THE MASTER’S VESSEL MINISTRIES, HOUSTON, TEXAS
Preacher: Pastor Uche Emenike
Topic: The Messages to the churches
Text: Revelations 1:9-11; 2:1-7
Letter to Laodicea
The city of Laodicea is located forty miles southeast of Philadelphia on the road to Colossae. It was founded by Antiochus II in the 3rd century BC and he named it after his wife, Laodice. Laodicea was the wealthiest city in Phrygia during the time of the Romans. It was known for the following:
- As a leading banking center.
- As a producer of glossy black wool which is the source of black cloaks and carpets for which the city is renown.
- It was also the home of a medical school and known for the manufacture of collyrium, a famous eye salve/eye wash for the diseases of the eye. Its brand name eye ointment was called the “Phrygian Powder.”
- The city was so wealthy that when it was decimated by an earthquake in AD 60, it refused help offered by the Romans and single-handedly re-constructed itself.
- You now see that the self-sufficiency of the city crept into the church and she became self-sufficient too.
We do not have any evidence that the apostle Paul visited this church but it is apparent that he knew some Christians there as seen in Col. 2:1 and 4:15. In fact Paul instructed that the letter written to the Colossians warning them about the heretical teachings (Gnosticism) which assigned Christ to a place subordinate to the Godhead and minimized the uniqueness and completeness of His work on the cross be also read to the Laodiceans – Col. 4:16. This means that the church was already in doctrinal trouble during the time of Paul.
For this church, Jesus had no word of commendation. In fact, He made them realize that they make Him sick.
- In v. 14, Jesus identifies Himself as “the Amen.” This means, “So be it.” As a title, this describes Christ’s sovereignty and the certainty of the fulfilment of His promises (John Walvoord, p. 87). Also see II Cor. 1:19-20. God’s promises find their fulfilment in Jesus.
- As a Faithful and True Witness, His testimony of God to men must be received and believed. This is an allusion to the heresy that appears to be going on in the church concerning Him i.e. that He is a created being.
- As the Beginning of the creation of God, He is not speaking as being the first to be created but One that is before all creation. We have a clearer picture of this in Col. 1:15-18. Remember that Paul was addressing this issue with the Colossians and he requested the same letter to be read to the Laodiceans.
- In vs. 15 – 16, Jesus describes the spiritual state of the church using three analogies. These analogies represent the response of people to the gospel and to a walk with God. They are:
- Cold – This is usually the reaction of the world to the gospel – indifference, bitterness and cold.
- Hot – This is the necessary passion found in a believer of Christ. It speaks of great and genuine spiritual fervor seen in a follower of Christ. This person is on “fire” for the Lord.
- Lukewarm – This person does not belong anywhere. He professes faith in Christ, speaks the Christian language but you cannot differentiate between him and an unbeliever. You cannot call him an unbeliever but you cannot also vouch for his Christian faith. This church was like this. You cannot classify it with the world but it is also indifferent to the things of Christ. It has no testimony with God, and it is not zealous for the things of God.
- A believer like this attends church but frequents places where iniquity is practiced and sees nothing wrong with it. Such believer is indifferent to sin and will even encourage his/her children to practice it if it will bring reward. The believer is blinded to the things that promote righteousness and does not even pray because of his self-sufficiency. He is not bothered about the things of God but only about what will gratify his flesh.
- Such people make Christ sick. He wishes they were one or the other because they will be impediments to the gospel. A known unbeliever has greater chance of being born-again through repentance and faith in Christ than someone who claims to be in Christ but his lifestyle denies his profession of faith. How do we begin to preach to such a one? The Laodicean church was like that. Its members fulfilled every requirement of church membership but they were not truly born again into the family of God. Every one of us needs to ask ourselves if we are like the people of Laodicea. You cannot have one leg in the church and one leg in the world. Elijah asked the children of Israel that question: How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him – I Kgs 18:21. These people run the risk of being rejected by Christ because their actions and lifestyle prove that they never belonged to Christ in the first place.
- In v. 17, Christ rebuked this church for her self-sufficiency. When a people glorify material wealth, they get blinded to their real needs which are spiritual. We see that in America today. They are:
- Wretched – Rom. 7:24 – Paul called himself wretched because of his battle with sin
- Miserable or to be pitied – I Cor. 15: 19 – a term used for one whose hope is in this world only
- Poor – Though they had material riches, they made no provision for their soul like the rich fool in Luke 12:16-21. Such happens when you starve yourself of the word of God.
- Blind – They were unable to perceive spiritual things (II Cor. 4:4). They did not realize their state and the reason that Christ died for them. A lot of them thought that Christ died to make them rich not to save them from their sins.
- Naked – They are not really clothed with the garment of righteousness which every believer receives when they come to Christ. They were clothed with their own righteousness which is like a filthy rag in God’s sight.
- In v. 18, Christ uses the three things for which Laodicea is known for to admonish the church – their wealth, industry and medicine.
- Gold refined in fire – true spiritual riches i.e. the glory of God
- White garments – the garment of righteousness corresponding to salvation that God gives
- Anoint eyes with eye salve/ointment – this is to gain spiritual insight. You do this by giving up your own fleshly wisdom and reasoning and immerse yourself in the word which is able to make you see things the way God does. The physical things that they see are temporal – see II Cor. 4:18.
- All the above are free to obtain according to Isa. 55:1-2.
- In v. 19, Jesus reminds the church that He is rebuking her because He loves the church else He would have left her alone until sin becomes her ruin. He calls the church to repentance. For someone that is hearing this and being convicted, it is not time to wallow in guilt. It is a time of repentance. Godly sorrow always leads to repentance which leads to salvation – II Cor. 7:10.
- In v. 20, Jesus tells the church in Laodicea that He is standing outside her door that had been shut against Him and is willing to come in to be Lord and Savior. He wants to be their center of true worship and be intimate with them. Even if one person does so in that church, he can bring light to a dark place. He will not force Himself into this church. The same is true of the individual. He must be willing to invite Jesus into his heart. A coarse obedience to Christ is no obedience at all.
- In vs. 20-21, Christ promises all true believers (overcomers) that they will share in His glory. He ends with His final admonition for all to hear.
Christ’s invitation will not last forever. A time will come when it will be closed and He will come down in power to execute judgment against those that have rejected him. Do not be among such.