The TREE OF LIFE is a weekly teaching summary. The Tree of Life for the week ending 02-04-01
The Doctrine of Shame. Part 2.
Philippians 3:19 "Whose termination is destruction, [and why?...] their god is their emotion, [therefore] their glory will be a time of shame."
By way of review, we have already noted, in our introduction to the Doctrine of Shame, that this "shame" is part of an unfortunate experience that will take place for many believers at the Judgment Seat of Christ after the Rapture. After the Rapture (the "exit-resurrection" of the Church), every believer finds himself at the event known as the Big Genuflex, PHI 2:9-11, Rom 14:10-12. At this time, the entire Royal Family of God will identify Jesus Christ as the Head of the family to the glory of God the Father. Winners (overcomers) will experience gratitude for the positive decisions they made toward the plan of God in time; losers ("lukewarm" believers) will experience a momentary shame for their rejection of that plan.
Point 2: The Shame of the Loser Believer in Time.
The importantance of this doctrine can not be overemphasized, as it is a great challenge for us to be prepared for one of history's greatest event, the coming of our Lord at the Rapture. Our Lord prophesied that because the Jews had rejected Him, they would be scattered throughout the world during the Jewish-Roman war of A.D. 70, Luke 21:24. He also prophesied that before His return, the nation Israel would return to their homeland, and that is exactly what happened on May 14, 1948. In spite of the constant disorder and turmoil in the Middle East, the pieces are falling together perfectly for the Second Coming of Christ.
The Second Coming will not take place until seven years after the Rapture. At the Rapture of the Church, Christ does not actually return to the earth as in the Second Advent - we meet Him in the air. The Lord promised the disciples and all of us that He would be coming back for us, JOH 14:1-3. He is coming back soon, to take us with Him, not to leave us here on the earth (later, during His Millennial Reign, winners will rule with Him on earth).
We are also told that just before our Lord comes back there would be many capital and labor conflicts, JAM 5:1-6. Scoffers will be everywhere, 2PE 3:3-4. Famines, violence, and wars will break out, MAT 24:3-8. Violence has become an epidemic; more than 100 conflicts have erupted since 1990, about twice the number for previous decades. There will also be a rise in lawlessness, 2TH 2:7-10, and a rise in occultism, 1TI 4:1-5; Tarot reading and fortune telling grow more popular every day. There will also be a rise in apostasy, 1TI 4:1; today, many Churches deny the eternal truths of Scripture and the power of the Holy Spirit, replacing them with ungodly values. We are also told of the coming New World Order, Rev 13. Increased centralization of world, financial, and political power is part of the groundwork for the soon-to-arrive world power system in the hands of Antichrist. The world has entered a time of dramatic and threatening change. Everyone is trying to build a peaceful world, but there is no peace within people's hearts.
Point 3: Questions and Principles.
We need to understand several sets of principles in this doctrine. We must answer these for ourselves (and no one else):
1. When I stand in the presence of the Lord at the Judgment Seat of Christ will He say (MAT 25:21,23) to me, "Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in a few things. I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the perfect happiness of the Lord"?
2. Or will I be ashamed that I have rejected the spiritual skills, ignored the divine initiative of grace, and lived in ignorance concerning the predesigned plan of God?
How long has God known my needs? God, from eternity past, has wisely provided for all my needs, based on His grace and love for me, PHI 4:19, "And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus." As my Father, He has provided everything for me, so why live a life of anxiety, worry, concern, doubt, and fear, while ignoring His plan for my life?! God has known about my needs from eternity past and provided for them in my very own portfolio of invisible assets, and I must keep His authority always before me. Therefore, I will need a wake-up call from divine discipline from time to time, HEB 12:6. The Lord has my best interests in mind at all times because He has always loved me from eternity past.
When God disciplines me to give me that wake-up call, I should simply say to myself, "I have been disciplined by the Lord and I am grateful, because He wants me to stand in His presence at the resurrection and receive eternal rewards that He provided for me in eternity past, which glorify Him and bless me forever and ever." I have been the object of His love from eternity past...and still I am now, in spite of myself.
1. God is aware of my lack of capacity for blessing and He seeks to adjust that capacity through divine principles such as the law of volitional responsibility and divine discipline, GAL 6:7, Hos 8:7. The very fact that we reap what we sow is a manifestation of God's grace, protecting and guiding us to deliver us from the experience of shame at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
2. When I reject the correction of God in my life, things only get worse, and what is not restrained eventually becomes lawless. Therefore, in His grace, God corrects me from time to time. The laws of divine discipline and the authority that God has ordained through the laws of divine establishment are designed to preserve me from self-destruction and self-induced misery.
3. If the Lord does not go before me, I am on the wrong track, DEU 31:8.
4. I must also learn that many times it takes divine discipline to discover who is really in charge. The purpose of discipline is to identify the proper authority, and to possess authority orientation as a believer is necessary for spiritual advance to maturity.
1. I have been given the capacity to love the Lord, and at the same time, the discipline to fear and respect Him. Therefore I can be taught (from authority) to love (from respect). In fact, there is no true love without respect.
2. I have the option of learning and using the spiritual skills to glorify God, or living for myself and my goals and plans. The only people who are truly happy in life are those who have the ability to identify true authority in life.
