Welcome to the seventh week of this series on the end of the world as we know it. If you’re just joining us, don’t worry, we haven’t even started on the last days. We’re still talking about “the things that are” – as in the seven letters that Jesus wrote to his church.
But I don’t think I’ve done too bad. I was able to fit seven churches into five weeks. I totally could have stretched it to seven if I wanted to.
Today we will be talking about the seventh of the seven churches, which seems appropriate since this is the seventh week of the series. If we were trying to be symbolic, that would mean that this is the end of the series because seven is the number of completion. But don’t worry, we’re not even close to the end. It’s just a coincidence…or is it? Let’s just say if it’s the last week of the series because Jesus is coming back this week…that would be just fine with me. Except we’d miss out on the chili cook off next Sunday. That would be sad, but it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make.
But just in case he doesn’t come back before then – next week I will be talking all about the day that many of us are looking forward to – the Rapture! Hence the bumper video. Bring a friend! And don’t forget to set your clocks back an hour on Saturday night or you’ll be early to church…on second thought go ahead and forget, and maybe you’ll make it in time to have some coffee before it’s closed when service starts.
Now, let’s talk about Laodicea – the lucky number seven church. If you have missed any of the previous six weeks, I strongly encourage you to watch or listen to them so that your are not left behind when we start talking about the rapture in a couple of weeks. Get it? Left behind? Preacher jokes…
And just to give us some context, here is a quick overview of the previous six churches and the phase of the church in history they represent according to the historical-prophetical theory I’ve been covering.
- Ephesus (Apostolic Church)
- 100 – Death of the Apostles, rise of persecution
- Smyrna (Persecuted Church)
- 312 – Constantine becomes Christian
- Pergamum (Married Church)
- ~600 – Fall of Rome, Rise of the RC church
- Thyatira (Pagan Church)
- 1517 – Protestant Reformation
- Sardis (Dead Church)
- ~1700 – Great Awakening
- Philadelphia (Evangelistic Church)
And that leads us to Laodicea – let’s see if you can guess what time frame this church represents.
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.”
Not a very friendly letter…in fact, this is the one church he has not a single good thing to say about.
I’m sure you can see already the once again appropriately phrased rebuke of our Lord that would be uniquely poignant to his audience.
As with all but Ephesus, we know nothing about this church except what is in this letter, so let’s go over it.
These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation.
As with the letter to Philadelphia, Jesus does not use a title from the description John gave of him from his vision in chapter 1.
Here he calls himself “the Amen”
Amen is a word that we use a lot in church, but most do not really know what it means. I think my kids think it’s just the ending of a prayer. Actually, I’m pretty sure they think it’s part of the longer word…”injesusnameamen”
The English word, “Amen”, is a direct transliteration (that means using the equivalent letters) of the Greek word “Amen”, which itself is a transliteration of the Hebrew word “Amen”.
It ultimately means “truth,” “affirmation,” or “certainty.” It refers to that which is firm, fixed, and unchangeable.
Speaking of “unchangeable”, another interesting thing about this word is that it is pronounced nearly the same in almost all major modern languages, just as it was in the ancient language of the Jews. It would seem that AMEN is just that – firm, fixed, and unchangeable – in all senses and translations of the word. I find that quite fascinating.
“Amen” is often used in Scripture to affirm the truthfulness of a statement. Jesus would often begin an important statement with “Verily, Verily, I say unto you” – That “verily” is King James for the Greek word “Amen.”
When we church people say “Amen” in response to what someone, like a preacher, says, it’s saying “yes, that is true, absolutely true”.
When we say it at the end of a prayer, we are saying “so shall it be” “may it be true”.
To say Christ is THE AMEN is to say he is truth incarnate. Just as he said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life…”
But there is more in this rich title than just an affirmation of His deity.
2 Corinthians 1:20
For as many as are the promises of God, in Jesus Christ they are yes; therefore also through Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us.
This is a powerful statement. In Hebrews, the author urges us to “hold tightly to the confession of our hope without wavering, because He who promised is faithful.” (Hebrews 10:23)
And Paul here is saying that the proof and ultimate fulfillment of said promises is Christ himself! Who Jesus is and what he did was the AMEN at the end of the prayer. So shall it be! But not in the hopeful/wishful way that we say it as more of a request. Jesus as the Amen is the imperative decree of God Almighty – SO SHALL MY PROMISES BE!
