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July 24, 2022 1:00 am
Prosperity has a way of making us indifferent to the needs around us. The church of Laodicea had this problem. They were useless like lukewarm water, and Jesus threatened to spit them out. In this final message in a series on Jesus’ words to the churches in Revelation, we discover the difficult diagnosis of a lukewarm condition. What’s the cure?
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Wealth has a way of making us indifferent to the needs around us. After all, if I'm okay. You must be okay. Jesus had some strong words for a church in Laodicea first century place of prosperity. He said because you are lukewarm I will spew you out of my mouth. What could cause this condemnation today will hear the final message in a series on what Jesus had to say to churches in the book of Revelation. Stay with us from Chicago. This is The Moody Church. Our weekly service of worship and teaching with pastor Erwin Blitzer on this broadcast will hear the last of eight messages on what Jesus thinks of his church. Later in our program. Erwin Blitzer will speak on when Jesus observes our hearts pastor looks or comes now to open today's service.
Now this time, we can ask all of you to stand for the reading of Scripture and the singing together is indicated which is stand place. This is the word of the Lord from Psalm 100.
Please join me as they read the book. Make a joyful noise to the Lord all their serve the Lord with gladness coming to expressions with singing.
Know that the Lord he is God. It is he who made us and we are his. We are his people and the sheep of his pastor enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise and thanks to him, bless his name for the Lord is good is that love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations your bulletin.
You have a hymn that was written this summer and we been singing at this fall. Let's look at the bulletin and sing these words in this music together. Let's all stand as we set our father, we want to thank you today for your mercy and grace.
Forgive us for thinking that we own something. Your word is so very, very clear, namely that all that we have is yours. When we give to you today is from your hand to us and we give it back to you today gladly willingly, joyfully, and sacrificially thanking you for the privilege. Thanking you father. First of all for your grace and mercy in Jesus, though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor, that we through his poverty might be made rich old father we ask that Jesus will be our model today the Lord as we come into your presence.
We are well aware that in and of ourselves.
We are like a tree in winter leak and without fruit it is you, oh Lord, who grants us the strength and the ability you are the one Lord Jesus who covers our sins so that we may come into the presence of the Almighty.
You are the one the Lord God who gives us the merit that we had none of because it is all of your matchless grace. Today we want to pray for those who are hurting. We pray for those Lord who know not where to turn. We ask that you give them special grace to turn to you. We especially pray for those who do not know you as Savior but think that either they do or conversely may think that they do not need a Savior we ask the father that you will open their hearts to the truth of the gospel today do what only you can do for your glory and honor. We pray for our country. We pray for our spiritual and moral disintegration. We pray that you might raise up many people in America. Here who love you and that witness to your grace and power with winsome nests and conviction make us a transforming agent in this city, we pray, may we touch the city that can touch the entire world. Thank you for the gifts that we have brought with us today.
We ask that they shall be given in deep gratitude and praise and asked that wherever needs are that we may see you more clearly through you are needs will be met.
In Jesus name, amen. And in an will and in a is my heart will take and seal sealant for thy courts above.
Let's pray that prayer father we ask in Jesus name that you will take our hearts and seal those hearts for your good for your glory and for fellowship with you but before those hearts are sealed in that way. We ask also that they shall be open hearts today overcome barriers that we naturally bring to a service like this whether it is the barrier of guilt or the barrier of rationalization, the barrier of stray thoughts. We ask old father overcome all those miraculously so that we can concentrate on what Jesus has to say to us today. Make this transforming, even for those who didn't expected to be a pray in Jesus name, amen. Not all of us know that if you have a good doctor gives you a diagnosis and also like you are you most assuredly should take that cure. But of course if you are self absorbed. If you are prideful and think that you know better than that Dr. you'll try to figure out ways to a more what he has to say. You'll disagree with his diagnosis and you'll also disagree with this cure to your personal hurt, Jesus is the position of the soul, and he has so much to say to us in his word and if you take your Bibles today and turn please to Revelation chapter 3, beginning at verse 14 Revelation chapter 3 verse 14 where Jesus begins the last of seven letters to the churches of Asia minor. All of these churches existed in what today is called Turkey and that unfortunately none of the places exist as churches. Archaeologists of course have found all of these places where the cities were but the churches today do not exist and that creates a tremendous lesson for all of us. But Jesus here is giving his last word. It's his harshest word, but it is also his most believable word of hope and encouragement that boggles our minds. Chapter 3 of the book of Revelation. He says these words to the church at Laodicea the words of the amen the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God's creation. Who is it that is going to diagnose our case. Who is it that is going to prescribe the cure. He is the amen. That word means narrowly or truly he is the faithful witness. He's someone who is not going to lie to us, someone who will not tweak the evidence and he is the beginning of God's creation. Now there's some people some people denied the divinity of Jesus, and they use this text. They say that Jesus was the first of God's creation but actually the idea here very clearly is that he is the originator of God's creation.
