Faithlife Sermons

The Lukewarm Church

Things to Come Revelation Series  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Revelation 3:14–22 NKJV
14 “And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, ‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: 15 “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. 16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. 17 Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked—18 I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore 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 in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. 21 To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame 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.” ’ ”
The Revelation of Jesus Christ The Letter to Laodicea: The Church with Unconscious Need (3:14-22)

This city founded by Antiochus II in the middle of the third century before Christ and named after his wife Laodice was situated about forty miles southeast of Philadelphia on the road to Colossae. Under Roman rule Laodicea had become wealthy and had a profitable business arising from the production of wool cloth. When destroyed by an earthquake about a.d. 60, it was able to rebuild without any outside help. Its economic sufficiency tended to lull the church to sleep spiritually; and though there is mention of the church as late as the fourteenth century, the city as well as the church now is in complete ruins.

There is no evidence that Paul ever visited the church in Laodicea, but it is evident that he knew some of the Christians there from his reference in Colossians 2:1 where he speaks of his “great conflict” for the Christians both at Colossae and at Laodicea and for others whom he had not seen. Salutations are also sent to the church at Laodicea in Colossians 4:15. Some believe that the epistle to the Ephesians was also sent to the Laodiceans. In any event the church had had a long history, and at the time this letter was addressed to it by Christ it was a well-established church.

The indictment against this church is so radical and grievous that one might think they were all unbelievers heading to hell!
The language the Lord uses is harsh but justified.
However, Let us not forget that those who belong to Christ are His servants and accountable to Him.
If the language is harsh, it is because He loves His own and He chastens them.
Hebrews 12:6 NKJV
6 For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.”
Job 5:17 NKJV
17 “Behold, happy is the man whom God corrects; Therefore do not despise the chastening of the Almighty.
Several things to consider:
This church is one of the churches He walks amongst. Remember that they are one of the golden lampstands.
This church is a called out body of believers.
This church is one that Jesus died for.
This church is one whom Jesus loves. Vs.19
When He says He wishes they were either hot or cold, He is not making a comparison of hot (on fire for Christ) and cold (spiritually anemic). Otherwise Luke warm has no real significance.
Rather hot and cold both comfort, and are service that is rewarded.
Like a hot bowl of soup on a raw wintry day.
Or a cold glass of ice tea on a hot summer day.
Matthew 10:42 NKJV
42 And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward.”
So what was the problem with this church?
They lacked spiritual refreshment!
It is in the service of the Lord that we find our spiritual temperature to matter most.
But, these believers were lukewarm!
And so Jesus says, I will vomit you out of my mouth.
I do not believe this to be indicative of final judgment, but an analogy that fits best with being lukewarm.
Our text in the NKJV uses the word vomit.
If we take this as a metaphor (my opinion of the statement), then Jesus is saying just as lukewarm water remedies the sick stomach by causing vomiting; the Laodicean lukewarmness causes a similar feeling and reaction!
So that when Jesus says, “I will vomit you out of my mouth”, He is saying in essence that your lukewarmness makes me sick! not the Laodiceans!

I. The church’s Perspective vs.17a

“Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’”
Wow, what a description of the American church today.
So many lack for nothing, will spend exorbitant amounts of money on everything from gold leaf crosses, to marble alters and baptistries, to outside ponds and waterfalls, to expensive artwork.
Pastors that drive around in expensive cars, own airplanes, and maintain numerous residences, all the while the extended church around the world or down the street is struggling to find an empty lot to worship, or just scraping up enough money to pay the rent.
You know we hear a lot about privilege today.
But if we are going to be honest, we’d better begin here in the church.
You see, we’ve been blessed by God to be not only born in this country, but born again into the greatest and wealthiest churches the world has ever known. We owe a debt to the body of Christ at large.
Our giving to the cause of Christ and to ministry purposes should outshine all others in the world.
There is a godly purpose for our existence!
And I don’t think it’s about us!
Enough said, you know what we need to do!
But now let me talk about the last part of this verse:
“We have need of nothing”
There is a cancer that has entered the body of Christ.
It is the radical cells of indifference, arrogance, and faithlessness.
And so the Corona Virus pandemic, has revealed this cancer.
We now have Christians who refuse to consider the frailties and feelings of others, and so will not attend the fellowship of believers because they see things differently.
One will not attend because they believe the whole thing is a conspiracy, or they refuse to comply with stipulations!
While another, will not attend because they don’t think it’s safe enough!
And I will add this for clarity:
If your health is so compromised that you have not gone anywhere, then I’m not talking to you!
But if you’ve been gallivanting to the store and other public places, i am speaking to you!
Still others will not attend because it’s just easier to stay home!
What is the common denominator with all these opinions?
They are all coming from a place of faithlessness!
Faithlessness because we do not obey God’s commands which are clearly spelled out in His word!
Does this sound extreme or unloving?
Well, look with me at the next point.

II. The church’s Problem vs.17b

“and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked—”
So if you do think that what I said was extreme, it’s probably because your mindset is the same as the Laodicean church.
You think one thing, but it is not the mind of Christ!
Here lies our problem.
We think we are acting properly, but the reality is that we act contrary to His Word!
What if this whole thing is a test for the church?
Then we have failed miserably, because we have not as a whole acted in faith!
And I can back that up!
Ephesians 5:2 NKJV
2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.
Matthew 5:16 NKJV
16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
Romans 14:13 NKJV
13 Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.
Romans 12:9–16 NKJV
9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. 10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; 11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; 13 distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.

III. The church’s Prescription vs.18

“I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.”
I am glad that God loves us and desires a close walk with us, because He gives us a cure.
Purchase the real wealth - put up treasure in Heaven where rust and moths cannot corrupt.
And white garments - the righteousness of Christ that cloths our spiritual nakedness.
And eye salve - looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.
We need a 180 turn around.
We are heading in the wrong direction.
We need to repent.
Matthew says it well!
Matthew 6:33 NKJV
33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

IV. The church’s Promise vs.20

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”
I believe this is speaking of fellowship more than anything else.
The Lord never imposes Himself on us, He gives us a choice.
Because this verse has been used by many to illustrate the Lord’s desire for us in salvation (opening the door of your heart), we have missed a great blessing in the church!
He is actually knocking on the door of the heart of His own wayward sheep, and desires for them to join Him in sweet fellowship.
Oh that we would today repent!
Oh that we would turn back to the one we have left off because of our own blindness!
He is knocking!
He is waiting!
He has given everything for you, will you not turn back to Him?
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