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August 22, 2010
Taking Sides – Part 3
Pastor Philip De Courcy
Revelation 3: 14-22

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This series provides insight into Jesus' master plan for the church today. We cannot afford to ignore what Jesus thinks of the church. You've Got Mail will help deepen your understanding of the church and the essential elements necessary to remain healthy, holy, and faithful in today's society.

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Well let’s take our Bibles and turn to Revelation 3. Revelation 3:14, as we come for a final look at the church at Laodicea. We wrap up this series that I trust you’ve enjoyed, although it’s been longer than I anticipated. We’re ready to wave goodbye to the seven churches in Revelation. But one final look will do us no harm as we come into this seventh letter. “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. I know your works that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot, so then because you are lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of my mouth. 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.'”

“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 eyesalve that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore, be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him and dine with him and he with me to him. To whom overcomes, I will grant to sit with me on my throne as I also overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
I trust that God will use His Word in each of our lives this morning. As many of you know, when I left Ohio, I left with the love for Buckeye football. I’ve been known to get a little excited about the team in scarlet and gray. In fact if you push me, I really support two teams, Ohio State and whoever’s playing Michigan. Now, you wonder where this all started. How did an Irishman who lived in Southern California for eight years become a Buckeye? Well, when I was in southern California, there were really no teams worth supporting. That was one thing.
But beyond that, I went to Ohio and one day I went into my office at Emmanuel Baptist Church and I found two caps sitting on my desk. One was red with an O on it and one was blue with an M on it. I write to my secondary Linda Thomas and said, “Well, what’s this all about?” And she says, “Well, pastor, you’ve been here a number of months now. I think the congregation wants you to take sides.”
You see, there’s no neutrality when it comes to college football in Toledo, Ohio because it’s a border town. Half my congregation were Wolverines, half were Buckeyes. The fact the town itself was once fought over by the state of Michigan and the state of Ohio, I don’t know if the winner was the loser, but that’s another thing for another day. So I thought to myself, “Okay, I got to take sides. I got to be in or right, for or against.” And after something, and I came to the natural conclusion it was to be Ohio for at least five reasons.
Number one, I was living in Ohio so it made sense to become a Buckeye.
Number two, Ohio had just beaten Miami to become the national champions in the season of 2002.
Number three, the Buckeyes that I met were like the soccer fans back in the United Kingdom. They were passionate, even rude, and I like that. I thought to myself, “You know what? Michigan’s like Nazareth, nothing good can come out of it.”
And then fifthly, I realized that Ohio State’s greatest coach Woody Hayes was my kind of guy. I love Ohio State football to some degree because I’ve come to love Woody Hayes, the man and the legend. He never referred to Michigan. He always stated that there was the team up north. I like that. In fact, on one occasion when Ohio State was whooping Michigan 48 to 12, in the dying minutes of the fourth quarter, Ohio State scored another touchdown and Woody went for two points just to rub salt into the wound. And he was asked after the game why he did it. He said, “Because I couldn’t go for three.” My kind of guy.
In fact, there was a story that as Ohio State come back from a Michigan game, the team bus was showing signs of running out of gas. And the driver thought for a moment of stopping and filling up, but Woody Hayes went to him wagging a finger and told him that he wouldn’t stop to fill up the bus because he didn’t want to give a nickel to the state of Michigan. And he said, “If the bus runs out of gas, we’ll coast across the state line or we will push the bus across the state line.” I like that. So for all those reasons, I’m a dyed-in-the-wool Buckeye. In fact, if God spares me, June and I are making a trip in November to watch them play Penn State on November the 13th.
But in a way Christ would’ve appreciated Woody Hayes. Because have you ever thought about this fact that Jesus loves an enthusiast? Jesus loves people who are marked by enthusiasm. Listen to these words by Hugh Martin as he writes in his book on the Seven Letters here in Revelation. Jesus loved the enthusiast, the man who knew what side he was on and threw himself wholeheartedly into the struggle. He liked energetic action as in the man who climbed the roof and broke away through for their paralyzed friend, or in Zacchaeus who forgot his dignity and swarmed up the tree. He loved the generous giver.”
All four Gospels quote Him as saying, “He who loves life loses it. He who spends it keeps it.” That’s summed up Jesus’ attitude to life. He praised the man who banged on the door till he got an answer. He wanted men to show the kind of determination in the Kingdom of God. He praised the widow who badgered the unjust judge until she got justice. He did not like it playing for safe, or burying one’s talent. It is the peacemaker rather than the peacekeeper that He blesses. Jesus loved the enthusiast. Jesus loved enthusiasm in the things of life and in the things of the Kingdom.
