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Sermon No: 1501-The Christless church



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SERMON TOPIC: The Christless church

Speaker: Gavin Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 2 November 2014

Topic Groups: COMPROMISE, THE CHURCH, LUKEWARMNESS

Sermon synopsis: When John was in exile on the island of Patmos, the glorified Jesus appeared to him and gave him messages for each of the 7 churches in Asia Minor. Although these were 7 literal churches in Asia Minor, they are also typical of 7 periods of Church history.

The last church mentioned was in Laodicea. It presented a state of lukewarmness, indifference, materialism and apostasy which characterizes much of the Western Church today.

Of the 7 churches listed, this is the only church which receives no praise from Jesus. In fact Jesus is pictured as being outside his own church! - “I stand at the door and knock” (Rev 3:20). He is outside the door because he is not needed. They say, “I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.” (Rev 3:17)

Like Laodicea, in many of the Western churches today we have a lot of programs but no Christ! Paul says that in the last days people will “have a form of godliness but denying its power.” (2 Tim 3:1-5) i.e. occupied with religious ritual which has lost the significance.
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LIVING IN LAODICEA

When John was in exile on the island of Patmos, the glorified Jesus appeared to him and gave him messages for each of the 7 churches in Asia Minor.

Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.

To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!

So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, “I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.” But you do not realise that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so that you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so that you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so that you can see.

Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. 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 that person, and they with me. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. (Rev 3:14-22)

No

PARABLE

CHURCH

+/ - PERIOD

CHURCH AGE

1

The Sower

Ephesus

AD 30 – 100

Apostolic Church

2

The Wheat and Weeds

Smyrna

AD 100 – 300

Persecuted Church

3

The Mustard Seed

Pergamum

AD 300 – 600

State Church (Constantine)

4

The Leaven

Thyatira

AD 600 – 1500

Papal Church (Roman Catholic)

5

The Hidden Treasure

Sardis

AD 1500 – 1700

Reformation Church (Protestant)

6

The Pearl of Great Price

Philadelphia

AD 1700 – 1900

Missionary Church

7

The Dragnet

Laodicea

AD 1900 –

Apostate Church

7 CHURCH AGES

Although these were 7 literal churches in Asia Minor, they are also typical of 7 periods of Church history.

The last church mentioned was in Laodicea. It presented a state of lukewarmness, indifference, materialism and apostasy which characterizes much of the Western Church today.

Of the 7 churches listed, this is the only church which receives no praise from Jesus.

LOVERS OF MONEY

Laodicea was one of the wealthiest cities in the ancient world. The Greek geographer and historian Strabo (64/ 63 BC – c. AD 24) described Laodicea at the beginning of the 1st century AD as follows: “Laodicea, though formerly small, grew large in our time and in that of our fathers… However, it was the fertility of its territory and the prosperity of certain citizens that made it great: at first Hieron, who left to the people an inheritance of more than two thousand talents and adorned the city with many dedicated offerings…” 1

1 Geography 12:8:16; LCL 5:511

WEALTH

Strabo

Laodicea’s wealth was in part due to three things:

The city was close to a medical school on the road to Carura 1 and Laodicea is associated with the production of a world-famous eye salve known as “tephra Phrygia”, reputed to cure certain kinds of eye diseases. 2

1 Strabo, Geography 12.8.20 “Between Laodicea and Carura is a temple of Men Carus, as it is called, which is held in remarkable veneration. In my own time a great Herophileian school of medicine has been established by Zeuxis, and afterwards carried on by Alexander Philalethes…” 2 Demosthenes Philalethes, a pupil of Alexander Philalethes who succeeded him as the head of the school of medicine was celebrated for his skill as an oculist. He was the author of the most influential ophthalmological work of antiquity, the Ophthalmicus, on diseases of the eye. ("http:// en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/ Demosthenes_Philalethes">http:// en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/ Demosthenes_Philalethes).

WEALTH

Their numerous flocks of sheep enabled them to produce a soft, black wool that was renowned all over the ancient world. 1

1 Strabo wrote, “The country around Laodicea breeds excellent sheep, remarkable not only for the softness of their wool, in which they surpass the Milesian sheep, but for their dark or raven colour. The Laodiceans derive a large revenue from them…” (Strabo, xii. viii. 16).

WEALTH

According to Cicero, the famous Roman orator and statesman, Laodicea was a regional banking centre. 1 In fact the Roman historian Tacitus relates that when the

WEALTH

Tacitus (56-117 AD)

Cicero (106-43 BC)

1 Letter to Appius Claudius Pulcher: “On the 31st of July I expect to be at Laodicea: I shall remain there for a very few days to get in some money due to me on an exchequer bill of exchange.” 2 “One of the most famous cities of Asia, Laodicea, was in the same year overthrown by an earthquake and without any relief from us recovered itself by its own resources.” (Tacitus, Annals, 14:27)

city had been destroyed by an earthquake in 60 AD, they even refused aid from the Roman empire, choosing rather to rebuild from their own wealth. 2

The Laodicean church is exposed by Jesus as being influenced by the standards of the society in which it lived. Just as the city was self-sufficient enough to disregard the Emperor’s help, the church was spiritually self-sufficient and saw no need of aid from Jesus. They say, “I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.”

RICH, YET SPIRITUALLY POOR

But despite their material wealth and sense of self- sufficiency, Jesus (who has been left outside the door) says that they “are wretched, pitiful, poor…” (Rev 3:17)

SPIRITUAL POVERTY

POOR, YET SPIRITUALLY RICH

One cannot help but contrast Laodicea with the persecuted church at Smyrna - who were materially poor, but spiritually rich, “I know your afflictions and your povertyyet you are rich!” (Rev 2:9)

So too today, the fastest growing churches in the world are in China and Africa, yet these are the most persecuted and poorest churches. The affluent Western church is in decline.

One simply cannot reconcile the prosperity teaching with the intense persecution we see of dedicated Christian believers in areas of Africa, Middle East and Asia.

SPIRITUAL POVERTY

In the time of Paul, Laodicea had a church which met in the home of a woman called Nympha (Col 4:15). Paul wrote them a letter that we no longer have, and also instructed them to read the letter to the nearby Colossians in their church (Col 4:16).

In this latter letter Paul had said, “I want you to know how much I am struggling for you and for those at Laodicea… My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Col. 2:1-3). But now some 35 years later the church had forgotten that their treasures were hidden in Christ, rather than in the bank vaults of Laodicea.

LOVERS OF MONEY

Now concerning the last days, Paul writes, “People will be… lovers of money” (2 Tim 3:1-2). He warns of a false doctrine of those who “think that godliness is a means to financial gain” i.e. the prosperity doctrine:

1 Tim 6:3-10 If anyone teaches false doctrines… men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain… For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.

Yet the pastor of the largest American Mega church says “God wants us to prosper financially, to have plenty of money, to fulfil the destiny He has laid out for us” and “It’s God’s will for you to live in prosperity instead of poverty.”

LOVERS OF MONEY

An ‘evangelist’ says, “If you give $100 you’ll get $1000 in return. If you give $1000, you’ll get $10000. If you give $2000, all your debts will be cancelled.”

They appeal to the greed in people. The mentality is if you want something from people show them how they will profit from it.

APPEAL TO GREED

One prosperity teacher (Kenneth Hagin) said, “He [also] wants His children to eat the best, He wants them to wear the best clothing, He wants them to drive the best cars, and He wants them to have the best of everything.”

Clearly the apostle Paul never got the memo for in stark contrast he writes, “To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. We work hard with our own hands.” (1 Cor 4:11-12)

The apostle Peter said to the lame man, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the

name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” (Acts 3:6)

Many Western churches today cannot say, “Silver or gold I do not have”. Sadly neither can they say, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”

Jesus said: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth… But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven…” (Matt 6:19-21)

Paul writes, “For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.” (1 Tim 6:7)

TREASURE IN HEAVEN

Jesus warned us, “You cannot serve both God and Money” (Luke 16: 13). He also told the rich young ruler, “Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven” (Luke 18:22). This man had money as his God. While he claimed to have kept the 6 commandments concerning his relationship with people, he had failed in his relationship with God; “You shall have no other gods before me.” (Ex 20:3)

WHICH ONE IS YOUR GOD?

Luke 18:23-25 When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth. Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!

Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

JESUS’ FORGOTTEN WORDS

While the rich ruler in Luke 18 turns away when Jesus tells him to “Sell everything you have and give to the poor” in Luke 19 the wealthy, but sinful Zacchaeus says to Jesus, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” Jesus took this as evidence of his repentance and responded, “Today salvation has come to this house…”

WHICH ONE IS YOUR GOD?

