By: A.T. Walker
While on the island of Patmos, John saw the Lord Jesus Christ, who instructed him to “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.” In 7 Churches, we will be looking into these letters to see what Jesus has to say to these churches…and what he maybe saying to ours.
To the Church in Laodicea…
The seventh and final letter is addressed to the church in Laodicea, located about 40 miles southeast of Philadelphia.
“These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God”
If there is anyone who is true, anyone who is faithful, it is Jesus. He is the “Amen”, the fulfiller of all of the promises of God. 2 Corinthians 1:20 says:
“For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.”
Now, the title of the “Beginning of the creation of God” does not mean that Jesus was the first thing created. John 1:1-3 tells us that Jesus is God, he was there in the beginning of all things, that all things came into being through him, and that apart from him nothing came into being. The word “Beginning” is referencing His position as ruler over all creation. So when the Amen of God and the Ruler of everything speaks, we should listen…
“I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.”
As a fan of coffee, I can honestly tell you that there is nothing worse than taking a sip from your favorite mug, only to discover that the coffee has cooled off to room temperature. I want my coffee hot or, in some cases, iced. Room temperature is not an option. I have no middle ground when it comes to coffee. Here, we see that Jesus has no middle ground with his church. In Matthew 12, Jesus says “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters.” Look at the method at which the Lord will deal with this church…“I will vomit you out of my mouth.” Could their be a more disgusting method of rejection? And what is the reaction of the people around vomit? They are disgusted as well. They don’t want to be near it. They want to be somewhere else. Jesus will make a terrible example of an unrepentant church.
“Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked”
The most severe rebuke is reserved for the proudest church. May we be ever aware that just because someone, even a church, has health, wealth, and happiness doesn’t mean that they are blessed by God. Here, in the eyes of Jesus they are cursed as wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.
“I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eyesalve, that you may see.”
We see here that true prosperity is found only in Christ. The richest person on earth is a penniless beggar before Him. The church that prides itself on its wealth is broke. You want true wealth and prosperity? Matthew 6:19-21 says:
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
At the beginning of Genesis 3, Adam and Eve were naked and unashamed. The introduction of sin into their natures had many staggering effects, but the first one was that they immediately realized they were naked, and were ashamed. They felt the need to try and cover themselves, so they used fig leaves. God, in all his mercy towards them, kills an animal and provides them with a much more effective and durable covering. Something had to die to provide this covering. This is a picture of Christ. We have spent generation after generation trying to make coverings for shame, but the trouble is they fall apart too easily. The church at Laodicea trusted in their fig leaves, but God could see right through them. They needed a much more durable and trustworthy garment…and so do we. Isaiah 61:10 says:
“I will rejoice greatly in the LORD,
My soul will exult in my God;
For He has clothed me with garments of salvation,
He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness,
As a bridegroom decks himself with a garland,
And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”
In Revelation 7:9, we see a great multitude from every tribe, tongue, and nation clothed in white robes and standing before the throne. These are the ones that Christ has covered by his death. He has adorned his bride with salvation and righteousness. He has taken our shame.
“As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. 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.”
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, do not despise the Lord’s discipline. Proverbs 3:11-12 says:
“Do not reject the discipline of the Lord or loathe His reproof,
For whom the LORD loves He reproves,
Even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights”
Hebrews 12:6-11 continues:
“It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.”
So what’s the cure for the lukewarm? Be zealous! Repent of your lukewarmness! This verse is often used when speaking of evangelism, but the context of the letter points to this referring to Christ’s desire to fellowship with this wayward church. Let zeal for the House of the Lord consume you (Psalm 69:9).
“To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.”
Sitting with Christ on his throne? If there is a seat we are least deserving of, it is this one. But because he has clothed his bride with righteousness, because he has purchased our redemption, we are seen as holy and blameless before God, we are adopted as sons and daughters of the King. 2 Timothy 2:12 says:
“If we endure, we will also reign with Him”
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
In the previous letter, the church in Philadelphia received no condemnation. Here, the church in Laodicea receives no commendation. But look at the insane measure of grace here! Even a church that Jesus can find nothing positive to commend it for still has to offer to repent. No matter how the world treats us, we are never too far from grace and mercy. No matter what the world tells us, we are never beyond hope. Be zealous and look to Jesus. Hear his voice. Answer his call. Fellowship with him. The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases and his mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning.