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.
These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God.
Jesus is the Amen.
Verily, Verily, I say unto thee…
How many times did Jesus begin a statement by saying, “verily?” This is the same word as “Amen,” and it means “truly.” This is used to accentuate the truthfulness of the statement and the significance of the statement being made. In this letter to the Laodiceans, Jesus isn’t simply stating another one of His many “verily, verily” sayings; He is The Verily. Jesus is The Amen. How remarkable.
Of all those statements that Jesus made, He is the truth and driving force behind them. They are true because He said them, and He cannot lie. Jesus does not say, yes and no. His yes means yes. If He says something will be, then it will be. If we were to compile a list of all Jesus’s “verily” statements, with the gravity that they deserve as sayings put into the world by He who Is the Verily—He who Is the Word of God—how might this impact us? Below are many of them:
- Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing (Matthew 5:25-26).
- Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward (Matthew 6:2).
- And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city (Matthew 10:14-15).
- And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward (Matthew 10:42).
- For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them (Matthew 13:17).
- Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you (Matthew 17:19-20).
- And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:3).
- How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish (Matthew 18:12-14).
- Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven (Matthew 18:18).
- Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 19:23).
- And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Matthew 19:28).
- Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh (Matthew 25:11-13).
- And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me (Matthew 25:40).
- And as they did eat, he said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me (Matthew 26:21).
- Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme: But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation (Mark 3:27-29).
- And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life (Mark 10:29-30).
- And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country (Luke 4:24).
- Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate: and verily I say unto you, Ye shall not see me, until the time come when ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord (Luke 13:34-35).
- Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit (John 3:3-6).
- Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life (John 5:24).
- Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin (John 8:34).
- Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death (John 8:51).
- And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified.Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal (John 12:23-25).
- Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father (John14:12).
- And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you (John 16:23).
Jesus is the Faithful and True Witness.
“He shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears:But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth: with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.” [i]
Jesus teaches that we should not “judge according to the appearance but judge righteous judgment.” We can read about this in John 7. Some accused Jesus of having a devil because He said that they sought to kill Him. They were angry because He healed a man on the sabbath. Jesus reasoned that if circumcision could be done on the sabbath, then why not heal a man on the sabbath?
In addition to the above statement, Jesus said that He did not seek His own glory, but the glory of the One who sent Him. Therefore, He is true and there is no unrighteousness in Him. [ii]
This is one example of Jesus as the “faithful and true witness.” He judges righteously in that He does not judge according to what seems to be good in the eyes of man, but according to what is actually good. Moreover, He is faithful to the One who sent Him. Jesus consistently strove to seek the glory of His Father and not Himself. He stated that He could only do and say what the Father gave Him to do and say.
Mankind is prone to doing the opposite. We are prone to judging according to what we see and hear, and we judge prejudicially and with hypocrisy, and very often this is because we seek our own honor over that of another. The religious leaders of His day were outwardly righteous in the eyes of man, and they considered themselves to be above others.
They could not receive Jesus because they were full of themselves. They had to be superior, and anyone that challenged their authority was hated. They could not receive correction or instruction, and even a good deed was rendered evil in their sight because of their vehement hatred and envy. All they could see was the poor, carpenter’s son and the unlearned Galilean. Jesus was judged a blasphemer and as having a devil. They could not see who Jesus really was. They could not see the inner man, because they had superficial sight, and with superficiality they justified themselves while condemning others.
Jesus is the opposite. He does not care how great a person appears to be in the sight of others or in their own sight. He sees who a person really is. He can see beyond the flesh and into the spirit because He is born of the Spirit of God. He could judge rightly if He so chose. Yet, Jesus did not come to judge man:
The Pharisees therefore said unto him, Thou bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true. Jesus answered and said unto them, Though I bear record of myself, yet my record is true: for I know whence I came, and whither I go; but ye cannot tell whence I come, and whither I go. Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man. And yet if I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me (John 8:13-16).
It is truly remarkable that He who could righteously judge man chose to refrain from judgment. He did not come into the world to condemn man, but to save them because they were condemned already. Rather, He was a faithful witness of the Father as He who spoke the truth, not for His glory, but for the Father’s. Yet, one day Jesus will judge the earth because the Father has given all judgement to Him. As the righteous judge that He is, He will “reprove with equity for the meek of the earth.” He judges in favor of the humble who do not seem to be anything in the eyes of man, and He will slay the wicked with the truth of who they are.