Listen to what Jesus had to say to a man who had what may seem like a reasonable request to us – his brother had refused to give him his share in the inheritance and he wanted Jesus to intervene (Luke 12:13-14).

Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you? Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.

Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.

It’s easy to preach a prosperity gospel in the affluent West. Try preaching it to Christians in a Communist, Muslim or Third World country.

There are many faithful believers who live modestly and will never have more than the basic necessities of life. Yet they are content to have what they have. The prosperity teachers ridicule such and say that they only have that little because they don’t trust God for more; the fact of their contentment (which is highly regarded by God) is looked upon as a lack of faith. And they are chastised because they haven’t got the faith to get more so they can give more. 1

1 "http:// www.rapidnet.com/ ~jbeard/ bdm/ Psychology/ posit.htm">www.rapidnet.com/ ~jbeard/ bdm/ Psychology/ posit.htm

DANGERS

The path of following the Lord Jesus Christ is not an easy one. Along the way lies suffering and hardship, but nothing we experience will ever compare to the suffering Jesus endured for us on the cross. I have a problem with the ‘prosperity’ teaching prevalent today, which tells us if we follow the Lord we’ll be safe and comfortable. This is completely contrary to Scripture as well as to our experiences in China. In addition to serving years in prison, I’ve been arrested about thirty different times for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ. To follow God is a call not only to live for him, but to die for him also.

Brother Yun (The Heavenly Man)

If people have a poor foundation (or root) in Biblical doctrine and believe that they should always be “healthy and wealthy”, when things go wrong, they can become disillusioned and fall away. This is why sound foundational doctrine is important.

Matt 13:20-21 “The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away.”

Matt 7:26-27 “But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

DANGERS

A FORM OF GODLINESS

THE CHRISTLESS CHURCH

A United Press release in a midwestern city in America told of a hospital where officials discovered that the firefighting equipment had never been connected to the city’s water mains. For 35 years it had been relied upon for the safety of the patients in case of emergency. But the pipe that led from the building extended 4 feet underground and there it stopped! The medical staff and the patients had felt complete confidence in the system but theirs was a false security. Although the costly equipment with its well-placed outlets was adequate for the building, it lacked the most important thing - WATER! 1

1 "http:// www.sermoncentral.com/ illustrations">http:// www.sermoncentral.com/ illustrations

Likewise the Laodicean church lacks the most important thing needed in a church – Jesus!

Jesus said “on this rock I will build my church” (Matt 16:18) so the church belongs to Jesus. But Laodicea is the only church in Revelation where Jesus is pictured as being outside his own church! - “I stand at the door and knock” (Rev 3:20).

THE CHRISTLESS CHURCH

THE CHRISTLESS CHURCH

Jesus is outside the door of the Laodicean church because he is not needed. They say, “I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.” (Rev 3:17)

Now I realise that this text (with Jesus outside and knocking on the door) is often used to prompt unbelievers to “open the door of their hearts” and invite Jesus in. And I have no problem with that. But in reality it’s primary application is actually not to unbelievers, but to the church!

Like Laodicea, in many of the Western churches today we have a lot of programs but no Christ! Paul says that in the last days people will “have a form of godliness but denying its power.” (2 Tim 3:1-5) i.e. occupied with religious ritual which has lost the significance.

THE CHRISTLESS CHURCH

Kevin Turner writes of the church in the US, “The apostle Paul either had riots or revival, and at times both. Yet the American gospel does not seem to produce either. When a Chinese Christian visiting churches on a US tour was asked what he thought about American spirituality, he answered, ‘I am amazed at how much the church in America can accomplish without the Holy Spirit.’ … As a church we are power-hungry and covet top positions as if we are climbing a corporate ladder. We place value on large churches with even larger programs and budgets. Those who are invited into leadership positions are the rich and the influential. We forget that spiritual authority is not given to the savvy businessman or the sports hero but to those who have carried the burden of the Lord.” 1

1 "http:// www.charismamag.com/ spirit/ revival/ 1474-why-isnt-the-american-church-growing">http:// www.charismamag.com/ spirit/ revival/ 1474-why-isnt-the-american-church-growing

