The Church in Laodicea

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Historical background

Notes about Men’s retreat
Family Service next week
Dec 4th invite a family for lunch or dinner
Christmas eve service 4:00 pm Family Service
Revelation 3:14–22 (ESV)
Read the passage.
The final of the 7 letters of the churches.
The last stop of the 7 churches in the postal route covered in the book of Revelation. However, if you were to keep on going down this route, you would arrive at Colossea, where there was another church that recieved a letter 40 years earlier called the book of Colossians.
In fact, the first time we see Laodicea is in the book of Colossians. Paul specifically mentions this church in chapter 2:1 and in chapter 4:15-16, Paul instructs that the letter the Colossea be brought and read to the church in Laodicea.
In fact, there are a few interesting correlations between what was written to the church in Colossians and this letter from Jesus in Revelations.
There are multiple but my favorite is Colossians 1:15
Colossians 1:15 ESV
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
and Revelation 3:14
Revelation 3:14 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.
There are a number of other but I love studying things like this because it shows the hand and words of Jesus all throughout scripture. It shows that it all has one writer, Jesus Christ who is the Word.
The city of Laodicea was famous for a couple things, wealth, knowledge, textile (specifically black wool) and medical schools. There medical school exported an eye salve that could heal many great eye problems.
Now let’s get into the passage
Vs 14 Jesus identifies Himself for the 2nd time in a different way than He did in chapter 1. “the Amen, the faithful witness, the beginning of God’s creation.”
The Amen is a translation of the title of God used in Isaiah chapter 65:15. Where God is called the God of Truth. The God of the absolute. The God of the final word of truth and knowledge. The last word.
Jesus calls Himself the faithful and true witness. Witness as in a legal proceeding called into give a testimony about what they have seen. Jesus is saying that His testimony is faithful and true. And what is He testifying about?
John 1:18 ESV
No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.
John 6:46 ESV
not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father.
Jesus came to give us a faithful and true description and testimony about what only He in His own eyes has seen. He has seen the Father and the words of Jesus that He gives about the Father are faithful and true because only He has seen it.
Jesus identifies Him as the beginning of God’s creation. Again this can be used to say that Jesus is the first thing created my God but that can not be the case because Jesus said that “I and the Father are one”. If they are “one” in the same entity, how can one create the other.
Instead, the proper definition of the word beginning here is “First in the sense of rank or authority”. That definition aligns with the rest of scripture. Jesus says “all authority in heaven and earth has been given to me”.
Jesus is reinforcing what He sent to them in Colossians 1:15
Colossians 1:15 ESV
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
Firstborn there means, heir, inheritor of all of creation. As what Ephesians 1:20-21
Ephesians 1:20–21 ESV
that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.
Jesus opens this letter to this church strongly stating He is the first word and the last word. His faithfulness and trueness last from eternal to eternal.
Now that Jesus has established who He is again to the church. Let’s get into the meat of the passage.
Revelation 3:15–16 ESV
“ ‘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.
Now, I love sweet tea. Just thought, I would let you know that.
On a hot summer day, a good glass of sweet tea (Milos if there is no homemade available) is sweet and refreshing. Gives you a little sugar kick and cools you down.
I’ve never been much a hot tea drinker until the past couple of years but i have grown to really love a cup of Earl Gray or black Chai tea. Man! Put a little honey in the bottom and bam! Smooth and soothing. I started loving this when I would have weekends of preaching 3 services. Very, very good.
But, I’ll tell you, I hate room temperature tea or even coffee… If it hits my mouth and ugh...
Imagine taking a sip of coffee that has been sitting out all day on the counter. Or you are outside working and someone brings you a glass of tea and its warm...
This word lukewarm means unusable or barren. worthless.
This thought comes to mind too. Open a can of chicken noodle soup and start eating it straight from the can. The liquid is all jello-ie and goo-ie.
It honestly makes my stomach churn to think about it.
This is the reaction of Jesus. This is the feeling that Jesus is trying to express towards this church!
To spit means to vomit. To get it out.
To spit also is a sign of contempt and ritual of humiliation. Its a sign of disgust. Remember, Jesus knows this well. He was spit on on the cross.
Reading through these letters, I’m not sure any of the rebukes can match this feeling that Jesus trying to convey here. This makes me cringe with the thought of Jesus saying this about me. This makes my stomach turn like a child worrying about weather he is going to be in trouble or not.
So, what is Jesus’ definition of a lukewarm church or Christian?
Revelation 3:17 (ESV)
For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing,
This is a church or people that are wealthy and have done well. They have all that they need and if they don’t, they can buy it. They are experiencing no need. All of their needs are meet.
But NOT BY JESUS! He says I am rich, I have prospered, I need nothing. Look at what I have done. Look at what I have accomplished. Look at ME! I have no need! I am completely self-sufficient. I need nothing.
This church calls themselves a church. Christ followers. Christians. To themselves and probably even to the world, they look good. Look at how successful they are. They are blessed.
But they are Christ followers by name only.
They claim to follow Christ but they rely on their own wealth and their own success. They have no NEED for Jesus. They can take care of it themselves.
