Never Assume You're Ready!!!
From the Main Message of
Bread Upon The Waters Ministry
We are living in the Church Age of Laodicea. This is a belief held by a number of students of Prophecy. But, while holding to this belief in regard to expected future events, most students of Prophecy overlook the spiritual implications of this belief as it applies to the present spiritual state of the Church. Individual Christians, in turn, overlook the personal spiritual implications it has for themselves.
This writer has received e-mail from a number of visitors to this site saying of themselves that "I'm ready!"
Those individuals obviously did not realize that just in saying that, they were identifying themselves as normal Laodicea-type Christians. Neither did they realize that their making that assumption was in itself evidence that they were anything but ready.
In Revelations 3:17 Jesus, in His analysis of the spiritual state of the Church of Laodicea, makes this statement:
"You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked."
Some interpreters of Prophecy have made the shallow assumption that Jesus was saying that this was a materially wealthy Church. That, however, is an assumption that is inconsistent with the context of the seven letters. The Greek word that Jesus used for "rich" is "plouto". In Revelation 2:9, He used the same word to tell the materially impoverished Church of Smyrna that it was rich, which by the context we have to understand to mean "spiritually rich". The same meaning applies to the Church of Laodicea. This is shown in Revelation 3:18, where Jesus tells them "to buy from Me gold tried in fire, that you may be rich". Again, it is the same Greek word. The problem with the Church of Laodicea is not that it is materially wealthy. The problem is that the Christians within that Church generally yet erroneously believe that they are spiritually rich. In thinking that they "do not need a thing", they are saying that they think they have "arrived", that they are everything that Christians are supposed to be. Which, in relation to the Second Coming means that they think they are ready - exactly what some have said to this writer.
Yet Jesus went on to tell them that they were in very bad shape spiritually.
The Biblical Perspective
Without going into detail about what is wrong with the people in the Church of Laodicea, (see the related page) we will contrast the Laodicean attitude with two great men of God in the Bible, Moses and St. Paul.
In Exodus 33, we read of a special tent that Moses set up outside the camp, which he called "the tent of meeting". This was apparently not the Tabernacle, which was also called the "Tent of Meeting". This was his own place to meet alone with the Lord. We might call it his "prayer closet". In verse 11, we read of God speaking to him there face to face, as a man speaks with a friend.
Before we come to the point of this, consider what the stature of Moses was at that time. He had already called down the plagues on Egypt and led Israel through the Red Sea. He had already called down the manna from Heaven to feed them. He had received the original Ten Commandments, and the instructions for building the Tabernacle and constructing the Ark of the Covenant. If ever there was a man who had reason to believe that he had "arrived", it was Moses. But look at what he says to God in verse 13:
"If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you."
Moses, at the peak of his ministry, did not think he had "arrived". On the contrary, he seemed to think that he had a lot to learn. Few if any modern Christians have done anything that can be compared to what Moses had already done through faith in God. Yet these Laodicean Christians want to assume that they are ready? If they do, it is more likely than not evidence of how much trouble they are in spiritually.
Even secular historians recognize St. Paul as one of the most influential men in human history, to the point that some critics of Christianity try to say that he was almost solely responsible for inventing the Christian Faith, which is to say that the Gospel of Jesus Christ was basically his invention. While we would not believe this, we would, if knowledgeable about Church history, recognize that he probably contributed more to the beginning of Christianity than any of the other Apostles, except maybe Peter and John.
There is no question that only Peter matched him, to our knowledge, in the amount of spiritual power that was manifested in his ministry. It is notable that the greatest manifestation of spiritual power in Paul's ministry occurred while he was at Ephesus (Act 19:10-12). Therefore, if any Christian, at any time, had honest grounds for saying that he had "arrived", it would have been St. Paul during his ministry in Ephesus. This has notable relevance to what he says about himself in the Epistle of I Corinthians, because he wrote that letter from Ephesus (I Corinthians 16:8) during that time.
So consider, in that context, what he says about himself in I Corinthians 9:26 & 27:
Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air.
No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
Paul considered it necessary to practice constant self-discipline to be sure that he would make it. He was not "sitting on his blessed assurance", as the saying goes. If he, at the peak of his ministry, did not, how much less should any of us?
And there's more. Paul also makes a relevant statement in Philippians 3:12-14
12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.
13 Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,
14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
This passage was written several years later, while Paul was under house arrest in Rome. By that time, most of his ministry was behind him. He had already "turned the world upside down" (Acts 17:6, KJV). Again, if anybody had reason to think he had arrived, it was Paul, and more than before. So look at what he said. He knew he wasn't perfect yet. He was pressing on toward the goal.
So should all of us.
If this was the attitude of Moses and St. Paul, we are forced to an inevitable conclusion: If a contemporary Christian, no matter how committed and "spirit-filled", etc., he thinks he is; no matter how apparently effective a ministry he may be doing, makes the assumption that he is ready, his merely doing so is tantamount to proof that he is not. He is, by making that assumption rather committing a sin of presumption so serious that it will at best totally preclude the possibility of his really begin ready.
As stated in the "Strangers and Pilgrims on the Earth" section of this site, there are a number of standards to which we must measure up if we want to be ready. The grace of God will empower us to measure up to these standards, but it will not cover for our failure to measure up.
If you want to have a prayer - literally - of really being ready,
NEVER ASSUME THAT YOU ARE!!!
See also the
"Being Ready Checklist"
Jesus REALLY is coming soon.
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