Praise God! To God be the glory for another privilege to speak His Word into your life. Today, I want to bring you the concluding part of this series which I began some weeks past. I have already talked on some things that the Lord is looking for in a church that will get his commendation, but unfortunately, these things are not the things we emphasise in the church today. If you would like to know these things, which I talked about previously, please ask your vendor for the copies.
Meanwhile, I’ll like to continue what I was saying on the Laodicean church last week, which I couldn’t finish.
Hear what God said about the Laodicean church, a wealthy church that did not receive the Lord’s approval. “You say, ‘I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realise that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. So I advise you to buy gold from me—gold that has been purified by fire. Then you will be rich. Also buy white garments from me so you will not be shamed by your nakedness, and ointment for your eyes so you will be able to see. I correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference” (Rev 3:17-19 NLT).
The church today has never been, probably in history, as rich as she is, but the Lord never measures the spirituality of any church by her material wealth. The wealth or material poverty of any church is not an indication of God’s approval or otherwise of that church. You could see that the Laodicean church was rich and felt she needed nothing; she felt self-satisfied and comfortable. But the Lord described her as wretched and miserable, blind and naked! That was her true state despite what she said about herself or what onlookers said about her.
The Lord was calling her not to deceive herself by the material possessions she had and to come to Him for true spiritual treasures, righteousness and clear vision. That church needed to come to the Lord for the true spiritual treasures – gold that had been purified by fire – in place of the gold she possessed so that she could be truly rich. The Lord told her to come to him to buy white garments in place of the cloth from the black wool industry the city of Laodicea is known for so that she would not be ‘shamed’ by her nakedness. The city of Laodicea was also reputed for having eye ointment effective for the healing of eye problems, and the Lord told the Laodicean church to come to buy a superior ointment for her eyes so that she would be able to see (Verses 17-18). The Lord called that church to repentance, and he is calling the church today too to repentance. David said, “But for me, my contentment is not in wealth but in seeing you and knowing all is well between us. And when I awake in heaven, I will be fully satisfied, for I will see you face to face” (Ps 18:15 TLB). Our contentment should be in the Lord and not in material prosperity.
I want you to compare the Laodicean church with the Smyrna church in Rev 2:8-11. I deliberately skipped that church to talk about her now. The Laodicean church and the Smyrna church are just opposite. God said to the Smyrna church: “I know about your suffering and your poverty — but you are rich!” (Rev 2:9 NLT) The Smyrna church was materially poor, but the Lord proclaimed her rich. The Laodicean church said she was rich, but the Lord proclaimed her poor. So it is not what a church says she is, or what people say she is that is important, but what Heaven says she is. May you receive Heaven’s approval. May you not be deceived by people’s commendation.
Other than the church in Philadelphia, the church that had little strength but obeyed the Word of the Lord and did not deny him, the Smyrna church is the only church that God did not complain about. And God did not say so much about her. Even what God said about the church will not make the church attractive to you and me to join. Hear what the Lord said: “I know about your suffering and your poverty—but you are rich! I know the blasphemy of those opposing you. They say they are Jews, but they are not, because their synagogue belongs to Satan.
Don’t be afraid of what you are about to suffer. The devil will throw some of you into prison to test you. You will suffer for ten days. But if you remain faithful even when facing death, I will give you the crown of life. ‘Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. Whoever is victorious will not be harmed by the second death” (Rev 2:9-11 NLT). Would you want to be a member of that type of church? A church where there was suffering and poverty? But that church had Heaven’s approval.
The questions are: Are we going to set aside all those things we are celebrating in our churches and come to the Lord for the true riches? Are we going to open our hearts unto the Lord that he may come in? Are we going to minimise our emphasis on the fact that we hold five services or ten services in our churches on Sunday and let the Lord reveal to us the true state of our churches? Are we prepared to stop boasting about the size of our churches and the wealth of our churches and let the Lord do a thorough cleansing and revival in our churches? “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. Those who are victorious will sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat with my Father on his throne. ‘Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches” (Verses 20-22). The Lord is looking for a church that will be yielded to him and not a church that is celebrating herself; not a church that is worshipping her material possessions, neglecting the pursuit of true riches.
The Laodecian church was the last of the seven churches letters were written to in the Book of Revelation, and many believe that it represents that church of the last day – a lukewarm church which the Lord promised to spit out of his mouth. But it is significant that in that church there was a remnant which the Lord made perhaps the greatest promise to.
Jesus said he would make those victorious in that church to sit with him on his throne. “I will invite everyone who is victorious to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat with my Father on his throne” (Rev 3:21-22 NLT). What a promise! The Bible tells us that Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father (Rom 8:34, Col 3:1). What other place is better than sitting next to Jesus? Won’t you rather choose to be among these victorious saints? Will it not be better to be isolated, despised and criticised now by the lukewarm crowd in the church and gain a seat beside Jesus in the end?