It is through the person and work of Christ that all of God’s promises and covenants are fulfilled and guaranteed. All the Old Testament promises of forgiveness, mercy, lovingkindness, grace, hope, and eternal life are bound up in Jesus Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. AND as we will see in the rest of this book, he is also the fulfillment of all the promises we don’t like, of judgement and punishment.
This is effectively the most powerful title Jesus has given himself. He is telling this church up front that what God has said WILL take place – ALL OF IT. There’s no changing it. It is firm and fixed through Chris himself.
Then he adds “faithful and true witness” further emphasizing how Jesus is and speaks the absolute and pure truth – which obviously means anything that contradicts his person or his words is falsehood by definition.
And one such truth he points out in the final part of the title.
This translation says “ruler of God’s Creation” – the Greek word behind “ruler” is ARCHE – which can also be translated as “beginning” as in John 1:1 – In the beginning (ARCHE) was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
The meaning of this word is a combination of first, foremost, top authority – it’s ultimately saying that Jesus is the gold medal winner – he’s the best, most, first of prominence, highest authority, top of the heap, best of all things, etc.
And he says that he is that of God’s Creation. Again confirming the creation account.
And this description of himself as the ultimate and absolute truth is important for what he’s about to say to this church that is completely self-deceived.
THE CONDEMNATION #1
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.
Not something you want the king of kings and lord of lords to say to you. In the Greek, he’s not saying spit – he’s saying vomit.
He’s saying you lukewarm people are making me sick to my stomach!
This metaphor would have been particularly familiar to the people in this city because they were very familiar with lukewarm water…as we learned in the video.
Where they were located had no natural water supply. Because it traveled several miles through an underground aqueduct before reaching the city, the water arrived foul, dirty, and tepid. It was not hot enough to relax and restore, like the hot springs at Hierapolis. Nor was it cold and refreshing, like the stream water at Colossae. Laodicea’s water was a lukewarm and nasty – nauseating.
And Jesus is telling the people of this church that they make him sick just like the water they have to drink.
But why does it make him sick? What does he mean by hot and cold?
Some have tried to talk around this, but the illustration is clear.
HOT is someone who is on fire for God – totally committed all the way, in word and deed and heart.
COLD is someone who is completely against God and not afraid to claim it.
Hot is openly and inwardly for God. Cold is openly and inwardly against God.
But a lukewarm person is trying to have their cake and eat it too. They are trying to play Christianity without going all in. They raise one hand in praise and affirmation and cross the other fingers behind their back. In essence they are a hypocrite and a liar, something Jesus hates so much it makes him sick!
Some can’t seem to accept the idea that Jesus would “rather” someone be cold than lukewarm, because they think it suggests Jesus wants someone not to be saved. But that is not what he’s saying at all. God has made it clear in His word that he “wants all people to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:4). He does not want “anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9) So, he’s certainly not saying he actually wants anyone to reject him.
He’s saying he hates liars and hypocrites!
If you reject me, that’s fine, you’re going to pay the penalty, but at least you’re honest. But these hypocrites and liars praise me to my face and curse me behind my back. They claim me as savior but reject me as king. They love what I can do for them but they don’t love me.
Jesus would rather you spit in his face and be honest in your rejection of him than smile to his face while stabbing him in the back.
In both cases you lose, but at least the open atheist who curses God openly won’t bring others down with them by misleading them with a fake salvation!
Jesus hates, hates, hates hypocrites and liars! To him they are the worst kind of people on earth. If you read the gospels that was his constant rebuke against the smug self-righteous pharisees, and he doesn’t mince words with them.
7 You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:
8 “‘These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
9 They worship me in vain;
their teachings are merely human rules.’”
He called hypocrites “wolves in sheep’s clothing” (Matthew 7:15), “whitewashed tombs” (Matthew 23:27), “snakes,” and “brood of vipers” (Matthew 23:33).
The word hypocrite in the Greek literally means an actor, someone who wears a mask to pretend to be something they are not. Effectively a walking LIE. Which is why Jesus hates it so much.
It makes sense that the LIVING TRUTH would be diametrically opposed to a LIVING LIE!
He said this to the hypocrite religious leaders of his day…
You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
Jesus hates, hates, hates lies. He has to because he is the truth.
And so these lukewarm people who are playing the part, wearing the mask, saying the lines, but rejecting him in their heart make him sick to his stomach.
