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God's Letter to the Lukewarm



God's Letter to the Lukewarm

Perry Duggar |

Jesus’ warned the church at Laodicea, and us, that knowing the Good News without experiencing it personally, and having their lives changed, leads to insufficient, unsatisfying, lukewarm faith.






Introduction: Continuing our series called "Can you hear Me?"

This series' subtitle, Letters from God, refers to messages Jesus sent through John to the 7 churches in Asia Minor, found in Revelation chapters 2-3. (HANDOUTS)

 

  1. Jesus examined each church, encouraged strengths and pointed out weaknesses that needed improvement to prepare them for coming persecution.
  2. This message, God's letter to the Lukewarm, was addressed to Laodicea.
  3. Theme: 2 Timothy 3:5 (NLT)—They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!
  4. Jesus' warning to this church was that, though they knew the Good News, they had not experienced it personally, and their lives hadn't been changed.
  5. They were wealthy and worldly, which led to complacency toward their faith.
  6. : Does this warning apply to us as a church? You as an individual?

 

The Message to the Church at Laodicea: (Revelation 3:14-22; C/R: Colossians 2:1-3; 4:15-17; Philemon 1b-2)

#1 - Greeting (Revelation 3:14; C/R: John 14:10; 2 Corinthians 1:20; Colossians 1:15-18; Revelation 19:11)

 

  1. Revelation 3:14a (NLT)—"Write this letter to the angel of the church in Laodicea."
  2. This church, but like most of the other six churches, was likely established during Paul's third missionary journey (Acts 19:10), by his coworker Epaphras who founded the church in nearby Colossae (Colossians 1:6-7; 2:1).
  3. Laodicea was located on a plateau in the Lycus valley, 100 miles east of Ephesus and 40 miles southeast of Philadelphia; it lay southeast of the other six cities.
  4. The city was located at the intersection of two major trade routes; it prospered as a commercial and banking center and become very wealthy.
  5. Laodicea produced soft, black wool, which was made into clothes and carpets.
  6. The city had an important medical school, associated with a pagan temple, which developed an eye salve that was widely exported.
  7. In this letter, as in the letter to Philadelphia, Jesus did not identify Himself by any of the phrases from the vision recorded in Revelation 1:12-17.
  8. Revelation 3:14b (NLT)—"This is the message from the One who is the Amen—the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God's new creation:"
  9. First, Jesus describes Himself as the Amen (only here in Bible); a transliteration of a Hebrew word meaning "truth," "affirmation," or "certainty" and carried the connotation of something that is firm, fixed, and unchangeable.
  10. He also identified Himself as the faithful and true witness, because everything He says is truth; He is honest, trustworthy, accurate, always reliable.
  11. Jesus also said He is the beginning of God's new creation," which means He is the source or origin of all of creation and supreme person in it. (Colossians 1:15-18)

 

Jesus expressed to this church His…

#2 - Concern (Revelation 3:15; C/R: Matthew 12:30; 24:12-13; 2 Timothy 3:5; 4:3)

 

  1. Jesus offers no affirmation for this church; instead, He stated His concerns.
  2. Revelation 3:15 (NLT)—"I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other!"
  3. Christ rebuked this church for being lukewarm, which was likely a reference to Laodicea's water supply, which traveled several miles through an underwater aqueduct before reaching the city tepid (lukewarm) and dirty.
  4. There were two cities nearby in the Lycus valley had superior water supplies: Hieropolis, 6 miles to the north, had hot, relaxing, springs, and Colossae, 10 miles to the east, was known for its pure, cold, refreshing, water.
  5. Lukewarm water is not very appealing—and neither is lukewarm faith.
  6. Spiritually hot people are passionate, energetic, motivated, convicted, committed.
  7. Spiritually cold people don't believe, have rejected Jesus, disinterested in faith.
  8. When your faith is lukewarm, you don't experience peace or hope, comfort, or even assurance, because you can never be quite sure you are really saved.
  9. : Are you spiritually hot or cold? Don't know? Ask God's Spirit to tell you.

