PREAMBLE: If you come away from church services without having a sense of repentance of sin and a fervency for the work of God, you probably missed the point of going to church.
If you come away from church thinking you are a “Better You” or that you are going to give God some kind of special favor this week, you probably missed the point to going to church.
Read this letter to the Chruch a Laodicea and see how you are measuring up.
“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.’”
Laós (the root of the English term, “laity“) – a people, particularly used of “the people of the Lord” (= Heb ʽam). (From Strong’s Concordance #2992)
Díkē – penalty, punishment; properly, right, especially a judicial verdict which declares someone approved or disapproved; a judgment (just finding) that regards someone (something) as “guilty” or “innocent”; judgment, punish, vengeance. See 1343 (dikaiosynē).
A city in Phrygia, in the Lycos valley in the Roman province Asia, near Colossae and Hierapolis.
NOTE: It is important to know, (#1), the CONTEXT of these, or any Bible verses, and, (#2), what the original Biblical Greek words mean. Secondly, most ‘translations of the Bible’ are NOT TRANSLATIONS at all, they are VERSIONS of what man thinks the Bible should say. A Bible concordance, such as Strong’s Bible Concordance gives details of the words usages, root words, context, parts of speech and more.
Start with the ‘plain, face value statement of the verse’; ask, ‘what does it say’ at face value. Next, study the context of the verse, first by the surrounding verses, then, in the usual context of the entire Bible. Then ask, ‘what does it mean’?
There are also social, economic, political and geographic influences to consider when reading the Bible. Then, you should consider the style, whether it is historical, poetic, prophetic, etc., and, whether the verses are literal, metaphorical, idiomatic, allegorical or parables.
But, most of this has less to do with the Truth you are to learn, than does the intention of the writer and the MEANING of the words he writes. You can do the research and get to the Truth, if you want. Pray, ask God for illumination, understanding and wisdom.
Finally, ask yourself, ‘what do these verses mean to me’, and apply it.
Never let anyone tell you the Bible was ever written only to a specific group of people or that it is just a story. The Bible is the eternal, inerrant Truth of God, written to you and for you so that you can go do it and live it!
I have quoted these Bible verses in Revelation from the NASB 1995 version. The Bible text is in RED and the re-quoted version with more detail of the words used, immediately follows in parentheses.
Revelation 3:14-22 says,
“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:
Question #1. To whom is this letter written?
Question #2. For whom is this letter written?
Question #3. Is is applicable to people and ‘churches’ today? (If, not, why do we care it was written at all? If so, is this your church? Is this you?
Verse 15 says, ”I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot;” (In other words, “I know your works, you are neither cold-hearted nor are you fervent about your works as a church”)
Question #4. What does this say about God’s watchfulness?
Question #5. Who is “The Church”?
Verse 15 goes on to say, “I wish that you were cold or hot.” (In other words, “I am wishing for the unattainable when I say that you were either fervent or cold-hearted about your works, because I see you cannot be anything but lukewarm.”)
Question #6. Why would God prefer the Church at Laodicea to be either hot or cold?
‘So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. (In other words, “Because you are unrepentant and continually tepid and lukewarm about your works, I am repulsed and I vomit you out of My Mouth to show My utter rejection and total separation from you; a rejection of extreme disgust.”)
Question #7. Why does being ‘lukewarm’ disgust God?
Questions #8. Does God actually reject and separate Himself from ‘lukewarm’ church members?
‘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”
Question #9. What makes a persona wealthy?
Question #10. How can a person with wealth be considered wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked?
The world’s view (non-Christian view) of wealth is found in material things. God says, that real wealth is found in relationship with Him, who is the source of all things. Material goods are temporary and fading away. God’s riches are eternal.
We see this Truth taught and repeated in Matthew 6:19-21, when we read, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
And, again in, Matthew 6:31-33, we read, “Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Again, in Matthew 19:21-24, “Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property.
“And Jesus said to His disciples, “Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
And again, in Matthew chapter five, we see Jesus teaching that we are blessed when we are are dependent on God, alone.
(NOTE: An earthquake devastated the region in a.d. 60 and, Laodicea refused Imperial help to rebuild the city, successfully relying on their own resources. They didn’t need outside help, they didn’t ask for it, and they didn’t want it. “Laodicea was too rich to accept help from anyone. Tacitus, the Roman historian, tells us: ‘Laodicea arose from the ruins by the strength of her own resources, and with no help from us.’” (Barclay)
Verse 18 says, “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.
Question #11: What does it mean to buy ‘gold refined by fire”?
Gold: From Strong’s #5553 xrysíon – gold, viewed in terms of its purchasing power, i.e. what it brings about. “unlimited ability to purchase (acquire).”
Refined by fire: From Strong’s #4442 pýr – fire. In Scripture, fire is often used figuratively – like with the “fire of God” which transforms all it touches into light and likeness with itself
God’s Spirit, like a holy fire, enlightens and purifies so that believers can share more and more in His likeness. Indeed the fire of God brings the uninterrupted privilege of being transformed which happens by experiencing faith from Him. Our lives can become true offerings to Him as we obey this imparted faith from God by His power.
[This is illustrated by God’s fire burning continuously at the entrance of the Tabernacle where the priests made sweet-savor offerings. Compare Lev 6:12,13 with 1 Pet 2:5,9.]
1 Peter 1:6-7 also tells us, “In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
Daniel 12:10 also tells us that, “Many will be purged,purified and refined, but the wicked will act wickedly; and none of the wicked will understand, but those who have insight will understand.”
God says, in Zechariah 13:9, “And I will bring the third part through the fire,
Refine them as silver is refined, And test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, And I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are My people,’
And they will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’”
(Revelation 3:14-22, and specifically, verse 18, are too rich and too full of meaning to be fully explored here. Suffice it to say, for now, that this verse encapsulates all the teaching of the process of salvation and sanctification. You can discover more on these matter by reading “A Tutorial on Effective Spiritual Warfare”, which is a work still in progress.)
God tells us in Verse 19, ‘Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.” (In other words, “Those whom I love, I expose you and convince you and convict you as guilty” so you will be fervent, hot and zealous and change you way of thinking.)
Reprove: From Strong’s #1651 elégxō – properly, to convince with solid, compelling evidence, especially to expose, prove wrong, show to be guilty.
Verse 20 says, ‘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.
Question #13: What does it mean to “overcome” in the Biblical sense?
Question #14: How does one “overcome” in a Biblical sense?
(click on any of the text of verse 21 for a detailed commentary and explanation)
Verse 22 says, “‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”
Verse 22 is a word to you, the reader, and to me the writer, and to everyone who calls themselves a Christian.
These verses in The Revelation transcend the argument among the churches whether one is ‘once saved, always saved’ or if on can ‘lose their salvation or can turn away’.
This is a warning and a call to everyone to check yourself: Are you “hot” or “cold” toward the Gospel and toward the work of the Church? Or, do your actions tell of a “lukewarmness” that spells doom?
Dear friends, loved ones and reader: Christianity is a dangerous game to be trifled with. It can give you safe harbor and hope during this life and save your soul for all eternity, or, it can spell doom to those who are deceived into thinking you can casually stroll along with Jesus.
Christianity is a purging, a refining a cleansing and a preparation to follow Jesus and do the works He has done, and even greater works; and, then, eternity with Him.
Following Him means to be blessed, made safe, whole and full of purpose. Following Him means doing what He says to do, just as He has done it.
Your Brother and Friend,