We all deserve to be killed because of who we are. We are all sinners, yet He chooses to save some of us. When we put our faith in Him, it is His righteousness that we put our trust in. Not ours. It requires humility to know that our righteousness is not enough and never will be. We need Jesus, and we always need Him no matter how far we think we have come. After-all, all good things we have come from Him in the first place, and only He has the fullness of the Spirit of God.
There is always more for us to seek and gain. When He looks at us, He does not see an enemy that needs to be destroyed, but a child that needs to be raised in His will. This might mean discipline and consequences for our wrong doings. This includes trusting in the appearance of things, especially the appearance of our own righteousness or worldly gain.
There is another idea to consider. Jesus is also our Faithful and True Advocate to the Father. He claims us as His own, and what He testifies on our behalf is good. Though The Accuser and those who are of the same spirit often testify against us, they will not prevail because the testimony of Jesus and those who are of His Spirit are greater. If we need to be defended, then He will come to our defense by the Spirit of Truth within us. If we need to be killed, then He will raise us.
We do not need to worry about how we appear to others who judge according to appearances or in an otherwise unrighteous manner. We do not need to fear anyone. We will stand by one another in the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, and He has the final say. Below are some additional scriptures to consider that pertain to Jesus as the faithful and true witness:
- No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him (John 1:18).
- Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high (Hebrews 1:3).
- It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true. I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me. Then said they unto him, Where is thy Father? Jesus answered, Ye neither know me, nor my Father: if ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also (John 8:17-19).
- Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him (John 14:6-7).
- My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:1-2).
- Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven (Matthew 10:32-33).
Jesus is the Beginning of the Creation of God.
Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. [i]
What does it mean, “the beginning of the creation of God?” There is a dual meaning.
First, Jesus is the Creator, so it is by Him and from Him that all life originates. As written in John, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men.” [ii]
Secondly, Jesus is the “firstborn among many brethren” and the “first begotten of the dead.” He is the first Son of God and the first to overcome death. In Christ, we are promised resurrection from the dead and adoption as joint heirs and sons of the Kingdom of God.
These ideas fit together, and this is a remarkable, beautiful truth. The Creator, who is Jesus Christ, became man, died for man, rose again, and through faith in Him man is given eternal life. He will return to establish His Kingdom, and He will raise those who belong to Him at His coming.
All things pertaining to life come from Jesus—He who experienced death on our behalf, so that we who were dead in sin can live. It is He who orchestrates all things that pertain to our salvation. Faith is given to us by God as an act of grace and mercy. Through faith, the sacrifice of Jesus cleanses us of all sin.
We also receive faith in the truthfulness of what Jesus teaches and the importance of aiming our lives accordingly. We receive faith in the promise to send the Holy Spirit who makes the truth known to us, gifts us in the things of the Spirit, and writes the new nature of Christ into our hearts. We receive faith that despite our failings, we are not seen as sinners, but as saints. Therefore, we can be honest about our sins, approach God for mercy, and seek the Spirit in faith to help us overcome sin in the flesh as we learn to walk better in the Spirit.
Through faith, we know that despite how the world hates those who are of the Spirit of God, and though they might accuse, slander, harm, or kill us, Jesus is on our side. He will defend us if we need to be defended, He will raise us from the dead, and He will avenge us. With this faith, we can work towards walking blamelessly in this corrupt world, not repaying evil for evil, but speaking the truth in the right spirit.
This high calling is impossible with man, but with God, all things are possible. We do not want to bring shame to Jesus, and this often means enduring much shame without avenging ourselves. We do not need to worry about how we appear, and we do not need to set the record of ourselves straight, because the record that matters is the Book of Life wherein we are named by He who is Life. It is He who we defend, not ourselves, as we get to know Him and make Jesus known to others.
