A New Perspective into the Laodicean Church
By Joanie Stahl (June 4, 2018)
Recently during devotions, I was in the book of Revelations and read the part about the Church of the Laodiceans. I want to point out that after reading this chapter repetitively for 43 years, the Holy Spirit will speak to me in these areas now and then.
My policy and practice is just to keep on treading out the grapes in the wine vat. The more you tread the Word out, the more juice you are going to get out of it.
Many are very familiar with this Last Days church model. My purpose in writing about it is not to get into the depths of the culture and intense unpacking of the ancient meanings. I want to stay strictly in this present day and in the last closing days of the Church Age.
What I want to do is pose some strong intelligent questions, and stir you up to do some deeper thinking and investigating. I am going to do my best to write it out as I read and experienced it.
It was as if my eyes were opened as I read it – as if a new light was shining on it. It is always an exciting thing when the Holy Spirit reveals new things to us in His Word – things that we have never seen … especially if we have read certain passages or stories multiple times through the years.
[Disclaimer–It is vital to establish that what I am sharing is not a doctrinal insistence. It is solely based on what I saw as revealed by the Holy Spirit.You are free to view it as my outlook or opinion if you choose, and I want you to come to your own conclusions. So again, please recognize that I am NOT attempting to persuade you that what I am about to share I insist as Biblical doctrine. It is rather my viewpoint; more so, what we as Believers consider new “revelation” as given by His Spirit living within us. When we learn to have an open mind concerning what others share as new revelation of the scriptures (specifically from those walking in the fruits of Gods Spirit), this is a good and healthy manner for learning new possibilities and even “mysteries” within His Word. As always, take everything given by others to theLord in prayer].
I am now going to jump right in and begin sharing! As we all know there were seven churches spoken about by John the Revelator, as given to him in letter form referred to as “the letter of Jesus Christ,” or commonly known as The Revelation. Each one was a literal church, while it held a dual concept of the Church during the entire Church Age until the present hour. We understand that they are seven church periods clearly defined in church history.
We all know that this church in particular is the concept church of now, the “Last Days Church”. It is obvious because no other church is mentioned after this one. Frankly, I would be afraid to even read about it if there were, considering the pathetic condition and description of it the Laodicean Church.
Now to reduce time and keep the focus, I will only concentrate on the last Church mentioned as the seventh.
I am going take you section by section and present it to you as I believe the Lord opened up my eyes to see it. I will comment further at the end. You can follow along in your bibles as I take the text from Revelation 3:14-21, KJV.
“And unto the 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; …”
This is the first time the Lord refers to Himself as “the Amen”. This means is His final Word regarding the last Church at the end of the Church Age – Much like in many of the letters to the churches, which almost always begins with “grace and peace to you”. In Jude the last letter of the epistles is written,“Mercy unto you, and peace, and love,be multiplied”.
Also, notice what we call the epistles begin with the book of Acts and are very long. However, they get smaller and smaller as they go, eventually ending with one page in Jude. Yes, there is Philemon, but I am making an overall point here.
I believe the reason why is because nothing more can be said and it is evident in the way it is laid out.
I believe that as Jude was writing this letter, it started out with something rather grim in my view. Wishing everyone mercy to begin with because he knew by the Holy Spirit that what was going to come upon the earth at the end would require mercy being multiplied.
The common understanding of the placement of a word in biblical literature is key. Like in many of Paul the Apostles list of sins per se, the first one is always adultery then fornication, etc.
The first word is the power word. It is the word that sets up the entire theme and feel of the letter. If you have read Jude, then you would agree that the word “mercy” as the first word of greeting is precisely placed. Notice the word “grace” is not mentioned because the Church Age is known as the Age of Grace.
The period of time that is on the horizon is the triple fold seven judgments that will require mercy like never before. It will require the peace and love of God sustaining those going through it. That peace and love will be a power from on high that will preserve them.
