The Letter to the Church at Laodicea

March 30, 2022

Leadership Notes


Revelation 3:14-22


NOTHING GOOD SHALL COME OF THIS


The letter to Laodicea opens strong with verse 17:


For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing

that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.


In other words, they used outwardly, worldly standards by which to boost their self-confidence.


The city, Laodicea, was founded in the middle of the third century B.C. by Antiochus II, and settled with Syrians and Jews brought from Babylonia. He named it after his wife {who was either also his sister or cousin}, Laodice.


Someone has said that "God's stern hatred of evil is a necessary part of His love for people." Why do you think that is?


At the beginning of the letter, Jesus establishes how wrong the church has been by stating, unequivocally, how right he is. What the opening reference to being the "Amen" means is that our Lord is the firm, fixed, certain, faithful, unchangeable Amen, because he is true all the time, in every way. All that Jesus says is true, and all that he promises is true, and all his covenants are true. His obedient suffering on the cross and glorious resurrection are the guarantee and affirmation of that truth. Jesus is the Amen to God's promises and covenants. Amen?


There's a bit of ambiguity in verse 14:


The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of

God's creation.


The point of unclearness is "the beginning of God's creation." We can turn to other passages of God's Word to gain clarity. Specifically, in Colossians 1, which we saw on Sunday is connected to the church at Laodicea, Paul writes:


He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him

all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible,

whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were

created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all

things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the

beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be

preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to

dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth

or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.


What this boils down to is that Jesus was not the first who was created, but rather, the premier one of all creation.


Jesus is the everything of God. All that God is, Jesus is. He is the Creator. He is the Author of life. So, when it says he is the beginning of God's creation, it means Jesus is the Source of all creation. As John says in chapter one of his gospel, "everything that was made, was made by him, and without him was not anything made that was made.


That's important to establish because one of the things that made Laodicea so horrible was they were denying the deity of Christ. Heresy, of a Christological nature, had infiltrated Colossae, and was now finding its way into Laodicea. Not only had they lost their way…they were a church in name only…unconverted.


That's where the church of Laodicea was at spiritually. The city itself had its own challenges, geographically. The closest rivers were too mucked up to provide potable water. Most of the springs in the area were mineral hot springs, which were great for a therapeutic soak, but good for nothing else. Because of that, water had to be piped in, through terra cotta pipes, before being collected in a central water tower and then distributed throughout the city. The calcium carbonate in this water led inexorably to clogged pipes. You can still see remnants of those terra cotta pipes today.


The point of "because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth," is understandable in light of the fresh water miles away in one direction and the hot springs miles away in the other direction:


* The fresh water does what fresh water is supposed to do. It is drinkable. It is essential for cooking. It sustains life. It was really wonderful water.


* The hot water does what hot mineral water it supposed to do. It is therapeutic. It is good for what ails you. It soothes and calms.


* The fake church at Laodicea was not doing anything within God's purpose and plan for a church to do.


* They were in full theological rebellion against Jesus Christ and what God sent him to do. That is bad…really, really bad.


In verse fifteen, Jesus says, "I know your deeds." There was nothing to commend. Here's a harsh reality to remember:


CHURCHES ARE FULL OF PEOPLE WHO HAVE A WRONG VIEW OF

CHRIST, AND THEREFORE, ARE UNCONVERTED AND UNSAVED,

OBNOXIOUS TO HEAVEN.


Their apostasy was simple. They knew the gospel; they knew about Christ, and they not only ignored it; they created a false Christ. They knew the gospel; they knew about God; and they not only ignored it; they created a false god. They were smugly self-confident in that. It made Jesus want to vomit. That is bad.


I love this quote from Burk Parsons, pastor and contributor to Ligonier Ministries:


"The world wants us Christians to affirm every religious belief except our

own."


What was true in Laodicea two thousand years ago is even truer today.


Yet Jesus offered a way out. Repent and do it fast! These verses from Isaiah 55 spell it out:


“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no

money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and

without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and

eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love

for David…“Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is

near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his

thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not

your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as

the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your

ways and my thoughts than your thoughts…"For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall

break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the brier shall

come up the myrtle; and it shall make a name for the Lord, an everlasting

sign that shall not be cut off.”


This is an expression of divine grace and mercy. There is still time. Repent. Jesus stands at the door and knocks. Will he come into our church?


One of the things we've shared in these notes is the wonder and marvel of God's creation. Psalm 8 is especially appropriate. I don't know how people figure these things out, but it's been estimated that if all the DNA in the average person was stretched out in a single line, it could reach from Earth to the Sun and back 248 times. Our God is an awesome God!


And now, your Moment of Spurgeon:


"He stands firm who stands in God. Many would destroy the

saints, but God has not suffered it, and never will. Like pillars, the

godly stand immovable, to the glory of the Great Architect."


TTFN,


Richard

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