If you’re going to get passionate about football or art or whatever it is that floats your boat, Jesus’ point is if you get enthusiastic about those things, why wouldn’t you be enthusiastic about life everlasting and the Kingdom of God? And with that in mind, that’s why Jesus is in controversy with the church at Laodicea, because they were neither hot nor cold. They were not enthusiastic about the things of God, about Bible study, about prayer, about discipleship, about evangelism, about worship. They were not enthusiastic. And Jesus is in controversy with them because of that very fact. He wants them to take sides. He wants to see the spirit of Woody Hayes and his commitment to college football being evidenced in a spiritual sense among the church at Laodicea.
Now, I want to come back into this letter and look at it for a last time. If you were with us a few weeks ago, we started to look at the denunciation. Jesus denounces this church. There’s no commendation. Jesus doesn’t give thanks for anything they’ve done. There are no strengths, only sins. And He denounces them for their look, warmness. “I wish you were either hot or cold, but because you’re lukewarm, neither cold or hot, I’m going to vomit you out of my mouth.” Do you see the denunciation? We started to look at three things. We saw the witness of Christ. He’s won best place to make this judgment about them because He’s the Amen of God. He’s the fearful and true witness and He’s the source of the creation of God. We move from the witness of Christ to look at the wish of Christ.
Christ has a desire for this church, and it is that they would turn the heat up, that they would get excited again about the things of God. And He draws a picture from the very situation of this church. Because we saw that Laodicea as a city had no natural water source, or at least no clear or clean source of water. And so they drew their water from surrounding cities. Hierapolis and Colossae were only several miles away and Hierapolis was known for its hot spring waters, and they were piped into Laodicea. Colossae was known for its cold spring waters that were refreshing to the parched soul.
But the problem was that the hot water became cool on the way to Hierapolis and the cool water became warm on the way to Laodicea. And so what you had in Laodicea was this lukewarm water that to the unsuspecting traveler was rather distasteful to the point that having tasted it, they would spit it out. If you ever visited Laodicea, you’d have to dodge the travelers and the unsuspecting visitors because they’d be going … They spit this water out. Jesus said, “Hey, that’s how I’m feeling about you guys. Because you’re neither cold nor hot.” See, the cold person has zero interest in the things of God, the hot person there’s someone that’s burning on fire for Jesus Christ. The lukewarm person is neither. There’s six of one half a dozen of the other. That’s the distasteful mix of the world and the church. And so Jesus denounces this and says, “Hey, I want it one way or the other.”
It’s not that Jesus is happy with someone being cold. It’s simply drawn a contrast to say, “Lukewarmness won’t do.” We started to look at the thought of who is lukewarm? Who is the person that Jesus Christ is addressing?
Well, remember there’s hot water that’s cooling down, and there’s cool water that’s warming up. That’s what’s going on in Laodicea. And I think it may speak to the fact that someone can be lukewarm in that they are truly see of, but they have gone off the boil for Jesus. They’re not as passionate about the things of God. They’re not as consistent in their church attendance. They have slipped away from an accountability group or a Bible study. They don’t pray much anymore. They don’t talk about Jesus anymore. If they have got faith at all it’s become a very peripheral thing, a very private thing. And Jesus saying, that’s not good.
But that can happen. The Ephesians have lost their first love, the Galatians once ran well, but they weren’t running so strongly according to Paul in his letter to them. It’s possible that you and I can throttle back. We can plateau spiritually. That must never become a lifelong lifestyle. But we can go off the boil, we can cool down. We got to be careful. We got to watch out for that and we got to realize Jesus is never happy with that.
If you were with us few weeks ago, I made this point that that mix is an ineffective witness for Christ. An ineffective witness for Christ. Because Christianity has no chance of making inroads into a world that’s grossly in love with sin if they’re not confronted by a church grossly in love with Jesus. How can a world get serious about that which we are not serious about? They’re serious about sin. We got to be serious about righteousness.
But there’s a second thing about lukewarmness in the life of a Christian, it opens the door to other sins. When you and I stop pursuing Christ, the world more easily catches up with us. Someone’s always trying to catch us, always trying to trap us, so we’ve got to run away from it and run after Christ. But if we stop running and we stop pursuing Christ the world more easily catches up with us. And when we hold out in our love for Christ, a vacuum is created into our hearts, into which rushes the flesh, the world and the devil.