All of this is accomplished by Jesus—the Creator who creates in us a new nature that can live with Him forever—a new nature that we do not fully see. Yet, we know that “it does not yet appear what we will be, but when He appears we will be as He is.” [iii] There is always more change of nature to seek, and it is good that we should, because as we see that nature formed, we also see Jesus. Who is more worth knowing? In knowing Jesus in the truest sense as we become as He is, we are made free from a corruptible nature and made into the divine nature—into sons of God.
Below are additional scriptures pertaining to Jesus as both the Creator and the firstborn among the brethren in Christ:
- For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren (Romans 8:29).
- And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood (Revelation 1:5).
- In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.The same was in the beginning with God.All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made (John 1:1-3).
- That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God (John 1:9-13).
- But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him (1 Corinthians 8:6).
Jesus is the Amen, the faithful witness of the Father to man, and the faithful witness of man to the Father. By Him, all things are made, and through faith in Him, we are created again new as sons of God. What is His faithful testimony of the Laodiceans, and what can we consider that might help us grow in the faith? Let us do our best to consider.
“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; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.”
Jesus knows their works, and He deems them completely repulsive. What are their works, and why are they unpalatable to Him? Whether we are considering an actual church, Christian individuals—or preferably ourselves—we can consider works to be anything done in the Name of Jesus. Though His sacrifice pays for our sins and there is no sacrifice that we can add to remove our debt to Him, we are supposed to offer ourselves to the Lord because this is our reasonable service and the response of true faith. This could include Christian sermons, Christian music and other forms of media, or most importantly, the manner in which a Christian conducts their life.
Jesus describes their works as “neither cold nor hot,” but instead they are “lukewarm.” As such, they are not sacrifices that He deems acceptable. How does this apply? They do not openly oppose the gospel or reject the faith of Jesus Christ, nor do they completely embrace it with fervent dedication. In many ways, they are simply going through the motions. They occupy a somewhat safe middle ground that does not create any controversy. Nice and tepid. The comfortable church or Christian is not overly zealous, so they cannot be overly offensive to the cold or the hot. They do not overly trouble the unbelievers, nor do they oppose Christ to such an extent as to deny the faith.
Jesus would rather that they were cold or hot.
If they were cold, or completely opposed to Christ, then it would be clear that they did not serve Jesus. An avid atheist is not mistaken for a believer, so they are easier to spot and less dangerous in many ways than one who retains an heir of Christianity but without real dedication. Such lukewarmness can be dangerous to those who are new to the faith or weak in the faith because they pull many into the same, half-hearted comfort zone.
Such as these are also likely to bring disgrace to Jesus and His servants. “If this is what being a Christian is about, then I don’t want it” is a common reaction caused by lukewarm believers whose pretense and lack of real dedication leads to hypocrisy, sloppy doctrine, and lack of any serious conviction towards a life that brings the good things of God to others.
If they were hot, or fervently affected by the things of Jesus and His gospel, then it would be clear that they serve Him. They could not be mistaken for an unbeliever, because they strive to do their upmost for God as one who grows in their ability, by the grace of God, to “do all things as unto the Lord” [i] and to “love the Lord, thy God with all thy heart, soul, and mind.”
“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.”
There are few Christians or churches as prosperous as those who “serve God and mammon.” By occupying the safe and soothing middle ground of lukewarm dedication to the truth of Jesus Christ, they are greatly enriched. This can include actual material wealth, but not exclusively. This can also include a wealthy reputation. People have a generally favorable opinion of them, and they have a glowing opinion of themselves. They might even believe that God has blessed them, thinking themselves to be exemplars of the faith that others should revere and look up to.
Through the blindness of their pride, they consider themselves to have all that they need, both materially and spiritually. However, Jesus, who is the “faithful and true witness” can see what they really are: wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.
They are not so saintly as they seem, nor are they as blessed and full of joy as they pretend to be. Within their hidden lives, out of the view of others, they are hateful and miserable. They might have material security and wealth but are not rich in the things that truly matter: the riches of the Kingdom of Heaven, and they cannot seem to see their lack.
Though they dress fancifully, which we can consider in the literal and in the spirit as one who is cloaked with the pretense of holiness that is outward but not sincere, Jesus says that they are naked. They are not clothed with His righteousness, but with their own, which do not even compare to “filthy rags,” [i] but are far worse. At least filthy rags offer some clothing, but instead they are totally exposed: exposed to Him who can see what is really going on, and who will judge it for what it is.
