Laodicea - The 21st Century American Church - Part 4
- Laodicea - The 21st Century American Church - Part 3
The Laodicean Church - The church that makes God sick.
This concludes our short study of the 21st century American church in Bible prophecy. Shall we continue to look at the comparison between the Laodicea church circa 95 AD and the present church in America? The crown has fallen from Liberty's head in more ways than one. If you missed Part 3, click on the link to the right.
A Little About Laodicea
The city of Laodicea was built by Antiochus II in 261-253 BC and was named after his wife, Laodice. It lay approximately 10.5 miles west of the city of Colossae and about 99 miles east of Ephesus. It was part of Phrygia.
Outside of the city were many springs. Some were boiling hot. Others were refreshingly cool. It took much effort for the Laodiceans to capture the fresh water and bring it back to the city. In the process, even though fresh, the hot water soon would become lukewarm as it cooled on the trip back to the city. Likewise, the cold water would soon become lukewarm.
Picture this scene. It is the middle of July, ninety degrees, and you have just poured yourself a tall glass of iced tea with a slice of lemon. Condensation dripping down the glass calls you to refreshment. The phone rings. You put your glass on the counter and pick up the phone only to find that it was the wrong number.
Then you suddenly remember that today you had planned to mow the lawn. You grab the mower and begin plowing through your work in the back yard. An hour later, your tongue stuck to the roof of your mouth, you remember the glass of cool, refreshing iced tea sitting on the counter. You rush in, sweat dripping from your brow, and pick up the glass. But, it is no longer refreshing. It is warm and watered down, and you pour the drink down the sink.
Now, put yourself in this scenario. It is the middle of January. You have just put on a pot of coffee getting ready to settle down by the fire when your elderly neighbor calls. He asks if you could shovel the snow from his driveway. The wind chill is below 0 degrees and you soon lose sight of that cup of coffee. Forty minutes later you return, chilled to the bone, only to find that your cup of hot coffee has become lukewarm. Disgustingly, it also gets tossed down the sink.
Remember Jesus said in Revelation 3:16, "So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth." Again, In Revelation 2:4 and 5 Jesus said, Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works. . . .”
Clearly, Jesus would have His Body, the Church, to be red hot for Him, burning for Him in a lost and dying world, but just like that cup of coffee, Laodicea became lukewarm in her love for Him, it is disgusting to Him - and to a lost and dying world as well. He would choose for the Laodicean church to be refreshing and satisfying, as a cold glass of iced tea on a hot, humid day and as comforting as a piping hot cup of coffee on a winter’s day. Laodicea was neither cold nor hot. It sickened the Lord.
The Pitiful Condiion of the Laodicean Church
The Lord did indeed find this church to be in a pitiful state of dilapidation. Reading on in verse 17, the Lord continues, “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 . . . “
Notice this was a self-description of the Laodicean church. It was the church saying they were rich. It was the church saying they were increased with goods, and – they had need of nothing. Nothing includes Jesus. The church had become so self-sufficient, Jesus no longer occupied even a pew.
That well-known verse – Revelation 3:20 is often used when leading someone to Christ. “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come into him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”
If you can lead someone to the Lord using this verse, go ahead, but realize the proper context. Jesus is outside of His church knocking to get back in. In John 1:12 we read, “He came unto his own, and his own received him not.” We can rightfully apply this verse to the Jewish people, but oh, we can apply it to the Christian church today. He has been ostracized from His own people by His own people. Maybe He is knocking at your heart’s door even now, pleading for you to open the door. You are the only one who can.
Now, may we backtrack a step. See how Jesus introduced Himself to this church in Revelation 3:14 – “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 . . .” He begins by using one of His names – Amen. The word Amen, as it is used here, means to be firm, or trustworthy (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance)4. What better way to address a church that has fallen from grace?
Jesus is firm. Jesus is trustworthy. In John 8:12, Jesus says, “. . . I am the light of the world . . . .” He follows that statement in John 9:5 – “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” Jesus knew He would not always be physically present in the world. Other arrangements would need to be made.