The father created through the son by him were all things created, but which are in heaven, and which are on earth, visible and invisible. So Jesus here is represented to us as the originator of God's creation. The reason we need to pay attention to this text very carefully is because he is also omniscient, and today he can see right through us and see our need, so that introduction. Let us look at them what it is that he has to say to the church.
Let us look at the diagnosis and then let us also look at the cure in the hope all response that people may have in his blessed presence. First of all, we have the diagnosis in verse 14 and 15. He says I know your works. You are neither cold nor hot one that you were either cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold. I will spit you out of my mouth. I watch most of the time we interpreted this way, we say to ourselves that there were streams that were going into actually an aqueduct that was going into the town of Laodicea and the water was piping hot. So we think to ourselves that what Jesus meant is this I would rather have you hot passionate for me were totally icy and indifferent and turned off.
I'd rather have you that way than lukewarm. But there's a different interpretation, someone who has done some extensive study archaeologically and in other ways is come to the conclusion that that's not exactly what Jesus had in mind. Actually in Laodicea. There were two kinds of aqueducts. There was that which came from higher Opelousas and that those were very hot Springs that people would bathe in, and it was believed that they had many cures and then there were also some springs that were very cold and refreshing and you went from one to the other, like people do today when they go to a spa and so Jesus was saying.
You can either be hot and passionate. Or you can also be a refreshing and cool and able to take people in their need and give them and invigorate them. You can be one or the other but whatever you do don't be warm, so maybe that's what Jesus had in mind but lukewarmness, neither hot nor cold. It Jesus said that I will spit you out of my mouth. He's talking about the indifference of the people to whom he was writing this letter in difference does that characterize you today.
Now what is going on here in the text. Jesus goes on to say in his diagnosis for you. Say verse 17 I am rich, I have prospered. I need nothing.
Not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind and naked in Laodicea. The people were wealthy and they were wealthy because there were trade routes that went through the city and so they were quite opulent. The people were for that day and they had a lot of things that others did have. Furthermore, they had eyes, salve. This was in connection with one of the temples that was there in Laodicea. They believe that in this medical school that they had eyes salve that actually could stop the disintegration of eyesight. So they prided themselves in that. Furthermore, they also in addition to that, had a textile industry.
The people in Laodicea.
They dressed differently than the others.
They were the ones who wore the designer clothes and they prided themselves in the claws and the rug send the garments that they would make now what Jesus is saying is this a notice of carefully he saying despite your bank accounts you are actually poor and pitiful and wretched while he says despite the fact that you think that you have this clinic for sore eyes and the salve that will help them. Despite this, Jesus said you are blind and you think that you have all of these wonderful close pieces you are naked.
But Jesus is saying in the strongest possible way is simply this. Everything that you think you are you aren't you met people like that course you have because you're here today, aren't you, aren't we all.
That way our self perception is very different than God's self perception and so here you have a church that outwardly seemed to be prosperous. They never had false doctrine. At least Jesus doesn't address lap like he does some of the other churches.
But Jesus is saying to them that inwardly. From what I see you are very different, and Jesus sees us that way today to he sees us as to who we really are, including wrought member this past summer we had a great storm here in the city of Chicago and later on a day or two later, Rebecca and I walked through the forest preserve would love to go walking in the forest preserve and we noticed that some trees were broken over. In fact, I think in Chicago in total are more than 2000 trees that actually blew over what was interesting is to look at those and to see within you discovered that the ones that blew over oftentimes had within them.
All of that wrought and hollowness that you couldn't see from the outside. What a different picture. When you look within, from the way in which we perceive it from without and God says I am the Lord, and I test I test the human heart. Jesus says that in my presence. You are very different than you think you are.
