3:22 HEAR WHAT THE SPIRIT SAYS
The message to each of the seven churches ends in the same way: “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit said to the churches” (Revelation 3:22). We notice here that these messages have a universal application. “He (singular) who has an ear”—that is, each one who has spiritual discernment, is to “hear what the Spirit said to the churches” (plural). We who live today do not just need the message to the Laodicean Church—we need all the messages. All Christians need to make sure they do not lose their first love, that they reject heresies such as the synagogue of Satan and Jezebel. All need to repent, hold fast what they have, and overcome. But there is only one way that God’s people can possible overcome—they must “hear what the Spirit says”. The Apostle Paul insists that being in harmony with God is only possible when we “have the Spirit of Christ” (Romans 8:1-17). Gold (faith), white garments (righteousness) and eye salve (spiritual discernment) can only become ours through the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
For a book of prophecy, Reelation has a remarkable emphasis on the Holy Spirit. Besides chapters two and three ("hear what the Spirit says"), the Holy Spirit is emphasized in chapter four (4:5 Seven Lamps, Seven Spirits), five (5:6 Seven Horns, Seven Eyes), seven (7: Sealing, the Law, and the Latter Rain), and twelve (12: Commandments of God, Testimony of Jesus). Perhaps this is because Revelation focuses on the last days, when satanic delusions are overwhelming and impossible to discern without the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Jesus contrasted those who watch and enter "in with Him to the wedding" with those who sleep and are left out.<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> The difference is the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.
It is critical that every Christian know how to be filled with the Holy Spirit. There is nothing obscure or mysterious about it. The first step is repentance. <![if !supportFootnotes]> <![endif]> Peter said, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). True repentance is not a “sorry, sir” apology because we have been caught sinning and may get into trouble, or miss out on heaven. It is a deep realization of what our sin has done to ourselves, to our fellow human beings, and to God. But what comes first repentance or the Spirit? In fact, repentance can only come from the Spirit of God, which shows that God is already at work in our lives, bringing us to repentance: “I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper…the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you” (John 14:16,17). The Holy Spirit wants to go from being an outside influence (“with you”) to being a constant inner reality (“in you”). Once inside He wants to teach us to hear His voice and to allow Him to show us our hidden sins and help us to repent—“Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalms 139:23,24).
Obedience is the second condition for receiving the Holy Spirit. Peter preached about "the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him” (Acts 5:32). But what comes first, obedience or the Spirit? As with repentance, it is impossible to obey God without the Holy Spirit. What we need is a willingness to obey, and God will give His Spirit to enable our willingness to become a living reality. When through repentance we open ourselves to the influence of the Spirit He begins to bring things to our attention in the order and way that He knows to be best. “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth has come, He will guide you into all truth” (John 16:12,13). Our willingness to obey what the Spirit brings to us opens the way for Him to fill us and to empower us to obey.
Finally, we receive the Holy Spirit when we desire Him enough to seek Him wholeheartedly. In Luke 11 Jesus told a story of a man who had a visitor at night and had nothing to give him to eat. Since the customs of the time demanded that a visitor be fed, he went to his neighbor even though it was night. The neighbor was in bed and refused to get up, but with persistence the man kept knocking and finally got what he wanted. Jesus concluded the story with the words, “how much more will your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” (v.13). Seeking the Spirit is not just a one-time request. Our persistence in asking shows the seriousness of our desire. Every day we should take time to repent, confessing our willingness to obey whatever God brings to us, and asking again for His Holy Spirit. “You will seek Me, and you will find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).
In Jesus' story the man himself was satisfied at first—he had enough to be resting comfortably with his family. But then a visitor arrived who was hungry, and he realized that he didn’t have anything to give him. As long as the focus is on self and our own blessing, we will not feel the kind of need that will impel us to ask persistently for the filling of the Holy Spirit. The gifts of the Spirit (for example, apostleship, prophecy, teaching, gifts of miracles and healing, helps, administration, tongues, see 1 Corinthians 12:28) are all for the purpose of ministry. It is when we get involved in serving the church and working for lost people that we will experience the fullness of the Spirit and hear Him speaking.
The messages to the seven churches seem to end on a note of uncertainty. The members of the Laodicean Church are so luke-warm that Jesus is about to spew them out of His mouth. But He entreats them to open the door of their hearts and let the Holy Spirit transform their lives with the true riches of gold, white garments and eye salve. It is obvious that many will heed His invitation; the next time we see the church they have “washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the lamb" and "serve Him night and day<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]>” (Revelation 7:14). For this change to take place Jesus has a great work to do, and in the next chapter he invites us to “come up here” to heaven to see what He is doing there on our behalf.
<![if !supportFootnotes]>  <![endif]>The parable of the ten virgins, Matthew 25:1-13.
<![if !supportFootnotes]>  <![endif]>Long before we have made any response to God his grace has been working for our salvation—“the goodness of God leads you to repentance” (Romans 2:4).
<![if !supportFootnotes]>  <![endif]>Although this verse seems to portray the church in heaven, a careful reading shows that they are still on earth in the midst of the time of trouble (see 7 In Heaven While on Earth).