Christís Speaking to the Local Churches in Revelation
Laodicea, the seventh and final local church, tragically fell from an admirable, recovered condition (Philadelphia) into degradation. Based on the Lord's word to Laodicea, Witness Lee exhorts the local churches to vigilantly guard against any such degradation. In Revelation 3:15-22 the Lord Jesus lovingly but sternly rebukes Laodicea, the local church that has fallen from recovery to degradation:
And to the messenger of the church in Laodicea write: These things says the Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the beginning of the creation of God: I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm and neither hot nor cold, I am about to spew you out of My mouth. Because you say, I am wealthy and have become rich and have need of nothing, and do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined by fire that you may be rich, and white garments that you may be clothed and that the shame of your nakedness may not be manifested, and eyesalve to anoint your eyes that you may see. As many as I love I rebuke and discipline; be zealous therefore and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, then I will come in to him and dine with him and he with Me. He who overcomes, to him I will give to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat with My Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
Witness Lee comments below, based on this portion of the Word, on Laodiceas condition and on the specific aspects of Christs person and work that meet this local churchs need:
Now we come to the church in Laodicea, the church in degradation (3:14-22). In Greek Laodicea means the opinion, the judgment, of the people or of the laymen. The church in Laodicea as a sign prefigures the degraded recovered church .
In 3:14 the Lord says, These things says the Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the beginning of the creation of God. To each of the seven churches the Lord refers to what He is and what He does respectively according to their situation and condition. Here, to the church in Laodicea, He refers to Himself as the Amen. In Greek amen means firm, steadfast, or trustworthy. The Lord is the firm, steadfast, and trustworthy One.
Because the Lord is the firm, steadfast, and trustworthy One, He is the faithful and true Witness. This indicates that the degraded church in Laodicea is not firm, steadfast, trustworthy, or faithful and true as the Lords witness.
In verse 14 the Lord also refers to Himself as the beginning of the creation of God. This refers to the Lord as the origin or source of Gods creation, implying that the Lord is the unchanging and ever-existing source of Gods work. This indicates that the degraded recovered church is changing by leaving the Lord as the source.
(Witness Lee, LS of Revelation, 198)
Witness Lee further writes of the local church in Laodicea:
The main meaning of the Greek name Laodicea is the opinion, the judgment, of the people. When a local church is full of peoples opinions, it surely will become neither cold nor hot. Because of its lukewarmness, such a church will suffer being vomited out of the Lords mouth. This is to be given up by the Lord because the taste of that church is repulsive. Thus, a church that is full of peoples opinions, peoples judgments, is terrible. Even we would reject such a church in the practice of the church life, not to mention that the Lord would vomit it out. Peoples opinions are versus Gods judgment and authority. This is why the Lord is standing at the door of the church in Laodicea (v. 20), indicating that the Lord has been rejected by that church.
(Witness Lee, Eldership (2), 88)
Witness Lee interprets below the Lords charge to this degraded local church to buy gold, white garments and eyesalve:
Buying requires the paying of a price. The degraded recovered church must pay a price for gold, white garments, and eyesalve, which she desperately needs.
In the Bible our operating, working faith (Gal. 5:6) is likened to gold (1·Pet. 1:7), and the divine nature of God, which is the divinity of Christ, is typified by gold (Exo. 25:11). By faith we partake of the divine nature of God (2·Pet. 1:1, 4-5). The degraded recovered church has the knowledge of the doctrines concerning Christ but not much living faith to partake of the divine element of Christ. She needs to pay the price to gain the golden faith through the fiery trials that she may participate in the real gold, which is Christ Himself as the life element to His Body. Thus she can become a pure golden lampstand (1:20) for the building of the golden New Jerusalem (21:18).
In figure, garments signify conduct. White garments here signify conduct that can be approved by the Lord. Such conduct is the Lord Himself lived out of the church, and it is required by the degraded recovered church for the covering of her nakedness.
The eyesalve needed to anoint their eyes must be the anointing Spirit (1·John 2:27), who is the Lord Himself as the life-giving Spirit (1·Cor. 15:45). The degraded recovered church needs this kind of eyesalve also for the healing of her blindness. For the three items mentioned in this verse, she must pay the price.
(Witness Lee, Footnotes, 1259)
Laodicea was the final local church addressed by the Lord in Revelation, the one that had fallen from recovery into degradation due to the rampant opinion of its members. Human opinion is often contrary to the Lord's authority and eventually, to His very presence in the church. In the local church in Laodicea in fact, the Lord is now standing outside rather than in her midst. As Witness Lee explains, this local church has rejected her Lord, and He warns that He is about to also reject her (Rev. 3:16), yet He presents Himself to her as her steadfast source whom she must once again pay the price to gain. The Lord promises to the local church in Laodicea and to all the local churches that if they overcome their opinions and lukewarmness toward Him, He will once more come into that local church to dine with them; furthermore, they will reign with Him. May the Lord grant all His believers an ear to hear the Spirits present speaking to the local churches, and a heart to respond to Him for His living testimony.
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