Listen to these words by Adrian Rogers in his book on Revelation. “Why is lukewarmness so harmful? Because it sets us up for other sins. The lukewarm Christian is a sitting duck for the devil. Let me illustrate. A husband and wife are happily married, but the wife begins to feel less and less passionate. She starts to read love stories and begins to daydream about another life outside the home and beyond the marriage. One day at the health club, she meets a man who seems to personify all the man she’s been reading about in the novel. And before she knows it, her lukewarm heart, her indecisive commitment draws her down the pathway to unfaithfulness”
Isn’t that true? When you fall out of love with your spouse, it’s so much easier to fall in love with someone that you shouldn’t, and it’s the same with lukewarmness. When we are lukewarm, it’s so much easier for us to fall into an adulterous relationship with the world, and to spoil our relationship with Christ.
And so on the one hand, we could have someone who’s hot, who’s cooling down, but on the other hand, we could have someone whose cool that’s simply warming up. If one person is saved, the other person is someone who has an attachment to Christianity without being saved.
Billy Graham, I think said that one of the greatest mission fields in America is the church. People who come to the church, who sing, who read, who may even participate, but who are not truly born again, who are not radical in their commitment to Jesus Christ. False professors, church attenders, not Christ followers. They have been baptized by water but not by the Spirit. There may have even been a time when they walk the aisle during an emotional moment when they were moved to say something about Jesus Christ. They warmed to the thought of being a Christian, but there’s no true conversion. Works hasn’t followed faith.
They haven’t taken up their cross. They’re not radical, they’re not really in the Bible study. They’re not really in the prayer. They really are not that enthusiastic even about worship. But you’ll find them in the church. And maybe Jesus has this kind of person in mind. Maybe this kind of person was in Laodicea, who’ve settled for a form of godliness which denies its power. 2 Timothy 3:5. They have accepted a dialed back version of Christianity, one without a cross, one that involves emotional quivers, but not one that submits the will in obedience to Jesus Christ.
Do you know what a vaccination is? A vaccination is a small dose of the disease they’re trying to protect you against. So when we get vaccinated as kids or we watch our kids getting vaccinated, actually the disease that we don’t want them to catch in a mild and measured form is being injected into their body so that their antibodies can fight and ward off the real disease. And I fear, given that we are still for the most part, a very church society, maybe not so much in the West Coast, but you go to the South, or go to Texas, or go to the Bible Belt. You know what? There’s a lot of churches. But I feel and fear that in many of those churches maybe even in ours, there are people who have been vaccinated against real Christianity, and have settled for a mild form of Christianity.
Not enough to save of the soul, not enough to move the will, just enough to give an emotional quiver and make you feel good about yourself. Or maybe to give the thought, you know what? God’s there when I need Him. The kind of spare tire syndrome. Jesus said, “Hey, if that’s what you’re into, I’m going to spew you out. Because I want hot, cold. I don’t want this in between thing. I don’t want a Christian who’s off the boil, and I don’t want somebody who’s just warming up to the thought of Christianity.” But it’s a Christianity without Christ and a Christianity without the cross.
And so Jesus then warns them. We’ve seen the witness of Christ, the wish of Christ, the warning of Christ, and the warning is, I’m going to spew you out of my mouth. How frightening is that? How challenging is that? There can be nothing more repugnant than that thought, and that’s the image of someone literally vomiting from the pit of their stomach. In fact, you know that the idea of spitting out the water is probably too mild a metaphor. It’s literally drinking that water and it doesn’t sit well with you. And it causes you to gag and then vomit. Jesus said, “Hey, that’s what I feel. That’s what I think about those who walk the middle road.”
Jesus threatens to remove the candlestick here just as He did to the church at Ephesus. “I’ll spit you out of my mouth.” I think that’s a metaphor for the discipline He’ll bring to this church. Just as He warned the church at Ephesus that He had removed the candlestick, He would pull the shutters down on that church.
Which reminds me that Jesus must think that no Christianity is sometimes better than bad Christianity. There’s a thought. No Christianity is better than bad Christianity. Now, Jesus wants zeal. Jesus wants fervor. Jesus wants a pulsating reality. If we’re going to praise Him, then as with the Psalmist in 103:1-3, we’re going to do it with all our souls. If we’re going to seek Him, we’re going to do it as David wanted to do it in Psalm 27:4, “This one thing I desire that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, and I might seek after him.” If we’re going to serve Him, we’re going to do it with all our might, Ecclesiastes 9:10. Jesus wants us to take sides. It’s time to put on a red cap or put on a blue cap, but there’s no neutrality. No neutrality.
