The Church in Laodicea represents the Church of the end times. When looking at the seven churches, it seems that the Church in Laodicea is the most pitiful one. No words of commendations where uttered by the Lord Jesus Christ. But, was this the worst church? Not really, this church was better than some and worse than others. This church was certainly not as good as the Church in Philadelphia, Smyrna or Ephesus; but compared to the Church in Sardis, Thyatira or Pergamum, this church was pretty good .
The strengths and weaknesses of the seven churches can be observed by looking at the Lord’s self-description. To the Church in Philadelphia he said: “These are the words of him who holds the key of David,” pointing out their opportunity to spread the Gospel. To Sardis, He said: “These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God.” This showed that they did not have the work of the Holy Spirit. To Pergamum, He said: “These are the words of him who has the sharp, double-edged sword ,”because they were not teaching the truth of the Word of God. To Smyrna, He said: “These are the words of him who died and came to life again and lives forever .” This was an encouragement for the suffering church.
From the seven churches, the Church in Laodicea is the one that most closely relates to us. Exactly, what are the problems of the modern church? By studying Christ’s words of rebuke, encouragement, teaching and promises to this church, we can find out what our needs are. Through their circumstances to examine ourselves so that we can know where the problem is, so we can do what we are supposed to do in order be commended by the Lord, and receive a reward and a crown in the Kingdom of Heaven.
THE LORD’S SELF-DESCRIPTION
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.
The self-description of the Lord tells this Church of His nature and His mission, and it is directed against the strengths and weaknesses of this church. The Church in Philadelphia only received commendations; therefore the self-description was directed towards her strengths. The Church in Laodicea only received rebukes; therefore the self-description was directed towards her weakness. According to the Lord’s self-description, this Church had three major deficiencies.
( 一) 不認識可靠的主。｢阿們｣，是實在可靠之意，希伯來文前面加了一個M ，變了瑪門，就翻作｢財利｣，就是可靠之物的意思。世人看錢財為可靠之物，看主是不可靠的，所以寧願相信錢在口袋裡，勝過信靠神在內心中。他們就變了事奉瑪門的人。信主的人，應該信靠神，放心把一切交託給主。這是現代信徒所缺乏的，沒有把主看為可靠的主。
(1) They did not know the trustworthy Lord. “Amen”, means truly reliable. In Hebrew, when an “M” is added in front of the word “amen”, it becomes “Mammon” which means “material wealth”, something reliable. People look at money as something reliable, yet they look at the Lord as not reliable. They prefer to have money in their pockets than to have the God in their hearts. They became servants of Mammon. Those who believe in the Lord rest assure that everything will go well in God’s hands. That is something that believers do not have nowadays. They do not look at the Lord as being trustworthy.
( 二) 不認識主也是忠信、真實的見證人。新約聖經所說的｢信｣字，沒有別的語言有相同的字。在其他語言，｢信｣，只是頭腦的活動，頭腦的認同。其實｢信｣與｢忠｣有同一字根，有信心的人必定是有忠心的人，主已經把忠信、真實，用行動表達，讓人可以看見。祂活出最豐盛的生活，是忠信與真實的見證人，是活生生的見證人。
(2) Do not know that the Lord is also the faithful and true witness. The word “faith” in the New Testament, no other language has a similar word for it. In other languages the word “faith” is an activity of the mind. It is identified with the mind. Actually “faith” and “faithful” has the same root. In order to have faith you have to be faithful. The Lord used actions to express faith and truth. He lived an abundant life, He is a faithful and true witness, and He is a living witness.
( 叁) 沒有以主為元首君王。祂是所有受造物的元首，祂應該作主，是我們的王。但現代教會流行的是民主，讓民意來做決定。當然，如果所有神的子民，都以神的國為念，所有民意，都跟隨聖靈引導，那就是好事。但如果信徒所重視的是經濟力量、知識權威，教會只成了另外一個社團而已。神的子民必須以主為君王。
(3) Did not recognize the Lord as King of kings. He is the Head of all creation; He should be the Lord, our King. But nowadays democracy in the church is trendy; decisions are made by popular opinion. Of course, if all God’s people have in mind the things of the Kingdom of God and their opinions follow the leading of the Holy Spirit that is a good thing. But if believers are only interested in economic strength, authority of intellectual knowledge, the church will become just like another social organization. God’s people must look upon God as the Sovereign King.
