, which must be burned to ashes by the fire of the Holy Spirit.
Matthew 3:11-12 "I indeed baptise you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptise you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire."
We read here of the advice, John the Baptist gives us, to open our being for the baptism in the Holy Spirit and fire, that the threshing floor of our heart be purified of sins, and He give us, in its place, the divine life, His heavenly divine riches.
In Revelation 3:18 we read, that He does not only want to give this divine wealth, this heavenly gold, but also the while clothes of His holiness, a divine and holy life here on earth in and by His power.
2) We must also search diligently for this new life (Revelation 3:19),
3) and repent sincerely thereto of all sin, and flee the sinful circumstances.
4) We also must open the door of our heart for Him, of He knocks at its door to enter.
Revelation 3:20 "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."
We see that Jesus stands outside the Church of Laodicea, and that we are to let Him in personally, because we have a free will, which He will not torpedo.
Once we have let Him into our heart and life, He will have supper with us; this means: He will share with us His death and resurrection, His victory over sin and satan. Then we, too, shall be conquerors through Him over sin and satan, already here in our earthly life.
Revelation 12:11 "And they (the victors) overcame him (satan and power of sin) by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony (whereby also others will share this victory); and they loved not their (earthly, sinful) lives unto the death (until it is completely dead, already here on earth; so that they may live without spot or wrinkle, faultless; see Ephesians 5:27, already here on earth).”

The victors' reward
Revelation 3:21-22 "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. e that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches."
He then shall share with these His lordship/dominion in His Millennium, and crown us with authority. He will also clothe these, outwardly and inwardly, with divine glory.

Let us keep in mind this hope of glory.

By E. van den Worm

[1] We write the word satan not with a capital, as it is not a name, but a word meaning opponent or adversary, accuser.

Monday, 10 May 2010

LUKE (Chapter 7) - The Lord Jesus Christ, our resurrection power in every way


In case of illness
In the light of the Israeli Tabernacle we, in this chapter, have arrived at the brass laver and the door to the Holy Place; objects, which respectively tell us of the actual dying (off) of the old man, and the resurrection in the NEW LIFE, which becomes ours through and in the Lord Jesus Christ, by the baptism in water and in the Holy Spirit; and by the growing together in the Spirit with the Lord Jesus Christ, in His death as well as in His resurrection (Romans 6:3-12).

Luke 7 verse 1-10: "Now when he had ended all his sayings in the audience of the people, he entered into Capernaum. And a certain centurion's servant, who was dear unto him, was sick, and ready to die. And when he heard of Jesus, he sent unto him the elders of the Jews, beseeching him that he would come and heal his servant. And when they came to Jesus, they besought him instantly, saying, That he was worthy for whom he should do this: For he loveth our nation, and he hath built us a synagogue. Then Jesus went with them. And when he was now not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to him, saying unto him, Lord, trouble not thyself: for I am not worthy that thou shouldest enter under my roof: Wherefore neither hought I myself worthy to come unto thee: but say in a word, and my servant shall be healed. For I also am a man set under authority, having under me soldiers, and I say unto one, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turned him about, and aid unto the people that followed him, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. And they that were sent, returning to the house, found the servant whole that had been sick."

Here we see a case of resurrection from a sickbed of someone who was sick unto death, by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. It was a Roman centurion's faith. Today, one might translate this rank with "captain". This image, the faith of a pagan centurion, is like a prophecy (prediction) of the entering in of paganism into the Kingdom of God. He believed in the Lord Jesus Christ as being the One, sent by the Father with powers (of attorney) in the Spirit of God. This faith became obvious by the words he spoke. He said... that he, too, had a commander over him, and soldiers under him. He would receive an order, and would execute it by giving his subordinates the necessary commands.
He compares this situation with the ministry of Jesus. The Father in heaven sent His Son, and the Son defeated the enemy, the power of darkness, by His Spirit-filled Word. The Spirit of God executed Jesus’ orders for healing, which were in the Name of the Father unto wonders and signs and unto fulfillment of the whole Word of God. Jesus would also banish the darkness and the power of sickness from the life of this centurion's servant, who was very dear and valuable to him.
By God's grace this centurion had this faith, and Jesus marveled. Jesus had not found such wonderful faith, not even in Israel, God's people. He found this faith in a heathen! Glory to God!
We receive faith by grace, it is a gift from above. By this given faith the centurion saw in Jesus the Messiah, the One sent by the Father; and he saw that the omnipotence of the Spirit was available to Him. Therefore he said, in different words: "Lord, just speak, say a word, for the Spirit of God will do it!" Now this is what it is all about: We should not believe because we see wonders and signs, but we must believe in the Word of God! This must be the foundation upon which our faith rests. We should act in faith because God said so!
The Word declares to us, among others: "Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved!" (Joel 2:32; Acts 2:21; Romans 10:13). Anyone, who comes wholeheartedly to Jesus and calls on Him for help in his need, and asks Him to come into his "house", will receive spiritual health and ETERNAL LIFE; he will receive resurrection power. Therefore call on Him in the day of trouble, and He will deliver you from that situation of power (Psalm 50:15).
In case of miserable circumstances.