So now we move on to the enunciation. Following the denunciation there’s an enunciation. Jesus counsels him. Jesus advises him. Jesus denounces, “Hey, I’m sickened by what you’re doing.” Jesus takes this church to task. He’s unhappy with this mild-mannered Christianity, and so He counsels them to find in Him what He couldn’t find in them, and what they couldn’t find in the world. Jesus said, “I want you to buy from me things you think you have but you don’t have. I want you to get from me things I don’t see in you and things you can’t find in the world. I want you to buy gold, clothing and eyesalve.”
And Jesus presents Himself here as a city trader. You ladies would’ve loved Laodicea. It was a great shopping center, a lot of markets. And wherever you went in the city to buy all kinds of traders who’d be getting you to give away your dollars. They’d be saying, “Hey, you need this and you need that. What about this.” Jesus presents Himself like a city trader. “Hey, you don’t have this. You can’t do without this. You need gold. You need clothing, you need eyesalve.” And so here we see the enunciation.
Now, one thing before we look at those three things that needed to be added to their shopping cart, I think it’s striking. And it’s sad, that what this city valued, the church valued. Remember what we said about the city of Laodicea? It was a banking center. It was known for its high fashion and clothing industry, and that it had one of the best medical clinics in the country with regards to eye problems. And what marked the city marked the church. They settled for what the rest of the people settled for. You have the world in the church here. This church had allowed the measure of things to become things.
Write that down. Say to yourself, “Don’t delay the measure of things to become things.” Because they had things. They had riches, they had high fashion. They had access to good medical facilities. They thought they were rich, they thought they were healthy, they thought they were well off. And Jesus said, “No, you’re poor, miserable, wretched, naked. You need to find in me what I don’t find in you, and you can’t find in the world.” The Almighty said, “It’s one thing for the boat to be in the water. It’s another thing for the water to be in the boat.” Same with the church. It’s one thing for the church to be in the world, another thing for the world to be in the church.
Three things here Jesus wants them to add to their shopping cart, gold, garments and eyesalve. Look at verse 18. “I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire that you may be rich.” But hold on, I thought they were rich. They said that themselves, didn’t they? Verse 17, “But you say, I am rich, have become wealthy and need nothing.” Isn’t that interesting? They think they need nothing. Jesus said, “You need to buy certain things from me.” They think they’re wealthy. Jesus said, “You’re poor.”
So the gold speaks of spiritual value. This was a church that had its maths all wrong. What they considered to be valuable and invaluable, Jesus considered a waste of time. They had fallen foul to this idea that outward prosperity is a sign of God’s blessing. That material wealth is a sure sign of spiritual prosperity. They had bought into the spirit of the city. “We’re good. We’re doing well. Everything’s okay because you know what? The bank balance isn’t bad. Got a nice home, wear nice clothes, enjoy the golf club at the weekend, enjoy vacation on a regular basis. Things are good because we enjoy good things.”
They allowed the measure of things to become things, and Christ is about the switch to price tag. Look what He says about them. “No.” Verse 17, “You’re miserable.” That’s a word that carries the idea of pitiable. Jesus pitied the church at Laodicea. Heaven hurt for these people. Jesus said, “You’re miserable, you’re poor.” That’s a Greek word that carries the idea of abject poverty. It speaks to someone totally down on their luck, skid row. Can you imagine this is a church that says, “We’re rich and wealthy, and need nothing?” Jesus said, “You’re on spiritual skid row.”
Because some people are so poor, all they have got is money. That’s the point Jesus is making. Because Heaven doesn’t determine richness in terms of many green bucks you have. It’s determined in how deep and rich your relationship is with God through Jesus Christ. That’s the whole point of that parable, isn’t it? In Luke 12, the covetous farmer, he dies and it says he wasn’t rich towards God. He was rich in material things, but he wasn’t rich towards God. He had allowed the measure of all things to be things, and Jesus says, “Hey, man’s life is not measured by the things he possesses but by who possesses him.” And sadly, the church here had been possessed by their possessions. In fact, Jesus said they’re wretched. That’s a word that carries the idea of being pressed on with a burden.
