Locked Out! But Why?

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20)

I’ve heard many sermons in which Revelation 3:20 is quoted with great certainty and joy – usually in the context of Jesus standing outside the door of a person’s life. It’s a wonderful Gospel truth and countless unsaved people have heard Jesus knocking, responded to this eternal message and welcomed Jesus into their lives. Precious though that message is, it is not the context of what Jesus told John to write about in the book of Revelation.

The scripture refers to the people of Laodicea, who had, indeed, been a fellowship founded on the rock of Jesus – a true church of God’s people who had been called out of the Kingdom of darkness to enjoy the Light of God’s truth in fellowship with Him. So, why is Jesus portrayed as being on the outside of this church, knocking on the door and wanting to come in? How come that Jesus had been ushered to the door and locked out in the first place?

The Laodiceans thought they’d got it altogether – surely they, of all people, were in a good place, doing God’s will? They were rich and were in need of nothing – but most sadly, they no longer had need of Jesus. They were confident in their own abilities, their resources and their wealth. Their church was located in a great trading location. Laodicea was known for its fine wool clothing and for the salve which people came from far and wide to buy as ointment for their eyes. They were doing well. The people were rich and well-clothed – they had acquired wealth and did not need a thing!

But God doesn’t look on the outward appearance – He looks on the heart (1 Samuel 16:7). He saw the people in the Church of Laodicea as being “wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked” (Rev 3:17). God saw the reality and Jesus had been shown the door.

In the parable of the ten virgins, Jesus describes the five who were wise as having oil in their lamps, and contrasts them with the five whose lamps were empty of oil, whom He describes as foolish. In the parable there are only two categories – the wise, with oil, and the foolish, without oil. But as I meditated on why Jesus had been locked out of the church at Laodicea, and was now on the outside, waiting for an invitation to come back in, I began to see that there could be another category, an even more terrible one – those who once had oil in their lamps, but were now going through the motions of Christian living, but with their lamps having run out of oil a long time ago.

Jesus begins His analysis of their spiritual life by saying that “He is about to spit them out of His mouth” (Rev 3:16). This is the equivalent of saying that they had locked Him out of His church on earth and unless they welcome Him back in (Rev. 3:20), they will either lose their reward in heaven or be locked out of their place in eternity. When talking to the Pharisees, Jesus put it this way, “what is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight” (Luke 16:15).

I’m more aware than ever before that we are entering the end of the end times and that these are days of severe testing for God’s people. Times in which, Jesus said, believers “will be hated by all nations because of me” (Matthew 24:9). In these days, the god of this world is out to undermine and destroy the true people of God and to rob them of their inheritance. And, it seems, one of his prime tactics is to take people’s eyes off what God actually called them to do and, instead, be happy, in Laodicean style, with their interpretation of Christian living, which more easily fits in with their desires or way of life!

They back off from the road which is rough and steep (the narrow way) and opt for the easy road (the broad way). They cease to fight for the treasure which is won through perseverance and endurance and choose to walk on a downward slope of acceptable popularity which leads to compromise of their calling at every level of belief and witness into the world. Jesus urged the Laodiceans not to depend on their current wealth and success, but to buy from the Lord gold that has been refined by fire – so that they could become truly rich, be clothed in the white attire of righteousness and have their spiritual sight restored.

Many commentators equate this last of the seven letters in Revelation as being a parable for the end-times church, in the season immediately preceding the return of Jesus. With that thought in mind, I am challenged by two questions:

  1. What are the reasons, in today’s end-time church, which would cause believers who once had it all together, with plenty of oil in their lamps, to discover that their lamps were dry and Jesus had been pushed to the outside of their personal life – or even their church?
  2. The second question relates to the urging of the Lord to the Laodiceans to go to Him and buy gold that has been refined by fire. I wonder what, in the eyes of the Lord, the gold refined by actually is – the gold which would bring restoration to their relationship with Jesus?

I’d love to hear what you think! For I am strongly sensing that these are two of the most important questions that the Body of Christ needs to ask and answer in these critical days.

28 Comments

  1. Thank you for raising these questions Peter.
    Can the lukewarm church buy gold by returning to her first love, namely Jesus Christ, and submitting once again to His ongoing process of sanctification.
    Jesus is returning for a pure Bride, without spot or blemish, and how can we ever come near to reaching that state if we are lukewarm?
    I believe that Jesus has great treasure in store if we can remain faithful and keep the oil in our lamps in spite of the trials and difficulties which we may face as end time events take their course.

