We are currently in the Laodicean period of the church – the last of the seven letters to the churches (Revelation 3:14-22) – the last age of the church. Laodicea means “judging the people”. Since 1844, the end of Daniel’s 2300 days prophesy, the church (the body of Christ) has been in the period of investigative judgment, and Christ has been cleansing the heavenly sanctuary in preparation for His coming for His own. Daniel 8:14 “And he said to me, ‘For two thousand three hundred days; then the sanctuary shall be cleansed.” The investigative judgment and cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary must be accomplished before His coming, as Jesus says in Revelation 22:12: “And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.” Those who will be deemed worthy to take part in the first resurrection (both those who have been sleeping, and those still alive and abiding in Christ, keeping the Commandments of God and the faith of Jesus) must be identified before He comes.
There is a sanctuary in heaven, the true tabernacle which the Lord set up and not man. In it Christ ministers on our behalf, making available to believers the benefits of His atoning sacrifice offered once for all on the cross. He was inaugurated as our great High Priest and began His intercessory ministry at the time of His ascension. In 1844, at the end of the prophetic period of 2300 days, He entered the second and last phase of His atoning ministry. It is a work of investigative judgment which is part of the ultimate disposition of all sin, typified by the cleansing of the ancient Hebrew sanctuary on the Day of Atonement. In that typical service the sanctuary was cleansed with the blood of animal sacrifices, but the heavenly things are purified with the perfect sacrifice of the blood of Jesus. The investigative judgment reveals to heavenly intelligences who, among the dead, are asleep in Christ and therefore, in Him, are deemed worthy to take part in the first resurrection. It also makes manifest who among the living are abiding in Christ, keeping the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, and in Him, therefore, are ready for translation into His everlasting kingdom. This judgment vindicates the justice of God in saving those who believe in Jesus. It declares that those who have remained loyal to God shall receive the kingdom. The completion of this ministry of Christ will mark the close of human probation before the Second Advent.—Fundamental Beliefs, 23
The words to the church at Laodicea are from the “Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God.” (Revelation 3:14). The Amen signifies that this is the final church age leading up to the second coming of Christ Jesus. Christ is the Creator and being the “faithful and true witness”, He is the perfect representation of the character of God, which all Christians should be seeking to attain. “Be ye holy, for I am holy.” The church of this final age receives no commendations, only rebuke.
Jesus says that this church is neither hot nor cold, but lukewarm – thinking that she is rich and in need of nothing. The church in this age has been blessed with great light concerning the Word of God; but she has not moved forward, living the great truths that God has given her, and sharing them with the world. This church is worse than cold, and is offensive to God. The great light – the great Bible truths for our time, which should have caused the church to be zealous unto good works, living and sharing these precious truths with the rest of the world – has been hidden under a bushel of worldliness. Someone who is hot is obviously zealous, living the faith they proclaim, keeping the commandments of God, thereby evidencing their love for Jesus. Someone who is cold has lost their faith and feels unworthy to be called a follower of Christ. They know they are weak and desire to have faith, which is why Christ would rather this church to be cold than lukewarm. Being lukewarm is so bad because the members have backslidden and become of the world, content with their position and what they are doing. They do not feel the need to advance any further, being satisfied with self. They sit back, thinking that their “knowledge” will save them, but their knowledge has become the teachings and traditions of men – they do not read and study God’s word for themselves. This is so nauseating to Christ that He will vomit anyone like this out of His mouth, and they will surely be forever lost! This church believes that she has everything, but doesn’t realize that she is “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” They have become a people “having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.” (2 Timothy 3:5). Many in the Laodicean period of the church suffer from backsliding but refuse to see or do anything to correct their course. Jesus clearly tells us in Revelation 3:5 “He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life…” We need to understand that we can be blotted out of the book of life, or spewed from the mouth of Jesus. We as Christians should all go through this list honestly and prayerfully, and determine where we stand and where we need to repent and make corrections in our relationship with God in Christ.
- When prayer ceases to be a vital part of a professing Christian’s life, backsliding is present.
- When the quest for biblical truth ceases and one grows content with the knowledge of eternal things already acquired, there can be no mistaking the presence of backsliding.
- When the biblical knowledge possessed or acquired is treated as external fact and not applied inwardly, backsliding is present.
- When earnest thoughts about eternal things cease to be regular and gripping, it should be like a warning light to the backslider.
- When the services of the church lose their delights, a backslidden condition probably exists.
- When pointed spiritual discussions are an embarrassment, that is certain evidence of backsliding.
- When sports, recreation and entertainment are a large and necessary part of your lifestyle, you may assume backsliding is in force.
- When sins of the body and of the mind can be indulged in without an uproar in your conscience your backslidden condition is certain.
- When aspirations for Christlike holiness cease to be dominant in your life and thinking, backsliding is there.
- When the acquisition of money and goods becomes a dominant part of your thinking, you have clear confirmation of backsliding.
- When you can mouth religious songs and words without heart, be sure backsliding is present.
- When you can hear the Lord’s name taken in vain, spiritual concerns mocked and eternal issues flippantly treated, and not be moved to indignation and action, you are backslidden.
- When you can watch degrading movies and television and read morally debilitating literature, you can be sure you are backslidden.
- When breaches of peace in the brotherhood are of no concern to you, that is proof of backsliding.
- When the slightest excuse seems sufficient to keep you from spiritual duty and opportunity, you are backslidden.
- When you become content with your lack of spiritual power and no longer seek repeated enduements of power from on high, you are backslidden.
- When you pardon your own sin and sloth by saying the Lord understands and remembers that we are dust, you have revealed your backslidden condition.
- When there is no music in your soul and no song in your heart, the silence testifies to your backsliding.
- When you adjust happily to the worlds’ lifestyle, your own mirror will tell the truth of your backsliding.
- When injustice and human misery exist around you and you do little or nothing to relieve the suffering, be sure you are backslidden.
- When your church has fallen into spiritual declension and the Word of God is no longer preached there with power and you are still content, you are in a backslidden condition.
- When the spiritual condition of the world declines around you and you cannot perceive it, that is testimony of your backslidden stance.
- When you are willing to cheat your employer, backsliding is apparent.
- When you find yourself rich in grace and mercy and marvel at your own godliness, then you have fallen far in your backsliding.
- When your tears are dried up and the hard, cold spiritual facts of your existence cannot unleash them, see this as an awful testimony both of the hardness of your heart and the depth of your backsliding.
(taken from Revival, Richard Owen Roberts)
Therefore, says the True Witness, “I council thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire that thou mayest be rich.” That is, love and faith working together, hand in hand to make them rich in good works, and rich toward God. They are counseled to buy white raiment; that is, to put on a robe of righteousness, or to have their characters conform wholly to the law of God. They are counseled also, to anoint their eyes with eye salve that they may see. This eye salve is the unction from on high, the anointing of the Holy Spirit, which gives us the true discernment in spiritual things. And God’s people, during this time, will be rebuked and chastened by Him until they become zealous and repent. (Uriah Smith Biblical Institute, p 250-252).
This message to Laodicea is not a message of hopelessness. Christ is rebuking this church for their lukewarm condition but He confirms that He loves those who He rebukes and is standing at the door waiting for them to let Him in. He is pleading with them to repent of this condition, so that they may obtain His grace and be clothed in His righteousness. Although this church is in a dire state, if the people heed the warning and repent, then their lukewarmness can be corrected. If this warning is not heeded and action is not taken to correct this awful state, then Christ will “spew” them out of His mouth – they will be blotted out of the book of life and they will be thrown into the lake of fire, and forever lost. Revelation 18:4 “And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” Christ is calling His people out of the lukewarm apostate church before they suffer her plagues.
We are in the Laodicean “judging the people” period right now. If we are still living for this world and not moving forward in our faith, in obedience to Christ Jesus, His rebuke is for us. We are called to be faithful overcomers. Revelation 2:7 “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God. Revelation 2:11 “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.” Revelation 2:17 “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.” Revelation 2:26 “And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:” Revelation 3:5 “He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.” Revelation 3:21 “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.” Revelation 21:7 “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.” 1 John 5:4 “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.”
Cases are being decided right now as to who will be worthy to enter into the heavenly kingdom. God is judging the world with Christ Jesus as our only Mediator (1 Timothy 2:5), pleading our cases for us. And just as the High Priest in the Old Testament cleansed the sanctuary on the day of atonement with the blood of an animal, to cover the sins of the people, Jesus our Heavenly High Priest moved into the most holy place in the heavenly sanctuary to “spiritually” cleanse it with His own blood and to blot out the sins of those who truly follow Him, beginning in 1844.
Below is a great chart for understanding Daniel’s 70 week prophesy, 2300-day prophecy and the 1260-day prophecy of the beast of Revelation. In interpreting prophesy, a day equals a year “I have appointed thee each day for a year.” (Ezekiel 4:6). A week is 7 days/literal years; a month equals 30 days; a year equals 360 days.
Daniel 9:24-27 “Seventy weeks [490 years] are determined upon thy people [Jews] and upon thy holy city [Jerusalem], to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.
Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem [457 B.C.] unto the Messiah the Prince [baptism of Jesus] shall be seven weeks [49 years], and threescore and two weeks [434 years, for a total of 483 years]: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.
And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off [crucified], but not for himself [for all of mankind]: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.
And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week [7 years]: and in the midst of the week [3-1/2 years] he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease [at His crucifixion Jesus becomes the ultimate and final sacrifice for sin, ending the sacrificial system], and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate [the temple which has been overspread with abominations], even until the consummation [the stoning of Steven—the end of probation for the Jews when the gospel was only preached to them—and the preaching of the gospel goes to the gentiles], and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.
Daniel 8:13-14 “…How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot? And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.”
Hebrew 9:24 “For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:” [This is referring to the heavenly sanctuary, the Holy of Holies, where Jesus now intercedes on our behalf during Judgment, the cleansing of the sanctuary, the Atonement.]
Ecclesiastes 3:17 “I said in mine heart, God shall judge the righteous and the wicked.” Both the righteous and the wicked will be judged, but judgment begins with the house of God. 1 Peter 4:17 “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?” Judgment begins with those who profess to follow Christ. Can we confidently say that we are living up to the faith we proclaim? Are we living for Jesus every day; is He our love, our life, our ALL? If we have any secret sin that no one else knows about, we need to repent of it and let it go now, because God will bring everything we do into judgment. Ecclesiastes 12:14 “For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” Nothing can be hidden from God.
In Revelation 22:12 Jesus says “And behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.” Now for Jesus to be able to give His reward to everyone at His Second Coming, whether life eternal or the lake of fire, everyone will have been judged one way or the other before He returns, and this is the judgment that is taking place now. This is an “investigative” judgment to determine who His true people are and who are not; who have overcome and are written in the Book of Life, and who have not; who are keeping the commandments of God and the faith and testimony of Jesus, and who are not; who are the wheat and who are the tares. Matthew 24:30 “Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.” When He returns, He will issue the “executive” judgment, that is, we will either be taken up to meet Him and rewarded with eternal life, or sentenced to the second death. Revelation 21:7 “He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be my son.” And Revelation 22:14 “Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.”
Those who do not take part in the first resurrection, who were not found written in the Book of Life, will remain dead for 1000 years awaiting the second resurrection, while the duration of their second death punishment in the lake of fire is confirmed. Revelation 20:12-15 “And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.” This judgment takes place after the 1000 years, and determines the duration of time the unredeemed will spend in the lake of fire, during which they are eternally destroyed by the second death. There is no eternal suffering in fire and brimstone – not even for Satan and his angels, the beast or the false prophet, although their time there will be the longest. Revelation 21:8 “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”
Matthew 24:44 “Therefore be ye ready, for in such an hour as ye think not, the Son of man cometh.” John 5:28-29 “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” For people to be rewarded with eternal life and others to be sentenced to damnation at the resurrection, the judgment has to have already taken place. At the resurrection every case will have been decided, never to be reversed.
How should we be living in this time of judgment? 2 Peter 3:11,14 “Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness …. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.” Knowing that we are in the time of judgment, and that this world and everything in it will be laid waste, we need now to start living godly lives, putting aside worldly things and truly living for Christ. Ecclesiastes 12:13 “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” Luke 21:36 “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.” Luke 13:24 “Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.”
If there ever was a time when serious reflection becomes every one who fears God, it is now, when personal piety is essential. The inquiry should be made, “What am I, and what is my work and mission in this time? On which side am I working – Christ’s side or the enemy’s side?” Let every soul now humble himself or herself before God, for now we are surely living in the great Day of Atonement. The cases even now of many are passing in review before God, for they are to sleep in their graves a little season. Your profession of faith is not your guarantee in that day, but the state of your affections. Is the soul-temple cleansed of its defilement? Are my sins confessed and am I repenting of them before God, that they may be blotted out? Am I willing to make any and every sacrifice for the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ? Do I feel every moment I am not my own, but Christ’s property, that my service belongs to God, whose I am? (Ms 87, 1886 Preparing for the Time of Testing).
We can ONLY be saved by the grace of God, through faith in the atoning blood of Jesus willingly shed for us on the cross to pay the penalty for our sin, which is a free gift to all and not of works, lest any man should boast. Ephesians 2:7-9 “That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” The message here is that faith ALONE cannot save us as James 2:14-26 confirms: “that faith without works is dead.” True faith will produce works, and the evidence of our faith is the works that we do. If we have a true faith, we will be lovingly striving to keep God’s commandments, turning away from worldly things, focusing more of our time on Jesus than anything else, sharing the gospel with others, studying our Bibles, helping those in need, using the resources that God gave us to further His kingdom, rather than for our own pleasure – our lives will be consumed with Christ Jesus.
When the work of the investigative judgment closes, the destiny of all will have been decided for life or death. Probation is ended a short time before the appearing of the Lord in the clouds of heaven. Before the Flood, after Noah entered the ark, God shut him in, and shut the ungodly out; but for seven days the people, knowing not that their doom was fixed, continued their careless, pleasure-loving life, and mocked the warnings of impending judgment. So, says the Saviour, ‘shall also the coming of the Son of man be’ (Matt. 24:39). Silently, unnoticed as the midnight thief, will come the decisive hour which marks the fixing of every man’s destiny, the final withdrawal of mercy’s offer to guilty men. While the man of business is absorbed in the pursuit of gain, while the pleasure lover is seeking indulgence, while the daughter of fashion is arranging her adornments – it may be in that hour the Judge of all the earth will pronounce the sentence: ‘Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting. (E.G.White, Last Day Events, p.230)
Revelation 14:6-7 “And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.”