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Lowell Brueckner

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The Individual Call


“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.”    Rev.3:20

The Laodicean identity

What we are considering in this lesson is a call of Christ from outside the Laodicean church. From the very beginning of this lesson, I would like you to notice two Greek nouns. One is apostasion and its feminine form is apostasia. The first means divorce and the second means apostasy. They are obviously very closely related in definition and a common meaning would be separation. When Paul speaks of an apostasy in 2 Thessalonians 2:3, he is speaking of an end-time condition in the church, which can easily be interpreted as a divorce from Christ… a bride gone her own way.

Would this not describe the situation in Laodicea? Christ is outside seeking entrance and inside, the church is operating without the presence and direction of the Lord. One of the evidences of the divorce is that the mentality of the church is very different, even opposite, from the mind of Christ. The church says, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing”; Jesus says, “You are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.” Not long ago, a believer told me that he had come out of a certain group thinking that he knew just about everything. Shortly thereafter he joined a good Bible study course and very humbly confessed, “I found out I knew nothing.” The light of truth is painful to our spiritual eyes, when it gives us an accurate picture of our condition.

So also to this church, the Lord offers disciplinary measures (“those whom I love, I reprove and discipline”) that would turn their spiritual poverty to riches, their nakedness would be covered with vestments of righteousness, and their blindness would be cured by an anointing that will bring spiritual wisdom and knowledge. However, if they will not repent and submit to Him, then as He is not in them, so they will not be in Him. He will vomit them out.

Now, you will notice at the end of the message to the Laodicean body, Jesus turns his attention to the individual: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone…” A message is given to the individual in each case in all seven churches: “To him who overcomes…” (2:7; 11; 17; 23; 26-28 and 3:5; 12; 20-21).

Jesus is outside the Laodicean church door and this is His call to the church member to open the door to Him. However, this member is not a true believer or he would be with Christ outside and not inside with the other members. He is inside the church, but he needs Christ. I will come back to this individual call later.

Unbalanced, inaccurate teaching

I have noticed over the years a growing emphasis on the importance of being part of a body of believers. Of course, I will not take issue with something that is very biblical and necessary. However, I will say that such teaching must be well balanced with teaching on the relationship between the individual and the Lord. Truth becomes error when it lacks balance, and teaching on personal guidance and dependence on God is sadly lacking today. You cannot have an effectively working body, if you do not have individuals, who are strong in their personal relationship with the Lord and operate in the supernatural strength of the Holy Spirit.

Usually a message on united effort or of the ministry of the body working together will be directed strictly to a local body of believers. Such a message will not be effective, in fact it will be hypocritical, unless there is an appreciation and a recognition of the whole body of Christ and a full understanding of what the body consists. Among many, there is a great lack of an accurate understanding.

First of all, no denomination or organization can ever see itself exclusively as the church; that is usually understood, except among the cults, who exclude all others and consider themselves the only means of salvation and to leave them is to endanger your soul. Secondly, it is less understood that these entities should not consider themselves to be even a part of the church! Why? Because the church is organic and alive; the church is a people, called out of the world and separated for God. A denomination or organization likely contains these people, but it must be understood that the people are the church and not the temporal, physical and organizational body that surrounds them.

Before going any farther, I want to interject here, a very important distinction between true, believing groups and denominations that are liberal in doctrine and practice. Those who know me, know my hatred for ecumenicalism. Why do I hate it? Because it is a false, man-made attempt to bring things together, which are not from the same spiritual source and that is, in fact, a work of the devil. It is an effort to syncretize, which is defined as an attempt to unite and harmonize without critical examination or logical unity. Paul teaches, for instance, that the flesh and the spirit are contrary to each other (Gal.5:17), and those who are not born of the Spirit cannot walk in the Spirit. We cannot expect that those who have been born twice be united with those born once.  

However, thirdly, there must be an appreciation and recognition of the full body of Christ. What is this body, this church? A very good and clear answer is given us in Hebrews 12:22-23 and, to be brief, I will point out what concerns us in this article, that is, the strictly human element in the church: “You have come to… the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven… to the spirits of the righteous made perfect…” The general assembly and church are all those everywhere who are set apart for God (as the firstborn in Israel) and whose name is enrolled in the Lamb’s Book of Life. The church also consists of those, who have gone on to heaven (spirits made perfect), those sometimes called the victorious church. This is the body that Paul speaks of in Romans 12:5, 1 Corinthians 10:17, 12:12 and onward, Ephesians 2:15-22, 4:3-6, 11-16 and Colossians 3:15.

