Wake Up Call
(excerpt from the sermon)
Sermon Series: Heart Check
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. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of My mouth. 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. 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. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. 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. 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. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
- Revelation 3:14-22
The church in the West is genuinely struggling. People are leaving the church in droves. Author of "Beautiful Resistance," Jon Tyson says this, "The church, Jesus founded on compassion and grace has at times failed to even resemble its founder, celebrity pastor scandals, abuses in the Catholic church, political hijacking, indifference to humanitarian crises of our day, including refugees, racism, environmentalism, materialism, family breakdown and complacency have caused many to leave the church. Is there any hope for a church dealing with so much brokenness in the western world?"
Well, the good news today is that there is hope. "Each generation of believers," Jon says, "is given an opportunity to tell the story of Jesus through the local church. Regardless of our history, we get to put the brilliance of Jesus on display." So, we're in the last week of our series called Heart Check. What a ride it's been! Today, we're gonna finish that journey. It's a tough one, but it has the answers we crave. How can we experience the power of God at ONE&ALL? How can we connect to God in a real way? How can we reflect Jesus and His fullness so that our children and our friends and our neighbors will want to meet Him, want to know Him, and want to experience Him? I believe that we keep hearing this word “revival” for a reason because it always comes in times of decline.
The Western Church is in decline. Yes, but that's when revival comes and things are starting to look hopeless. But that's when God steps in. And so I believe that today we're gonna look at this church. It looks hopeless. This is a church that Jesus literally tells: You are making Me nauseous. You're making Me sick. That's what He says about this church. In fact, they don't receive a single affirmation. You know, the seven churches spoken to in Revelation, the other six have positives mentioned about them. This church at Laodicea gets no positive affirmation, not a single one. It only gets told that it's making Jesus sick. And that is awesome. You know why? Well, let's have a look at it. Do you get up every morning eager and hungry to pray? Do you get up in the morning hungry to read God's word? Are you seeing the power of the Holy Spirit overcome weakness in your simple nature every single day? Is your marriage getting better? Does your family look like a kingdom of priests hanging out together? Are you going out confident and equipped and ready to represent Jesus every day? Are you seeing people around you being transformed by the gospel? Are you seeing miracles and provision and God moving in power in your daily experience? Are you excited to serve? To sacrifice and to love? And to give up everything for the poor and the oppressed? Is that you, can you point to the role that you play in the mission of God? And do you return home every day and enjoy peace and rest in His presence? Is your greatest passion to see all the world saved and transformed and healed? I could go on, but I won't.
Well, if you couldn't say yes to any of those, or even maybe only to one or two, it's good news for you that this text is in the Bible. You see, Jesus didn't write to this church to condemn it. He had nothing good to say because they weren't doing any of those things we just mentioned. They weren't experiencing the power of God in any way in their lives because they had pushed Jesus to the sidelines. But, the good news is that there was hope for this church. And the good news is that, if we look into history, they did repent and they did bring Jesus back in and the church actually thrived again. So let's check it out together. We're starting in Revelation chapter 3:14, "a letter written to the church at Laodicea 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. I know your deeds, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish you were either one or the other. So because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I'm about to spit you out of My mouth." Good start, huh? Jesus is speaking. That's what it says right there at the top. The "Amen." The one who is over all creation. When Jesus speaks and He gives you a report card on your life, a report card on how things are going, you need to listen. And what's Jesus' message to this church? He says, "Your deeds reveal the health of your heart." Wow. We're doing a series called Heart Check and Jesus says: Your deeds reveal what you really believe. Your deeds reveal how you are going when it comes to following Him. And when He looks at this church, He says, "I want to be sick when I look at your deeds.” What a terrible indictment. Now, this neither hot nor cold, this lukewarm thing, that would've made sense to this church. This church was in a town and it didn't have a good water supply. Now, the two towns right near it are Hierapolis and Colossae. One had a hot spring and it was really useful. All that hot water for healing and things like that. The other town nearby had a beautiful, pure spring water. Cold, cold water that was useful for drinking and that sort of thing. Now, the Laodiceans had to pipe their water in, and by the time it got to their town, the water was tepid and minerally and they knew that their water made you sick when you would drink it, it wasn't good water.
This must have been a full on wake up call for this church. But there is hope. He says: I'm about to spit you out of my mouth. But He doesn't say I'm going to. And He doesn't say He has. So there's still some hope.
