“Searching the Seven Churches”
The Church in Laodicea – (Revelation Chapter 3 Verses 14-22)
Here the Lord Jesus depicts himself as the faithful and true witness (v14). The depiction itself is a call to the church to emulate him, to be as he is. To end their compromise and be faithful and true. For the threat here is if they do not repent they will face Christ as the faithful and true judge as he is depicted elsewhere. “Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war” (Revelation 19:11). He threatens to “spit them out of his mouth” (v16). If indeed they obey and repent they will demonstrate themselves to be a part of the new creation of God. For Jesus Christ is the firstborn of the new creation of God (v14b; Colossians 1:18). So this is a call for reformation in the church and for an injection of the resurrection power of Jesus into the church. Now these letters to the seven churches are not predictions, neither are the letters meant to be consecutive eras, periods in the life of the universal church. As some do aver. For instance, it is said by some that the Laodicean church is the church of the latter days. It may well be but that’s not the design of these letters. These seven-fold aspects of the church are aspects that are seen in any age, in any part the worldwide church during the millennium. That is the time from the ascension of Jesus Christ until his return in glory to judge the world. Yet, having said this, there is an intention in the order of the letters. There is a hint of what we are to expect, that is, a gradual decline towards the end of the age. No, not the Christianising of the world of Post-millennialism, but rather a decline (Matthew 24). The development of apostasy within the church, “but understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power” (2 Timothy 3:1-5). Yes, Paul is speaking to and about the church. Until such times as Jesus, the sovereign Christ is ready to spit her out of his mouth. For at the end, there will be no church institute. “If those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect, those days will be cut short” (Matthew 24:22). “Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth” (Luke 18:8). There will be believers, but not an instituted church as we know it today.
But here in Laodicea, we have a church that is well established and accepted as a church. There are regular meetings, short but nice messages. They meet together and there’s a lot of friendship, social chatter, activities abound. But there’s someone knocking at the door and nobody’s hearing. And he is calling but nobody hears his voice (v20). In fact in this church nobody even thinks or speaks about Jesus Christ. I ask you, what has Jesus Christ done to the church in our land today that he is no longer preached? I hear messages about God, about the Bible, all very orthodox, but nothing of Christ and him crucified. Perhaps in the church in Laodicea they quote, “where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them” (Matthew 18:20). But he is not, he is outside and worse still he cannot gain entrance. They boast that they are rich, they have no needs (v17). This beloved is the church in the modern world with and bearing the fruit of godless atheism. Infiltrated by academic liberalism that for generations has been feeding the church with its unbelief. This is post-Philadelphia, the medieval ecclesiastical tyranny of Rome is gone. But they have exchanged it for the tyranny godless atheism. One is no better than the other. With the advent of theological and scientific rationalism that has destroyed both church and nation, in the West anyways. Evolutionary thinking has displaced the thoughts of God, in the church. God is paid lip-service to, but he is irrelevant, redundant in his creation, in politics and education. In every realm of modern society. The kingdom of man without God is being erected, 666, the kingdom of the Anti-Christ. The supposed evangelical theologians who have been espousing theistic evolution for a long time now, have moved on a pace. Now Genesis one to three are but just a poetic picture of God’s creative work. Not to be taken literally. No real Adam, no real serpent, no real Garden, no real fall. So I guess that when you begin to embrace these lies, from the serpent’s mouth, you wouldn’t really need Jesus. Would you? Just let him knock and call (v20).
(© James R Hamilton, written Summer, 2011)