“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.”
Gold tried in the fire. What is this gold? This is the life of Jesus Christ. These are His works, which when put to the test, are as pure as gold. Consider all that Jesus endured, and without sin. Compare this to ourselves, who with the least provocation can become spiteful, covetous, proud, or liars, to name a few. His life was tried more than any man could be tried. He was the Son of God, yet He was humble. He was hated vehemently, yet He loved. He was opposed by religious authorities, yet He spoke the truth. He was killed, yet He remained faithful to the Father. Truly, His life and His sacrifice are pure as gold, and He offers this to us freely.
Instead of being ambitious in this world and through wealth and popularity “buy” the goodwill of man, we should “buy” of Christ so that we can obtain the goodwill of God. The truth is, we cannot buy it. However, if it could be bought, then we should count what Jesus offers as that “pearl of great price that once found, a person would sell all that they have to buy that pearl.” [i] Such is the Kingdom of God, and we only obtain this precious treasure from Him. Through faith in Him, we experience the true riches of His kingdom as the “beginning of the creation of God” works within our hearts, giving us a new nature that is free from the slavery of this world. Through faith in Him, we will be “born again” at His coming, renewed fully and adopted as the sons of God.
Wait raiment. These are the robes of righteousness that are given to the saints of God—the righteousness of Christ that we wear to cover our sins. We are never good enough to stand before God on our own. Without the righteousness of Christ, we are naked, and all of our sins are fully exposed. We cannot fashion clothing for ourselves. We cannot perform enough good deeds to make up for our sin. We all need Him, because without His sacrifice our sins remain and we have nothing coming to us but the just punishment, which is death.
Anointing eye salve. Salve is a healing ointment, and with this ointment, the blind can see. Nothing blinds quite like pride, and through pride, we can easily see ourselves and others in an unrighteous manner. We can see ourselves as righteous, and all the while we embrace sinfulness and decadence. We can see ourselves as holy, and all the while we despise our fellow servants and mankind in general.
Sinners cannot see God, and there are no sinners more hopelessly blind than those who think that they are righteous while they despise the things of God and despise others. If our gold is of Him and our righteousness of Him, then we can see Jesus. We can get to know who He really is, and we can see our great need for Him. We can learn to see others with a kinder eye as well, not as those who flatter and ignore sin to gain the gold and favor of this world, but as those who understand their own depravity were it not for the mercy of God found in Jesus Christ.
“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.”
If those who as the Laodiceans do not become serious about the things of Jesus Christ and His gospel, then He will rebuke and chasten them. This is a good sign because it means that Jesus still considers them to be His sons. As the author of Hebrews wrote, God chastens every son that He loves. If no chastening is given, then we are not sons.
How will He chasten them? This can take many forms. This can mean rebuke in spirit that brings the heart of the believer down so that they might seek the Lord. This can mean loss of the things that they trust in more than God. This can mean humiliation as they are exposed for having fallen into a state of lukewarmness, leading to false appearances of righteousness. Whatever form this might take, the result will not fail for those who truly belong to Jesus. He will complete His work in the children of God, even if that work means painful experiences for the believer.
Rather than suffer chastisement, it would be better if the believer would listen to what Jesus has to say. He “stands at the door.” He wants to talk to us, but we need to listen.
We cannot hear Him if our ears are dulled by the undeserved praise of this world. We cannot hear Him if we are listening for opportunities to tear others down so that we can feel superior. We cannot hear Him if we are listening to the wisdom of this world that is foolish to God, telling us that we must do as the world does and prosper thereby. We can not hear Him when the enemy of our soul is clouding our mind with intrusive thoughts of blasphemy, accusations, vanities, envies, murders, and covetousness. The enemy indeed sends loud, raving waters after us. Thanks be to God that if we seek Jesus in faith and with honesty, He will say to those waters, “peace, be still” so that we can hear Him by the Spirit given to us.
