4.3.1 TO THE CHURCH AT SARDIS
Sardis, Anderson says, means “that which remains”, or “the escaped of the remnant” (UTR; pg33). During the dark ages there were but few who followed the Truth, and those who did had to remain far in the background for fear of their Catholic persecutors; thus the reason for the Lord’s statement that, “I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead” (REV 3:1).
There were a few reputable names before the reformation like the Waldenses; but as told by Ellen G. White in her book, The Triumph of God’s Love, it was John Wycliffe who was to become the herald of the Reformation movement:
Wycliffe was a keen detector of error, and he struck fearlessly against many of the abuses sanctioned by the authority of Rome. While acting as chaplain for the king, he took a bold stand against the payment of tribute claimed by the Pope from the English monarch and showed that the papal assumption of authority over secular rulers was contrary to both reason and revelation. (TGL, pg 59 [31-82])
Although Wycliffe is best remembered by his being the first translator of the Scriptures from the Vulgate (or any other translation) to English (CBS, pg 180), as can be seen in the printed literature published by the organization bearing his name, the act of translation itself, though voluminous, was not as great a feat as was the stand he took against the Catholic Church’s policy not to allow such a work to be made available to the people in common. He, in answer to the apostate’s accusation that commoners should not be given the scriptures in their own tongue, wrote, “Christ and His apostles taught the people in the tongue that was best known to them. Why should men not do so now?” (WBT)
By establishing an example of how to effectively move against the political power of Rome, Wycliffe became the first of many reformers to labor “diligently to point men from the contending Popes to Jesus, the Prince of Peace. The schism, with all the strife and corruption which cause prepared the way for the Reformation by enabling the people to see what the papacy really was” (TGL, pg 63 [86-87]).
It is quite evident that what was being said to the church of the Sardian age was to “Wake up!” Reformers like Wycliffe, Luther, the Wesley Brothers, and many others were at this time feeling an urge to, “Remember, therefore, what you have received (scriptures) and heard (from Jesus); obey it, and repent” (REV 3:2-3).
As mentioned before, there were some people who had quietly rejected the universal Catholic Church before this massive reformation began. In Europe there were the Walenses, who were among the first to receive the translated Bible in their own tongue, even before Wycliffe’s translation into English (TGL, pg. 44 [64-66]); and a group known as the Anabaptists who were founded mainly on a refusal to accept the Catholic’s practice of infant baptism, saying that it eliminated any possibility of a person’s free choice as they grew older. It was from Martin Luther’s casual visits with these people that he obtained doubts about the Catholic faith. From this eventually grew his ninety-five theses which he tacked upon the Wittenberg Castle church door which proclaimed the free-will of the believer and all mankind. Thus was the Reformation formally begun.
It was through this Reformation that the church overcame the second temptation which her future husband also had to overcome in the wilderness. So now she had overcome the temptation of power during the Ephesian age when Peter said “No!” to the power Simon had offered her for her power of the Lord’s Spirit in believers; and also she had rejected the ability to join the most massive political power the world had yet known. But in her future still laid a final test, a temptation so great Satan always retains it until last. That test is having to choose whom one shall serve, God or mammon. Shall the Church retain God in his proper position, or will her leaders, through their wealth, displace God and themselves demand to be worshipped or, in the least, followed in Christ’s stead?
4.3.2 TO THE CHURCH IN PHILADELPHIA
Once Jesus, through his servants, used the keys of David (knowledge) to unveil the Truth, no man could ever again mask it under the guise of religion in favor of lies. Nor, in like manner, could anyone ever hope to truly ever reopen those lies effectively. Now Jesus was saying to this remnant, “See, I have placed before you an open door (the interpreted Bible) that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength (because most of the pure knowledge was wiped away during the Dark Ages) yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name” (REV 3:8).
He then tells this church age that those who had called themselves believers but were not truly of Christ would be made to collapse at the foundations of their faith and acknowledge that Christ had loved this remnant who had maintained their love for him (REV 3:9). With the ever increasing surge of rebellion against the Roman Catholic empire, the Catholic Church finally had to submit to a subservient role beside those who had won their freedom from her.
