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Revelation 3:14-22 “Christ’s Letter To The Church At Laodicea”

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SIH STSTA ICONTHE TEXT:

The Letter To Laodicea…

 

 

 

Revelation 3:14-22 KJV

(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;
(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 spue 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:
(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.
(19)  As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
(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.
(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.
(22)  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

 

 

THE INTRODUCTION:

 

From our previous lesson, we saw a very basic summary of the contents of these letters include:

 

Church Location Name Meaning Areas of Faithfulness Areas of Unfaithfulness Possible Punishment Reward To Overcomers (proof of genuine salvation)
Ephesus Desired or Allowed Many areas of faithful outward service.  Hate doctrine of Nicolaitanes. Left first love (Christ)Service not motivated by love for Christ. Removal of candlestick (church no longer enjoying fellowship w God) Eat of Tree of Life in Paradise
Smyrna Myrrh Spiritually rich N/A N/A Not hurt by second death
Pergamos Fortified Tower Faithfulness in face of persecution Allowing doctrine of Balaam and Nicolaitans(physical and spiritual fornication) Will war against those who hold false teaching Be given hidden manna and white stone with new name
Thyatira Sacrifice, Offering, Corpse Works of love, service, faith, patience False Prophetess in midst. (sexual immorality and idol worship) Sickness, tribulation and death upon her and her followers. Be given power over the nations
Sardis Depart, Escape, Exit A few faithful areas of service remain. A few faithful members remain. Testimony that they are spiritually alive but really dead.  Their works not “perfect” before God. Will come upon them as a thief (implied removing anything of value leaving spiritually destitute) White garments.  Name not blotted out of book, confess his name before the Father
Philadelphia Love Of The Brethren Kept Word not denied name of Christ. Persevered in trials N/A N/A Permanent pillar in temple of God.  Name of God and New Jerusalem upon them. New name given to them
Laodicea Judgment Of The People N/A Lukewarm service.  Blinded to their spiritual destitution. Spew out of Lord’s mouth. Rebuking and chastening from Lord. Sit with Christ in throne.

 

 

Beginning in chapter 2 through chapter 3, John writes personalized messages to the 7 churches.  Each message contains four basic parts:

  1. Description of Christ
  2. Commendation for faithfulness and consequences
  3. Exposing unfaithfulness and consequences
  4. Promise to Overcomers

 

The first of these personalized messages is written to the church at Laodicea.

  1. Description of Christ (v 14)
  2. Commendation for faithfulness and consequences (N/A)
  3. Exposing unfaithfulness and consequences (v 15-20)
  4. Promise to Overcomers (v 21-22)

 

THE EXPOSITORY STUDY:

Revelation 3: – 

 

(14)  And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write;

Laodicea was located in the Lycus Valley which was route of travel and trade for many who were traveling from the east to west.  The great amount of wealthy traders that passed through the city caused the city to become very wealthy and self-sufficient.  At one point it time, the city was almost totally destroyed by an earthquake.  The citizens chose to reject monetary help from the Roman government and totally rebuilt the city by their own means.

Due to their great wealth and prosperity, the city became the home of great monuments, schools of science, medicine and art as well as other cultural attractions.   The city was originally called “the city of Zeus” and was a center of Zeus worship.   Many of its citizens were Jews who continued to monetarily support the temple in Jerusalem.

The city received its supply of water from a series of pipes that ran from springs outside the city.  Many believe that this is a source of reference for the Lord’s description of them being like “lukewarm water”.

 

These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;

This description of Christ comes from John’s vision of Christ in Rev 1:5 & 8…

  1. the “Amen” or “thus it shall be” – Christ’s purposes will come to pass. He is the Almighty God who is in control of all
  2. the “faithful and true witness” – He can be trusted to speak factually. His testimony is reliable.
  3. the beginning of the creation of God – He is the originator of all God’s creation. As Creator, He holds authority over all.

When we look at these descriptions, we can see that Christ is presenting Himself as the Lord who possesses the authority, ability, and reliability to instruct us and rule over us.  His teachings are not to be ignored, nor to be accepted half-heartedly.  They are to be accepted and willingly submitted to.

 

(15)  I know thy works, 

The Lord now explains to them their spiritual condition.  Instead of commending them, He immediately turns to explains the great need of the assembly.

