Friday, December 13, 2019

To the Church of Laodicea: Repent and Be Zealous (Rev 3:14-22)

clouds above mountains during golden hour

What makes the seven letters to the churches special is that they were dictated by the Lord Jesus Himself. It was a privilege to preach through all seven letters from October 27-December 8, 2019. What I have attempted to do here is not a formal exposition of the text.  I have tried to simply summarize the text, its theology, and its application as an aid to study and meditation. I pray that you, dear reader, find it helpful as you ponder the text.

Revelation 3:14 - “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this:”

Summary: Jesus told John to write to the messenger of the church in Laodicea and tell them that this message is sent by the veritable, faithful, and true witness, who is the source of the creation of God.

Theology: Jesus is identified as the Amen (the one who is true and who speaks the truth), the faithful and true witness (who cannot falsify His findings), and the beginner of the creation of God.

Application: We must humbly submit to Jesus our Lord, because what He says is true and will come to pass; and He has every right to bring what He declares to pass since He is the source of all creation.

Revelation 3:15 - ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot.

Summary: Jesus begins by telling the Laodiceans that He is very much aware of the tepid nature of their deeds, using vivid local imagery of the tepid and unpalatable water in Laodicea; and he rebukes them for being lukewarm instead of cold (honest in their unbelief) or hot (true in their service to Him).

Theology: Jesus does not desire that people claim to be believers and go through the motions of religion when they are not truly saved. He would rather them be honest in their unbelief or true in their service to Him.

Application: We must search our own hearts and minds and examine our own deeds to be sure that we are in the faith. Let us not be cold and unbelieving, either. But let us be zealous for Christ. Our worship must never be compulsory or coldly ritualistic.

Revelation 3:16 - So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.

Summary: Jesus warns the Laodiceans that He will not endure them. They make Him sick, so He will vomit them out of His mouth.

Theology: Jesus does not endure religious people with no conviction for the truth but will put an end to them.

Application: Let us be convicted of the truth, firm in our belief, so that Jesus will not be made sick by us. We must be careful in our worship services not to make lukewarm people comfortable but convict them with the truth.

Revelation 3:17 – “Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked,

Summary: Jesus tells the Laodiceans that they have no inkling of their true spiritual condition. They suppose themselves to be rich, having become wealthy and in need of nothing because of their material prosperity but they did not know that they were spiritually wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.

Theology: Believers must be careful of material wealth, because it is easy for that to lead to a lack of dependence on God for true spiritual riches.

Application: We must be on guard because of the wealth that we share in because of the prosperity of our culture. Our hearts must not be set on our wealth, but we must depend wholly on God who supplies all things.

Revelation 3:18 – “I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.

Summary: Jesus counsels the Laodiceans to purchase (an ironic statement that points out the futility of their riches since they cannot buy salvation) the true gold of salvation, the white garments of righteousness, and the eye salve that would open their spiritually blind eyes. He plays on the familiar items that brought Laodicean wealth, black wool for mass-produced garments and eye salve to treat irritated eyes.

Theology: Salvation is not acquired by money, but it given as a gift to those who believe; for it is more costly than gold, whiter than any manmade garments, and more potent than any human medication. Only God-given salvation makes one truly rich, clothes one in righteousness, and opens blind eyes.

Application: Let us remind ourselves of the futility of wealth, and the dependence that we have on God. We know that our wealth cannot save us but let us live according to that knowledge.

Revelation 3:19 – “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.

Summary: Jesus tells the Laodiceans that He has a love for them despite their unregenerate nature, and He reproves and disciplines so that they will become hot and repent.

Theology: Jesus has a love for all people, not wishing for any to perish but to be zealous and repent.

Application: Let us imitate Jesus’ tenderness toward all people, calling them to be zealous and repent.

Revelation 3:20 – “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.”

Summary: Jesus informs the Laodiceans that though He is no longer inside the church due to its apostate condition, He has been standing at the door and knocking. He tells them that if anyone person were to hear His voice calling from outside the door and open it to Him, He would come back into the church and fellowship with that person.

Theology: Jesus is not present among the unregenerate church meetings, yet He stands at the door, calling to be let in so that those who become hot and repent will have true fellowship with Him and He will come back into the church, though largely unregenerate, through that one person.

Application: Let us pray that the unregenerate churches will hear Christ’s Word and be zealous and repent so that He will again be present in them.

Revelation 3:21 – “He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.”

Summary: Jesus promised the overcomer that He would grant him to sit on His throne in the same manner as He is sitting now with His Father because He Himself overcame.

Theology: Jesus will grant true believers to sit down with Him on His throne in the same way as He, overcoming, sat down with His Father on His throne.

Application: Let us prove ourselves zealous and repenting, with Jesus in our midst approving of us, so that in His Kingdom, we will sit with Him on His throne.

Revelation 3:22 – “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”

Summary: Jesus calls on all believers everywhere and throughout time to pay attention to what the Spirit is telling the churches.

Theology: The Spirit is speaking to the churches through these letters, and believers would do well to heed His words.

Application: Let us consider these words closely, seeking the wisdom of the Holy Spirit to understand the message in these letters as it applies to us.

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