Tonight I heard a wonderful message from one of our young preachers as he brought a tremendous application from the letter to the Laodiceans in Revelation chapter 3.
He pointed out something that really intrigued me. He pointed out that the letter is not really to the church but to the angel of the church. And that little statement got me thinking. . .
Each of the seven letters to the seven churches can be viewed in three different aspects. First, the primary meaning is that each letter is to a real church that existed in the first century. As such, the letters describe the existing spiritual condition that prevailed in each of the churches.
Second, each letter contains a personal application - characteristics of individual believers - some good, and some not so good. So, as we read each of the letters, we may examine our own lives to see how we should apply the truths of each letter.
But thirdly, there is a prophetic picture to each letter where the characteristics of the church seems to parallel the characteristics that are prevalent in Christendom from the first century until now. And if that is true, then we are living in the Laodicean church age.
And that's where these two different thoughts bumped together in my head and I immediately began to see the letter in a much more serious light. You see, each letter starts out by saying, "unto the angel of the church of . . . ".
The word “angel" comes from a Greek word (angelos) that the KJV translators also translated as "messenger". In fact, it is translated as “messenger’ or ‘messengers’ in 7 places - Matthew 11:10, Mark 1:2, Luke 7:24, Luke 7:27, Luke 9:52, 2 Cor 12:7, and James 2:25. So, even though, in the Book of Revelation, the KJV translators used the word as “angel" it is pretty obvious, when you consider the context, that the implication is for pastors of the churches who are held responsible for the spiritual condition that existed within their respective churches.
So what does all of this mean? It means very simply that those of us who are church leaders in this Laodicean age need to take the words of Jesus in Revelation 3:14-22 VERY personally and VERY seriously. If there is to be any prophetic application made, then WE are the ones who are lukewarm. WE are the ones who are self-sufficient and believe we are in need of nothing. WE are the ones who are totally blind to our true spiritual deficiencies. And WE are the ones who need to repent of our condition.
It's not my church, not my deacon, but it's me O Lord, standing in the need of prayer!
The longer I have been in the ministry, the more I have noticed just how prevalent that these conditions are in so many so-called men of God all over the world. We could all name pastors who no longer speak directly to the sins of their congregation because they try to be accepted by everyone. It is not that they preach heresy. They just don’t preach anything that would make their people uncomfortable. They are lukewarm. (Rev 3:16) They are not a refreshing cold drink of water on a hot day to nourish a thirsty soul. Nor are they useful as hot water to cleanse or purify (http://www.livestrong.com/article/421331-why-is-it-healthy-to-drink-hot-water/). They are lukewarm and practically ineffective. They may not be offensive to their followers and may even be well-liked, but Jesus said he will spew them out of His mouth.
We all know preachers who believe they can build their churches on business models, programs, or promotions. They believe that since they have nice buildings and comfortable bank accounts that their church is being blessed of God. Of course, they would never say that they are relying on these things but their actions speak loud and clear. But what is the Lord’s estimation of their attitude? Jesus says they are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked. (Rev 3:17)
You can go to just about any preacher's fellowship meeting and hear them brag about all the material assets that their church has attained. They equate their assets with the blessings of God. They speak as if riches or popularity is the measuring stick of God's favor. And the saddest part about this is that they don't really realize their true condition. “and knowest not” (Rev 3:17)
The Letter to the angel of the church of Laodicea ends with a command to turn back to Christ and allow Him to be our sufficiency. (Rev 3:18, 19) If we are to see true results to our preaching, it will not be in our oratorical training. It will not be in our carefully outlined sermons. We will know the power of God when we humbly beseech the God of all power. We will see true results when we repent of our pride and arrogance. We will will see true spiritual results when we open our doors (Rev 3:20) and allow Christ to take His rightful place as Head of the body, the church.
“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.” (Rev 3:18)
Meet The Pastor!
Pastor Jim Taylor was saved while serving in the US Air Force in February of 1984. Since that time, he has traveled from the coasts of Virginia to the mountains of Korea preaching the Word of God.