And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things said the Amen, the faithful and true witness…
I. THE STATE INTO WHICH CHURCHES ARE VERY APT TO FALL.
1. A Church may fail into a condition far other than that for which it has a repute. It may be famous for zeal, and yet be lethargic. The address of our Lord begins, "I know thy works," as much as to say, "Nobody else knows you. Men think better of you than you deserve. You do not know yourselves, you think your works to be excellent, but I know them to be very different." The public can only read reports, but Jesus sees for Himself. He knows what is done, and how it is done, and why it is done.
2. The condition described in our text is one of mournful indifference and carelessness. They were not infidels, yet they were not earnest believers; they did not oppose the gospel, neither did they defend it; they were not working mischief, neither were they doing any great good.
3. This condition of indifference is attended with perfect self-complacency. The people who ought to be mourning are rejoicing, and where they should hang out signals of distress they are flaunting the banners of triumph. What can a Church require that we have not in abundance? Yet their spiritual needs are terrible. Spiritually poor and proud.
4. This Church of Laodicea had fallen into a condition which had chased away its Lord. "I stand at the door and knock." That is not the position which our Lord occupies in reference to a truly flourishing Church. If we are walking aright with Him, He is in the midst of the Church, dwelling there, and revealing Himself to His people.
II. THE DANGER OF SUCH A STATE.
1. The great danger is, to be rejected of Christ. "I will spue thee out of My mouth." Churches are in Christ's mouth in several ways, they are used by Him as His testimony to the world, He speaks to the world through their lives and ministries. When God is with a people they speak with Divine power to the world, but if we grow lukewarm Christ says, "Their teachers shall not profit, for I have not sent them, neither am I with them. Their word shall be as water spilt on the ground, or as the whistling of the wind." Better far for me to die than to be spued out of Christ's mouth. Then He also ceases to plead for such a Church. Mighty are His pleadings for those He really loves, and countless are the blessings which come in consequence. It will be an evil day when He casts a Church out of that interceding mouth. Do you not tremble at such a prospect?
2. Such a Church will be left to its fallen condition, to become wretched — that is to say, miserable, unhappy, divided, without the presence of God, and so without delight in the ways of God.
III. THE REMEDIES WHICH THE LORD EMPLOYS.
1. Jesus gives a clear discovery as to the Church's true state. He says to it, "Thou art lukewarm, thou art wretched and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked." I rejoice to see people willing to know the truth, but most men do not wish to know it, and this is an ill sign. We shall never get right as long as we are confident that we are so already. Self-complacency is the death of repentance.
2. Our Lord's next remedy is gracious counsel. He says, "I counsel thee to buy of Me gold tried in the fire."
3. Now comes a third remedy, sharp and cutting, but sent in love, namely rebukes and chastenings. "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten."
4. The best remedy for backsliding Churches is more communion with Christ. "Behold," saith He, "I stand at the door and knock." This text belongs to the Church of God, not to the unconverted. It is addressed to the Laodicean Church. There is Christ outside the Church, driven there by her unkindness, but He has not gone far away: He loves His Church too much to leave her altogether, He longs to come back, and therefore He waits at the doorpost. He knows that the Church will never be restored till He comes back, and He desires to bless her, and so He stands waiting and knocking.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;