Jesus saw their wealth as a burden. Wealth can sometimes be a burden if it’s not handled well. If you’re not a good steward of your riches, if you don’t have a good handle on how you’re to view material wealth, it can be a real burden. It can cause people to err from the faith according to 1 Timothy 6. It can cause people to not submit their life to Jesus Christ because it’s hard for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of Heaven. It’d be just as easy for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to see that he’s a poor beggar in the sight of a holy God.
And so Jesus is saying, “Hey, you need to buy gold of me. I’m offering you something. Here’s a trade.” Remember, He’s the city trader. “Hey, I’ve got a bargain. I want to do a trade. I want you to buy from me gold refined in the fire.” I think that’s the idea of gold tried in the fire, gold free from impurity. This is real riches. This is what is of lasting value. Jesus says, “Hey, I’m going to offer you something that money cannot buy and death cannot steal.” If you want to know what you’re worth today, ask yourself, what do I have that money cannot buy and death cannot steal? Because there are no U-Hauls behind the hearse. And Jesus said, “What will a man give an exchange for his soul?”
Do you have God? Do you have Christ? Does the Spirit have you? Do you have great and exceeding promises that are found in the Word of God? Jesus is saying, “Hey guys, here’s what I’m going to offer you. I’m going to offer you the incorruptible wealth of my saving sufficient grace.” 2 Corinthians 8:9, “Though he was rich,” Jesus Christ was God’s Son. He enjoyed the worship of angels. He enjoyed the adoration of Heaven. “Though he was rich, yet for our sakes, he became poor.” That’s Philippian 2. “Although he was equal with God, he didn’t hold onto that. He humbled himself, became obedient unto the death of the cross.” Though He was rich, He became poor. Why? So that we who are poor might be made rich.
And we’re not talking about Italian suits and Maserati sports cars. We’re talking about grace, peace with God, promise of Heaven, the gift of the Holy Spirit, the fellowship of God’s precious people. These are the things that money cannot buy and death cannot steal. “Anybody want to buy?” Says Jesus. You say, “Well, I have nothing to buy it with.” That’s the amazing thing. It’s free. It’s grace. The only thing that qualifies us for it is desperation, reaching out and saying, “Lord, I’ll take your salvation by faith alone, in Christ alone, to the glory of God alone because of grace alone.”
So Jesus is saying here, “I’m offering you redemption.” We’re not redeemed by silver or gold, but by the precious blood of the Lord Jesus, 1 Peter 1:18-19. And what are the promises of this book? They are better according to David than much fine gold, and they’re sweeter than honey from the honeycomb, Psalm 19:10. Gold speaks of spiritual value. You see, this church had made a mistake. They had settled for material prosperity, not spiritual wealth. The culture had done their job well and the culture’s doing its job well in us. What do we worry about? We worry about material things, not spiritual things.
You’re in this meeting today more anxious about your body than you are about your soul. You’re more anxious about next week than an endless eternity. That’s lukewarmness. It’s dangerous. Remember Aesop’s fable of the story of the dog that saw his image reflected in the pool of water beneath his feet? The dog had a nice bone in its mouth, but he was jealous of the bone that he saw in the reflection on the water. And so he opened his jaws to snarl and snatch that better looking bone. He lost the bone he had and he found no bone. Because it was an illusion of something better, and he lost what he had for something he couldn’t have and couldn’t keep. That’s what the church of Laodicea did, and that’s what you are doing if you’re not careful.
The garment speaks of spiritual virtue. Remember, ladies, this is a city of high fashion. This was a city known for its black woolen garments. Some of the best clothes came out of Laodicea. What perhaps Italy is to the fashion industry of our day, Laodicea in this part of the world was known in the Roman Empire. This was a city where men were judged by outward appearances. They looked at your shoes, they looked at your Rolex watch. They looked at the cut of your shirt, the quality of your silk. Jesus says, “Hey.” Interestingly, what does He say? “I’ve got some riches for you.” And He says, “Here, I want you to buy white garments by which you can be clothed and hide your nakedness.” What a contrast.
The city was known for its black woolen garments. And Jesus says, “Hey, I know that you’re in church with your what? Your black woolen garments and you’re looking chic. But in my eyes, you’re naked. You should get a towel or something. You should hide because you’re bare naked. You’re threadbare spiritually. You need from me white garments.” If you go to Revelation 19:8, we’re told that the white linen that we will wear at the marriage supper of the Lamb, the white linen is the righteous acts of the saints. What is the image of white garments or white linen? It’s a life marked by likeness to Jesus Christ. Deeds of righteousness patterned after Him.
And so what’s Jesus saying? Here’s what He’s basically saying, cutting to the chase. “Hey, you don’t look very much like me and you should be ashamed of that.” You should be ashamed of the way you look. Just as someone coming out of a shower and some friend or family member stumbling into the room, and you duck and dive for a towel. You want to hide your nakedness and your shame. He says, “That’s the way I look at you, you’re threadbare. I don’t see my character in you. I don’t see my life in you. So you got to come and buy some wardrobe from me. You won’t get this stuff on the high street. You got to come and indeed pattern your life after me.” And that’s a challenge, isn’t it? Do you and I look like the Lord Jesus?
You know the word Christian is not a name given to us by Christ. It’s a name given to the church by her enemies. It’s a kind of slur, the Christians, the little Christs, these people of the way. Isn’t that marvelous? What a description. Who are you? Oh, he’s one of the people of the way. What does that mean? They saying every time they saw, these people are reminding of the one who said I am the way. They looked so much like Jesus, they were called little Christ, Christians, the people of the way. Is that how you and I look? Have we made Christ fashionable and attractive in the eyes of our family and our neighbors?
If you want to be fashion conscious, ask yourself what’s in style in Heaven today? Well, I’ll tell you the color. The favorite color of Heaven’s white and everybody looks like Jesus. So you want to be fashionable. If you want to really be in fashion, fashion that won’t pass away, then start looking like the Lord Jesus because that’s what it’s going to be like for all eternity. That doesn’t mean facially, it means in Heaven everybody acts righteously and displays the character of God, and looks like the Lord Jesus in the way they live and act.
The ointment speaks of spiritual vision. The gold speaks of spiritual value. The garment speaks of spiritual virtue and the ointment speaks of spiritual vision. This was a city in a region known for its ophthalmology. Laodicea had a famous eye clinic that used certain properties from Phrygia. And it was a Phrygian stone that was ground down into powder and turned into an ointment that indeed brought health to your eyesight.
Now, here’s the irony. Here’s the church in a city known for its eye clinics. Everybody went to Laodicea if they had an eye problem. But this church was spiritually blind. Isn’t that an irony? Jesus said, “Hey, you’re blind. You think you’re rich? You think that you’re clothed and that you can see?” He says, “You’re not. You’re as poor as a beggar. You’re as naked as a baby, and you’re as blind as a bat. If you want to see, you better see life as I see it. You need to come to me and I’ll open your eyes. I’ll do some spiritual LASIK surgery that will help you see your need of me.”
If you and I want to see straight, that will be a work of the Spirit of God as He teaches us the Word of God. Because in Psalm 19:8, what do we read? “The law of the Lord is perfect, enlightening the eyes.” And so we need to come to God’s Word on a daily basis to see life as God sees it and what it ought to look like as we live it. We can’t lean on our own understanding. We need Him to open the eyes of our understanding and He’ll do that through the Word as the Spirit of God opens our mind and hearts to understand that which to us apart from Christ is double Dutch.
See, people who don’t know the Lord Jesus, they look at this, and I don’t understand the Bible. And you should be able to understand why they don’t understand the Bible because according to 1 Corinthians 2:14, the natural man doesn’t understand the things of the Spirit. Men are born blind spiritually. That’s why conversion needs to be an eye-opening experience. That’s why John Newton wrote in that great hymn Amazing Grace, I once was lost but now I’m found, was blind, but now I see. In fact over in Acts 26:18, Paul is speaking to a Agrippa and he talks about the ministry that God had given to him. And what was that ministry? To open the eyes of the Gentiles. That’s what conversion is.
Conversion opens our eyes. That’s why when we are truly saved, all of a sudden we start to understand the Bible, all of a sudden we start to see things from God’s perspective. Our friends think we’ve gone awol. But it’s the way we see things now, not like they see them. They’re blind, we have got sight. That’s why by the way, understanding the Bible is nothing to do with languages or geography or archeology. It’s everything to do with the Spirit. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones once gave this illustration. “If a man says he doesn’t like Beethoven, he tells me nothing about Beethoven, but he tells me a great deal about himself.”