“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. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”
If we hear Jesus and strive to commune with Him, then He will lead us and there is no further need for chastisement. Rather, we have assured victory in Christ. What should sitting in the throne with Jesus represent for us? Should this represent power and control over others? Perhaps in His Kingdom. We will reign with Him. What does it mean to reign? Does not Satan also have this desire, and more?
Satan does not want to share Jesus’s throne. He wants it all for himself and by his own strength. We who overcome Satan, by the power of Jesus only, will indeed have authority. However, this should first be a desire to be in authority over ourselves.
Through faith in Jesus, and by His strength, we can grow in our ability to control our sinful desires and bring ourselves into greater submission to Christ. The greater we submit to Him, the better we can serve Him. As Jesus said, “the greatest among you will be your servant.” [i] Unlike Satan whose rule is one of tyranny that seeks his own pleasure and glorification, our throne is service to God and man through submission to Christ for His glory and good pleasure. Our desire is for Him: to know who He is, to be where He is, and to serve Him faithfully all the days of our life—which if we are in Christ—are days innumerable.
Concern For Present-Day Ministers of Jesus
There are many forms of Christian ministry. Some are pastors or preachers. Some make music, books, or other forms of media and Christian entertainment. Some care for the poor, provide counseling for fellow believers, and others look for opportunities to offer a helping hand in times of need or emotional turmoil. There are many servants in Christ who are serious about giving their all, even if their all seems small, like the poor widow woman. However, there are also many who do much, but what they do is lack-luster at best. There is no shortage of examples, but there are some we might consider and we can trust the Spirit to stir the heart of any who need to be refreshed.
For one, it is concerning to hear Christian sermons that sound overly rehearsed and without heart. If the preacher is not excited to share the things of God, how can those who hear him become excited? It must be a difficult job to be a paster or teacher, and it might be understandable to go through times when you feel very excited and times when motivation to serve wears thin. However, we must remember to do “all things as unto the Lord,” and if we lack the zeal, then we can always turn to Him with honesty and ask that He renew our eagerness. There are many things that can cause the fire in our hearts to die down, and Jesus knows this. Remember, we serve He of whom it is written, “a smoking flax shall he not quench.” He will renew our strength of heart and mind if we sincerely love Him.
It is also concerning to hear Christian sermons that are watered down to avoid any offense. Sometimes the truth is going to be offensive, and all the more as our world embraces wickedness, lies, and displays a vehement hatred of the truth and of Christian values. It would be better to have our church or other ministry shut down for speaking the truth with honesty and conviction than it would to soften the message or dance around important issues just to keep our ministries afloat. We need to trust in Jesus, and remember that we serve Him. If He needs us to do something, then we will. No one can stop those who are truly in His service until that service is done. We do not cower, but instead we stand brave with Christ. Remember Caleb and Joshua. Barack and Deborah. David. Daniel. Shadrack, Meshach, and Abednego, and all the prophets and apostles.
Those who are the called of God in Jesus Christ will not fail. He will renew our strength and our desire for giving Him our all. Let us always seek, find, and grow because this world is full of challenges and so long as we are alive, we must be ready to meet them—with Jesus on our side—because if He is with us, then who can be against us?
However, it is true that many within the faith are not truly of the faith. Rather, they use Christianity to enrich themselves. Those who preach the prosperity gospel, in all its forms, should beg Jesus for forgiveness. Instead of teaching this accursed false gospel, they should return to the true gospel—a gospel that makes us rich in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Many use the faith to prosper without directly preaching a prosperity gospel, especially within the Christian entertainment industry. Modern Christian music can be nauseating for the sincere Christian. Upbeat tunes with a superficial trope of Christianity laced with popular Christian scriptures and buzz words—but without any significant meaning, praise, reverence of God, or calling to repentance—are not acceptable to God.
Modern Christian television and movies have their place, but many of them are so void of any edifying substance that they do more harm to the faith than good. Just as with the music, the one consuming this tepid content might deceive themselves into thinking themselves religious when in reality they are merely entertained, emotionally charged but not according to the Spirit, and filled with a superficial sort of faith that cannot endure any hardship for the sake of Christ.
