The faith of the Church of Laodicea was one that deserved to be vomited out by the Lord. The Lord therefore counseled it to buy from Him gold refined in the fire so that they may become rich in their faith. This lukewarm faith can also make its appearance among the righteous of this age. Because they received their faith for free, they do not realize just how precious their faith is. God thus spoke His Word of rebuke and counsel to the righteous, to give them faith that is like gold refined in the fire. We can also find out from the passage that the Lord wanted all the seven churches in Asia to have the same, one faith. The Lord commanded all those who have an ear to hear what the Holy Spirit says to His churches.
From 3:17, we see that the Laodicean Church was trapped deep in its own self-deception, thinking that its material abundance was the same as God’s spiritual blessings and that it was owing to their faith. To this deluded congregation, God sharply pointed out their spiritual poverty and misery.
The Church of Laodicea might have appeared as rich in faith, but in fact it was a faithless, poor church. Its faith was lukewarm, it was filled by spiritual arrogance, and it loved the world more than Jesus.
Revelation 3:14-22 speak of the life of a disciple. The true disciples of Jesus are those who obey and follow the Word of Christ. All those who are born again by believing in Jesus Christ are qualified to become His disciples. The Lord wants all of us to live the life of a disciple. We must realize that this disciple’s life has actually been given to us.
In the passage, the Lord said that He will vomit out the saints who do not live the life of a disciple. As it is recorded in verses 15-16, “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.” If the saved are neither cold nor hot before the Lord, this can only indicate their spiritual poverty. Also, such people do not know about the life of a disciple yet. But whosoever is born-again must all live the life of a disciple. We have been redeemed of our sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. This is our salvation.
What, then, were we given after our salvation and we were born again? We were given a life that tries to become like the Lord, follows and obeys His commands, and seeks after His Word. This is the life of a disciple. Demanding this discipleship from His saints, God rebuked the Church of Laodicea by saying that it was “neither cold nor hot.”
Faith that is neither cold nor hot is lukewarm faith. What kind of faith, then, is this lukewarm faith that offers so much comfort to the mankind by being neither cold nor hot? It is the faith that tries to have it both ways, to have the cake and eat it too. It is the faith that does not live the life of a disciple. Those whose faith is lukewarm are those who, though they have been saved, do not follow the will of Jesus. They may appear to be following Jesus, but they do not in fact—the faith of those who saddle on both sides of the fence, in other words, is called as lukewarm faith.
The world describes such faith as being wise. This faith may be wise in worldly terms, but it is the kind of faith that causes the Lord to vomit. What is lukewarm makes the Lord vomit. You should have a fairly good idea of what this faith that is neither cold nor hot looks like. Those whose faith is lukewarm neither unites with nor separates from the works of God’s churches; they do and they do not all at the same time. Their lives of faith is such that if the cut off mark is, say, at 60, then they adjust themselves to be exactly at 60, no more and no less.
Those whose life of faith is like this are spiritually poor. As the verses 17-18 say, “Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked—I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.”
Those whose faith is lukewarm take their worldly prosperity as their spiritual abundance. Though they feel that they are actually wretched, tired, and poor, they do not fully realize it. These are the people who do not know themselves. They think to themselves, “I’m alright. I’m sincere, smart, and approved by the others, and so it’s okay for me to live like this, though I’ve been saved,” and live their lives by their own standard. These people are faithful to the world, but they are not faithful to the church of God. Their faith is only lukewarm. God therefore says that He will vomit them out.
They come to the church with no higher aim than to avoid flunking out. They only sit through the church service and leave as soon as the service is over. They never participate in the works of the church voluntarily, and if they do, they make sure that it is the smallest participation. They do but they don’t, they don’t but they do. These are spiritually poor people.
The Lord had the following counsel for such people: “I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.” He told them to buy gold refined in the fire to be rich.
If you really want to follow the Lord, and if you really want Him to commend you for your faith, you must learn your faith. How, then, can you learn faith? You must learn it by paying the price of sacrifice and believing in the Word. The passage tells us to buy gold refined in the fire. This means that there are many trials and tribulations for us when it comes to following the Word of God. But all such trials and tribulations can be overcome by believing and following the Word of God. By doing so, our hearts become refined, giving us the faith that recognizes the Word of God as the truth and believes in it wholeheartedly. This is the faith that is like pure gold.
To gain true faith, we must thus pay the price of sacrifice, for without paying the price of sacrifice, we cannot learn faith. In other words, we can never learn faith without going through hardships. If we really want to become the people of faith, live the life of the Lord’s disciple, and be blessed for our faith, then we must pay the price of sacrifice. Without sacrifice, this can never be attained.
Who has the strong faith from the beginning? No one. It is because people are ignorant of faith that the church teaches them about the Word and guides them with it. We must obey what the church guides us and follow it in faith. But doing so entails hardship; at times patience is needed. This is why becoming the people of faith by receiving the guidance of the Word, fellowship, and teaching is accompanied by sacrifice. But because people do not want to sacrifice, though they want to learn faith, they cannot have the true faith of refinement. This is why the Lord tells us to buy from Him gold refined by the fire so that we may be rich in faith.
You can understand what this Word means only when you learn from the faith of the foregoing saints and follow their lives. If you hear the Word only in theory and do not actually follow what it commands of you, and if you participate in witnessing, prayers, or gatherings but do not actually put them in practice, you cannot learn faith. Because you have little faith, you measure your faith to be not that bad by your own standard of the world. You think to yourself, “I’ve been saved, I have money, and I’m doing okay in secular terms, and so I must be better than the others. Yeah, I sure am better than these people.”
If you really want to learn the true faith that is like gold, you must pay the price of sacrifice. Is it easy to obey and follow? It takes sacrifice to obey. Is it easy to sacrifice? Of course not. But if you want to avoid being vomited out, you must obey by sacrificing.
But those who, not having learnt the true faith, are spiritually poor never want to sacrifice. To obey, one must break his/her mind first. Not being able to do so, their hearts continue to be in their spiritual wretchedness, even as time goes by. Not realizing their own lack of faith, they only end up blaming the saints who went before them in faith from their back. You must learn the true faith. When you enter into spiritual battles and fight on God’s side, your faith will be refined as you gain spiritual spoils and realize what it takes to live the life of spiritual victory. You can know this faith only when you actually experience it.
God rebuked the servant of the Church of Laodicea by writing, “You know neither your nakedness nor your poverty. You have been saved, but your faith is lukewarm—neither this nor that. The only thing that you have is your salvation, which you stuffed it away. Other than this, you have nothing else.”
Did the servants of God or our spiritual precursors become our predecessors of faith just with passing time, without living the life of discipleship? Of course not! They went through all kinds of trouble for the Lord, both in joy and in sorrow. God guides you by having those before you go through all the things that you, too, will eventually go through. You must therefore believe in the fact that God teaches and guides you through those who followed the way of faith before you.