Revelation 3 – Part 2
The Great Missionary Era
Laodicea – the lukewarm Church
This letter is one that all churches should strive to receive. No condemnation, right doctrine, right living. The church at Philadelphia represents the great door of opportunity for witness. God was, and is, the great door-opener. If the door is shut, don’t put your shoulder to it and try to break it down.
Let’s look at Rev. 3:7-13 and see what God has to say about it.
7 To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.
8 I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.
First, look at verse 7. Remember that the letters are actually addressed to the leader or pastor of the churches. Look at how God is described here. He is holy and true. He also holds the key of David. When the words, key of, precede another word, or name, it simply denotes authority. In this case it presents David as one with authority over true worship of the Heavenly Father. It is used many times in scripture where David is concerned, such as the phrase house of David, city of David. God has endowed David with authority in these areas. But God is holding the key, the true authority always comes from Him.
Next, He states that the “key” of authority will either open or shut an opportunity of witness. If God shuts the door, it is locked with that “key” and no one will be able to open it. But if that door is open, it will remain open no matter what. God is the final authority.
Then look at verse 8, God knows every deed we do, each of us. Both good deeds and bad deeds, He knows. If you have bad deeds in your life, that phrase can almost make you squirm, can’t it? In this case, the church had good deeds and God points them to the open door of opportunity. He assures them that no man can shut that door. It will remain open as long as God determines. He also knows the condition of each member of that church. “little strength” what does that say to you? To me it says that the work is hard, but yet they have kept His word and have not denied His name. They kept on keeping on in their witness, even through ridicule, persecution, and rejection.
The word used in the Greek for strength is the word dunamin. That is translated as dynamite. Put that in the sentence in question and you have “I know that you have little dynamite”, they don’t have much power to do anything. In Corinthians 12:9 we find this: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness”. It is not enough to have truth or right doctrine. Now, hear me on this. It is NOT enough to have truth or right doctrine. It will die if we don’t go through the open door of opportunity. What a wonderful promise…the door would remain open.
9. I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars. I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you.
10. Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth.
11. I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.
12. Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God’ and I will also write on him my new name.
13. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches,
In verse 10, “the hour of trial” is referring to the Great Tribulation. Notice, not through the hour of trial but from the hour of trial. This kind of church, and its members will not go through the Great Tribulation.
Let’s clear something up at this point. The Tribulation consists of 7 years during which the anti-Christ will rule the world. The first three years will be relatively peaceful for the Jewish people. They will accept his as their protector. However, at the midway point of the 7 years, he will turn on them and chaos and bloodshed will reign upon them. It is this last 3 ½ years that are called the Great Tribulation. More on this later on in our study.
An old Southern preacher once said, “It’s time for our church to wake up and sing up, preach up, and pray up, and never give up or let up or back up or shut up, until the church is filled up or we go up. Amen”
This brings us up to 1925, the end of the great Missionary Era that gave us John Wesley, D. L. Moody, Charles Spurgeon, George Whitfield. The Salvation Army was founded at this time as well.
So, Now what??????
The last church mentioned will be like the one on earth when Christ returns. Laodicea – the lukewarm church of the last days. This last church mentioned will be like the one on earth when Christ returns. Laodicea was lukewarm in their beliefs, and their worship. They were neither hot nor cold.
They were asking such questions as “What is the meaning of life?” getting various answers with no real meaning. Without hope, we may exist but we don’t live. Jesus warned that in the last days before His return, there would be a type of church that would brag about its growing strength and self-importance. But this church would want political power, not the power of God.
Let’s see if the Laodicean church is similar to an organized Christian community today. Outwardly impressive, trappings of wealth, but something is missing. Members rich in material goods, poor in spirit.
Rev 3:14 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation.
15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!
16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.
17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.
18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.
19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent.
20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.
21To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne.
22 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”`
God has nothing positive to say about this church. God looks at apostasy (unbelief)and gets angry—but He looks at indifference and becomes ill. Literally sick to His stomach.
The preaching was compromising, the pastor probably didn’t want to upset his congregation.
This is the only place in the New Testament where the word “lukewarm” is used. It means the same as allowing coffee to cool and lemonade to warm. This was a half-hearted church. They didn’t want to be labeled as fanatics or extremists. They were conceited, and so caught up in social issues that they forgot about soul winning. God says to them “Open your eyes to the truth”
In verse 20 we find the greatest invitation of all. God says to us “Here I am”, notice now “anyone” not just He who has an ear, but to anyone who is listening or paying attention This is an invitation all people everywhere. It is almost like God is speaking to this age we are living in, saying “if there is anyone out there that can hear me, I am waiting.” How sad is that.
So. There is what we have. These 7 seven churches represent the church, itself, down through the ages, from the organization of the first church ever, to the last of the seven.
Ephesus – once strong, lost their first love
Smyrna – suffering church – suffered for faith
Pergamos – pagan influence
Thyatira – part of an evil cult
Sardis – cold and dead
Philadelphia – loving church
Laodicea – weak, lukewarm.
Why no more letters? There surely were other churches in those first days after Christ’s ascension into Heaven. There are no more churches to compare them to. What happened to the church of Laodicea? What will happen to the churches in the Laodicean Era, who are like them? We are in it!! We are living in this era, Friends. What are we to do? How can we change the outcome?
This is not saying that all of the churches in today’s era are like the Laodicean church. What this is saying is that the majority of todays churches are like them. You may think differently if you live in the Bible Belt of America as we have many good churches sending out missionaries, witnessing, and growing in faith and number. But when you consider the world as a whole, this is not the case. Consider the parts of the world where Islam worship Allah, and Buddhist worship Budda,
and all kinds of religion, such as these who do not believe in our Lord and Savior. Also consider the parts of the United States where there are few churches to chose from. Churches that have right doctrine and like faith as we have.
Let us pray, earnestly, for the people who live in areas that don’t have a Bible believing church, that God will make a way for them to know Him. Also that He will provide someone to teach them about salvation through Jesus Christ and Him only.
Next week, dear ones. I’ll meet you in chapter 4.