“I know thy works” – He sees our acts of labor for Him.  He knows what we do, why we do it, and the pain we encounter as we serve.

 

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,

What was the condition of the church?

  1. thou art neither cold – Their attitude was not cold, seeing the need of repentance and STUBBORNLY REJECTING restoration.

2.  thou art neither… hot – Their attitude was not hot, seeing their need of repentance and ACTIVELY SEEKING restoration.

3.  thou are lukewarm – They did not even see their need of repentance.

They were not motivated to turn from or seek restoration through repentance, they continued along their way not even seeing the great need of the assembly.  They did not care about their spiritual condition, they were not willing to make the effort to examine themselves and see their great need.

What a horrible condition to be in.  To be one of the Lord’s assemblies and not seeing the sin that lies within.  They were caught between cold and hot, feeling at comfort and at ease, thinking they were fine, when really they were in a shameful condition with great spiritual needs.

This is the worse condition to be in.  In the case of those who are hot, if they see their sin, they will repent. In the case of those who are cold, if they see their sin and refuse to repent, the Lord can convict them and eventually bring them to repentance. In either case, it is better to be hot or cold so the Lord may deal appropriately with the sin.  To be lukewarm is to be condemned to spiritual failure not seeing our sin, not feeling guilt nor feeling the need to repent.

 

 

I will spue thee out of my mouth.

As long as the need of repentance is not recognized, it can never be dealt with.  This was the sad condition of the church at Laodicea.  They were so lax and uncaring they did not see their great needs.  The Lord was disgusted with them for being lax in such important matters as these.  As long as they remained in this sinful condition, they would lack fellowship with the Lord and be rejected by Him.  (1 John 1:5-7)

 

(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:

Their condition in further explained…

They thought their condition was wealthy, overflowing with riches and lacking nothing. They were more concerned about their physical state (their wealth, overabundance, and self-sufficiency) than their spiritual condition.

In actuality, they …

“knowest not” –  they were ignorant of their true spiritual needs.

“wretched” – balancing great hardships, distressed (juggling spiritual deficiencies without remedying them)

“miserable” – pitiful, needing great mercy and compassion

“poor” – spiritual beggars

“blind” – unable to see due to callouses (their sinful conceit  blinding them)

“naked” – spiritually stripped and shameful

 

They were in a horrible condition having great needs, without recognizing them and, therefore, not dealing with them.

 

(18)  I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich;

The Lord tells them the three remedies they need…

1.   gold tried in fire – acts of Godly service that proceeds from persecution (1 Peter 1:7) – in doing this they will be laying up riches for their eternity with Christ. They would have to wake up and see the great needs around them, deal with the sin in their midst, and begin again to serve their Lord in Spirit and in Truth.

  

and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear;

2.  white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed – acts of righteous, Godly service that covers the shame of disobedience and laxiety. They needed to no longer continue to drift, but to rise up and serve the Lord in a way pleasing to Him. In doing so, they will be clothing themselves in works of righteousness through the gracious intervention of the Lord in their lives (Ephesians 4:24).

 and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.

3.  anoint thine eyes with eyesalve – wake up! Open their eyes to their true condition and be honest with themselves. Seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance as we examine ourselves to see the sin that lies within us (1 John 2:20-24)

Please note all three of the remedies mentioned point to the need of an awakening to self-examination and active service for Christ… please notice the three basic remedies teach us three aspects of good works of service:

  1. gold in fire – service to the Lord holds great eternal value
  2. white raiment clothed – righteous works that prevents the shame of sin
  3. anoint with eyesalve – righteous works are direct results of spiritual sight, understanding the Word and seeing the needs around us.

 

(19)  As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

The Lord explains to the church at Laodicea that, due to His love for them and the assembly as a whole, that He will warn, convince and discipline them to bring about repentance for their sin.  They should not take these warnings as a sign of His hatred and anger, but as a sign of His love and concern for them.

Also, because these warnings are given from a heart of love and concern, the church was to take them very seriously and act accordingly.

There are three basic results of sin as the Lord deals with sin in the lives of Christians or churches:

  1. separation from God (inhibited fellowship)
  2. rebuke – guilt (the revelation and conviction of sin)
  3. chastening – discipline (punishment to restore fellowship in the rebuke is ignored)

 

 

(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.