Therefore, you can see now what I mean when Jesus refers to Himself as “the Amen”, His final Word regarding the entire Church Age.
“I know thy works that thou are neither cold or hot: I would that thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou are lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of My mouth.”
Upon reading that part, my eyes stopped and became planted upon those words. They are strikingly clear about what He feels without a doubt. Yet, here is what I thought for the first time. I thought, “He has no commendation for this church. He has only pure stomach-turning disgust and revulsion”.
He mentions His strong desire that they be either“cold or hot”. Why three times? Because three is the number of divinity and this is summed up in1 John 5:7-8:
“For there are three that bear record in heaven, The Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these agree in one “.
This is literally the first time we ever read about Jesus vomiting, which is a violent physical reaction to something so vile and disgusting. Any of us that have tasted something that was so bad that it made us actually vomit has the ability to connect to the revulsion Jesus Christ is sharing with us.
If Jesus cannot stomach this Church, it brings me to that verse Jesus said regarding great loss and the consequences.
“Ye are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot of men”. ~ Matthew 5:13
“If a man abide not in Me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them and cast them into the fire, and they are burned”. ~ John 15:6.
Do not forget what I said about the placement of words. Jesus immediately starts out with it. He lets everyone know His detestation of it. His complaint is that He “would that they were either hot or cold.” Cold means dead… spiritually dead. The word hot refers to being alive and passionate.
The condition of the church at this present hour is lukewarm. The cause of this “lukewarmness” is the same as that of the Church of Laodicean-Self-Deception. We can scan the churches of today and agree that there is much going on within them, though it is largely mechanical and leans largely to the feeling of merely a social character.
There are innumerable committees and clubs multiplied by the thousands but something is devastatingly absent. What is void is “Spiritual” heat. There are never-ending revival meetings held 52 weekends a year; but instead of waiting on the Lord for His power, the leaderships take over, paid singers are hired, and soul winning is made into a business.
I reflect on a huge mega church near us where I received an expensive, high gloss, multi-page pamphlet about the church from a neighbor. It was replete with clubs you can join and ministries you can get involved in like the “Line Dance Ministry”, “Bowling Ministry”, “Ballroom Ministry”, and the “Bike Riders Ministry” just to name a few.
A neighbor of ours always invited us to this church’s local cell group, a mid-week Bible study. After declining one to many times, I finally decided to go. We arrived at a small cafe on the harbor in a very exclusive part of the neighborhood.
I went in with my neighbors who were members of this church. They were elated that I had finally agreed to accompany them. The little cafe was closed, as the owners were also members of this mega church and were allowing their facility to be used for the Bible study.
All the people were filing in and each group sat in booths or tables. When everyone was seated, someone turned out the lights and a huge projector screen came down from the ceiling from behind the big counter.
The presentation then started with a recording of a girl. She was a young, beautiful woman, letting everyone know not to forget to fellowship in the churches new coffee shop after the study. The scene changed to the head pastor sitting at a huge mahogany desk, seated in an opulent setting in an expensive leather chair.
He began to tell everyone that he wanted everyone to ONLY discuss and talk about his sermon from the previous Sunday church service. After the presentation, the lights came back on and I asked my neighbor sitting next to me if we were allowed to move in the Spirit if we felt led to do so. He immediately said with shock, “No, no, no. We only stick to what the Pastor tells us to do.”
Then a child-like craft book was handed to each of us along with a box of crayons. Yes, I am telling you the truth. The leader at the table asked us to turn to the page with a big hand drawn on it. You know … I am speaking of how you place your hand flat on a paper and trace your fingers and hand. Well, there was a hand already drawn on it just like that.
Next, we were told to take the crayons and use each color to write the words that came to mind regarding our feelings about Pastor’s message from Sunday’s service, or a passage of scripture he used. We were to write them inside that little baby hand. I was in shock!