And because you are so different and Carol last, which means that you could care less. I will spit you out of my mouth those the words of Jesus not making it up. It's in the text. Now what is the cure that Jesus has.
He doesn't leave us there. It's the diagnosis that's very, very serious and you and I all have very very serious issues before God. Jesus says this now as we go into the cure. I counsel you by the way is not wonderful that Jesus is the counselor I've known people that paid $100 for half an hour of counseling and maybe it was worth.
But imagine getting counseling from Jesus and it's free, and that wonderful is this I counsel you and here's his counsel. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire so that you may be that of course he doesn't mean that salvation is something that we pay for his using the terminology of the vendors there and Laodicea. Jesus, I challenge you come and buy gold from a we know of course that salvation is free hello everyone, that thirst comes to the water. Whoever has a need to combine milk and wine without money and without price. It's all free.
That's a quotation by the way, from Isaiah chapter 55 and Jesus says of course it's free but you want the true riches you come to me now look at the text. What else does he say buy from me gold refined in the fire so that you may be rich and white garments, that you may clothe yourselves and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen what Jesus is saying you knows all those wonderful close and I'm from Laodicea. Look at the labels you know and inside.
You have all of those imaginations inside you are selfish, you do not love me with your whole heart inside you are filled with all manner of lusts and addictions and all that come to me and I'll give you some real clothes.
I'll give you white garments that will cover your sin. Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. The Bible says and Jesus says come to me and I will clothe you with white garments so that all of that shame of your past. Need no longer control you and it will no longer be regarded by God in your fellowship with me come, I've got the close and by the way, notice I also have some eyes salve and to anoint your eyes so that you may see you think that you are seeing today, but you're blind but if you come to me. I will give you what you need so that you can see reality as it exists the relationship with Jesus is the answer and what Jesus is saying is physically and outwardly your one thing inwardly, you're another and only I can cure you, how do you get rid of lukewarmness will you get rid of lukewarmness by coming close to Jesus and he will invigorate you and he will give you a passion for himself and for his gospel and for his word and for fellowship with him. Notice you say well this is a rather hard to message it is but it's done lovingly. You'll notice what Jesus says in verse 19 those whom I love, I reprove and discipline. So be zealous and repent. If the doctor comes to you with some very hard news news that you don't want to hear. And so he's trying to get your attention and giving you the consequences of neglecting that news. That is a very loving doctor because he's trying to wake you up and to understand what reality is really all about. And so Jesus says the reason I'm doing this is because I love you be zealous therefore, and repent and turn from your sin and from all of the sin and self-centeredness that is there and see yourself as I do and then come to me because I've got the cure. Jesus is the one who takes the thermometer and puts it into our mouths and says you are Luke warm your Christian but the people who work with.
You have no clue that you are.
You have kept it a secret. You are someone who has responsibility in the home but really you are doing things on the side that displeased the Lord and that's why all the passion is drained out all of the excitement is there, you can witness because you are actually tepid, lukewarm in different to the things that matter the most. And then Jesus gives this incredible invitation. One of the most popular verses in the Bible, behold, I stand at the door. I'm in verse 20 behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him and eat with him, and he with me.
Well, can you imagine that Jesus is saying I'm at the door of this church. This church that has lost its vigor and its enthusiasm. This church, in which all the passion has drained out because of secret sin that are within the heart. Jesus says I'm standing at the door knocking and if anyone now this is an invitation to individual. If anyone hears my voice and will open the door and what all do all restore the fellowship. I will come and will eat together. Jesus said that will have fellowship one with another. Can you imagine that now you know when you come to church like Moody and maybe if you're visiting here you come from a church something like Moody so if you think you do it. Love to meet you but let's suppose that you come from a church like Moody where we still preach against sin and over against it member that align who was it and we have some people here who are actually agreeing that sin is a bad idea that wonderful was that one of our presidents went to church and came home with his wife said what did he preach on, he said, sin, and she said what was his opinion other than his answer was simply he was against it. Why do we preach against sin. What's so bad about sin something good to write a little booklet what's so bad about sin. Let me tell you what's bad about sin thing that so bad about sin as it cuts us off from fellowship with Jesus.
