TO THE ANGELOF THE CHURCH OF LAODOCEA

Rev 3:14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;
15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. (KJV)

14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen,

Jesus identifies Himself as "The Amen". We are accustomed to the word "Amen" as a word which closes prayer, and means, in essence, "so be it".

But this word is also used in many places to start a statement, and is translated as "Truly" or "verily" (Matt.5:18,26, Mark 14:18, & John 3:3, to name just a few).

I personally believe that the significance of the use of the Name of "Amen" here in Revelation 3:14 is directly related to a passage of Scripture in Isaiah 65, since Isaiah 65 is looking forward to the Day when the Lord will create a new Heaven and a new Earth, and when He will establish His Kingdom in Righteousness, which is exactly what the Book of Revelation foretells.

In Isaiah 65, there is an interesting verse, where God identifies Himself literally as the "God of Amen":

Isa 65:16 That he who blesseth himself in the earth shall bless himself in the God of truth; and he that sweareth in the earth shall swear by the God of truth; because the former troubles are forgotten, and because they are hid from mine eyes.

The word "amen" is translated here as "truth" in the King James, but it is interesting to see this phrase portrayed in this particular portion of Scripture.

I will take a bit of time to look at Isa 65, and I believe that we will see a parallel between this passage and the Word of the Lord to the Angel of the Church of Laodocea.

But before we do this, I just want to mention that this particular passage could be used as yet another of many proof texts to show Jehovahs Witnesses (and others who deny the deity of Jesus Christ) that Jesus Christ, Who identifies Himself as "the Amen" in Revelation 3:14, is the God of the Old Testament, Who identifies Himself as the "Amen" as well!

We can exclaim with Paul these marvelous words as He writes:

Rom 11: 33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!(KJV)

In the book of Isaiah, God speaks of a time when He would spread forth His Grace on the Gentiles (Isa 65:1) and when He would turn away from those who have turned away from Him (Isa 65:2-7).
He speaks of those people who have a form of godliness (religion), yet who are not living right before God.
He says that these religious ones sacrifice and offer incense to Him, and yet they go about their lives, chasing after the things of the world, and embracing those things that are not acceptable in His sight (Isa 65:3-4).
While they do these things, they consider themselves to be in right standing with God and in a better place than others, yet He says that they are a "smoke in His nose" and "a fire that burns all day" (Isa 65:5):

Isa 65: 1 I am sought of them that asked not for me; I am found of them that sought me not: I said, Behold me, behold me, unto a nation that was not called by my name.
2 I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people, which walketh in a way that was not good, after their own thoughts;
3 A people that provoketh me to anger continually to my face; that sacrificeth in gardens, and burneth incense upon altars of brick;
4 Which remain among the graves, and lodge in the monuments, which eat swine's flesh, and broth of abominable things is in their vessels;
5 Which say, Stand by thyself, come not near to me; for I am holier than thou. These are a smoke in my nose, a fire that burneth all the day. (KJV)

He says that there would be a day when He would recompense these who profess to be godly, but who are not, for their ways:

Isa 65: 6 Behold, it is written before me: I will not keep silence, but will recompense, even recompense into their bosom,
7 Your iniquities, and the iniquities of your fathers together, saith the LORD, which have burned incense upon the mountains, and blasphemed me upon the hills: therefore will I measure their former work into their bosom.

But He declares plainly that there will be a remnant who will be preserved. He promises that He wouldn't altogether destroy Israel. He says that He will distinguish between those who serve Him in truth, and those who forsake Him by their actions:

8 Thus saith the LORD, As the new wine is found in the cluster, and one saith, Destroy it not; for a blessing is in it: so will I do for my servants' sakes, that I may not destroy them all.
9 And I will bring forth a seed out of Jacob, and out of Judah an inheritor of my mountains: and mine elect shall inherit it, and my servants shall dwell there.
10 And Sharon shall be a fold of flocks, and the valley of Achor a place for the herds to lie down in, for my people that have sought me.
11 But ye are they that forsake the LORD, that forget my holy mountain, that prepare a table for that troop, and that furnish the drink offering unto that number.
12 Therefore will I number you to the sword, and ye shall all bow down to the slaughter: because when I called, ye did not answer; when I spake, ye did not hear; but did evil before mine eyes, and did choose that wherein I delighted not.
13 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, my servants shall eat, but ye shall be hungry: behold, my servants shall drink, but ye shall be thirsty: behold, my servants shall rejoice, but ye shall be ashamed:
14 Behold, my servants shall sing for joy of heart, but ye shall cry for sorrow of heart, and shall howl for vexation of spirit.
15 And ye shall leave your name for a curse unto my chosen: for the Lord GOD shall slay thee, and call his servants by another name:

He declares that He would call His servants (Jew or Gentile) by another name. We know that the Name His servants are called by is the Name of Christ, or Christians, whether they are Jew or Gentile.