It’s probably just like how we feel when watching the political charade knowing that every word a smiling politician says is most probably a lie. That none of them are really who they portray themselves to be. It’s sickening.
It’s even like in war time. For the most part, enemy soldiers can have some respect for each other. They have chosen their sides and are willing to die for what they believe. But a spy. Someone who pretends he is on your side, all the while feeding information to the enemy. As they say…there is a special place in hell…and that’s not just a euphemism.
But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars–they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”
My friends, this is dead serious.
And aside from vomiting them out of his mouth, Jesus also promises an even stronger consequence for those who are only posing.
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
Jesus is an all or nothing kind of God. He is not interested in, and actually will not tolerate half-hearted followers. During his ministry on earth he was constantly calling people out for their fake devotion and he would regularly draw a hard line requiring full devotion or nothing at all.
25 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.
24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.
Whoever is not with me is against me.
There is no third option. There is no neutral. There is either hot or cold. Lukewarm is simply a state of self deception and outright lying to the living truth and King of the universe. Not a good idea.
The lesson: Don’t be lukewarm.
Don’t be a hypocrite, a walking lie.
Either love God with ALL of your heart, ALL of your mind, ALL of your strength, ALL of your soul, ALL OF THE TIME – or reject him outright.
There is nothing in between.
Don’t think you’re fooling him.
Says the AMEN.
And he’s not done…
THE CONDEMNATION #2
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.
Not only are the people of this church a bunch of hypocrites, they don’t even know it because they are self-deceived.
He spoke of this condition in his famous Sermon on the Mount.
22 “Your eye is like a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is filled with light. 23 But when your eye is unhealthy, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!
I’ve spoken on this before. Light is always associated with truth and darkness with lies. And Jesus is pointing out that thinking you have truth but really having lies is worse than just being completely in the dark.
It’s a lie on top of a lie!
The reason why it’s worse is that when you think you are good to go, you stop paying attention to the danger signs.
It’s like your’e in the cockpit flying a plane and all your instruments tell you you’re cruising at 20,000 feet, so you don’t look out the window to see that you’re about to run into a mountain because your equipment is jacked up and lying to you.
It’s the Titanic reducing the number of lifeboats because they think it is unsinkable.
It’s like the guy or gal who is totally fit and healthy on the outside, but they don’t know they have a blood clot about to enter their heart, or cancer starting to grow, and one day they just drop dead or end up a paraplegic for two years before dying. I’ve seen it happen. In each of those cases, there were warning signs ignored because everything else seemed to be going just fine.
And these people of Laodicea considered themselves to be doing really good because of their physical wealth and prosperity, but Jesus says that behind all your worldly success you are actually wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked. No need to elaborate on that language.
Are you getting the picture? He’s calling out their hypocrisy and self-deception. He’s revealing the truth behind the photoshopped images they hang on their walls. He’s revealing the part of the story that doesn’t make it on Facebook. He’s taking off their makeup and fine tailored clothing.
He’s exposing their desperate state – not to condemn them, but to save them.
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.
Jesus is so awesome. Again he is speaking directly to things that are uniquely applicable to the people of this town.
They were rich in the treasures of earth, but they were poor in the treasures that actually matter. Jesus says, buy from me gold refined by fire. That is used in many places in scripture as an illustration of the true riches that will actually make it to heaven with us. It’s refined by fire to make it pure.
It is no coincidence that the direct context of that passage about the healthy and unhealthy eye is in a conversation about earthly and heavenly treasure.
19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
Again we see the all or nothing. We cannot serve two masters. And I’ve taught before that the word “money” in verse 24 is actually Mammon, which means more than money, but all the things we consider more valuable than serving our Lord and King. I call it “My Thingdom”. It’s a universal truth that is so important for us to understand.
You cannot serve both.
You ARE serving one or the other.
No one is sitting in neutral deciding what to do. There IS NOT NEUTRAL.
Each one of us is always serving either HIS KINGDOM or MY THINGDOM.
It’s impossible to serve neither and it’s impossible to serve both.
Trying to serve both is actually serving yourself and what Jesus calls lukewarm.
This is so important.
He’s saying strive for the heavenly gold that lasts forever instead of the earthly fools gold that only weighs you down.
