Our Saturday devotional recap this morning will be the Daily Devotions concerning Jesus’ letter to the church at 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.
A Lukewarm Church
Again, we see very serious concerns here on the part of Jesus toward this church, In fact, He had no commendation for this church, but launched directly into corrective measures. He uses an analogy to express this which the readers would have gotten immediately, as he did with each of the letters to the churches. Apparently the Laodicean water supply traveled through an underground aqueduct to bring water from Colosse. It started there as clear cold water, and would arrive in Laodicea tepid and lukewarm. Also considered was water from the hot springs in Hieropolis, which was so hot it steamed, but if brought to Laodicea again would be tepid and lukewarm. For those readers who are either soda or coffee drinkers, how do you prefer those drinks? Most of us like our sodas ice cold, and our coffee piping hot. For either to be lukewarm would, literally make us want to spew them out or our mouths over the distaste they would produce.
When Jesus said to this church, I know thy works, He was not in this case referring to good works, but evil works. Another important thing to note is that Laodicea was a wealthy city, being a center of banking and finance in Asia. This church was likely far from a poor church. In fact, Jesus alludes to that, saying, Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing;. But yet, Jesus clearly felt differently, as he pointed out many failings in this church.
In our country, and in our time, it almost seems that the church at Laodicea represents many of the things which are not right with our churches today. Are we basically fat and happy, thinking that we have reached the pinnacle of “churchianity?” Are we satisfied with where we are and what we are doing? Do we think we have attained Christian “success” to the point where we think we have accomplished something? Have we done these things while excluding Jesus Himself from our churches?
Our travels through the seven letters to the churches of Asia have been very cursory, and just an overview. Over the course of the next few days, we are going to really explore and analyze some of the issues facing this church, and see how they are applicable to many of our churches today.
In yesterday’s devotion we discussed how the lukewarm state of the church at Laodicea was displeasing to Jesus, so much so that the distaste was such as to cause him to literally spew, or vomit them out of His mouth. That is kind of like a soda or coffee, which should be ice cold or piping hot respectively. Either of those drinks in a lukewarm state would be met with distaste, so much so that we might be inclined to spit them out of our mouths.
The Bible does describe to us that our hearts can be in somewhat the same conditions as a cup of liquid we might drink. As Jesus walked with the two disciples on the road to Emmaeus and He revealed himself to them for who he really was, they said the following
Luke 24:32 And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?
These two immediately went to find the other disciples and share the exciting news about what had happened to them. Their hearts at that point were on fire!
Our hearts can also be cold to the things of God. As false teachers arrive, we see this clearly in the following passage:
Matthew 24:12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.
These are hearts which have become cold
And of course, we see the lukewarm hearts of the believers in the Laodicean church.
Why had they become lukewarm? Here is a passage which details why this church had likely become lukewarm:
Revalation 3:17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing;………..
There it is. This church had it all, and they, in their minds, had need of nothing. A lukewarm Christian is complacent, comfortable, and simply does not realize his or her need. This church was tepid and stale, just like a barely warm cup of coffee that has been sitting on a counter all day.
What does a tepid cup of coffee need? it needs refreshing; it need an infusion of fresh, hot coffee to bring it back to life and acceptability. When a church has become comfortable, complacent, and blind to their own needs, they might be in need of revival.
More On Temperatures
In the previous devotion we talked briefly about what the Bible says about hot, cold and lukewarm Christians. Today, we are going to cover it just a bit more, then we will move on.
Being lukewarm is the issue here. This church was not hot, nor was it cold; It was lukewarm. Because of this, The Lord was going to basically vomit this church from His mouth. Churches may make our Lord feel many things. Some may make him angry, some happy, some sad, some disappointed, and so forth. This church at Laodicea made Him sick!
What then, is the difference between hot, cold and lukewarm in terms of the hearts of people? Hot is easy. Hot believers are those who are on fire for the things of Faith. Those who desire to worship, study, witness to the lost, and whatever they may be called to do. These would be the people who show the excitement in their actions of a transformed life
Cold people, on the other hand, are the complete opposite. These are those who simply reject The Lord. The offer of salvation holds no interest for them; God holds no interest for them. They may even be overtly hostile to the idea of God.
Lukewarm people are those professing belief, but are in fact hypocrites. LIke the Pharisees, lukewarm Christians have only an empty faith, devoid of anything other than the trappings of faith. Perhaps a nice building, a nice sound system, lots of people attending church, or any of a myriad of other things.
So, what is the danger of being lukewarm? Hot believers don’t need to be reached, as they are quite obviously part of the family. Cold people can be reached, as it is at least remotely possible to show them their need for God. The problem with lukewarm people is: They think they are ok! The hardest person to reach in the world is the lost person sitting beside you in Church.
So, that is the basic problem with this church. They thought their “stuff” made them a church pleasing to God.
If we think our “stuff”, our programs, our numbers, or any outward signs of Christian success is what makes us pleasing to God, we might need revival.
This particular Scripture verse is often used in the context of an invitation. Preachers often use it as an example of Jesus’ invitation to the lost sinner to come to salvation. I don’t rule out that it has that application, but the reach of it is likely far broader than that.
This will be an extremely un dogmatic devotion. In fact, I may ask more questions than I answer during the course of it, and I hope readers will chime in with their thoughts. As always, be nice. We can disagree and go round and round about the meaning here, and nobody becomes a heretic, okay? Thanks!
So, some things do seem evident. This is a church with serious problems, as Jesus’ critique of them has been quite harsh. It has been the worst of any of the seven churches thus far. Jesus’ own words seem to indicate He is outside this church in some fashion. Why? Who exactly is Jesus talking to?
Is this a church of saved believers who have simply backslid to the point where one would never know? Maybe. Jesus did say As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. In other places in Scripture we see Jesus chastening believers as his children. In fact, references are made that a lack of chastisement means we are not children of His. On the other hand, some commenters make a case that the terminology in our passage, rebuke(reprove in some translation), is a reference to the Holy Spirit’s conviction of lost sinners. Honestly, I am okay either way, to tell the truth.
One writer thinks the use of the phrase any man indicates that this is a church full of lost people under the delusion that they are saved. Could any man be the idea that Jesus only needs one saved person in that church in order to start a work?
Regardless of how we look at the soul situation of the people in this church, Jesus’ promises to them are ironclad and available if they simply repent and either come to Him, or repent and return to Him. See the last part of our verse: I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. That speaks of the joy and fellowship that any individual, and any church can experience with God, if they only allow Him in.
To sum up, it matters greatly that Jesus implies he is at the door of this church knocking to get in. If Jesus is not in our church, but is outside seeking entrance, then we might need a revival.