Acts 11:26 And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.(KJV)

These "Christians" would bless themselves in the One who is known as the "Amen":

Isa 65:16 That he who blesseth himself in the earth shall bless himself in the God of truth; and he that sweareth in the earth shall swear by the God of truth; because the former troubles are forgotten, and because they are hid from mine eyes.

In the first covenant that the Lord made with His people through Moses, the people knew Him as Jehovah, or Jah, or Yahweh, or Lord, or, more commonly, as "Hashem" which means "the Name". In the second covenant which the Lord made with His people through Jesus, the people know Him as the Name which is above every Name, Jesus.

Phil 2: 9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (KJV)

These "Christians" would find their blessings in the Name of the One Who was revealed as the Amen.

In Revelation 3:14, we see that the Amen is identified as Jesus. God's people would find their blessings in the Name which is above ALL Names, the Name of Jesus. Whether they were born Jew or Gentile, those who embraced this New Covenant that He had made with all mankind, would be called "Christians".

…"the faithful and true witness,"

In 1 John 2:6, we are told:

I Jn 2:6 He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked. (KJV)

Following the Word given in 1 John 2:6, just as Jesus was faithful, we who are called to be messengers need to be faithful and true, as well.

Jesus reminds this messenger that He is Faithful and True. As we will see as we get into this study, this messenger is anything BUT faithful or true.

The requirement of a minister, or messenger of God is that he would be faithful.

1 Cor 4:1 Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.
2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. (KJV)

We must NEVER forget that it is a privilege to serve the Lord as His minister. We can never lose sight of the fact that the Lord doesn't NEED us…He allows us the privilege of working in His fields. Paul was thankful for the privilege that the Lord had bestowed upon him:

1 Tim 1: 12 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; (KJV)

As I have said elsewhere, "Like begets Like." Our ministry is to be one in which we who are faithful are to seek out others who are faithful:

2 Tim 2: 2 And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.(KJV)

In Titus 1:7-9, the qualifications of an overseer of the flock of God are plainly given. Yet there are many who fill the pulpits today who fail these requirements:

Titus 1: 7 For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre;
8 But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate;
9 Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.(KJV)

Just a side note: The word "hospitality" is the Greek word "Philoxenos", which is composed of two Greek words; "philos," which means "love" or "fondness", and "xenos" which means guests or strangers, or people.

The implication here is that the person who has been appointed by the Lord as an overseer or a messenger of His Word must consider it a privilege to be given the opportunity to minister to others regardless of when they may come around.

This is a far cry from today's 8-5 office hours. Most pastors and ministers of the Word of God in today's world are not given to hospitality. If the truth was known, their convenience and comfort is more important than a person's need.

The mentality (although not voiced) is that "they can wait until tomorrow…I was planning on going on an outing with my family", or "I have an important golfing date with a fellow pastor in another hour… maybe we can fit you in tomorrow, at let's see…does three O'clock sound good to you?" or "Man, look, it's 1:00 in the morning…can you come by tomorrow at office hours, and then we can talk?"

In the "Expositor's Greek New Testament", this word "Philoxenos" is dealt with in 1 Timothy 3:2, like this:

"This virtue is required in the episcopus also in Titus 1:8, but not of the deacons, below; of Christians generally, 1 Peter 4:9, 1 Tim 5:10 (q.v.) Rom 12:13, Heb 6:10, 13:2, 3 John 5. See Hermas, Sim. 9:27 (Bishops, hospitable persons, who gladly received in their houses at all times the servants of God without hypocrisy [my emphasis]). This duty in episcopi , was closely connected with the maintenance of external relations," which was their special function. See Ramsay, 'Church in the Roman Empire', p. 368."

We can see that today's "clergy" has failed in many areas when it comes to Biblical qualifications. A messenger of God is not on a job. It is a calling. A privilege to serve the Lord.

In Revelation 17:14, we see that those who are found with the Lamb are described as fitting three criteria:

1)They are called. We can't serve the Lord unless we are called.

2)They are chosen. Jesus said many are called, but few are chosen. When I read this portion of scripture, I think about my days as a soldier in the United States Army. The whole platoon would be in formation, and a call would go out for volunteers for some kind of duty. The whole platoon heard the call. But invariably, there were only a few who would volunteer. These are the ones who were chosen.
All mankind is called to serve Jesus. But only a few actually respond to the call. Those who respond are chosen.

3)They are faithful. Those who are chosen need to be faithful. Just as the Lord is Faithful, so the servant of God needs to be faithful in his service to the Lord.

The only ones that are going to be with the Lord at the Last Day, are those who are CALLED, CHOSEN, AND FAITHFUL!

Rev 17:14 These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful. (KJV)

…the beginning of the creation of God;

Jehovah's Witnesses like to point to this passage and say that Jesus was the beginning of the creation of God, in an effort to disprove His Deity. They say that Jesus Himself was a created being.

