Question No. 5:
Does not Laodicea in her lukewarmness present in a consummate way the dangerous condition which the apostle Paul warns against when he says: “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall”?
Sacred history is repetitious with the tragic lesson that when a people go wrong, as did Israel in Elijah’s and again in Christ’s time, they are no longer sensible of their being wrong. Likewise repetitious is the even more tragic lesson that such a people have always misconstrued God’s efforts to bring them to a realization of their errors. So once they are led astray from the teachings of the prophets, and captivated by new and magnetic human leadership, their liberation and correction become almost impossible. (See Prophets and Kings, pp. 121-126.)
In varying ways, the fatal weakness which has characterized every Movement, from that of Israel to that of Laodicea, has been in “laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works.” Heb. 6:1. And what is still more basic, and more urgently to the point, is that each Movement alike failed to progress from one message to the next, and to go on to reach its final goal of transcendental attainments in divine knowledge. Instead, each fell from the heights of its own early rich experience, back down to spiritual poverty, because it failed to keep pace with the Truth. Each Divinely called Movement came to a standstill where it contentedly satisfied itself that it was yet in the sanctified steps to the Mount of Perfection, that it was “flourishing, and that peace and spiritual prosperity” were “in all [its] borders” (Testimonies, Vol. 5, p. 217), when in reality, quite the opposite was the truth. So follows Laodicea, thinking she is all right when she is all wrong.
Never in the violent history of this sin-deluged world has so great a danger and so great a necessity confronted the church. In this all-enveloping peril, “what does God say in regard to His people? — ‘But this is a people robbed and spoiled; they are all of them snared in holes, and they are hid in prison houses: they are for a prey, and none delivereth; for a spoil, and none saith, Restore.’ (See also Isaiah 43.) These are prophecies that will be fulfilled.”–Testimonies to Ministers, p. 96.
“What greater deception can come upon human minds than a confidence that they are right, when they are all wrong!”–Testimonies, Vol. 3, pp. 252, 253.
Again, it is written in Proverbs 29:18 (margin), “Where there is no vision, the people is made naked.”
Here in more extensive relief is the picture of a people who have indeed lost their “vision” (the supernatural guidance afforded by the living voice of the prophetic gift resident among them), but who realize it not. More amazing still, they have evidently introduced their own inventions (idols) as substitutes for the things of God. This they have done so gradually that they are quite as unaware of it as they are that many have not availed themselves of the volumes of the Spirit of Prophecy–their very “eye-sight.” And where others have had these volumes of vision lying all around them, they have let them go either unread or unheeded and therefore “unappreciated.”– Testimonies, Vol. 5, p. 217. Thus it is in this sense more than in any other that they have become blind–no longer even expecting any further revealed truth to give power and force to their message (Early Writings, p. 277). Yet they still flatter themselves that they are in the inner circle of God’s favor!
“The message of the True Witness finds the people of God in a sad deception, yet honest in that deception. They know not that their condition is deplorable in the sight of God. While those addressed are flattering themselves that they are in an exalted spiritual condition, the message of the True Witness breaks their security by the startling denunciation of their true condition of spiritual blindness, poverty, and wretchedness. The testimony so cutting and severe, cannot be a mistake, for it is the True Witness who speaks, and his testimony must be correct.”–Testimonies, Vol. 3, p. 253.
If the thinking processes of the Laodiceans were not in dire need of a complete spiritual overhauling and re-orientation, they would not “think they are all right when they are all wrong,” think that they are “rich” when in reality they are desperately “poor”–destitute of truth and righteousness!
Accordingly, nothing but a message with “healing in its wings” will heal the Laodicean mind of its spiritual sickness. In this hour of the church’s crisis, “those who have been timid and self-distrustful, will declare themselves openly for Christ and his truth. The most weak and hesitating in the church, will be as David–willing to do and dare.”–Testimonies, Vol. 5, p. 81. Why?–Because they have the promise that “there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness.
“And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord of hosts, that I will cut off the names of the idols out of the land, and they shall no more be remembered: and also I will cause the prophets and the unclean spirit to pass out of the land. ” Zech. 13:1, 2.
“For in that day every man shall cast away his idols…which your own hands have made unto you for a sin…Turn ye unto Him from Whom the children of Israel have deeply revolted.” Isa. 31:7, 6.
“In that day shall the Lord defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the Lord before them.” Zech. 12:8.
The Spirit’s Voice through Isaiah is now also crying aloud: “Awake, awake, put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city: for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean….How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of Him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!” Isa. 52:1, 7.
The same Voice through Nahum also pleads: “Behold upon the mountains the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace! O Judah, keep thy solemn feasts, perform thy vows: for the wicked shall no more pass through thee; he is utterly cut off.” Nah. 1:15.
But in all her history, the church as a whole has never accepted a message from heaven. The call therefore comes to each individual member. Each must decide for himself. No one should allow himself to be influenced by another. And “no one has a right to shut away the light from the people. When a message comes in the name of the Lord to His people, no one may excuse himself from an investigation of its claims….It was from pursuing this very course that the popular churches were left in partial darkness, and that is why the messages of heaven have not reached them.”–Testimonies on Sabbath-School Work, p. 65; Counsels on Sabbath School Work, p. 28.
“But we see that the God of heaven sometimes commissions men to teach that which is regarded as contrary to the established doctrines. Because those who were once the depositaries of truth became unfaithful to their sacred trust, the Lord chose others who would receive the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness, and would advocate truths that were not in accordance with the ideas of the religious leaders. And then these leaders in the blindness of their minds, give full sway to what is supposed to be righteous indignation against the ones who have set aside cherished fables. They act like men who have lost their reason. They do not consider the possibility that they themselves have not rightly understood the Word. They will not open their eyes to discern the fact that they have misinterpreted and misapplied the Scriptures, and have built up false theories, calling them fundamental doctrines of the faith.”–Testimonies to Ministers, pp. 69, 70.
Since the Laodiceans are already in the greatest deception, then for any one of them to decline to investigate a claimant to truth for fear of being deceived in so doing, is to stultify reason. To investigate and to study is one’s only salvation–his only hope of getting out of his present “sad,” “terrible,” “fearful” deception (Testimonies, Vol. 3, pp. 253, 254, 260), and his only hope of protection in keeping him from plunging into the abyss. So he must study as never before! And in so doing he will find that this is the beginning of the very message he must have in order to clear the scales from his eyes and break the invisible, but none-the-less real, shackles of inertia and self-exaltation in which the Enemy holds him bound.