The Closing State of the Church: Laodicea

Revelation 3:14‑22  •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 7
The closing state of things comes next -church, as to its place in the world, it yet is. It stands with its angel before Christ to be judged as such. He takes its works into consideration as such. But it has settled down into taking things quietly. It has not a name of excellence compared with Jezebel, but death. The living elements have been concentrated in the Philadelphia state. It would not renounce Christ, but would keep up profession, would sacrifice nothing for Him, it would keep the church's place and credit, yea, claim it largely on many grounds as a body; but spiritual power, in individual association of heart with Christ or trouble for Him, was gone. Christ abhorred such a state. It was as lukewarm water, which would be spued out of His mouth. Such was the judgment unconditionally pronounced on the church of Laodicea. But as ever, till actual judgment comes, God continues to work, if any man may have ears to hear. So in Jeremiah; the plainest declaration that they would go to Babylon; yet continual calls to repentance, and a statement of God's ways in this respect on repentance.
In Laodicea, all that they professed to hear, all that man could estimate the value of, was false and human. I do not mean mere outward riches, but all that could give a large pretension to wisdom and knowledge and learning, perhaps a fuller view of Christianity itself; self-satisfaction in what was possessed; this characterized the professing church in Laodicea, but utter poverty as to Christ, nothing of Him, A name to attach to learning and human thoughts, but of Him nothing. Hence His counsel was to buy of Him gold tried in the fire, true divine righteousness in Him never separated from life, for it is His nature; and white raiment, the power of this association with Christ in what is displayed in man, living righteousness; and to have that true intelligence of the Holy Ghost which makes us see, the unction of the Holy One. In a word, the divine gifts and power of Christianity in contrast with what man possesses as man, with that of which he can say "gain to me"-man's conscious possession of that which gives importance and value to man in his own mind. The relationships of Christ to the profess-ink church here are remarkable. The Christian is a new man, a new creation in Christ, risen into a wholly new place, on the utter rejection and proved insuperable evil of the first man-proved insuperable in the death of Christ. Man's business and Satan's business are to exalt and give place to thy old.
It is not here in the world, not at any rate in his own eyes. The professing church goes decidedly back here into that out of which we are taken in Christ by faith. Hence, though this has still the name of the church, and professes to be Christian, it is really wholly in its own claimed moral place, though thinking itself wiser than ever, off the ground of Christianity, and on that of the world or natural man, which consequently comes on the scene in its own place; and the church closes. What was wholly wanting was what was divine and new in man. It was the first man enriched, even if Christ enriched him. That would be admitted. There was no divine righteousness; no specific Christian clothing-the righteous life, according to Christ, of a new nature to be had only in Him. The teaching of the Holy Ghost was wanting. Man's intelligence was wonderfully and wholly in place. The things counseled to be got make this character of the evil clear; they are specifically divine things connected with man's rejection, and acceptance in Christ alone, to be had only in Christ, and from Christ, and nowhere else not an improvement of man, but what was divine found in, and obtained from, Him.
To this, and the fact of its being the closing state, all answers. Christ reveals Himself as the "Amen" who secures, every promise of God, now man has failed, even in the church. He is the faithful and true Witness in Himself. The witness of the church, as a witness of Him, is gone. He is the beginning of that new creation, of which indeed the church ought to have been a witness in the Holy Ghost; but of which He in resurrection was the Head, the spring and manifestation; all taking, in the new creation, its starting-point of existence from Him, its place under Him. Adam had such a place in the old, the image of Him that was to come; Christ, in the new, of which the saints are the firstfruits. But here, the church, which in profession as founded on His resurrection had this character, having wholly failed and gone back in professed riches of human nature to the old, Christ comes forward as the beginning of it all, the One in whom it had its rise and its truth; all the rest being wholly dependent on, and flowing from, Him. The Amen maintains the promises now to he fulfilled-the faithful and true Witness. One who had, and now would make fully good, the character of God, which man, His image, and the church, too, had failed to do. The beginning of the creation of God, one who, when God made all things new, as He was now about to do, was the archee, the fons and the principium of it all, the first in, and the first from, whom it all flowed.
The position He takes in respect of the church, shows the same relationship to it. He was practically outside it, looking at it as gone, though it were not yet spued out of His mouth. It is a question, though He warned it yet, of individuals hearing His voice that they may escape-may have fellowship, and He with them. He has not given it up; but it has become wholly human in its real state, as judged by Him; so that He has to come in to the individual if he was anything to Him, or Christ to him: " I will come into him, and will sup with him, and he with me."
The whole body of members of the professing church were judged to be men- now, not sons of God or Christians, though judgment was not publicly executed, but Christ still acting in grace; divine things (the only true ones) recommended, human things boasted in. If the individual heard Him who still called and knocked, though as outside at the door, He would have communion with him. The promises answer to the bringing in of the new order of things, not heavenly joys, still a share with Christ. As they listened in time, they would be on the throne in the kingdom. It was immense grace, but no more is promised; not the tree of life, no hidden manna, no white raiment spoken of to the soul, to encourage it in faithfulness within; they would not miss the kingdom. Blessed, surely, and wonderful grace, but only just not shut out.
This, of course, closed the church's history. The reader will remark that the instruction being moral, a state that is judged, promises ever precious, the warnings and exhortations are available to the saints at all times. The special application may be more or less seized. The words of Christ have power at all times for the heart and conscience; and this is the force of the exhortation at the end to every church; " He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches."