Today I will put in more specific language what the Lord was talking about, and why I'm sharing this unusually intense visitation and word for the body of Christ. Many believers are like the church at Laodicia, and like them, they are in danger if they do not judge themselves. The visitation was about that segment of the body of Christ which is like the church at Laodicea.
Laodicia was founded not far from a hot spring rich in minerals. People came from all over the Roman Empire to take in the healing waters and have to have mineral rich mud applied. They were so wealthy that when the city was destroyed by an earthquake in the year 60, they turned down Nero's offer of federal assistance to help rebuild it - they rebuilt their city of their own funds.
A treatment center for eye diseases was of particular note, in which they made an eye salve to put over the eyes in the belief it would draw out the poison that was causing the eye condition. The Romans built pipes to carry the water to the city, but the water was so mineral rich it clogged the insides and required regular maintenance. It was known that by the time the water arrived in the city, it was too hot to be immediately drunk, yet too cool to be used for cooking. It was lukewarm.
The comfortable church
It was with this local understanding Jesus chastised them: "I know your deeds; that you are neither not nor cold. I wish you were cold or hot. But because you are lukewarm, I will spit you out of my mouth." Revelation 3: 15-16
The word 'deeds' or 'works' is 'erga', from which the English gets 'ergonomic' which means an efficient and comfortable design for work or a work environment. They lived a life of ease and comfort, and their giving to one another was equally easy for them to do. Their lives were 'ergonomic'. Lukewarm. Easy. Efficient. Comfortable.
With the mouth confession is made to salvation
In Matthew 25 Jesus said when He returns He will find those who love Him to have given food, water, and clothing to brothers and sisters in need, and hosted people in their homes and visited the sick and imprisoned. What the Laodicean church had was a sterile, distanced giving where they didn't have to get their hands dirty with the actual act of giving into someone's life. They gave their money to someone else who did the dirty work, while they sat back untouched by the needs around them, convincing themselves they were big givers to God. The gospel is a relationship based faith, but their faith was just between them and God and they thought they were righteous.
They lacked passion for others and for the Lord, which lulled them into a sense of complacency. Jesus told them: "You say, 'I am rich, I have many possessions. I have need of nothing', and you don't even know you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked."
Being naked is a reference to not having robes of righteousness. Revelation 19: 8 describes millions in heaven as a bride having a marriage supper with the Lord, saying this: "To her was given fine linen clean and white, for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints." The church at Laodicea was not properly clothed.
In Matthew 22: 1-14 Jesus tells the parable of the wedding feast. One tries to get into the feast without the wedding garment: "Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment? He was speechless." So the master told the servants to throw the man out. Without the wedding garment, no one gets in. The garment is a robe of righteousness.
Psalm 107:2 says 'Let the redeemed of the Lord say so." and Romans 10: 9-10 says with the mouth confession is made to salvation. In other words, the man tried to get into the wedding feast not having the clothes of righteousness, and could not, not being a believer in the Lord, not confessing Jesus as Lord. When asked, he refused to confess Jesus. So he was thrown out.
Do you think there are people today who want to get to heaven but do not want to believe in Jesus and be made righteous? I think there are millions. They will have their chance to confess their faith in Christ, but apparently some will refuse. They want in, but not at the cost of becoming a believer in Jesus.
Do you know Christians who fit this description?
The word 'naked' as the Lord described Laodicea means 'lack of sufficient clothing', which is different than just naked for all to see, but carries with it the idea of having clothing insufficient to the need.
Jesus told them if they did not repent He would expose their true spiritual condition. How would He do that? Perhaps, take away their material wealth. Perhaps by persecution. Historically we know this to be true. A crisis in life exposes things once kept pressed down out of sight. In a marriage old stresses long buried come to light. In the body of Christ millions will discover their faith was in religion and formula rather than actually knowing Him.
They said they were rich, had many possessions, lacked nothing, for they equated natural prosperity with godliness. Jesus said that was not so. He told them to buy eye salve and apply it so they could see their spiritual condition.
In other words, you're blind yet you think you can see. You are self-deceived with a false righteousness. You're not seeing what you should be seeing. You're distracted with your riches, unable to see your true spiritual condition. Consider what He told them: You are 'wretched, miserable, poor, blind, naked.'
The Greek word 'wretched' means 'distressed, in misery'. The next word, 'miserable' in Greek means 'pitiful', as one looks on someone in misery and says they are 'pitiful'. He threatened to let them experience their true spiritual condition if they did not repent.
Jesus told them: "My advice is that you buy from Me, gold refined by fire that you may be rich, and white clothing that you may be clothed so that the shame of your nakedness is not revealed to all. And anoint your eyes with eye salve that you may see. As many as I love, I correct and discipline, repent therefore and be zealous to do as I say. Look! I'm standing at the door knocking. If anyone opens the door to me I will come in and we will dine together. To those who overcome I will give permission to sit in my throne (kingdom), and am set down with the Father, for those who overcame as I overcame. Those who have ears to hear, hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches."
Laodicea was a rich city, and their wealth made the city a place of focus on the arts, leisure activity, and focused on 'me'. They made money from the continual stream of people in need of physical healing from their waters, and thought by their prosperity God was endorsing them and their faith. They understood God as One who did things for them, who was clearly pleased with them because He had made them so wealthy.
The did not realize their prosperity as they should; that it was a blessing so that they might better the lives of those around them, not enrich themselves. They blended in to the local culture which honored many gods and goddesses, Jesus just being one of them.
Historically we know that Christians would soon be commanded to choose to worship the State or worship Jesus, no longer would they be able to blend in. They would be identified and once identified, Rome made it economically difficult on believers, for people distanced themselves from them - or chose to become one of them.
That segment of the body of Christ will be hit the hardest when societal persecution and economic stresses occur. Others who are walking with the Lord will prosper in the midst of it all. Those in relationship with a network of believers on the same page, will do well.
The Lord is asking those who are as the Laodiceans to judge themselves, to understand things in their proper perspective, as He sees them. Interesting times are ahead for us in the west. New subject next week. Until then, blessings,
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