Laodicea – Disgusting Church, Part 1

Revelation 3:14-22

Two questions of great importance: what is real, what is true. Surrounded by all sorts of things that strive to convince of one view or another: media, politicians, salespeople, education figures. Then those who encourage use of substances to positively color or perceive reality – prescription drugs, street drugs, alcohol. All that pales in significance when consider two other categories: sin and Satan.

Jeremiah 17:9“The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?”

Revelation 12:9 “So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.”

Church in Laodicea, according to evaluation by Lord Jesus, largely deceived about their real condition, where to find what is true. Had become complacent, smug in their self-satisfaction, largely infiltrated by culture around them.

60AD earthquake during reign of Nero, totally destroyed city, declined imperial help – rebuilt entirely w/local resources. Locally grown black glossy wool for high-end manufacture. Noted in medical community for eye-salve, made from base of nard with other ingredients. Located at major intersection midway between Hierapolis and Colosse – Hierapolis a destination city because of therapeutic hot springs, Colosse had excellent source of water from nearby mountains’ snow melt. At least two theaters plus immense stadium for athletic events, adequate seating for all in city and surrounding countryside. Sufficient resources to entertain entire city at one time.

To church in Laodicea, Christ gives no commendation whatever, only fearsome rebuke. Should serve as warning to contemporary church – none are immune or exempt. This letter written in a different style: the narrator taking both sides of a conversation. Begins as all the rest with self-introduction, then his counsel to a Disgusting [local] Church.

I am v.14

The Amen

2 Cor. 1:20 “For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.” – Jesus is one who is God’s final word, who has the final word, the one in whom and for whom all God’s promises are ultimately fulfilled (Gal. 3:16)

the faithful and true Witness

doesn’t matter what Laodicean church self-evaluation might be, Lord of the Church has right take on their true condition, will accurately represent them before his Father

the Beginning of the creation of God

not only source of original creation – “all things were made through him” (John 1:3), he is one who is source of new creation – “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17)

not a big secret, look at world and know something is wrong with it… too many things are broken; only source of hope for renewal, restoration: Lord Jesus

you are v.15-16

neither cold nor hot

Laodicea had two sources of water: hot springs of Hierapolis, cold mountain streams that supplied Colosse; at end of aqueduct at Laodicea, both were lukewarm

I wish that you were cold or hot

refreshing or healing – imagery of “cup of cold water” = refreshing; hot mineral springs believed to promote healing of various ailments, attracted visitors from great distance

because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold

Laodicea the unfortunate one of tri-city area with water that neither healed nor refreshed; according to Lord Jesus, same was true of local church

gathering of believers ministered to by Epaphras in earlier day (Col. 4:12-13) had taken on qualities of surrounding culture – no longer provided what would be spiritually refreshing or bring healing

Matt. 5:13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.”

I will spit you out of My mouth

rejected by Lord of the Church – he expects his church to be useful, means he can use to advance his kingdom; also expects church to be distinguishable from culture

“We would welcome a church as diverse as all of humanity. And so whoever you are, wherever you are on life’s journey, we can offer you a place in our community of seekers, believers, and doubters. We are engaged together in a quest to explore the meaning of our lives and the meaning of God’s love amid the demands of our complex world.

We don’t all believe the same things. We don’t all live the same kinds of lives. We don’t all come from the same traditions. But we do all share a commitment to support and care for each other; to seek God’s love at the center of our days; and to embody that love in the way we work together.”

if church is to be relevant and useful, more important… pleasing to Christ, must be actively supplying what will bring true refreshment, genuine healing to broken people in broken world

you say v.17

I am rich

as much as to say “I can meet my own needs, I can take care of myself” – have ability to know what is of true value

and have become wealthy

accurately identified and adequately provided for future as well as present, and btw, must be doing it right because obviously God is blessing

and need nothing

perhaps the height of arrogance or depth of self-deception: that a mere mortal can comprehensively assess personal need present and future and think “got it all covered”

and you do not know

laugh at “evening oskifer, I’m not under the alchafluence of inchohol as some thinkle peep I am” – spiritual self-deception can be just as profound as that brought on by drugs or alcohol

is what happens when we get comfortable in the world, begin to conform to world’s priorities, values, ways of thinking

that you are wretched

deceived about your quality of life – are living way below standard of love / joy / peace / freedom God wants for his children


are to be pitied – have access to greatest treasure of all, Jesus, have pursued trinkets of world instead and convinced yourself they are satisfying


riches you are counting on are fool’s gold – have appearance but not substance of what has true value – failure to treasure things God esteems


have your plan all mapped out for future but you cannot see the truth, cannot see yourself, cannot see your way

and naked

things you believe cover you and all your needs no more real than emperor’s new clothes, no more useful than old fig leaves

you have believed a lie

that things can be acquired apart from God that will meet need, satisfy desire

and just because you heard it at church doesn’t make it truth – does it come from God through his Word applied by His Spirit

church too often acts like it is what you have or what you do that is of utmost importance – facilities and programs and large crowds and worship teams and on it goes

God says it is who you have and who you are that really counts – have Spirit of God indwelling and directing your life because you are blood-bought child of God adopted into his family

I advise v.18

buy from Me

complete paradigm shift necessary – stop trusting in world’s ways whether in personal life or for corporate church methods

gold refined in the fire so that you may be rich

things of true eternal value can only be obtained from Jesus – is our inheritance in Christ that is not subject to decay or devaluing

and white clothes so that you may be dressed, and your shameful nakedness will not be revealed

only thing that truly covers is righteousness of Christ – no clothing anyone else manufactures will suffice, no matter how good it looks here; only his righteousness goes with us into God’s presence

and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see

only eye salve applied by Holy Spirit removes scales of sin and worldliness from eyes so we can see God’s truth and follow it

I do v.19-20

I rebuke and discipline

hard to hear? tough love? you bet, but don’t forget it is tough love; love doesn’t stay silent in presence of danger, especially spiritual danger that puts eternal soul at risk

I stand at the door and knock

gracious Lord of church has not given up… yet on Laodicea, as disgusting as they are to him – still treats them as his church

I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me

no hard feelings, Jesus stands ready to fellowship with his people as soon as they respond to his rebuke and chastening

you should v.19-20, 22

be zealous and repent

stoke up the fire, zeal you had at first – turn back to truth, to God’s way, not halfheartedly but with true energy and desire

hear My voice and opens the door

listen to the Savior’s voice and respond – don’t keep at arm’s length, welcome him back in to place of honor and respect

hear what the Spirit says

don’t listen to what world says, especially about matters of faith – listen to what the Spirit says, follow his direction, display evidence of Spirit’s presence and leading

if / then v.21

The one who overcomes I will give him the right to sit down with Me on My throne as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne

just as Christ overcame seemingly impossible odds, with his help and strength so will we – if we pursue Christ, we will overcome Satan and all his forces, we will receive eternal reward

Christ calls us to faithfulness – to follow him wherever he leads us. Cannot do that using resources world offers, following world’s solutions. Only possible when we move forward in faith, depending on Christ to supply all our needs.


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