WORD PICTURES OF THE CHURCH
THAT MADE CHRIST SICK
Have you ever had a taste of something that you really just wanted to spit it out rather than eat it? I remember the first and only time I ever had calves tongue. I tasted so moist I could only think of the slobber and I had to excuse myself and go spit it out in the bathroom.
How sad to note the Lord has that kind of a reaction to one of the seven
(7) churches. Let us look at the church that made the Lord spit them
out of His mouth.
I. A PICTURE OF THE CITY. v 14 a.
Laodicea, the name means justice of the people. It is famous for its
law courts. Cicero, one of the famous people of the old Rome, held court
here. Three Roman roads center here. This city was 45 miles southeast of
Philadelphia and 40 miles directly east of Ephesus. Two rivers came together
at Laodicea. Springs of water here were lukewarm and tepid. Travelers would
expect a refreshing drink, but in disgust would spit the water out. They
had riches because of their banking institutions, the making of garments
from black wool and a famous medical school (this school had discovered
a famous eye salve).
II. A PICTURE OF THE CHRIST WHO SPEAKS. v. 14 b.
Jesus titled Himself 3 times to this church. First, He said, "I am the Amen." The word Amen says, 'that's right.' It means that it is established as correct. Over in the book of Isaiah, God talks about His Amen and here Jesus is saying, "I am the Amen of God." When you've said Jesus, you don't need to say anything else. You've said the Amen of God.
Second, He said, "I am the faithful and true witness." It is in contrast to their lack of faithfulness. he is true like a faithful witness should be.
Third, the Lord says, "I am the beginning of the creation of
God," and He's saying, "I am the source or the originator. I am the moving
cause of the creation of God." This is the One who writes to the church
at Laodicea. His message ought to be important regardless what title He
gives Himself, but these particular titles are of special importance to
this church. They need to heed Him because He is God's Amen; He is a faithful
and true witness . . .because He is the creator of all things.
III. A PICTURE OF THE CHURCH CONDEMNED. v. 15 - 17
They were professing Christianity while remaining untouched by its fire. That's hard to do. You really have to work at not being on fire because the Holy Spirit ignites those who seek His fire. In verse 16, the Lord says, "Because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth." This Greek word for spit can be translated vomit. It is the only time in the entire New Testament that Greek word is used, and the Lord uses it for one of His churches.
The Greek word Mello (I am about to) means, I am thinking of doing this, it is my plan to do it, if you don't repent. The Lord does tell them "Repent." The Lord does tell them "I love you." The Lord does tell them, "I am standing at the door and knocking." And so He hasn't spit them out yet, and He's saying to them, "I'm about to unless you do what I ask you to do." What a sad commentary for the Lord to make about any of His churches.
The danger we all face is, we tend to think we're not this kind of church. And yet, if I asked, "How many of you are really on fire for the Lord?" no one would raise their hand. If I would ask, "How many of you are cold in your Christian life?" there wouldn't be many, if any, who would raise their hands. If I asked, "How many of would put yourself in the lukewarm category," most of us would raise our hands. The Lord said He doesn't want lukewarm Christians. He wants us to be on fire.
Notice verse 17. The Lord tells them why He is about to spit them out. They said, "I am rich and have become wealthy and have need of nothing," but the Lord says, "You have false riches, clothing, and sight. You are poor, blind, naked and this is a condition which is miserable." It is a church that is to be pitied. How said, that a church who names the name of Jesus, who says that they are Christian, would have this kind of condemnation from the Lord.
I think often of the fellow who put over his body a sandwich board advertisements. On the front board, he painted the message, "I am a fool for Jesus." As he walked up and down the streets, people would notice the sign said, "I am a fool for Jesus," and they would begin to discuss how foolish that was. But as they turned and looked back at him in scorn, they noticed the message on his back, "Whose fool are you?"
Many people have them self foolishly involved in some worldly activity. All of their spare time is given over to this obsession. It might be golf, hunting fishing, or some other sport. It could be a meaningful hobby but it has taken the place of anything to do with God.
Recently a man told me if I become a Christian I know I will want to
spend a lot of time working for the Lord, and I am not ready to do
that. This man spends a lot of time with his own pleasure
that will not effect eternity. I am glad I give a lot
of time towards ministry. I believe I am involved with something
of eternal significance.
IV. A PICTURE OF THE LORD'S COUNSEL. v 17-18
The Lord says to the city of Laodicea which is known for its law counselors, "I want to counsel you." The counsel of Christ is to buy from me that which is free but not cheap. What contrast. Here He says to this church, "You are always buying, you're of such sophistication that you think you can buy anything." It is interesting to note in the great earthquake that destroyed many cities including Laodicea, they didn't accept any government money to rebuild. The other cities had to. But Laodicea had such wealth, they said, "We'll just rebuild it ourselves. We don't need the king's money."
The Lord says, "I'm counseling you to buy from me." What does He want them to buy? He wants them to buy some gold. They had their banking institutions. They were well-known for the kind of gold they had, but the Lord said, "I want you to buy from me gold that has been tried in the fire." And if they would get that kind of pure gold, God's gold that is purified in the fire, it would set them on fire. Yo and I need to buy some of that gold. We need to come humbly to our Lord Jesus and acknowledge the sinfulness of our Christian life. Confess that sin and seek a purifying fire that He has.
The Lord counsels them to buy garments. They can say, "But we are people of the garment industry. We are people of black wool and all these refinements." The Lord says, "You need to get some white garments from me. That's what's wrong with you. You've got black garments." Christian's garments aren't supposed to be black or tattle tale gray. When you talk about spiritual things, you want white garments.
You want them to be white as snow. And then the Lord says, "that I would
counsel you to buy eye salve from me to anoint your eyes that you may see."
So the gold relates to their banks, and the Lord said, "You're going bankrupt,"
and the garments relate to their garment industry, and He said, "You need
to have them purified," and the eye salve refers to their medical school
and the making of their eye salve, and the Lord says, "You need to get
eye salve from me so that you can see spiritually."
V. A PICTURE OF ENCOURAGEMENT. v 19-20
Look at verse 19. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline. Be zealous therefore and repent. If you were to read that in Greek, it would read something like this: "I love those whom I reprove and disapprove." The 'I' is in the emphatic position. Jesus is saying, "I want you to understand clearly who is saying, 'I love you. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, and I have reproved and disciplined you. Therefore know that I love you." This is the message to the worst of the seven churches. Have you ever done anything where you feel the Lord would say, "I'll just spew you out of my mouth?" Well, if you have, then the Lord still says, "I love you." He wants them to be zealous, "Get on fire," is what He is saying. Be zealous for the Lord. Have some spark of enthusiasm related to sharing something about Jesus Christ.
Then verse 20, one of the most famous verses in the Bible, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock." This is a gentle knock. The Lord just knocks at the door, gently, wooing them to hear that He is knocking at the door. And if they'd be real quiet, they'd not only hear that He knocks, but He speaks. I love what Adrian Rogers said when somebody asked, "Did you hear the voice of the Lord audibly?" He said, "No, it was much louder than that." If you don't understand that, friend, you've got a good experience coming in your Christian life, for the Lord is going to get into the church. The Lord is saying, "I'd like to get into the whole church. But if I can't get into the whole church, then I'll take as many individually as I can get. I'll work on one, then on, two, and then on three."
The Lord says, "I want to come in. I will come in and dine with you and you with me." The Greek word for dine is the supper meal. It's not breakfast that you're eating on the run. It's not lunch time where you've got just a segment of time. It's the supper meal, where, if you want to, you can really sit around and talk. That's where you really have fellowship. That's the meal that the Lord says, "I'm going to dine with you. I want to have sweet fellowship with you in your church. I want your church to be on fire. To all of this, we just can sum it up and say the remedy is in Christ. That's where the remedy is.
Dr. A. V. Hill, pastor at Mt. Zion Baptist Church in the Watts section of Los Angeles, said that he believed fire was needed. "You know, get on fire" he said. "Fire will melt any block of ice." He told of a group that came to him concerning a church that was very cold. They said, "Shouldn't we just get a group together and get rid of that preacher." And A. V. Hill told them, "Just get around that preacher and let your fire warm him." And he said, "They revived that preacher, and the church got on fire."
We are told in the beginning of this book the Lord is in the midst. It is sad to note here the Lord is outside knocking on the door requesting to be invited into the church. Where is our church? Is Jesus through the Spirit right in the midst?
VI. A PICTURE OF THE PROMISE. v. 21
Notice the picture of promise. Every one of the churches has a verse like the 21st. He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with me on my throne as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. Overcomers are going to get to sit on the throne.
I had a history professor named Dr. Carleton. He began the class by saying, "Every professor has some biases. I want you to know mine. "First of all, I believe the Bible is the Word of God." Dr. Carleton died.
His sons shared in his funeral, and one son, Bill, had been in the service in Germany. While there, his father came to visit him and wanted to see Charlemagne's throne. As they arrived at the museum, the guard was locking the door. Bill went to him and said, "Do you see that man there? He's my dad, and he would love to see Charlemagne's throne." The guard said, "Come on in." And he gave a personal tour.
Dr. Carleton stood near the throne of the great conqueror. When the
guide saw the expression on his face, he asked, "Would you like to touch
it?" Bill said he caressed it. Seeing such respect , the guide loosened
the rope around the throne and nodded for Dr. Carleton to sit on it. Then
Bill said, "There is another throne that my father has seen from a distance
and today he is standing in close reach of it." What a tremendous tribute
for a son to pay his daddy.
How does this apply to you?
VII. THE PICTURE OF COMMAND. v. 22.
He who has an ear to hear, let him hear what the spirit has to say to the churches. Here again, we have the command to the churches, plural; it is not just to this church in Laodicea; it is to all the seven churches, and it is in reference to the constant call of the spirit that all may hear. Do you have spiritual ears? They are given with the second birth. All who have been born again are to hear what the Lord says. He spoke to John; John wrote the message down, the Holy Spirit speaks the message today to all who have ears. Do you have spiritual ears? They are available in the rebirth.
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And Beyond. Amen? Amen!