But the word "BEGINNING" here carries with it the definition of origin, or "that by which anything begins to be…"

746 arche-
1) beginning, origin
2) the person or thing that commences, the first person or thing in a series, the leader
3) that by which anything begins to be, the origin, the active cause
4) the extremity of a thing; used of the corners of a sail
5) the first place, principality, rule, magistracy; used of angels and demons

The word "arche" can mean "principality"(Rom 8:38; Eph 1:21, 3:10, 6:12; Col 1:16, 2:10, 2:15; Titus 3:1) or "rule" (1 Cor 15:24, Luke 20:20 )or "magistrate"(Luke 12:11), so we can see that this passage could be saying more accurately that Jesus is the ORIGIN and the RULER of the creation of God, (which we know is True) and not that Jesus is the first created being.

The entire book of Revelation bears this out.

The Lord reminds this messenger that He is the Origin and Ruler of the creation of God. He is the One Who this messenger must answer to.
He is the Chief Principality that rules over all mankind. The weight of this reality must sink in to all who are chosen to serve Him.
He MUST rule in all aspects of our Lives. He is to be LORD of our lives.

There are those who denounce the idea of "LORDSHIP SALVATION", who say that because Jesus came as our Saviour…it is not necessary to embrace Him as Lord of our lives.

He has conquered all the powers and the principalities that once held rule over us. He alone is the One to whom we are to be subjected in all things. The Ladocean Messenger has not had that realization yet.

15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

There are only a few places in the Word of God that the term "spue thee out" is used. In each of these places, it is used as a term of reproach toward God's people for turning away from Him and embracing the abominable practices of the heathens around them.

In Leviticus 18:28, the Lord warns His people Israel that He would spue them out of the land for sexual impurity. He mentions incest, adultery, fornication, homosexuality and bestiality, and says that because of these things (abominations in the sight of the Lord), the land had spued them out.

It is interesting that most homosexuals who are professing "Christians" will readily admit that incest, adultery, or bestiality is wrong, and yet they will justify their actions, which are condemned in Leviticus 18:22, and still declare that they are "saved".

They can repent (turn away from their sin) and be reconciled to the Lord, but if they willfully continue in their sin regardless of what the Word of God says, there is a very real danger of them slipping into the torments of eternal damnation. It is a very grave price to pay for a season of sin.

Actually, it appears that these "abominations", Incest, adultery, homosexuality, and bestiality were included in various forms of pagan worship. Leviticus chapter 18 begins with an admonition to the children of Israel that they are not to walk in the "ordinances" of the land of Egypt, or the land of Canaan. They were only to walk in the ordinances of the Lord:

Lev 18: 1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, I am the LORD your God.
3 After the doings of the land of Egypt, wherein ye dwelt, shall ye not do: and after the doings of the land of Canaan, whither I bring you, shall ye not do: neither shall ye walk in their ordinances.
4 Ye shall do my judgments, and keep mine ordinances, to walk therein: I am the LORD your God.
5 Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them: I am the LORD. (KJV)

Immediately after drawing a contrast between the ordinances of the heathens, and those of the Lord, He mentions all of these sexual practices that are prohibited by Him. Then He concludes His admonition to Israel by mentioning the fact that they are to keep His statutes and Judgments (verse 26), and that they are not to commit any of these abominable "customs" (verse 30 - same word as "statutes" in verse 26) because He is their God:

Lev 18: 26 Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations; neither any of your own nation, nor any stranger that sojourneth among you:
27 (For all these abominations have the men of the land done, which were before you, and the land is defiled;)
28 That the land spue not you out also, when ye defile it, as it spued out the nations that were before you.
29 For whosoever shall commit any of these abominations, even the souls that commit them shall be cut off from among their people.
30 Therefore shall ye keep mine ordinance, that ye commit not any one of these abominable customs, which were committed before you, and that ye defile not yourselves therein: I am the LORD your God. (KJV)

As we have seen, homosexuality, adultery, incest, and bestiality have their roots in ancient idolatrous practices. Those who practice such things today are unwittingly bowing before the gods of the heathen nations that surrounded Israel.

We can see that this is the case described in Romans 1:18-32, where we learn that because people chose to go their own ways, instead of the Way of God, they become foolish, and are given over to the lusts of their own hearts, dishonoring their own bodies between themselves.
Then the Word of God proceeds to speak of the sexual sins (including homosexuality) that people are given over to as a result of their disobedience. Despiite this fact, there is a gospel being preached from many pulpits today that tolerates and ( in some instances) actually condones these sins.

Immediately after the Lord instructed His people not to do these things that the heathen do, He tells them to "be Holy, as I am Holy" (Lev 19:1-2). This word carries with it the meaning of being separate. God has always intended for His people to be "separate", to be different from the rest of the world.