THE LORD’S REBUKE
15 我知道你所做的事，你不冷不熱，16 如溫水，所以你令我想嘔吐。17 你說你已經富足，發了財，一樣都不缺。卻不知你是那困苦、可憐、貧窮、瞎眼、赤身的。
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.
Their three major deficiencies are what we see in modern society. They are a half-grown church. The spiritual life of the believer has only grown half way. Even though they consider Him to be their Savior, they do not consider Him to be their Lord; half cold, half hot, half alive, half dead, loving the lord half way, half poor, and half rich.
The city of Laodicea did not have a water source and depended on the supply of water from a hot spring located six miles away. The waters of the spring contained a high level of minerals, the water was hot and had healing properties. After the water ran for six miles, it became lukewarm, the smell of the minerals were too strong, it was undrinkable and made people nauseated, it was not hot enough to bathe in it, and no longer useful for medicinal purposes. The water was not refreshing and could not cure diseases any more ; both of these effects were lost. It was said to be water from a hot spring, the name sounded good, but it had lost its effect.
That is the situation of the church during the end times. It is not completely cold, it appears to have an enthusiastic ministry, it has many meetings, are willing to serve, but they only serve when they have extra time and offer only when they have extra money. If they have something top do, they will forget the ministry of the church. When the church needs help, they will come to help out, but when the time comes for them to have to bear the cross, suffer or sacrifice some things for the Lord, they would just step back.
They thought they were rich, they use business experts to take care of the matters of the church, they know ways to earn a lot of money, through surveys, through courses and professional knowledge, to find answers. We have many people with Ph.D.’s, Masters and Bachelors degrees in Theology, but what we need are martyrs who are brave and strong, humble but with high ideals, firm and unyielding, believers who are faithful to the Lord until the end.
The city of Laodicea was a commercial and administrative center, kind of like New York City. When the city was destroyed by an earthquake in 60 AD, Laodicea refused help from the Roman government to rebuild the city. They sufficient means, they were a very wealthy city.
The church nowadays is very wealthy; they have many professors of Theology, innumerable books, tapes, CD’s, the most luxurious church buildings, the most advanced media tools, many methods of spreading the Gospel and evangelistic meetings with thousands of people. They think they are rich but in reality they are poor. We have to be “witnesses” for the Lord, not just be a witness. To witness for the Lord we have to use our lives and our experiences, not just our mouths skills. No one will want to follow a diet program advertised by an obese person or buy a product that makes your hair grow when advertised by a bald person. In the same way, no one will believe a Gospel preached by a believer who is wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.
THE LORD ‘ S ENCOURAGEMENT
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.
The Lord counsels them to do three things: Buy gold refined in the fire; buy white clothes to wear; buy salve to put on their eyes.
Many people have objections regarding the word “buy”. God’s grace and salvation is free, it does not need to be bought. Why does it say here “buy”? We have to understand that here it is not talking about salvation or grace. People who really love the Lord have to pay a price; they have to be willing to sacrifice some things and bear the cross. To buy means to pray a price. Laodicea was a business city. The Church of the end times is a leader in financial matters. The Lord is using words that they are used to hearing in order to communicate with them. To buy means to pay a price in order to obtain something.
( 一) 買火煉的金子：他們作買賣，不是用真金，是紙幣、股票、泡沫經濟，虛有其表，是經不起考驗的。他們缺乏屬靈經歷。很多傳道人審核受洗的資格，重知識到可怕的地步，要能回答標準答案。有人以為這是真理在前，經歷在後。好像是純正的教導。
(1) Buy gold refined in the fire: When they do business, they do not use real gold but paper money, stocks; a bubble economy without real substance that cannot stand the test. They lack spiritual experience. Many preachers use strict scrutiny to test the qualifications of persons who want to be baptized, they emphasize knowledge to the point that it is kind of scary. The baptizing candidate has to answer most of the questions perfectly. Some people think that the truth should be first, followed by experience; as if this was the correct way of teaching.
Because people have different experiences, some of them might seem odd and strange. Some see visions, some dream dreams, it is very hard to set a standard. Therefore, they put the truth first. Actually, the people who have theoretical knowledge, do they really trust in the Lord? We have no way of knowing that. Maybe they are full of worries, they might be stressed out and violet, they might have insomnia and need to take sleeping pills. What kind of faith do they have? Definitely , not the kind that is like gold refined in the fire. It will not stand the test of faith. We need true faith.
