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Letter to the Church at Laodicea


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The city of Laodicea was in the southwest of Phrygia, on the river Lycus, not far from Colosse, and lying between it and Philadelphia. It was destroyed by an earthquake, A.D. 62, and rebuilt by its wealthy citizens without the help of the state. Laodicea means people’s rights or the justice of the people. Another meaning is the church of People’s opinions. 

Some writers compare this church to the latter day prosperity churches who get people to attend with great music productions and dramas. They have many things for everyone of all ages. They teach sowing the seed of giving to receive things from God. 

This would then tend to produce within us greed instead of teaching us giving because we love to support the work or God. We may have the best clothes, the most update automobiles, fine houses and our conversation be about the latest fashions, the best sports teams or the best entertainment instead of Jesus Christ. It would then seem to always have to be entertained in some way rather than to just sit and study God’s word. However, the things in this life does not satisfy, and we soon tire of it and want something more. 

This church is rich and increased with goods and they think they are okay spiritually and have no need to seek God any further. They got it all according to their own thinking. They may be the ones who are surprised when they see Jesus favor the poor Philadelphia type of church.

They were lukewarm spiritually. Lukewarm water is unpleasant to drink. It is neither hot or cold. If I taste lukewarm water by accident, my reaction is to immediate spit it out. I like it cold or hot as in hot coffee or ice tea.

It appears that this church had no first love, no sound doctrine and probably didn't care less whether anyone was saved or not. It was a literal church but resembles many today and probably many throughout the history of the church. I would describe this as those that "Just didn't care about spiritual things." They probably had plenty of social gatherings and dinners, game times and musical productions.

They may want to grow in numbers and increase in that way but with no burden for the lost, no conviction for sin, no deep down joy but most probably had an outward appearance of joy, and no fruits much less gifts of the spirit among them. They probably didn't war and fight because they didn't care enough to stand up for anything. Nothing to them was worth fighting for it would seem. They could also represent a church that lived by their own opinions and desires rather than what God's word taught. 

I would say that they once knew the word but had substituted programs, man's books, drama, entertainment, fund raisers and everything else but the teaching and preaching of God's word.  This is not to say and some of the above is wrong once in a while but to replace the teaching of the word with those things is not good. This church could represent a sort of apathy. Looking happy on the outside but not really caring about anything in particular.

There are popular teachers today who justify using entertainment to get people into church. One popular person believes that the word must be watered down to reach the unsaved because they will not understand terms like repentance. However, how did Peter preach?  He preached the very first sermon in the book of Acts.  How did Jesus preach?  “Except you repent, you will likewise perish.”  “Repent the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand?”  

Those that adhere to the church age theory believe this to be the period from 1925 until now. They believe the joining together of certain groups like the World Council of Churches and the ecumenical movement are signs of a lukewarm church that would be willing to lay aside the word of God and sound doctrine to agree in a false unity and unite 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;

Another proof that Jesus was eternal and present at the creation.

  • Revelation 3:15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
  • 16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth.
  • 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:

This church is rich and increased with goods. That really resembles latter day churches. We still have poor churches, in fact I attended those in the past, but many of them are very wealthy. I'm not saying a wealthy church has to be void of doctrine and lukewarm but they might be just that. A poor church may be great in sound doctrine but it also could be poor because the people are lukewarm and no longer give. So we must not make assumptions when we can't see what is in the heart but we can see the fruit that they bear.

Jesus said not to lay up treasure here and seek the things of this life. Many try to set up the kingdom here and now.

There is a dangerous move to get us concerned about the good life here as opposed to seeking the coming of Christ and the kingdom to come. If the gospel we teach and preach can't apply to the poor Christians in other countries, then its not the gospel.

The prosperity teaching would sound very strange to the persecuted churches in countries today where the gospel is rejected. Some preach that we should be happy and laugh all the time. Where is the mourning for sin, the burden for the lost and the desire for the Lord to return?  We can laugh when Jesus comes. Now is the time to mourn and weep for many are still lost. This doesn't mean we can't have joy. There is a joy in the Lord that the world can't understand. It is a joy that comes by the spirit of God. It's an inner peace that is beyond our limited understand but it is available when we walk with God in all we do.

  • 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 eye salve, that thou mayest see.

There are many times God helps us and gives us good things but we can’t judge someone’s walk with the Lord by what they possess. If that would be the case there are many rich people today who do not even believe in God or attempt to believe.

We are counseled here to seek God for the true riches that no one can take away. These are spiritual things that come from God and pertain to eternal life and godliness. They are things given to us by the Holy Spirit after we come to Jesus Christ by faith. True blessings of God are spiritual, not material. 

