Two rogues entered the domain of a certain king. Knowing of his love for fine clothes, they presented themselves with great solemnity as master weavers. As the curious citizens gathered around, these “weavers” opened their baggage and brought forth magnificent-looking garments as convincing proofs of their skill.
Soon word reached the king of two most excellent weavers who could deliver to him the ultimate in royal apparel. Intrigued, he summoned them to his court, where they proposed to weave for him, from the lightest and airiest of materials, a fabric of special qualities. From it they would fashion clothing that, when worn by the king, would reveal fools and incompetents.
“These special clothes,” explained the weavers, “cannot be seen except by the wise and learned. A fool or incompetent person who looks upon these clothes would see absolutely nothing.”
This appealed to the king greatly, for he considered himself very wise and hoped to use these special clothes to fill his court with only the wisest men. So a large sum of money was handed over, and the two weavers began to make the special garments for the king.
They rented a small building, setting up looms and sewing tables and spinning wheels for thread. Immediately they started working the looms, measuring, cutting, sewing. For days and days, even far into the night, the weavers seemed to labor at a feverish pace.
The king’s courtiers, curious to see the progress on the king’s new clothes, began to make their appearance at the little shop. Much to their surprise, they could see nothing. It appeared that the men were sewing, but with no thread, weaving, but producing no fabric. Now all of them had heard about the qualities of the king’s special clothes. Not wanting to appear fools, or even worse, to lose their jobs, they exclaimed how beautiful the clothes were, each one admiring the patterns and colors of the cloth as the weavers explained it all in great detail.
Word came back to the king that these were the most magnificent clothes the world had ever seen, well worth the expense. Every member of the king’s court praised the skillful workmanship of the men so much that the king conferred upon them the title, “Royal Weavers.”
Soon the day came for the king to view his new clothes. He sat eagerly upon his throne, surrounded by his courtiers, ladies-in-waiting, and ministers. The trumpets sounded, the doors to the great hall opened, and the Royal Weavers entered the room with much pomp and ceremony, seeming to carry large bundles. With great flourish the two men called for a table to be brought. They then laid the unseen clothing out upon the table to display it before the king.
Everyone cheered and proclaimed how wonderful the clothes were. They extolled their beauty and described the colors and patterns with great detail. The king was stunned. Why couldn’t he see the clothes? He knew he wasn’t stupid or a fool. “It must be that I am incompetent to be the king,” he thought to himself. “Well, I mustn’t let anyone know.”
Noticing that all eyes were fixed on his astonished expression, he quickly spoke up: “Why, ... why, these are stunning! I have never seen such wonderful clothes! I am so pleased that I will give you twice what you asked for. I am so pleased that I declare today a holiday, and I will wear the new clothes in a parade later this afternoon.” Everyone cheered and agreed that this was a splendid idea.
So it came about that the king led a grand parade. He proudly strutted through the town, wearing only his crown. All along the route the people cheered and proclaimed the excellency of the king’s new clothes, for the word about the special properties of these clothes had been spread far and wide, and no one wanted to be exposed for being a fool.
Towards the end of the parade route, a little child stood with his mother on a street corner. He was an honest and lively sort of boy, and his only desire was to catch a glimpse of his sovereign, whom he greatly admired. When the king came into view, his little eyes widened, and he blurted out over the noise of the cheering crowd, “Mother! The king has no clo...”
Just in the nick of time, his mother, anticipating his outspokenness, clapped her hand over his mouth.
“Hush, child,” she commanded, hoping to save her son from an awkward and embarrassing situation.
“But, Mother, the...” Her stern look overrode his youthful impetuosity, so he stood in silence as the parade passed by, wondering in his young mind why so many adults could not see what was so obvious to him.
On the way home, his mother explained to him the necessity for his continued silence. “After all,” she said in a very concerned tone, “you must think about your future. If you establish yourself as a fool at this early age, you will not be allowed into school. And without a good education, who knows how you will end up?”
“But, Mother, he didn’t really have any clothes on, did he?” asked the child with all sincerity.
The mother hesitated. “Of course he was wearing the clothes. Do you know why you can’t see them?”
“No,” said the child, “I thought it was because they weren’t really there.”