( 二) 買白衣穿上：老底嘉攪時裝、名貴服飾，特別有名的是黑毛絨布衣。但主說：｢要買白衣穿上｣，就是聖徒的義( 19:8 ) 。作主門徒必須有門徒的生活。
(2) Buy white clothes to wear: Laodicea was a well-known textile-producing city, especially famous for material produced from black wool, very expensive clothing. But the Lord said: “Buy white clothes to wear”, which are the righteous acts of God’s holy people (19:8). In order to be a disciple of the Lord, we need to have the lifestyle of a disciple.
In every letter, the Lord says: “I know your deeds.” The Lord cares very deeply about our actions. White clothes are the righteous acts of the believer. Our clean deeds are the expressions of our new life. During these end times, many believers are taught the wrong things, they think they do not need to walk according to the truth and as long as they have believed in the Lord, they will be saved. They are told that no matter how bad they behave, the Lord will love them regardless. This is totally wrong. The believers with a new life should have a new lifestyle; that way, they will not be naked or ashamed and that is being a true witness for the Lord.
( 叁) 買眼藥擦眼：老底嘉也是有名出眼藥的地方，是個重視健康的城市。他們自以為靠近溫礦泉水，尋求健康的人都會來這城，希望病能治好。現代人有屬靈眼病，不能分貴賤，價值觀混亂。
(3) Buy salve to put on your eyes: Laodicea was also famous for producing ointments for the eyes. It was a city where health was very important. They believed their mineral springs and medicinal baths would heal their ailments and many would come to their city looking to be cured of their diseases. Today, people’s spiritual eyes are ill; they cannot see the difference between what is valuable and what is not. Their values are messed up.
A ball player who knows how to throw a ball can earn millions of dollars; a missionary doctor that can save a person’s body and soul gets a miserable salary. The problem is the lack of spiritual vision, the Lord is not their King, they pay no attention to His guidance and they follow the vision and practices of the world, they learn methods to control the business and make lots of money. As a result, many people are also serving Mammon.
THE LORD ‘ S PROMISE
19 我所疼愛就責備管教，所以要發熱心，也要悔改。20 看哪，我站在門外叩門，若有聽見我聲音就開門的，我要進到他那裡去，我與他，他與我一同坐席。21 得勝的，我要賜他在我寶座上與我同坐，就如我得了勝，在我父寶座與祂同坐一般。
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.
The Lord promises to help them solve the problems mentioned above.
( 一) 受管教：要受一點苦，受主鞭打就能進步。如果不想受責罰，就要主動熱心悔改，學習每天認罪，纔有真實生命的經歷，能經歷主改變性情的大能，經歷主醫治疾病的權柄，讓人與人之間關係能夠甜美和諧，有真實生命見證，使人看見基督生命的實在。受管教，纔能進步。
(1) Discipline: Suffer a little; receive lashes from the Lord to make progress. If unwilling to receive the punishment, earnest repentance is necessary, learn to confess sins every day, in order to have a true life experience, experience the great power of the Lord as He changes people’s temperament, experience the authority that the Lord has to heal diseases, so that the relationship between you and other people be sweet and harmonious, have true life witness, so people can really see the life of Christ in you . Receive discipline in order to make progress.
( 二) 與主實際相連：要進入主約中。這時代信徒，把主擋於門外。主耶穌說：｢我要進來與你坐席，與你立約，使你真正成為我的人。｣與主有盟約的人，纔能有使人羨慕的生命。
(2) Be truly connected with the Lord: Enter into the covenant of the Lord. Nowadays, believers leave the Lord outside of their doors. The Lord Jesus said: “I want to come in and sit with you at the banquet table, make a covenant with you, so you will truly become my people.” Only those who have a covenant with the Lord will have lives that people will admire.
( 叁) 與主同坐寶座：｢寶座｣是單數字，不是各坐自己的寶座，是與主同坐一個寶座。我們心靈的至聖所有一個寶座，自己坐，就是自己做決策的人生，是肯定會失敗的。與主同坐，一同掌權，就能過得勝的生活。
(3) Sit with the Lord on His throne: “Throne” is a singular word. It is not that each person sits on individual thrones; it is sitting with the Lord on one throne. There is a throne in the Holy of Holies of our hearts, if we sit on it ourselves and we make all our decisions by ourselves; then we will definitely be a failure. When we sit together with the Lord and reign together with Him, then we will be able to live a victorious life.