That's the thing that so bad about not even the consequences of how we hurt ourselves is not even our ruined lives. If we follow it to its logical destination. The thing about sin that is so serious is that the fellowship that we can have with Jesus.
That fellowship is broken. That's what sin does. And God himself recognizes that we can grieve him.
That's why Paul says in the book of Ephesians and grieve not to the Holy Spirit of God, whereby you are sealed until the day of redemption.
You and I've had the experience of leaving church sensing that we are filled with the spirit that we are excited about God and then we go home and we turn on the wrong thing on the television set or we do something and and immediately we know that were grieving the spirit and the fellowship between us and Jesus is broken. That's why it says in first John chapter 1 verse nine if we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from every individual unrighteousness. The reason he does.
That is to restore fellowship.
So Jesus is saying here, behold, I stand at the door and knock. Are you going to turn from your sin to me or are you going to keep going in your old in different selfish attitude, not caring about me and the gospel. That's what Jesus is saying in this text. And of course, once he is in our lives. You know he begins the renovation process and data that can be a very painful experience. But it is so incredibly worthwhile. Now what is the response. What is the bottom line here Jesus and all of these letters and I feel a little badly, that this is the last of the letters I've so much enjoyed this series of messages, but this is the last of the letters Jesus gives this incredible promise.
Now each time we notice that the promises seem to be getting greater and greater and more wonderful and more unbelievable to the over comers or as it is translated here. The conquerors, but listen to the text and you should bring your Bibles to church. You should open them. If not, use the pew Bible because if you don't do that somebody is gonna come up to me later and say pastor you know what you said. The Bible said I don't believe it's there. You must be making it why not making it up.
Listen to what the Texas the one who conquers verse 21, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my father on his throne. Jesus can you be serious to the one who conquerors it's not just that he's sitting on his throne and he says pull up a chair next to me what he's saying is if you are a conqueror or an over comer then you will sit with me on my throne, were talking about the throne of the universe will sit with me on my throne, even as I overcame and sat with my father on his throne is what Jesus is saying you be a conqueror you be in over comer. You will get to sit on the throne of God you believe in.
Think about it anywhere. Not worthy for this man to come under our roof, and yet Jesus says that if you invite me to your table in this life you'll be able to sit with me on my throne in the life to come. You be a part of my family. You invite me as part of your family in this life in the in the life to come. You'll be a part of the divine family.
He who overcomes, to him I will grant to sit with me on my front. See that's what see that's what makes sin so bad is that you don't get to sit on the throne of Jesus forever and ever and rule with him that that's what makes sin bad. It hinders fellowship and your final destiny is not only, perhaps endowed with your final destiny may not be to rule Jesus now. No wonder the text ends up by saying he who has an ear to hear, let him here because not everybody can hear this. Let me give you two very important observations that you change our lives forever if we're listening. So listen first to see ourselves as God does, is a divine gift to see ourselves as God does, is a divine gift you asked the average Bible student what was wrong with the church in Laodicea varies very often.
The Bible student will say well you know it's because they were little form that is not the worst problem of the church at Laodicea lukewarmness was not the worst problem tell you why because there's a good cure for lukewarmness skull repentance can be taken care of. There is something more serious with the problem at Laodicea they were lukewarm and thought they were hot they said to themselves. We have need of nothing, and Jesus says you do not know that you are poor, wretched, blind and naked. That's our greatest need is is a misperception of who we are in God's presence and you cannot see who you are unless God helps you do it because you see we even come to a service like this, filled with rationalizations enshrouded in the Nile thinking to ourselves why am okay many years ago before some of you were born, there was a book written, entitled, I'm okay you're okay.
Oh, really. So were all okay. Jesus would say of himself, a friend, let's get this straight. I'm okay but you're not okay. All right.
You're not okay.
Sorry about that. You have a serious problem and the problem is so deep the problem is so ingrained our imaginations, our perception of who we are, our desire to do whatever we want to do is so much a part of who we are that unless God shows it to us will go on our way on our merry way and are unmarried way to the bitter and and for sure will never get to rain with Jesus Christ. Only God can show us.
That's why it is that that so many people think that they are okay and they are in different and and they have no idea, no idea how they are perceived by God. And so the text of Scripture is a reminder to us that what we must do is to let God show us who we really are and when God does this in power their trance formation of individuals all over. In fact, that years ago when there was what is called a revival where God was doing unusual things in the lives of people are number one testimony of one man said. He said I thought it was a good thing that there was a revival coming because I thought that all the people around me needed revival. Then he said that he realized that he was the one who needed it.
