Summary: Lessons learned from the church of Laodicea. Sermon notes, powerpoint, video clips available upon request.
Several years ago I went White Water Rafting with some friends. It was October, early in the morning, the sun wasn’t up yet. We were in wet suits preparing to face serious class 4 and 5 rapids down the Gauley River. Before leaving camp all 75 to 80 in the group were called together for important instruction. Our leader looked very serious and said, “LISTEN UP! What you are about to experience is extreme. People have died. IF you listen and apply what I tell you – it could save your life or the life of someone you’re with.” (Pause)
In (TAB) Rev. chapters 2 and 3 Jesus shares very serious words of a more eternal nature with His church.
Jesus dictates (TAB) 7 real letters to 7 real churches. He’s preparing them, and I believe us, to navigate extreme terrain. As we’ve said, there are many Bible teachers who believe these 7 churches represent more than 7 churches in Asia Minor. That possibly, they represent (TAB) 7 parts of the church age. Even more interesting they believe that the 7th church, (the church of Laodicea- the church that we’re going to look at today) represents the last part of the church age – the part, they believe, we’re in today. Let’s see if there are any parallels. Please let’s turn with me to (TAB) Rev. 3
(TAB) Laodicea is the church with an unconscious need.
Like all the cities in Asia Minor, Laodicea lived under Roman Rule. But they were different – they were wealthy- it was the financial district for the region. They were so wealthy that in A.D 17 when a (TAB) huge earthquake hit the region destroying cities and Rome reached out to help, Laodicea said, “Thanks but no thanks. We’re able to rebuild by ourselves.”& they did.
It’s nice when you’re financially secure. Needs arise and you’re fine, you have the resources to take care of things. But Jesus teaches that with great resources come great responsibility – that there are dangerous that come with being wealthy – we can begin to depend on our resources instead of God’s. Prioritizing them over Him. That’s dangerous.
The church of Laodicea is the poster child of this. Their economic sufficiency caused them to fall asleep spiritually.
Look at v. 14, Jesus introduces Himself saying, “These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation”. He’s reminding them that His words & testimony are absolutely accurate and that He is their ruler & authority.
Then He shares sobering words of condemnation. V. 15 “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold not hot. I wish you were either one or the other!” Usually Jesus shares positive words of commendation first, not here. And as he condemns them he makes culture connections they would be aware of.
Laodicea was located (TAB) between two larger cities, Hierapolis and Colossae. (TAB) Hierapolis was known for their hot springs, it was believed that the waters had a medicinal benefits. Colossae had cold waters that came from the snow capped mountains nearby. Laodicea didn’t have a water source - they had to pipe it in from a spring miles away. It was so mineral filled it tasted bad and it was piped so far that by the time it reached them it was lukewarm. Jesus refers to this church and says, “Spiritually, you are like your water, tepid and disgusting.” Strong words.
Jesus mentions (TAB) 3 spiritual states here:
(TAB) 1). Cold – which represent the unsaved, the spiritually lost. They don’t know God, They don’t possess His new life, His forgiveness. They’re cold, they’re spiritually dead. “But Vern, Jesus says He’d rather the Loadicean church be cold… then lukewarm. The cold don’t have or know Jesus.” You’re right, but the cold are why Jesus came. (TAB) Luke 19:10 “For the Son of Man has come to seek and save that which was lost.”
But we also see the 2nd spiritual state: (TAB) Hot – which represent the saved – those who know & fervently follow Jesus. They trust Him with their lives. They’re knowing, growing and going for Christ. Jesus is seen in their lives and actions. They reflect Him. And Jesus desires this for all of us.
Finally we see a 3rd spiritual state (TAB) Lukewarm Now, there are different views as to the eternal state of this group. Some believe the lukewarm are Christians that have lost their vision, values and vigor. They believe in Jesus, but the pleasures and comforts of the world have lulled them into an unwitting spiritual sleep. They’ve become unconsciously backslidden. They have the foundation of Jesus Christ in their lives – but nothing built on the foundation. 1 Cor. 3:15 speaks of folks like these (TAB) “…[they] will be saved – even as one only escaping through the flames.”