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Summary: The Laodicean Church had become complacent & apatetic about the cause of Christ because its members were involved in the worldly activities of the affluent society in which they lived. Jesus tells them that He would not accept their luke-warm attitude.

Revelation 3: 14-22

THE COMPLACENT CHURCH

[Matthew 2:19-34]

The letters to the seven churches are God’s X-rays, given so that we might examine our own lives and ministries. Judgment is going to come to this world, but it first begins at the house of God (1 Pet. 4:17). This refining fire is aimed at returning the Church to its Founder. Thus in most of these letters we find rebuke as well as encouragement.

Churches that start well, often don’t finish well. If the cause for this is because its members want to participate in the worldliness of an affluent society, the Church will face the judgment of the Lord. The Laodicean Church had become complacent about the cause of Christ because its members were immersed in the worldly activities of the affluent society in which they lived. Jesus tells them that He would not accept their luke-warm attitude toward Him. Jesus wanted them to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (CIM).

I. CHARACTERISTICS, 14.

A. Greeting, 14a.

B. Christ’s Titles, 14b.

II. CRITICISM, 15-17.

III. COMMAND, 18-19.

IV. CALL TO COMMITMENT, 20-22.

The seventh and concluding message to the seven churches of Asia is addressed to the angel of the church in Laodicea. The city was situated about 40 miles southeast of Philadelphia on the road to Colossae at the intersection of three important roads. It was one of the richest commercial centers in the world and a picture of affluent society. Laodicea was a prominent center of banking and industry. The city was famous for a beautiful glossy black wool used to make clothing and carpets. A pharmaceutical eye salve made in the city was exported far and wide.

The city of Laodicea was rich and so were the people of its church. The church had apparently been established by the preaching of Epaphras (Col. 1:7, 4:12f). The Laodicea church was even written a letter by the Apostle Paul (Col. 4:16) which in God’s providence has been lost.

[B. Christ’s Titles, 14b.]

Christ gives His titles in the second part of verse 14. The Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Source of the creation of God, says this:

Jesus Christ presents Himself as the Amen. (This is the one letter where Christ’s titles are not drawn from His description in chapter 1). The word Amen is the Hebrew word truth (Isa. 65:16). In Greek it means "so be it", "let it stand" and it is usually translated verily or truly when part of the gospel declarations of Jesus. As a title of Christ it indicates His sovereignty and the certainty of the fulfillment of His promises (2 Cor. 1:20). When Christ speaks, it is the final word, and His will is always effected.

Christ also entitles Himself The Faithful and True Witness in sharp contrast to the church in Laodicea which was neither faithful nor true. The fact that Christ is both a faithful and a true witness gives special solemnness to the words which follow. The Lord is about to tell this church the truth about their condition.

Finally He is the Source of the Creation of God. The word source or beginning (arche, can mean first in time or first in rank) is translated principal or ruler in other places in the New Testament (Eph. 6:12). He is the source, the fountain head of creation.

II. CRITICISM, 15-17.

Verse 15 begins Christ look at the church. He says, I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I would that you were cold or hot.

The letter has no word of commendation, neither is there any word of censure for false teaching or immorality. The trouble at Laodicea is that they were neither hot or cold. The Greek words are striking, and we are left no doubt concerning their meaning. Cold means icy cold and hot means boiling hot. Jesus Christ would prefer us to boil or freeze rather than simmer down into an insensitive lukewarmness. Outright rejection of the faith is better than the insensitivity to it of the Laodiceans. To profess Christianity while remaining untouched by its fire is a disaster for the church and for the world. Their coolness, their aloofness, their self-centeredness, was a denial of the meaningfulness of Christ and what He had done. They said they believed but lived like it was unimportant.

Our inner spiritual fire is always in constant danger of dying down. It needs to be poked, fed and fanned into flame. The idea of being on fire for Christ will strike some people as dangerous emotionalism. Fanaticism is not what is intended here. Fanaticism is an unreasoning and unintelligent. It is action without reflection. What Jesus Christ desires and deserves is the reflection which leads to commitment. If Jesus is true, if He is the Son of God who became flesh; died for our sins and was raised from the dead; if Christmas Day, Good Friday, and Easter Day are more than meaningless holidays, then nothing less than our wholehearted commitment to Christ will do! This means putting Him first in our private and public life, seeking His glory and obeying His will. Better to be icy in rejection than to insult Him and the gospel with half-hearted indifference that communicates to the world that it holds little significant value to you.

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Greg Nance

commented on Aug 22, 2012

Great message! Thanks for the insights and helpful exposition. One comment that might serve as another option to the hot and cold interpretation: Ray Vanderlan pointed out that from Laodicea one can see two river sources. Hot springs from one point and cold mountain springs from another come together close to Laodicea and create a lukewarm highly mineralized stream, undrinkable and in no way refreshing. Perhaps Jesus is saying: I wish you were either refreshingly cold or usefully hot. Both are good. But the waters of Laodicea are neither. It is hard to imagine Jesus saying I wish you were totally against me or totally for me. Instead Jesus may be saying I wish you were useful instead of like salt that loses it''s flavor. It is good for nothing...

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