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Wednesday, April 11 2012
Rev 3:14-21 "The Church in Laodicea-: Score card of a spiritually declining church and the charge for urgent spiritual awakening"
Not only have we made substantial inroad into the Book of Revelation but we have also by the help of the Spirit deciphered not only the physical or geographical location that these churches once occupied; but how sometimes these locations weighed negatively on the spiritual exploration of these churches, (Pergamum located where Satan's seat is). We have also looked at how their inclination or disinclination to their location has helped us in gauging their spiritual temperature through the spiritual appraisal of each church's performance by Jesus Christ Himself.
We see firsthand beyond the facade that each church portrays either in its acclamation of what she believes in or in the name by which it is called or whatever paraphernalia exists within the precinct of its existence; that there are serious underground spiritual meanings of each and every church under heaven.
What do the churches represent and their relevance to us?
These churches are a representation of the spiritual state of a church, a people, an individual or a nation. The letters to the churches could arguably be described as not just being addressed to the leaders of the churches but to every single person who carries the appellation "Christian".
These letters represent a compilation of every act, the measurement of such acts in the scale of God's judgment and the commensurate reward that follows every act, thought, motive and intention.
These churches remind us of the antagonism and contention that every Christian must confront and contend with so as to end triumphantly. 2Cor:10: 3-5, Ephesians: 6: 10-18, 1Peter: 5: 8-10,
Through these churches we are guaranteed of Jesus' help and protection in the face of these battles; Matt: 28: 20, Heb. 13: 5,
We understand through Jesus' appraisal of the churches that our trials in life are determined by our capacity to bear them. Rev: 2: 24, 1Cor: 10: 13.
We also understand that there are rewards for every single act we undertake for the name of our Saviour. Rev: 2: 19, 23, Romans: 2:13, 16.
We also see that the physical state of a church does not necessarily connote her spiritual state. A physically vibrant church might be seriously spiritually anaemic, whereas a physically struggling church might be a spiritually dynamic church Rev: 2: 9, 16
Jesus emboldens His church to stay true to the high calling and maintaining constant vigilance over satanic infiltration into the fold. Rev: 2: 9, 2 Pet: 2:9-15, 2: 14.
Jesus emphasises the operation of a parallel group operating right within the church; those who are of the synagogue of Satan and those who bear true allegiance to Christ. The church in the Book of Revelation epitomises the reality of a collection of people with different agenda. Jebezel in the church in Thyatira, those with the doctrine of Balaam in Pergamos, to those that follow the doctrine of the Nicolaitans.
Jesus accentuates the various dimensions of rewards accessible to every believer that runs the race to completion; access to the hidden manna, access to the tree of life, salvation from second death.
These churches reveal the many sided and multifaceted nature of Jesus Christ and His operation to the church- He that holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks, the First and the Last, which was dead and is alive, He which hath the sharp sword with two edges, etc.
Synopsis of the account on the church in Philadelphia
The last facilitator inferred that the church in Philadelphia had all positive feedback from Jesus; he opined that the church must have occupied a very strategic place in the heart of Jesus. He stresses his argument further by alluding to the promises Jesus made to the church; he divided these promises into two parts the earthly blessings and the eternal blessings.
He accentuated the weakness of the church and that despite their weaknesses they strove to please the master. "Their weakness was no excuse for them to do nothing" he reasoned.
He concluded by praying that "we would, in all we do make Jesus proud (by holding on to the truth and not deny him when times are rough) to the point where He will treat us like the church in Philadelphia and even better!"
Jesus graciously assesses the Laodicea church with the intention of bringing them up-to-date with their performance on the scale of spiritual measurement. One very formidable attribute of an effective leader is the ability to accurately diagnose the problem and skilfully proffer solution or emplace remedial steps towards lasting success.
Jesus assesses the Laodicea church purely on the level of their performance vis-a-vis His expectation for the church; He did not measure their performance against those of other churches; albeit all of the churches operated within the same geographical location. He measures each individual against their alignment with His will for their lives and not in accordance to the expectation or opinion of others. 2 Cor: 10: 12-15
Jesus addresses the state of each church at a time when lapses can be identified and remedial action put in place so as to ensure a realignment of the original mandate. Jesus chastens us, rebukes and chides us because He takes pleasure in our prosperity. We are not left to our own devices and afterwards punished for failing without prior warnings and checks.
Geographical location of Laodicea
An ancient city of western Asia Minor in present-day western Turkey. Built by the Seleucids in the third century bc, it was a prosperous Roman market town on the trade route from the East and an early centre of Christianity.
The location of this church and the enormity of her wealth which came as a result of trade were perhaps responsible for the assumptions asserted by the Laodicea church. They must have concluded that their physical prosperity could not have been possible without a progressive and dynamic spiritual life. 3John: 2, Psalm: 35: 27, 1Tim: 6: 5. Sometimes we assume just as did the Laodicea church that our physical prosperity is a plausible yardstick for our spiritual wellbeing; this might not always be so. Sometimes our material acquisition might not have a farthing to do with our spiritual mileage. As a matter of fact they might be poles apart. Luke: 16: 19-31. Brethren, I believe that we need constant spiritual check-ups to avoid the trap of spiritual slumber.
Lobotomy of Revelation: 3: 14-21
Verse 14: Jesus tells John to write to the angel of the church; whether John writes to an angel or to the leadership; one incontrovertible reality is that the message is to the church in Laodicea and if it is to the church it is for everybody. The message is intended for an ecclesia (church).
The Amen: the literal meaning is "so shall it be": a spiritual acknowledgement of the finished work of Christ. Each time Amen is uttered we affirm Christ completion of all things that pertains to life and godliness. Amen, is an utterance of faith denoting the accomplishment of our desires.
