1. The Role and Purpose of Church
For more information on the subject of this study, please see Zeal without Knowledge in Romans 10:1-4 - Truth, Faith, and Application.
The whole purpose of meeting and assembling in a church, as spoken in Hebrews 10:25, is to receive in-depth Bible teaching and mutual encouragement from our brothers and sisters in Christ, helping us grow spiritually and prepare for our ministry work. Once prepared, we will then be ready to help other believers do likewise. Without hearing and receiving good substantive Bible teaching, our spiritual life will suffer. Pleasing the Lord the most requires the believer to find a place to grow spiritually. Today, most churches do not fulfill the purpose the Bible intends. Most sermons and meetings lack context because they contain too many stories, illustrations, music, and entertainment. As a result, far too much motivational speaking with very little sound exegesis occurs. A good pastor must “pature” his flock by feeding them the Word of God, not giving motivational speeches. The truth must first be discerned and then taught. And whatever the pastor teaches, there must be consistency in the soundness of his teaching. Far too often today, most churches and ministries have one foot in and one foot out—inconsistency resulting in little spiritual growth, both for those teaching and listening.
The main problem with most churches today is the attitude behind them that results in so much misinterpretation and misapplication on so many teachings and issues. However, so many of the things the majority of believers get wrong are only the results that stem from the actual source of a general lukewarm indifference to the truth. Simply put, the church (referring to most believers worldwide) is not fulfilling its role and is far from what it it was meant to be. Sadly, almost all 2,000 years of the churches history (ever since the apostle John’s death) have been in a pretty abysmal state. If the apostles were alive today, they would be in shock. That is not to say, of course, there is no teaching in any churches today whatsoever and that there is zero percent growth. Instead, the church’s standards are not nearly high enough due to a lukewarm attitude that believes they are spiritually stable and don’t need to change. Does this mean all believers are lukewarm in that there aren’t some who are doing what they should be doing? Not at all, but our Lord’s message in Revelation 3:14-22 does reveal that this is the case for most Christians (and the churches they attend) because He refers to the the “church” (generally speaking) as lukewarm. If most believers and churches were not in this spiritual state, then the Lord would have never spoken this message.
15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!
And it is this lukewarm spiritual state, or attitude (the one we see in the passage above), which the Lord hates the most because believers in this category are less likely to change their approach toward God and therefore obey Him. In essence, they fool themselves with this mentality, and it is often challenging to try and change anyone when they think they do not need to change.
False teaching also plays heavily into this, and it comes from a complacent attitude toward God’s Word. In Laodicea’s case, the damage of false teaching has taken its’ toll because it has convinced many that the lie is the truth and the truth is the lie. In today’s era of believers, trying to persuade them that their attitude is wrong, followed by many of their false beliefs, is an arduous task, though it is not our job to try and force the truth on anyone. Change is difficult for people like this as they do not want to believe that they are/were wrong. Mark Twain’s wise and famous saying is quite applicable here.
It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.
3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires,
1.1 Focus and Reflection
So a few questions that I would have to ask many of today’s believers. “Is it better to be red hot or lukewarm? Is it better to follow the Lord wherever He leads and do what He would have us do, or to follow the opinions of men? Is it better to put ourselves in a place where spiritual growth and ministry are going to suffer, or to put ourselves in a position where we can thrive and live our best for the Lord?” I could go on with many more questions, but it is better to cut through the fat and get right to the beef and start explaining why I ask all this. To help in understanding Revelation 3:14-22 better, we will briefly examine it below.
Truth is not given or warranted based on intellect or education, but the Lord gives and rewards it to those who simply desire and seek it. If you give your heart to the Lord, He will reward every effort you make in searching for answers (Matthew 7:7). There are no maybes in any of this, all guarantees. What really matters is a believers attitude toward God and whether they really want to live for Him or not.
Of course, it is true that we should strive for more knowledge of the truth contained in the Bible. But ultimately, this life we live is all about faith. However, faith is based on the truth and what we do with it will determine where we go in our spiritual journey. Ultimately, having lots of knowledge but making little use of it is not living the Christian life properly (our Lord calls us to obedient holiness). We must understand that having lots of knowledge does not make one a “red hot” believer unless it is actually applied (and there is a continuous hunger for more). Having faith in some information can move mountains (Matthew 17:20). But it is that hunger and desire to continually and consistently increase our knowledge of the truth and apply it through faith which determines whether we are on fire for God. The problem with most believers today (based on our Lord’s evaluation) is that this is not the case because most are content to stay put right where they are. There is a very “unenthusiastic” response in the modern church to what the Lord is calling it to because the distractions of this world have hindered her progress going forward (something most Christians have made allowance for through their own choices).
We should never make it our business to judge individual believers (are they really serious or not) because that is the Lord’s job. We can only speak about what the Bible tells us, which means that we are responsible to understand, take to heart and teach the truth it does reveal. Revelation 3:14-22 confirms that most believers today are lukewarm. That is a general righteous judgement, but one that doesn’t speak for every individual (since there will always be a handful remnant of Christians who are doing what they should be doing). Nevertheless, the Bible teaches that most believers today are not on fire for God. Since this is the case, there is an obligation and an urgency to “get the message out” so that the great test of the tribulation to come will not result in more consequences than it should. Unfortunately, this sad trend we see in the church today will result in a whole third of the church turning away from the faith to follow the antichrist by taking his mark (all while betraying their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ). We will elaborate on that further below.
Now, to explain the passage that shows where I am going with all this.
To the Church in Laodicea
14 “To the angel of the Church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. 15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. 19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. 20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. 21 To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
I will not attempt to explain the above passage in detail but will describe its central message.
2. Laodicea: What it is
To know Laodicea, we need to understand what it is. Laodicea has a dual meaning, in a sense. It was indeed a physical location/church during the apostles’ time known for its great wealth, but here in Revelation, it is something different used to describe something yet future at that time of writing, but now present in our day. As do all the seven churches mentioned in these passages of Revelation, Laodicea represents an era of time (which began many years ago), the final period of the 2,000 years of church history that will have existed when the church age has run its course. These churches are in Revelation for a reason, and we have to read them in the context. Taking them out of context has led to far too many misinterpretations of what they mean and represent. We will not discuss the other church eras, as we want to stay on target and get to the point. Laodicea is the current and final era of the church, and we presently live in it today. So why does the Lord say what He says in this passage?
First, the Lord addresses believers here, not unbelievers, as His words regarding rebuke and discipline are not words He would direct toward unbelievers. Rebuke and chastisement are only for believers, that is, the Lord’s children. Just as parents discipline their children when they need correction, so too here the Lord is doing with those who belong to Him, and that is Him dealing with His own family. Punishment and judgment are for unbelievers; discipline is for believers.
12 because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.
There is then the phrase “those whom I love.” Of course, the Lord loves everyone; unbelievers included; He died for the sins of every person that would ever live after all. But here specifically, our Lord addresses a more personal love with His family, whom He holds very close and dear to Himself. We should love everyone, but our love and concern for God’s family should come first before our love for unbelievers, though we still love everyone regardless. So because our Lord loves His family, especially so, He will handle them with devotion to help refine and strengthen them. However, for those who do not believe, He cannot treat in such a manner. Only judgment and condemnation await them, that is unless they put their faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
Alright, so we understand what Laodicea is and who it is addressing. Now we can proceed to comprehend this message the Lord is directing toward His children. It is crucial and cannot be missed, especially in the days we live in now!
2.1 The Problem
The Lord knows the hearts of all men, and their attitudes dictate their actions with their choices to better pursue sanctification. Nothing remains hidden from the Lord; He sees everything we think, say, and do. Our attitudes determine how well we will serve our master. As human beings, we have been left with a choice to either choose for or against God. For those who desire Him and hold to that choice, He promises eternal life and those who choose against Him, eternal separation forever and ever.
10 I, the Lord, search the heart, test the mind, Even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings.
Getting back to our main discussion, we will now continue explaining our passage. So these people in question are believers, no doubting that. But is being saved enough? The answer is no. After we get saved, we are here on this earth to grow spiritually and use our spiritual gifts in the ministries the Lord is calling us to. The Lord did not call us to sit around or be complacent about our lives and His Word; He wants us to be on fire for Him and love Him as much as lies in us.
Sadly, the above is not what most believers are doing today. Many get saved, progress perhaps a little, but don’t go much further. Or some do well with the basics, have a good prayer life, get in their Bibles every day, go to church and share their spiritual ideas and passions with others. However, this does not equate to being red hot for the Lord if there is no desire to seek a place where the Word of God is taught seriously (most churches don’t have enough good spiritual nutrition to get a believer very far).
Most churches are lukewarm because the primary reason is their mindset toward the truth of God’s Word. Thus, very few teach Scripture in-depth or seriously, and believers suffer spiritual malnutrition as a result. This attitude produces many false teachings and spiritual malnourishment, making half-hearted believers. The consequences of this produce a terrible chain reaction that renders most unprepared to grow and minister the way our Lord would have them. Not only that, but it puts their faith at risk for the tribulation that is to come (for those who will be alive when those days arrive).
2.2 The Solution
The solution for most believers is to become zealous and repent. But there is a problem. The Lord confirms to them their attitude, “I am rich, I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.” When a person believes their mentality and approach to life is correct and acceptable when, in reality, it is not, then changing will be very difficult. What is worse is that they pass this mindset onto others, showing in our churches today.
Today’s church has far more than believers of the past. More physical wealth has deceived many into thinking that because they are rich, they must be spiritually wealthy. But they are not, and that is where they deceive themselves as our Lord confirms, “you do not realize that you are wretched, poor, pitiful, blind, and naked.” Material riches do not equate to good spiritual health, as many in this age claim that they have great physical abundance because the Lord has blessed them for their faithfulness toward Him, but that is not necessarily the case. Nor is it that those who are materialistically poor are spiritually rich either per se. The whole point in the context of the passage is that God does not care what we do or do not have materially but rather what we have spiritually, zeal, passion, and therefore great love for Him, which is what the Lord wants to see from us. It is our faith in the treasures that we have in our hearts that truly mean anything in the Lord’s eyes. But because those riches of God’s Word are not sufficiently stored up in the hearts of most believers today because very few are walking in faith as they should, then this can only be a result of a lack of love for the truth generally speaking, limiting a person’s spiritual progress and production. It hinders their main objective here on earth, for the great deception that many in the church want to believe is that they are spiritually rich. But our Lord tells us that is not the case.
11 I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Handling our love for the Lord the way we should require us to handle His truth the way we should, as our love for God and our love for His Word are inseparable, and they both go hand in hand. In the days that we live in, we believers have far more time and resources than ever before to learn the truths contained in Scripture. And yet, despite “being rich” in resources for further study and advancement in the Word, we do not take advantage of all that the Lord has allowed us to have, not because we can’t, but because we choose not to. And this explains our Lord’s evaluation of Laodicea, the current era of the church we live in now.
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.
21 He replied, “My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.”
16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,
4 For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
2.3 The Lord’s Response
And so, because of this half-hearted attitude, the Lord tells us He will “vomit us out of His mouth,” and where we land will be right into the tribulation, the most horrific time the earth will have ever seen. There is no pre-tribulation rapture! Something has to occur to get believers to wake up from their spiritual drowsiness; discipline. If most believers were red hot, chastisement would not be necessary, and the church wouldn’t have to go through the tribulation as a form of testing and discipline.
However, I must clarify that all the judgments spoken of in Revelation (trumpet, bowl, thunder judgments etc.) will not be directed toward believers but unbelievers only. That is to say, the harm of many if not all of the plagues and judgments to occur during the tribulation will not affect believers directly because God will only unleash His anger on the unbelieving world and not His own children who hold fast to Him in faith.
So, as but only three examples, the darkness, stinging locusts (the locusts will not touch believers), and sores prophesied to strike the world will not come upon the church (they will not touch or harm them) because all Christians will have the seal of the mark of their God on their foreheads.
1 The fifth angel sounded his trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen from the sky to the earth. The star was given the key to the shaft of the Abyss. 2 When he opened the Abyss, smoke rose from it like the smoke from a gigantic furnace. The sun and sky were darkened by the smoke from the Abyss. 3 And out of the smoke locusts came down on the earth and were given power like that of scorpions of the earth. 4 They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any plant or tree, but only those people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads.
One of the biggest reasons many wish to see a pre-tribulation rapture in Scripture is because God will be reigning down afflicting judgments upon the world during that time. “God is judging the earth, so how can believers be present during that period?” Therefore, many take this to mean that God will also afflict His own in such terrible and painful ways (something they believe He would never do). However, we need to distinguish between God’s wrath against unbelieving humanity on the one hand and His chastisement of His children on the other (those I love, I discipline). Believers during the tribulation will be spared the direct effects of the judgments to come in the final days. Does this mean they won’t suffer any of the indirect effects (aftershocks) of the judgments? No, but the worst will only come to those who have rejected Jesus Christ.
Just as how He spared Israel from all the direct effects of the ten plagues in Egypt, so our Lord will also do for His church during the Tribulation.
22 So Moses stretched out his hand toward heaven, and there was pitch darkness in all the land of Egypt three days. 23 They did not see one another, nor did anyone rise from his place for three days, but all the people of Israel had light where they lived.
Believers will have their own fair share of suffering to deal with, such as the great persecution that the Beast will instigate against them in the second half of the Tribulation (Revelation 13:7-10). Those dark days will be difficult enough to “get the message through” to believers to quit acting like spiritual infants and wake up. All the trials and difficulties Christians will face during that time will be enough discipline to elicit a response of either continued allegiance to Christ or betrayal and commitment to the Antichrist. The church must be tested and disciplined for its spiritual apathy in order to distinguish the truly committed from the unfaithful. Many will fall away but most will endure in their faith to the end (Matthew 24:10-13).
2.4 The three categories, dead, lukewarm, and red hot
If the church was cold (think of the era of Sardis as an example Revelation 3:1-6) it would be in spiritual peril (dead) but more likely to see its own spiritual condition and need for help, leading to repentance. If it were red hot, then most believers would be on fire for God. But since most Christians are lukewarm and complacent toward the Christian life and much of the truth needed to live it , they are not walking as they should. Because of this, many of today’s believers are at risk of spiritual peril. Being lukewarm is the same as being in a complacent state, a chosen condition in which said person does not think they need to change (they are fine spiritually and don’t need to spiritually advance much further than they are). There is a great danger with this, and most of today’s believers make no effort to see it through self-evaluation. Our Lord exclaims His desire wishing we were either red hot or cold, as that would allow for easier change and correction instead of a “somewhere in the middle” attitude that is content to stay put (lukewarm).
So the Lord will be putting believers alive at that time (I believe that the present day church will very soon see those days within a few years) through the tribulation, not only for discipline but as a test to see who will stay faithful. Will we remain loyal to Christ as a testimony to the world, or will we choose the devil’s side and instead choose to commit to his son antichrist? The tribulation will reveal all of this, and sadly many will not pass the test as the great apostasy will claim one-third of believers alive at that time.
2 Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, 2 not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. 3 Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition,
3 And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. 4 His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it.
18 “Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 19 When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. 20 The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. 22 The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. 23 But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”
This seed of faith mentioned in our last passage above must continue if there is to be an entrance into the kingdom of heaven. The Lord’s character is that of love, graciousness, and justice. If a believer decides for any reason that they no longer wish to believe in the One in which they once professed, then the Lord in His graciousness will allow said person to make their own free will decision. The Lord will never force anyone to spend eternity with Him if that is no longer their desire. THAT is grace and love, and it fits perfectly with God’s character.
Salvation is by grace through faith alone; it is “not of works lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). But faith must remain with a person until physical death. Therefore, apostasy (of which there can be multiple reasons for it) is the only way salvation is lost, and that, though it is not quick and easy to do, is still possible from a believer left with a free will choice in this world. A believer must endure to the end, and since salvation is by faith through grace, taking away faith takes away salvation, as grace has to be continuously accepted by faith. If we remain believers till death, we have endured. But if we give up, then we have chosen to spend eternity away from Christ.
12 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.
It is for this very reason why being on fire for the Lord is of utmost importance. The pursuit and application of the truth through faith matters because our Lord matters, and He is the truth. The Lord is not pleased with a lukewarm attitude, nor is He happy with false teaching. As believers, genuine love for God shows itself in our love for the truth through a growing faith. It is putting God first in our lives that is putting other people first, as we are helping ourselves and others by adequately preparing and equipping ourselves to help them when they need/will need it most. Today’s believers need to take the Lord’s wise counsel to heart and purchase spiritual wealth from Him to see their poor spiritual condition. It is for this reason why our Lord mentions eye salve in our passage in Revelation.
27 He answered, " ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.
3. The Missing Link
Today, the church needs a sustained, consistent, and a continued dose of good spiritual nutrition through in-depth quality Bible teaching. But such “spiritual nutritional food” has to be sought after, and that requires a zealous change of mind in our approach to spiritual health, do not forget, the Lord said to “become zealous and repent.” If we would change our attitudes and start seeking the Lord, He would provide a ministry where such healthy food exists. All that is needed is the zeal and a determined mindset to put the truth first in our lives.
Basically, most within the body of Christ need to start actually living for God! It is this lack of enthusiasm for the Lord why the church gets such a bad rep from outside and loses so many members from within itself. Much of that is due to the poor approach most Christians take in how they live for God. But a godly and repentant attitude will guarantee a most fulfilling life and a safe and gracious entry into the Kingdom of Heaven because putting the truth first strengthens our “ship of faith,” which in turn will carry us safely to the heavenly kingdom without getting us shipwrecked.
18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
It is ubiquitous in our day and age for people to stress health and fitness. There is nothing wrong with taking care of our health and sustenance (that should be encouraged), but even more important is taking care of our spiritual health. It is good and godly to take care of our bodies, and the food we put in them matters, but even more important than physical food is spiritual food.
Today, most churches lack context, good in-depth, solid teaching, and often have too many big holes and inconsistencies in their teachings, threatening the believer’s faith depending on what they are. For example, suppose a church is not providing food the way it should and prioritizes other things over the truth, such as music, entertainment, socializing, social events, etc. In that case, that is no place for a believer who loves God’s Word to grow. And not caring much for the truth will negatively affect the fellowship believers are to have with one another.
2 as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby,
If we take care of our bodies, then we should be taking care of our spirits as well, and by failing to feed ourselves proper spiritual food, we come short of doing just that, so our walk with God will suffer. We need healthy spiritual food. We get sick and have health issues when we don’t take care of our bodies, the same concept with our spirits. Suppose we ignore them by feeding and nurturing them with unhealthy spiritual food. In that case, this will cause spiritual damage, which helps explain the tremendous spiritual disease of “lukewarmness” in our day. But it doesn’t have to be this way! The church does not have to hunker down in its traditions and be unwilling to budge from its many false teachings, rituals and practices. A believer determined to please the Lord as they should will not settle with compromise by lurking in or close to the same spot for the rest of their lives but will have a desire to advance and keep doing so until the Lord calls them home. The solution is to repent and put the truth first in our lives, and by genuinely doing this, we will slowly but surely nurture our spirits to good health, which will result in a much better and closer relationship with the Lord and the rest of His flock as intended.
8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted?
4. Unity with Other Believers
Now some may say that as believers, we need to be unified and not separated. Believers are to love each other in addition to being unified with one another in their hearts. But this life we live is all about Jesus, which means putting Him and His truth first. People do not come before the Lord, and that means not compromising truth for the sake of fellowship. So if attending a church has become counterproductive and threatening to spiritual growth because it is nothing but a pointless waste of time (because it is not fulfilling it’s purpose), we need to find a place with other serious believers and a good solid teaching ministry that can help us grow (wherever that is and whatever that looks like). The Lord will never fail to provide the right pastor teacher and fellowship (believers) (which we need for our own growth and encouragement) into our lives who will help and support our cause. Fellowship is all about building each other up in the truth for the growth and edification of our fellow brothers and sisters. This very matter is highly misunderstood by the church at large which lacks a proper understanding of what true love and unity really are. Love and unity is not about physical assembly by itself (what needs to change in Laodicea is the attitude of most believers, followed by a change of action-repentance).
We want to please the Lord as much as possible, and if carrying out our mission here on earth requires that we take measures that others find strange, then we need to remember that we are here to please Jesus and not men. The Lord always provides a way for us to grow spiritually and produce for Him. Therefore, we must follow and listen to the Holy Spirit’s prodding, being under His control at all times. And as long as we are obeying the Lord doing whatever is necessary to grow and produce for Him, well, that IS putting others first and trying to bring all believers together in the process through ministry because that is how we must pursue unity. Staying lukewarm is not going to help the lukewarm.
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
12 “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.
21 He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”
Although this life we live as Christians is all about faith (and it is all the good choices we made in this life through faith which will earn us all our eternal rewards Hebrews 11), the truth (sought out, understood, believed and applied) is necessary for that faith to grow, thrive, and produce. This is why we cannot stress good spiritual nutrition enough (something that is majorly lacking in most churches today). We’ve all heard the saying, “You are what you eat.” The same applies to the spiritual realm because the believer needs serious, in-depth Bible teaching to make the most progress for Christ. And the truth (what we choose to believe) does matter because what we believe tends to shape our lives and dictate how we live them. Getting certain things right or wrong can (depending on how major they are) change the course of our lives for the better or for the worse (and even threaten our faith and potentially endanger our salvation).
True unity can only be achieved when believers learn to be of “one mind.” What this means is that the church as a whole needs to have the same attitude for the truth (which requires prior repentance Revelation 3:14-22) in that everyone is making as much effort as they can to seek it out, learn it, understand it, believe it, and apply it. The truth is what unifies and makes us “one in mind” (1 Peter 3:8). Physical fellowship, by itself, achieves no such purpose. It is all about faith and thus, our attitudes which will dictate how much and how well our faith grows. None of this implies that there won’t be disagreements (all believers will disagree on some things). But the more like-minded believers become, the more (with time) they will agree and the less they will disagree on major teachings and issues (even if disagreements will always remain). But it is difficult for those indifferent to the truth to be of the same mind as those who are serious about it as they should be and vice versa (even if they are both unified as fellow siblings in Christ who share a common faith).
5. Our Role
If believers will obey the Lord’s command in encouraging us to “become zealous and repent,” then what is needed is a change of mind toward God which will result in a change of action (repentance). To better understand Him, please Him, and glorify Him, we need to change our attitude and approach toward the Christian life. The process in and of itself may be challenging (Matthew 16:24), but such difficulty may be necessary if we are ever to become red hot for the Lord. It may not be easy, but the Lord will reward those who seek Him to a deeper level, even if that requires us to suffer for a little while.
6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?
5.1. The Holy Spirit’s Role
25 “These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
If we seek the truth with great zeal, all through the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit, then we will find it in the form of good solid Bible teaching, along with other serious believers. Spiritual growth is not something we can do on our own, and trying to teach ourselves will only lead to error. The Holy Spirit does teach us, but the primary way He does so is through qualified men gifted to teach God’s Word. If said individual is genuinely teaching the way they should while being spirit-led, and if what they say is true, then that IS the Holy Spirit speaking to us.
11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
And as believers, we can discern good food from bad food through discernment under the Spirit’s control.
15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.
16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
In conclusion, good solid teaching is an absolute must for a believer to grow in the truth, and the Lord gets the glory in helping the believer come to that place.
105 Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
The Word of God will only be of most use to us in obeying the command to the believers of our current era if we allow the truth to lead us on this most difficult path toward Zion. We accomplish this by reading the Bible on our own, understanding it, believing it, applying it, and receiving good solid Bible teaching, proper food to live, grow, and function spiritually as we should. In doing so, there is a great reward that will last for all eternity. True riches.
19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
We are after these spiritual treasures, and it is these that we should pursue, not the things of this world which Laodicea has its heart set on. Heavenly wealth will last forever, but the riches of this world will fade.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,
17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.
1. The purpose of going to church is to receive the Word through good solid Bible teaching and then help other believers grow through the spiritual gifts and ministries the Lord assigns us. Believers need to assemble for spiritual “food” and the mutual encouragement and strengthening of its members.
2. The church is not fulfilling this role adequately, and because of this, most believers are lukewarm toward the truth of God’s Word. The problem lies in their hearts and attitudes, both those teaching and those listening.
3. Good spiritual food is needed for the believer to grow, and if we take care of our bodies in terms of what we are eating, we should also be taking care of our spirits through receiving healthy spiritual food.
4. Because of the lukewarm attitude of most believers, the Lord will discipline the church by putting them through the tribulation, “I will vomit you out of my mouth.” This discipline is an act of genuine love from our dear Savior Himself, “those I love I chastise/discipline,” and it is also a test to determine who will remain faithful and who will not. This is the only way to shake Laodicea out of its current state since it will not repent without a “push.” The tribulation will be the means the Lord uses to wake up the church, which will result in most believers “getting their act together” once those dark dreadful days do arrive.
5. To counter the “lukewarm problem,” the solution for the believer is to repent and put the truth first in their life. Our love for the truth is inseparable from our love for God, and both go hand in hand.
6. In doing so, the believer will find a place to receive the truth (and fellowship with others) and grow in it thereby.
7. To repent and put the Lord first in our lives requires a change of mind toward God, and it needs the help of the Holy Spirit through studying and searching the Scriptures diligently.
21 To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. 22 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”