Church of Laodicea

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; 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. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. 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. 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. Revelation 3:14-22 (KJV)

In closing the letters to the seven churches we come to the final church of Laodicea. This was a wealthy city, and thus, believed themselves to be in need of nothing. This attitude had gotten into the church, thus the need for the letter. In this letter we will see the sovereignty of Jesus Christ and His power in working with spiritual fervor, or the lack of it, and His immediate position to those who say they have no need.

“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;”

Jesus reveals Himself as “The Amen”, which means “So be it”. What ever Jesus has said, or is about to say will definitely come to pass. He is the God of truth. He is truth, fixed and sure.

Jesus is the One who has, possesses and owns everything. “The earth is the LORD’S and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.” (Psalm 24:1).

Again Jesus is presenting a characteristic of Himself which the church needs. As Sovereign He owns and possesses all things.

He reveals Himself as the very source of all creation. “…The Beginning of the creation of God…” declares in fact that He is the Creator, not a created being (John 1:3; Colossians 1:16). He is the source of the needs the Laodicean people did not realize they had. Paul was familiar with Laodicea. The epistle of Colossians was sent to Laodicea for them to hear and read concerning the deity of Jesus, and other matters.

“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.”

In these verses we see what Jesus has to say to the congregation of Laodicea. It is not pleasant or good. He mentions no good works, no good doctrine, there is absolutely no commendation, but condemnation, with a call to “Repent” and “…Open the door…” as the only hope.

This is a church which only acted as a thermometer. It only registered the temperature around it. It was no more than a stagnant water or a dead body. Its environment was all it registered. A thermostat is used for raising or lowering the temperature. Every child of God should be like a thermostat.

When we look through Scripture we find that there are three spiritual temperatures;
1. The burning heart. This heart yearns for the Word of God and loves to hear the exposition of God’s Word. You find an example of this heart in Luke 24:32.
2. The cold heart. This heart is just not interested in spiritual things. It finds greater pleasure in the world than in God’s words. An example of this heart is found in Matthew 24:12.
3. The lukewarm heart. This is the heart who is comfortable and complacent. It is the worst condition of the three. This individual or church will not be committed to do anything much. May or may not be a regular worshipper. We find this example in our text (v. 15). You never know where this type of people or church stands on any issue or debate.

The John MacArthur Study Bible note on verse 16 states,

“Nearby Hierapolis was famous for its hot springs, and Colosse for its cold, refreshing mountain stream. But Laodicea had dirty, tepid water that flowed for miles through an underground aqueduct. Visitors, unaccustomed to it, immediately spat it out. The church at Laodicea was neither cold, openly rejecting Christ, nor hot, filled with spiritual zeal. Instead, its members were lukewarm, hypocrites professing to know Christ, but not truly belonging to Him (cf. Matt.7:21ff).”

Jesus says of this church, “You make me sick”. They are willing to sacrifice truth for peace.

If they would have been hot Jesus would have commended them. If they would have been cold, He would have rebuked them and heated them up. As they were lukewarm, they did not even realize they had a need. Everything was going their way. They had money, notoriety, rich jewels. They had everything other people in the city had – including the presence of the absence of Jesus. They did not even know Jesus was not there.

When things are going good, and we get comfortable, let us make certain Jesus is present no matter what the cost may be. If we are comfortable we must be careful not to grow complacent to the needs we may have as well as the needs of those around us. The greatest need the world around us has is that they see Jesus Christ in those who are His – for the church to be the Church – and not living as the world.

“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. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.”

The church needed to be made aware of their comfortable complacency. Because of the material riches they had been blessed with they had drifted into lukewarmness and had become a negative testimony for Christ.

Lukewarmness happens when blessings are many and the worship of Jesus slacks off. Pride and self-satisfaction is the ruin of many individuals and churches.

The city was one of vast wealth and the church has been a recipient as well. They had “Need of nothing” and were blind to their real need. They were able to handle things themselves. Their blindness kept them from seeing their nakedness, and poverty. Spiritual blindness leads to spiritual bankruptcy.

These people were clothed in the richest of garments materially, yet without the righteous garment of Jesus, they had nothing of God. They were clothed in “Fig leaves” before the eyes of God.

Blindness is sometimes caused by poor diet – malnutrition. Warren Wiersbe said,

“Diet has bearing on the condition of one’s eyes, in a spiritual sense as well as a physical one.”

They had feasted heavily on material things and were fat and lazy. They had neglected the Word and worship of God in Christ and were blind as a bat without sonar, in Spirit. Poor, miserable, blind and naked.

They needed cleansing. They needed to stand for Jesus to show the world the difference one’s life has in Christ. This would lead to persecution, for the Scripture says, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12).

They needed to be clothed in the white and righteous garments of Jesus. In Jesus they would have true riches; “Gold tried in the fire” or persecution and trials of faith in Him. God, raiment, and sight that is for eternity, rather than that which the moth and rust eat away, corupts and fails.

