"These things saith the
Amen" (Rev. 3:14).
The last message to the Church
is from the One who selects for Himself from His many titles and
designations the one that embodies everything that is
affirmative, positive, and definite.
"Amen" is not only an
ejaculation or form of assent, it is a Divine title, and in the
title there is - as always - a character, a definition. In Isaiah
65:16, "the God of truth" is literally "the God of
Amen". When Jesus so often said, "Verily, verily",
He used this very word, "Amen, Amen", thus conveying
the meaning that what He was and said was of the character of
absolute certainty, perfect assurance, and unmistakable
Eventually He gathered all into
the personal title - "the Amen". This, alongside of its
definition, "the faithful and true witness", gives a
forceful significance to the message of the context, and becomes
the message itself. It stands in vivid contrast to the conditions
Although not universally, yet
quite widely, the interpretation of the messages to the seven
churches is thought to be historical and future: that is, that
they not only relate to the first Christian century, but cover
the whole Church dispensation and represent phases and stages of
the spiritual life of the Church at certain given times. Thus,
such an interpretation gives to "Laodicea" an end-time
application and describes the condition which will obtain at that
time. It is not necessary to accept that interpretation, for
whether it be right or not so, the message holds a test and a
challenge for all time. It is important to get the whole
significance of this challenge, for undoubtedly it indicates an
Lord's Reaction to a Reactionary Movement
To fully grasp the meaning of
the message to "Laodicea", we have to go back some
years. There are two factors to bring forward.
(a) It is generally recognised
and known that the two great letters of Paul called "to the
Ephesians" and "to the Colossians" did not have
such designations attached to them, but that they were circular
letters for the churches in Asia (see, e.g., Col. 4:16). If this
was the case, as we believe it to have been, then these were the
greatest documents ever penned; and the greatest revelation ever
given by God, as contained in those two letters, was given to
these seven churches in Asia. That, at least, signified spiritual
capacity and aliveness on their part, for the Lord does not give
His fullest and best where there is little capacity, life or
spirituality. They must have been tuned to this great heavenly
(b) The second thing is that
terrible statement of Paul at the end of his life concerning
these churches: "All that are in Asia turned away from
me" (2 Tim. 1:15). This is generally held to mean a
doctrinal turning away; an adverse reaction to Paul and his
teaching; and it is surely borne out by the things said to at
least five of the seven churches, and by Paul's letters to
Timothy, who had responsibility in Ephesus.
If this was true, then the
messages, and the message to Laodicea in particular, represent
the Lord's reaction to that reactionary movement. It is as though
the Lord said (and here is the message for all time): 'I have
given you a full revelation of My mind concerning Myself and the
Church; you have that immense deposit, but you have turned from
it. You may turn from the messenger, but you cannot get away
either from the message or from the One who sent it. These
things saith (not Paul but) "the Amen, the faithful and true
witness" - the unalterable, unchanging, invincible One.'
The Church is responsible for
what the Lord has given it, and will be judged accordingly.
"Neither hot nor cold"
How necessary it is for us
rightly to appraise what this means. Surely the things of which
Laodicea boasted did not come to them without some zeal or
energetic activity on their part! These things do not just tumble
into the lap without thought and concern. May there not have been
many things there that today would be regarded as the marks of a
vigorous, energetic, active and 'living' church? - indeed, a very
It depends upon the viewpoint
and the standard that governs - whether the world's or the
Here is a state which, from one
standpoint, is defined as "rich, and in need of nothing".
From the Lord's viewpoint it is judged to be spiritual
mediocrity, and the very boast contains the constituents of that
spiritual mediocrity. Spiritual contentment and
complacency, the absence of a deep and strong sense of need and
desire for what has never yet been attained, are such
constituents, and the symptoms of spiritual invalidism.
The Lord said: "Blessed
are they that hunger and thirst..." (Matthew 5:6).
Paul said: 'I have not yet
attained, but this one thing I do - I press on...' (Phil. 3:12-14).
Is it not possible to be very
active, energetic, and zealous in good works, and yet be terribly
deficient in spirituality?
Just look again at those two
great letters of Paul. What wealth, what fulness, what power,
what life, what light! This is the Lord's standard. Is the Church
- or any church - living in the good of this? We must return to
But that is not all, nor the
worst about "Laodicea".
"Wretched" - "Miserable" - "Poor" -
"Blind" - "Naked"
Can all these be true at one
time and of one object, and yet - and yet - 'know it not'? It
could hardly be true in the natural, but here is something worse
What is this constituent
of spiritual mediocrity? It is spiritual insensitiveness.
One of the truest marks of a
Holy-Spirit-governed life is spiritual sensitiveness. Such a life
is finely strung to the gentle movements of the Spirit, and
suffers much when the Spirit is grieved. But here is a state of
which the Lord says it is all out of tune, and yet there is no
sense of discord.
Look again at the letters
mentioned. What riches, what sight, what clothing, what beauty,
what glory! All this the Lord has provided, has given; but what a
pathetic absence of a sense of loss - of poverty, nakedness,
blindness - there is in the Church.
"I counsel thee to buy..." "Be
Here it is not the buying of
salvation - that is "without money and, without price"
- but it is the 'zeal' that repudiates mediocrity, complacency,
and lukewarmness in a burning quest for that unto which we are
saved. A false apprehension of even so great a thing as salvation
can lead to untold loss. To make initial salvation an end in
itself and to rest upon it as if it were all that mattered
represents such a false apprehension.
The best exposition of this
challenge and admonition is found in Paul's own words in
Philippians, in which he shows how he would "buy... gold and
white raiment... and eyesalve". They are the words of a
truly saved man, and one who had full assurance of salvation.
"What things were gain
to me, these have I counted loss for Christ. Yea verily, and I
count all things to be loss for the excellency of the knowledge
of Christ Jesus my Lord; for whom I suffered the loss of all
things, and do count them but refuse, that I may gain Christ...
Not that I have already obtained, or am already complete; but I
press on, if so be that I may apprehend that for which also I was
apprehended by Christ Jesus" (Phil. 3:7,8,12). That is
what the Lord would designate an 'Overcomer'.
We are led, then, to -
The risen Lord having shown
that, with a very great deal of what men may think important and
successful within the church, it is terribly possible for
Himself to be outside, He then discloses the "on high
calling"; the "prize"; the object of the 'apprehending'.
in my Throne"
A governmental union with
Christ in the ages to come! Not only a heavenly citizen;
certainly not one of those of whom Paul wrote to the Corinthians,
as being "saved; yet so as by fire" - all else lost;
but called to the highest place that Heaven affords believers -
"in my throne". Unto this there may of necessity be
"rebuke" and "chastening". It will be a
disciplined, chastened people who will "attain" unto
So we see the great contrast
possible in Christian people, and hear our Lord say: 'Do not be
satisfied with anything short of all that to which I have called
you, and which I have made possible. Be a people of the
"Amen" - very positive, utter, and abandoned.'
The alternatives are vivid:
"Spew out", or "Sit... on my throne".
"He that hath an ear, let
him hear what the Spirit saith..."
First published as an Editorial in "A Witness and A
Testimony" magazine, Jul-Aug 1956, Vol 34-4