 

Jesus stated that His concerns would result in…

#3 - Consequences (Revelation 3:16-17; C/R: Matthew 5:13; Luke 12:21; 1 Timothy 6:17; 1 John 2:15-16)

 

  1. Revelation 3:16-17 (NLT)—16 "But since you are like lukewarm water [like the city's water supply], neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!
  2. Jesus finds spiritual complacency unappealing, unsatisfying, sickening.
  3. These lukewarm people didn't openly reject the gospel and attended church.
  4. They claimed to know the Lord, but they displayed little evidence of truly loving Jesus, His Word or His people.
  5. Those who think they are saved are often protective of their religious status and are unwilling to recognize their real condition, so they are difficult to reach.
  6. No one is further from the truth than one who makes some sort of statement of believing in Jesus but never experiences genuine saving faith.
  7. Revelation 3:17a (NLT)—"You say, 'I am rich. I have everything I want. I don't need a thing!'… "
  8. The Laodiceans were wealthy, which gave the members of this church a false sense of security, because their comfortable worldliness caused them to assume they were blessed by God and prevented them from pursuing Him.
  9. Revelation 3:17b (NLT)—"…And you don't realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked."
  10. They lacked a personal relationship with God which left them wretched and miserable, because they didn't experience the contentment the Spirit supplies.
  11. They were poor spiritually because they possessed worldly riches but owned nothing eternal; blind because they could not see spiritual truth, and naked, because they had only their insufficient self-righteousness to cover their sins.
  12. These people, because of their enviable worldly position, thought they owned access to God—and possessed faith merely because they declared that they did!
  13. : Has worldly comfort has made us spiritually complacent?

 

#4 - Challenge (Revelation 3:18-19; C/R: 2 Corinthians 4:4; Hebrews 12:5-6; 1 Peter 1:7; Revelation 7:9)

 

  1. Instead of judging and destroying this church, Jesus offered them salvation, expressed by referring to three features of the city: finances, wool and eye salve.
  2. Revelation 3:18a (NLT)—"So I advise you to buy gold from Me—gold that has been purified by fire. Then you will be rich."
  3. These people needed faith that had been refined through difficulties so that it was free of impurities, representing the priceless riches of true salvation.
  4. Revelation 3:18b (NLT)—"Also buy white garments from Me so you will not be shamed by your nakedness,…"
  5. The Laodiceans could purchase fine black woolen garments, but they needed the white garments of God's righteousness and grace to cover their sins.
  6. Finally, Christ offered them "…ointment for your eyes so you will be able to see," which represented receiving spiritual sight to understand eternal matters.
  7. Revelation 3:19 (NLT)—"I correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference."
  8. This verse reminds the church that they must stay in continual, close, obedient contact with Him, repenting of indifference—or else receive discipline!
  9. : Have I received refined faith, covering for my sins and spiritual sight?

 

Jesus said complying with His challenges would result in…

#5 - Rewards (Revelation 3:20-21; C/R: Luke 22:28-30; Hebrews 1:1-4; 8:1; 12:2)

 

  1. Revelation 3:20 (NLT)—"Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear My voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends."
  2. This verse refers, not to Jesus knocking at the door of an individual's heart (which He does), but to Him knocking at the Laodicean church's door.
  3. If they responded to His knock, He would enter the church to sharing a meal, symbolizing a saving relationship and loving fellowship with these people.
  4. This church was wealthy and thought they needed nothing, but what they needed most, and didn't have, was Jesus' Presence saving, filling, leading, the church.
  5. Revelation 3:21 (NLT)—21 Those who are victorious will sit with Me on My throne, just as I was victorious and sat with My Father on His throne."
  6. Believers will sit on the throne with Jesus and reign with Him through eternity.
  7. : Have you heard Jesus' knock, His call, and responded?

 

Jesus then speak the same…

#6 - Closing (Revelation 3:22; C/R:

 

  1. Revelation 3:22 (NLT)—"Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what He is saying to the churches."
  2. In these letters Jesus calls Christians to listen to the Spirit to understand and obey what He is saying to each of us individually and to churches as a whole.
  3. He is calling us to greater faith, deeper conviction, to reject sin and refuse false teaching, to persevere through persecution, to spread His offer of salvation!
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