As survey done on US Protestant Christians, indicates that 90% of professing Christians do not possess a Biblical world view as the basis for their decision-making or behaviour. 1

Based on interviews with 601 Senior Pastors nationwide, representing a random cross section of Protestant churches, Barna reports that only half of the country’s pastors – 51% - have a Biblical world view. Defining such a world view as believing that absolute moral truth exists, that it is based upon the Bible, and having a biblical view on six core beliefs (the accuracy of biblical teaching, the sinless nature of Jesus, the literal existence of Satan, the omnipotence and omniscience of God, salvation by grace alone, and the personal responsibility to evangelize). 1

1 www.kicksforchrist.com

A FORM OF GODLINESS

LUKEWARM?

Colossae, Laodicea and Hierapolis were three cities all in close proximity in the Roman province of Asia.

3 CITIES

From his letter to the Colossians, we know that while Paul didn’t plant the churches in these three cities, 1 it’s quite likely that his companion Epaphras may have. 2

Interestingly Hierapolis was known for it’s hot-springs while Colossae was known for it’s pure cold water from deep subterranean wells. But Laodicea was not near an adequate water supply and in the dry season the local Lycus river was known to dry up.

1 Col 2:1 I want you to know how much I am struggling for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally. 2 Col 4:12-13 Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings… I vouch for him that he is working hard for you and for those at Laodicea and Hierapolis.

3 CITIES

Archaeology has revealed that an aqueduct carried water from hot mineral springs a few kilometres south of the city, so the water arriving was lukewarm and unpleasant to drink. The city was known for it’s ‘hard’ water (Strabo, Geography 12.8.18) because of it’s high mineral content.

The term ‘lukewarm’ can describe the state of a drink or food that should be hot but is only moderately warm or tepid.

Almost 4 decades after Paul wrote to them, Jesus now calls the Laodicean church ‘lukewarm’.

Rev 3:15 “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!”

LUKEWARM

The term ‘lukewarm’ can also describe a person’s attitude or actions. Some synonyms are:

half-hearted, indifferent, apathetic, unenthusiastic, tepid, uninterested, unconcerned, lackadaisical, dispassionate, emotionless, passionless, limp, non-committal, unresponsive, unmoved; couldn’t-care-less.

D.L. Moody said, “I am tired and sick of half-heartedness. I don’t like a half-hearted man. I don’t care for anyone to love me half- heartedly. And the Lord won’t have it. If we are going to seek for Him and find Him, we must do it with all our hearts.”

HALF-HEARTEDNESS

John F. Walvoord writes, “Far more hopeful is the state of one who has been untouched by the gospel and makes no pretence of putting his trust in Christ than the one who makes some profession but by his life illustrates that he has not really honoured the Christ whose gospel he has heard and professed. There is no one farther from the truth in Christ than the one who makes an idle profession without real faith… How many have outwardly conformed to requirements of the church without a true state of being born again into the family of God? How many church members are far from God yet by their membership in the professing church have satisfied their own hearts and have been lulled into a sense of false security?” 1

1 www.walvoord.com

HALF-HEARTEDNESS

“In the history of the human race no one has been harder to reach for Christ than the religionist, the one who is quite satisfied with the measure of his devotion to God and with the items which to him represent religion. Far easier to win are the harlots and publicans than the Pharisees and the Sadducees.” 1

1 Ibid

Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. (Matt 21:31)

“The Screwtape Letters” is a book by C.S. Lewis containing a series of letters in which a devil briefs his demon nephew on the techniques of successfully tempting people. The devil states in his correspondence that the object is not to make people wicked but to make them indifferent. He gives this piece of advice to his nephew Wormwood: “I, the devil, will always see to it that there are bad people. Your job, my dear Wormwood, is to provide me with people who do not care.”

INDIFFERENCE

Statistics on US Protestant Christians 1

99.5% have never led anyone to Christ.

99% have no passion for the lost. They don’t really care.

86% have never handed out a gospel tract.

68% Could not define “The Great Commission.”

98% of Christians have never read their Bible from Genesis to Revelation.

1 www.kicksforchrist.com

INDIFFERENCE

The water in Laodicea was neither hot and therapeutic like the water in Hierapolis, nor was it cold and refreshing like the water in nearby Colossae.

