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Lukewarmness and Its Cure - 13

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman
The Truth Network Radio
June 14, 2021 2:00 am

Lukewarmness and Its Cure - 13

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman

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June 14, 2021 2:00 am

Pastor Mike Karns continues his teaching series in the book of Revelation with these lessons from the church of Laodicea.

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Well, we are in the book of the Revelation. We are considering this evening the letter of Christ to the last of the seven churches, the church of Laodicea. And I want to read from Revelation chapter 3 beginning at verse 14 down through verse 22.

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 good. 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 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. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. Prior to you hearing this series of messages on the seven churches, most of us probably would recall some words that are found here in this passage to the church at Laodicea as perhaps the most familiar words to us.

We know that warning of being lukewarm and Christ vomiting those out of his mouth, and we have seen depicted on evangelistic tracts Christ outside knocking on the door, and that has been, I fear, misrepresented. So tonight I hope that we can correct some misunderstandings and to learn what Christ has to say to the Laodicean church, the apostate church. Now I have not set before you the idea that in the letter of the seven churches that there is an order, that is an order of digression, that things begin with the church of Ephesus and then continue to spiral downward until we get to the apostate church, the Laodicean church. But there are some commentators who take that view that there is an intentional order given to us in these letters.

That very well may be. I just have not been convinced strongly enough to have made that point as we've moved through these letters. It would seem that the church at Laodicea is the most deplorable, the most in the worst condition of any of the churches that we have considered. So tonight as we look at this, there is a similar pattern, not exactly, but a similar pattern that we've observed through the other letters. I want you to see, number one, a description of the head of the church, that is Christ, as he addresses the angel of the church. And that is, again, in my studied opinion, the angel is the messenger, the leader, the pastor, the elder, the under shepherd, however you may designate him. That this is the words of Christ to the leader of the church in Laodicea, a real, true church that existed in history in Asia Minor, known as the Church of Laodicea. And there is this description of the head of the church that's unique to this church, and you'll see that as we move through the letter. And there are three things that are mentioned here about the church, not about the church, but about the head of the church.

It says in verse 14, these things says, and here are the three things that are describing him. The amen, number two, the faithful and true witness, and number three, the beginning of the creation of God. The amen. The amen is a transliteration of the Hebrew word meaning truth, affirmation, or certainty. And because of what he is going to say in his analysis of this church, that that has bearing. Here is him who is the amen, him who speaks with certainty, him who speaks with truth and nothing but the truth.

So, these things says the amen. Number two, the faithful and true witness. Closely related to the first, the faithful and true witness. What he says is faithful to truth. He is the embodiment of truth. Jesus said, I am the way, the truth, and the life.

So, not only words coming from the amen, but from also the faithful and the true witness. And then, he is designated and described as the beginning of the creation of God. Now, the cults have seized on that, particularly the Jehovah's Witnesses and said, well see right here, he is a part of, he is the beginning of the creation of God. He is a created being. And that is again a complete misunderstanding of what is being said. We have to take everything in context.

What have we been told throughout these letters? He is the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end. So, he was there at the beginning of creation. In fact, he is the source of creation.

That is what it means. And then we have a diagnosis, a diagnosis of the church. And note again the connection between the diagnosis that he is going to give and the description that we just looked at. We are going to receive an accurate diagnosis from him, who is the amen, the one who speaks with certainty, the one who speaks with truth, the faithful and true witness. He speaks nothing but truth.

He is faithful to truth and the one who is the beginning of the creation of God. This is what Christ says to the church. I know your works. I know your works.

And notice with me six things about this diagnosis. Number one, I want you to see an observation of fact, an observation of fact. I know your works and here is the observation of fact that you are neither cold nor hot.

That is an observation of fact. Jesus is saying, I know your works. Every church is judged upon its works, upon its deeds. Your Bible may say deeds in the place of works. That is how we are evaluated.

