LAODICEA: The Lukewarm Church
Many Bible students believe that the church of Laodicea is the church in Revelation that most closely resembles the American church in our day. Jesus’ rebuke to this church is graphic. The reference to God vomiting should grab our attention. Perhaps that is why He begins His address with such a shocking statement—in order to shatter complacency.
A lukewarm church is a sickly perversion and misrepresentation of the Spirit-filled body of Christ. Laodicea had settled into a comfortable cycle of “checking the box.” “Doing church” in their own power for so long, they were blind to their true neediness. Their lukewarm condition allowed them to live comfortably in two worlds without making waves in either.
They had no hot zeal to live boldly for Christ (there is no mention of persecution for their faith), and yet they claimed association with Christ. They were not coldly opposing the gospel or rejecting Christianity, but neither were they defending it. They were a self-satisfied group, enjoying the social activities and the benefits of moral guidance a church can provide but anesthetized to their own spiritual ineffectiveness.
The contrast between Philadelphia’s faithfulness and power and Laodicea’s complacent impotence is striking. Philadelphia received no rebuke or warning; Laodicea received a sharp word of confrontation with the honest confession from God that they sickened Him. But His mercy extended beyond their current state. He offered hope and held out the promise of restoration, even intimacy with Him, if they would only repent.
MAKING IT PERSONAL:
Jesus opens this letter presenting Himself with the name “Amen,” a transliteration of the Hebrew word meaning “truth” (Isa. 65:16). Not
only is He the faithful and true Witness, but He is the “beginning of” (the One who began) God’s creation (Rev. 21:6; 22:13). This introduction encompasses His faithfulness and truthfulness, His willingness to reveal Himself as Deity, and His eternal existence—it reveals His sufficiency for our every need. How has He demonstrated His sufficiency to you?
Would you consider that your church is hot, cold, or lukewarm? The spiritual “temperature” of a church is determined by the spiritual condition of the individuals within that church. How can you encourage or help maintain a passion for Christ within your church body?
Has there been a time in your life when your passion and zeal for Christ were greater than what you are experiencing today? If so, what factors have contributed to your present condition?
If you consider yourself having a “hot heart” for God today, what do you need to do to protect your heart from growing cold?
Do you consider yourself a “needy” person? Do you regularly confess to God your dependence on Him and need for His grace? Nancy has developed a helpful tool for evaluating the condition of our hearts—whether we are proud (blind to our need) or broken (realizing our neediness before God). This self-evaluation tool is provided in Appendix D.
Jesus counsels the believers in Laodicea to come to Him for needs they didn’t even realize they had. Are you willing to humble yourself before God and approach Him with openness, asking Him to reveal areas of spiritual need? Consider these Scriptures: Psalm 51:17; Isaiah 55:1–2; 57:15.
Is Jesus at home and at work inside your church, or is He standing outside waiting to be welcomed in?
What about your own life? Does He rule from the throne room of your heart?
The bride in the Song of Solomon is a picture of the sleeping church that the Bridegroom desires to awaken. He longs for intimate relationship with His bride. Why do we often ignore His knocking? Consider that question as you read Song of Solomon 5:4–6.
THE ONE WHO CONQUERS
A key concept in the Christian life is that of conquering or overcoming. Overcoming is the identifying characteristic of all true believers. Jesus encouraged His followers by reminding them that they could take courage because He had “overcome the world” (John 16:33). Because of His act of overcoming, all believers are partakers in that victory (2 Cor. 2:14; 1 John 5:4). Although believers don’t often feel as though they are conquerors, that is who they are.
Jesus conquered the mortal enemy of death and through that He gives us the victory, not only over physical death but the victory to live in abundant life while on earth (1 Cor. 15:54–58; John 10:10). Christ’s conquering is the pattern for our conquering. His conquering was accomplished by His death on the cross and although it may have appeared that this was the ultimate defeat, it was in fact His greatest victory.
The key to conquering is surrendering. Surrender to the will and plan of God brings victory. Death to self is the doorway to life in Christ. To live is Christ and to die is gain (Phil. 1:21). The first century believers faced the very real possibility of physical death because of their commitment to Christ. Their faithfulness and perseverance was a testimony to the overcoming victory of their Savior (Rev. 12:11).
The willingness of a martyr to lay down his or her life testifies to the worth and value of Christ. This testimony overcomes, conquers, or defeats the enemy. Likewise, the believer who experiences daily victory in her battle over sin gives testimony to the conquering power of Christ. This testimony, too, defeats the enemy. The position of conqueror is not reserved for the martyr only but is to be the lifestyle of every genuine believer.
MAKING IT PERSONAL:
Each of the seven letters contained one or more promises to the “one who conquers.” Review these promises, and consider the significance of each (Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21).
Are you living as an example of an overcomer?
Have you experienced any form of persecution because of your commitment to Christ? If so, what kind of response have you shown? Is it consistent with the principle of “overcoming evil with good” (Rom. 12:21)?
If you’ve not experienced adverse reactions because of your Christianity, is it because you’ve been living as a “lukewarm” Christian?
Is sin being conquered in your life How are you denying self or saying no to fleshly desires? The key to not losing heart and growing wearing in this process is found in Hebrews 12:1-4.
Read through Romans 8, especially focusing on verses 35–37. Spend some time thanking Christ for being your conquering Savior and providing all you need to live as an overcomer!
Adapted from Learning From the Churches of Revelations Based on the Teachings of Nancy Leigh DeMoss
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