  2. Sustaining a Godly focus over the long term doesn’t happen randomly. We have to be intentional & there is no substitute for being in the Word with hunger to know Jesus more & more. The enemy wants to distract us so that gradually we lose that hunger. The Chosen free tv show is doing a great work in kindling interest in faith in Jesus, & hunger to know Jesus more & more. Doing a great job of sparking a desire to be in the same room as Jesus & not have him on the other side of the door to our heart.
    The question about gold – needs much more thought on my part
    This morning I found this teaching by Brandon Robbins on the significance of the fig tree challenging, inspiring, motivating
    https://youtu.be/oja6HDre2k8
    It relates to both of these questions by Peter

  3. 1 Peter 1:3-7 seems very relevant. I think the gold Jesus refers to in the Revelation passage is our faith proved genuine through trials. When he asks us to “buy” the gold refined in the fire perhaps it’s because it costs us in some way because of the suffering involved. Will we continue to trust God in the face of worldly opposition, knowing that our faith is of far greater worth than gold?
    As an example, something I am increasingly coming across in the church is the temptation to replace God’s definition of love with the prevailing worldly view. To think loving people means affirming them in every way without acknowledging the need for repentance from sin. There seems to be a fear of putting people off God by offending them with the truth, without understanding what Jesus said that “If the world hates you, know that it hated me first”. God’s ways are counterintuitive to our human ways of thinking. I feel an increasing need for we as Christians to hold our nerve, to not be “wise in our own eyes” but to trust God at His word in the face of increasing hostility from the world, even when it looks like we are heading for disaster. God’s ways often look like defeat before the victory comes, as evidenced supremely by the cross of Jesus. I think we shut Jesus out when we don’t trust him and don’t prioritise relationship with him.

  4. Thank you Peter for your two questions based on two passages that seem to keep coming up at this time.
    Regarding the first question, can you lose your salvation? Jesus ended Revelation 3:20 with the phrase ‘to him who overcomes….’. In Matthew 25:12 Jesus answered ‘I do not know you’, which is very similar to the phrase He used on the sermon on the mount, which again was teaching to his disciples, where he said in Matthew 7:23 ‘I never knew you’.
    Whilst we cannot earn our salvation, does how we live impact it? 1 Corinthians 3:13 suggests it does, but to what extent?
    I look forward to your further thoughts.

  5. The first question seems to reflect the state of the church today. This article in the January issue of Billy Graham organization’s Decision Magazine: https://decisionmagazine.com/whats-wrong-with-americas-pulpits/ is a sad picture of the church in the U.S. Whatever we have from God before, the modern ungodly worldview & culture are so overpowering that Christians can easily be drowned in it.
    As for the gold, can it be anything other than a faithful life long walk as a child of God, to be solidly & completely in-grafted as a branch in His vine, to live by His word of truth? I see two aspects to the cost for this gold – it costs nothing in terms of money or wealth, yet it costs us everything – to carry our cross every day to follow our Lord.

  6. I value your instruction so much and appreciate your questions, Peter. Is it possible the gold, refined in the fire – is the life of Christ within that He has called us all to live, as in being led by the Spirit, not the flesh? Or, could it be the gold is the reward of being an overcomer as we yield to Him, inwardly, as we endure the various temptations and trials encountered, becoming more like Him as we are broken of our Self-Life? Or, could it be thr gold of receiving the revelations that are stored up for us, the Mysteries hidden in Christ? All of these are produced as a result of our yieldedness and surrender, from deep within. Since He is coming back as One who is the fiery Son of Man, we eagerly await the revealing of the Sons and Daughters whom have known Him intimately and to whom he has vested the overcoming power, in these trysome endtimes.

  7. Your article is certainly a challenge to us all, as the church in preparation to be the bride of Christ. How we need that oil in our lamps to increase. I recently read an article that stated ” Jesus example is startling. Jesus was able to tolerate incredible ambivalence among his own disciples. Think of peter, who said he would never deny Jesus and then did. And Judas, who betrayed Him for cash, yet Jesus still invited him to the Last Supper.” He is so loving and patient with us. He never gives up on us, Praise Him.

  8. I am scared . scared of being Lukewarm and happy and content because my coffers are good and healthy and so I am going to sit with my fear and ask what can I do lord. one thing is More and more Praise, as I wash cook clean laugh cry I can do this. I have experienced the devil flee when I praise. I am very prompted by Jack Taylors book The Hallelujah factor. I am asked also to keep my diet good and my body strong and fast from excess. I am asked to learn music and sing more and share the knowledge of the new series The Chosen. I would love to know your thoughts on repentance and penance too

  9. You are a wonderful writer, Peter! My immediate thought is that when congregations lose sight of The Holy Spirit as Lord in the Church, there is a lot less transformation from glory to glory and /or evidence of doing His works. In churches where The Lord The Holy Spirit is welcomed and sovereign, there is less of the lukewarm. (2 Corinthians 3 verses 17 & 18). This is demonstrated by Acts 2: 38-47, of course.