Next, He tells them to buy white clothes to wear. That city was actually so wealthy because it was the only producer of black wool from the black sheep that happened to be in that area. Jesus tells them that their black clothes are not good enough, not because they are black but because you made them yourself and you take pride in it. Pride goes before destruction. Instead buy clothes that you can only get from me.
The symbolism is actually righteousness versus wickedness. White clothing is symbolic of righteousness, which we can only get from Jesus – we can’t make it ourselves.
Finally, He tells them to buy salve to put on their eyes so they can see. They actually produced an eye salve in that city. They were famous for it. But Jesus is pointing out that it hasn’t enabled them to see the important stuff. We need Him to heal our unhealthy spiritual eyes.
In each of these three, He is stripping away their delusion self-sufficiency and offering the true sufficiency that only comes through Him.
It is interesting language that he says to “buy”. And there’s nothing funny in the Greek. The root of the Greek word is where they get the name for the public market – the Agora. So, he actually says to buy, purchase. But how do we do that?
This kind of language is used by God elsewhere.
“Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.
So, if not money, what are we buying with? What is our currency?
YOUR PRIDE. Your self-sufficiency. Your thingdom.
To buy these things from Christ we have to exchange our pride for humility.
Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
You have to humble yourself before the Lord, meaning you recognize and admit that you need him and you submit, you yield, you surrender.
The price for heaven is your pride. It won’t fit through the narrow gate.
That’s what this church had in surplus – pride. “I do not need a thing.” If that’s really what you think, then what do you expect from God?
He says buy from me the things you really need because all that stuff you are putting your confidence in right now will not even exist when all is said and done. He’s saying lay down your pride, which is blinding you, and recognize your pitiful state. Give me your pride. Humble yourself, and I will give you the true treasures of heaven.
At this point I think we should stop and catch our breath.
So far this has been the harshest of the letters. Even more so than what he said about that woman Jezebel in Thyatira. Jesus is really raking this church over the coals, and I hope you are feeling the weight of it yourself and doing some self examination.
We should all, from time to time, take a long hard look in the mirror and ask yourself if you are being deceived?
If the light you think you have is actually darkness or is it truly light?
If in your heart you are all the way hot, or are you really lukewarm?
In fact, I recommend just reading this letter as if Jesus is talking to you and ask the Holy Spirit to show you truth, even if it hurts.
Because what Jesus is doing here is not mean spirited. It’s not that he’s tired of writing letters. No, he’s slicing and dicing with the sword coming out of his mouth…because he loves us.
19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline.
From the Greek, another way to say it is: Those whom I love I convict and correct. I point out their error, and I show them how to fix it.
Isn’t that always the truth about real love? This is not the love of the “love wins” movement. That kind of love would never dare to suggest there is ever something wrong with what someone is doing (unless what they are doing is disagreeing with me).
No, true love, Agape Love, God’s love – does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth.
Is it love to let someone eat poison and watch them die for the sake of not offending them?
Or is it love to point out their error and even rip the poison away from them in order to save their life?
Our culture today has bought into the devil’s own motto – that it’s better to lie and not offend than tell the truth and save someone.
Well, Jesus doesn’t play that game.
Remember, he’s not your buddy Jesus. He loves you and he’s not going to let you destroy yourself without saying something.
He’s telling these people and he’s telling you and me that he loves us enough to save us from ourselves.
And he proved it by dying for us.
So, he says…
So be earnest and repent.
The Greek behind “earnest” is ζηλόω – (an onomatopoetic word, imitating the sound of boiling water) – properly, to bubble over because so hot (boiling); (figuratively) “to burn with zeal”; “to be deeply committed to something, with the implication of accompanying desire – ‘to be earnest, to set one’s heart on, to be completely intent upon’ “ To burn for.
He’s saying GET HOT!! Stop being cold, stop being lukewarm. GET HOT and REPENT! Change your mind and your ways. Because I love you and don’t want you to perish.
Stop acting. Wake up. Open your eyes, and Get hot so we can be together forever.
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.
Oh what a beautiful invitation. Jesus, the Christ, the Anointed One, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, stands at your door and knocks and calls gently asking to be let in. In the Greek, these are present tense verbs which means he is doing it continuously for all time or until you open the door. And when you do open the door, he doesn’t come in and beat you up or strong arm you into submission. He says he will eat with you. He’s talking fellowship, relationship.