This point convicted me greatly and reminded me of many conversations we have been having in our study time before service. Self-sufficiency is putting Jesus on the outside of your life, of your need.
One of my extreme pet peeves, is when I am working on something and doing something with my hands and someone comes and takes it out of my hands to finish it. Like i’m too stupid to do it myself. Or i am so inept that someone has to grab it from me. Or i’m just not doing it the way that they want it done. So, in frustration, they say, “oh just let me do it!” And grab it out of my hands. I see RED when that happens.
Jesus says, when He wants to do something in your life or in your church and you just come along and take it out of His hands and say, “I got this!” or “Just let me do it!” or “Your not doing this this way that I want it done!”, it makes Him want to vomit… spit it out.
Long pause.
Jesus says, you don’t even realize you are wretched (miserable), pitiable (worth of pity), poor (spiritually poor), blind (can’t even see the obvious) and naked (trusting in yourself is like trying to be righteous without Jesus).
Now, I do not believe this is a feeling of disgust. or looking at us as gross.
I think this feeling in His stomach is like the parent whose child is going off and doing this alone or trying to handle things themselves. Like a child refusing this help of a parent even when it hurts them. Even when it causes them pain and suffering. Even when it causes them anxiety, depression, sadness and brokeness.
It’s the love that a parent has for a child that is suffering and not turning to them for help. It causes His stomach to churn and turn to acid and makes Him ill feelings. Because some one He loves is hurting themselves and rejecting Him.
I’m just going to stop for a second, because this hurts.
But praise God for verse 19!!
Revelation 3:19 ESV
Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.
Thank God that Jesus loves us enough to hurt us! Thank God that He reproves us. Thank God that He disciplines us and gives us extra and extra chances!
Revelation 3:20 ESV
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.
He said, I’m standing here knocking! You’re inside trying to do it all by yourself and being all self-sufficient and Jesus not giving up! He is knocking and knocking saying let me in!
One of the sermons, that I listened to about this letter was entitled, “the church with Jesus on the outside”.
Sometimes, I think that Jesus gives us more than we can handle, takes us through difficult times, takes us through the valleys, because its the only time that we open the door for Him to come in.
The rest of the time, Jesus on the outside. I’ve got this.
Lord, may it not be so with me. Lord, keep me at a place of dependency on you.
But once again, Jesus gives us clear steps, instructions on how to listen to our heavenly Fathers rebuke and discipline.
The first is to repent. Recognize that you do this too! Its not just me standing up here saying I do this! We all do this! Recognize the areas in life that you are ruling and taking things out of the Lord’s hands. Recognize that you are doing it and stop! Stop trying to do it yourself. Let Him do it!
Bring Him into all areas of your life, yes! even the ones that you think you know how to do already. Yes! even the things that you have just been taking care of yourself for years. Yes! even the areas where you haven’t messed up! Let Jesus it! He is knocking! Stop keeping the door closed and let Him in!
He says Be Zealous about it!
Zeal fervour in advancing a cause or in rendering service, to set one’s heart on, be earnest, to be wholehearted!!
To set on fire! Don’t be lukewarm! Light it on fire!
Take the feelings that we were feeling this morning and determine to NOT make Jesus feel that way anymore. Do you love Him?
I couldn’t imagine knowing that I was doing something to my wife that makes her want to vomit. That makes her see me as barren and un-useful… Because I love her.
I can’t imagine making Jesus feel that about me. I want to be determined to not make Him feel that way about me! Ignite is us, Lord, a passion and zeal for not locking you out! For not, taking things right out of the hands of God.
We worship a loving God, a loving Father who is not going to barge down the down and take something out of our hands. like we do to Him. He waits for us to say, please take it.
Jesus says, Matthew 11:28-30
Matthew 11:28–30 ESV
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Jesus says, Revelation 3:20
Revelation 3:20 (ESV)
If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.
Jesus says, I can prepare a table before you in the presence of your enemies.
Jesus says, Revelation 3:21
Revelation 3:21 ESV
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.
This letter has one of the harshest criticisms of all of the churches, but I believe that it has one of the greatest promises of all of the letters.
Jesus says, you can sit with me on my throne as conqueror of the whole world. Over everything.
Ephesians 2:4–7 ESV
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
Romans 8:35–37 ESV
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
Do you want to conquer? Do you want to overcome? He is knocking! Will you let Him in?
Jesus says, Revelation 3:18
Revelation 3:18 ESV
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.
Buy from me gold that has been refined by fire.
Tested faith that is genuine as though refined by fire. 1 Peter 1:7
1 Peter 1:7 ESV
so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Jesus says, Matthew 6:19-21
Matthew 6:19–21 ESV
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Back in Verse 18, Jesus says, put on His righteousness. Stop trying to earn righteousness. Stop trying to be good enough. Put on His white robe.
Put salve on your eyes so that you can see. Hebrews 12:2
Hebrews 12:2 (ESV)
looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith,
Look to Jesus, He is knocking. Not banging or trying to barge in. He is knocking on a door that can only be opened from the inside. Will you let Him in?
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