Again, in Leviticus 20, God puts a difference between His statutes and the statutes of the heathen, after He instructs His people further concerning idolatry and sexual sins.

He mentions that they are to keep His statutes, so that the land would not spue them out. Because of the Heathen's idolatrous practices, Israel was to inherit their land. But they would only be able to partake of the blessings of the Lord as long as they did not conform to the ways of the Heathens:

Lev 20: 22 Ye shall therefore keep all my statutes, and all my judgments, and do them: that the land, whither I bring you to dwell therein, spue you not out.
23 And ye shall not walk in the manners (statutes) of the nation, which I cast out before you: for they committed all these things, and therefore I abhorred them.
24 But I have said unto you, Ye shall inherit their land, and I will give it unto you to possess it, a land that floweth with milk and honey: I am the LORD your God, which have separated you from other people. (KJV)

Ministers today are tolerating the very sins that God has declared to be an abomination to Him. There is a great debate in some denominations as to whether or not Homosexuals should be allowed to be ordained.

Simply put, homosexuality is defined as an abomination in the eyes of God, and there shouldn't be any debate at all.

But the tolerance of homosexuality and other sexual sins are not the only grievances the Lord has with this messenger. This messenger is TOLERANT of other people's sins, and of his own. He rests in a confession of faith that he made in the past, and he teaches others to do the same.

The Lord has told the Messenger to the Church of Laodocea that He would spue him out of His mouth, because he is lukewarm. What a fearful realization this should be to those who are called to be messengers of the Lord!

Because of the contrast given here between cold and hot, I believe that this messenger is relatively indifferent to his relationship with God. But even though this is true, he may not realize that this is his state. This man practices a philosophical form of religion. He is the type of person who may be filled with a head knowledge of the Word of God, but he does not have a heart relationship the True and living God.

You might hear these lukewarm messengers saying "Truth is relevant," or "the Bible isn't necessarily the inerrant infallible Word of God."

On the other hand, he might be a minister who says that the Bible IS the inerrant Word of God, and he might subscribe to the belief in Absolute Truth. Whatever the case may be, I believe he represents those ministers who have been so conformed to the affairs of this world, that their service to God takes a back seat to their worldly pursuits.

Sometimes they may not even be aware that this is the case with them.

A minister may be totally convinced that he has an intimate heart relationship with the Lord, and yet still be guilty of practicing philosophical religion.

The Word of God says that the heart is deceitful above all things:

Jer 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

Though we have touched on the issue of sexual sins as being the reason the land spued out the heathens that had occupied it, it is important not to lose sight of the fact that the motivation behind these sexual sins was idolatry.

Idolatry isn't just about bowing down to little man-made figurines. Covetousness is defined as idolatry in Colossians 3:5.

A person can covet things.
A person can covet wealth.
A person can covet recognition and fame.
A person can covet success.
A person can covet other people's admiration.
A person can covet power.
Regardless of what it is, covetousness is idolatry.

The only things we as ministers and children of the Most High God are to covet are the spiritual gifts (1 Cor 12:31, 14:39). The only reason we are to covet these spiritual gifts is so we can build up one another in the faith, and glorify God in our lives. A philosophical head knowledge of the Word of God will result in compromise with the Word.

Those who are driven by worldly compromise are making flesh their strength, instead of the Spirit of God. How does this pertain to today's messenger?

There are some ministers who have a gift of oration. That gift could be a gift from God, or it could be a gift obtained through education. In one case, the person is a very able minister of the word because the Lord has enabled him through His Holy Spirit, and in the other instance, he is a very able minister of the Word because he has "learned from the best of men." His motivation may be to be recognized as a "great preacher". He covets recognition and acclaim.He has made flesh his arm. He is not dependant on the Holy Spirit's empowerment.

There are some ministers who teach from the revelations of men, rather than the Revelation of God. While we can certainly learn from one another, we need to understand that the Holy Spirit is our Ultimate teacher.
Error is perpetuated in the Church because today's ministers have read what one "great teacher" has taught concerning a subject instead of relying on the Holy Spirit to teach them.

They teach "mysteries" instead of the overcoming walk in Jesus Christ. I have heard quotations from the "God Chasers," "Final Quest", and "The Prayer of Jabez" (to name just a few) being expounded on in great detail from many pulpits. I am not saying anything negative about these books…We can LEARN from one another, but a man's writing, regardless of how good it is, should never be a substitute for seeking the Lord's Will and His Revelation message to the church in our own lives. These ministers teach men to rely on their words, instead of on the Word of God. They have made flesh their arm, instead of God.

This minister has commentaries that he reads on a regular basis, to understand what the Scripture says, because "this great man of God had a good handle on what this particular passage means."