Now, with that said – the relationship is not one of equals. He is and will be your king and he does expect and demand obedience – but not out of obligation, but out of love. Because this is also part of the invitation.
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
He is a good and gracious master.
He is a benevolent king.
He is a loving Lord.
All of that is great, but do you realize what is the most amazing part of this invitation is? It’s that it’s not from far off.
It’s not Jesus up in heaven on his throne calling down.
He’s not sending out a mass email. He’s not calling long distance.
The King and Creator of the Universe came to us. He walked among us teaching and healing, and then he let us kill him. But he didn’t stay dead. He rose from the dead and now he’s going door to door offering a personal invitation to you and to me to be a part of his kingdom.
Can you imagine a presidential candidate doing that? What king would do that? OUR KING!
And he’s offering that to this proud and self-sufficient church – which is not just the church in the city of Laodicea 2,000 years ago – it’s the church of today. The apostate church that is so obsessed with all the polished trappings of “success” that it doesn’t realize what a lousy mess it is in.
He’s offering us a better way.
He’s giving us a chance before it’s too late.
Notice he doesn’t say anything about his coming or being rescued or even enduring in this letter. He knows they wouldn’t listen anyway. He’s saying, for those of you with ears to hear, don’t wait – get hot, repent, get out of this church and go join the Philadelphia church.
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.
Remember, the one who is victorious is the one who has Jesus as their Lord and Savior, and this is a promise to all believers that we will reign with him in his future kingdom.
My friends, in case you didn’t pick up on it – the Laodicean church is the modern church of America and Europe.
Whether you agree with the Historical-Prophetical theory or not, if nothing else, America is Laodicea. Prosperous, Self-Sufficient, proud, in need of nothing from anybody. Which means us, the people of this great nation are going to be prone to the same problems this church in Laodicea had, and you can see it all around and probably in your own self as well.
But getting back to the historical stuff…
The Great Awakening that launched the Philadelphia/Evangelistic church actually began here and in Europe in the 1700’s and into the 1800’s. It’s why we have such a Christian foundation to our nation. But at the same time, the seeds of apostasy were being planted by the enemy.
Apostasy is the rejecting of the truth you once held onto.
It’s knowing the truth but choosing the lie.
The Enlightenment and the Age of Reason grew right alongside the growing evangelical church, and around the beginning of the 1900’s started infiltrating and eventually taking over the visible church.
There’s a great book you can read that spells out the different leaders of thought that contributed to this decline. People like John Locke, Karl Marx, and Fredrick Nietzsche.
But the person who’s ideas have done the most damage to people’s faith in the Bible, and subsequently the God who is the author and main character of it, is Charles Darwin. His “Origin of Species” gave the reason-obsessed human mind a believable alternative to “In the Beginning God…” and thus a way to convince ourselves we are not accountable to the God who made all of this. In fact, in Darwin’s book he even admits his motive as trying to refute the idea that God created everything as we see it now.
He succeeded in causing a whole generation of people to doubt and eventually disregard the first few chapters of God’s Word, and by default doubt the rest of it. It’s been downhill ever since, despite the fact that science has proven most of his theories false since then. Prideful man will not let go of the false hope that he can be his own god.
Now, sadly, the Philadelphia church has all but disappeared from America and Europe, but praise God it is still alive in other parts of the world where there is revival going on as we speak in China and Africa and South America. It’s as if the Philadelphia church began in Europe and America and then moved on to the rest of the world while the Apostate Laodicea church moved in over the last 150 years.
The apostasy has been fueled by the secular education system. A system that has rejected the truth of God’s Word but instead teaches no-God-necessary evolution and religious pluralism.
And it is set ablaze by the increasingly evil entertainment system, which goes out of it’s way to display every kind of lifestyle that is abhorrent to God as normal and even celebrated and regularly mocks Christianity and everything holy in the guise of just good fun.
Don’t think these things have no effect.
It should come as no surprise that a generation that grew up going to anti-God evolution-teaching schools and watching hour after hour of culture shaping television and listening non-stop to sex, drugs, and rock and roll would be leaving the church by the millions as soon as they get the chance.
My friends, this is why I stress about what you allow in your eyes and ears, and ultimately into your brain. This is why I push you to E.A.T. God!
The world has the fire hose of filth on 24/7 in High Definition and surround sound. And by default, unless you are intentional, it’s all going into your brain.