And he who is the amen, he who is the true and faithful witness, he who is the beginning of creation, is the one who is evaluating our works, our deeds, that in the church. And he makes this observation and it's an observation of fact that you are neither cold nor hot. Notice with me secondly, a statement of desire. Not only that you are neither cold nor hot, I could wish you were cold or hot.

Here's a statement of desire. I wish you were one or the other of these two things, either hot or cold. That's what I wish, Jesus says. And then notice a consequence of reality. A consequence of reality, verse 16. So then, because you are lukewarm and neither cold nor hot.

This is a consequence of reality. The reality is you are neither hot nor cold. And because you are lukewarm instead and neither cold nor hot, we have an action of repudiation mentioned in verse 16.

And what is that action of repudiation? I will vomit you out of my mouth. Boy, that's strong language. In the vernacular, we would say, you make me sick. There are churches that make Christ angry, there are churches that make Christ weep, but here's a church that makes him sick.

So sick of its deeds and works and what's going on in the church that he says, I am sick to my stomach, I will vomit you out of my mouth. Think about these extremes. Hot on one end of the continuum and cold on the other. And we would think that lukewarmness would be somewhere between those two poles. But lukewarmness in terms of temperature of water, that would be true. We have hot, we have cold, and then we have neither hot nor cold but lukewarm.

But we're not talking about the temperature of water. It's simply language or metaphors being used to describe a spiritual condition. Jesus is saying, you are neither hot, that is, you are neither zealous for God, you are neither on fire for God, and you are neither cold. Cold in that is you are not dead, you are not indifferent, you are not unconcerned about God.

You're not that. But you are lukewarm. And he's saying that lukewarmness is a less desirable spiritual condition than spiritual deadness. Being cold toward God is spiritual deadness. And we say, well, what could be worse than spiritual deadness? How could lukewarmness as a spiritual metaphor be worse than spiritual deadness? In spite of the Spirit of God, how could that be?

It can be in this way. We sometimes talk to people and say there are four conditions that you could be in, in your relationship before God. You could be, number one, lost and know you're lost. You could be, number two, saved and know that you are saved. You could be, number three, saved. Before God you're saved, but you don't have an assurance that you're saved. And then there's a fourth category, a fourth condition you can be in, and that is lost and think that you're saved. And we often set that before people as we're talking to them about their soul and their needs. And we ask the question, which of those four conditions is worse?

What is the worst condition to be in? And you have to think about it. But as you think about it, wouldn't you agree with me that being lost and thinking that you are saved is a far worse condition than being lost and knowing that you're lost?

Yes. And I think that's what's being described here. Hot, again, represents a condition of fervent zeal and devotion toward God. Cold symbolizes a condition of heart that is completely indifferent toward Christ.

It is those who live in darkness and have no sign of spiritual life. What is it to be lukewarm? Well, to be lukewarm in this context is to have a profession of faith, to think that you are all right, that you are saved, but in reality lacking any real sense of spiritual life. And Jesus said, concerning those who are hypocrites, who are satisfied in self-righteousness and void of spiritual life and thinking they're right with God, you are lukewarm and I am going to spew you out of my mouth. So what follows here in verse 17 is a description of self-deception, a description of self-deception. They had an inaccurate self-assessment of themselves, that is, the church did. And what is that description and self-deception? He says, 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.

That's a description of self-deception, of inaccurate self-assessment. They thought they were rich and said they had need of nothing. What did Jesus say? I have not come for the righteous, but I've come for what? Those who know themselves to be sinners.

Not come for the healthy, I've come for the sick. And because they said, we are rich and have need of nothing, that's their assessment, and do not know. They do not know that they are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked. Now, there's a sense in which an accurate assessment of our lives before God is that we are wretched, that we are poor, that we are miserable, apart from Christ. Paul, speaking in Romans chapter 7 at the end of Romans chapter 7 says, O wretched man that I am, same exact word that's used here, O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from this body of death? Paul could say in Romans chapter 7 and verse 14, I know that is within myself dwells no good thing. That's an accurate self-assessment. We know ourselves to be wretched, to be miserable, to be poor. Blessed are the poor, Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount. And left to ourselves we are blind.