Whatever we do—whether we speak, write, make music, create, give, counsel, help, heal—we should consider those who are being affected by what we do. Are we building strong and faithful Christians, or are we merely entertaining them, filling them with false religion, or making a show in faith and prospering thereby? Are we serving God or mammon? Many serve mammon, and they will be chastised at best—and at worst they are totally rejected by God because they were not of the faith in the first place.
Concern For Christian Brethren Generally
How does one simply decide to be zealous about the things of God that pertain to Jesus and His gospel? Truly, the grace of God works all things in us—including chastening when it is necessary. When we belong to Jesus, but our heart is going after this world, He might allow this world to hurt us so that we will realize how much better He is.
The things that Jesus has to offer are far more precious and meaningful than all the riches of this world. However, it would be better if we could avoid chastening and instead turn to Jesus who is already there standing at the door. If we come to Him and repent of our love of this world, then there is no need for us to be chastened.
The real trouble is when a worldly Christianity is the norm—a Christianity that claims that a person can love the world and love Jesus too. Jesus teaches us that “you cannot serve God and mammon (worldly riches).” When serving God and mammon are not only commonplace, but praised, how can one come out of the mindset of the Laodiceans? As Jesus stated, they do not see their true state. They think that they have all that they need. Something would have to open their eyes to how “wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked” they are.
Maybe some would find this out without chastening. However, it seems to be unlikely depending on how deep their love of this world goes. It is good to know that God chastens every son that He loves. I believe that the real challenge for the Laodiceans is learning how to bear that chastening in faith. We have to trust in God and not this world. We have to turn to Jesus more fully, become zealous about Him, and form a real relationship with Him. If we continue in the faith despite the challenges that come as the things that we have loved and trusted in are removed from us, then we will overcome.
As we overcome, we are given something more precious than all the vain things of this world: a close relationship with Jesus. Sitting with Him in His throne is not just about power or authority, though He can give both as He deems. What really matters is the closeness to Christ Himself. He is the real inheritance of the children of God—and we too become sons of God through Him.
We must overcome this world and a love of it, and this is hard when we have many things in this world to distract us and seduce us away from Jesus. However, it does not matter how well off we are financially, if we do not have Jesus truly, then we truly do not have anything—and there is always more of Him that we need.
We might have a relationship with Jesus, but we should never become lukewarm about Him. We always need more. There is more of Him to learn, more of Him to be formed in us, and more that He would have us to do as His servants in this world. We cannot consider ourselves rich in Him overmuch either, or we might find ourselves growing stagnant.
If we have riches in the Spirit as we learn of Jesus and are gifted by Him, then we should remain humble before Him, always knowing that anything we have comes from Him, and we always need more. We all fall short of His perfection. Only His blood perfects us, but having received His sacrifice, we should be serious about Him and find out what He would have us to do with all that He died to provide for us.
Jesus must come first in all things, and it seems that the more He comes first—especially in a Laodicean world—the less we might have in this world financially and socially. However, nothing that we lose here compares to what we have to gain in Him! We cannot be like Lot’s wife. Do not look back at this dying world. Look to Jesus. Even when this world seems to be closing in; if we call out to Jesus in humility, honesty, and faith, He will give us strength and guidance to overcome the deceitfulness of riches, the seduction of sin, and the false securities of this world.
Jesus is not someone to be half-hearted towards. He is the truth. He is the faithful and true witness of the Father to man, and He is the beginning of all creation. His word formed all things, and it is by His sacrifice and resurrection that we are formed into sons of God who will live forever. Yet, despite who He is, many do not pursue Him as they should. They consider themselves to have everything that they need already. There are two ways that I consider the richness of the Laodiceans.
First, there is literal richness. They are financially prosperous and therefore satisfied with their lives. They do not think that they need anything because they only view need in terms of this world. If they have money, houses, cars, and other possessions, then there is nothing else to be concerned about.
Next, there is spiritual richness. Jesus teaches, “blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs in the kingdom of heaven.” A person who is rich in spirit is a person who is full of themselves. They are satisfied with who they are. They like who they are, and they see no reason to change a thing.
Whether a person is rich in possessions or rich in self, there is hazard that Jesus is addressing. They do not see how much they lack. Jesus once said that it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Yet, with God, all things all possible. With God, chastening is also possible—and necessary—if our hearts have become Laodicean-like in nature.
