Now onto our final letter to the Seven Churches in the Book of Revelation. Yesterday we covered the letter to the faithful church. Today we commence with the last letter to the lukewarm church in Laodicea.
And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: “This is what the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the originator of God’s creation, says: ‘I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were cold or hot! Thus, because you are lukewarm and neither hot nor cold, I am about to vomit you out of my mouth!
Buy from Me gold
Because you are saying, “I am rich, and have become rich, and I have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and pitiable and poor and blind and naked. I advise you to buy from me gold refined by fire, in order that you may become rich, and white clothing, in order that you may be clothed and the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed, and eye salve to smear on your eyes, in order that you may see.
As many as I love, I reprove and discipline. Be zealous, therefore, and repent! Behold, I stand at the door and knock! If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, indeed I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with me. The one who conquers, I will grant to him to sit down with me on my throne, as I also have conquered and have sat down with my Father on his throne. The one who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”
Henry says – Laodicea was a once famous city near the river Lycus. It had three marble theatres, and like Rome, was built on seven hills. The apostle Paul was very instrumental in planting the gospel in this city. Here was held a council in the fourth century, but it has been long since demolished, and lies in ruins to this day, an awful monument of the wrath of the Lamb.
Are we for Him or against Him?
This message was sent from the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God. The Amen, one that is steady and unchangeable in all His purposes and promises, which are all yea, and all amen. The faithful and true witness, whose testimony ought to be received and fully believed. It is Christ’s testimony of men to God that will be fully believed and regarded. It will be a true witness against all indifferent lukewarm Christians. The beginning of the creation of God, either of the first creation as He was at the beginning. Or of the second creation Christ, having raised up Himself by His own divine power, as the head of a new world, raises up dead souls to be a living temple and church to Himself.
The charge laid before them Thou art neither cold nor hot, I wish thou were cold or hot, Rev. 3:15. Lukewarmness or indifference in Christianity is the worst temperament in the world. If religion is a real thing, it is the most excellent thing, and therefore we should be in earnest in it. However, if it is not a real thing, then it is the vilest imposture, and we should be earnest against it. If religion is worth anything, it is worth every thing; an indifference here is inexcusable. Why do you halt between two opinions? If God be God, follow Him; if Baal (be God), follow him. Here is no room for neutrality. Christ expects that men should declare themselves in earnest either for Him or against Him.
His thoughts are different to ours
There is a severe punishment threatened: I will spew thee out of my mouth. As lukewarm water turns the stomach, and provokes to a vomit, lukewarm professors of Christ turn the heart of Christ against them. He is sick of them, and cannot long bear them. They may call their lukewarmness charity, meekness, moderation, and a largeness of soul yet it is nauseous to Christ.
They shall be rejected, and rejected at the end. We have one cause of this indifference and inconsistency and that is self-conceitedness or self-delusion. They thought they were in a good state and therefore they were indifferent as to whether they grew better or not. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, etc., Rev. 3:17.
What a difference there was between the thoughts they had of themselves and the thoughts that Christ had of them. The high thoughts they had of themselves: Thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing, rich, and growing richer, and increased to such a degree as to be above all want or possibility of wanting. Perhaps they were well provided for as to their bodies, and this made them overlook the necessities of their souls. Or they thought themselves well furnished in their souls. They had learning, and they mistook it for religion and they had gifts, and they mistook them for grace. They had wit, and they took it for true wisdom.
Rich though poor
How careful should we be not to cheat our own souls! Doubtless there are many in hell that once thought themselves to be in the way to heaven. Christ knew that they were wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked. Their state was wretched: though they were proud of themselves, they were pitied by all who knew their case. For they were poor, really poor, when they said and thought they were rich. They had no provision for their souls to live upon; their souls were starving in the midst of their abundance. To the justice of God they were vastly indebted, and had nothing to pay off the least part of the debt.
