Robert E. Surgenor
There is an uneasiness in the audience as the reader of our Lords letter is being read. They are shocked at the blunt words from the mouth of the true and faithful Witness. There is no mincing of words. There is no watering down of the facts. The Lord is true and faithful. The churchs condition was one of worldliness, self-satisfaction, and luke-warmness. They were void of emotion, enthusiasm, urgency, and compassion. Their houses meant more to them than the hearts of the lost. Their purse meant more than prayers. They had finery, but no fervency; goods but little grace; treasures downtown, but none in the glory; their desires were materialistic, but their description was "destitute!"
This church receives no commendation from Christ. They spoke well of themselves, but He has nothing good to say about them. There is no false doctrine, no Synagogue of Satan persecuting, no enemies, no opposition - this assembly offends nobody but Christ! Thirty years before, these words of warning were read to them - "Since ye then were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God" (Col. 3:1 R.V.). The next generation heeded them not. Can we not see a pattern? Thirty years ago the saints had far less in material possessions than today. Was there more of the fear of God? Was there more weeping over self-failure? Was there less bragging about "our assembly"? Was there more compassion for the lost? Was there more modesty in the dress? Were there more souls being saved? Were there less false professions? Were the evangelists less "programed" than today? Were the gospel series longer because of God working? I am only asking questions. You that are older can provide the answers.
Looking at the churches in a prophetic light, we all seem to apply Philadelphia to our assemblies. Let us be rational, let us be unconditionally honest, can you not see Laodicea as a picture of ourselves? If this is the last church, it portrays the last days. Are we not in the last days? Answer me this, is your assembly being persecuted by surrounding Jews and Gentiles? Is your assembly plagued with false doctrine? Do you speak of your materialistic possessions more than conversing about Christ? Are your closets well stocked with clothing? Is your bank account growing? Now these are simple, straightforward questions, but as you answer them, do they correspond to what you find at Laodicea? You see brethren, you cannot correct a condition unless you become aware of it. That is why our Lord is shocking them into a state of awareness and now that they are aware of their sad state, He moves on to become their investment consultant.
The Advice and Appeal of Christ
"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 thy eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent" (Rev. 3:18-19).
Laodicea, the city of extensive money transactions, the city of gold refining, seemingly has affected the assembly. How important to keep ourselves separated from the world around us, lest we become like them that go down to the pit. The church of the Laodiceans had failed in maintaining a path of separation, thus the spirit that prevailed in the city was prevalent in the assembly. Since they were so interested in gold, their investment Consultant now counsels them to buy of Him gold tried in the fire. No gold from the interior of Asia Minor, no matter how carefully refined in the fire, could compare with the quality of the untarnished gold that their Consultant was now offering. Gold is mentioned in Scripture 417 times and always indicates wealth. Some have considered our Lord to be referring to the perfect purity of Gods righteousness, while others indicate that it refers to salvation. However the context would convey to us that the Lord is offering His people gold now that will make them wealthier in eternity and that to obtain this gold it must be bought. In other words, our sacrifices for the Lord now will reap for us a treasure in the future. Obeying the will of God in our lives is costly. "Buy of Me" by dressing modestly. "Buy of Me" by severing worldly associations. "Buy of Me" by being a cheerful giver. "Buy of Me" by diligently studying the Word and implicitly bowing to its demands. Sister, are you willing to buy, willing to bow? Then lengthen your dress if short, remove your jewelry if thus adorned and refuse to trim from your head the glory that God is constantly giving you. This will cost you your vanity, but you will be buying gold tried in the fire which shall endure to your everlasting wealth in heaven.
My associations, what are they? Can I be found in the sports world associating with the ungodly? Have I unequally yoked myself with an unbeliever in a business venture? Is my name associated with a lodge? Do I find myself on occasions, sitting with the ungodly in a theater? If so, do immediately sever such yokes and thus buy of Christ, gold tried in the fire.
My free time, how is it used? Do we esteem the words of His mouth more than our necessary food? If so, we shall be at our Bibles for greater lengths of time, than at the food counter. A careless reader of the Scriptures will never make a close walker with God. The reading and meditation of Holy Scriptures is absolutely vital to ones spiritual well being. Meditation takes the veil off of the truth. A careful reading of the 119th Psalm will make the reader aware of the importance of the knowledge of the Word of God. We desire to be spoon fed, but it is also vital that we feed ourselves. Our barrenness is very apparent. Someone asked the late George Gould Sr., "Brother Gould, what do you think of that brother?" The old man wisely answered, "Let me hear him pray first." In most cases, the way a man prays betrays his spiritual condition. Summing it up, are we willing to buy of Him gold that we may be rich for the future? Remember, it is costly. It can cost us our vanity, our pride, our associations, our money, a possible advancement in business, and our time.
Priding themselves in their unique violet-black wool and fine garments, greatly sought after, the Lord offers them white raiment to cover the shame of their nakedness. They were totally void of the graces of Christ and totally unaware of it to their shame. He counsels them, give place to the Holy Spirit and let Him work within them and produce in their lives virtues that manifest His moral characteristics - to cover their shameful nakedness and adorn themselves with practical righteousness. When God clothed Adam, He did so with animal skin. When God clothed Israels priest, He did so with a white robe. When God clothed kings, He did so with scarlet ermine. When God clothes saints, He does so with a garment of salvation and a robe of righteousness (Isa. 61:10).
To cure their blindness, the Lord offers far more effective eyesalve than Laodicea produced at their medical university. This eyesalve would open their eyes to see spiritual truths. One is reminded of the words of John, "But ye have an unction (anointing) from the Holy One, and ye know all things" (1 John 2:20). This does not convey that we are "know it alls." The knowledge indicated is an intuitive knowledge. It is the thought of the full knowledge of the truth through study, combined with a quick and ready insight and the ability to detect and refuse error. What valuable eyesalve is being offered to this blind assembly. Application of the heavenly eyesalve would give them spiritual perception and intelligence. Do we see? What fills our vision? The natural mans vision is entirely upon earthly things. He is in total darkness regarding spiritual things. Consider Pauls letter to the Corinthians. "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man" (1 Cor. 2:14-15). To the spiritual man the heavenly eyesalve has been applied. He discerns all spiritual things, yet he himself is discerned by no man. That is, the natural man (unconverted) cannot understand the spiritual man, he is a mystery to him, just as he was to Festus, causing the procurator of Judea to exclaim that Paul was insane (Acts 26). Spiritual anointing produces spiritual insight. Spiritual insight produces a spiritual walk. A spiritual walk produces a life of sacrifice to God and this type of life produces reproach from the ungodly. Christ challenges them, are they ready to accept His offer, are they ready to buy? What is the quality of their love to Him? Next month, D.V. we shall see His love in action towards them. As we view the saints we consider ourselves. Are we really much different than they?