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

. 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.’”


In this sermon we wrap up our study on the 7 churches of Revelation. Oh, that Logos will be the church that Jesus intended us to be. In this series we were more concerned about what Jesus will say, than what Jesus will do. I am amazed at the amount of people going around with the arm band WWJD, but then they decide what Jesus will do, and what He does in their estimates is often contradictory to what He says. We want to know what Christ says about our church, and in studying what He says to the 7 churches of Asia, all of us can extract truths to guide us, challenge us and reform us.

A few weeks ago, we welcomed 22 people into membership, but they must realise that more than belonging to Logos, they belong to Christ, and that together with us they need to commit themselves to being imitators of Christ as dearly beloved children and join us as we all walk together in love.

Just a reminder that these 7 churches are actual churches that existed. And they received actual letters from John, inspired by the living Christ. It is not 7 church ages as some theologians propose. And we are not living in the dispensation of Laodicea which they propose. We have seen throughout the churches that Christ is relevant to all of us, in many of the ways He has revealed Himself to these churches. Sometimes more than one of His attributes can be relevant to us at the same time.

But today we see how He reveals Himself to Laodicea.

Now how many modern churches do you know with the name Laodicea? It is like calling your child Judas. So at least it seems that most people agree that it was a bad church. There are numerous churches with the name Philadelphia. My first congregation was called Philadelphia.

This is the worst of the 7 churches. Nothing good to be said to them. It is literally the church that made God gag.

There are theologians including Dr Mac Arthur who believe that this is a church of unbelievers, an unregenerate church, tares, goats, an unredeemed church as they had a wrong view of Christ. I understand why they say so, as there is nothing good said about this church, but I find it difficult to think that Christ will call such a church – “church”, and regard it as one of His ‘lamp stands’ if they were not redeemed. The word ‘church’ comes from the word “ekklysia” which in itself means “called out ones”. I personally think they might have had some unredeemed people in the church, which is many times true of all churches as Satan sows his seeds in the same field. They were rather to use Christ’s words ‘lukewarm’, or simply Christians not worthy of the Name they bear. They were out of fellowship with Christ. But I believe they were a legitimate church out of fellowship with Christ, otherwise they would not be reckoned amongst the churches. Christ stands amongst His churches and holds His leaders in His right hand.

Laodicea was located in the Lycus River Valley in southwest Phrygia. It’s the most easterly city of the seven cities, about 72 Km away from Philadelphia. Its sister cities were Colossae and Hierapolis. Colossae’s about 16 km away, and Hierapolis is only about 10 km away. Antiochus II founded the city in the third century before Christ and named it after his wife Laodice. He named it after her and then divorced her; but the name stuck. The modern name of the Turkish city is Eski-hassar, which means in Turkish “the old fortress.” It had a very large Jewish population.

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. Without water a population cannot survive. We know all about this don’t we. Of late our household being so high is more often without water than with water. As this city grew the local water sources no longer sufficed and they had to make a plan.  So, they built an amazing underground aqueduct. They put it underground so that their enemies wouldn’t have access to it. They used pipes made from stone.

They got their water from the area of Hierapolis which was rich in hot springs. People went there for the healing properties of the hot springs. Even today people go on vacation to that area to enjoy the hot springs. It will be similar to our places like Tshipise, Eiland and Warm Baths. So, the water flowed through this aqueduct to Laodicea and the water was collected in a central water tower and then distributed through the streets by pipes radiating from the central water tower.

The water tower in the sections of the terracotta pipes are still visible today. Some archaeologists have suggested that the pipes came from 8 km away. There is much more detail regarding these pipes which I will not share for time sake.

There’s a second thing that dominated this city, and that was a great commercial enterprise of banking. The city was very wealthy. It was so wealthy that after the earthquake of 60 A. D. which levelled this city and some of the others in the area, the people of Laodicea prided themselves on rejecting an offer of financial help from Rome because they had enough money of their own to completely rebuild a beautiful city without any help. Tacitus, a Roman historian wrote: “Laodicea arose from the ruins by the strength of her own resources with no help from us.”