The Faithful: a dependable ally in the midst of life's challenges; a very present help in time of trouble. The Faithful-the One who promises and never fails the reliable provider, protector and the blessed assurance; Isaiah: 43: 1-4, 2Tim: 2:13, 1Cor:1:9, 2Thess 3:3
True witness: the umpire in every of life's situation, the One who is witness to all things and records accurately every man's act, deed or motive. Never biased, never partial, never one sided. Isaiah: 3: 13. No man may see you but he witnesses every act of man and will stand as a faithful witness to everyone unjustly accused for He sees all things. Jesus is a witness to all that is godly and possible; a witness to the triumphant life in God; a witness to God's power in earthen vessels.
Verse 15: A state of constant fluctuation instability and fugacity (always at a temporal state of faith) Our fervour is determined by our mood, emotions and state of activity. God is faithful when we have a new job and where is God when there is no job? One day God is the only source and the next seek alternative means of help. One day our believe system is steadfast the next it is shaky. James: 1: 6-8, Matt: 14: 28-30. Jesus attested to Elijah's assertion on Carmel: 1Kings: 18: 21. 1Timothy:1: 19-20.
Verse 16: Lukewarm refers to a state of mediocrity; a place where one does not want to rock the boat. A blasť state of mind and attitude; a place of no disparate line of decision or action; idiomatically expressed as sitting on the fence. The ultimate consequence of instability is complete loss. When you go about chasing many things there is a possibility of losing everything. Luke: 10: 42. Psalm: 48: 14, John: 6: 68-69.
Verse 17: they not only display their affluence but they also flaunt it by their proclamation. they weighed their material prosperity and concluded that their spiritual life was okay or perhaps they assumed that their wealth substituted for any spiritual deficiency they might lack; after all why exercise faith for healing when you can pay the physician to make you well. Why fast when you have material wealth at your disposal. They adjudged themselves as a physically buoyant church and as such not in need of any spiritual pep talk to ginger them into spiritual fervidity. The Laodicean church reminds one of a termite infested tree, whose trunk appears healthy but on a closer look it is a hollow, weak, termite infested and internally dead tree.
This church is in need of an urgent spiritual surgery before it collapses and dies. It is hanging on by the skin of its teeth and yet assumes that all is well. This church is in dire need of spiritual resuscitation, because its appraisal of itself is far from the actual state when juxtaposed with the master's appraisal.
Verse 18: Jesus admonishes them to take His instruction; He appeals to their sense of judgment rather than compelling them to obey Him. God realises are liberty to make choices and so never imposes His will upon us. Deut 30:19-20. In the kingdom of God, our choices play a very prominent role in deciding what route to travel. Everything in the kingdom is a choice. Jesus pleads with the Laodicean church to allow themselves go through the process of spiritual purification: Mal: 3: 2-4.
To buy Gold tried in fire is to buy that which can never perish, for when everyman's work is tried by fire only that which is pure will survive. Jesus admonishes them to buy readymade gold that has gone through the process of trial and affliction; whose impurities and filth has been purged. 1Cor3: 13-15, 2Tim: 2: 19-21. Anointing the eye with salve requires clarity of inner spiritual sight so as to properly decipher your spiritual state per time and see as you ought to see.
Verse 19: Jesus' admonition cascades into a more generic assertion: Jesus calms the Laodicean church by assuaging His initial critical analyses of their state; to this end by making them see that His criticism of them was not because He did not love them but that His love was the reason for His chastening and rebuke. Prov. 3: 11-12, Heb: 12: 5-11, Titus: 2: 14. Be proactive for God and repent.
Verse 20: Jesus further ensconces the power of our will in determining and channelling our destiny. The almighty did not barge into our lives but He stands at the door and knocks and His knock can be ignored and He still will not usurp our space or authority to choose. All of the provisions of salvation always carry the preposition "if" Deut 28: 1, John: 7: 37-39. He stands and knocks and if we open He comes in, if not He stands still always knocking. In whatever way He's knocking I pray you will open unto Him. If we open He sups with us and we sup with Him. Adrian Rogers said "if He sups with us (our resources, we will also sup with Him, His resources).
Verse 21: Jesus concludes His pedantically laced charge with a promise of a far greater prospect than all of the present wealth that the Laodicean church exhibits. He promises a throne next to Him if we give heed to what He says. Moses saw a better prospect with God than staying as a prince in Egypt; he chose to suffer affliction than enjoy the pleasure of sin for a season. Heb: 11: 25-26. Thrones, crowns, domains, kingdoms, territories and wealth all come when we have overcome the obstacles and temptations that come our way.
Jesus implores them to stay the course and maintain the verve of spiritual jingoism so as to overcome the in the same way that He also overcame. He leaves them with the message of hope by telling them that He overcame because He stayed the course and kept the faith. Jesus alludes to His positional achievement to His steadfastness and commitment to what matters beyond this realm.
All of the churches got some sort of kudos for some level of achievement but not the church in Laodicea. There was not a single acknowledgment to any work that could be credited to their account; yet this same church in Laodicea that Paul oversaw was a spiritually vibrant church at the outset. Mighty things and great brethren emerged from that church; at the start it was a spiritually dynamic church with all her embers burning for the Lord, her love for the Spirit was so intense that Apostle Paul had to pray a for deeper spiritual understanding; Col: 1: 8-10. Perhaps their unbridled access to materialism with the incursion of mixed multitude the church in Laodicea began to shift her gaze from the spiritual to the material which ultimately led to their spiritual dearth. I pray that our zeal for that which matters will not be extirpated.
Contributor: Paul Thomas