I’ve always struggled with that because I don’t like Beethoven, but I think I get what the doctor’s saying. You see what he’s saying? If you and I say we don’t like Beethoven, let’s be honest, it might say more about our musical taste than it does about Beethoven, great musician, great maestro, great classical music. They’d say more about our taste than about his talent. And that’s the point that Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones is making when someone says, “You know what? I don’t understand the Bible. It’s a confusing book.” They’re probably saying more about themselves than they are about the Bible.
Because when God opens our eyes, we understand the Bible. We see it, we understand. And Jesus says, “Hey guys, you need to come to me because you’re becoming spiritually shortsighted. You need to get back into the Word and let the Spirit of God help you to see what I see.”
Okay the renunciation, we’ll take 10 minutes here. The renunciation, this is the final section. Jesus now challenges them to renounce their lukewarmness. He tells them, “You know what? I love you. I’m chastening you. I’m rebuking you. I’m calling you to repent and be zealous. You need to turn up the heat. You need to remove yourself from this room temperature expression of Christianity.” We need to see more zeal, mediocrity is unbecoming of a man saved by God’s grace, of a man who’s headed to Heaven, of a woman who’s going to enjoy the pleasures of God forevermore. Of a man indwelt by the Spirit of God and of a woman in union with the Son of God.
It’s unbecoming to be lukewarm. I want to see you Silas, and so I want to see you repent. And repentance isn’t just a change of mind, repentance is a change of mind, an altering of the heart and a conforming of the will to the thing that you should be doing, and a commitment to remove yourself from the thing you shouldn’t be doing that’s been keeping you from the thing you should be doing. It’s in the aorist tense, which means it’s a once for all action. Jesus is saying, “Right now, right here, repent and become zealous.” Continuous tense, go on being zealous. Stop doing the one thing, start doing the other thing and don’t stop doing the thing you’ve just started.
He says, “I love you that much.” That’s the beautiful thing about this text by the way. Did any letter begin so sternly and end so sweetly? I mean He’s laying it on them, isn’t He? “I want to vomit you out of my mouth.” There’s no commendation, no thanks. But then there’s this. “I love you. I love you enough to discipline you.” That’s why I believe that there are many believers in this church because I think that’s a knock on of Proverbs 3:12 and Hebrews 12:5-11, “Those whom God loves, he chastens. It’s a mark of sonship.”
And so there were definitely those in this church who had once been warm for Christ and now had gone off the boil, and they need to repent and get back. And in a few moments I’ll show you the motivation that becomes the basis for that. Two things, verse 9, 20 and verse 21. The one thing is a present invitation and the other thing, a future inauguration.
What’s the present invitation? Jesus said, “Look, turn to me. And as you turn to me, you’ll find me ready to enter and reenter your life, and to a new level of intimacy, to restore where you left off.” I’ve had some trouble with my computer and our brother Richard has been over helping me and I’ve learned that there’s a facility in my computer that restores it to a date prior to whatever went wrong with it. The computer picks up from that, be it before the virus came or the problem entered. And that’s what Jesus said here, “Let’s get back to where you left off. I’m ready to come into your life. Behold, I stand at the door and knock.”
Now, we tend to look at this invitation in evangelistic terms. This is a verse that’s been used frequently and famously by evangelists to call people to a knowledge of Jesus Christ, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s a beautiful picture of the fact that Jesus Christ is ready to enter the life of anyone who opens the door of their life and bids Him to come in as Savior and Lord. It’s a wonderful picture. In fact, John Scott famously came to Christ through this very verse, Revelation 3:20. But I would suggest to you this is a text that He’s written to believers. This is a text written to the church. This is a text addressed to backslidden, impenitent believers who are content in their self-sufficiency. Maybe someone here this morning who has shut Christ out, hasn’t given Him His rightful place as Lord. The doorways to their hearts have swelled and jammed shut with pride, and conceit, and prayerlessness, and a lack of commitment. And Jesus wants to reenter, and bring you back to a place of loving fellowship.
That’s the picture here. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. I want to come in and dine.” There were three meals that a Greek family ate. Breakfast was a slice of bread dipped in wine. Lunch was something they had on the go, but supper time was the meal of the day. Ladies, the linen would’ve been brought out, the fine China would’ve been brought out. Time would’ve been taken to cook a good meal and then the television would’ve been turned off. The PlayStations would’ve been thrown back in the cupboard. Everybody was brought to the table. Dad and mom at one end and the children at the other, and there would’ve been a time of connection and affection.