That mantle was passed to His disciples in Matthew 5:14 which reads, “Ye are the light of the world.” Jesus is no longer bodily the light of the world. You are! Think of the privilege it is to shine for the God of the universe. I realize it is Jesus who is to shine through us, but He has chosen you to be the lamp which holds His flame. It was no different for the Laodicean church. They failed. It is no different today for the 21st century American church. Might Jesus, the Great Judge, be speaking the same message of condemnation to His church today?
The rest of verse 14 continues, “A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.” The Light of the church should be a very present sight to behold. Unfortunately, today the Light is so often hidden under the bushel of the world. We are clearly told in verse 16 to, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
We have brought into the church house the world’s music – music not to worship a holy God, but the music of emotion that so often glorifies self. We have allowed the church to be run by the world’s business practices rather than through the fervent prayers of righteous saints. We have adopted the world’s programs and gimmicks to get and keep folks coming to church. Have we forgotten the power of love – God’s love?
God’s love is enough to keep the pews full when music fails. His tenderness toward the sinner is what wins people, not a fancy business practice, The Word of God is to be the focal point of meetings. Jesus is to be the focal point of the meetings, not glamorous programs and tricks.
God’s address to the church at Laodicea does not mention the particulars of their fall. I cannot say what was taking place in this church, but I can see all around me what is taking place in the church today, and for the most part, it is not good.
In Matthew 5:13, Jesus mentions that we are also to be salt. “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.”
Could it be you have lost your savour? The Laodicean church did, and they were promptly trodden under foot.
Jesus continues His introduction by referring to Himself as faithful and true and has given witness to that fact. He was and is faithful and true to His people. It is His people that so often do not reciprocate. The fact that the Laodicean church fell into this category is plainly seen in Scripture. This, of course, was in the past. In today’s present, the church no longer exists. American church – take warning!
Still, God held out hope for this gathering of believers. Yes, these were believers. Even though they had fallen far away from the Lord, they were still a church, an ecclesia, a called-out assembly. We are told in Hebrews 12:6, “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.” The son, the church at Laodicea, arrived at the crossroads – repent and return to their first love as the Lord challenged the Ephesian church or face chastening. We also see in verse 19 that this warning of chastening is given out of God’s great love. “As many as I love (Emphasis added), I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.”
The story is not all doom and gloom, however. We read in verse 18, “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.”
This a direct offer from the Lord. He offered them true wealth rather than the temporal. He would remove their shame by clothing them in His purity and righteousness rather than allowing them to remain in their own filthy rags. He would anoint their eyes with eyesalve so they could truly see their condition. The spirit lives forever. The body is temporal. Living for Jesus has eternal rewards. When we live for ourselves, we will stand before the King with empty hands. God wants us – He wanted this church, to be fruitful.
Revelation 22:12 says this, “And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.” Jesus plans to reward His church at his coming. The Greek word misthos is translated in our King James Bible as the word reward. Its meaning has to do with wages; with payment for service rendered. Unfortunately, it would appear that the Laodicean church had nothing coming to them in the form of payment.
The American church which was once strong seems to be taking the same path. We cannot rest on what we have done in the past, for II John 1:8 is still in the Bible as well – “Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.” Here, the word wrought is used to denote the Greek word ergazomai. It means to toil; to labor. Payment will be rendered for the labor we have done.
But notice please this verse clearly speaks of loss. It is very possible that our reward can also be lost. We may not receive a full reward. Revelation 3:11 adds, “Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.” Could it be that crowns we have won can be taken away if they are not protected? It would seem that rewards and crowns can be lost. We must stay the course to receive all that God has planned for us. This is where the church at Laodicea failed. This is also where the present-day American church has failed.
What about opportunities God has given us that have been ignored? What about service and ministry that was left undone or incomplete? In II Timothy 4:5, Paul tells Timothy to make full proof of his ministry, He mentions in Colossians 4:17 “. . . Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfil it.” To fulfill your ministry is to make full proof of it.
Realize too, that ministry is not always performed by a professional minister. What is a professional minister, anyway? For we are labourers together with God (I Corinthians 3:9). All acts of service for God will be rewarded, but the rewards can also be lost if we do not guard them. So guard them!
© 2017 William Kovacic