Laodicea was known for an eye ointment for helping sight problems. This ointment could not help them see Jesus, their true need, however. Jesus offers the ointment of the Holy Spirit who gives sight to the spiritually blind.

Jesus’s words in verse 19 are directed to a small remnant within this church who are in Christ. They have sadly backsliden, yet Jesus warns them to repent. His chastening hand brings His children out of the lie of self-satisfaction into a satisfying fellowship with Himself.

“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.”

The saddest statement of these letters, and possibly in all of scripture is the proximity of Jesus in relation to this church.

1. He is near, but not in;
2. He is knocking at the door; the one’s inside unaware of His absence;
3. He is asking to come in.

This was more a social club than a church. If the One who instituted the Church is not in the church, then, it is not the Church. It does not matter how loud a group yells they are a church. What does matter is, where Jesus is in relation to them. Likewise, it matters not how loud the individual declares He is a christian, it does, however, matter the proximity of Jesus in relation to that individual.

For those who will open the door and let Him in there is great fellowship and feasting in His presence and glory.

“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.”

The promise to the “Overcomer” is an eternal one. To sit with Jesus on His throne (Ephesians 1:3; 2:6). He has called us to be overcomers, placed in us His Spirit who seals us to that great day. Why do we want to persist in our own way, knowing that the riches of Jesus are ours through overcoming faith in Him?

Now is the time to hear. Hear the Spirit as He directs you to Jesus. Hear Him as He rebukes you of your sin and your backsliden condition.

Many individuals and churches are in the Laodicean condition. We need not stay there. If the Laodicean church did not repent they were judged. If the Church today does not repent of its comfortable complacency judgment will come on all who do not overcome.

In conclusion, this is the only church that had no commendation said of it. It was soundly rebuked for its lukewarmness. It was a “church” which made Jesus sick. Jesus was not even present in the church. He was outside, asking to come in, but they were not listening.

Let none of us who are in the Body of Christ get to the place where we do not even notice the absence of Jesus. What do we have if Jesus is not present in our gatherings as a local congregation? We have a social gathering, and some Christians who need repentance. What do we have if an individual does not have the presence of Jesus? A lost individual, or a backsliden Christian. Jesus is Lord. He establishes His Church. It is Jesus who decides who will sit with Him on His throne. He is THE SOVEREIGN KING.

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Church of Philadelphia

And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept My word, and hast not denied My name. Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee. Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from My God: and I will write upon him My new name. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. Revelation 3:7-13 (KJV)

In verses 7 – 13 I want to see Jesus revealed in His glory as sovereign, and ruling in His Church, determining when and where His Church and people are to minister, and preach the gospel of grace, and the whole counsel of God.

“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;”

The city of Philadelphia is approximately 28 miles Southeast of Sardis. The name means “Love of the brethren” or “Brotherly love”.

The main religion of Philadelphia was the worship of Dyonisus. To a certain extent the city was known as “The keeper of the gateway to the plateau” W. M. Ramsay THE LETTERS OF THE SEVEN CHURCHES OF ASIA, pp. 404-405. This city was also earthquake prone and destroyed and rebuilt.

Now, we see how Jesus identified Himself to this local assembly. Holy is the first. To declare Himself as that which is holy He declares Himself as God – He is. He is holy in His character. He is holy in His judgment. He is holy in His actions, words, and purposes.

He also is identified as “He that is true”. He is not a copy, but the original. Because He is true He can be trusted with history, the present, the future of our lives. He can be trusted to bring about that which we have entrusted to His care (2 Timothy 1:12).
There is little reference back to His characteristics revealed in chapter one. In verse eighteen of chapter one Jesus describes Himself as having the “Keys of hell and of death”. The “Key of David” is a reference to Isaiah 22:22. Surely Jesus is saying that great missionary efforts can only come about because He opens the door. They cease when He closes the door, thus, He is the One who holds the key [has the authority]. From around 1700 even to the present we as the Church have enjoyed an open door of evangelism. It appears that this door will remain open for mission work until Jesus comes to take His Bride home. No man can open or shut these doors, only Jesus does. While the doors are open we must take advantage of it. Jesus could come at any moment for His Church.

“I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept My word, and hast not denied My name.”

The “I know” is nowhere near one of condemnation.

This church was weak, but possibly only in number, finances, or of little power to influence society because of sin and so called “Openmindedness” toward all religions. This weakness mentioned is not mentioned as a rebuke. It is mentioned more as a reminder of their need [our need] of His strength.

What is good about this church? They have an “Open door” for evangelism and missions. They have kept the Word – obediently. They have been faithful to His name despite the persecution they have gone through. “Open door” may also be a reference to readiness to receive the Word of God. Could be both evangelism and the Word.
It is a great blessing to have God open the doors in order that we might tell many who are condemned in and by sin of the wonderfu, marvelous grace of God.

“Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.”

