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)
- Jesus examined each church, encouraged strengths and pointed out weaknesses that needed improvement to prepare them for coming persecution.
- This message, God's letter to the Lukewarm, was addressed to Laodicea.
- 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!
- 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.
- They were wealthy and worldly, which led to complacency toward their faith.
- : 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)
- Revelation 3:14a (NLT)—"Write this letter to the angel of the church in Laodicea."
- 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).
- 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.
- The city was located at the intersection of two major trade routes; it prospered as a commercial and banking center and become very wealthy.
- Laodicea produced soft, black wool, which was made into clothes and carpets.
- The city had an important medical school, associated with a pagan temple, which developed an eye salve that was widely exported.
- 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.
- 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:"
- 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.
- He also identified Himself as the faithful and true witness, because everything He says is truth; He is honest, trustworthy, accurate, always reliable.
- 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)
- Jesus offers no affirmation for this church; instead, He stated His concerns.
- 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!"
- 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.
- 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.
- Lukewarm water is not very appealing—and neither is lukewarm faith.
- Spiritually hot people are passionate, energetic, motivated, convicted, committed.
- Spiritually cold people don't believe, have rejected Jesus, disinterested in faith.
- 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.
- : 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)
- 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!
- Jesus finds spiritual complacency unappealing, unsatisfying, sickening.
- These lukewarm people didn't openly reject the gospel and attended church.
- They claimed to know the Lord, but they displayed little evidence of truly loving Jesus, His Word or His people.
- 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.
- 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.
- Revelation 3:17a (NLT)—"You say, 'I am rich. I have everything I want. I don't need a thing!'… "
- 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.
- Revelation 3:17b (NLT)—"…And you don't realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked."
- They lacked a personal relationship with God which left them wretched and miserable, because they didn't experience the contentment the Spirit supplies.
- 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.
- These people, because of their enviable worldly position, thought they owned access to God—and possessed faith merely because they declared that they did!
- : 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)
- 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.
- 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."
- These people needed faith that had been refined through difficulties so that it was free of impurities, representing the priceless riches of true salvation.
- Revelation 3:18b (NLT)—"Also buy white garments from Me so you will not be shamed by your nakedness,…"
- The Laodiceans could purchase fine black woolen garments, but they needed the white garments of God's righteousness and grace to cover their sins.
- Finally, Christ offered them "…ointment for your eyes so you will be able to see," which represented receiving spiritual sight to understand eternal matters.
- Revelation 3:19 (NLT)—"I correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference."
- This verse reminds the church that they must stay in continual, close, obedient contact with Him, repenting of indifference—or else receive discipline!
- : 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)
- 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."
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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."
- Believers will sit on the throne with Jesus and reign with Him through eternity.
- : Have you heard Jesus' knock, His call, and responded?
Jesus then speak the same…
#6 - Closing (Revelation 3:22; C/R:
- Revelation 3:22 (NLT)—"Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what He is saying to the churches."
- 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.
- 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!