Left to ourselves we are naked with no dress, no covering for our sin and our shame. That's the accurate self-assessment. And you see the problem is they did not know these things, you see. Not only did they think they were rich and had need of nothing, they were unwilling to acknowledge the fact that they were wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked. So a description of self-deception and then followed by this accurate five-fold description.

Wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked. You see it takes the Spirit of God working in our hearts to bring us to an accurate assessment of our true condition before God. The Bible says, Jeremiah chapter 17 verse 9, the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.

Who can know it? The heart is deceitful above all things. We have a heart that is bent on deceiving us. And because we are wired with that, that's the condition of our heart, we are at a great disadvantage of seeing ourselves accurately. And that's why we need healthy relationships in the body of Christ, that we might see ourselves through the eyes of someone else. He's my brother, he's my sister, and they are helping me see things that I've been deceived by and I'm blind to. Same thing in marriage.

And instead of seeing that and appreciating that, we become adversarial in our relationship with our spouse and think they're out to get us when, in fact, they're God's gift to us to help us in our growth and sanctification. So we have here in this letter, number one, a description of Christ as head of the church and he's described in three ways, the amen, the faithful and true witness, and the beginning of the creation of God. Number one, there is the accurate diagnosis of Christ of lukewarmness that is condemned by Jesus, a diagnosis of lukewarmness. Number three, we have a remedy for lukewarmness, a remedy. Christ prescribes a remedy to the Laodicean church by counseling them to buy from him three things.

Now, I think it's good to stop and make a couple of clarifications. The idea of buying, obviously the blessings of grace cannot be bought, they cannot be purchased. The blessings of grace come freely from God. But the language there, to buy, is a word that is suggesting the means whereby we receive what we need from Christ. And Jesus, Jesus has in his possession exactly those things the church so desperately needs.

It's similar to the language of Isaiah 55.1. Oh, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters and you who have no money, do what? Come, buy and eat. Well, wait a minute, how do I come and buy with no money?

Well, again, it's spiritual language. Come, buy wine and milk without money, without cost. It's a reminder that these benefits, these blessings cannot be earned, they can't be purchased, they can't be bought, they are received. They're gifts of grace from Christ to his church.

And it says, here's the remedy, I counsel you to buy from me. Again, Christ has in his possession everything the church needs, and I would suggest to you not only everything the church of Laodicea needs, but everything any church needs. This idea that we must find the resources outside of Jesus. We need Jesus plus all these other things in order to be what we ought to be.

Jesus has everything the church has need of. So Christ counsels them to buy from him. Notice, I counsel you to buy from me gold, refined in the fire, that you may be rich. Well, wait a minute, they thought they were rich.

You see, until their eyes are open to their poverty, or bankruptcy, they'll never come to Christ. No man will ever come to Christ to receive riches from him when he or she thinks they're rich in and of themselves. I counsel you to buy from me gold, refined in the fire, that you may be rich. That they needed gold, that was free of impurities, that what represents what?

Represents the priceless riches of true salvation. What did Peter say in his first letter? He wrote of faith. And what did he say about faith? It is more precious than gold. Without faith it's impossible to please God.

So that's what he's saying. I counsel you to buy from me gold, refined in the fire, that you may be rich. Second thing, to buy from him white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed. White garments.

We're familiar with that picture. White garments speak of the pure righteousness that Christ provides for us through imputation. We exchange our filthy rags for the perfect white robes of righteousness that Christ provides that makes us acceptable before God.

Jesus is saying, come and buy white garments that you may be clothed. Why do they need to be clothed? Because they're naked and they're unaware that they're naked.

They have no covering. That you may be clothed. That the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed. And what is the third remedy? They are to buy eye salve, that they might anoint their eyes.

For what purpose? So that they may see. You see, they're blind, spiritually blind. And they need the operation, the divine operation that gives men spiritual sight.