The “Synagogue of satan” can refer back to the letter to Smyrna chapter two verse nine.

Satan often uses religious people to try and stop the work of our Lord. The Jews have long worked against Christianity and the ministry of Jesus. Ever since Jesus ministry began they have sought to destroy Him. They have been unwittingly and are the “Synagogue of satan”. This is not an anti-semitic statement. They, as a nation, are a reprobate nation, lost and condemned until they receive Jesus as their Messiah. God is still working to bring the Jew to Himself. This work is in the person of Jesus Christ.
There are times when those who oppose the Church most vehemently will be the ones who trust the Lord best. Take, for example, the apostle Paul, who was Saul, who set out to destroy these Christ followers, and ended up one when he met the Christ face to face.

There will come a time when even the whole nation of Israel will know Jesus (Romans 11:25-26). They will recognize God’s institution of the Church as the instrument used in reaching the world for Jesus with the gospel and of glorifying God.

“Because thou hast kept the word of My patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.”

In their faithfulness to Christ and His Word they receive a promise of deliverance “From the hour of temptation…” This may very well be speaking of a specific time which has yet to take place. Of course, it had some significance for the church of Philadelphia, a promise for them to be kept from a certain “Temptation”. Keep in mind that these seven churches represent the whole Church throughout the Church age, but we could also see that each church represents separate times during this age. I have not made, nor did I intend to make, a case for each church representing a period of time during the Church age. This church of Philadelphia could be seen as the church which would see the rapture of the church.

This “Temptation” mentioned in the paragraph above could be what Jeremiah the prophet called “The time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7). A time of judgment on the Jewish nation, because of their rejection of Jesus. It would be their final judgment when the nation is brought to faith in Messiah Jesus.

There would be no purpose for the Church which has kept His Word and been faithful to go through the sorrow of trial that is meant for the purification of Israel and the judgment of unbelievers. In order for chaos to have the “Upper hand” the people who are possessed by God’s Spirit will be delivered. The Scripture says, ” God has not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:9). Something needs said here. Paul is speaking to Christians who have already been saved from their sin. The verse would, at least to me, be quite clearly speaking of a future wrath of judgment on the world, from which the Christian Church is to be delivered.

It is fairly clear that the “Open door” age, and the “Lukewarm” age overlap one another. We, today, are living in the greatest age of human history. The Lord has opened doors for gospel preaching in places all over the world, but for how long? While some are hot in evangelism and loving Jesus others are wrapped up in comfortable, dead formalism, more concerned with “Artificial unity” than true unity, pushing social programs, and political proponents, and moral laws, rather than the gospel which has the power to change hearts from immorality to moral living without a law demanding it.

“Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.”

There are a lot of Christians who are questioning the imminent return of Christ. He says here, “Behold, I come quickly…” He is not speaking of minutes or seconds. He is speaking more of suddenness. “Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of Man cometh at an hour when ye think not.” (Luke 12:40). He is coming suddenly to take His Bride home with Him. That is called the “Rapture”. NO! The word is not mentioned in Scripture, but the principle is, “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (1 Thess 4:16-17). This is certainly speaking of a “Catching away”.
Jesus speaks also of a crown. These crowns have nothing to do with salvation. They are rewards for a life of faithfulness to our Lord. There are five crowns mentioned in God’s Word. The Crown of Life (James 1:12); The Incorruptible Crown (1 Corinthians 9:24-27); The Crown of Rejoicing (1 Thessalonians 2:19-20); The Crown of Righteousness (2 Timothy 4:5-8); and the Crown of Glory (1 Peter 5:2-4).
Jesus says, “Hold on to these rewards, don’t let anyone take them from you”. Envy or jealousy can rob us of these rewards. It is called yielding to “Peer pressure”. “Hold fast” means make them your own – protect them at all cost. No material blessing is worth your life. Eternal blessings are…

“Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from My God: and I will write upon him My new name.”

Sometimes in this city of earthquakes the only thing left standing was marble pillars of the temples which had been built for varied purposes.

Since all of Heaven is the temple of God every overcomer will be identified as one who stood when everything around them fell, cracked and was destroyed.

“Go no more out” is speaking of seeking shelter outside the city when it was falling. In God’s city, the New Jerusalem, none will ever have to flee.

In this new city the overcomers will also have a new name. In ancient cities they often put the names of important people upon the pillars which supported a building. These overcomers will stand forever with the new name which has been given them by Jesus Himself.

“He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”

Once again a call for every individual to hear the Spirit, and what He says to the churches. Hear the call of the Holy Spirit and you hear the call of God.

In conclusion, Jesus is THE WAYMAKER. He gives the Church an “Open Door” which He alone can open, and He alone can shut. He is THE WAYMAKER, because He has a way of deliverance from the great day of wrath for these overcomers. Jesus is THE WAYMAKER, in that, He has crowns awaiting those who are ever faithful. He is THE WAYMAKER, because He has a new name, “Up in Lights” you might say, for every overcomer.