Although the church as a whole is separated from the Lord due to sin within, the Lord now offers each individual member to willingly accept His warnings, welcome His renewed fellowship and do what each person can to correct the situation in the assembly and their own personal lives.  If they do, He will restore fellowship with them as individuals, in spite of the condition of the church as a whole.  In this we can see His great love and mercy.  Although He was disgusted with them and ready to spue them from His mouth, His mercy still called out to them willing to renew fellowship with them.

 

It is much like His teachings in Luke 12:36 –

“And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately.”  

In other words, Christ is speaking to His servants knocking at the door wanting them to welcome Him in and receive His instructions for them.  This should have been the attitude of the members of the church at Laodicea.

 

In Song of Solomon 5:2-6 –

“I sleep, but my heart waketh: it is the voice of my beloved that knocketh, saying, Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled: for my head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night.

I have put off my coat; how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet; how shall I defile them?  My beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved for him.  I rose up to open to my beloved; and my hands dropped with myrrh, and my fingers with sweet smelling myrrh, upon the handles of the lock.  I opened to my beloved; but my beloved had withdrawn himself, and was gone: my soul failed when he spake: I sought him, but I could not find him; I called him, but he gave me no answer.”

This gives us the perfect of example of a local church that ignores the Lord’s desire to renew fellowship and communion.  Because, they were occupied with other matters, and careless about their spiritual condition, they are too late to receive Him when He comes to knock.

 

Please note: the Lord is not speaking to lost men, contextually, He is clearly speaking to members of this church with whom fellowship has been broken.  The members must individually take action (submit to His will, and see the great need of the assembly) for things to change in the assembly.

He is not speaking to the church as a body, but to each and every individual member, note the “any man” and “him” and “he”… clearly singular individuals.  This helps us to understand that any change that takes in an assembly must start in the hearts of individual believers. Without individual members submitting to His will, the church as a whole will never come into submission and renewed fellowship with Him.  It is only when members see the needs of the assembly and then submit to His will, that genuine change will take place in the assembly as a body.

 

(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.

The Lord now promises those who are truly saved “overcomers” or “victors” (Revelation 12:11) to enjoy great blessings in eternity.  One of the greatest blessings is to rule with Him as authority holder in judgment and rulership (1 Corinthians 6: 2-3, 2 Tim 2:12)  During the 1000 Year reign we will be ruling over the new creation of God (Revelation 20:4-6)

This is simply following the example of Christ who was the Victor over sin and death and then was exalted to His Father’s right hand (Eph 1:20-23)

2 Timothy 2:12 KJV – “If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us:”

Suffering for the cause of Christ (a sign of genuine salvation experience) will result in His people sharing in His authority over all.  If a person denies Christ (a sign of a lost individual) will result in Christ’s rejection of the denier in the last day.

Those in the church who would awaken to the desires of the Lord and do what is necessary, would show themselves to be genuine believers and share in His authority.  Those who remain in denial of the truths of God and reject His hand of chastening, show themselves to be unregenerate, and therefore will not share in the inheritance of God’s people.

 

(22)  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

The Lord speaking to the members of the church at Laodicea says,  “If you are truly saved, pay attention to what the Holy Spirit is telling the churches.”

 

CHRIST REVEALED:

In this section of Scripture, we see Jesus shown to us as the One who possess the supreme authority, ability, and reliability.    We also see Him as One who cares so much for His people that He takes the time and effort to chasten those whom He loves, while standing ever-ready to forgive those who come to Him with a genuine repentant heart.

 

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION (SUMMARY)

Based upon the person, work and love of Christ, He deserves passionate, committed service from His people. He deserves for His people to recognize their desperate need of Him as the chief supplier of all their needs and desires.  Above that a careless, halfhearted, lukewarm commitment to His service will not be tolerated.

Do we care enough that we take the time to examine ourselves, recognize our true spiritual condition, and deal with our sin promptly?   Do we look to Christ as the Ultimate Provider of all of needs and abilities?  Do we live for Him, or do we live for our own comfort and ease?  Do we really care or do we simply go through the motions of service as long as there is little or no cost to us?

 

May the Lord bless us as we seek to see Jesus in the pages of the book of Revelation.

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3 Comments

  1. SLIMJIM says:

    I’m going to have to watch this after Sunday

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