We are to recognize and appreciate every born-again saint, washed in the blood of the Lamb, regardless of his denominational ties or lack of them, over this entire planet. He is a brother, born of God, and part of our family. We are to pray for him when he suffers, rejoice with him when he is blessed. As much as is possible, we are to seek to know him, be interested in his labors, and be involved in his life. We need him and he needs us. If we lack this larger picture of the body of Christ, then we are like those that Jude calls divisive (v.19), and our talk about unity and cooperation within our particular movement or local body, is hypocrisy!

We are also one with all those, who have paved the way for us, many of whom have been tortured and have sacrificed their lives to give us Bibles in our native tongue, who have fought lies and heresies to give us good doctrine, who have brought continuing life through revivals and have given us literature and hymns for our learning and blessing. They are as much a part of the one church as anyone alive today and we ought to be as familiar, as possible, with their lives and teachings. We should read their books and sing their songs. Part of the problem in Laodicea was a tremendous arrogance, related to self-sufficiency… “I have need of nothing”.

Only Christ can build His church

Christ said, “I will build my church” and only He can build it. Only He can unite all that is godly from the church down through the ages with the work that He is doing through His church today. They are all living stones that no man can give life to and no man can organize or control. That plan will continue into the future to finally bring about the answer to the prayer that He taught us to pray: “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” As in Ephesians 4, only He calls forth the various ministries necessary to equip the saints and build up the body of Christ. One ministry may be called from one area and may come together with one from another area, perhaps without any knowledge between them that it is happening. They will fit together perfectly. (see note below)

I will enter one more principle into this matter of recognizing and appreciating the entire, true church. We are talking about a supernatural church with supernatural ministry for eternal purposes. To operate according to natural talents and abilities will not fulfill the purpose of God. Look at the nine gifts in 1 Corinthians 12-14. They are all supernatural and the motivational force behind them is a supernatural love that only comes from heaven. Only agape enables us to feed the flock of God. I suggest that the gifts mentioned in Romans 12:6-8 are also supernatural gifts. Although they may appear more natural than those in 1 Corinthians, they are given directly by God, “according to the grace given to us… according to the proportion of his faith.”

There is nothing natural at all in these ministries. The apostles are not encouraging the member of the body of Christ to be faithful in functioning according to human or fleshly ways, as the Laodiceans thought themselves to be rich, they became wealthy and in need of nothing. That will produce wood, hay and stubble. Peter takes similar gifts… hospitality, speaking, and serving, but notice: “Whoever speaks, as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies” (1 P.4:9-11) If you do all this by your natural talents and abilities, with which you were born, you will get the glory for that… and rightly so! You did it. But if you do it in the power of the Holy Spirit, as Peter commands, only that way “in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever, Amen.”

Individual call for service

Although Jesus sent his disciples out two-by-two and that may well be the normal principle in Christian service, don’t make it a hard-and-fast law! Paul received his ministry to the Gentiles personally and Ananias was called individually and alone to go to him. Peter apparently traveled from Jerusalem to Joppa alone, then Jewish disciples from Joppa accompanied him to Caesarea. Stephen preached alone and died alone. Philip went down to Samaria and the Bible gives no record of any companion. Afterwards he went from Samaria, down to Jerusalem and on towards Gaza alone. Then the Spirit of the Lord snatched him away alone.

The heavenly architect has the blue print and must be given freedom to fulfill that plan in our lives. I recently wrote of a Romanian hero, Nicolae Moldoveanu, who spent five years of torture in a communist prison for his faith, composing 361 songs in his head and committing them to memory. In all, he wrote over 6,000 songs and all Christians in Romania, regardless of denomination, sing them. He said, I don’t want to be part of a group, because they would control me… they would enslave me. But in the Lord Jesus, Who is the Truth, there is liberty. The truth will set you free. Who can understand this, if he does not belong to Jesus? All that comes into the Christian life is a plan of God. You walk and the Holy Spirit guides. I am human: I can be wrong (he said it so humbly). I ask that I will not hinder the unfolding of His plan.” Well-meaning Christians could easily hinder the unfolding of His plan and thereby do what a communist prison could not do. Even though they took away his paper and pencil, the Holy Spirit gave him supernatural memory. The plan, the enabling, and the glory goes to God.  

