Because the Lord sees Laodicea as wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked, He counsels her to buy from Him gold refined by fire; there’s the need for paying the price to gain more Christ and have the living, practical faith, which is to partake of the divine element of Christ – and not just to have knowledge and doctrines.
The Lord is faithful to expose the real condition and situation of the church in Laodicea, because He wants her to repent and be burning for Him. We need to take the Lord’s word to the church in Laodicea and apply it to ourselves.
If we are proud, forsake the way of life, and neglect reality – while reminiscing on our history and our own riches, the only thing left is for the Lord to spew us out of His mouth, and we don’t have His leading and speaking but the opinions of many.
This is what we see today in many of the groups of the Brethren – discussion, voting, and consensus, with an appearance of a democratic society but no resemblance to the Body relationship.
May the Lord save us from not knowing the binding of the Body, the authority in the Body, and the life of the Body. May we just remain pure before the Lord, seeking Him to gain Him and obtain Him, and not being proud of our spirituality or spiritual history but remaining humble before Him and seeking Him in purity.
The Lord’s word to Laodicea is a warning to all of us: we must humble ourselves before Him by living before Him all the time, and we must not be proud in our speaking but realize that all we have is actually from Him, and all that we have experienced and enjoyed is of the Lord’s mercy.
There’s nothing we have that has not been given to us, and there’s nothing of us that is worthy of any praise or pride.
We must live before the Lord in a continual way; if we do so, we will refrain from proud words but rather, our attitude will be one of needing the Lord constantly, pursuing Him to gain Him, and being desperate to be built up with the saints in the Body of Christ.
Five Characteristics of the Degraded Recovered Church in the Lord’s Eyes
In the eyes of the Lord, the church in Laodicea is a degraded recovered church – she has been recovered and there are many spiritual riches and history, but at the same time there’s degradation and many problems.
The church in Laodicea thought she’s rich and in need of nothing, but actually she’s poor in life, blind in sight, and naked in conduct; therefore, she needs gold for her poverty, eyesalve for her blindness, and white garments for her nakedness.
In the Lord’s eyes, the degraded recovered church has the following five characteristics:
1. The church in Laodicea is wretched because she’s proud of being rich in the vain knowledge and doctrine, but in reality she is sorely poor in the experience of the riches of Christ. The Lord called the church in Laodicea “wretched” – the gatherings of the Brethren in their degradation are proud of being rich in the vain knowledge of doctrines, but they are poor in the experience of the riches of Christ.
If we merely know the doctrines but they are not our experience, they will become our vain knowledge. Revelation without proceeding to become experience will revert to becoming just doctrines and teachings. We need to pray to the Lord that the spiritual knowledge we have will become our experience!
2. The church in Laodicea is miserable because she is naked, blind, and full of shame and darkness.
She thinks she’s fine, in need of nothing, and fully clothed, but actually she’s miserable because she’s naked (with no living of Christ), blind (not seeing Christ in a fresh way), and full of shame and darkness due to the lack of Christ being her experience and shining on her. We need to be covered by Christ, live out Christ, see Christ, and have Him shine on us constantly.
3. The church in Laodicea is poor because she’s poor in the experience of Christ and in the spiritual reality of God’s economy. She is not poor in knowledge and understanding – she’s poor in the experience of the living Christ, and she is poor in the spiritual reality of God’s economy.
What we need is not more knowledge or understanding: we need more experience of Christ and more gaining of the reality of God’s economy.
4. The church in Laodicea is blind because she lacks the true spiritual insight in the genuine spiritual things. If we are spiritually proud and dwell on our history, not experiencing and pursuing Christ in a fresh way, we have no spiritual insight.
We may be advanced in our spiritual age but, like Eli the prophet in the Old Testament, our eyes might have become dim, and our sight that was good once upon a time, now is decreasing and diminished.
5. The church in Laodicea is naked because she does not live by Christ or live Christ as her subjective righteousness, as the second garment in her daily walk (see Psa. 45:1-2, 9, 13-14; Matt. 22:11-12; Phil. 3:8-9; Rev. 19:8).
Our garments signify our conduct, our walk; a white garment is the walk that expresses the Lord in His pure humanity, His perfect humanity.
Are we full of knowledge and understanding in the spiritual things yet naked, not living Christ and expressing Him? Do we have a “big head” full of doctrines and teachings but a naked and unclothed body?