I will not go on any further, but the church at large right now is lukewarm. If Jesus can say it, then it is well within permission that I say it as well.
“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”.
I learned something in one year of study that the Holy Spirit taught me, and that is what you say is incredibly vital. As I read the Word of God through the year, it seemed everywhere I would look the words “Because thou sayest” popped out.
It must say it hundreds of times from the Old through the New Testament. God is not joking. He means it when He repeats back to you what you say. If He is repeating back to individuals or people groups what they have said verbatim, it is because there is a judgment coming. He is the Judge.
I will boldly say every word we speak will be a witness against us. It has damning power, as well as the power to give life. In this case, Jesus takes this very personally. I think that perhaps it goes much deeper than Him just being so disgusted and repulsed, into intense depth of grief, like finding out your spouse has another lover.
Ask anyone who has found out that devastating information. Many will say, they were so crushed in spirit, and deeply wounded that they became sick to their stomachs and vomited. I have heard that from women and men myself.
We read in Proverbs 18:21,
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof”.
Again, we have death and life… Cold or hot. Notice what they are saying. Notice that the Lord is addressing nine counts of indictment against them. This is a classic judicial action. Now I am going to go over each one and add scripture with it. Look at what each one more than suggests along with supportive scripture.
1.“I am rich”. The first boast is of their being rich outwardly, but inwardly Jesus sees the poverty of their hearts. IF they were saved, they would rather say,
“For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through your poverty might become rich”. ~ 2 Corinthians 8:9.
“There is that maketh himself rich, yet hathnothing: there is that maketh himself poor, yet hath great riches”. ~ Proverbs 13:7.
2. “and increased with goods”. The Church at Laodicea was not burdened with debt, but it was burdened with WEALTH. The boast of the vast majority of Believers of this era is high volume of exclusive membership attendance, eloquent, preaching, multimillion-dollar land, and building interests.
I have been around a long time to see many beautiful people who were very poor with powerful gifts who try to exercise their gifts in the Body, but they are rejected because they do not know the right person at the top or wear the right clothes.
These poor ones are mentioned in this verse:
“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”? ~ James 5:2.
3.“and have need of nothing”. Truly saved people would never say that. Look at what Jesus says about this.
“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine, no more can ye, except ye abide in Me. I am the vine, ye are the branches, he that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing”. ~ John 15:3-4.
The trouble with the church today is that it thinks that nothing can be done without money and that if we only had the money the world would be converted in this generation.
The world is not converted by money, but by the Spirit of the living God. True Born Again Believers live and rely completely in Jesus Christ for their every breath and life. They would never say they have need of nothing. Only the arrogant and the deceived speak such things. They “walk by faith and not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).
“The righteous shall live by their faith” (Hebrews 10:38:39; Romans 1:17).
4.”and know not“. I purposely singled this out because it so strongly speaks of being dead. Ecclesiastes 9:5 says,“…but the dead know not anything…”. These three words influence the narrative that this church isspiritually dead.
5.“art wretched”. I looked up this word in the dictionary. The definition of wretched is “Deeply afflicted, dejected, or distressed in body or mind. Extremely or deplorably bad or distressing, being or appearing mean, miserable, or contemptible, very poor in quality or ability, inferior and wretched in workmanship.
How can anyone not know they are in this condition? Because they are spiritually dead!
6. “miserable”. Again, I employed the dictionary. It defines being miserable as being in a pitiable state of distress or unhappiness (as from want or shame); Inadequate or meager, causing extreme discomfort, neglect and shame.
“The joy of the Lord is my strength”~ Nehemiah 8:10.
“These things have I spoken unto you that you my joy may be in you, and that your joy might be full”~ John 15:11. (See also Philippians 2:1-2, 1 Peter 1:8-9, Romans 14:7, just to name a few).
I feel well within my rights to say at this point that no TRULY born again Believer I have ever known has these horrible features. These are the distinct features of lost people… Unsaved people… Spiritually dead people.
I want to add right here that I am not advocating some delusion that Born Again Christians never suffer with things like sadness, grief, miseries, shame and all of what I just mentioned.
They are as human as ever and there are excruciating losses, illnesses, and destruction and devastating circumstances that cause these things, but that is not their character.
7.“poor“. Their poverty is spiritual. They say of themselves that they are increased with goods and have need of nothing. This is a spiritual darkness of unregeneration.
This is not something that can ever be said of saved people.
Born Again people always have a healthy ongoing lifetime of hunger and thirst for righteousness and truth. They are always in joyful need and they confess that “godliness with contentment is great gain.” ~ 1 Timothy 6:6-10.
8.“blind”. This is spiritual blindness. Listen to the orders given to Paul from the Lord, “...to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.”~ Acts 26:18.
9. “naked.” This is the one that is the tell all. The term “naked” is as spiritual as all the other features mentioned. Back in Genesis 3:8-10, we have the account of Adam and Eve after they sinned and were found naked. We know that the command of God was that they could eat any tree in the Garden of Eden they wanted except the one. This was the tree of knowledge of good and evil and “in the day that they would eat of it, they would surely die”.
Well, we know that they disobeyed God and obeyed Satan instead, and that day they died spiritually. Remember they hid from God because they were naked and ashamed.
The Laodicean Church was not only poor, blind, miserable and wretched, but it was spiritually naked. Their outward garments were doubtless the finest, and the latest fashions of their day. However, they were counseled to purchase of Christ the“White Raiment“in exchange for the“raven black woolen” garments for which the garment makers of Laodicea were famous.
No Born Again Believer is naked and ashamed because they are clothed upon in the righteousness, which is of Jesus Christ. (See Isaiah 61:10, Psalm 132:9, Revelation 3:4; and Revelation 19:8 at the Wedding Feast). Only the unredeemed are naked. They have not put on Christ …yet. If you were clothed upon with Christ, why would He ask you to purchase raiment you are already wearing?
“I counsel thee to buy from 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 eye salve, that thou mayest see”.
This verse is the first call of salvation. Already, saved people do not need to buy gold tried in the fire, which indicates faith tested in the common Christian life that increases a robust, full rounded, hearty, life in the Lord.
The second phase of salvation is the offer to clothe people, meaning the believing on the Lord Jesus Christ, and “receiving power to become the sons of God” (John 1:12), whereby the people are clothed upon with the righteousness of Christ.
He would not have to counsel the saved person to anoint their eyes with salve that they may see. This is the third phase of the process of salvation as the newly saved sinner “passes from death unto life”(1John 3:14).Their spiritual eyes are opened. They are made to see, to know, and to hear as newborn babes do the moment they are born.
Like the blind man who answered the Pharisee after Jesus gave him his eyesight.
“He answered and said, “…one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see”. ~ John 9:25.
Last of all and the most startling of the revelation is:
“As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. 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”.
In closing, for the first time in my life have I seen this chapter in blaring light. The whole address to the Laodicean Church is what I am feeling powerfully in my spirit. That it is the Lords last call commencing. Notice He is laying charges to the people of the Church of Laodicea, which coincides with today’s Church that can only be to the unsaved.
No Born Again Believer can be charged with any of these things, “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth”. ~ Romans 8:33, or be counseled from Jesus to buy from Him articles that are clearly for the unsaved. Jesus started out in the book of Ephesus, the first Church, walking “in the midst of the candlesticks”. Now He is standing on the outside of the Church knocking and trying to get in. He is not calling now for multitudes, but working individually; hence, “if any man hears His voice”.
This is written from my heart after days of processing and the unction of the Holy Spirit. This is not an attack on anyone who has been blessed with wealth. This is an in-depth look at whom Jesus is indicting, and charging with sin … the last days Church, our generation. He is calling and I can feel this call will not last much longer “as we see the Day approaching.”