Forerunner, "Ready Answer," March-April 2004

"Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door,
I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me."

Revelation 3:20

Most of us have concluded that we are now in the midst of the Laodicean era of God's church. This requires each of us to be alert, watchful, and on guard against the attitudes that permeate this era. We must protect ourselves from this deadly, Babylonish system and not allow its influences to put us to sleep spiritually.

How can we detect those traces of Laodiceanism that exist in our lives? What can we look for? What are the signposts?

Notice one of the descriptions the Bible gives of a Laodicean: "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me" (Revelation 3:20).

Here, Christ is reporting that—in His own church—some know that He is at the door, but they will not rouse themselves from their spiritual lethargy to open it. By implication, they will not invite Him into their lives. As unbelievable as it sounds, there are those in His church who will keep Him on the outside looking in (see Song of Songs 5:2-3)!

But there is hope. In Revelation 3:20, that word "if" holds out hope—hope that a Laodicean can repent, can change, can choose to open the door to Christ rather than ignore Him. Are we opening the door? Are we opening ourselves up to Christ to build the kind of relationship that will lead to eternal life (John 17:3)?

God's Children

Before answering those questions,we need to be aware of the relationship between God and ourselves. We often talk about God's purpose and God's will. Unfortunately, sometimes it is as if we are here, and God's purpose and will are way over there—somehow separate from us.

The truth is we are God's purpose; we are God's will. Is there any greater purpose that God can be working out than reproducing Himself? Of course, the answer is no! We are going to be His greatest creative achievement.

It is God's will that each of us be one of His children (John 1:12), however improbable that might sound to the human mind. The depth of His love for us, His children, is beyond our comprehension. As Jesus testified in John 17:23, God loves us every bit as much as He loves Jesus Christ—no more, no less.

God has probably spent billions of years planning for us—His children. All that time, He has been waiting for our birth. Even if Christ should not come for another hundred years (and it seems seriously doubtful that it could be that far away!), compared to billions of years, for God, our birth is now. The water has broken!

Consider the anticipation that builds when a mother has to wait nine months for a baby to be born. What must the anticipation be for God? He has been waiting billions of years for the birth of His children!

There is nothing He is more intensely focused on than us—His children. In fact, His focus is so intense that Jesus says that God even knows the number of hairs on our heads (Luke 12:7)! That is minute and detailed focus and attention.

When it comes to His children—you and me—absolutely nothing escapes His attention. To see the truth of this, notice Job 7:17-18: "What is man, that You should magnify him, that You should set Your heart on him, that You should visit him every morning, and test him every moment?"

God tests us every moment—not some moments, not most moments, but every moment. Test can mean "examine." God is scrutinizing every moment of our lives because He is our Father and takes His responsibility to love and care for us very seriously.

Therefore, with that intensity of focus, love, and care, it should come as no surprise that God has promised to supply all our needs (Philippians 4:19). That includes everything we will need to make it into His Kingdom—to be His children. He has supplied us with the tools we need to open the door to build a relationship with Himself and Christ that will lead to sonship and eternal life.

Relationship-Building Tools

The first set of relationship-building tools He has supplied is prayer, study, meditation, and fasting. However, none of these will do us any good until we make the right kind of effort in those areas. These tools are there, just lying at our doorstep, but we are required to make the effort, to open the door up to these activities.

When we open our Bibles and study, we are opening the door to the Word of God—we are opening the door to Jesus Christ Himself. By the right amount and kind of prayer, meditation, and fasting, we are opening the door to knowing the True God and His Son Jesus Christ.

Another tool God provides is the weekly Sabbath service. However, if we do not open the doors of our minds and hearts as we attend them, we have closed the door to God's inspiration and communication with us.

Before the scattering of the church, consider how many tens of thousands of people sat in Sabbath services for ten, twenty, thirty, forty, and more years. How many of these Sabbath-keepers are still around? The tools can be there, right at our doorstep, yet we still have to open the door.

Luke 10:16 shows that one way to slam the door shut on Christ is to look at the men giving the messages rather than the God who is behind them: "My followers, whoever listens to you is listening to me. Anyone who says 'No' to you is saying 'No' to me. And anyone who says 'No' to me is really saying 'No' to the one who sent me" [Contemporary English Version (CEV)].

If we believe in how minutely God is involved in our lives, then it follows that what is preached in Sabbath services has a purpose and is allowed by the Sovereign God. Therefore, a complaint that we have about a speaker or the message is a complaint against God. Despising the spiritual food God has prepared is dangerous ground to tread.

