Message Starts at 29:31
We are Laodicea
An Exposition of Revelation #8
The Church at Laodicea
Behold I Knock
In the history of our faith’s arrival, there have been Great Awakenings and Welch Revivals, Protestant Reformations and Mighty Movements of the Spirit. And in those Great Awakenings, Welch Revivals, Protestant Reformations and Mighty Movements of the Spirit, the common theme was this: Behold I stand at the door and knock, if anyone opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person. In the 20th century of modern history, we’ve born witness to some of the greatest evangelists this world has even seen: Billy Graham, Billy Sunday and D.L. Moody. Their common theme was this: Behold I stand at the door and knock. In the history of your life, you’ve probably shouted amen to the Expository Preaching of Charles Stanley, Adrian Rogers, David Jeremiah and Chuck Swindoll. The common theme of their ministries was this: Behold, I stand at the door and knock.
Once upon a time there was a church in Asia Minor, that heard a knocking on their door. The knocker didn’t knock because they were offering something refreshing like cold water. The knocker didn’t knock because they were offering something soothing like hot water. He knocked because they were self-sufficient and complacent spirits who neither wanted much nor suffered much. He knocked because they were lukewarm. He knocked because he owned church and they didn’t even know he was outside to begin with. It was the Church of Laodicea. And here’s why it should bother you: according to this prophecy, we are Laodicea.
14 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. 15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. 19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent.20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. 21 To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne.22 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
1. Because Laodicea foreshadows
Point One: When we read Jesus’ words to these churches, we immediately think of present churches that take on their qualities. That’s because these real churches also represent churches that will always exist.
Point Two: Ephesus was good at doctrine but bad at love. Smyrna was persecuted and reminded to be faithful. Pergamum had false prophets who proclaimed false doctrines. Thyatira had a Jezebel problem. Sardis had a sleep problem. Philadelphia was persecuted yet faithful and Laodicea had a lukewarm problem. Churches throughout history have had these problems.
Point Three: The churches are arranged the way they are in this prophecy to foreshadow the dominate “spirit of the age” throughout church history. That much is true not only from the arrange, but in history.
(1) Ephesus/Apostolic Age - strong on doctrine but struggled with love (1 John);
(2) Smyrna/Post-Apostolic Age – persecuted; Polycarp of Smyrna the bishop himself was martyred;
(3) Pergamum/Constantinian Age – Christianity now official religion of Roman Empire and Christianity was now accepted so much false Christianity that people who wanted real thing moved to the desert;
(4) Thyatira/Dark Ages – Spirit of Jezebel a great leading astray;
(5) Sardis/Reformation – Church woke up through the writings of Martin Luther, etc.
(6) Philadelphia/Awakenings – John Wesley, Johnathan Edwards, John Carey, Modern Missionary Movement;
(7) Laodicea/Apostasy – Church of the Great Apostasy; Right now. We are Laodicea.
Application: That should bother you / What we do with that information matters
2. Because Laodicea reveals our greatest material blessings are our greatest spiritual dangers
Laodicea was Bank of America – (1) Laodicea was the banking city of the Roman Empire; (2) So wealthy was Laodicea that when the earthquake of 61 wrecked all of Asia Minor, Laodicea refused federal funds to rebuild. (Probably the only time in history)
Laodicea was Macys – (1) Laodicea was home to the Ralph Laurens and the Tommy Hilfigers of the Roman World. (2) They figured out how to breed sheep to produce black wool. (3) Black wool clothing was “Made in Laodicea” and the aristocracy of the ancient world had to have it.
Laodicea was Cleveland Clinic – (1) Home to the Medical School of Aesculapius (Aes-cle-a-pus); (2) Our military doctors still use their symbol: a staff with intertwined serpents; (3) Invented an eye salve; (4) Invented a spice nard for ears.
All Rolled Into One– Lived in a town others envied. No persecution. No false doctrine. No immorality. It was a comfortable place to live and go to church. And that combination made Jesus sick to his stomach.
Implication – They thought they had achieved material / spiritual wealth on their own – could see straight
3. Because Laodicea reveals our greatest spiritual weakness is the one we’re not even aware of
Where’s the Water? - (1) Laodicea had no direct access to cold water from the mountains of Colossae; (2) They had no direct access to hot water from Hierapolis; (3) the water they did have was full of lime deposits, rendering it full of sediment.
So Will We Do? (1) They piped in water through stone barrels for six miles; (2) By the time it arrived in Laodicea it was Lukewarm;
So What Was the Actual Problem? (1) Lukewarm water is room temperature and what do you do to get water at room temperature? Nothing; (2) Not suitable for refreshment on a hot day; (3) Not suitable for soothing bath to heal aches
What Was the Spiritual Problem? – (1) Neither offers refreshment to their world or healing; (2) Offered absolutely nothing; (3) Compromising spiritually for comfort’s sake. Compromising for sake of peace; enough truth to salve the conscience without it challenging. Consequently; provided neither healing nor refreshment.
4. Because Laodicea reveals that the greatest love letters arrive in lukewarm mailboxes
It’s More Personal – the personal nature of Christ’s appeal is unlike anything we see in the book; (1) You make me want to voimit; (2) yet those whom I love I discipline
Why It’s More Personal – Love someone you hate what is destroying them in a way that makes you love them even more.
It’s More Invitational – (1) Standing at the door and knocking implies that the owner was outside; (2) Honor shame means he had every right to beat the door down. (3) Instead he offers to come in and dine – saying their own self sufficiency had caused them to shut the owner out of their lives.
Application - The most dangerous idea that a church may have is that the church belongs to the people. They own it. It exists for their benefit. It’s Christ’s church, and he has the right to determine what it shall be like and what goes on with it.