The Laodicean Church

Robert Booker, NBBI Vice President

By Dr. Robert Booker

Most Bible commentators believe that the seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3 were actual churches in Asia. Not only did they have messages to be applied to the church universal and local, but God, through John, was also instructing us regarding the history of the church. The first church mentioned, Ephesus, refers to the first century church. If each subsequent church logically follows history, then Laodicea in Revelation 3:14-22 describes the present day church.

From verse 14, we must understand that throughout history, and in these “perilous times” (II Timothy 3:1), Christ is faithful and true and He is the accurate Witness to the past, present and future. No matter how difficult times are, how poorly we conduct ourselves, or how cold the church gets, Christ is faithful and gracious.

How did God view this church at Laodicea?

First, He said it was “lukewarm.” It certainly wasn’t “hot” (on fire) for God and it wasn’t “cold.” It was best characterized by being a nauseous “lukewarm.” I can’t think of any time when a lukewarm drink would be satisfying. Is the way that we worship and the heart with which we conduct ourselves, self-gratifying or God-gratifying, and does the world see in us and our churches the answer to their deep, longing thirst? Every local church should be notorious in their community, that is, notorious for their unity and notorious for their love both for one another and for the lost. Isn’t this what Christ meant when He said, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” in John 13:35.

Second, He said the Laodicean church was “lacking.” In verse 17, it seems that they didn’t realize their greatest need which was a spiritual need. As today, their offering plates were full but they were spiritually destitute. The preaching and teaching of the Word of God must be prepared, predominant and passionate so that the Spirit of God will apply it to the hearts of His people and cause us to be Christlike. Our every need is addressed and supplied by Christ and His Word. In verse 18, He said the answer to their need was testing fire, holiness and yieldedness to the Holy Spirit.

Third, He said the church was not “listening.” Jesus, who should be the centre of the church and pre-eminent, (Colossians 1:18) was on the outside, knocking, asking to come in. Perhaps pride, arrogance and dictatorship had crept into the church and had taken Christ’s rightful position. How careful we must be whether church, school or institution, that Christ always is the focus of our worship, teaching and reason to exist.

If we are now living in a Laodicean-like era, then may we sincerely determine to be faithful, to represent Christ well, and to allow Him pre-eminence in the church.

This article appears in the March 2010 NBBI Open Bible Bulletin.

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