What is wrong with Laodicea and what is the remedy?
Describing her condition in present-day language, Inspiration declares:
“The message to the church of the Laodiceans is a startling denunciation, and is applicable to the people of God at the present time. . . .
“The people of God are represented in the message to the Laodiceans as in a position of carnal security. They are at ease, believing themselves to be in an exalted condition of spiritual attainments. . . .
“What greater deception can come upon human minds than a confidence that they are right, when they are all wrong! 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 them-selves 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, pp. 252, 253.
“I asked the meaning of the shaking I had seen, and was shown that it would be caused by the straight testimony called forth by the counsel of the True Witness to the Laodiceans. This will have its effect upon the heart of the receiver, and will lead him to exalt the standard and pour forth the straight truth. Some will not bear this straight testimony. They will rise up against it, and this is what will cause a shaking among God’s people.
“I saw that the testimony of the True Witness has not been half heeded. The solemn testimony upon which the destiny of the church hangs has been lightly esteemed, if not entirely disregarded.”—Early Writings, p. 270.
“. . . our own course of continual back-sliding has separated us from God. Pride, covetousness, and love of the world have lived in the heart without fear of banishment or condemnation. Grievous and presumptuous sins have dwelt among us. And yet the general opinion is that the church is flourishing, and that peace and spiritual prosperity are in all her borders.
“The church has turned back from following Christ her Leader, and is steadily retreating toward Egypt. Yet few are alarmed or astonished at their want of spiritual power. Doubt and even disbelief of the testimonies of the Spirit of God, is leavening our churches everywhere. Satan would have it thus. Ministers who preach self instead of Christ would have it thus. The testimonies are unread and unappreciated. God has spoken to you. Light has been shining from his word and from the testimonies, and both have been slighted and disregarded. The result is apparent in the lack of purity and devotion and earnest faith among us.”—Testimonies, Vol. 5, p. 217.
That Laodicea is the typical name for the Seventh-day Adventist denomination, every Seventh-day Adventist knows, and yet none care to do anything about it! In-stead, all are satisfied that they have all the truth to carry them clear through!
To prolong their lukewarm condition indefinitely, the Demon power has perfect-ed a thermos-covering composed of an impervious layer of prejudice, self-confidence, and the fear that someone is trying his best to deceive them by word or by literature. Hence most of us, as Seventh-day Adventists, do not discuss or read Bible truths that are advocated by anyone not approved by the angel of Laodicea—the conference prelates. Consequently, such ones cannot be reached with a message from heaven to-day any easier than could the Jews in their day. Nevertheless, the All-knowing One commanded:
“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. 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: 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 mayest see.” Rev. 3:14-18.
So when in Revelation 2:5 the Lord sternly addresses one group of leaders, warning them that unless they repent and do their first works, He will come unto them quickly and remove the candlestick out of their control, He makes that fate entirely conditional on their own response to His cutting rebuke.
But later, to the Laodicean leadership (angel), He makes an even more drastic decree, an unconditional, unequivocal, sharp and final statement, that He will spue them out, thus bringing the Laodicean church government to an abrupt and cataclysmic climax. At this very time, then, the church is to undergo a thorough house-cleaning, a change of administration and organization, even as anciently the Kingdom was “rent from” Saul and given to David (1 Sam. 15:28).
And just as David, the eighth son of Jesse, was not chosen until the succession of his seven brothers had one by one passed in review, so the “house of David” (Zech. 12:8; Testimonies, Vol. 5, p. 81), the church freed from “the tares,” the eighth church in the New Testament succession, was not to come into being until the succession of seven had passed one by one. (See Tract No. 8, Mt. Sion at the Eleventh Hour.)
Clearly, the “angel” and the church here addressed, necessarily represent two par-ties—the ministry and the laity. But the one directly addressed and condemned is the angel, the one in charge of the laity. The True Witness’ “startling denunciation,” therefore, though not exempting the laity, is expressly and particularly for the sake of the ministry. So, especially should they, most of all, take heed and lay well to heart the great ethic that the Master Shepherd will let no sheep go carelessly tended, to fall into the abyss, if He can help it.
But since, as under-shepherds, they have long and grievously been thus derelict, the Lord years ago promised that He would shortly “take charge of the flock Himself.”—Testimonies, Vol. 5, p. 80.
In a forecast of this complete change-over from the Laodicean inertia, the Spirit of Truth solemnly affirms: “God will use ways and means by which it will be seen that He is taking the reins in His own hands. The workers, will be surprised . . .”—Testimonies to Ministers, p. 300.
Again, we read that God will put aside those who are “self-sufficient, independent of God,” and whom “He cannot use,” and will disclose to view those “precious ones now hidden who have not bowed the knee to Baal.”—Testimonies, Vol. 5, pp. 80, 81.
Thus even more accurately does sacred history repeat itself than does profane history. And the terrifyingly irrevocable words of the prophet Samuel to Saul, come ringing down the ages with double finality to the Laodiceans:
“The Lord hath rent the kingdom of Israel from thee this day, and hath given it to a neighbour of thine, that is better than thou. And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for He is not a man, that He should repent.” 1 Sam. 15:28, 29.
The Laodicean lukewarmness—the satisfied notion of being rich and increased with goods, of having the truth, and even of adding to it—is nothing less than pure self-complacency. It is thus that the Laodiceans are “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Rev. 3:17), mistakenly believing that they are rich and increased with goods. But critical as is this deception, it need not be fatal if only they will humble themselves and “buy” the “eyesalve” offered them that they may see their nakedness, then repent, seek forgiveness, and advance in truth. But, alas, their lukewarm (satisfied), not hot or cold (dis-satisfied), state of being makes it as hard for them to acknowledge their condition as it was for the Jews in Christ’s time.” — Answerer Book, No. 1, pp. 29-35