As Christians, we do not want to be overly satisfied with this world or with ourselves—especially not to the extent that we stop feeling our desperate need for Jesus.
Riches in this world are temporary and they do not make us rich towards God. We need to keep seeking Jesus because He is worthy to be sought after. He is worthy of our loyalty, devotion, and service. If we seek Him and want to live as He would have us, then He will bless us in the things of the Kingdom which are far greater than all the wealth in the world.
Similarity, being content with ourselves does not make us a good person. We need to keep seeking Jesus and looking to Him as the example that we are to follow. In so doing, we will see how much we lack. There is always room to grow in understanding of the things of God, in righteousness that performs the good things of God, and in growing our fellow servants in Christ.
We are never good enough to stop improving, not so long as we are in this flesh. If we keep seeking, we will keep growing—and it’s amazing to know that there is always more. There is no reason to become stale or stagnant in our faith or in our pursuit of being transformed into the likeness of Christ.
The gold that we want is not gold in this world, but the gold of real faith that is made pure by a life of trials and difficulties. A life of ease and prosperity rarely leads to strong faith. If necessary, the Father will remove our prosperity and love of self. He will put us through the fire to purify our faith and make it stronger.
Or we can buy this gold from Him—gold that Christ Himself forged through the fires of His own affliction. He will give us faith in Him as He had in the Father. We just need to seek Him and keep asking for it. We can also buy from Him the white robes of salvation that makes us truly clean in the eyes of God. Only He can provide this for us.
We are never going to be good enough so we should never be satisfied with ourselves apart from the work of Jesus on the cross and His power in us to renew our minds and hearts. We need to see what really matters and covet Him and His kingdom instead of the things of this world. Jesus compared His kingdom to a pearl of great price, that once found, a person would sell all that he had just to get that pearl. We need to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.”
We should be zealous for the things of God as given by the gospel of the kingdom of Jesus Christ and less zealous for this world and for our desire to be satisfied with ourselves. If we find ourselves too consumed by this world and ourselves—and if we are the children of God—then we will be chastised because the Father chastens every son that He loves.
Jesus is always there, and His word is always going out. The scriptures are always speaking, and the Spirit is always at work. Jesus is near, and if we look for Him and pursue Him then He will come into us in spirit. He will feed us with His good and everlasting word—the word that satisfies more than all the wealth of the worlds and the only word that can make sinful man right before God and created again new as sons of God.
The things that Jesus has to offer are far better than anything we can imagine. We are inheriting eternal life as sons of God and Jesus grants authority to those who overcome in Him. Jesus said, “in the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world.” We can overcome because He overcame first, and “He that is in you is stronger than he that is in the world.”
What does it mean to sit with Jesus in His throne? For one, this is a close relationship with Jesus. That is the real treasure. He is not far off. He is right with us, and we are right with Him. We are working together with Him as servants and sons. We are of the same mind and same purpose, and therefore we are granted authority to bring His kingdom about in this world an in the age to come. In the age to come, we also have authority as “kings and priests to God and to the Lamb.”
What might that kingdom be like? Based on this letter alone, we might question what Jesus values in His kingdom. Does He want a kingdom of worldly pleasure and gain? Will we simply sit around and enjoy a rich life and revel in the glory of our resurrected bodies?
Or will we keep seeking Jesus? Will we keep serving Him? Will He have things for us to do that build His kingdom, serve His people, and further grow us into better sons? There is more for us after the resurrection, and it does not involve a life of worldly pleasure and self-gratification. However, what it does involve is far better—even better than we can imagine.
“The eye has not seen, nor the ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man, all that God has prepared for us.”
Additional Scriptures when Considering the Letter to the Church of the Laodiceans
- Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.
Furthermore, we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live. For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.
Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees;And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed (Hebrews 12: 4-13).
- Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!
No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon (Matthew 6: 19-24).
- The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.
But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God (Matthew 19:20-24).
[i] Matthew 23:11
[i] Matthew 13
[i] Isaiah 64:6
[i] Colossians 3:2
[i] Colossians 1:15-18
[ii] John 1:1-4
[iii] 1 John 3:2
[i] Isaiah 11:3-5
[ii] John 7
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