I think of a man in Detroit who came into a meeting one Saturday and there were 200 people. 200 men on their knees weeping over their sin, and he took his hand and he put it into the put his fist into his hand and said God you'll never get me now why would a Christian man say God it's because he had a hot temper and five children bad combination, and he knew that if God ever got him he would have to go to his children, and apologize for his irrational temper and ruptured his relationship with those children long ago and he was a proud man, I'm here today to tell you that God got him. God got him and that's what happens when we let God get us. It is deep. It is abiding eminently worthwhile. And guess what we get to rule with Jesus on his throne. Think of the contrast.
I just think of the contract over here. You're in different cold in different cold in the wrong sense. You don't care, it's okay by me. Doesn't matter on that hand.
I will spit you out of my mouth.
On the other hand, imagine what we should receive what we don't receive and we receive in its stead, to rule with Jesus because we are overcomes yourself Pastor Lutzer that's fine that's good. We've heard you were listening. But how do we become an over comer. I mean, is that what you're asking because it seems to many of you to be an intolerable responsibility.
I mean think of all the things that you're supposed to overcome who can do it. I can't.
You can't becoming an over comer begins at a very basic level, the Bible says these words, it says that everyone who is born of God overcomes the world is the same word. Everyone who is born of God overcomes the world and who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus Christ is the son of God tell you how you begin becoming an over comer. You begin by acknowledging Jesus to be the Christ and confessing your need of him and receiving his free and unbent and on battered grace.
That's the way the process begins and then in him you and I can be over comers. Meanwhile, he stands at the door and knocks that I heard you today. Don't say no to that voice. Remember the story of the wealthy man who was also a drunkard who would count his money in the cabin and then put it beneath the floor and I keep it there and he had a dog one night the man went to bed after a bottle of whiskey and was sleeping tightly and the dog began to bark and bark and bark and eventually the man in the stupor shot the animal and it was after that that the men that were outside came in and stole his money don't say no to the voice of Jesus, who is speaking to you today either as a Christian because you're not in fellowship with him or someone who's never trusted him as Savior do not say no to that that was for emphasis, unplanned emphasis do not say no to that voice is the only one that can save you. And so Jesus knocks. Sometimes he knocks through a funeral to go to funeral and you realize that you two are going to die and you begin to think about eternity. Sometimes he knocks through the prayers of a grandmother. The prayers of the mother. The prayers of a spouse in Jesus knocks and sometimes he knocks in a message like this and he knocks through the beautiful music and the words that draw us to God, but don't you stifle the only knock that can save you. Let's pray will father what else do we have to say there is the invitation, there is the grace but they are also is the great challenge when you speak to all who have heard you today. Anyone whose ears were open, would you speak father we ask and we pray that whatever you are asking people to do. They will do, may I be willing to do it. The others staff and the elders.
The leadership willing to do it.
We ask oh father come to us now before I close this prayer I want you to pray what is it that you need to say to God Christian. Are you willing to confess that sin and get rid of it so that you can have fellowship with Jesus you will as an unsaved person you willing to come to Christ and let them change you as you put your faith in him and thank him for what he did on the cross for you.
Whatever it is that God tells you to do you do father hear the cry today of all who have listened all who have really listened and have mercy on us, because we are dependent on your grace.
Jesus name, amen. This ends, as you know, the series of messages on the churches. I'm going to ask that is will be standing in just a moment to sing a familiar song. If God is talk to you today.
Would you come down the aisle and would you shake my hand.
There's no value in shaking my hand, except this that you are saying God has talk to me today and what he has shown me. I'm going to be obedient to. So as we stand to sing of God is talk to him going to be at the on the floor level in just a moment.
Come and join me there and let us seek God together that we might be over comers. Let's all stand to sing, I've decided to follow Jake and on today's Moody Church. Our Pastor Lutzer spoke on when Jesus observes our hearts taken from Revelation chapter 3 is final message on what Jesus thinks of his church. Millennia ago God called a man out of a pagan background and made him the father of a great nation.
Join us next time. For a series on the life of Abraham. A man who made a long journey toward the promised land.
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