Good News for a Wretched, Miserable, Poor, Blind, and Naked Church!

williams-picture1.jpg

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Picture it. Wewoka Woods, July, Oklahoma Adventist Conference Camp meeting 1992. I had planned on going down for the day, but some friends encouraged me to stay the night in a tent they had available next to theirs. When I went to lay down on the cot, my friends offered me blankets. I told them no one needs blankets in Oklahoma during July. Well guess what? Come three in the morning it gets cold in Oklahoma in July! While shivering on a cot at 3 am I realized why Jesus said,

I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. Revelation 3:15 NKJV

When I was cold I wanted to go get a blanket and change my situation. As I laid there shivering I sensed my need. Lukewarm people don’t sense their need of anything. They have no desire to change their situation.

But how can we be lukewarm when Jesus knows we have good works? When we do good deeds for others it “warms” their hearts. Malachi 4:2 talks about the Sun of righteousness. The Bible likens righteous deeds with heat. In John 3:19 as well as other places, the Bible likens evil to darkness, which without light or heat is cold. I go and see grandma in the nursing home every week and that is good. That is hot. But the only reason I go is to make sure I’m in her will, which is dark and cold. So in the end, after seeing grandma I am just lukewarm, and my hypocrisy makes Jesus so sick He wants to throw up! See Revelation 3:16.

Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked—  I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. Revelation 3:17-18 NKJV

Why does Jesus say to buy the gold and white garments? Isn’t salvation free? Jesus is referring to the bartering system.  He wants us to trade in our self-righteousness which makes Him want to throw up, in exchange for His robe of righteousness. He wants to take self out of righteousness since it is self that makes righteousness lukewarm. Lukewarm is not the absence of good works. It is the presence of self.

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. Revelation 3:20 NKJV

Its hard to sense our need of Jesus when we are full of ourselves. But if we find our self-righteousness unappetizing, and hunger and thirst for Jesus’ righteousness (See Matthew 5:6) He will come into our hearts and dine with us and feed us His own righteousness.

Remember the door in heaven, in the message to Philadelphia? That door was open. Heaven’s doors are wide open. But when Jesus comes to Laodicea, He finds a heart that has works, but is so full of self it has locked Jesus out! Heaven’s door is open but Laodicea’s door is closed. When Jesus came to earth He was born in a stable because there was no room for Him in the inn. Later Jesus tells us there is plenty of room for everyone in His Father’s house. (See Luke 2:7 and John 14:1-3). Heaven has plenty of room. Heaven has an open door. If we are lost it’s because we had no room for Jesus and our heart’s door was closed.

Jesus hasn’t given up on Laodicea. He hasn’t given up on us! He has high expectations for His lukewarm, poor, miserable, blind and naked church!

To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. Revelation 3:21 NKJV

Working at UPS one day, my supervisor got frustrated about a mistake I made and berated me. He made me feel like I was useless and about to get fired, when he turned around and said something that gave me hope! He said, “You may think I am overreacting by getting so upset about this, but when you become a supervisor, you will understand why I got so upset.” In the middle of censoring me, he told me he expected me to get promoted. In the same message Jesus calls His people poor, wretched, miserable, blind and naked, He also talks about them overcoming just as He overcame!” Jesus encourages all of the 7 churches to overcome, but the church that represents the time of the cleansing of the sanctuary, He expects to overcome “as I also overcame.”

There is wonderful news for a wretched, poor, miserable, blind, and naked church that recognizes it is cold and needs a Savior. Jesus stands at the door of your heart. Open the door. Give Him your rags, which only make you lukewarm and still leave you naked. He will clothe you with His robe of righteousness, so you won’t have to be cold, miserable and naked any longer. Heaven’s door is open. There is plenty of room. What do you say?

You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here. 

What Does “Perfect in Christ” Really Mean?

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

 

One hot July afternoon at an Oklahoma Camp meeting, I visited a friend in her tent. Just outside sat my friend’s 13-year-old daughter with a friend she had just met. This was her friend’s first camp meeting. He had come with his grandfather who just became a Christian. He did not know what to think about all the meetings and asked my friend’s daughter, “What do you think about Jesus? What is He really all about?” My ears perked up, as I was quite interested how she would answer.


“Before my mom and I met Jesus, we argued and yelled at each other all the time, and I could not stand my home, but now that we met Jesus we don’t yell anymore, and I love my home now.”
I will never forget what she said.

Interesting. She introduced her new friend to Jesus as a literal friend Who had literally changed her life, and not as some pretend theory.

I heard a radio preacher once say, “in order to be able to call Jesus your Savior He has to actually save you from something.” He was right. Many people speak of faith almost like it is pretending. Some use a very Biblical term, “perfect in Christ,” but then they add, “but it is only by faith.” By saying “only by faith,” they make it sound like faith is only pretending. When we read in Hebrews 11:30 about the walls of Jericho falling by faith, we take that to mean that the walls of Jericho literally fell and did not just pretend to fall. So when we read in Colossians 1:28, “that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus,” should we not take that “perfect in Christ” to be literal also and not just pretense?

Read how Ellen White describes the term “perfect in Christ” In the Great Controversy, page 623.

… we should seek to become perfect in Christ. Not even by a thought could our Saviour be brought to yield to the power of temptation. Satan finds in human hearts some point where he can gain a foothold; some sinful desire is cherished, by means of which his temptations assert their power. But Christ declared of Himself: “The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in Me.” John 14:30. Satan could find nothing in the Son of God that would enable him to gain the victory. He had kept His Father’s commandments, and there was no sin in Him that Satan could use to his advantage. This is the condition in which those must be found who shall stand in the time of trouble. It is in this life that we are to separate sin from us, through faith in the atoning blood of Christ.

If faith literally made the walls of Jericho fall, then we have to believe that faith will also make a literal and practical change in the way we live our lives.

On that hot summer afternoon, so many years ago, my friend’s daughter gave an example of how her faith literally changed her life, thus showing faith is not just make-believe, but instead makes things practical and literal. I am totally powerless to tear down the strongholds Satan has set up in my life, but the same faith that made the walls of Jericho come crumbling down will also make those strongholds in my life to come down as well.

You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.