A Church Called Laodicea – Revelation 3:14-22

Posted by: cghearn | 11/23/2014 | 12:00 pm

Download: A Church Called Laodicea – Revelation 3:14-22

Have you ever been around a Christian or group of Christians that had no passion for God?

The main issue that was happening in Laodicea was that the people there had grown lukewarm in their faith. They had begun settling into a belief that really wasn’t belief at all.

As the pastor of this church, I have many things that I do (contrary to popular belief, I do work other days aside from Sundays). Sundays, I’m usually doing church business until at least 5 p.m. Then, on Mondays I leave for seminary around 1 p.m. and I don’t get home from that until 11 p.m. During Tuesdays I do meetings and discipleship with some of the men here at Breathe followed by leading a small group; getting home around 9:30 p.m. Wednesdays I’m writing the sermon, laboring over the words and doctrines to ensure that what I speak from this pulpit are the words of my master (some sermons take longer than others but I have yet to write a sermon that took less than 8 hours) followed every other week by leadership meetings. Thursdays, I review the sermon and once again, most Thursdays are booked with meetings and administrative duties until dinner time when I eat with my children. This dinner is almost always followed by a family bible study. Fridays, I usually try to take off time in which I often am forced to do homework for seminary. Saturday, I Sabbath and this day begins with the study of Scripture and prayer. Saturday nights are often when my family does another bible study, then the cycle starts over again. I’m not saying this so that you’ll feel bad for me or give me pity; as George Whitefield once said, “I’d rather wear out than rust out.” The point I’m making is that we must immerse ourselves with calling, laboring fervently in the Spirit for the kingdom’s cause.

The problem with lukewarm belief is that it robs Christianity of the core of what it was meant to be. Christianity was never meant to be a set of simple principles that were meant to somehow make your life better or simply more moral. You cannot excuse the commands of Christ in times of inconvenience or for your earthly benefit.
The Scriptures speak of being a Christian as a form of death. It is not considered by Christ to be the type of life where one adds Christ to their life, it is one in which a person gives up their former life altogether; it is a death and rebirth into obedience.

Doctrine of sermon:
The church that has not fully committed themselves to Christ have not been truly saved

The church that has not fully committed themselves to Christ makes Christ nauseous

Because the church of Laodicea was not fully committed to the cause of Christ, it actually made Christ sick to his stomach.

I can remember one time when my wife and I had just moved into an apartment. We had been married for less than a year and she wanted to clean the oven. After she had sprayed down the oven with oven cleaner (unbeknownst to me) I decided to make meat loaf for dinner. Unwittingly, I placed the pan into the oven, cooked the meat loaf with oven cleaner still in the oven, and ate a big slice of it all before finding out (by getting food poisoning) that she had cleaned the oven. I can’t remember any other time in my life when I felt as ill as I did that day. That’s the way Christ felt about the Laodicean’s faith.

The word in this text, “will spit” is a point of contention for some translators. The word is “emew” which translated in the strictest sense means “to vomit.” That is that lukewarm Christianity makes Christ ill. Here’s the other issue, lukewarm believers don’t make it to heaven.

The play on words in this passage would have been recognized by the Laodiceans. There were two other cities nearby that had springs of water in them. Colossae had cold water springs which refreshing to anyone drinking from them. Hierapolis which was also nearby to Laodicea had hot water springs which were soothing. Laodicea had lukewarm water that was filled with minerals which tasted so bad that it made people sick. The church in Laodicea had become like their water.

To be a Christian is to live a life obsessed with the man Jesus Christ and nothing less. Jesus here is saying you are both cold and refreshing to those who are weary or a comfort to those seeking healing. There is no middle ground for the believer.

Redemption:
The church that has not fully devoted themselves to Christ must realize that they are in need of some serious spiritual reflection…

The church that has not fully committed themselves to Christ is both blind and naked

The city of Laodicea was extremely wealthy, so much so that they had an earthquake in A.D. 17 and then again A.D. 60. The city accepted no money from the emperor and instead paid for the rebuilding of the city out of their own pockets. Their wealth was one of the main reasons that they had so many issues. Christ says that they’re blind.

Once again, this was a play on words that Christ was doing here. Laodicea was famous for their healing eye salve which would be applied to the eyes for various conditions. There was even a medical school in Laodicea that specialized in this healing ointment.

Christ was saying that the church was able to heal their physical eyes but that they were helpless to heal their spiritual eyes. Again, he says that the church in Laodicea was also naked as well as blind.

The city of Laodicea was also famous for black wool which was highly valued and it was widely distributed throughout the empire during this time. Jesus encourages them to place on themselves white garments rather than the black ones they had been wearing.

If the church in Laodicea was going to be spiritually healed and clothed, their only hope was to turn away from their pride and their self-sufficiency and rely on Christ.

Redemption:
The church that has some of the worst issues can still turn away from them and return to what they originally were…

The church that has not fully committed themselves to Christ is still given a chance to turn

The predominant theme throughout this section to the seven churches is that the ones that had fallen away from what Christ had called them to were given a chance to repent.

Jesus is the door according to the gospel of John, Jesus commands believers to knock according to the gospel of Matthew. Yet here we find the roles reversed. Many have taken this passage in an evangelistic sense but Jesus is here speaking to the church who has neglected his commands. He calls these believers in Laodicea back to obedience gently, calling out to them and reminding them of the fellowship that they once had with him.

There are a list of things in life that are better when their subtle or gentle:

  • Cologne or perfume is always better if it’s subtle
  • Garlic is always better when it’s subtle
  • When someone is letting you know your zipper is down
  • When someone is letting you know you need a breath mint

How about when you’re being corrected? How about when someone has something hard they need to tell you.

I can say that for myself, I prefer if someone has something difficult or something hard to say to me that they do it in a spirit of gentleness. This is the spirit in which Christ is approaching the church of Laodicea.

Redemption:
When the church falls into a state of negligence, we can be certain Christ is there gently calling us back.

Conclusion

Doctrine of sermon:
The church that has not fully committed themselves to Christ have not been truly saved

Illustration:
There is still hope; Laodicea must have taken the command to turn and repent to heart. They remained a thriving, dynamic community and church long after many of the other 6 churches had ceased to exist. Much like Nineveh before it, God spoke to Laodicea and the people turned. They examined themselves and found that they came up short and so changed their lives.

Read 2 Corinthians 13:5

Application:
Jonathan Edwards had a method for determining if a movement truly was a movement of God. I have here modified it to apply to the Christian life as questions that must be asked of ourselves:

  • Does your life exalt the true Christ?
  • Does your life oppose the interests of Satan?
  • Does your life point people to the Scriptures?
  • Does your life elevate truth?
  • Does your life produce love for God and for others?