Home Media Sermons by Pastor Nicki Coertze Series 15 What will Jesus say about our church? . Laodicea - The lukewarm church (Part 2)

. Laodicea - The lukewarm church (Part 2)

LAODICEA - THE LUKEWARM CHURCH

 

Revelation 3:14-22 (ESV) 14 “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation. 15 “ ‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. 19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. 21 The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”

Introduction.

We started many weeks ago to look at the last of the 7 churches. For time sake I do not want to repeat what I said in my first sermon. But, there are a few things you need to know about this city that has bearing on this letter.

First of all, the development of any city requires water.

They got their water from the area of Hierapolis which was rich in hot springs. Other water that was relevant to this city is the cold refreshing springs from Colossae.

There’s a second thing that dominated this city, and that was a great commercial enterprise of banking. This image is used later on.

Another thing that Laodicea was famous for was the wool industry.

The city also gained much respect and honour for its medical school.

Allow me just to highlight the first points we looked at in this sermon.

1. The introduction of Christ.

In verse 14 He says: “The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation.”

There is no doubt who is speaking here.

1.1 He is the Amen.

1.2 He is the Faithful and true witness.

This says to us that the great Amen is completely trustworthy. He is perfectly accurate. He is reliable. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life

1.3 He is the beginning of God’s creation.

It sounds like He was the first one created by God and that is the view of Jehovah’s witnesses. But that is not true. It is the same thought as in Colossians 1:15 (ESV) 15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.” The Greek word is ‘Protokos’ which means that He is the premier or primary or preeminent one of all creation.

But today we get to their condemnation.

2. The condemnation.

2.1 They are like their water.

15 “ ‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.

As to all the other churches, Jesus says that He knows their works, and their works are to be gagged at, it is nauseating. It is a sad day in any church when Christ knows their works and there is just nothing to commend them for. At least with some of the other bad churches there were some good deeds amongst the negative statements.

Then Christ makes a statement in verse 15 and uses their local water situation as a backdrop to their judgment. “Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.”

I have often heard sermons that this church should have been a hot church, but Christ seems to be happy with either hot or cold, just not lukewarm. He would either have them hot as the healing waters of Hierapolis with all their beneficial properties, or cold and refreshing like the waters of Colossae. So, in Christ’s books, hot or cold are okay. Just not lukewarm.

Sadly, the church of Laodicea was lukewarm like the dirty, foul, tepid water that flowed for kilometres through a filthy aqueduct. It wasn’t hot enough to relax or restore. It wasn’t cool enough to quench. It was foul, and it made people nauseous. That’s what our Lord’s saying about this church: “You make Me sick.”

 

Sadly, in our day and age there are many churches that make God sick. These are churches who have lost their Biblical purpose. They have a wrong understanding of who Christ is. In seeking to please the world by being seeker sensitive, they no longer please Christ, they actually cause Him to want to vomit. They have a form of religion but have denied the power of God and are leaning on their own power, their own abilities, their own resources and their own riches. They love the world and the world loves them. They embrace other religions as if we serve the same father. They make God sick. They deny the power of the gospel. They have exchanged the authority of God’s Word and the true power of the Spirit and they rest in fanciful dreams, the prophecies of day dreamers, the wisdom and stories of man, and lean on the success of their programs instead of the power of their God. This causes God to want to vomit, because Christ did not die for this. He died that we may have true salvation, that we can become born-again, by a rebirth wrought by the Spirit of God, which changes lives, so that we will either be hot or cold, but not lukewarm like the water that arrived through the pipes in Laodicea.

Oh, may Logos not be a church like that. May we not cause God to want to vomit. May we rather be a sweet-smelling fragrance to God of the life we enjoy in Christ Jesus.

2.2 They are like their economy.

17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.

Christ once said: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven.” He said it for a reason, because often wealth, personal riches are the very thing that stands between man and salvation, and far too often many believers ignore their responsibility in the Kingdom the better it goes financially. There is a tendency to think that we do not need God when we have money.

Laodicea was a wealthy city: wealthy in material wealth, famous for its banking, for its riches. And the church’s opinion of its own identity, was a baseless fiction that somehow, they possessed not only material wealth, but even spiritual wealth. Maybe they met together in spiritual pride thinking they were the elevated people because they were blessed by prosperity. Materialism had so undermined them spiritually that they were about to cave in under the weight of their self-indulgence. It is like those who say, “we are right, because the size of our church, or our success story is prove of that.”

In the previous sermon I shared how they did not need Rome to rebuild their city after it was destroyed. The church of Laodicea likewise did not believe they needed God to rebuild them after their spiritual destruction. The fellowship of Christ by His Spirit meant very little to them.

Sadly, for them it is not their opinion of self that matters most, but Christ’s opinion of His church. Christ says: “not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.”

What a sickening condition of thinking you’re spiritually rich, when you’re bankrupt; or thinking you’re beautiful, when you’re wretched; of imagining that you’re to be envied, when you’re to be pitied; of believing you see everything clearly, when you see nothing and are stone blind; feeling you are clothed in spiritual finery, when you’re naked. You may have your bank account, you may wear your black wool, you may have your eye salve; but spiritually, you are miserable, wretched, poor, blind, and naked, and you are to be most pitied. You have no riches with God, you wear no robes of righteousness, you see no spiritual reality, and you don’t know it.

They might be rich with all the money in the world, but in God’s eyes they are poor. They might be exporters of eye salve, but they themselves are spiritually blind. They might be these great exporters of their black wool, but they themselves are naked.

3. The great invitation.

Is their hope for a church like this? Can there be any restoration?

18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see.

