LAODICEA – Revelation 3:14-22
Today, we are examining the last church from Revelation 2 and 3 that was addressed by Christ. This would seem to be the worst church as Christ reviewed these seven churches. For instance, Christ had nothing good to say about the Laodicean church.
HISTORY OF LAODICEA
There is only one historical fact that seems to have a bearing on this letter. Laodicea was the chief city of Phrygia, an extremely wealthy and prosperous city. It lay astride three of the most important highways of its day. It was a city of enormous wealth. The city had three particular claims to fame.*
- It was a financial and banking center.
- It had a clothing manufacturing center.
- It was the location of a famous medical school renown for the eye salve which it produced.
*it could be that the condition of the church in Revelation 3:l7 “poor, blind, and naked – has reference to these three industries.
PRAYER for Laodicean Church and its Pastor
Paul prayed for the Laodicean church (Colossians 2:1-2) and wrote a letter to them (Colossians 2:1; 4:12-16). Archippus is said to have been the first Bishop (pastor) of the church (The Apostolic Constitutions, 8:46. Information from “The Pulpit Commentary,” Vol. 22, p. 114…In writing Colossians, Paul exhorted Archippus, Laodicea’s pastor: “Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfill it” (Colossians 4:17). Because of Paul’s challenge, the corruption and degeneration could already have begun to his ministry (adapted from the Preachers Outline & Sermon Bible, volume 13, pages 69-70).
Christ’s Review of The Church was Pointed
From the review of Christ, can you imagine a church that may as well not exist. Can you imagine a church that apparently has no good within its body whatsoever – a church that does no good at all?
There Are 2 Things We Need To Ask
(1) Let’s ask the pertinent question, “What was it that made the church so bad?” So useless and worthless? (2) The answer is given to us; it was from God’s perspective–lukewarm.
A Lukewarm Church Defined
To be a lukewarm church means that the church was INDIFFERENT, COMPLACENT, LETHARGIC, SELF-SATISFIED, HALF-HEARTED AND NEUTRAL.
The point is that the church and its believers were only half-way committed to Christ, only half-hearted in their worship and service for Christ. Can you get hold of the fact that in any church, from Christ’s perspective, He says there is no good whatsoever in a lukewarm, half-committed church or believer! It is a little scary when one looks around today at Christians and their churches; how many churches seem to fit this description: lukewarm.
Make the evaluation for yourself. How many churches or individuals do you know that are really hot for Jesus and His ministries in your area? How many are there that are taking the Lord’s work to the world as He commanded? (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8).
FACT: The study of the church at Laodicea is a must study for churches of today. The church of today must study what Christ says to this church and listen and apply His warning and counsel.
(Revelation 3:14) – As we have seen, Christ sends His message first to the pastor [minister] of the church, who in turn is to give Christ’s message to the people.
The point to recognize is that Christ expects the pastor[minister] to understand that he is held accountable by Christ for the indifference and complacency of the believers. He expects the minister to arouse himself and repent, and to arouse the believers and lead them to repentance and whole-hearted commitment to Jesus Christ.
NOTE: If the church will not repent, then the Pastor [minister] has no choice but to be obedient and follow the doctrine of separation of Romans 16:17-18. See also the principle to shake the dirt off one’s feet [separate] when disobedience [rejection of Christ’s command] is present. See Matthew 10:14; Luke 9:5; and Mark 6:11.
It is also important to recognize how Christ described Himself to the lukewarm and half-committed church and the believer.
First, Jesus Christ is the speaker, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.
- Jesus Christ is the “Amen” (Revelation 3:14). This is a title that Christ says belongs to Him. The word “Amen” is used to close prayer or to declare the truthfulness of some statement. It is a term that declares and guarantees the truth. Therefore, Jesus Christ is the AMEN, the DECLARATION, the GUARANTEE of the truth. What He says is TOTALLY TRUE AND TRUSTWORTHY. This means something to ANY LUKEWARM CHURCH OR INDIVIDUAL.
- The lukewarm church or Christian can trust the promises of Christ. Christ promised He will meet the needs of any church that will repent and turn from it lukewarmness and wholly commit its life to Christ.
“I can do ALL things through Christ, who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13, emphasis added, NKJV).
“And my God SHALL SUPPLY ALL your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19, emphasis added, NKJV).
NOTE: The Lukewarm church or Christian had better heed the warning of Christ. He is THE AMEN; His words of judgment will be carried out.
FACT: The lukewarm church and believer will face the terrible judgment of Christ, just as He has pronounced in His Word. His Word is true, completely guaranteed. What Christ has said will be. His pronouncement of judgment will come to pass!
FACT: The church or Christian who ignores or neglects His Word does so at their own peril and loss.
“Jesus saith unto him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me’ ” (John 14:6, KJV).
“Pilate therefore said unto him, ‘Art thou a king then?’ Jesus answered, ‘Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice’ ” (John 18:37, KJV).
- Jesus Christ is the faithful and true witness, Revelation 3: 14). Jesus Christ is FAITHFUL to God the Father and He bears a true witness to the Father.
FACT: Jesus Christ is PERFECTLY HONEST. He has not, nor ever will tell a single lie or untruth.