Now the time of the “great tribulation”, mentioned in Jesus’ prophecy to his disciples when leaving the temple in Jerusalem, was finally over (MAT 24:1-29). His followers had listened well and had carefully obeyed his instructions. They had discovered the many christs which had come. They took no alarm from the multitude of wars and rumors of wars occurring around them constantly. The things like earthquakes and famines did not distress them for they recognized them as mere results of the sinfulness of mankind. And it was true; many who believed were handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and through the wickedness of unbelievers were they hated by all the various nations’ citizens (MAT 24:4-13).
They had even abandoned their homes in Jerusalem in 70 A.D. when they saw that city surrounded by Roman soldiers ready to destroy it (MAT 24:1-2, 15-21). During the following centuries they spent their lives spreading the good news of Jesus and his victory over the grave. Through inconceivable persecution they had survived through the Ephesian, Smyrnan, Pergamum, and Thyatiran church ages overcoming the temptation to forsake their first love and themselves becoming apostate in the eyes of the world.
And now it was they who heard the harking of the angel to “Wake up!” And awaken they did and demanded that which was rightfully theirs— the Word of God. And they overcame that Jezebel church called Catholic or Universal.
During the Philadelphian church age, Jesus commends his followers saying, “Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth” (REV 3:10). There has been much discussion as to what is meant by this phrase, “from the hour of trial.” Some believe that it means that believers will not have to suffer the “Great Tribulation”, but this has been shown to be erroneous since that event has already occurred in the history of the church. Rather it refers to the judgement through which mankind is judge either worthy or unworthy of partaking eternal life. Through the believer’s acts of faith and perseverance they have assured themselves of not having to experience this planetary judgement which is soon to come.
But this is not the the end of the temptations. Though Jesus says he will come soon, those in the Philadelphian church age are told to “hold on to what you have (the scriptures) so that no one will take your crown of wisdom” which can be found in the Bible. It was at the beginning of this age, in a newly formed republic who’s founders called the United States, that documents were written based upon the Word of God. In 1776 this nation declared itself independent and just twenty-two years later this country’s leaders made it illegal to combine the powers of both the church and state under one person (USC, pg 32—1st Amendment). It was this law which struck a death blow to the 1260 years of worldwide Jezebelian rule from Rome.
For the next 125 years the believers in Christ enjoyed a freedom to worship which they had never before known. Many were calling this new land the “New Israel.” Some called it the “New Jerusalem”. Those who had discovered great Scriptural Truths during this age became great in God’s church never to depart from their positions. Men like Charles G. Finney appeared who was born in Warren Connecticut on August 29, 1792, one year after John Wesley’s death, who openly told the story of having met “the Lord Jesus Christ face to face” (CGF, ps 6); something which would have been condemned coming from anyone but the Pope before the Reformation. From his private unorthodox studies, Raymond Bailey reports in this essay entitled Building Men For Citizenship, “Finney boldly declared an unlimited atonement which he translated to unlimited potential for man” (PIH, pg 143). He was also the first expounder of any greatness to promote the new birth concept according to D. Ray Heisey (PIH, pg 156).
But all this was soon to end. This age of at least a similitude of “brotherly love”, where though not everyone agreed, all were allowed to seek God in the way each person best saw fit was soon to give way to the last church age.
4.3.3 TO THE CHURCH IN LAODICEA
Sadly, though this freedom was needed to promote the believers’ abilities to both seek into God’s Word for themselves and to promote this Word as much as possible throughout the world, it was also to become the source of a new type of problem for the true followers of Christ. Isn’t it strange how God can cause or allow something to occur which seems to be for the good of all to almost invariable result in destruction? Even he made such a statement to Isaiah once when he said, “I form the light and create darkness. I bring prosperity and create disaster; I the Lord do all these things” (ISA 45:7).