This does not mean the speaker is infallible, by any means, but the wrong attitude effectively diminishes what we can glean from his message. A safer approach would be to offer a prayer for help to understand and see how the food is for our good (Psalm 84:11) rather than to slam the door on the message or the messenger. Either we trust and have faith in God's sovereignty and His love for us, or we do not. There is no safe middle ground (Deuteronomy 30:19).

Another tool God gives us is Forerunner. It shows up on our doorstep, so to speak. If we believe how minutely God is involved in our lives, then again it follows that the information in this magazine is not accidental.

Notice Forerunner's subtitle, Preparing Christians for the Kingdom of God. Are those just some words on a page, or do they mean something? If we believe that God is thoroughly involved in the lives of His children and providing for them, then they mean exactly what they say.

Matthew 25 begins with the parable of the Ten Virgins. Five were wise, and five were foolish. What separated the wise from the foolish? Was it not preparation and readiness? The wise were ready and the foolish were not. The wise were Christians who used the tools available to prepare themselves for the Kingdom of God.

How do we treat Forerunner? Do we take lightly what this magazine is all about? When Forerunner comes in the mail, have we finished the last one? Or worse, have we not yet even started the last one?

What would be the most common excuse for this failure? I have not had the time! Not having the time to seek first the Kingdom of God? What is wrong with that picture?

I have found myself uttering that excuse about time. Please realize that, when I have used that excuse, it was not because I was so busy praying, studying, fasting, and meditating that I just could not squeeze in anything else! No, the reason I do not have time is that I am too busy with my priorities and my pursuits rather than God's. That is a deadly and stupid attitude—it is Laodiceanism.

If I believe I am in desperate need, I will do everything I can to seek first the Kingdom of God—I will make the time, no matter what. But if I believe I have need of nothing (Revelation 3:17), then I will be lackadaisical about my relationship-building responsibilities with Christ. I will be a foolish virgin that is careless about fulfilling the responsibilities required to prepare for the Kingdom of God.

Jesus compares the Kingdom of God to a treasure hidden in a field (Matthew 13:44). One has to work hard to find a hidden treasure, and in the same way, we have to work hard to find and understand God's truths. God wants to know whether we really hunger and thirst for Him. Will we work at it as if our lives depended upon it? In reality, it does!

When it comes to Forerunner, I do not know which month will contain the nugget of truth that will make a difference in my life. I do not know which article will contain that nugget. I do not know which paragraph—perhaps even which word!—will make a difference.

Gambling With Eternal Life

This means I have to read every word of it, every month, to be sure I do not miss any nugget God has hidden for me to search out and find. If I am not diligent, I am playing Russian roulette with my eternal life. Russian roulette is the game where a player loads a bullet into an empty revolver, spins the cylinder, puts the gun to his head, and pulls the trigger. The first man to blow his brains out loses.

Does a game get any more stupid than leaving one's life to chance? Yet, those who play Russian roulette lose only their physical lives. How much more incredibly stupid is it to risk one's spiritual—eternal—life?

Proverbs 30:2 gives a perspective that applies here: "I am far too stupid to be considered human" (CEV). A saying from half a century ago mirrors this verse: "He does not have the brains God gave little green apples." "He is dumber than dirt" is similar.

To play Russian roulette with eternal life is "dumber than dirt." It just does not get any lower and more idiotic than that. How mentally fogged up and sleepy would a person have to be to take that kind of risk?

Our calling is irrevocable (Romans 11:29), and it is God's will that we succeed (John 6:39-40). And when a thing is God's will, Isaiah 14:24 says, "Surely, as I have thought, so it shall come to pass, and as I have purposed, so it shall stand." God has given us everything we need to succeed; we just have to open the door.

Are we opening the door? There are some easy tests:

» Are we diligently praying, studying, meditating, fasting, and not allowing our deceitful and sleepy natures to accept excuses for failure?

» Are we opening our minds and hearts during services by being alert and eager?

» When Forerunner comes in the mail, have we completely read the last one?

» Are we wise or foolish virgins? Have we been lulled to sleep and see no need for urgency (II Peter 3:4)?

God knows the true answers to each one of these questions. Do we?

These relationship-building tools are our Christian responsibilities. They are the daily, little things given to us that, in a large measure, tell God the real intentions of our hearts. Failure to handle these "trifles" proves us as unfaithful servants (Luke 16:10-13).

One who gives careless attention to his responsibilities is a Laodicean. We need to open our doors to Christ as never before because, as Romans 13:11 says, "And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep, for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed."