Revelation 3:14-22 / Worldly Rich, Spiritually Bankrupt

Posted on March 5, 2015

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This is the twelfth in a series of verse-by-verse expositions of the book of Revelation. This message was delivered at Hillcrest Baptist Church on the morning of March 8, 2015. This message deals with the dangers of indifference. This post contains an audio recording of my message, along with my sermon notes and a study outline. Please note that the sermon notes are not a full transcript.

SERMON AUDIO:

Rev. 3:14-22

SERMON NOTES:

v.14:

Laodicea. Located in the Lycus River Valley, the southwest area of Phrygia, became the wealthiest, most important commercial center in the region. It was primarily known for three industries: banking, wool, and medicine (notably its eye salve). Jesus has some strong words for this church.

He identifies Himself as the faithful and true witness, and as the Creator. As the faithful and true witness, He bears testimony against this church, and their spiritual condition. His testimony is absolute truth, and cannot be refuted. It is proof positive, and leaves no room for any doubt. In His testimony, He has nothing good to say about the Laodiceans. It is a sad commentary, yet probably not too unfamiliar.

By identifying Himself as the Creator, Jesus corrects a heresy that was present in this church. Then, as now, He was speaking to a people who had accepted the evolutionary hypothesis. Scripture leaves no doubt that Jesus is the Creator.

John 1:3

Colossians 1:16-17

Even so, this heresy persisted, as it does today. Ultimately, it produced an unregenerate church in Laodicea. Make no mistake, that the acceptance of evolution instead of Christ the Creator, is no less devastating today.

v.15:

The works are not even called good works, as they were in Thyatira. This church was so spiritually destitute, that it was incapable of producing any good works.

If they were cold, there may be more hope for them. Perhaps then, they would have some reason to believe that they had need of redemption. In their tepid condition, they saw no need. In fact, their self-evaluation was very positive. Of course Christ would want them to be spiritually hot, as that needs no explanation.

As it was, they were useless to Christ because they were complacent, self-satisfied, and indifferent to the real issues of faith. It is precisely this kind of wishy-washy, fence riding that leaves one without any absolutes, or any convictions. Such a person is essentially useless, and like the double-minded person that James talks about.

James 1:6-8

v.16:

This is a picture of spiritual zombies. They are neither dead nor alive.

This has a drastic and frightening effect upon Christ. It makes Him sick enough to vomit them out of His mouth. A vomit, or spewing, is a very forceful rejection, and such a picture should be sobering to any believer.

These believers didn’t take a stand for anything; indifference had led to idleness. By neglecting to do anything for Christ, the church had become hardened and self-satisfied, and it had destroyed itself. There is nothing more disgusting than a halfhearted, nominal Christian who is self-sufficient instead of Christ sufficient. If you don’t believe me, just look at how disgusting it is to Christ. Disgusting enough to make Him vomit.

v.17:

Such churches believe they “have need of nothing”. Worldly wealth, extensive property, and popular recognition blinded these members and their leaders to their true spiritual condition. They failed to understand that, from the Lord’s perspective, they are “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked”.

The cause of this spiritual deficiency is lukewarm spirituality. It’s like expecting a glass of cold water or a cup of hot coffee but finding everything at room temperature. This church “tasted” just like the world around them. 

They were neither godly nor in rebellion–just “nice people” who blended in well with the community. The true church of God does not blend in, it stands out!

Matthew 5:14-16

How ironic it is, given this grave warning, that material wealth is the measuring rod for the modern church. This is one thing that Christ never promised either the individual or the church, yet we assume that a wealthy church is a healthy church. Nothing could be farther from the truth. For all of Laodicea’s wealth, they were spiritually bankrupt.

v.18:

Despite the Lord’s distaste for such a condition, He loved and counseled them to “buy” from Him the gold of the kingdom’s true wealth, righteous clothing that would cover their shameful exposure of worldly behavior, and to anoint their spiritual eyes so that they could see eternal values rather than temporal things.

He was offering them the spiritual counterparts to their three major industries. Each item was a way to refer to genuine salvation. 

Though the church had already rejected Christ’s call, He continues to offer it. What a beautiful picture of a loving and patient God. He wants them to become spiritually rich. He wants them to be clothed with real righteousness. He wants them to be taught by the Holy Spirit so they can truly see.

Christ was showing the Laodiceans that true value was not in material possessions but in a right relationship with God. Their possessions and achievements were valueless compared with the everlasting future of Christ’s Kingdom.

v.19:

Though God loved this church and was patient with them, the warning was real. Repent or be judged. Divine discipline was imminent if they didn’t turn around.

v.20:

As the Lord graciously closed His letter, He “stands at the door” of the church, waiting for anyone to open and let Him in. Lukewarm spirituality; however,  keeps the Lord outside. What a shame that such could ever be said about any church. 

v.21:

To whoever would accept His call, He gives the same promise as to all the others.

John 3:16

Romans 10:13

At the end of each letter to these churches, the believers were urged to listen and understand what was written to them. Although a different message was addressed to each church, all the messages contain warnings and principles for everyone. 

v.22:

Are you cold or are you hot? Are you lukewarm, riding the fence.

Does the message of repentance speak to your heart?

Do you feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit?

Will you listen to God’s call?

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