Cold water stimulates and invigorates. Nothing refreshes more than drinking a glass of cold water on a hot day. And hot water? It is useful for health. Not only do we mix it with teas, herbs, broths, and the like, but it also works as a solvent, good for cleaning just about anything. What does lukewarm water do? Christ’s complaint against the Laodiceans is revealed here: It is good for nothing! The Laodicean is useless to Him. Lukewarm water is an emetic: It makes one vomit. In terms of God’s work, a lukewarm Christian is useless. 1

1 http:// www.bibletools.org/ index.cfm/ fuseaction/ Topical.show/ RTD/ cgg/ ID/ 248/ Laodicea.htm John W. Ritenbaugh

USELESS

“If I know my own heart today, I would rather die than live as I once did, a mere nominal Christian, and not used by God in building up His kingdom. It seems a poor empty life to live for the sake of self. Let us seek to be useful. Let us seek to be vessels meet for the Master’s use, that God, the Holy Spirit, may shine fully through us.” (D. L. Moody)

D.L. Moody

USELESS

According to Bible commentator David Guzik, “One of their problems was a poor water supply that made Laodicea vulnerable to attack through siege. If an enemy army surrounded the city, they had insufficient water supplies in the city, and the supplies coming into the city could be easily cut off. Therefore, the leaders of Laodicea were always accommodating to any potential enemy, and always wanted to negotiate and compromise instead of fight.” 1

1 http:// www.studylight.org/ commentaries

COMPROMISE

In an article titled “The Danger of Compromise” Greg Laurie writes, “Sadly, this is how most people want it today. They want to go to church — when they get around to it. They certainly want to go to heaven, but they still want to live in sin. They want to party and sin and commit immorality, lie when necessary, cheat if they have to, steal if it suits them, and hate and get revenge when someone crosses them. It is the idea of sinning to your heart’s content, telling yourself God will understand. If you think you can sin to your heart’s content without repercussions, and if you think you can go out and break the commandments of God over and over because you’re an exception to the rule, then you are deceiving yourself.” 1

1 http:// www.oneplace.com/ ministries/ a-new-beginning/ read/ articles/ danger-of-compromise-8467.html

COMPROMISE

Solomon allowed compromise into his life and as a result drifted away from God in his old age:

1 Kings 11:1-11 King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women… They were from nations about which the LORD had told the Israelites, “You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods.” Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love. As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been… So the LORD said to Solomon, “Since this is your attitude and you have not kept my covenant and my decrees, which I commanded you, I will most certainly tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your subordinates.”

COMPROMISE

The story is told of a rich man in need of a chauffeur. He interviewed several potential drivers asking them all the same question, “One stretch of the road leading to my house goes through a mountainous pass with a sharp drop on one side. If you were to be selected to drive my car, just how close to that cliff edge do you think you could get without going over?”

The first applicant said, “Well, I’m a good driver! I guess I could safely drive the car within one foot from the edge!”

The second man said more confidently, “I’m an excellent driver! I could drive the car about 3 inches from the edge!”

COMPROMISE

But for all their professed skill, it was the third man who was hired. When asked how close to the edge of the road he could drive without going over, he replied, “Sir, I don’t know and I don’t intend to find out. If I get the job it would be my practice to drive as far from the edge of that road as possible.”

It’s wiser and safer to stay far away from the sin and temptations we find in the world. But some Christians don’t heed this advice and travel as close to the edge as they think is permissible. But in so doing they are endangering their spiritual lives!

How close to the edge do you drive?

COMPROMISE

Are you one of those people who like to see how much of the world they can still have, while still remaining a Christian?

Don’t compromise with the flesh:

Romans 13:14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.

Don’t compromise with evil:

“Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the LORD. Joyful are those who obey His laws and search for Him with all their hearts. They do not compromise with evil, and they walk only in His paths. You have charged us to keep Your commandments carefully” (Psalm 119:1-4, NLT).

COMPROMISE

Don’t compromise your doctrine:

Colossians 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.

Galatians 1:6-7 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.

COMPROMISE

Steve Camp sings in “Living in Laodicea”:

“Oh Lord, take your plough to my fallow ground Let your blade dig down to the soil of my soul For I’ve become dry and dusty, Lord I know there must be Richer earth lying below

For I’ve been living in Laodicea And the fire that once burned bright, I’ve let it grow dim And the very one I swore that I would die for Oh has been forgotten as the world’s become a friend

We have turned from Your Law to try to find a better way Each man does today what is right in his own eyes We will pay the price for our sinning We can never know true living We’ve exchanged his truth for lies”

THE WORLD A FRIEND

The lukewarm water in Laodicea had taken on the temperature of its surroundings and thus in the spiritual sense, also speaks of compromise.