FACT: Jesus Christ is also COMPLETELY HONEST. He holds nothing back about the truth. He does not keep us wondering or questioning or seeking after and in knowing God. He has not kept a single thing from us that God wanted us to know about Himself.
“But WITHOUT FAITH it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who DILIGENTLY SEEK HIM” (Hebrews 11:6, emphasis added, NKJV).
Illustration of Nicodemus
“Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again [born from above]’ ” (John 3:7, emphasis added, NKJV).
Now Let’s Look At Nicodemus and Christ’s Solution to Man’s Greatest Problem – Salvation.
Having challenged Nicodemus with the seemingly impossible (You Must Be Born Again) Jesus then clarified the issue:
“For God so loved the world [you Nicodemus and every other person] that He gave His ONLY begotten Son, that whoever [you Nicodemus] believes in Him SHOULD NOT PERISH BUT HAVE EVERLASTING LIFE” (John 3:16, emphasis added, NKJV).
NOTE: Jesus is the FAITHFUL AND TRUE WITNESS: He is just what the church at Laodicea is not. The church is ONLY lukewarm, it only tells part of the truth, and only that part which is convenient, only bears part of the witness that should be given. However, every Christian should be ready to comply with God’s direction from His Word:
“But SANCTIFY the Lord God in your hearts, and ALWAYS BE READY to give a defense to EVERYONE who asks you a reason for the HOPE that is in you, with meekness and fear;” (I Peter 3:15, emphasis added, NKJV).
What a lukewarm church needs to do is to get a renewed sight of Christ. They need to refocus their attention upon Jesus Christ for that is the only way they will ever hear Him (Colossians 3:1-4).
NOTE: If the church is looking to other witnesses — depending upon the rituals of baptism, church membership, ordinances, services ceremonies, fellowship and worship attendance to make them acceptable to God — then the church is missing the faithful and true witness of God. It is missing Christ, and to miss Christ is to doom oneself.
“Verily, verily, I say unto thee, we speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness” (John 3:11, KJV).
“And what he hath seen and heard, that he testifieth; and no man receiveth his testimony” (John 3:32, KJV).
“Jesus answered and said unto them, ‘Though I bear record of myself, yet my record is true: for I know whence I came, and whither I go; but ye cannot tell whence I come, and whither I go” (John 8:14, KJV).
“I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession;” (I Timothy 6:13, KJV).
“And from Jesus Christ, who is the FAITHFUL WITNESS, and the FIRST BEGOTTEN OF THE DEAD, AND THE PRINCE OF THE KINGS OF THE EARTH”(Revelation 1:5, emphasis added, KJV).
- Jesus Christ is the “beginning of the creation of God” Revelation 3:14; John 1:3).
NOTE: Jesus Christ is the great Creator of the universe, the Maker and Sustainer of the universe and ALL that Is therein (Colossians 1:15-17).
Because this is true and the Bible cannot lie, He is the source of:
- all good things,
- all real wealth,
- all satisfaction,
- all purpose,
- all meaning,
- all significance in life, and
- all love, joy, and peace that a person experiences.
“All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made” (John 1:3, emphasis added, KJV).
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, the hour is coming and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live” (John 5:25, emphasis added, KJV).
“…I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it MORE ABUNDANTLY” (John 10:10, emphasis added, KJV).
“But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him” (I Corinthians 8:6, emphasis added, KJV).
“For BY HIM WERE ALL THINGS CREATED, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: ALL THINGS WERE CREATED BY HIM AND FOR HIM” (Colossians 1:16, emphasis added, KJV).
“And ye ARE COMPLETE IN HIM, which is the head of ALL principality, and power:” (Colossians 2:10, emphasis added, KJV).
“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners SPAKE IN TIME PAST UNTO THE FATHERS, by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;” (Hebrews 1:1-2, emphasis added, KJV).
The church at Laodicea and its people were lukewarm, complacent, indifferent towards God and therein lies the problem. Pure and simple, the complaint of God was “LUKEWARMNESS.” The complaint would seem to describe not only the church [it’s people] but most of the people who attended there.
NOTE EXACTLY WHAT CHRIST SAYS, the church and its members were “neither cold or hot.” This means…
- they were only lukewarm, only half-committed, only half-hearted,
- they were complacent, lethargic, self-satisfied, and
- they were indifferent and neutral.
As you look around today this clearly describes so many churches and their members today. Folks this is serious, even critical, for the judgment that Christ pronounces upon the lukewarm church and its members affects one and all.
GOOD QUESTION: How does lukewarmness affect the church and its members. This will be seen in the next study of the church at Laodicea.
As we end today I would ask each one of us how the Lord Jesus Christ would judge our individual lives, lukewarm or hot? If lukewarm, then repentance is in order. Follow I John 1:8-10 and get hot for the Lord Jesus Christ.
“If we say that we have NO SIN, we DECEIVE ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”
“If we CONFESS OUR SINS, He is faithful and just TO FORGIVE US OUR SINS and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
“If we say that we HAVE NOT SINNED, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us” (I John 1:8-10, emphasis added, NKJV).
Why be concerned about what Christ said to the Laodicean Church?
Jesus is coming back soon. Are you ready to meet your God?
“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. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts” (Romans 13:11-14, NKJV).