Summary: The church of Laodecia teaches us that letting Jesus in means letting Him take over. A mere profession of faith in Christ without a change in lifestyle is not enough.
Today our journey is completed. We have arrived at our final stopping point; we will hear the final word of God to the seven churches of the book of Revelation.
You know, it seems highly appropriate to me that we make this momentous arrival at the time when the attention of Christians everywhere is focused on the great sacrifice of the Son of God. Though we recognise that this Easter Weekend as it is celebrated is not the actual time of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection, yet we have opportunity this weekend to call to mind in a unique way the events through which our Saviour passed that we might become heirs to eternal life. It is at this time of year that for many, a deeper understanding of just what He went through for you and for me is gained – a deeper recognition of our wretched and sinful state, which drove Him to make such a sacrifice – and it is at this time that a commitment to Christ is made, renewed, or strengthened. As with the message of Easter, so the message to the Church of Laodicea is one that serves to remind us, even this morning, of our true condition, as well as to direct our attention the only true Cure, the only true Deliverer, the one and only Saviour.
And so I invite you, to meet this Saviour anew today, as we turn this morning to the third chapter of Revelation, to begin reading at verse 14 (read vv. 14-22)….
If we were to compare the seven churches of Revelation with the seven corresponding eras of the Christian church, we would find that the message of the church of Laodicea is the message that pertains prophetically to our time in history. According to Scripture, it is this age in which we are now living, which is the age of spiritual Laodicea. It should come as no surprise, then, that though many of us may not have read the letter to Laodicea before, yet the words are still very familiar. The rebuke of Jesus against lukewarmness is a common cry today, shouted against the church from both pew and pulpit. And of course, who hasn’t heard the famous appeal, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock”? In fact, as I read the passage just now, I am sure that many of you stopped paying attention because your mind already knew many of the words and simply filled in the rest. It’s a message that we have become familiar with – perhaps too familiar.
And yet as we read the letter to Laodicea, we discover that the Spirit of the churches is calling us this morning – calling us to do more than just recite the message from memory, to do more than just repeat the catch phrases we have gleaned. This morning, the Spirit of God is calling on us to dig deeper, to hear the message – not to just let the words go in one ear and out the other, but to stop and deeply reflect on what this message is calling us to. So instead of tuning out, let us lay aside what we think this letter is saying, wake up our spiritual sensitivities, and tune in to the word God is actually declaring to us today.
Our Lord begins His letter with the words, “I know your works”. In any letter, it is often the first sentence that will set the tone of the message being given. It is often the first few words spoken that reveal what is of greatest importance to the writer’s heart. And here we see that God’s primary concern is with what? – with our works! Of all the ways God could have begun this letter – of all the things He could have expressed over which He takes greatest issue with His church, we discover that it is our works – what we are doing – that are of utmost importance to Him. In fact, as you look over the letters to the churches, you will find that five of the seven letters begin with the words, “I know your works”.
This is a sobering testimony, and it stands in stark contrast with the mindset of many a modern Christian. “We are living in the age of grace” is the herald of many contemporary churches; “our works are no longer important; just confess that Jesus is Lord, and you are saved” they say. The commonly accepted theory for too many Christians is “once saved, always saved”, and it has wreaked havoc on the cause of Christ. They will tell you that to make a profession of faith is enough; that to be baptised is sufficient, and that further works are unnecessary. To the once-saved, always-saved subscribers, the good works do no more to merit the kingdom of heaven than the evil works do to keep you out. I know a young woman who told me once that it doesn’t matter that she smokes and drinks and lives with her boyfriend; she professes that Jesus is Lord, and so she’s still saved.