Laodicea, The Lukewarm Church
There is much we can glean from the seven letters to the churches in Revelation chapters two and three. They not only cover the broad spectrum of professing Christendom at any given moment (from Christ's perspective), they also show the progression of the church age: starting with Ephesus (the churches in the time of the Apostles, the first century churches), to Laodicea (the end-time lukewarm churches).
Revelation 3:14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;
It is interesting to note that Laodicea means "the righteousness of the people." No longer are these professing believers trusting in the righteousness of Christ to cover their sins, but in their own self-righteousness!
Here Jesus Christ (who is speaking) identifies Himself in three ways:
1) The Amen – the Messiah and Saviour in whom all the promises of God are fulfilled. Just as we seal our Amen to our prayers (to indicate our agreement and desire for fulfillment), so Christ sets His seal on all the promises and prophecies in Scripture. 2 Corinthians 1:20 For all the promises of God in Him are yea, and in Him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.
2) The faithful and true witness - In an age where many are denying that there is a source of ultimate truth, here Jesus declares Himself the source; when many believe all truth is relative and subjective, here Jesus proclaims Himself as the witness of the truth. What He says in His Word is faithful and true and can be relied on. John 18:37 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.
3) The beginning of the creation of God - the word beginning here means "first in time, place, order, or rank." Jesus is stating that He is to have first place in our all lives, first place in all of creation. Colossians 1:15-18 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: 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: And He is before all things, and by Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things He might have the preeminence.
Revelation 3:15-16 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of My mouth.
The true danger in professing Christendom is not the atheist or agnostic who doesn't "believe in God", nor the Satanist or New Ager who is fully against God, nor the true fundamental, Bible-believing Christian (as the media would like to portray), but the lukewarm believer. It is easy to determine where all of the above stand in relation to Jesus Christ and the things of God, but the lukewarm believer is half-in half-out of the world; professing to be saved, but living like the Devil; proclaiming to believe the Bible, but picking and choosing what parts they will accept from it and explaining away the rest; claiming to believe in Christianity, yet denying the fundamentals; claiming to believe that Jesus Christ is the only Saviour, but yoking up with unbelievers of all stripes. That is the danger in Christendom! The true believer won't be sidetracked by what is obviously openly against Christ, will embrace what is faithful to the things of God, but will sometimes be deceived by the counterfeit that is out there. And there are many in the lost world who will detest the lukewarm "Christianity" that they are familiar with, and will perhaps never get saved. Just like we want to spit a lukewarm drink out of our mouths, even so the Lord Himself will spit out these lukewarm professors unless they get right with the Lord.
Revelation 3:17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
In Matthew 24:12 we read, And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many will wax cold. Sin will cause our love for the Lord and others to grow cold. In Revelation we find that being satisfied with material goods will cause us to be lukewarm. Mark 4:19 And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful. There is the danger of looking to our possessions and prosperity to meet all our needs, yet there is more at stake than just the physical.
Jesus addresses this fallen spiritual state. While I believe the primary picture painted here is that of an unsaved person, I still believe that the true believer can judge their heart and see if they fit in any of these areas. Have we grown lukewarm in our love for the Lord and the things of God?
Wretched - Romans 7:24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? In this chapter of Romans we see the battle that the true believer faces between the sinful nature and the new spiritual nature. Paul states that when he was not able to overcome sin, he was a wretched man. Likewise all the lost are in this state, wretched in God's eyes, unable to overcome the sins they are in bondage to – they do not have the power, nor the spiritual resources to overcome sin. The only solution is to come to Jesus Christ for salvation and walk according to the leading of the Holy Spirit (see Romans 8). Apart from Christ, mankind is wretched indeed!
Miserable - 1 Corinthians 15:19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. Apart from the hope of eternal life in Christ, there is no hope beyond this life. Believers have the assurance of Heaven and rewards for faithful service, but the lost do not have this hope. Truly they are miserable in the Lord's eyes.
Poor - Luke 12:20-21 But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God. Here is the case of someone that is poor in God's eyes, spiritually bankrupt. The only solution is to turn in faith to Christ and have His perfect righteousness credited to their account. Sin on their account makes them poor indeed!
Blind - John 9:41 Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth. The lost are blind, unable to see their lost condition and their need of a Saviour. (See 2 Corinthians 4:3-4) When we heed the conviction of the Holy Spirit regarding our lost estate, our eyes are opened to understand what the Saviour has done for us and we see our need for Him. Without Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives, the unsaved are truly blind!
Naked - Revelation 16:15 Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. Sin makes us ashamed before God. Like Adam and Eve fleeing from the presence of God in the Garden of Eden after they sinned (Genesis 3:6-10), even so sin today will cause us to be ashamed in His presence. (See Proverbs 30:12) We need the blood of Christ and the robe of His righteousness to cover our sins. Without it, we would be naked indeed!
Revelation 3:18 I counsel thee to buy of Me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
Gold tried in the fire - faith. This is what will make us rich in the eyes of the Lord. The gold is our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, our reliance upon Him for salvation, and our trust in Him during the trials we will face in this life. The fire is what tries that gold to make it pure, to make it precious in the eyes of God.
1 Peter 1:7-8 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:
Job 23:10 But He knoweth the way that I take: when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.
White raiment - This is the righeousness of Christ that is credited (imputed) to our account when we turn from our own self-righeousness, and receive His righteousness, believing that He paid the full penalty that our sin deserved when He died upon the cross for us. His resurrection three days later was proof that the payment was satisfactory to God the Father. It is only when we are clothed with this white raiment that the nakedness of our sin is removed completely.
Romans 3:22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:
Romans 4:3 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.
Romans 4:23-25 Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on Him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.
Romans 10:4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.
Eyes anointed with eyesalve - Receive spiritual sight. Turn to the Lord in faith and He will open your eyes. His Holy Spirit will indwell you and will enable you to understand the Word of God, which He inspired. 1 Corinthians 2:13-14 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. John 3:3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. (See also 1 John 2:20, 27)
Revelation 3:19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
He rebukes us and disciplines us because of His great love for us. If He did not care, He would let us go on our own way to destruction without warning us and pleading with us. Be zealous and repent - here is the heat! Zealous means “to be hot, have warmth of feeling for.” We are to repent of our sins (turn from them in our heart, which will result in an outward turning) and to be zealous for the Lord. While sin will cool our love for the Lord, meditating and musing on the Word of God will make it burn hotter. Psalms 39:3 My heart was hot within me, while I was musing the fire burned: then spake I with my tongue. (See also Jeremiah 20:9)
Revelation 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me.
"He uses all proper means to awaken sinners, and to cause them to open to him: he calls by his word, he knocks by the impulses of his Spirit upon their conscience." - Matthew Henry.
Behold, Jesus is standing at the door of your heart and He wants to come in. If you are lost and do not know Him as your Saviour, He wants to come and dwell in your heart through faith. He wants to come into your life and save you. (See Ephesians 3:17) If you are saved, He wants to fellowship with you.
Are you maintaining that fellowship, that daily walk and communion with the Lord, or have you grown lukewarm? Why not heed His knock, hear His voice, and open the door today?
Revelation 3:21-22 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
A promise to the true believer. It is our faith in Jesus Christ alone for salvation, our faith in His shed blood and finished work on Calvary that gives us the victory in this life. (See 1 John 5:4-5) Do you have that victory?
Heed what the Holy Spirit is saying to the churches - and to you!
60 Day Devotional Series: Numbers In The Bible