You try to walk in the middle of the road or to sit on the fence. You attempt to be neither too hot or too cold. But in trying to be both, you end up being nothing.

COMPROMISE

But you cannot serve two masters:

Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”

COMPROMISE

You need to choose who you are going to serve as Elijah reminded the people of Israel (1 Kings 18:21).

How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.

CHOOSE TODAY WHOM YOU WILL SERVE!

THE WORLD

Joshua 24:15 “… choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve… But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”

THE LORD

BLISSFUL IGNORANCE

But like the lukewarm church of the modern era, the Laodicean church was blissfully unaware of their condition: “you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.” (Rev 3:17)

In a city noted for its wealth, Jesus says “you are poor”.

Famous for their healing eye salve, Jesus says “you are blind”.

Renowned for their fine clothing, Jesus says “you are naked”.

1. STILL LOVED

So what is the special word Jesus has for our rich, materialistic and lukewarm churches?

They are still loved.

Rev 3:19 “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent.”

2. BE AN OVERCOMER

It is still possible to be an overcomer in a lukewarm age or church. But in order to overcome you need to hear and heed what Jesus is saying to the church.

Rev 3:21-22 “To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

3. A WARNING

Warning about continuation in this condition

Rev 3:16 “So, because you are lukewarm - neither hot nor cold - I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”

As we might do with lukewarm water, Jesus says he would spit them out of his mouth if they did not repent .

Rev 3:19 “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline”

“I rebuke” – Greek is “elenchō” - to expose, convict, reprove.

“and discipline” – Greek is “paideuō” - to train children, to chasten, correct.

So Jesus is not just simply talking about a verbal rebuke but stating that he will effective deal and take action against the person who is rebuked.

4. CHANGE

Exhortation to change

Rev 3:18 “I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.”

Jesus gives three pieces of godly advice very relevant to the city they lived in:

buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich;

and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness;

and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.

a) GOLD REFINED IN FIRE

Proud of their wealth Jesus said they were spiritually poor. He now offers true spiritual riches, “I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich”.

The true riches they needed was gold refined by the fire. This speaks of a faith more valuable than their wealth – a faith that trusts God even in trials and suffering.

1 Pet 1:7a (NLT) These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold--though your faith is far more precious than mere gold.

b) WHITE CLOTHES

Famed for their fine black wool used for making black clothing, Jesus called them spiritually naked. He offers “white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness”.

White clothes always speaks of righteousness.

Rev 19:8 “Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.)

Rev 3:4b “They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy.”

How do we get white robes of righteousness?

Rev 7:14b “… they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”

Renowned for their eye salve, Jesus said they were spiritually blind and now counsels them to get “salve to put on your eyes, so you can see”.

c) EYE SALVE

Ointment speaks of the anointing of the Holy Spirit:

so that you can see how spiritually destitute you are:

“When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8).

so that you can see and discern spiritual truth:

“But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13).

c) EYE SALVE

5. THE INVITE

Jesus desires a personal relationship and fellowship with them:

Rev 3:20 “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.”

5. THE INVITE

The Lord promised to ‘dine’ (‘sup’ KJV) with the one who would hear His voice and open the door (Rev. 3:19-20). The word translated sup is deipnein and its corresponding noun is deipnon. The Greeks had three meals in the day. There was akratisma, breakfast, which was no more than a piece of dried bread dipped in wine. There was ariston, the midday meal. A man did not go home for it; it was simply a picnic snack eaten by the side of the pavement, or in some colonnade, or in the city square. There was deipnon; this was the evening meal; the main meal of the day; people lingered over it, for the day’s work was done. It was the deipnon that Christ would share with the man who answered His knock, no hurried meal, but that where people lingered in fellowship. If a man will open the door, Jesus Christ will come in and linger long with him. 1

1 William Barclay, The Revelation Of John, Vol. 1, pp. 147-148

COPYRIGHT INFORMATION

Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations are taken from the NIV:

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB:

New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation Used by permission. (http:// www.Lockman.org)




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