Matthew Henry is being preached from the pulpit. Spurgeon is being preached from the pulpit. Adam Clark, Charles Finney, Jonathan Edwards, Smith Wigglesworth, Kenneth Hagan, Oral Roberts, Charles Stanley and Chuck Swindoll are a few men who are being preached from the pulpits of churches today.

In some places, men are preached more than Jesus Christ is preached. These messenger who preach this way have made flesh their arm, instead of God.

There are some ministers who prophesy out of their emotions, or out of their own sense of what is right and what is wrong. They perpetuate prophetic words that have been spoken by others, and haven't learned to hear what the Spirit of God has to say about a situation. They ride a wave of current consensus, instead of walking in the path of God. Flesh is their strength.

There are preachers who have found a style of preaching that seems to be effective, so they imitate that style, instead of letting the Holy Spirit preach through them.

I have seen preachers that seem to have come from a "Rod Parsley" cookie cutter, or a "Shambach" cookie cutter, or a "Chuck Swindoll" or a T.D. Jakes cookie cutter.
Often times I can tell what type of denominational background a particular preacher is from because of the style in which he preaches. These men have made flesh their arm. No matter what their "success" in ministry is, they are actually "Lukewarm" in their relationship with God. They have forgotten that the Lord is to be their source for all things.

I have known evangelists who have forsaken the streets and the market place for speaking engagements in churches. They are booked up with speaking engagements, preaching "revivals" in churches (preaching to the saved) instead of going out into the places where the lost are.

I am not saying that it's wrong for evangelists to speak in churches, but when an evangelist's focus is more on the business of preaching for his wallet's sake, and for men's recognition, than to be driven by a desire to see souls saved and reconciled to the Lord, then he is making flesh his arm, has become lukewarm, regardless of how "vibrant" his ministry may appear to be.

The minister that calls on others to support their ministry are relying on men rather than on God to supply their need. If God calls us to ministry, He will provide for every need. Many ministers say they have a "faith based ministry", and send out requests for donations to help them in ministry. They are trusting in man, and making flesh their arm, instead of the Lord. Their "faith based ministry" is based in men coming through for them.

Jer 17:5 Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD.
6 For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited.
7 Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is.
8 For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.
9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
10 I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings. (KJV)

We have been told to examine ourselves, to see whether we are in the faith. We are to examine ourselves in the light of the Word of God, not according to how successful we may appear to be in ministry.

2 Cor 13: 5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? (KJV)

The word "reprobates" means "not standing the test"…we are tempted on every side, tested and tried by the enemy of our souls. He does all he can to get us to rely on the arm of flesh.

When we get to the point of relying on our own selves, or on the teachings of men, no matter how godly they may be, or on the financial provision of others, we are not "standing the test."

17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:

Most people who read this read it with a carnal understanding. They see this person as being a person who has material wealth, and is comfortable in their position so that they really don't have to rely on God for their provision.

When we hear of this passage being spoken of in the pulpits, most of the time, we have heard the church of America being referred to.

But as we have seen in the beginning of this study, this letter is not describing the state of the church, but rather, the state of the messengers to the churches. With that in mind, let us consider what kind of messenger the Lord is addressing.

He says that this messenger considers himself to be rich, and increased with goods.

One characteristic of this messenger is that he is one of those who considers that godliness is a means of great gain. He is a proponent of the gospel of selfishness that has permeated Christianity. He preaches money and provision from the pulpit more than he preaches Jesus Christ.

His gospel teaches others to be focused on their material condition rather than their Spiritual condition. He is flashy, and high minded, certain that he has a handle of the things of God, because he is teaching Christians to be like he is. A gospel of greed and covetousness proceeds from his lips. Many pastors want him to speak in their pulpits. The people in the church get excited because this preacher of prosperity is coming to town. He coins a phrase which is echoed by his followers: "MONEY COMING!"

We have already seen that the messenger of Pergamos has some in his church who hold this doctrine of Balaam.

He speaks great swelling words of vanity, and the people are led astray through his deceit. He may not willingly have set out to teach others to be covetous. But he bought the lie that had been taught by others who had gone before him. And his measure of "success" in the ministry is the wealth and the things he has accumulated during his "service" to the Lord.

Covetousness is idolatry, and whether it has a "gospel" label on it, or wrapped in a thin paper wrapping with the Name of Jesus, it is still covetousness. Jesus told His people that they needed to beware of covetousness:

Luke 12: 15 And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. (KJV)

In the book of Habakkuk, we see the Lord's Word to His people concerning something that was to occur in the future. I believe we can see the Laodocean messenger depicted in this vision that Habakkuk recieved. The Lord says:

Hab 2: 2 And the LORD answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it.
3 For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.

The Lord says that He had appointed a day when there would be indications that His Coming would be soon.

4 Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.