Luke 7 verse 11-17: "And it came to pass the day after, that he went into a city called Nain; and many of his disciples went with him, and much people. Now when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow: and much people of the city was with her. And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not. And he came and touched the bier: and they that bare him stood still. And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise. And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother. And there came a fear on all (here: a wave of awe went through all of them): and they glorified God, saying, That a great prophet is risen up among us; and, That God hath visited his people. And this rumour of him went forth throughout all Judea, and throughout all the region round about."
The death of her only son, who was also the breadwinner, caused the widow of Nain to be plunged in miserable circumstances. In that time there were no social laws in Israel, like we now know in our country, whereby such people are taken care of financially. The Lord saw her sorrow and cares, and was moved with inner compassion for her. The resurrection power of the Son of man, which soon was to be confirmed by His death and resurrection, caused a complete turnabout in the circumstances she was in. He walked up to the bearers of the bier, on which the dead man lay, and touched it. Majesty and authority went out of the Prince of Life. Moved by awe for the Man, Who performed so many miracles, the bearers put down the bier. And He said: "Young man, I tell you, get up!" He had restored her son to the old mother, and had banished all darkness from her dejected mind and life! To God be all glory!
Moved by His great compassion for sin-sick humanity, whereby it might be in such stormy and dark circumstances, the merciful God throws us His "life jacket" in His Word! "Cast all your cares upon Him, for He careth for you" (1 Peter 5:7). "Be careful for nothing, but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God" (Philippians 4:6). ”Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be move." (Psalm 55:22). We must learn to give Him access to all our troubles, in everything that burdens us down, and He will do all these things! Praise be to God! He not only gives us NEW LIFE, but, as we have seen, also healing and deliverance from all deep pits of life.
He saves His servants from all doubts the evil one prompts.

Luke 7 verse 18-30: "And the disciples of John shewed him of all these things. And John calling unto him two of his disciples sent them to Jesus, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another? When the men were come unto him, they said, John Baptist hath sent us unto thee, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another? And in that same hour he cured many of their infirmities and plagues, and of evil spirits; and unto many that were blind he gave sight. Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me. And when the messengers of John were departed, he began to speak unto the people concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness for to see? A reed shaken with the wind? But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, they which are gorgeously apparelled, and live delicately, are in kings' courts. But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and much more than a prophet. This is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger (i.e. John) before thy (Jesus') face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he. And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John. But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him."
Here the evil one caused a wonderful servant of God to doubt and to come into great difficulties: he was captured by Herod and was to spend the rest of his days in the dungeon, in the midst of enemies. Some faithful disciples, however, came to visit him... The great prophet of God was caused to doubt because of these circumstances... Because of the bitter circumstances his wonderful focus on Jesus was obscured. See how powerful the evil one can work, even in the life of such a servant of God. Therefore, beloved, if doubts arise in your heart, by whatever causes, act as John did: because of his imprisonment, he sent others to Jesus. In fact, he went to Jesus with his doubts. We too should confess the doubts, with which the evil one holds us in bondage, to Jesus; that He clear our faith outlook, and keep it fastened on Him again. And He wishes nothing else, but to clear and strengthen our faith outlook, that therefore we might (again) share Him, His resurrection power and glory.
Jesus did this to John in this way, who heard the testimony concerning Jesus from his disciples; namely he heard of His redeeming and saving power, of His proclamation of the gospel to the poor in spirit, and the message that the Kingdom of God had come near.
When John's disciples were on their way back to him, Jesus did not rebuke John for his doubts, but He even confirmed the divine calling of John as a prophet of God. He certainly was no reed shaken to and fro by the wind of oppression; neither was he a bad servant looking for his own profit, clothing himself in rich garments; but he was a great prophet; the angel God sent before (or ahead of) His Messiah. Yes, of all those born of women, no one was a greater prophet than John the Baptist.
In the Kingdom of God, when it is revealed, all doubts will vanish. There even the least (the lowliest) will have a ministry, more wonderful than the one John had. What a wonderful future awaits all of God's children!
But the Lord did not only refer to the ministries in eternity, but also to the ministries of the Kingdom of God, which are hidden in the hearts of the New Testament believers. After all, if the wonderful ministries in the Old Testament were led and prompted by an outward anointing, so the ministries of the New Testament were led and prompted by a God, Who dwells IN His children. Jesus' words: "He that is least in the Kingdom of God is greater than he (i.e. John)" count as a prophecy of a future servanthood to God which was still hidden then.
He is only the Lord of Resurrection for all sincere believers.

Luke 7 verse 31-35: "And the Lord said, Whereunto then shall I liken the men of this generation? and to what are they like? They are like unto children sitting in the marketplace, and calling one to another, and saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned to you, and ye have not wept. For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine; and ye say, He hath a devil. The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners! But wisdom is justified of all her children (who accept this wisdom)."
The generation of Jews Jesus lived amongst, He compared with "children sitting in the marketplace..." In the marketplace one buys and sells, one seeks one's own profit... It is the spirit which also dwells in the worldly man: "every person for himself... and God for us all!" Seeking for the greatest possible profit; becoming as rich as possible! "Marketplace believers" therefore are believers who remain worldly and carnal. They, in fact, are believers whose faith is death, because God will not have anything to do with them as long as they are not willing to leave the world (behind).
Such believers remain "sitting in the marketplace"; remain in the world, and they will build their house of faith and religion in that world, which is fruitless and sinful. They are full of criticism of each other: "We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned to you, and ye have not wept..."; but they are blind towards their own lost cause: namely their remaining seated in the marketplace of this world... Such believers have no part in the Kingdom of God, in God's works of grace; therefore they also rejected God's prophet, John the Baptist – the forerunner of the Messiah – and called him a devil; therefore they also rejected the Son of man, and called Him "a gluttonous man, a winebibber, a friend of publicans and criminals..." This last one, in their haughty and self-deceiving eyes, was disgraceful!
But God, Who Himself is supreme Wisdom, in His actions of mercy has been justified by His real children; for the existence of redeemed sinners who have been brought into God's salvation, testify of God's supreme wisdom which He displayed in the execution of His plan of salvation.

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By E. van den Worm