They were blind and could not see their state, nor their way, nor their danger. Though they thought they saw, yet they were blind. The very light that was in them was darkness, and then how great must that darkness be! They could not see Christ, though evidently crucified before their eyes. Though always present with them, they could not see God by faith. They could not see death, though it was just before them. They could not look into eternity, though they stood upon the very brink of it continually.
Naked and without God
They were naked and without a safe harbour for their souls. They were without clothing, had neither the garment of justification nor that of sanctification. Their nakedness both of guilt and pollution had no covering. They lay always exposed to sin and shame. Their righteousnesses was but filthy rags that would not cover them. And they were naked for they were without God, and He has been the dwelling-place of His people in all ages.
In Him alone the soul of man can find rest, and safety, and all suitable accommodations. The riches of the body will not enrich the soul. The soul is a different thing from the body, and in the midst of bodily prosperity it will be wretched and miserable.
We have good counsel given by Christ to this sinful people, and that is that they drop their vain and false opinion they had of themselves: I counsel thee to buy of me, etc., Rev. 3:18. Our Lord Jesus Christ continues to give good counsel to those who have cast His counsels behind their backs. The condition of sinners in never desperate, while they enjoy the gracious calls and counsels of Christ. Our blessed Lord, the counsellor, always gives the best advice, and that which is most suitable to the sinner’s case.
Something must be parted with
These people were poor; Christ counsels them to buy of Him gold tried in the fire, that they might be rich. He lets them know where they might have true riches and how they might have them. First, Where they might have them—from Himself. He invites them to Himself, the pearl of great price. Secondly, And how must they have this true gold from him? They must buy it, that is, without money and without price, Isa. 55:1. Something indeed must be parted with to make room for receiving true riches. “Part with sin and self-sufficiency, and come to Christ with a sense of your poverty and emptiness, that you may be filled with His hidden treasure.”
These people were naked. Christ tells them where they might have clothing to cover the shame of their nakedness. This they must receive from Christ. His own imputed righteousness given for justification and the garments of holiness and sanctification. They must only put off their filthy rags that they might put on the white raiment which He has purchased and provided. They were blind but He counsels them to buy of him eye-salve, that they might see. It requires them to give up their own wisdom and reason, which are but blindness in the things of God. They as we much resign themselves to His Word and Spirit, and their eyes shall be opened to see their way.
Whom I love, I rebuke
A new and glorious scene would then open itself to their souls. This light is marvellous to those who have been delivered from the powers of darkness. This is the wise and good counsel Christ gives to careless souls and, if they follow it, He will judge Himself bound in honour to make it effectual.
Here is added great and gracious encouragement to this sinful people to take the advice that Christ had given them, Rev. 3:19, 20. He tells them: “Whom I love, I rebuke and chasten. You may think I have given you hard words and severe reproofs but it is all out of love to your souls. I would not have thus openly rebuked and corrected your sinful lukewarmness and vain confidence, if I had not been a lover of your souls. Had I hated you, I would have let you alone, to go on in sin till it had been your ruin.”
Sinners ought to take the rebukes of God’s word and rod as tokens of his good-will to their souls. They should accordingly repent in good earnest, and turn to Him that smites them. Better are the wounds of a friend than the flattering smiles of an enemy. If they would comply with His admonitions, He was ready to make their souls good: Behold, I stand at the door and knock, etc., Rev. 3:20.
He waits to be gracious
Christ is graciously pleased by His Word and Spirit to come to the door of the heart of sinners. He draws near to them in a way of mercy, ready to make them a kind visit. He often finds this door shut against Him. The heart of man is by nature shut up against Christ by ignorance, unbelief, sinful prejudices. When He finds the heart shut, He does not immediately withdraw, but He waits to be gracious, even till His head be filled with the dew.
He uses all proper means to awaken sinners, and to cause them to open to Him. He calls by His Word, He knocks by the impulses of his Spirit upon their conscience. Those who open to Him shall enjoy His presence, to their great comfort and advantage. He will sup with them and accept of what is good in them. He will give fresh supplies of graces and comforts, and thereby stir up fresh actings of faith, and love, and delight. In all this Christ and His repenting people will enjoy pleasant communion with each other. Alas! what do careless obstinate sinners lose by refusing to open the door of the heart to Christ!