The word "lifted up" in the Hebrew actually means "heedless", or "presumptuous". The only other place where this word is used in the Old Testament is in Numbers 14:44, where the Israelites disregarded the Word of the Lord and "presumed" to go up to a hilltop to fight the Amalekites and the Canaanites when the Lord wasn't with them. They were heedless of the Lord's warning that He wouldn't be with them in that battle. The result was that they were severly defeated by their enemies.

There are ministers who fit this "lukewarm" Ladocean category that are very presumptuous in their relationship with the Lord. They presume that their material "success" is an endorsement by the Lord concerning their ministry.

Because they have received wealth from men as a result of their campaigns and efforts to generate that wealth, they presume that they have received favor from the Lord. They refuse to heed the warning of the Lord against covetousness and conformity to the ways of the world.

But the Lord says that the Just shall live by his faith. This is speaking of a person's faith in the Lord, and not in men, or in men's provision.

5 Yea also, because he transgresseth by wine, he is a proud man, neither keepeth at home, who enlargeth his desire as hell, and is as death, and cannot be satisfied, but gathereth unto him all nations, and heapeth unto him all people:

Some of these modern day "prosperity" preachers speak of the "New Wine", and try to package their covetousness in a package labeled: "New Wine". Many people are taken by their deception, because they are feeding them according to their lusts, appealing to them in their fleshly and worldly lusts.

I have heard many of these teachers speak of how they are not content with what they have…They proclaim, "Don't settle for the little that you have...THE LORD DESIRES FOR US TO HAVE MORE!' But the false teachers will be exposed.

6 Shall not all these take up a parable against him, and a taunting proverb against him, and say, Woe to him that increaseth that which is not his! how long? and to him that ladeth himself with thick clay!
7 Shall they not rise up suddenly that shall bite thee, and awake that shall vex thee, and thou shalt be for booties unto them?
8 Because thou hast spoiled many nations, all the remnant of the people shall spoil thee; because of men's blood, and for the violence of the land, of the city, and of all that dwell therein.

Throughout the Bible we read of a remnant of God's people who would return to Him, despite popular concensus. They would realize the wickedness that they have lived in, and would turn back to God.

Jesus told us that there would be a time when, if the days were not shortened, even the very elect would be decieved.

The word of God proclaims that although these false teachers would have a season of popularity, they would be brought down.

9 Woe to him that coveteth an evil covetousness to his house, that he may set his nest on high, that he may be delivered from the power of evil!
10 Thou hast consulted shame to thy house by cutting off many people, and hast sinned against thy soul.
11 For the stone shall cry out of the wall, and the beam out of the timber shall answer it.
12 Woe to him that buildeth a town with blood, and stablisheth a city by iniquity!

I believe this is speaking of those teachers who have built their kingdom on a foundation of covetousness. They believe they are rich and are full and have no need of anything. But God has a wakeup call for these false teachers.

But another way these words to the Laodocean messenger should be understood, is that this is a minister who believes he has ARRIVED.

Although I have spent a good amount of time discussing the modern prosperity preachers, and what I beleive to be the doctrine of Balaam, the Laodocean messenger described in the book of Revelation isn't necessarily exclusively a prosperity teacher.

He is comfortable and secure in his position as a minister. He has material possessions, and isn't in a place where he needs to rely on God. The Lord describes his state:

Rev 3: 17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: (KJV)

In his comfort, he has forgotten His need for God.

The Lord tells the messenger that he does not know that he is "wretched".

This word translated as "wretched" in Revelation 3:17 is used in one other place in the New Testament.

In his letter to the Romans, Paul speaks of the classic struggle that he (and all mankind) has between his spirit and his flesh. He says that he finds himself in a dilemma, where it seems that although he knows he shouldn't do certain things, he goes against what he knows and yields to the dictates of his flesh (Romans 7:14-23).

After he describes his dilemma, he pens these words:

Rom 7: 24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? (KJV)

Because of his material comfort, the Laodocean messenger forgets that his dependance is on the Lord. The Lord tells the Laodocean messenger that he doesn't realize that he is wretched. Paul was ever mindful of his daily need for the Lord to work in his life to enable him to overcome the struggles that he had in the flesh.

Paul knew that he was wretched, yet the Ladocean messenger believes he is all right.

He may have have gotten all the "big" sins out of his life, like adultery, fornication, thefts, murder, and drunkenness, but he may not realize how many "little" sins have a hold on him, like a judgmental attitude towards those who are not of his denomination, or a backbiting tongue, or gossip or slander or any number of other things.

Every man woman and child have a daily struggle with their wretched condition, and yet too many are unaware of their wretchedness before God.

The Laodocean messenger doesn't realize that he is miserable.

I believe that the Lord uses this word intentionally to describe the fact that this messenger is focused only on his present state as far as his material condition and comfort is concerned.