  10. As l read this , it opened my spiritual eyes that as Christians we can get into comfortable zones and think we have it all and stop pressing on. It is important to continue feeding on the word of God which is pure. Psalm 19:10
    There is soo much watered out gospel these days that if you don’t have the spirit of discernment and filled with the holy spirit you will be misled. Yes the bible is now easily acceptable which the enemy fought for years not for people to have access but now the enemy is using different strategies to deceive many people. Thank you for the questions. It helps me to sit back and reflect on my spiritual state. Am l filled with oil if so have l been following the will of God or my own agenda. Holy spirit help me.

  11. Dear Peter,
    You ask two very important questions, which should exercise each one of us who profess Christ as Saviour. the parable of the ten virgins is clearly a warning for us not be be complacent. The Lord Jesus is still speaking with his disciples on the Mount of Olives, a conversation that began in Matthew 24: 1-3. To suggest an answer to your first question, I wonder if it is the presence of an ungodly life style in the life of the believer, the toleration of some sinful behaviour?

  12. Peter,
    Are you implying that those locked out of their place in eternity have lost their salvation? That once saved is not always saved? That we can lose our salvation by being lukewarm or running on empty in relation to the Holy Spirit? Then, why did Christ have to die if keeping our relationship with God alive depended on us? Perplexed. I’m not denying these scriptures, but trying to see where it fits in the entire context of all Scripture. Because to me, it seems that interpreted thus it raises the questions I have. I’d appreciate an answer whenever possible, Peter.

  13. Dear Peter

    I thank you for your recent emails, though I did wonder why they had started to arrive, as I hadn’t received anything from you for a long time.

    Initially I didn’t read the first one, but I read the second when I saw you mentioned Esther. As only the night before I had woken in the early hours, and decided to pick my Bible up – if fell open as Esther, which I read. Such a strange coincidence that your email mentioned Esther, ‘for such a time as this’… Of course I then read the first also.

    Today your third email arrived, and as I started to read it, I initially thought you must be reading the same ‘daily word’ as I. You mentioned Revelation 3:20 and it’s true meaning, followed by the Laodician Church…. Obviously I tried to recollect where I had read exactly what you had written, but then realised it was a Charles Spurgeon tract I got a while ago (An Earnest Warning about Lukewarmness – 26/7/1874), which I read this week! God’s timing is perfectly perfect, and both your writing and the tract confirm my own thoughts and burden of prayer.

    I currently live in what appears to be quite a dry land… It pleases me to know our God is still the God of miracles, and anything is possible – even a revival of a Laodician church…

    ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit says the LORD’!

    Every blessing
    Gail

  14. Thank you for asking these thought-provoking questions.

    The two are certainly linked and, in considering the first question, I think it is helpful to start by initially responding to the second:

    2. I understand that fire was used to purify gold in NT times, causing the impurities to rise to the surface (where they could be more easily removed). The fire referred to is a metaphor for the various trials we face and it is these that strengthen and refine our faith, with the impurities in our lives being exposed and brought into the light. Trials surely push us to that place where we come to the end of ourselves and throw ourselves totally on Jesus, and this is where God wants our hearts to be So, I consider that our unwavering faith (that has been refined by testing) is the gold we are told to buy. As we read in 1 Peter v7, where our faith passes the test it brings praise, glory and honour to God.

    1. If our unwavering faith is the gold we need, then I believe a lack of faith is what causes us to have no oil in our lamps. Personally, I believe that it is too easy for any of us to fall into telling God, ‘I’ve got this!’ and then wonder why our love has gone cold. We know that ‘His thoughts are not our thoughts, and His ways are not our ways’, and yet all too easily we try to take charge of our lives instead of surrendering them to Him. It is the refining fire (of testing trials) that brings us back to that place of recognising our need, painful as this may seem at the time.

    In studying 1 Peter, when considering this question, I noticed in v6 that it says, ‘…though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold …’ and was struck by the ‘if necessary’. It would certainly seem that Jesus considered it necessary for the Laodiceans!

  15. I think the gold refined by fire is the end result of the persecution we suffer as a true believer who stands up for the things of God and Bible truths. It’s easy to sit by and say nothing when people put forth strange unbiblical truths but I’ve never been able to keep quiet I have to speak out. Not well accepted by most people. But then I think of what Jesus went through on the cross for me and know that I MUST speak out to give people a chance to understand and be saved,.

