The seventh and final church (of the seven churches of Asia) that Jesus addressed through the pen of John is the church of the Laodiceans. The message is recorded in Revelation 3:14-22, saying —
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; 15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. 16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. 17 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: 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. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. 20 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. 21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. 22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
Laodicea stands out from the other six churches in several ways — it holds the troubling position of being the ONLY church Jesus, “the faithful and true witness” (v. 14), mentioned NOTHING positive about! Wow, that’s scary! In contrast, Smyrna and Philadelphia were commended and not rebuked at all. The other 4 (Ephesus, Pergamos, Thyatira, and Sardis) were given a combination of good attributes, bad characteristics, and a call to repent. The last church, Laodicea, was FULL of problems.
Laodicea is also unique in the way it is described by Jesus. While the first church was called the “church of Ephesus” (Rev. 2:1), and the next five were each labeled as “the church in” their city (Rev. 2:8; 12; 18; 3:1; 3:7), Laodicea is described as “the church of the Laodiceans” (Rev. 3:14). This church was not just in that city, or even of a city (reflective of it), they were the church belonging to the people of that city! That is an important and telling distinction — every church has to be in a city (located somewhere), but “the church of God” (Acts 20:28; 1 Cor. 1:2; 1 Tim. 3:15) should never be of, about, or belonging to the people, doing what they want to do! God’s church should be about God, and the church of the Laodiceans certainly was not.
There is so much we need to hear and take heed to from what Jesus said to Laodicea; His words certainly can help us as the church today! Watch this!
Lesson 1: Lukewarm? Make Your Choice!
The first thing Jesus points out, after telling them, “I know thy works,” is that they were neither cold nor hot, but lukewarm (v. 15-16). The English word “lukewarm” is defined as:
- moderately warm: neither cold nor hot: tepid
- lacking in real conviction
- not wholly committed to a cause or belief
- halfhearted, indifferent
Jesus would rather they and us MAKE A CHOICE! Cold? Hot? Pick one!
Jesus felt so strongly about this that He told them, “because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” (v. 15). Spue is from a Greek word which means to vomit. The first lesson from Laodicea is how much God hates us living halfhearted lives without commitment or conviction. Rather than staying lukewarm, choose! Whatever you have to do or give up, it’s time to be all in, 100% committed to Christ.
Lesson 2: He Loves You! Repent!
Laodicea was lukewarm AND they were terrible at evaluating themselves. Jesus told them, “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” (v. 17). They didn’t even know how bad of a condition they were in! It was so bad that Jesus Himself was outside of the church, standing at the door, wanting to get in (v. 20).
When you are struggling, the devil, the accuser of the brethren (Rev. 12:10), wants you to forget the critical message that Jesus sent to Laodicea and preaches to us: “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent” (v. 19). As bad as the church of the Laodiceans was, JESUS STILL LOVED IT! Their horrible status did not stop His love for them. That fact deserves a praise break! He still loved them, and He still loves you!
He loved them so much that He rebuked and chastened them! His love is the kind of love that causes Him to tell you the truth about your faults and help you get right! It’s the disciplining, correcting, training, admonishing, convicting, reproving, chastising love that is looking out for you! This love is mentioned in Proverbs 3:11-12, where we find out “whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.” Hebrews 12:5-11 confirms the same.
When He loves you like that, the correct response is to “be zealous therefore, and repent” (v. 19). To repent is to make an 180 degree turn from whatever sin or distraction and turn to God. It means changing your heart, mind, and direction. Being ZEALOUS speaks of seeking or desiring eagerly. In English someone who is zealous is defined as being “filled with or characterized by zeal,” by “impassioned eagerness, active enthusiastic interest mounting to fervor.”
Since you know He loves you like He does, no matter how wrong you are, you should be so ready to repent, passionate about changing, that nothing can stop you from taking the steps to turn back to Him. It’s time to repent!
Lesson 3: He’s Knocking! Let Him In!
As He moved towards wrapping up His message to Laodicea, Jesus told them, “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” (v. 20).
With the sad state of this church, Jesus left it but it’s so encouraging to know that when He left He didn’t go far! He was standing at the door, knocking. Even when our works and actions create distance between us and God (Isa. 59:2), He so often in His mercy continues His efforts to restore the relationship and leaves the decision to us.
He could have barged back in, but He stood and knocked. The Laodiceans and each of us have an individual choice. He wanted someone – anyone – to hear His voice and open the door. Are you hearing what the Spirit is saying? Will you let Him in? Will you open up to Him?
If they did, Jesus would come in to him and sup, or dine, with His child, and His child with Him. What a beautiful picture: Jesus back in the place – sitting, eating, fellowshipping with His child – where He wanted to be. Though Jesus could have given up because of the past or the present, if they’d just hear, repent, and let Him in, He was more than willing to help the church of the Laodiceans (and us) be what He wanted them to be.
What did you learn from the church of the Laodiceans? What stands out to you? Share your comments below!