Paul uses this word in 1 Cor 15:19:

1 Cor 15: 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.(KJV)

The Laodocean messenger is miserable in the Lord's eyes because of the fact that his hope is centered on this life. If the truth was known, he is more concerned with his comfort and his personal well being, than he is with his spiritual condition before God.

But the key to remember here is that he doesn't know that he is miserable.

He doesn't know that as he stands before the Lord in his material comfort, he is spiritually poor.

Jesus mentioned those who are Poor in spirit:

Matt 5:3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (KJV)

This word "poor" carries with it the connotation of a begger. The one who knows that he is spiritually destitute will cry out to the Lord for relief. He will understand that he needs to be given his daily spiritual sustenance from God, and his prayer in his closet before God will be such that he will beg Him for relief from his wretched condition of spiritual poverty.

This messenger is one who is spiritually blinded because of his materialistic condition.

In Matt 15, Jesus denounced the Pharisees as the blind leading the blind. The issue at hand was the fact that the Pharisees were concerned that the disciples of Jesus had transgressed the tradition of the elders, by not washing their hands before they ate.

Jesus told them that they were guilty of transgressing the commandments of God by their traditions. He said that because they did this, they were blind leaders of the blind (Matt 15:2-14).

Many ministers today have compromised the Word of God in exchange for their denomination's traditions. I will touch on one such area in this study.

Pentecostal Church tradition teaches that baptism of the Holy Spirit is evidenced by speaking in tongues. Yet the Bible doesn't say that.

While speaking in tongues is ONE of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, it is not a necessary manifestation to prove that one has received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said that the true worshippers of God would worship Him in Spirit and in Truth. Many people have been pressured into faking the "initial evidence of speaking in tongues", because they have been told that if they don't speak in tongues, they haven't received the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

In First Corinthians 12, Paul speaks about the callings and gifts in the body of Christ. First, he lists the callings and the gifts:

1 Cor 12: 28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.

After he has listed the callings and the gifts, then he asks a series of questions:

29 Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?
30 Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?

Obviously the answer to each of these questions is, "no, all are not apostles, all are not prophets, all are not teachers, all are not workers of miracles, all do not have the gifts of healing, all do not speak with tongues, and all do not interpret." Yet despite this plain teaching, many churches embrace their tradition rather than the Word of God, and because of this, they pressure many into faking the gift of tongues.

I have seen people being "coached" to speak in tongues. "Just open your mouth and say whatever comes out…" and then the coachers will speak in tongues, as if to help them.

The Biblical model is that we never see anyone being instructed in how to receive the gift of tongues. We see that the Holy Spirit fell on the people and they spoke in tongues, "as the Spirit gave them utterance". Because of pressure and tradition, many people are coerced into believing they have received something they have not received.

Jesus said we are to worship God in Spirit and in Truth. In many cases, church tradition results in making liars out of the congregation.

For the record: I believe that the gift of tongues are for today. I just don't believe that everyone who receives the baptism of the Holy Spirit necessarily speaks in tongues.

Many ministers are teaching tradition in place of the Word of God, and as such, they are blind leaders of the blind. Church services in America for the most part are "traditional" in their structure. They are very predictable. The "Holy Spirit" has a two hour format in which to move. The blind messengers are leading the blind.

Evangelistic outreaches are geared toward traditional entertainment instead of preaching the gospel in simplicity and in power. The blind messengers are leading the blind.

As I pointed out earlier, today's professional clergy traditionally hold office hours between 8:00 to 5:00. They make appointments in that time frame for people to be ministered to.

We could go on, but I am sure the reader can get the idea.

Though this messenger is blinded by the traditions he has embraced, he doesn't know that he is blind.

The Lord tells this messenger that he is naked.

This in contrast to the Bride of Christ who is depicted in Revelation 19:8, as being clothed in fine linen, clean and white, which is the righteousness of the saints. We must be clothed with the Righteousness of God, and not our own.

The Laodocean messenger has neglected his walk and relationship with the Lord because of his imagined self-sufficiency. He wears his own form of righteousness instead of the Lord's.

Rev 3: 18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. (KJV)

"I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich;"

Gold tried in the fire reminds me of the scripture that says:

1 Pet 1:7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:
8 Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:
9 Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.

The gold that is tried with fire is our position in our walk before God, and in our faith toward Him. It is our continual dependence on Him that determines our true wealth.

God would have all His children to know that the material things of this world will burn up. Jesus said those who are rich would have a very difficult time entering into the Kingdom of God.

True wealth is measured by our standing before God, and not by the things that we possess. Material gain is often in the way of a Christian's spiritual growth.

We need to willingly put ourselves "out on a limb", in a manner of speaking, in order to let God teach us how to live in faith toward Him. We need to step out and depend on the Lord to be our sole source of strength and help. But when we make that decision, we will go through the fire, so to speak, in learning how to depend on Him.

To seek after the Wisdom and understanding of the Lord is far more important than gaining material wealth, but those messengers who have been blinded by their conformity to the world are unable to teach others in that way.

