Allen Raynor Weblog: “Laodicea: The Lukewarm Church” (Pt. 2)
(Sept. 17, 2019)
After the type of rebuke Jesus gave the Laodicean church in Revelation 3:15-17, we might expect the Lord to just destroy this church full of hypocrites, but He does not. In fact, He gives them some specific instructions as to how to correct their problems. Jesus’ three-fold appeal played to the 3 features of the city they were most proud of. These were their wealth, their wool industry, and their production of eye salve. He offered to replace these 3 things with spiritual gold, spiritual cloths, and spiritual sight.
First, Christ advised them to “buy from Him gold refined by fire” which symbolizes true redemption. The heat of the fire removes impurities from gold. Second, He advised them to buy “white garments” so as to “cloth themselves” and not have to “walk naked” and have their shame on display. Finally, He offers them “eye salve” to “anoint” their eyes. The spiritual blindness of the Laodicean church was staggering.
The discipline here is actually an encouraging thing. God’s love for His children manifests itself in rebuke and chastening when they go astray. The intent of the Lord’s discipline is always for our profit. The Lord followed the call to repentance in vs. 19 with a tender, gracious invitation in vs. 20. This verse has regularly been taken out of context to the extent the real point has almost been lost. The picture here is of Christ standing outside the doors of the church knocking and the church is too busy doing its church activities to hear Him or if they do hear Him knocking, they are afraid to answer. It has been suggested that with Christ knocking from the outside, it implies there were no true believers there at all. This may be true, but it is unlikely.
Christ’s offer to “dine” or “sup” with them emphasized the intimacy of sharing a meal together. It was much more than just eating. It was a bringing together of people in a disarming way. Christ was criticized during His earthly ministry by the religious leaders for not only talking to them or associating with them but actually going so far as to “eat” with them! We see this in, for instance, the cases of Matthew/Levi (Mat. 9:9-13) and with Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10)
All true believers are overcomers and Christ promises that He “will grant to them to sit down with Him on His throne as He “also overcame and sat down with the “Father on His throne.” The right to sit with Christ on His Heavenly throne is one of many promises made to overcomers. Put another way; if we are “with Christ” we will be victorious! The question all must answer is “Am I with Christ?” Just being a church member or possessing a baptism certificate is not enough. The Laodiceans had credentials; they just did not have Christ!
The Laodicea’s had been hoodwinked by the evil one as many people have been down through history. In the present day, Satan has blinded many into adopting a “watered-down” or “lukewarm” sort of Christianity which is not really useful for anything. Many churches today seek numbers, influence, and acceptance by society. These things cannot truly be achieved in the type world we currently live in, without compromise of the Gospel (the entirety of God’s Word). In decades and centuries past there was a sort of prevailing “cultural Christianity.” In that environment it was possible for the church to influence culture to varying degrees. Now, if churches teach what the Scriptures say about sex, marriage, cohabitation, homosexuality, gender identity, heaven, hell, abortion, creation, a young earth, gender roles, and a number of other things they will see the culture turn away in droves. Many categorically dismiss the church as arcane and irrelevant. Jesus never called on the church to be popular or charming. He did call upon it to stick to the truth and not compromise. He is saying to the church of the twenty-first century what He said to the Laodicean Church ten centuries ago; behold I stand outside the door of your church and I promise if you will let Me in, I will have perfect fellowship with you and you will be satisfied with Me. The world offers satisfaction but cannot deliver. Jesus offers satisfaction and He does deliver.
Dr. Allen Raynor, Pastor