Buy eye salve, anoint your eyes that you may see. That's the counsel that he gives. Now think about this. This is a church that Christ is writing to, an apostate church. It seems that there is no hope for this church. He is going to vomit them out of his mouth. And yet, here is a remedy for their situation. And then what do we see? We see a gracious appeal. A gracious appeal. Verse 19, as many as I love, I rebuke and chasten, therefore be zealous and repent. There is an appeal being made here to a believing remnant in this apostate church. There are some in this church that make Christ sick that he loves.

And as many as, however many there are, as many as I love, what does he do? I rebuke and I chasten. And therefore, he says, be zealous and repent. Be zealous and repent. That is something that sinful men are commanded to do, to repent. And yet, we are dependent upon the work of God's Spirit in us to bring forth fruits of repentance. No man can repent in and of his own ability, his own strength and his own ability at all. We must be aided by God in order to repent. And if God doesn't come to us and help us in that, there is no counsel, no talking, no preaching, nothing else will bring about godly sorrow that leads to life.

Now there is a lot of substitutes. There is worldly sorrow that leads to death. Tears of remorse, words that speak of how sorry I am. But if it's void of the Spirit of God's work, it leads to death.

There is a huge difference between the two and it's not easy sometimes to ferret out the falsehood. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. And it's a good God that doesn't leave us to ourselves.

Because left to ourselves, we will run hard after sin and there will be no recovery of us. But God is like a faithful father. He chastens those whom he loves. And it's love that chastens.

As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. And as hard as God's chastening might be, we must look beyond the temporal pain and the unpleasantness of it all and be able to rejoice in this is evidence that I'm a child of God. God has not left me to myself. God has not turned me over to my own evil devices. God is chastening me and that's evidence of his love.

And if God is dealing with you in that way, respond to him. Bow the knee. Submit to him.

Let go of whatever it is that you've been clinging to that is hindering your relationship with him. Therefore, be zealous and repent. Have a change of mind.

A change of mind that changes your direction and your trajectory. You're no longer pursuing that idol of the heart. You're now pursuing God.

And when that is at work, God is doing that, it's going to be obvious. Jonah. There's a wonderful statement in the book of Jonah. Those who pursue worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.

You see, what's being described there is an either or. Those who cling to worthless idols. If you cling to worthless idols, will not let go of worthless idols, then you can't have that worthless idol and the grace of God at the same time. Those who have got to let go of that, you've got to turn from that, repent of that, and turn toward God. Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs. Change grace. Grace to rescue you from these frivolous pursuits of false idols that promise so much and deliver so little.

Be zealous and repent. And then there's a promise. A promise to the repentant.

A promise. Jesus says, Behold, I stand at the door and knock. I stand at the door and knock. Now listen, we've seen this portrayed on evangelistic tracts.

And I've heard people wax eloquently on this. You know, there's a door there and there's only one door knob on it. There's only one handle on the door and it's not on Christ's side. And He's begging to come into your heart. And you've got to open the door. And He's pounding on the door. I'm knocking on the door.

And it presents a pitiful Christ. He wants to do something for you, but He just can't. He won't kick the door in. You've got to open the door. Listen, Jesus is standing not at the door of the heart, but at the door of the church in Laodicea. The church had become unfaithful. That church had cast Him out. And He's now standing outside the church. Behold, I stand at the door and knock.

And here's where it gets individual. If anyone, if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him and dine with him and he with me. Again, this is a word to the believing remnant.

There are some in the church who are of the elect of God. And the promise is of what? Of restored communion and restored fellowship. If anyone will hear my voice, open the door, I will come into him and dine with him and he with me. There will be an intimacy, a relational intimacy, a communion. That's what's promised to us, promised to any.

You see, the church as a whole seems hopelessly lost, the church at Laodicea. He will vomit them out of his mouth, but his own beloved, the elect of God, they will not, they must not perish with the rest. So he calls them and he promises them that they shall have communion with him. And then a promise. To him, and this is the pattern that we see in all these letters when we come to the end, a promise to those who overcome. What is the promise here? 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.

