We come once again to the third chapter of Revelation as we turn our attention one more time to the seventh Church, the church of the Laodiceans. This was a literal congregation that existed at the time of the writing of this book, sometime between 90 – 96 A.D. It is located some 45 miles southeast of Philadelphia. Several major roads converged there. Medicine, production of eye ointment, wool distribution, and banking brought fame to this city. These facts, as mentioned last time, make Jesus’ admonition to this group of people more pointed and powerful. To them the Lord said, 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. 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: 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. [Rev. 3:15 – 18KJV]
Nearby Hierapolis was known for its hot mineral springs. Another neighboring city, Colosse, was known for cold refreshing mountain streams. In Laodicea dirty, tepid water flowed for miles through an underground aqueduct. Visitors to the city, unfamiliar with it, would immediately spat it out. Being “lukewarm” spiritually meant that Laodicea was neither cold, openly rejecting Christ and the gospel, nor were they hot, filled with spiritual zeal. Instead its members were lukewarm, hypocrites professing to know Christ, but not truly belonging to Him. This is like a good number of people in the modern Church. They are the group who will stand before the Lord and profess to have done many wonderful and glorious things for Him. The Word says, Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. [Matt. 7:21KJV] Can you see that it is not about professionbut possession? You can say, “Lord, Lord” all day, and just parrot what everyone else is saying, and yet never have taken the time to honestly examine your heart before God and see if you were really saved.
Think about so many in this enlightened 21stCentury Church. Many today view gifts, talent, and material wealth as signs the favor of God rests upon them and their efforts. Yet that same 7th chapterof Matthewgoes on to say, Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. [Matt. 7:22, 23KJV] In the circles I have traveled in for years if someone prophesies, casts out devils, and does wonders; they are paraded as spiritual giants, they appear on TBN, and their kingdom exploits are chronicled in Charismamagazine. However, Jesus’ estimation of them is often quite different. The Greek word translated, Lordis kurios. It is the one one with supreme authority, the Master, the ruler. It is the most commonly translated word where, Lordappears in the New Testament. They were professing, if you will, Jesus is Lord!Yet, that was not really the case as they were obviously more committed to their plans than His.
To this group the Lord will say, I never knew you. Knewhere is, ginosko. It has fairly wide application, but could be translated as, experientialor even intimateknowledge. For example in Genesis 4:1when the scripture says, And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD.“Knew” is the Hebrew yawdah, which corresponds to the Greek ginosko. In fact in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures, the word ginoskois used in Genesis 4:1for the Hebrew, yawdah. The thought in Matthew 7:23 , I never really had a relationship with you. This is actually the situation in Laodicea. They were lukewarm. It was business as usual with them. They were going through the motions. Jesus said of them, So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. “Spue” is the Greek, emeo. Revelation 3:16is the only place this word is used in the NT. We get the word, emeticfrom this word. An emetic is given to a person who has swallowed poison to make them vomit.
It is interesting that Jesus would use such a word, as the problem with the Laodicean church then and now is the fact they had swallowed doctrinal poison. What is the path to deception? 1) Wrong thinking-Not thinking in accordance with the Word of God; 2) Wrong believing – When your thinking, your world-view, is not biblical; what you believe will be wrong; 3) Wrong living – your entire way of life is an affront to a Holy God. These people were clearly deceived, as is a good portion of the modern church. How did they arrive at such a state? An attitude, a heart set on gifts and possessions rather than the giver. 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: [Rev. 3:17KJV] They say, I’m rich(abounding), increased with goods (wealthy), and am lacking and have need of nothing. This is what a large portion of the modern Church says. They said, “We have need of nothing.” Nothing the Greek, oudeis. This word is made up of, oudeand hiseand when they are put together it becomes, oudeis, a strong word that means, not even one (man, woman, or thing), that is, none, nobody, nothing. [Strong’s G3762]
They needed, or so they thought, nobody, or nothing; by implication, including God. The modern Church, while perhaps not verbalizing this sentiment, believes something very similar. After all, the modern Church has learned how to “Have Their Best Life Now”, have discovered their “40 Days of Purpose”, and “How To Write Their Own Ticket With God”. Why would they see their need for anything? They know that they are, “little gods”, “created in God’s class”, and they can “ Have Faith in their faith.” The modern Church has arrived! Or, have they? Jesus said of them, and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: [Rev. 3:17bKJV] Based on the Greek words here, this could be translated, You really are miserable, pitiable, spiritually a pauper, your vision is clouded; you are mentally and spiritually blind and unable to see your true condition, and your shame due to your spiritual nakedness is apparent to all but you.Quite an indictment! What were they to do? What is the modern Church, those of this Laodicean age, to do? Jesus says,
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. [Rev. 3:18 KJV] Breaking this down it is, 1) uy of me gold tried in the fire – This is faith.[See 1 Pet. 1:7] This is faith in God. It is trusting exclusively, not in my own faith as though it were some esoteric “force”, but in Christ and what He accomplished at the Cross. 2) White raiment – This is righteousness, (See Isa. 61:10) The righteousness of Christ imputed or credited to my account, by no merit of my own. 3) eye salve that you may see – To be able to see or discern spiritually, in accordance to the Word of God. [See 1 Cor. 2:14]
In the midst of all of this it is clear that Christ had not rejected this Church. Nor has He rejected the modern materialistic, narcissistic, self-centered rather than Christ-centered Church. The Lord loves them. He said, As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. [Rev. 3:19KJV] “Repent” is the Greek, metanoeo. It means to think differently or afterward. It is to have a change of heart and mind. [See also Heb. 12:6]
Notice where Jesus is in relation to this church. He says, 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. [Rev. 3:20KJV] Traditionally, this verse has been used as an invitation for sinners to come to Christ. While it has limited usage in that arena, primarily this is a verse for the modern Church. Christ is no longer at the center. We need to admit that and repent of it. Jesus needs to be invited back in. We need to let go of our pet heresies and invite our Lord back at the center of all that we do and all that we are.
We have one last promise to the overcomer. Jesus says, 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.Christ is our substitute. He has gone before us and has done for us what we could not do for ourselves. He has paid the full price for our redemption with His precious blood. We now rest by faith in what He has done.
Lastly, He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.I wonder, are we listening? I pray that we are. The Spirit is speaking more clearly than ever before. It is time to get right with God. Jesus is Coming soon. I believe He is at the very door.
Next time we will begin looking at the things that shall be. The vast majority of the book of Revelation is yet future. It is our verynear future. Join us next time.