Most certainly if one could hear a good oral interpreter read this verse it would be easier to comprehend that God is confiding in Isaiah here as a friend and stating plainly that nothing comes about, whether good or evil, except he causes it. But the end results may not always be pleasant. Did he not cause people to have the ability to accept Christ and thus have eternal life? But at what cost? The death of his only begotten son!
Thus the simple act of creating light also created darkness, through darkness and all of its connotations, though Scriptures does not carry the pleasant meanings as does light. The same idea holds true concerning the prosperity in which the church of the Laodicean age finds herself today. God created this wealth for his glory that his Church could be cared for properly; but many in the body of believers professing a faith in Christ have turned it into something which will end in their own destruction.
Beginning in 1913 there have been powerful spirits (demons) unleashed which affect both political and spiritual realms; which in turn affect all other of the realms of mankind. Shortly after this a new form of religion, based not upon spirituality but upon wealth and the godliness of mankind began to emerge on the planet. Using biblical principles men like John D. Rockefeller, A. Nash, Henry Ford, Dr. Alexander Graham Bell, U.S. Senator Jennings Randolph, R.W. Woolworth, Theodore Roosevelt, and thrity-nine others admitted to Napoleon Hill when doing research for his book Think and Grow Rich that they had made their fortunes “through the aid of the Carnegie secret” (TGB, ps 16-17).
What is this secret? A look at Hill’s coined sayings can answer this question:
CHAPTER 1: “Whatever the mind of man conceive and believe it can achieve.” (TGB, pg 32). — This is a true statement as can be proven by one of God’s reasons for causing the construction of the Tower of Babel to be halted: “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them” (GEN 11:6). However where is God in these sayings of Hill? He has been replaced by the self, the mind of man!
THE BIBLE SAYS: “If you ask (ask who?—God!), you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer” (MAT 21:22).
CHAPTER 2: “There are no limitations to the mind except those we acknowledge” (TGB, pg 46). – Once again a true statemtne; however,
THE BIBLE SAYS: “God is Greater than our heart” (1JO 3:30—KJV).
CHAPTER 3: “Both poverty and riches are the offspring of thought” (TGB, pg 48). —But,
THE BIBLE SAYS: “Lazy hands makes a man poor” (PRO 10:4); “The Lord sends poverty and wealth” (ISA 2:7); “though your riches increase, do not set your heart on them” (PSA 62:10).
Get the idea? The Gospel of Wealth proclaims mankind as the controller of his own destiny with money the means by which to obtain the heart’s desires. But God denounces this position as nothing less than foolhardy when he tells everyone through the wisest man who ever lived, Solomon, that “wealth is worthless in the day of wrath” (PRO 11:40).
Hill, who said he had been commissioned by Andrew Carnegie to do a twenty year research on why some people are so successful, began his study in 1918 and copyrighted his work in 1938. Since then an uncountable number of authors have written follow-up books promoting this same man-centered religion which is nothing less than a step beyond the Babylonian religion which originated in Babel. This religion of Babel originally worshipped Baal-Nimrod— that is a man externalized from one’s self. Later people formed a statue of Nebuchadnezzar yet still worshipping the man’s physical form. Now people are in the process of transition from the worship of the physical being to that of worshipping their minds.
This mind worship is easily recognized just by looking at the chapters of some of the motivational books on the bookstore shelves. In 1988 we could find such books as ones by David J. Schwartz listed in his book title The Magic of Thinking Big the following topic headings in his list of what he thinks the book is good for:
— Make your mind produce positive thoughts.
— Discover the secret of mind action.
—Discover that defeat is nothing more than a state of mind.
—Tap into your supreme thinking power. (MFB, pg 10-23)
Jack Ensign Addington wrote a book entitle All About Goals and How to Achieve Them which has a chapter (3) titled “The Factory of Your Mind” in which he states, “It is astonishing, almost unbelievable, how the subconscious mind works for us” (AAG, pg 39). The only astonishing part of it is that “modern” people believe this subconscious mind is so astonishing and yet all but denies the existence of the superconscious mind which Paul encouraged the Philippians to have in them which was “also in Christ Jesus” (PHL 2:5).
How sad it is to realize that people are still convinced that they must become as a god even as Satan told Eve in the garden nearly 6000 years ago (GEN 3:5). How long would it take for people to realize that it is impossible to “become as gods”; for Jesus declared that people ARE gods, saying, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are gods?” (JON 10:34). It is the fact that Christ is within the mind of the believer (1CO 2:16) which is the reason for their hope of glory (COL 1:27); not some animalistic, subconscious, nebulous mind as the evolutionary humanists would have people believe.
So, sad as it is, even with all of the Bible quotations which these worldly philosophers may use or refer to; regardless of how large the churches may be in which they may pastor or how many people may know their names; aside from all of the retribution one may get for setting aside the teachings of these ones who proclaim the way of worldly success, they are not of God. Oh, doubtless to say a positive mental attitude is more God-like that one which consistently seeks the negative in all situations. But when that attitude begins to lift one above God to the point that God no longer has any place in that person’s life; then that person is in danger of lying about how the wealth was obtained. When this occurs th one of them will then proclaim, “look at what I’ve done. I have become wealthy. I have done this on my own. No one has helped me. But God says that he gives a person the power to get wealth (DEU 8:17-18).
To not acknowledge God’s part in the actual obtaining of wealth is the same as to say that he did not help at all in anything one tries to do. This is a lie against the Holy Spirit which is the only type of sin Jesus said was unforgivable. (MAT 12:31-32); and is simply the carrying through of the warning that is one who obtains wealth who does not acknowledge him as his constant partner and place “other gods”, even one’s own mind, above God, then God “shall testify against you today that you shall be destroyed” (DEU 8:18).
This applies even more so to churches and large religious organizations which are forever raising funds in the name of Christ but seldom openly acknowledging his part in the raising of those funds. They sell one item after another at exorbitant prices avoiding taxes by calling the amount for which they sell those items “donations” instead of what they are in actuality: sales. They play on people’s emotions so pathetically that poor widows send in their last dollar to help build multi-million dollar collages and hospital complexes in the founders’ own names as they live in luxury; while that widow has no food for her stomach or hope of being healed of her vertigo in that hospital which she helped build.
Oh, most surely those who call themselves Christians in today’s Laodicean Age have a lot of money—but they are poor indeed. They are poor when the only way they can get people to financially support their causes is to throw fancy banquets and become that which the Lord never was—a beggar! They are poor when they borrow from the worldly philosophers’ Gospel of Wealth and try to replace the Good News of Jesus’ ministry to the poor and needy with it. They are ever so poor when they believe that buildings, entertainment, fancy make-up and clothing are more important than feeding the starving child in Africa (or America). “But we need to keep doing these things because they help finance the others,” they say. Hypocrites! If they would use the money they spend on luxuries for the Lord’s work they would not have to continuously beg for funds to do those things they know they should be doing.
The Lord says he “counsels you to buy from (him) righteousness refined in the ministry of ages past so you can become rich spiritually.” (REV 3:18-LAV). This means to give tithes and offerings and rob him not (MAL 3:9) and to use those tithes for his work, only, until the day when all can partake of his riches.
Read and understand what Jesus is saying to the Laodicean churches of this day:
Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will go in and eat with him and he with me. (REV 3:19-20 NIV)
Repent of the abuse of wealth and of thinking of the mortal mind as more than it is or the Lord shall be forced to discipline the believers of this day. However, he is at the door of this age and the time for his return is at hand. He is knocking upon the church’s entrance and will enter soon. That door which he knocks upon will be the believers’ superconscious minds; that is, the heart. When it opens, it will mean an eternal connection with the eternal mind of Christ for those who truly believe; but to those who believe not it will mean judgement.
Jesus promised that those who overcome the temptation to worship self and obtain wealth without giving God his proper credit shall sit with him in his authority in the Kingdom of Heaven. There is room for all. Do not be dissuaded by the Gospel of Wealth. Remember Jesus’ words: “You cannot serve both God and money.” (MAT 6:24).
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