We used to do that, by the way. I think you can read about it in a museum in Los Angeles. But we used to do that, all sit together and talk. And if you were brought up in a family that did that, you’ll know that for the most part when you think about those times, warm feelings come to your mind. The joy of those conversations, the laughter, the life. That’s the image. I want to come back in. It’s supper time. I want that laughter. I want that life back into our relationship, the joy, the intimacy. There’s the present invitation.
And finally as the team begins to get ready to come up and close the service, there’s this future inauguration. Verse 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.” I’m going to presume of on your knowledge here, this is the promise I believe of joining Christ in the administration of His future glorious earthly millennial kingdom. Jesus reigns right now. He’s sitting down on His Father’s throne.
It’s the Philippians 2. “God has given him a name which is above every name.” He’s been exalted to the right hand of God. According to the Book of Hebrews, Jesus reign right now. It’s present but it’s invisible. But I believe there’s coming a day and the Bible tells us when every eye will see Him. It’s inconceivable that the last sight the world heart of Jesus Christ was Him hanging in naked shame upon a cross with a crown of thorns. And not being adored, but mocked. “Had they known,” Paul says, “they wouldn’t have crucified the king of glory,” but they didn’t know. Remember, they’re spiritually blind. They need their eyes open to the beauty of Jesus Christ. But there’s coming a day when God will open all eyes to realize that Jesus Christ is the King of kings and Lord of lords.
I believe there’s coming a day, maybe sooner rather than later when Jesus Christ will return according to Zachariah 14. Matthew 24, He’ll return to the Mount of Olives. He will take charge of the world. He will set up an administration in the city of Jerusalem. He will restore Israel to her prominence. He will bring the church with Him who have been in Heaven all this time at the marriage supper, suppering and dining with Christ in a stupendous way. And we’ll come back and reign with Him. That’s a glorious thought. And that should start your spiritual engines.
How can you sit it out? When you’re going to sit down someday in the millennial kingdom? When Jesus will reign. Where? Earth, the sun. Does success of journey’s run. Given that elevated prospect, does He not deserve your highest effort and your deepest commitment? Remember your commitment and I will determine the breadth and depth of your reign then. Your losses now will determine the glory of the gains that await you in that future life.
Every time a new president is inaugurated, he gets to make up his own administration, whether he’s a Republican or whether he is a Democrat. Every time a president comes in for his four-year term, he decides who’s going to be part of his cabinet and part of his council. And normally it’s usually those who were loyal to him in the campaign trail or wherever he has come from, maybe from his home state or wherever. They get to reign with him because they were faithful to him.
Oh, my friend. Someday it won’t be about elephants and donkeys. It’ll be about the Lion of Judah, reigning on planet earth. And if you and I are faithful, passionate lovers of Jesus Christ, who are into His Word, who are in into His church, who love to talk of Him with others evangelistically, if that’s our lifestyle, if that’s our life commitment, then as He has overcome and sat down, we will overcome and sit down. We’ll be part of His administration. It’s a wonderful prospect. We’re going to sing about it in just a moment.
But if Jesus Christ be God,, and died for us and He’s been exalted and given a name which is above every name, and He’s coming back, then there is no sacrifice too great that we can make for Him. He who gave us everything as Christian said earlier, deserves and rightly demands everything. May we give Him that this morning.
Let’s pray. Lord, we thank you for our time in Revelation 1-3. These letters you’ve posted directly into our hearts and we have opened them, and we feel that they’ve been written about us. There are times we have left our first love. There are times we have shied away from being faithful in our witness to Jesus Christ against fierce opposition. There’s been times where we have married ourselves to the world and become spiritual adulterers. There are times when we have failed to go through the open door of opportunity to speak a word for Jesus Christ. And though God there are times even this time when we are cold and lukewarm and indifferent to the things of God, and yet Lord, we thank you that there are promises here.
We thank you, you stand at the door and knock. We thank you, you’re willing to restore us if we’ll repent. We thank you for the incentives to escape the second death, to have authority over the nations, to administrate this future kingdom alongside of Christ, to be a pillar in the house and of God in Heaven. Well, God help us to give ourselves this day to Christ and the things that will last forever.
And if there’s those who do not know Him yet, may they hear His knock through the preaching of the Gospel, through staring death in the face, through a set of circumstances that has reminded them that they’re not ready to die. They have not yet found peace with God through faith in Jesus Christ. May they open the door today and come to know Jesus Christ, so that someday they may not hear, “Depart from me, for I never knew you.” These things we ask and pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.