There is individual calling in the Kingdom of God, from Abraham to Paul, and everyone will give individual account for his calling. “So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God” (Ro.14:12). “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Co.5:10)

I won’t apologize for my apologetics up to this point. It is so necessary today, when the Laodicean mentality glorifies men and their abilities, totally deceived in thinking that they are of great service to God. With King Saul they boast, “I have carried out the command of the Lord” (1 Sam.15:13), but the bleating sheep drown out their voice.

Personal communion with Jesus

Now, let us go on to the meat and the joy of this study. Perhaps by clearing out the Laodicean air and lukewarmness, we will be able to breathe and drink more freely from the ambiance of the Holy Spirit. Wise Christians tell us of back door revivals, before God opened the windows of heaven and drenched His waiting people with showers of blessing. The old, wrinkled wineskins and last generation’s garments had to march self-righteously out of the assembly before the new wine and the holy white linen of fresh garments could quench the thirst and clothe the souls of those who were praying and prepared for blessing.

In former studies we contemplated the eternal, perfect, extreme love of the Lord for His disciples, past and present. We meditated on His intense desire to meet and eat with them. Now we see Him with a sick heart, because of a deceived, self-satisfied, self-sufficient people. They cast Jesus aside and got wealthy by themselves and they have all they want.

Jesus goes to the door, raps and speaks distinctly, “Behold I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.” “Is there anyone in there, who can recognize My voice?” A pastor told me about a year ago: “We’re preaching the gospel to our people. We need to get the church people saved.” He was talking about evangelical people and in that church people are responding to the gospel.

The first step to faith is in the hearing. He has already said it six times… “He that has an ear to hear, let him hear.” He said it to the multitudes after His parables and some hearers came when He was alone. He unfolded to them the secrets of the Kingdom of God. In these days there are hungry, thirsty people who are ready to listen to the Word. They’re not looking at their watches; they have time for God. When people have ears for the things of God, faith follows right behind. They open the door by faith.

I am convinced that the Laodicean situation depicts the evangelical church of our day, but from that sickening condition, there comes a bright, lively response that surpasses anything I have seen throughout my 50 years of ministry. “Yes, we hear His voice,” they seem to say, “and we want Him more than anything or anyone else! We don’t want the things that He can give; He is whom we want!”

Therefore in these trying times, in the middle of a perverse society and an almost apostate church, Christ stands at the door with extreme love and intense desire looking to share communion and spread the table for a hungry people, all the hungrier, because of the darkness and deception that surrounds them.

Nothing has changed, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is the instigator, who causes us to will and do of His good pleasure. He’s the one rapping and calling. If there is a response that leads to an open door, He is provoking it, as well. What then is ahead? Well, He already has told us and it’s a promise. “I will come in.” It is He that we seek and He meets with the individual. It is an individual call, but there are thousands of people around the world, who hear His voice and are responding.

They are not happy with Laodicea and are not reporting all the wonderful things that Laodicea is doing and all the property, even stadiums, that she is buying. They are not satisfied with the beautiful new sanctuary in the suburbs, nor with the spread and growth of “the work”. They are certainly not saying, as I heard a missionary say a while back, “We’re seeing more positive things happening these days than ever before.” That man hears no knocking and no voice. His table is already spread in the fellowship halls and social centers, where people are having a wonderful time.

But among them are those with parched souls, who yearn for the Spring of Life. They stand alone in their company and few, if any, can understand them.  “Come in, Lord Jesus,” they cry, “You are all I long for. Nothing less will do.”

Christ is enough for me, Christ is enough for me;
Everything I need is in you, everything I need.

He has promised and He will fulfill His promise with intense desire. “I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.”

NOTE: I give a much fuller teaching on the church and give several examples of how it works practically in my book, God Made the Country, Chapter 16.


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