Restoring Zeal in the Church

Seven Churches of Asia   •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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This sermon will identify and examine the symptoms associated with lukewarmness and how the church can overcome and correct those problems.

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The most infamous church among the Seven churches at Asia is the church at Laodicea.
We can imagine the disgust Jesus had towards the church.
It’s easy to think of the frustrating moments it must have been to be a member of the church at Laodicea.
However, the Laodiceans appear to be none-the-wiser of their problems. Which should cause alarm in ourselves.
So, let’s examine the problems in the church at Laodicea and then see if we see any of those same problems amongst ourselves.

“You Are Lukewarm”

Christ says the church at Laodicea is lukewarm. This is obviously demonstrating some sort of spiritual problem in the church, but it is a little bit strange to our ears.
cultural background to the city of Laodicea
Jesus said the church was neither hot nor cold ().
Option A (traditional view): hot could represent someone who is zealous and excited to be working for the Lord, while coldness could be someone who has grown disinterested. Therefore, lukewarmness is somewhere in the middle—spiritual apathy.
Distorts your perceptions of reality ()
Option B: hot and cold are not describing someone’s interest in God; rather, that the church had lost its purpose; generally, people like their coffee hot and their water cold/iced. If you give me iced coffee it will likely make its way down the sink; if you give me warm water, it will be refrigerated/frozen.
Hot springs for bathing in the nearby city of Hierapolis 6 miles away across the Lycus River valley
Cold water for drinking in the city of Colossae.
Laodicea had lukewarm water that was not good for bathing nor for drinking. It had no real benefit or purpose.
The major problem in Laodicea was that the church had lost its effectiveness in service to the Lord. They were dedicated to themselves. They were not looking to Christ, but to their own strength and power.
How does lukewarmness manifest itself? Lukewarmness is a spiritual problem that:
First, it distorts your perceptions of reality ()
The Laodiceans thought because they were rich that they did not need anything. Yet, they were blind to their own spiritual needs.
Pride corrupts your perception of yourself towards others (, )
Paul uses quite a bit of sarcasm in attempts to get the Corinthian church to see how arrogant they had become.
The Corinthians had an exalted view of self; they looked at Paul and the apostles in a condescending manner.
Arrogance creates an attitude of self-sufficiency and a hardness to hearing the word of God.
Cain refusing to make sacrifices by faith.
Pharaoh’s resistance to God’s message and his hard was hardened.
Korah’s rebellion against Moses and refusal to hear Moses and Aaron as God’s messengers.
The Laodiceans were following the path of destruction ()
Proverbs 16:18 NASB95
18 Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before stumbling.
Independence becomes your crowning achievement ()
The church at Laodicea could not see their need for Christ. They thought their strength (their independence and wealth) was their an asset. Actually, it was their biggest debt. They had nothing ().
Laodicea was a rich textile economic base. It’s quite ironic that Jesus says they are naked and that they must come to Him in order to buy clothes.
They assumed their independence and self-reliance was what set them apart and distinguished. It just showed how far away they were from God.
Christ Jesus set us free, but not to be free from Him ()
One of the greatest challenges facing the 21st century American church is our independent attitude and wealth—the two biggest problems in the Laodicean church. Independence and freedom are our crowning achievement. We feel that it is what makes us “Christian.”
Democratic vote for decisions within the church
If we think “we’re not like Laodicea”—be careful because we just very well might be deceived and blinded to our own problems and our own reality.
Ultimately, when a church is lukewarm it becomes distasteful to Jesus. He will spit it out ()
It’s no wonder because the church had turned away from Him
The church thought they had all the answers
The church did not realize their true condition
The church needed Christ!

“Be Zealous and Repent”

Jesus rebukes the church at Laodicea because He loves them, not because He is intending to be mean ().
His correction and remedy to lukewarmness is “be zealous and repent.”
Recognize your weaknesses and sins
Self-deception is a very real spiritual danger. Our own deception will cause us to think we are acceptable to God and deny our sin (, )
Be zealous
When we see our sins, we must be touched by them. We must be disappointed with our decisions. We need to see that we need forgiveness and that we need Christ.
We need to see that we need forgiveness and that we need Christ.
Zeal is more than an emotion. Zeal is what shapes our life by offering motivation, intensity, and something that consumes us. Our singular focus should be on serving Christ (cf. ; ).
Zeal leads to purpose, dedication, and effectiveness—all traits that the church in Laodicea had been missing!
Paul wrote to the Corinthian church that they needed to repent. He describes the benefits of repentance ():
Rejoicing (v. 9)
Sorrow that produces repentance (v. 10)
Salvation (v. 10)
Earnestness, indignation, zeal, innocence (v. 11)
Be known in the sight of God (v. 12)
Resolve to change. Repentance will never happen until a church decides they need to do better (e.g., church discipline).
Actually change. Follow-through. This was one of the items we discussed about the church at Philadelphia in their commitment to keeping the word of Christ. Follow-through was something the church at Laodicea failed to do.
Decisions have to be made.
Ultimately, you will obtain recognition, authority, and a reward from Jesus
Commitments must be kept.
Don’t just do those thins half-heartedly; do them well.
If the church at Laodicea would reform their commitment and zeal and repent, then Jesus would bless them.
Jesus implores all His churches to do better and be committed to Him (, ).


When a church is not lukewarm, but is hot/cold and knows its purpose and is effective in its work, then there is the promised reward and blessing from God.
We will be blessed with eternal recognition, security, and salvation with Jesus our Savior.
He will not get rid of us and cast us aside; He will bless us and bring us nearer to Him.
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