Laodicea – The Kind of Church Needing Radical Revival7 min read
Revival is seldom criticized amongst Christians, because nearly every person wants revival. We all want to see change. The Charismatic community wants to see everyone restored to full experience of God and His wonders. The Catholic community (not that we should consider it Christian in the Biblical sense) wants to see everyone “come home to Rome.” The traditionalists want restoration to the old ways. The list could go on, but the main point is this: everybody wants revival of some sort. But this exposes a problem: we all have our own view of what revival should look like, which means a great many of us have a wrong view and think everyone else has to conform to our preferences, rather than all (including ourselves) having to conform to Scripture’s truth. So then, we need to get back to what God says is the basis for and nature of revival. That starts by understanding what a revival-needing people look like, of which Laodicea is the perfect example. Both history and Scripture tell us this: revival is needed when lukewarm Christianity sets in. Is this what Evangelicals today subscribe to?
Four Marks of Lukewarm Christianity
The first indicator of lukewarm Christianity is indecisiveness, in terms of both truth and morality. Laodicea had no positive affirmations nor any negative denials. They weren’t cold or hot. They were a passive “in-between” group. They weren’t set on defending any doctrines, but then again, they weren’t set on denying them either. They weren’t set on be immoral, but on the other hand they weren’t concerned with upholding a moral code. They were somewhere in the middle of cold and hot – neither on fire for God, nor denying His truth. God hates indecisive Christianity.
The second indicator is having a false estimate of one’s prosperity. The Laodiceans said “I am rich and increased with goods, and have need of nothing.” No doubt they rejoiced in the numbers they had in their assembly. No doubt they were accepted by and excelling in the world. By the standards of man’s wisdom, they were the church of choice! There was no requirement to commit. There were no rights nor wrongs. Everything was happy pragmatism to go with easy-to-digest sentiments from whoever was teaching. This was prosperity in their eyes – but only from man’s perspective.
Thirdly, we find very little depth in the spirituality of Laodicea. They had no “gold tried in the fire” as it were – nothing that lasted for eternity. When their theology was tested, it collapsed. When their standards were tested, they compromised. Nothing could stand scrutiny in their spiritual lives; all they had was stuff that looked good, nothing more.
Finally, lukewarm Laodicea was marked by blindness and lack of discernment. They should have seen what true spirituality was. They should have known what to commit to concerning the things of God. They should have been able to identify spiritual shame and nakedness. But they were blind. They had no ability to judge between the holy and profane, between man’s wisdom and God’s, between truth and error. Pragmatic thinking seldom can; because it operates based on what works, not what is right. And when one finds something that works, why challenge it? After all, that makes life easier for everyone, right? This is how a lukewarm Christianity thinks.
So then, let’s apply the test to us. Is evangelicalism today marked by decisiveness on spiritual issues? Is it marked by depth in theological understanding? Is it marked by rejoicing in “prosperity” or “fruit” that has no Biblical foundation? We can see this in that about 80-90% of “converts” from altar calls in crusades prove to have no commitment to a local church afterward. Yet Christians hail this as a great spiritual revival. But the Spirit of God evidently isn’t in it. Or what about the prosperity gospel, the signs and wonders movement, as well as seeker-sensitive and mega-church mentality? Are these not all based on productivity that has no Biblical basis and sacrifice of sound Biblical teaching? This leads us to wonder if Laodicea’s third mark, spirituality with no depth, applies to modern Christianity. After all, if we can be satisfied with nominal conversion, cultural norms, unproven wonders, and songs that simply repeat a chorus ten times, how could these things ever be signs of deep-rooted faith and a solid understanding of Scripture? It seems that we have lost our ability to discern these things. And if they are addressed, it is called harsh or legalistic or old-fashioned. It is overwhelmingly logical to say with confidence: Christianity as it is today needs radical revival and purging.
Warnings to Lukewarm Christianity
These observations should greatly concern us. They aren’t side issues that one can simply relegate to personal conviction or preference. God says “Because you are neither hot or cold, I will spew you out of my mouth.” When God “tastes” as it were the temperature of Christianity in lukewarm conditions, He vomits it. There is no pleasure taken in it’ it is disgusting to Him. This should be our greatest fear! What an utter tragedy for those who claim to be blood-bought to so disgust God in their actions and attitudes. The subject of revival must never be a side issue or an issue of preference; God’s glory is at stake! And should we go on in our indecisiveness, soon our own nakedness will appear. It will be fully manifested before the world that Christianity as they knew it had failed. We need revival so that the name of God will not be blasphemed, so that the name of Christ will stand with dignity amongst us – not as a facet of what we claim but the essence of who we are. Even the slightest risk of lukewarm Christianity should cause us to tremble.
Solutions to Lukewarm Christianity
Thankfully, there is a direction we can go that will not end in shame and disgrace. God gives four opportunities to Laodicea that would lead to their revival. The first one is to buy lasting riches, “gold tried in the fire.” We need to readjust our perspectives to value what God values and hate what God hates. Only this will produce substance in our Christianity. Only this will allow us and our works to stand when the fire of testing comes. Secondly, Laodicea is told to anoint their eyes that they may see. If there was ever to be hope, they needed to renew spiritual discernment – the ability to judge between the things of God and the things of men. For us, if there will be any hope, we need to get back to Biblical theology and depth in our teaching; only this will equip us to be preserved from backward Christianity and false estimates of prosperity. Thirdly, there is a call to heed Christ’s invitation: “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” He offers fellowship and restoration should one only recognize he has ostracized the true Christ from his life and doctrine. Finally, though, we see a call to listen to God’s warning: “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” Though God was disgusted with Laodicea, He still loved them and offered repentance. But before that can happen, we must realize our need for repentance and we must gain a passionate zeal for God’s things, giving place for revival God’s way.
So then, we conclude with an incentive to resist the lukewarm sways of passive Christianity: “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.” Christ, in offering fellowship with Himself, offers position with Himself. Before us is the royalty of Heaven’s highest throne. That is our goal. That is our aim. That is our incentive. Like Paul, even though resistance of the majority’s trends is difficult, we should forget those things which are behind and press toward the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. He is our aim. He is our love. Let us seek revival for His sake. Revival will never be unto a specific denomination or sect; it will be unto Christ. Thus He must be the absolute center of our refocusing.