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The Church at Laodicea

Letters to the Churches  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Destination—Laodicea

Family Circus cartoon
I like my coffee. And I like it hot.
The other day I made my pot of coffee, left the house and forgot it
And I returned and my coffee was lukewarm.
This was a good place to live
Built on the major trade routes and received goods and textiles from all over the known world
Its primary industry was wool textiles
It was also the banking center of the region
If it was a modern town, you probably would have found car dealerships and shopping malls, nice restaurants.
It would be a comfortable town.
They were so comfortable that when the earthquake of A.D. 17 hit, and the Roman Emperor offered them money to rebuild, the said, “Thanks, but no thanks. We can do it ourselves”.
They were self-sufficient and proud.
Biggest problem—water. They didn’t have a good source of drinking water.
So they built pipes and piped water in from a source of cool water—but it was miles away.
And the water, after traveling through miles of clay pipes in the hot sun would arrive at Laodicea, not cold, not hot, but lukewarm, and tepid
Worse yet, the water was full of minerals which gave the water an awful oder and an awful taste, especially when it began to warm up. In fact, one can see the sedimentation from these minerals in the pipes today.
This taste would make you want to spew it out of your mouth.
Revelation 3:14–22 ESV
“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. “ ‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 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. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. 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. 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. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ ”
Revelation 3:14-22
Biggest problem—water. They didn’t have a good source of drinking water.
their water was full of minerals which gave the water an awful oder and an awful taste, especially when it began to warm up. In fact, one can see the sedimentation from these minerals in the pipes today.
So they built pipes and piped water in from a source of cool water
Some commentaries say that they actually piped water in from hot springs
—but it was miles away.
And the water, after traveling through miles of clay pipes in the hot sun would arrive at Laodicea, not cold, not hot, but lukewarm, and tepid
This taste would make you want to spew it out of your mouth.
This taste would make you want to spew it out of your mouth.
Lukewarm water.
You’ve doubtless gone to the tap on a hot day for a drink of cold water and gulped it down only to find out that you didn’t let the water run long enough and it’s only lukewarm
you might have spit it out and searched for some colder stuff
Or maybe the other way.
—Hot coffee I like it hot and strong. The other day I made my coffee, having somewhere to go. I rushed around and got out the door only to find out that I had forgotten my coffee. I got home a few hour later and of course, it was room temperature—lukewarm
I spit it out of my mouth and nuked it to make it hot.
Can make you literally nauseated.
Is not usesful
Jesus is saying to this church,
“You are luke warm like the water you drink”
"I am about to spit you out of my mouth”
I don’t want to gross anyone out here, but it’s vitally important that we get what Jesus is saying here—how strong this language is.
Greek word is emeo.
Most translations render this word, “Spit”.
Gives you the picture of having something in your mouth that doesn’t taste right and you just want to get rid of it.
But if that is what it was talking about, there would be a couple of other words that would be used.
As in “Jesus spit in the eyes of the blind man” or “The soldiers spat upon Jesus”.
Unpleasant enough.
But this word, emeo, has different meaning and it’s only used one time in the Bible…right in this verse
it means, to vomit. The KJV says, I will spue thee out of my mouth
Jesus is literally saying to the church at Laodicea, “You make me sick”.
I know your deeds…and you make me sick
Shocking words!
This had to be astounding for them. After all, they were not worshiping in the temples or listening to that woman Jezebel.
They were just saying, “I don’t need anything”.
Imagine a friend saying this to you
Imagine your King, your Savior, your Shepherd, your Friend, coming to you and saying, “I’ve had a look at how you are living and…literally, you make me want to vomit”.
What was it about the church at Laodicea that caused Jesus to be sick?
Vs. 17 “You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.”
The sin of pride and self-sufficiency.
This church was healthy, wealthy, and wise. They had lulled themselves into a mediocre existence.
They were mediocre. They weren’t hot or cold. They were just “luke”
You might think, “Oh, the problem is that they weren’t hot. They had no spiritual furvor. They weren’t burning up for Jesus
That wasn’t the problem. The problem was that they were neither hot or cold.
They weren’t useful
They weren’t refreshing and soothing like a cold drink of water.
They weren’t hot and purifying like hot water.
They were good for nothing except to be vomited out and thrown away.
kind of like salt that has lost its saltiness
Or a light that has been put under a shade.
This is a church that is completely blind to their actual condition:
They are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked
Reminds you of that pointed little story “The Emperor’s New Clothes”.
A person who is physically in that condition would be completely without means to take care of himself
But generally a person who is in that condition would know that they can’t take care of himself.
The irony here is that a church in this condition often doesn’t see it.
I have to think of the church in America. Modern Christianity.
I have to think that the American Church has embraced the philosophy of American self-sufficiency
A philosophy that says, “I’m a self-made man.”
I pulled myself up by my own bootstraps
I did get any help from anybody and I made me what I am today
A philosophy that looks at a needy neighbor and says
Get off your duff and help yourself
Or, I’ll help you this once, but really, you need to help yourself at some point
Because, really, I don’t have time to stick around and pull you along.
I made my own money and it’s mine
2013 Christianity Today article
National Association of Evangelicals—3.7 of income
National Council of Churches—2.6
The most, Christian Reformed Church, gave 6.1
I think this might be a sign of a lukewarm church
A philosophy that says to God
Thanks for saving me, but I’ve got it from here.
I think I’m pretty good at attending church and not saying bad things about my neighbors
So, you want to help me? Thanks but no thanks. I’ve got it from here
Why does this attitude make Jesus so nauseated?
At the heart of the Gospel is self-denial and self-sacrifice
The heart of the Gospel is that God saw us
We were wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.
We were without hope in this world ()
We could do absolutely nothing about our condition, being alienated from God and headed for eternity separated from Him.
And so God sent Jesus who became nothing. Philipians 2:7
He became sin. A holy God who knew no sin
And he took on the form of a servant in order to serve us.
But now here is a church saying to God, “Thanks for saving us and all, but, hey, we’ve got it from here.”
Jesus says to Laodicea and he says to us, “Unless you realize how desperately you need me, unless you realize that I am the source of blessing and power, and that everything good comes from me, and not from yourselves, unless you repent from the sins of pride and self-sufficiency,
you are going to be a lukewarm church.
You are going to be a sour and tasteless church.
You are going to be a useless church
I am going to feel like vomiting you up.
Advice
Vs. 18
I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire
Hey, you want to be rich? I’ll give you riches, but it’s going to cost you something (you can purchase it from me)
Gold refined in the fire
—for he is like a refiner’s fire.
The work that he does takes out the pride, the self sufficiency, all that is impure
you are left with pure, shining gold that cannot be valued.
Jesus says, refining work that I want to do in your life is going to cost you something. Maybe you are going to feel like it’s going to cost you everything. But you are going to be left with gold that has been refined.
I counsel you to buy white clothes to cover yourself
Not imaginary clothes
But real clothes that are going to display dignity and purity.
And I counsel you to buy salve for your eyes so that you can see
This city was known for a particulaly fine and effective eye salve wich they produced.
They knew what Jesus was saying here
“You think you have 20/20 vision but you’ve been deceived. You actually are blind”.
Invitation
I do want fellowship with you
I’m standing and knocking. I want to have deep fellowship with you. But for me to come in, you have to actually want and desire fellowship with me.
Reward
Rule with him.
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