Now, don't make a mistake here. Jesus is not condemning the city. He's condemning the church. This is a letter to the church and He says, "You guys think you're rich. You guys think you don't need a thing. You're content in your worldliness. You've arrived on earth." But He says, "I can see with spiritual eyes, I can see the true state of your heart." And look at this, "You are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked." Oh my goodness. What a scary assessment. He just tells the whole cold, hard truth. You know, one time this town experienced an earthquake, they were so proud that when Rome said: We will bring money and we will help you rebuild. They said: No, no, no. We've got this. We're so rich that we can rebuild our own town without any help. They really, really were proud of themselves. Jesus says: You think you're rich, but you are poor, blind, and naked when it comes to the things that really count – your spiritual health.
It's like the ultimate wake up call.
You know this is the wake up call that we need. Sometimes Jesus has to open our eyes. Do you really think the world is gonna give you everything you need? Or are you gonna learn the truth that only Jesus can give you the life that is truly life? So here comes Jesus. He's opened their eyes. You think you're rich, and you think you got it all together, but you're poor, blind, and naked. Wow. Now He says this: I counsel you to buy from Me. Wow. He says: You like shopping, you got all that cash. Come to My shop. Come buy from Me. He says: I counseled you to buy from Me. Gold refined in the fire, this pure gold, the best gold. Jesus has it. Jesus has it so you can become rich. And then He says: White clothes to wear so you can cover your shameful nakedness and salve to put on your eyes so you can see. Isn't Jesus amazing?
He's sick to the stomach when He looks at their deeds, but then He comes to them so gently. Do you like the way He says: "I counsel you." He didn't come and say: I command you. He didn't say: Get your act together church. He comes and He's like: Guys, come to Me. I've got what you need. I've got the thing that's gonna make a huge difference in your life. You want gold? I've got the gold. You want to cover your shame. I've got the white robes. You wanna see the truth? You wanna see life as it really is? I've got the salve, it's amazing again. He's picking on the things they thought they had the best of: the banking, the textile industry, the medical center with the salve. Jesus says: Yours are rubbish. I've got the good ones. And what's the offering here?
You know, gold in the scriptures is this picture of salvation. Jesus can save you, He can forgive you. He can free you and He can offer you an eternity with Him. He's the only one who can give you that. The only one who can defeat death. The only one who offers you this. What is this white gown? It's righteousness in the scriptures. He's gonna cover our nakedness. He's gonna cover our sins with something pure. He's gonna give us His righteousness. He can change your life. Are you ruining your family? Are you ruining the people around you through your behavior? Jesus can change you. He can give you righteousness, not just His ultimate righteousness, but daily righteousness as well. And the last one, He can give you eyes to see things for what they really are. The second thing, you need Jesus to provide those true riches.
Look what He says here, "Those whom I love, I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent." How cool is Jesus? Remember I said this church was making Jesus sick? He didn't have a single good thing to say about it, but He comes gently and He says: Man, come to me and buy the good stuff. And now He says here: I love you. I love you guys. I wouldn't come and discipline you if I didn't love you. I wouldn't tell you this hard truth if I didn't love you, right? And He says: Come on, be earnest. Make a decision here and repent. Change what you're doing. And then the famous verse that we all know, Revelation 3:20, "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." In these ancient cultures, to eat with someone was the ultimate form of fellowship. Jesus says: If you just open the door, I'll come in. I'll come in and I'll be a part of your life. And He's gonna bring with Him salvation. He's gonna bring with Him righteousness and transformation. And He's gonna bring with Him wisdom and truth so that we can see the world. But what it really is, is what an amazing God we serve. He's willing to forgive this useless person, this useless church, and He's taking the time to discipline and rebuke His people.
If you're a Christian who has basically accepted Jesus in word and name only, but you're just living a worldly life, you're just pursuing worldly things, and you don't experience any of His spiritual health. You're not seeing God's power in your life. If none of those things were true, do you get up in the morning and wanna read the Bible? You wanna pray? Are you willing to fast to see spiritual things break into your life? If none of that's true, Jesus is willing to discipline you. Because He loves you. There's hope. There's so much hope for the church in the west. Jesus is not gonna kick us out. He's standing at the door knocking. Can you believe that the King of kings and Lord of lords, all powerful, almighty, holy, righteous God, died on a cross for us? And even if we've just sort of pushed Him to the sideline of our life, He's waiting there saying: Come on, if you let Me in, I'll come in and I'll give you everything you need. What an awesome God we serve.
Watch This Full Sermon