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To the Church in Laodicea

“To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this: ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. ‘So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. ‘Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. ‘Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; 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 will dine with him, and he with Me. ‘He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'” (Revelation 3:14-22)

37 miles southeast of the Church of Philadelphia we find a famous health resort which is located in the city of Laodicea. The city was popular for its hot baths and an eye salve that was produced there along with other compound medicines. The hot water for the hot baths was piped into the city through insulated pipes that came from the hot springs of Hierapolis hot springs. The hot springs were a distance of about six miles from Laodicea across the Lycus River. With the water traveling this distance from the hot springs to the city it was lukewarm by the time it reached the hot baths. Therefore, Jesus’ use of calling the Laodicea Church a lukewarm Church was very appropriate and understandable to the congregation there.

The water from the hot springs was very rich in minerals which make it extremely unpalatable for drinking when lukewarm. The unpleasant taste of the lukewarm water is also appropriate to the Church in Laodicea that they refused to listen to the True and Faithful Witness of Jesus Christ, the Head of the Church.

“To the angel of the church in Laodicea write.” The Apostle John was instructed to write the following to the Church of Laodicea from his vision at Patmos. The meaning of the name of the city, Laodicea is “the people rule.” This Church represents the apostate that comes at the end of the age. This is plain to see today with the New Age Movement (NAM) and the Emergent Churches.

The New Age Movement

The New Age Movement is a religious or spiritual movement that developed in Western nations during the 1970s. Precise scholarly definitions of the movement differ in their emphasis, largely as a result of its highly eclectic structure. Nevertheless, the movement is characterized by a holistic view of the cosmos, a belief in an emergent Age of Aquarius – from which the movement gets its name – an emphasis on self-spirituality and the authority of the self, a focus on healing (particularly with alternative therapies), a belief in channeling, and an adoption of a “New Age science” that makes use of elements of the new physics.

Emergent Churches

The emerging, or emergent, church movement takes its name from the idea that as culture changes, a new church should emerge in response. In this case, it is a response by various Church leaders to the current era of post-modernism. Although post-modernism began in the 1950s, the Church didn’t really seek to conform to its tenets until the 1990s. Post-modernism can be thought of as a dissolution of “cold, hard fact” in favor of “warm, fuzzy subjectivity.” The emerging / emergent church movement can be thought of the same way.

The emerging / emergent church movement falls into line with basic post-modernist thinking — it is about experience over reason, subjectivity over objectivity, spirituality over religion, images over words, outward over inward, feelings over truth. These are reactions to modernism and are thought to be necessary in order to actively engage contemporary culture.

I see either movement as a religion of self-worship rather than Christ worship. God has not changed and His Word is true. He is an eternal God and He knows the end of things and has prepared the way. Therefore, there is no reason to change our beliefs according to contemporary thought. “Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure'” (Isaiah 46:10)

Title

The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God. In a clear statement Jesus is letting the Church know that they do not rule the Church. Jesus is the Head of the Church. “For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body.” (Ephesians 5:23) Jesus gave Himself for the Church and purchased it with His blood. “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” (Ephesians 5:25) I had some folks come by the Church the other day asking to speak with the owner of the Church. I simply replied that they may, just get on their knees and pray to Him. Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior is the owner of the Church.

Criticism

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. ‘So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. ‘Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. There is no commendation for the Church at Laodicea only a criticism which is full of sarcasm. The nearby hot springs of Hierapolis, today a thriving resort called Pamukkale, supplied the water to the hot baths of Laodicea. By the time the water reached the city it was neither hot and not real usable for cleaning or cold so that is was not refreshing for drink. This is the example Jesus used to describe their faith, it was neither a strong faith nor a weak faith. Their faith was a mediocre faith which showed a great lack of commitment to their professed beliefs. As the Spirit says in Hebrews, “And 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 seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6)

The members of the Church had lost the fire of the Holy Spirit and had become more into a ritual worship than a worship in the Spirit of truth. This is a form that has no substance. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) The Laodicea Church did not seem to mind this condition that they had fallen to. They were not committed and therefore felt no responsibility towards their professed belief in Jesus Christ. They were much like the New Age and Emergent Churches of today. They appeared to be a Church and they did some of the things you would expect a Church to do, but within the Church body you would not find the power of the Holy Spirit and the only notice of the gospel of salvation is by its absence.

The Church at Laodicea was a well-financed organization. The Church had a large congregation attending. This is common in a lot of the Churches of our day because the message is not the lost condition of men’s souls or the remedy that the gospel message has to offer for their salvation, but a warm and fuzzy feel-good message that the power to save your soul is within yourself. Though the Church of Laodicea was rich the sad truth of their condition was that they were spiritually in poverty.

Admonition

I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. Laodicea had economic advantage in its favor. The city was a regional banking center, they were producers of a rich black wool cloth, and an eye save that helped relieve the pain of eye strain. It was their spiritual poverty that Jesus was concerned with as they dressed in fine shiny black wool they lacked the white robes of righteousness. As they were Jesus referred to them as naked. They had all the opportunities of worldly gain but their greatest need was to restore their eternal spiritual perspective. They were in a greater need of the Lord’s eye save to awaken their spiritual eyes. Does this not sound like a lot of the Churches today in the 21st century?

Call

Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; 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 will dine with him, and he with Me. This passage of Scripture, “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.” Is often called the “great evangelistic call.” There is another fact about this Scripture, the Lord is standing on the outside, knocking on the door to the heart, wanting to come in, hoping that someone will answer and invite Him in. If one would answer the Lord’s call, and allow Jesus to come into their life, then they will have the assurance of an abundant life now and in the not so far future in the home they were created to live in.

Challenge

He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. Before the end of this age anyone can recognize their need of the Savior, the Christ, and our Lord Jesus. God knows the number of His Church and with each passing day that number is closer to completion. “For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery–so that you will not be wise in your own estimation–that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in” (Romans 11:25) Even if you are the last one who answers the knock on the hearts door you will receive the full rights and privileges of the redeemed. (Matthew 20:1-16) If you hear Jesus knocking on your door, answer, you just may be the one all the saints are waiting for.

Promise

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. In each one of us there is a little Laodicea. In some parts of His Word we are lukewarm, in some areas of our life we feel we are self-sufficient, and we all are of some sin that we have blinded ourselves to. Now is the time for us to become one or the other, are we hot or cold towards the Lord? Now is the time for us to be fully committed to the faithful one who is fully committed towards us, His Church. What an awesome privilege it would be to be the one who lead that last lost soul to the Lord. Then we all could go home.

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, January 18, 2015

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