Folks, I'm puzzled by that, I'm astounded by that. If the only thing that was promised to the overcomer is a place in heaven, safety within the celestial city, that would be far in measure enough for any of us. But for Jesus to say, 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. In some mysterious way that I cannot explain nor get my mind around, we will reign with Christ.

We will share in his reign in some mysterious way. I think you would agree with me that the church in our day is growing more and more self-sufficient and consequently feels very little need of Christ. All she feels is that we need something more to attract these lost people into the church, to grow our numbers and to present a form of success.

I don't see, at least from my vantage point, a healthy picture. The church is not convinced, to the degree it needs to be convinced, that our sufficiency is in Jesus Christ. We have all we need in him, and the fullness of Jesus is the answer to all of our needs. The church is not convinced of that. Because it's not convinced of that, it's guilty of the very same self-deception that the church at Laodicea was.

So what does he say? He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. What does the Spirit say to the churches?

Watch, fight, overcome, and be faithful unto the end. Have no part with the church that lives in self-sufficiency and has no need of anything. The church that portrays itself, markets itself, we've got it all here, we've got it all together, we answer, we've got every need covered, that's not a church that is a healthy church. That is a self-deceiving church. You say, you mean a church that doesn't have all the bells and whistles and just simply is trusting in Christ and keeping Him at the center, that's a healthy church?

That's exactly what I'm saying. That's a healthy church. So watch, therefore, and be zealous. Pursue Christ.

Enjoy communion and fellowship with Him. Guard your life against self-deception. Self-reliance is an enemy. It's easy to trust the arm and the flesh. It takes zeal and spirit-wrought effort to continue to trust Jesus and Him only. It's too easy to find the button in your life and be on autopilot and be on cruise.

And that's a dangerous place to be. And to realize that simply because you drive by a church and see a sign out next to the road does not necessarily mean that that's a place where Christ is welcome. You remember the occasion when Samson was toying with Delilah and she was trying to discover what the secret of his strength was and he was playing games with her. He finally, after her persuasion, revealed that his strength was in his hair.

Well, strength really wasn't in his hair. His strength was in his vows toward God, but nonetheless, when she cut his hair and she said to him, woke him up and she said, The Philistines are upon you, and he realized that he was weak. The Bible says he did not know that the Lord had departed from him. He did not know that the Lord had departed from him. I wonder how many churches that that is true. That subtly, over time, because of their self-sufficiency and their deception, Christ was grieved, he was sick of what was going on in the church, and he left the church. People are still carrying on activity in the church as if he was very much a part of the center of everything that was going on, but Christ is outside the church.

They did not know, he did not know, that Christ had departed from him. May that never be so, of this church. Let's bow and pray. Father, we thank you for the convicting power of your word.

We thank you for how your word searches and probes and challenges us. And when we read about people being deceived and trusting in their self-sufficiency and trusting in a profession and in reality them being completely lost and in peril and in danger of eternal destruction, it reminds us of how precarious life can be, how we need to be clinging to Christ, how we need to be abiding in him, how we need to be in daily constant communion and fellowship with him, and how thankful we are that that's promised to us. We acknowledge and recognize that sin is a great hindrance to that. Help us, Father, in our fight against indwelling sin. Help us to make no compromises with it. Help us to have grace to say no to ungodliness and worldly lusts and to live soberly and godly and righteously in this fallen and broken world. Help us to put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh. Lord, we have an adversary, an enemy who wars against us. We have a world system that is contrary to the things of God, and we have our own flesh that we battle with every day. Lord, make us overcomers.

There's no strength within ourselves that would cause us to rise up and be overcomers. You must help us. You must keep us. You must preserve us. You must grant to us those measures of grace, those gifts of grace that enable us to live above this sin-cursed world as we make our way to God. Now, may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-04 05:52:14 / 2023-11-04 06:04:57 / 13

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