“No, no. That’s not it at all, my son. It is only because you are so young and unlearned that the clothes are not revealed to your eyes. You must study what has been said about the king’s clothing and gain wisdom. Then you will be able to see them.”
“Yes, my son?”
“Did you see the clothes?”
She hesitated again. Of course she had not seen the clothes, but her motherly instincts told her that for the sake of her son’s future she must make him believe.
“Of course I saw the clothes,” she lied, and rattled off a description of the king’s apparel that she had memorized from a flyer. “If you will only believe and study and become wise, then you will see them, too.”
With a trusting heart, the little child took in all that his mother had told him. “I want to believe,” he said with moist eyes. “I really want to see what everyone else does.”
Having followed the story this far, you are probably wondering what went wrong. Wasn’t the little child supposed to speak the truth boldly and persuade the whole crowd with his frankness and honesty? Yes, that’s how the traditional story goes, but in reality it isn’t that easy.
The Son of God said, “The gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it.”1 He also said, “Many false prophets will arise, and will mislead many.” According to Him, only a few will listen to the voice of truth, and most will be led astray.
Of course, you might dismiss the story of the king’s special clothing as preposterous. After all, who would pay good money for something that is neither visible nor tangible? But what about unity and love in today’s Christian churches? Is that unity visible? Do all agree, being made complete in the same mind and the same judgment,2 maintaining the same love, intent on one purpose, doing nothing from selfishness or vain conceit,3 striving together with one mind for the faith of the gospel?4 Is there a self-sacrificing love being practiced among the brethren? Do they “put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity??5
How are you clothed? Galatians 3:27 says, “All of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” And Romans 13:14 makes it clear what being clothed with Him means: “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh.” So how can someone say that he is actually baptized into the Body of Christ and clothed with Christ if he is making provision for doctrinal differences (dissensions) and denominations (factions) in the Church? Doesn’t Galatians 5:20 make it clear that dissensions and factions are of the flesh? If this is what a person has been baptized into, then he is clothed, not with Christ, but with the flesh.
The Church, the Bride of Christ, makes herself ready for the Bridegroom by being clothed in special wedding garments: “And it was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.”6 But many today are sold a phony bill of goods.
“The Master Doctrine Weavers” say that righteous acts are not necessary to be ready to meet the Lord; it is only necessary that a person believe. They say that righteous acts are clothing of an inferior quality. They say that the truly wise and learned clothe themselves only in the diaphanous garment of belief and shun the very suggestion of works.
They say it is not required of a disciple to give up his possessions but only to be willing.7
They claim that believers do not need to agree or be in unity but merely to overlook their differences.8
They assert repeatedly that obedience to the Son of God is not essential, but only belief in His death, burial, and resurrection.9
They have been weaving their spell for centuries, making people feel so snug and secure in their beliefs that not even the word of God will make them tremble. They have discredited what is observable: love,10 unity,11 obedience,12 deeds,13 and lifestyle.14 They have exalted instead what cannot be seen: so-called faith and belief.
If everyone can be persuaded that good fruit is invisible (faith) and visible fruit (works) does not matter, then no one will admit that the tree is full of bad fruit and needs to be chopped down.15
Many people today think they are richly clothed with Christ when in reality they, like the Laodicean Church, are “wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.”16 They do not see their need for the pure white linen, the righteous deeds of obedience in which the true Bride of Christ will be clothed.17 Should they not follow the advice to the Laodiceans and get “white garments, that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes, that you may see”?18
Those who have put their confidence in such doctrines may feel confident of their eternal destiny now, but what will they do when the Son of God returns, “dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus”?19
According to 1 John 2:28, true confidence is based on abiding in Him: “And now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming.” And abiding is based on obedience, for “the one who keeps His commandments abides in Him.”20
For many, actually facing Him will be an occasion of terror and shame. They may have many plausible arguments now for their religious opinions; but on that day, faced with the awesome glory of the King of Kings, all their reasonings will vanish like the dew, and they will find themselves both naked and mute.
But when the king came in to look over the dinner guests, he saw there a man not dressed in wedding clothes, and he said to him, “Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?” And he was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, “Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into the outer darkness; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”21
Has some huckster garbed you in mere flimsy beliefs?22
We appeal to you to make sure you are obeying the Master’s every command. If not you may appear before Him clothed in some imagined garment.