Another thing that Laodicea was famous for was the wool industry. The major product being a soft wool, glossy wool which was black in colour. It was used for carpets and it was used for clothing, both locally and then also for exportation.

The city also gained much respect and honour for its medical school. A medical school was established in connection with a temple to an ancient god of healing, later identified as Asclepius. We see him in Corinth as well. Famous medical teachers were there, and they developed a famous and highly-valued salve to be used for eye ailments. All three industries namely finance, the black wool, and eye salve play a part in this letter, and so does the water supply.

Let’s hear what the Lord says to this church.

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.

The word ‘amen’ is often used in Scripture to affirm the truthfulness of a statement. It is an affirmation. We end our prayers with it, and often when we agree with somebody we say ‘Amen’. At times, I call for an ‘Amen’ while preaching, seeking for you to acknowledge agreement in your hears for the value of what I said. The Hebrew word translated “amen” literally means “truly” or “so be it.” “Amen” is also found in the Greek New Testament and has the same meaning. It is a kind of verbal guarantee that what has been said is true. It is essentially the same at the end as putting the word “verily” at the beginning. We read many times in the New Testament, “Verily, verily, or truly, truly I say unto you,” and then the Lord goes on to say something. Verily at the beginning of a statement affirms the statement that is about to be made; and amen at the end of a statement seals its veracity and its certainty.

Our Lord is the firm, fixed, certain, faithful, unchangeable Amen, because He is true all the time, in every way; and specifically, because all that He says is true, and all that He promises is true, and all His covenants are true; and He Himself is the guarantee and affirmation. Christ, in fact, is the Amen to God’s promises. He is the Amen to God’s covenants. Paul summarises it nicely in 2 Corinthians 1:20 (NKJV) 20 For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.” God’s promises are then validated in Christ. They are made certain in Christ. He is God’s Amen, the One who confirms all divine promises. This, of course, is to establish His glory, and His truthfulness, and His unity with God.

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. He is the perfect Witness – to all testimony which He bears to God, to the character of God, to the purposes of God, the plans of God, the promises of God, the covenants of God.

I am so glad I do not understand everything about God, or that I understand His mind fully. If I could understand God fully, is He worth worshipping? Because then He is very much like me, then He cannot be God. He has hidden attributes we will never comprehend. Think about it. Humanly speaking you cannot speak anything into being, but God can. I promise you that this side of the grave you will never understand it.

All that He says is a faithful Witness. Remember the words of Jesus to Nikodemus in John 3:31-32 (ESV) 31 He who comes from above is above all. He who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks in an earthly way. He who comes from heaven is above all. 32 He bears witness to what he has seen and heard, yet no one receives his testimony.”

Everything Jesus does and says is sincere and true. This establishes at the very beginning in dealing with this church, that truth is critical. Truth is the necessary foundation for every church, that is why we are not purpose driven, that is why we are not programme driven, that is why we are Bible driven.

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. Paul explains it further in Colossians 1:16-19 (ESV) 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,..”

Christ is the everything of God. All that God is, He is. He is the Creator. He is the Author of life, both spiritual life and physical life. So, when it says, “He is the Beginning of God’s creation,” we can interpret as the primary One, the premier one, the source of all creation. John 1:3 (ESV)3 All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.”

Because Jesus is the great Amen, because He is the faithful witness, because He is the beginning of God’s creation, there is nobody more authoritative to offer any form of opinion about this church.

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."

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.  There was a cold perennial stream, which made it the earliest settlement in the area; and the water was refreshing, clear.

But they were 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.

We will end here today and continue in my next sermon with this church. There are some more valuable lessons to learn from their context.


Soli Deo Gloria

Logos Community Church – 16 September 2018