From the BlogSubscribe Now

Called to Fervor

Revelation 3:14-22

“‘Write this letter to the angel of the church in Laodicea. This is the message from the one who is the Amen—the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s new creation:

‘I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth! You say, ‘I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. So I advise you to buy gold from me—gold that has been purified by fire. Then you will be rich. Also buy white garments from me so you will not be shamed by your nakedness, and ointment for your eyes so you will be able to see. I correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference.

‘Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. Those who are victorious will sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat with my Father on his throne.

‘Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches.’”


Ancient Laodicea

Laodicea was forty-five miles southeast of Philadelphia and one hundred miles due east of Ephesus. The Roman road stretching inland to Asia from Ephesus ran straight through the city, making Laodicea an important trade and communication center.

Laodicea was the wealthiest city in Phyrgia. The Lycus valley provided good grazing for sheep with soft, black wool, which was in high demand.

Prosperity also brought the banking industry to Laodicea. Following a devastating earthquake in A.D. 60 the city was rebuilt without financial assistance from Rome.

The city also had a school of medicine and manufactured or distributed a special ointment called, “Phrygian powder”, famous for curing eye defects.

A Pauline church

The church was possibly founded by Epaphras (Col 4:12), when Paul was spending time at Ephesus during his third journey (Acts 19:10). There is no evidence Paul visited the church, although he wrote them a letter (Colossians 4:16).

A lukewarm church

Jesus claims the church in Laodicea was neither hot nor cold. Laodicea was not located near a natural water source and was piped via an aqueduct, often arriving lukewarm. Compared to the hot medicinal waters of Hierapolis and the cold waters of Colossae, the waters of Laodicea had much to be desired.

The church was also not providing refreshment for the spiritually weary or healing for the spiritually sick. The church had lost spiritual fervor, was totally ineffective, and distasteful to the Lord.

William Barclay pointed out the church was “condemned because she preferred a respectable morality to a passionate religion” (Letters to the Seven Churches, p. 85).

An affluent church

The affluent church was unaware they were wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked. The Laodiceans interpreted their material wealth as a blessing from God and, like the farmer in Jesus’ parable, decided to eat, drink, and be merry, thinking they had laid up many good things for years to come (Luke 12:19). The Laodiceans felt secure in their spiritual attainment.

The pride of the city

Laodicea prided itself on three things: financial wealth, an extensive textile industry, and a popular eye salve being exported around the world.

Jesus instructs the church to buy gold refined in fire, a gold that had passed through the Refiner’s fire and found trustworthy.

The Laodiceans also needed white clothes to cover their shameful nakedness; a contrast to the black woolen fabric manufactured in the city.

The cause of their spiritual problems was rooted in spiritual blindness. The producers of eye salve needed to recognize their spiritual blindness, which their medicine could not cure.

Prosperity and safety

Two things cause spiritual lukewarmness — prosperity and no persecution. The Laodicean church had money and was not troubled by false teaching or civil unrest. The church allowed themselves to become self-satisfied, self-deceived and self-righteous.

John Stott writes, “Perhaps none of the seven letters is more appropriate to the church at the beginning of the 21st century than this. It describes vividly the respectable, nominal, rather sentimental, skin-deep religiosity which is so widespread among us today” (What Christ Thinks of the Church, p. 113).

Loving discipline

Jesus corrects and disciplines those He loves. Reproof and discipline are expressions of love, as found in Proverbs 3:11-12, ” My child, don’t reject the Lord’s discipline, and don’t be upset when he corrects you. For the Lord corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.”

The church is instructed to turn from lukewarm ways and regain a fervor for righteous living.

The church is called to fervor.”

Reestablishing fellowship

To the church Jesus says, “Look! I stand at the door and knock.” In their blind self-sufficient nature they left Him out. In an act of unbelievable condescension Jesus requests permission to enter and reestablish fellowship. His desire is to share a common meal, indicating a strong bond of affection and companionship.

“It is not a mere courtesy visit, paid in the passing, which Jesus Christ offers to us. He desires to come in and to sit long with us, and to wait as long as we wish Him to wait” (Barclay, pp. 88-89).

The promise

To the victorious Jesus promises a shared throne. Paul, as well, promised, “If we endure hardship, we will reign with him.” (2 Tim. 2:12)

The message today

Are you claiming to be following Jesus but not doing His will? Have you lost the fervor of fresh faith?

Nothing less than wholehearted commitment to Christ will do. Renew an earnest zeal, fervor, fire, and passion for God and His ways.

“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” (Matt. 6:33)

The challenge

Place your hope and trust in God, not wealth and possessions. Put Him first in your private and public life, seeking His glory and obeying His will.

How has dependence on self kept you from a passionate faith?  Share your comments below.

Get Your FREE ebook

Sign up to receive our blog posts via e-mail and get a copy of our ebook "Faith, Hope, Love: A 28-Day Journey" FREE.

Privacy Guarantee: I will never share your e-mail address with anyone else.