  16. Thank you for putting the passage in context. A wake up call not to be complacent with our salvation. Its consequences , but also how lovely Jesus does not let go of us, its us who rejects him. He still reaches out to us, the prosperity gospel preached now is drawing many on the wrong path. The lack of teaching consequences for our behaviour is not being taught to our children. Relying on our own strength makes us arrogant and we are not looking to Jesus for our purpose in life. I pray more teachers like you emerge that lovingly tell the truth of jesus . ‘Warts and all’

  17. The rot starts the top. You only have to look at the so called leadership in many of the established Churches to understand the parlous state of many places of worship. When God’s unchanging Word is ignored or modified to suit worldly and woke thinking the Holy Spirit will surely leave the Churches and Jesus will not come where He is not welcome. It’s very sad but not surprising as this is forecast in end times scripture.

  18. I have recently been challenged by the fact that we not only need a relationship with God through Jesus but also to be in continual union with Him, it seems to me that there is a difference between union and relationship. The Laodiceans and the unwise virgins and those mentioned in Mt. 7:21-23 lost their relationship and their union with Jesus.

  19. To me the gospel is not complicated. Thank you jesus for that as I am not a educated man. Dyslexic and spent 40 years in drink and drugs. My whole life is now jesus and The Word. Same thing. My passion is a craving to get more jesus. That come from jesus in His love revealed in my walk with Him. Knowing jesus shows the real me. Not in condemnation but in truth. All are lost and blind outside jesus. The world is just playing world as nothing can happen outside jesus. Truth Revaltion is given by jesus to those with Him for the kingdom work and glory. The question asked are easy to see when truth from jesus is their. I have a choice as all do to follow and push on no matter what is happening in my life. His power makes that possible as can’t do it without jesus as impossible. We are blessed to know jesus is our all when new life in heart is given. Thanks jesus kev

  20. For me, and possibly too for the Laodiceans, “the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of wealth” are the main reasons that the originally healthy plant which sprang up from the seed of the Gospel has withered and now shows little sign of (spiritual) life. I think of Peter taking his eyes off Yeshua to look at the storm and the fearsome waves threatening to engulf him. Messiah Yeshua taught on the issue of riches many times. I think also of the rich young ruler who went away sad. I don’t know, but this probably applies more to believers in the wealthier nations where we have so many comforts. In many fellowships it’s easier to go with the flow of ‘normal church life’ and be content, than “diligently to seek Him” or “to seek Him with all your heart” and “eagerly to desire the better Gifts”. I can be guilty of thinking I can get along without all that effort and (basically) spiritual warfare. It’s apathy.

  21. (Of course, all the Gifts of the Spirit, and full salvation, have been paid for by the greatest Gift of all, Messiah Yeshua our Saviour.)

  22. 1) running out of oil. Without/ Reject the HOLY SPIRIT.

    2) Gold. any work that is not of GOD’S Kingdom.
    1 Corinthians 3:12-15 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss;

  23. Thank you Peter for your precious words. I think the gold is like the pearl of great price. You sell everything to have it. We are told, “Eagerly desire the gifts of the Spirit, especially to prophesy.” Surely, to have His Spirit in us, speaking to us, bringing revelation and words of correction, admonition, warning, instruction, guidance and encouragement must be by far the most precious gift in this life, and highly to be desired. Lord, have mercy and help us to cry out to You for Your Spirit and Your Gifts, especially the Gift of Prophecy.

  24. Firstly I think that Christians now in this present age are allowing hardships and suffering to numb them and they become cast down and despondent. Also the flesh/their carnal nature is getting more food than does their spirit/’inner man’.

    Then the lack of daily connection with God through worship, sincere heartfelt prayer and His written Word, results in them becoming weak spiritually and they feed/(numb) themselves with media through technology and with soiled opinions from the world about any and all topics of interest.

    So the Lord gets shut out.
    Strongholds are being built in their hearts and lives, unhealthy soul ties formed and they are getting entangled in a life of sin.

    Lukewarm, there’s no extra oil getting bought for their lamps…

  25. I have only just skim read this article but in essence I agree.

    I am a part of a mission which is speeding up Bible translation considerably. Since starting this difficult project it seems sometimes as if all hell is out to thwart it and the enemy is certainly not pleased. As I am someone nearing retirement but not quite there yet, I am tempted to choose something secular which is less stressful and pays me a proper salary. However, I know I am probably called to this missional work or similar and so I expect the Lord would have me continue with the mission work. I described my life recently as being constantly thrown into a fiery furnace which is doable only when Jesus comes alongside. When I sensed the Lord first call me, it was at 3 minutes to midnight and I see that as Christ indicating to me that my work is an end times mission.

  26. Could the gold be that closer walk with the Lord immersed in prayer and worship and the oil is the Holy Spirit and His presence to fuel and guide us. Also the word of God hidden in our hearts to proclaim when the enemy comes.

  27. These two questions have really made me stop and think today. I need to look at them in greater detail now but essentially I agree that we are facing the end times and need to prepare. Your questions are not just thought provoking but questions to help us prepare more thoroughly. Thank you so much.

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