The poor also can be guilty of the attitude of Laodicea by thinking he is okay and has no further need to seek God, rely on God or seek the infilling of the Holy Spirit that is needed to spread the gospel. He may be content with using his own methods, doing his own thing and neglecting the things of the spirit that is freely offered to every believer in Jesus Christ. 

White raiment is the clothing of righteousness for those who have not defiled their garments by returning to sin and compromise. This a robe of righteousness paid for by the blood of Jesus Christ is given to those that repent of sin and resist the temptation to return to the sin they were saved from. Nakedness reminds us of sin and backsliding back into the filth of the world. Jesus gave His life to clothe us with His righteousness.

Anoint our eyes with eye salve is the return to the scriptures that we have forsaken and renew ourselves to the authority of the word of God. Eye salve is a healing agent for when eyes are diseased and are in need of repair. This church was blind spiritually and didn’t know it. Paul’s word about “he that thinks he stands, take heed lest he fall,” is a reminder in this case.

This church just may resemble some of our latter day churches who have compromised with the world and have laid aside the word of God in order to have a false unity. It could also be one that just exist for social reasons and neglect anything that is controversial. Sound doctrine is never out of fashion. The word of God should always be pursued and studied in context. 

Sometimes we can get bible study books that get us sidetracked off the original meaning of scripture and just concentrate on the fluff and use the isolated scriptures to just teach being blessed by God in material things without any deep down teaching of taking up our cross and following the Lord.

In Christ's commendation to the Philadelphia church he states: They had little strength, and has KEPT HIS WORD, has not denied his name. If any minister of the gospel makes light of the word, downplays the importance of the word, or tries to substitute the word of God for something else preferable, I will not read or listen to another word he or she has to say.

The word is what we have to base what we believe on. If we throw it out, who are we going to turn to for guidance? How are we going to judge whether someone is speaking the truth? If we lay aside that word, we open ourselves up to the Jim Jones, the Joseph Smiths, the Moons, and any other person who comes along in the name of Christ telling us that they alone is appointed of God to show us the truth.

The old bible has proven itself and stood the test of time. I don't believe it would have survived if God hadn't authorized it, planned, and preserved it for us.

I will quote Raymond Pruitt:
“The wealth of Laodicea was a fundamental factor in their lack of moral and spiritual fervor. There is no indication that the church was disturbed by internal heresies, or scarred by persecution. Its coffers were full; there was no problem with meeting the bills; its members were comfortable. The services were held without strain; nobody in the church had a contentious spirit; everybody had paid his annual obligation; the preacher was being well-supported, had a nice parsonage well furnished.

They led all other churches in giving; attendance was good, new people were coming every week; everybody was well pleased with their pastor, and with their church. No problems. YET WAIT! There were serious problems. It was just that nobody recognized that the church had fallen into a stupor of spiritual death, and was ready to expire.

…This church had deluded itself into thinking that it was on firm footing. Similar to many churches today, they had material prosperity; they were involved with impressive projects which cost a lot of money. They could afford the best. Yet they had no real love for Christ, and were indifferent to the needs of the lost and the destitute around them. Such churches may point to their impressive buildings and their large, modern parsonages, and say, “Look how God has blessed us!” However, material things have zero value in the spiritual realm. The rich fool of Luke 19:16-21 learned that lesson to his great sorrow.

Education obsessions, concerned with numbers rather than changed lives, show of wealth with the claim of God’s blessing and self-esteem and importance could be a factor in the Laodicea error." 

  • Revelation 3:19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

Notice how Jesus always has a way out for all seven churches.

  • 2Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
  • 17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

Jesus Christ rebukes these churches because He loves them. It is never God's will that any of us backslide and perish.

Again with the other churches, the cure for this church's lukewarm condition and the sins in the other churches was to repent. Change, turn back to Christ, be sorry for sin to the point of being willing to change by the power of the Holy Spirit.

  • 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.

Christ knocks on the door of our heart (meaning the inner souls and spirit). We have the free will to open it or leave it shut. He stands at the door to all sinners who have never yet received Him as Lord. He stands at the door to all believers who may have once received Him but have let the cares of this life cause them to grow lukewarm or cold in spirit. Repent and do the first works.

  • Revelation 3:21 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.

Those that overcome will reign with Christ when He comes (literally) to set up His kingdom.

  • Revelation 3:22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

We can hear or we can refuse to hear. It is our choice.

  • Matthew 7:24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:
  • 25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not; for it was founded upon a rock.
  • 26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:
  • 27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.  

Revelation Chapter 4