Here is grace offered to hypocrites. Not surprising, is it, that the Lord would offer grace to hypocrites: “To buy from Me.” We see this in the Old Testament with Israel of old. Isaiah 55:1 (ESV) “What shall a man profit if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?” “If you want riches, come to Me. If you want clothing, come to Me. If you want sight, come to Me. Come to Me, and I’ll give you gold refined by fire,” pure gold, no impurities. This refers to all spiritual blessings, all spiritual wealth that is pure and priceless, and it all comes from Me. All spiritual blessings in the heavenlies come from Me.”

Let’s apply this Old Testament verse to Laodicea.

You want to be rich – don’t trust in the wealth of your city but come buy from gold refined by fire. 1 Peter 1:7 (ESV) 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honour at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

Spiritual riches far outweigh material riches.

You want to be clothed. Take off your black wool garment and put on the garment of righteousness, the white robe that God clothes His saints with. ‘White’ garments in verse 18 are called ‘leukos’ in Greek and refers to the dazzling, brilliant white garments.’

Isaiah 61:10 (ESV) 10 I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”

Do you want to see? Your eye salve will never give you spiritual sight. God provides that. Ephesians 1:18 (ESV) 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,…”

Salvation is that gold which makes us spiritually rich in faith. It is that white robe that covers our sinful nakedness with the righteousness of God through Christ. It is that eye salve which gives us the knowledge of God, illuminating grace and an understanding of God’s truth. All we must do is come and buy from Him without money.

This is none other than God revealing that they are nothing more than beggars who should come and ask from Him, as they had nothing to put on the table.

4. Restoration needed.

19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.’

That God would still love a church like this, but yet He does. God’s reprove of them is a call to them to do two things.

They are called to be zealous and to repent.

With the same zeal as which they ran after riches they are now called to run after restoration. They need a change of heart, a change of mind and a change of direction.

They are called to fellowship. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.’

It is one thing to repent when you are out of fellowship with God, but repentance without a restoration of fellowship is empty. How many times do we hear the word ‘sorry’ from people who do not mean it, but they cannot restore fellowship with you. Repentance without fellowship being restored is meaningless and restoring fellowship without true repentance is meaningless as well.

 

There is a very interesting angle to this picture. At a time, Christ must have been on the inside as far as their fellowship with Him is concerned. What an insult?  It is like God inviting a beggar into His home. Suddenly He is kicked out and the beggar is on the inside, and God the owner of the house is on the outside, knocking and calling to seek entrance into His own house, His church.

 

Sadly, this verse is often quoted to the unsaved world who needs to open their heart’s door, so Christ can enter. This is not the door of your heart. You do not tell children to invite Jesus into their heart. This is the metaphorical spiritual door of a spiritual church, out of fellowship with their Lord.

In our day, there are thousands of churches like this – thousands maybe even tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands around the world – and Christ is outside. And in compassion He knocks and calls as He is shut out of church that bears His name.

 

Now, notice something. We often hear somebody saying that they will not join the church because it is full of hypocrites. Christ says He will come in and fellowship with those who are true in the faith. He can handle the hypocrites, who say they are believers but who do not behave like believers. One day he will separate the goats from the sheep. He will separate the wheat from the chaff.

 

Christ says that if even one rejects their works, recognises their spiritual bankruptcy, spiritual nakedness, and spiritual blindness; abandoning self-righteousness, works, and self-sufficiency, turning from sin and opening the door. If it’s just one, He will enter the church. Salvation will come inside that church: “And He will dine with that person: – fellowship, communion, shared life, shared joy, closeness, affection, intimacy.”

Now notice the statement: “I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” A shared meal was a symbol of union and peace. A shared meal was a symbol of fellowship. This is ‘deipnon’, the evening meal, the last one of the day, that lasted a long time before night fell. Jesus is saying, “If somebody – somebody in Laodicea, somebody - will come and open the door, I’ll come in and I’ll save you, and I’ll have fellowship with you.”

This is one final plea, one last plea. So, our Lord stands knocking on the door of Laodicea. He’s still there outside these churches; still there in the cold, in the dark, knocking on the door of sickening, uncommitted churches, seeking entrance before eternal night falls and it is everlastingly too late.

5. The reward.

21 The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”

This has been a recurring message throughout the 7 churches.

We saw in chapter 1 that He has a throne, and we know God has a throne. The throne of God and the throne of Christ becomes the throne of the penitent believer. This is the supreme elevation to humanity, to have the dignity of sitting on the throne of God and the throne of Christ. We don’t receive a kind of minimal salvation. He knocks on the church that is not behaving like church. He calls for the people who are not Christians to repent. “And if they do –” He says, “I’ll come in and I’ll linger with you, and I’ll be present with you and will commune and have fellowship. And someday, I will take you and seat you on My throne – the throne of My Father and My throne.”


That’s the message to the apostates, to the liberals, to the Christ-deniers, the Bible-deniers, who think they’re the elevated, scholarly, intellectuals who are far above true believers. “You don’t know your condition. You are poor and blind. You are wretched, miserable, naked.” But Christ, in grace, offers salvation.

And, again, as all the letters close, He says, “He who has an ear let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Are we listening?

In closing, the Spirit says to this church, and maybe to some of us: “You are in an absolute mess as you depend on your riches, but you are just like your water. But I the Amen, the faithful and true witness found that you are like your water, neither hot or cold, but lukewarm, and out of fellowship with me. The only answer is to come and buy from me without money, true righteousness and spiritual living. Open up to me and I will come in to you and in spite of you, I will give you a full meal, full fellowship and the fulness of spiritual intimacy that you may enjoy. "Come, taste and see, that the Lord is good.”

 

Amen!

Soli Deo Gloria

Logos Community Church – 21 October 2018