And the self-deception that so many self-proclaimed Christians are under is thinking that a little bit of singing and half-listening to truth-preaching on Sunday will be enough to counteract the barrage of lies they are exposed to the rest of the week.
It doesn’t work, and the proof is all around us.
My friends, this is not a game. This is serious stuff.
Based on the language in the letters, I believe the Apostate Laodicean church will not be joining us in the air when Christ comes back for his church. That’s the rapture I’ll be talking about next week.
If you look at this timeline, you will see that I have it drawn up that the churches of Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea are all around today. In the letters to Ephesus, Smyrna, and Pergamum, there is no language suggesting they will be around when He comes back. Though that doesn’t mean there are not elements of these churches in the churches of today.
In the letters he wrote to Thyatira, Sardis, and Philadelphia – he did use “when I come” language, implying that at least some in that church would be around when he comes.
The Philadelphia church he promises he will keep them from the hour or trial that will come upon the whole world. That’s the tribulation period that comes after the rapture.
The Laodicean church has no mention of him coming, no commendation, and no mention of non-guilty members of the church – only an appeal to repent. At least in Thyatira and Sardis he spoke of believers within the church that were not guilty of his rebukes. No such language is used for Laodicea.
I can only conclude that the apostate church is made up entirely of those who are the “Lord, Lord” crowd that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 7. People who think they are saved but are not because they are believing a false gospel.
We should not be surprised by this as Paul warned us twice, and so did Jesus and Peter.
1 Timothy 4
1 The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. 2 Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.
2 Timothy 4
3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.
And the the primary lie being perpetuated is that you can have Christ as your savior but you don’t have to make him your king.
That you can ask him for forgiveness, but you don’t have to do what he says.
That kind of belief will leave you scratching your head when all the Kingdom believers disappear someday and you’re still here.
So, that’s the seven letters that Jesus, our King and Lord, wrote directly to us, his church.
He commended the things these churches were doing right – hence we should follow their example in those things.
And He condemned the things they were doing wrong, and issued warnings if they do not repent – warnings we should heed ourselves.
And he gave them and us some rather awesome promises for those of us who are overcomers – true believers.
Ephesus thought us to hold on to our first love, to not let the service of our king turn into an obligation devoid of heart. If we do, our church will disappear.
Smyrna encouraged us to hold on to our faith and never give up or back down, even in the face of death, because a great reward – the crown of life – awaits those who persevere.
Pergamum taught us the dangers of false teaching and idolatry, and also reminded us that when we get to heaven we will get that white stone meaning we are healed and innocent in God’s eyes.
Thyatira warned us of the consequences of sexual immorality and being spiritually adulterous. Our God is a jealous God.
Sardis taught us the danger of being very active on the outside but being dead on the inside.
Philadelphia is clearly the church to live up to. In fact I believe that anyone who has the true faith, who has made Jesus their king and lord, is actually part of the Philadelphia church and will be a recipient of the promise to escape the tribulation.
Laodicea teaches us to stop fooling ourselves, stop acting, don’t be a hypoctrite and get hot for God!
And because it is so widespread in our culture now, it is always my greatest fear and concern that some of you in these seats are exactly what Jesus was describing in this last letter.
It is this very concern that drives me to preach the way I do. Jesus tells the Laodicean church that those he loves, he rebukes and disciplines, that he convicts and corrects. Because he loves you so much, he would rather hurt your feelings than send you to hell with a smile on your face. And if that is the method and motive of my Lord and King, how can I do any different?
I know that we are living in the last days. The days when Peter and Paul and Jesus predicted there would be a great falling away from the true church, that people would be scoffers, that they would refuse to put up with sound teaching but instead seek out teachers to tell them what their itching ears want to hear. So they can stay in the dark while convincing themselves it is light. And the result is a bunch of lukewarm name-only Christians who Jesus is going to vomit out of his mouth.
How I pray with all of my heart that doesn’t happen to you. I pray that the words of God in these letters will pierce through any self-deception you have built up and cause you to see the truth, to see Jesus for who he really is and repent. Change your mind and your ways. Surrender all of yourself to Him with the knowledge that you and I will be judged for what we do in this life, and the hope that as we step off of the throne and let Jesus take his rightful place as our master, lord, and King – that he will give us eternity in return and even a better life in the here and now. Better in his way, not ours – which, as you do this, you will find is way better than you could have ever tried to get on your own.
Will you answer the door and let him in?