Revelation 3:14

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Revelation 3:14 

“And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this:” – Revelation 3:14

Over seven days, I will be looking at what John wrote, by the inspiration of God, to the seven major churches in Asia Minor.  In these seven letters, God gives a message that is specific to each and speaks of issues that could fit the Churches throughout history.  It is important to look at these and examine our church and ultimately ourselves to see where we stand regarding these. 

Now Jesus writes to the last Church in this list, the Church of Laodicea.  Laodicea was in the Lycus Valley about sixty miles southeast of Philadelphia and a hundred miles west of Ephesus. It was situated where a major east-west route from Ephesus intersected other roads going north to Philadelphia and Sardis and south to the Mediterranean coast. Founded by the Seleucids in the mid-third century B.C. on the site of older settlements, it came under the control of Pergamum in 188 BCE and then Rome after 133 BCE. Laodicea was home to Greeks and Roman businesspeople. Like many of the cities in in this list, it was an administrative center where court cases were heard during the Roman period. The city’s relations with Rome were strong. Laodicea competed for the honor of building a provincial temple to the emperor Tiberius in 23 A.D., although permission was given to Smyrna. In 79 A.D. a statue at Laodicea honored Titus as “son of god,” since he was the son of the deified Vespasian. Laodicea was formerly called Diospolis, or “city of Zeus.” In Roman times there was a statue and altar to Zeus, who was often called the Savior, along with other dedications to Zeus and sometimes Hermes his messenger. A coin from the city shows Domitian on one side and Zeus on the other.

In our focus verse, we read the introduction to this letter.  “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this:” Revelation 3:14. In this verse, AMEN is a title referring to ‘the faithful one’. It also refers to Christ as “the beginning of the creation of God.”. This is reiterated by John in his gospel when he says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” John 1:1-3.  Then, “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.” John 1:10.  And finally, the person is alluded to in verse 14 as Jesus. “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14.

Then, He states the issue He has with them. “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I would that you were cold or hot.  So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.” Revelation 3:15-16.  Notice that both cold and hot are understood as being positive states, in comparison to tepidness, or being lukewarm.  Theologian Craig Koester puts it like this.  “The message addresses readers whose wealth made them comfortable, and the writer turns images of wealth into a critique that is designed to make them uncomfortable. Banquets were occasions for displaying wealth, when people would be served fine foods with chilled or heated wine. To challenge them, the message invokes the banquet images of hot, cold, and tepid to critique the congregation’s complacency before the risen Christ and to call for the repentance that will allow him to eat with them in true friendship.”

The Laodiceans became complacent in their faith, and Jesus would rather them passionate.  The Lord is describing the “lukewarm” heart attitude of those in the Laodicean church, an attitude manifested by their deeds. The Laodiceans were neither cold nor hot in relation to God, just lukewarm. Hot water can cleanse and purify; cold water can refresh and enliven. But lukewarm water carries no similar value. The Laodiceans understood the Lord’s analogy because their city drinking water came over an aqueduct from a spring six miles to the south, and it arrived disgustingly lukewarm. Laodicean water was not hot like the nearby hot springs that people bathed in, nor was it refreshingly cold for drinking. It was lukewarm, good for nothing. In fact, it was nauseating, and that was the Lord’s response to the Laodiceans—they sickened Him, and He said, “I am about to spit you out of my mouth.  This is essentially what Jesus is saying to them.  You do not care about your faith.  There are many that witness to people to be saved by helping them understand the truth or point out errors within their brothers and sisters; getting them to repent (Hot).  Then there are those who encourage believers in their faith, building them up to be stronger and more perseverant (Cold). They did neither of these, for they were more attached to their wealth, and along with their ‘semblance’ of true religion, led them to a false sense of security and independence.  They cared more about their wealth than their faith. 

He finishes this idea with, “Because you say, I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.” Revelation 3:17.  Jesus has no good words for them.  He says they are wretched and miserable people, and that they are not all that rich or wise, but poor. Blind and naked.  They had nothing going for them that was useful in the kingdom of God.  This is harsh, but it seems this Church was more interested in physical wealth that spiritual passion. Then He tells them to repent.  “I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire, that you may become rich, and white garments, that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes, that you may see. “ Revelation 3:18.  He is calling on them to give up their love for earthly riches and replace them with spiritual riches.  Then they will wear the white robes promised to all believers so that their nakedness will not be seen, and they can begin to see more clearly, as one who applies medicine to their weak eyes can regain their sight. He then closes this section out by declaring that He loves them, for He would not have reproved or disciplined them if He had not. “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; be zealous therefore, and repent.” Revelation 3:19. 