It is still possible to be inspired
Coming to the conclusion of this letter we have as before, the promise made to the overcoming believer. Though this church seemed to be wholly overrun and overcome with lukewarmness and self-confidence, yet it was possible that by the reproofs and counsels of Christ they might be inspired. Inspired with fresh zeal and vigour and come off conquerors in their spiritual warfare. If they did so, all former faults would be forgiven, and they would have a great reward. And what is that reward? They shall sit down with me on my throne, as I also overcame, and have sat down with my Father on his throne, Rev. 3:21.
Christ, Himself met with His temptations and conflicts. He overcame them all, and was more than a conqueror. As the reward of His conflict and victory, He has sat down with God the Father on His throne, possessed of that glory which He had with the Father from eternity. He was pleased to conceal that glory on earth, leaving it in the hands of the Father, as a pledge that He would fulfil the work of a Saviour before He reassumed that manifested glory. Having done so, He then appears in His divine glory equal to the Father.
For all the churches of all ages
Those who are conformed to Christ in His trials and victories shall be conformed to Him in His glory. They shall sit down with Him on His throne of glory to all eternity, shining in His beams by virtue of their union with Him as the mystical body of which He is the head.
What is contained in these letters is not of private interpretation, nor intended for the instruction, reproof, and correction of those particular churches only, but of all the churches of Christ in all ages and parts of the world. There has been a resemblance in all succeeding churches to these, both in their graces and sins. They may expect that God will deal with them as He dealt with these. They are patterns to all ages of what faithful and fruitful churches may expect to receive from God. But also what those who are unfaithful may expect to suffer from His hand.
God’s dealings with His churches afford useful instruction to the rest of the world, If judgment begin at the house of God, what shall the end of those be that do not obey the gospel of Christ? 1 Pet. 4:17.
Adapted from the Matthew Henry Commentary
- Know that Christ is steady and unchangeable in all His purposes and promises
- Lukewarmness or indifference in Christianity is the worst temperament in the world
- Christ expects that men should declare themselves in earnest either for Him or against Him.
- Be on your guard against all self-conceitedness or self-delusion
- In Christ alone, the soul of man can find rest, and safety, and all suitable accommodations.
- We must part with sin and self-sufficiency, and come to Christ with a sense of our poverty and emptiness, that we may be filled with His hidden treasure
- We must only put off the filthy rags that we might put on the white raiment which Christ has purchased and provided
- Know that when Christ rebukes and chastens it is because He loves us
- Those who open to Him shall enjoy His presence, to their great comfort and advantage
- Those who are conformed to Christ in His trials and victories shall be conformed to Him in His glory
Christians Awake Complacent Christians wake up Get off your comfortable bed life has richly rewarded you Your stomach is overfed. You were once courageous Enterprising and bold Now you are lukewarm Neither hot not cold. You claim to be rich To have all you need But you are pitiful Poor and naked indeed. Turn away from your sins Do not look behind Clothe yourself in purest white You who are spiritually blind. Clear your eyes and see There is so much more For I stand behind The handleless door. By the late Andrew Feakin [passed away 16th March 2019]
Prayer: Father, I come to You. Thank you that Christ is steady and unchangeable in all His purposes and promises. Deliver me from all lukewarmness or indifference, help me be in earnest for Christ. Let me to be on my guard against all self-conceitedness or self-delusion. I know that in Christ alone can my soul find rest and safety. Reveal to me any sin and self-sufficiency that I may repent and come to Christ in my poverty and emptiness. I want to be filled with His hidden treasure.
Thank You that Christ has purchased and provided for white clothing for me to put on. Thank You for patience, long-suffering and love toward me. May my heart be fully and continually open to You that I may enjoy Your presence. May I be conformed to Christ in His trials and victories and so be conformed to Him in His glory. In Jesus name I ask. Amen.
To the Lukewarm church!
What on Earth have we Done with the Teachings of Jesus? by Jo Feakin here…