Summary: What does a church do when it finds itself lukewarm? Part 2 of Jesus' message to the church of Laodicea View this sermon on our website or youtube channel. www.gracecommunity.com
We are continuing today with the second part of Jesus’ message to the church in Laodicea. Last week, we went through the first half of this letter that was carried from the Isle of Patmos where John was exiled. The messenger would deliver the letter to the church to be read aloud.
The letter was far from flattering. There was no commendation to the church, like the other 6 letters. Only rebuke. The message of Jesus to the church was this. There is nothing good you are doing. There is nothing really wrong you are doing for me to correct. You are apathetic and lukewarm and because you are lukewarm, I want to vomit you out of my mouth. Not the kind of message a church would want to receive from our Lord.
It would be helpful to remind you about the city of Laodicea. It was a very wealthy and affluent city. In AD 60, a great earthquake ravaged the area which utterly destroyed the city. It rebuilt with the massive financial reserves the city-owned. The city could do this because of its banking industry. It was very wealthy and self-sufficient.
In addition to banking, the city of Laodicea was known for making beautiful black wool. It also had a prominent medical school. There were many famous doctors there and they developed an eye salve that helped cure blindness. The downside of living in Laodicea was the water system. The water had to be piped into the town through a series of aqueducts, but the water was contaminated with calcium carbonate and is described as being brackish. You can go to the ruins of Laodicea today and find pipes almost clogged with the sediment. It was said that it made people sick when they drank it.
This was in contrast to the 2 sister cities in the area, Hierapolis to the North, which was known for its hot springs that contained healing properties and Colosse to the South, which was known for it cold and refreshing springs. Laodicea had stale lukewarm water, which is where Jesus gets his rebuke that the church was neither cold nor hot but lukewarm. Jesus said the lukewarm church makes him want to vomit.
So how does a church get to this point and what are we to do about it when we find ourselves in this place? Today’s message addresses both of these questions.
14 “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation. 15 “ ‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. 19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him and eat with him, and he with me. 21 The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ ” (Rev 3:14-22)
The Condition of the Church
The condition of the church is probably the condition of the American church today. The church of Laodicea was that like the City of Laodicea they were self-sufficient. They had everything they needed that they were apathetic in their relationship with God. Ephesus was doctrinally pure but lost their zeal. They held fast to the faith and the gospel. Laodicea lost their love for Jesus and found themselves denying his Lordship.
They had a warped Christology that denied Jesus as God. Christological heresy had infiltrated Colossae. It had attacked particularly the deity of Christ and reduced Him to a created being, some kind of angelic being. They believed he was a good man that reached a higher level of spirituality, but they denied his preeminence over all creation. This is why Jesus opens his letter to them as “the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation.”
A similar situation was happening in nearby Colossae. This is why Paul tells the church in Colossae to share his letter to them with the Laodicean church and visa versa (Col 4:16). The Problem in Colossae was the belief that Jesus came in the flesh, but did not eternally exist. Rather, he obtained a god-like status through his good works and so can you.