He then closes this out with a positive ending.  “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come into him, and will dine with him, and he with Me. 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.” Revelation 3:20-21.  He is calling them to come to Him, give themselves to Him, repent and relinquish their love for physical wealth, looking for spiritual, never ending wealth.  Jesus is saying that His authority is extended to His followers, “as I also overcame and sat down with my Father on His throne.” Revelation 3:21:b.

The Laodiceans enjoyed material prosperity that, coupled with a semblance of true religion, led them to a false sense of security and independence. The expression “I am rich; I have acquired wealth” stresses that the wealth attained came through self-exertion. Spiritually, they had great needs. A self-sufficient attitude and lukewarm faith are constant dangers when people live lives of ease and prosperity. In summary, the church at Laodicea had become apathetic in their love for Christ. They were allowing “the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things [to] come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. Christ called them to repent and live zealously for Him. “And if it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the river, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” Joshua 24:15.   The Lord Jesus called the Church in Laodicea to choose who they will serve, Him or wealth. And the same call is made to those who say they follow Him today.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries. 

Mark 16:15

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Mark 16:15 

“And He said to them, go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” – Mark 16:15 

Forty days after Jesus was raised from the dead and just prior to His ascension, Jesus commands His disciples to continue the work He started.  This was the commission given to them by their sovereign Lord.  “And He said to them, Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” Mark 16:15.  They were called to tell the world about the good news that Christ Himself came to bring, but now that He is going back to the Father, He has passed this important task onto His disciples.  Matthew brings more clarity to this calling.  “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20.  In this devotion, I will be combining the writings in order to completely cover what Jesus told them.

As stated above, I will be combining Mark’s version and Matthew’s in order to fully understand what Jesus commanded them.  Both were given the same calling at the same times  Both write they are to go into all the world.  Not just to the Jewish nations, but to all people throughout the world.  Mark writes they are to preach the Gospel throughout all the world.  Matthew takes it a step further and writes they are to make disciples of all the nations.  To preach the gospel was to declare the truth of Christ.  However, those who accept the message need to be discipled; trained in order to fully understand the message given to them as well as to their complete calling.  A disciple is in essence a follower or student of a teacher, leader of philosopher.  It comes from the Latin word discipulus meaning “student”, which is derived from the Latin root word discere meaning “to learn”.  This goes beyond simply presenting a truth to someone, but to help by training them to fully understand their calling from Christ.

In my former days as a computer programmer, there were times when I was assigned to help train a new programmer in our applications as well as how we went through the programming process; from writing specifications to coding, then to testing and ultimately implementation.  I was, in a sense, discipling them so they could understand the complete process from beginning to end and be able to carry it out.  This is basically what Jesus is calling us to do.  To start by presenting the truth to them so they can understand it and accept the calling Christ has given us all.  However, knowing the truth is only the beginning.  They must then be trained regarding God’s calling to Christians and how to live it out.  Each of the disciples of Christ accepted the calling, however, they went through three years of  being discipled by Jesus to fully understand  what was expected of them and how to live it out.   

Jesus told His disciples to make disciples.  What was meant in this was to have an unending line of disciples making disciples who make disciples who will then make disciples.  Leading someone to Christ is simply the beginning.  After that, they must be taught the full meaning of what it means to be a follower of Christ and how to live it out.  Then, they can go out and do the same.  You may not be in a position to actually be the one who teaches them.  However, you can lead them to another who is willing and able to take on this role.  The point here is that everyone who accepts Christ must be taught what this decision actually means.  It is not simply acceptance of Christ as Savior, but also as Lord, and to live this life out to the fullest.  This is what Jesus did for His disciples, and it is what He intended for His disciples to do, all the way down in time to us.

It is important to understand that we are not alone in this.  Jesus told them as the last part of His call to them that they would not be alone.  “teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20.  Jesus said He would be with us to the very end of the age of our lives here on earth.  We can always go to Him for assistance in this endeavor. He will not leave or forsake us.  Always remember to call out to Him when you need help, and He will provide the assistance you need. 

 In closing, I want to encourage us all to reach out to all we come across who need to hear the truth concerning the gospel of Christ.  We must take whatever time we need to present it in a clear and understandable way.  And, if they receive it, encourage them to be  trained in the fullness of what this life is truly about.  It can be us, or someone else we know who can take on this responsibility.  However, it should be someone we trust to fulfill this role.  We must remember that living the Christian life as we are called to do, is the most important decision we can make, for it has eternal implications.  Helping new born Christians to fully understand what it means to be a Christian is vital in their growth, and their ability to take the next step in making disciples themselves.  So many more people can be reached for Christ if we follow this model.  My email can be found below, and if you have any questions regarding how you can proceed to become a disciple who makes disciples who make disciples, let me know if there is anything I can do to assist you in whatever way needed. It would be my pleasure to help you in this.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.