4. Through divine discipline I can learn two important facts of life -volition (not circumstances) is the issue in life, and divine punishment is the one alternative to positive volition toward doctrine.
5. As I continue to use the spiritual skills, I learn that God always provides for my needs, PHI 4:13,19.
1. There is never any reason for me to not trust Scriptures like JOH 3:16 or ACT 16:31, or ever doubt the divine promises and Bible doctrines that teach me what God has provided in grace-everything I need for both time and the eternal future.
2. What God does not provide, I do not need. My responsibility is to follow the predesigned plan of God and take the "high ground" of spiritual maturity, through the function of the ten problem-solving devices deployed on the "FLOT" line (forward line of troops) of the soul. I can not advance without a personal sense of destiny.
Point 4: The Warnings of the Lord to the Lukewarm Believer Concerning Shame.
Because our Lord and Savior knows the seriousness of rewards and blessings in the eternal state and the unfortunate experience of shame and embarrassment, He gives a warning to "lukewarm" believers. In fact, the seven messages to the churches of Asia in Rev
2-3 are extremely practical, but perhaps none depicts the present conditions in both Europe and North America as does the message to Laodicea, a church that had become very stagnant and ineffective in its deceptive self-reliance and self-sufficiency.
REV 3:14-16 "And to the angel [messenger] of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this: 'I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I would that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.'"
Here the Lord Himself warns and instructs us against the deadening effects of trusting in material wealth (the details of life) rather than pursuing a vital faith relationship with Jesus Christ. The Laodicean church had lost its impact on the world because it had become occupied with the world and had left the Lord standing outside. There are very subtle dangers inherent in freedom and prosperity.
It is interesting that the seven churches of Asia actually correspond to seven historical stages of the church from Pentecost to the Rapture, and certainly the church of Laodicea illustrates the conditions of the church of this century in a large portion of the world. In REV 2:2, "the church in Ephesus" had to deal with those who falsely called themselves apostles; this was a common problem for the early church. During this time, which historians call the period of Pentecost, many of the major problems had to do with the gifts, especially the temporary gifts. This period is also called the Apostolic Period, Pentecost to A.D. 100 (The Faith Defined).
Then the church of Smyrna in REV 2:9 went through tremendous tribulation and poverty. Many historians present this as referring to the time of the last apostle, John, and the persecution that followed. This is the Roman Persecution Period, A.D. 100-313 (The Faith Defended).
In REV 2:13, the church of Pergamum is said to have dwelt "where Satan's throne is." This passage is believed to represent the time of Constantine, who said he had actually taken the place of Christ. This is called the Old Catholic Period, A.D. 313-590 (The Faith Disputed). It was then that prayers for the dead began, as well as the sign of the cross, wax candles, the reverence of angels and dead saints, the use of images, the Mass as a daily celebration, the doctrine of purgatory, the exaltation of Mary as the "Mother of God," the priests dressing differently from laymen, etc.
In REV 2:18-20, the church at Thyatira tolerated the woman Jezebel, "who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray, so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols."Church historians correlate this time to the ascendancy of Roman Catholicism, thus called the Roman Catholic Period, A.D. 590-1517 (The Faith Defiled).
In REV 3:1-2, the Church of Sardis is told, "I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God." This is said to be a time when the Church woke up, during that great historical event we call the Reformation, the Protestant Period, A.D. 1517-1795 (The Faith Discovered).
In REV 3:8, those at the church at Philadelphia are described as believers that "have a little power, and have kept My Word, and have not denied My name." This statement makes reference to a time of full restoration of New Testament truths and missionary enterprises as never before, which took place in the 18th and 19th centuries in England and the United States. It is commonly called the Missionary and New Testament Assemblies Period, A.D. 1795-1870 (The Faith Discerned).
Finally, in REV 3:14, we meet the lukewarm church of Laodicea, analogous to the Modernist and Ecumenical Period, A.D. 1870 to the Rapture (The Faith Denied).
It is certainly no coincidence that the order in which these seven churches are described matches the chronolgy of events concerning the church of Jesus Christ throughout this dispensation. However, whether one accepts these principles or not, the Laodicean church certainly illustrates the condition of the majority of the church in the 20th century.
In another huge "coincidence" (or perhaps by divine design?!) we see something very similar portraying the seven different historical stages of the church in the parables of Mat 13.
1. The "Sower and the Seed," vv. 1-23 (Ephesus).
2. The "Wheat and Tares" (false doctrine introduced), vv. 24-30,36-43 (Smyrna).
3. The "Mustard Seed" (unnatural growth, worldliness), vv. 31-32 (Pergamum).
4. The "Leaven" (departure from the truth), vv. 33-35 (Thyatira).
5. The Hidden Treasure (discoveries of Scriptural truths), v. 44 (Sardis).
6. The "Pearl of Great Price" (the Lord's Name and Word acknowledged), vv. 45-46 (Philadelphia).
7. The "Dragnet" (separating the true from the false), vv. 47-50 (Laodicea).
This introduces our current passage in REV 3:14, and the church of Laodicea. We will study these believers in detail and see that they were a Church whose time of glory will be a time of shame, only momentary, but still a time of embarrassment and regret.