Prov 3: 13 Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding.
14 For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold.
15 She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her.
16 Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honour.
17 Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.
18 She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her. (KJV)

But the obtaining of Wisdom and understanding will inevitably be preceded by trials in our lives, which serve to refine us and to lead us in the way of faith.

Prov 17:3 The fining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold: but the LORD trieth the hearts. (KJV)

Prov 8: 8 All the words of my mouth are in righteousness; there is nothing froward or perverse in them.
9 They are all plain to him that understandeth, and right to them that find knowledge.
10 Receive my instruction, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold.
11 For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it. (KJV)

Prov 16: 15 In the light of the king's countenance is life; and his favour is as a cloud of the latter rain.
16 How much better is it to get wisdom than gold! and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver!
17 The highway of the upright is to depart from evil: he that keepeth his way preserveth his soul.

In the last days, we are told that a third of the Lord's people will be refined as silver and as gold. The servant of God should be blessed to go through the fire of trials, knowing that they work a more perfect walk before God.

Zech 13: 7 Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the LORD of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones.
8 And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the LORD, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein.
9 And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God. (KJV)

I have known Him as the God of the last minute…He always comes through…but He wants us to Trust Him. Faith is not about pursuing after things, or material gain. God will supply our needs…He doesn't want us to worry about that…but we need to get beyond that realization in order for Him to teach us that He is MORE than our Provider.

He wants us to know Him as our Sufficiency. He wants us to be totally dependant on Him in every aspect of our lives. Material provision is at the bottom of His concern…those things will be provided. He wants us to impact the world through our service to Him. He will provide our daily needs as we do this.

While the Laodocean messenger is teaching others how to "succeed" in this world, he is neglecting their instruction in the ways of the Lord. He is causing them to focus on the world and the ways of the world instead of the Way of the Lord.

James 2:5 Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? (KJV)

...and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear

We have seen that the Laodocean messenger was naked, but the Lord tells him to purchase white raiment, that he may be clothed, and that the shame of his nakedness would not appear…we have seen how the Bride of Christ is clothed with the Righteousness of God in Revelation 19.

In Rev 3:4, the Lord addresses the messenger of Sardis, and tells him that those who are in Sardis, and who overcome, will be clothed in white.

In our earlier study of this messenger of Sardis, I pointed out that I believed the messenger of Sardis had embraced a man centered religion, instead of an active relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.

This man centered religion results in one walking in his own works-oriented righteousness rather than the Righteousness which comes from God.

Rev 3: 4 Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.
5 He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.
6 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

In Revelation 7, we see a great multitude of people who stand before the Lamb, clothed in white robes. We are told these are those who came out of great tribulation, and have made their robes white in the blood of the lamb.

The blood of the Lamb is the only thing that can cleanse us and make us pure.

Rev 7: 9 After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;
10 And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.
11 And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God,
12 Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.
13 And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? 14 And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
15 Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.
16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.
17 For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.

...and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.

As we have seen, this messenger is blinded by the traditions of his religion and other teachers…the remedy the Lord gives him is to apply a poultice to his eyes, so that he could see…the Lord is telling him to see things in the light of the Word of God, instead of the traditions of men.

19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

This messenger has been soundly rebuked by the Lord, yet after His hard words, the Lord tells him that those whom he loves he rebukes and chastens. He is telling him that even in his apathetic condition, there is still hope.

The remedy is to repent.

He tells the Lukewarm messenger that he needs to be zealous and repent.

To be Zealous is the opposite of being in the state that this messenger of Laodocea is in. Thayers defines this word as "to desire earnestly, or to pursue". It also means "to exert oneself for one (so that he may not be torn from me)".

Rev 3: 20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

This passage of scripture is typically used by ministers of the Word of God to let unbelievers know that Jesus Christ is knocking at the door to their hearts, and is waiting for them to let Him in.

We interpret this verse as an invitation for the sinner to receive salvation. But in context, this word is spoken to this Laodocean messenger.

The Lord is telling him that he wants to have an active relationship with him. God doesn't force Himself on anyone. We are to invite Him on a daily basis to have His Will to be done in our lives. Although He is Ever Present, He wants us to be mindful of His Presence in our lives.

Rev 3: 21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.

When speaking of the sufferings he had undergone in his service to the Lord, Paul said "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us" (Romans 8:18).

He can honestly say this, because he knows that "the earnest expectation of the creature waits for the manifestation of the sons of God." (verse 19).

Like Paul, we can say that the riches or the success or anything in this earthly realm are not worthy to be compared with the fact that one day, those who overcome will be able to sit WITH CHRIST IN HIS THRONE as a reward for their faithfulness! GLORY!

Those who are messengers to the churches today need to heed the Word of the Lord concerning thier service to Him.

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. (KJV)

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