We DO need to know the truth, study the word of God, and obtain more spiritual knowledge, but at the same time we need a white garment to match it. We need to have a living that coincides with all the things that we have learned. We need to tell the Lord,
Lord Jesus, save us from merely being rich in the vain knowledge and doctrine while being poor in the experience of the riches of Christ. Save us from being naked, blind, and full of shame and darkness by not living out Christ according to what we know and have seen. Save us from being poor in the experience of Christ and in the spiritual reality of God’s economy. Save us from lacking the true spiritual insight in the genuine spiritual things. Oh Lord, save us from not living Christ as our subjective righteousness daily!
Paying the Price to Buy Gold Refined by Fire: the Living Faith, Christ living in us
In His care and love for the church in Laodicea, after He exposed her real situation and condition, the Lord advises her to buy from Him gold refined by fire so that she may be rich, and white garments that she may be clothed and that the shame of her nakedness may not be manifested, and eyesalve to anoint her eyes so that she may see (Rev. 3:18).
The only way we can dig ourselves out of the misery, nakedness, wretchedness, blindness, and poverty in Laodicea is to pay the price again, perhaps even a higher price, to buy gold refined by fire so that we may be rich.
Once upon a time we were young and paid a certain price and we gained certain riches; now those riches that we should possess in our more advanced spiritual age are deeper, weightier, and therefore more expensive and more valuable.
In order for us to gain gold refined by fire we need to pay a greater price. Following the Lord’s pathway never gets easier; it actually becomes harder and harder, and the price to be paid is higher.
First, the Lord counsels the church in Laodicea to buy “gold refined by fire” [Rev. 3:18]. In the Bible, our 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 also typified by gold (Exo. 25:11). We partake of the divine nature of God by faith (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 may become a pure golden lampstand (Rev. 1:20) for the building of the golden New Jerusalem (21:18). Witness Lee, Life-Study of Revelation, msg. 16
What does it mean to pay the price to buy gold refined by fire from the Lord? In the Bible gold is a type of our working faith and God’s divine nature.
We may have much knowledge and many doctrines concerning Christ, but what about our living faith to partake of the divine element of Christ? We may have a lot of doctrines and knowledge about Christ, but what about substantiating these riches and possessing this Christ in our experience?
We need to pay the price to gain Christ, possess Him, and obtain Him; we need to pay the price to have this living faith as gold refined by fire. The fire that refines the gold refers to sufferings, the suffering experience allowed by the Lord; only these suffering experiences will give us this deeper and richer Christ as gold.
We need to pay the price to gain the golden faith – the living and practical faith – through the fiery trials, so that we may participate in the real gold, which is Christ Himself as the life element to His Body. This means that we need to gain more Christ – more of the living and practical Christ as our faith being lived out by us.
We need to admit before the Lord that we may have much knowledge of Him but not much experience of Him; we need to be honest with the Lord, allowing Him to shine on our situation so that He may grant us to see what is the price to pay to gain more gold.
He may require us to drop some things which He considers as a hindrance and frustration for Him being our enjoyment. He may point out specific things and matters that we need to drop and give up so that He may become more real and more rich to us.
The divine nature can only become our enjoyment through the living faith; if we have the living faith, we can participate in the divine nature.
Lord Jesus, we admit that we may have much knowledge of the Bible truths but not much of You. Lord, be our living faith. We want to live by You as our faith, the faith of the Son of God. Save us from merely knowing a lot about You yet being devoid of the practical and living faith. Shine on us, Lord, and keep us seeking You and pursuing You so that we may gain You as gold refined by fire. Lord, we consider all other things as dung: we simply want to stretch forward to pursue You, without being content or self-satisfied – we just want to gain You!
References and Hymns on this Topic
- Inspiration: the Word of God, my enjoyment in the ministry, the message by brother Minoru C. for this week, and portions from, Life-study of Revelation, msg. 16 (by Witness Lee), as quoted in the Holy Word for Morning Revival on, Returning to the Orthodoxy of the Church (2016 fall ITERO), msg. 8 (week 8), The Church in Laodicea.
- Hymns on this topic:
# I hardly know myself; / Deceived so much by pride, / I often think I’m right / And am self-satisfied. / I know Thee even less; / In doctrine, shallowly; / True revelation lack / Of Thy reality. (Hymns #426)
# Pursue Him and know Him; be found in Him. / Count all things loss for Him. / Just gain Him, obtain Him; lay hold of Him. / It’s Christ the central vision. / Forgetting the things which are behind, / Press on, pursue with this mind. / By any means each hour now redeem; / Stretch forth, lay hold of Him. (Song on Pursuing Christ)
# See the vision of Christ and the church; / Count the cost; reckon all things as loss; / Pay the price. The prize to gain Christ, / Burn the bridges; leave the world behind; / On God’s economy your heart be set / To live a life of no regrets. (Song on paying the price)
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