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Stand at the Door and Knock

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
December 28, 2023 9:00 am

Stand at the Door and Knock

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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December 28, 2023 9:00 am

Jesus said that when the church becomes so complacent that it is neither hot with the passion that fuels sacrifice nor cold and refreshing, it makes him sick.

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Today on Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. In light of who Jesus is and what he has done for us, a bored reaction doesn't make any sense. There's only two possible reactions. One is total worship, or the other is total mockery. You got to make up your mind.

Be hot or cold. Is he who he said he is, or did he save you from sin like he said? Welcome back to Summit Life with Pastor J.D. Greer.

I'm Molly Vidovitch. Today, Pastor J.D. returns to the book of Revelation in this unique Christmas study that we've been in this week. He dives into the characteristics of a lukewarm Christian and why they trigger such a dramatic response from Jesus. How do we move past lukewarm devotion to Jesus so that when he knocks, we will open the door and invite him into our lives? An important question for many of us as we begin today. Now, if you missed any part of this study, or if you would like to make a generous year-end donation to this ministry, you can always find us at jdgreer.com. Pastor J.D. titled today's message, Stand at the Door and Knock.

Revelation 3. I have a very unusual question for you, and I promise you, I am not trying to be childish or to be shocking, but just go with me here for a minute. How many of you would say that, relatively speaking, you have a weak stomach?

Raise your hand. You guys, I got a weak stomach, all right? If so, if you're in that category, what kinds of things trigger that weak stomach? You know, it makes sense that if you eat something bad, it makes sense that your body would react to that by trying to purge it out of your stomach, but it doesn't make as much sense that, you know, your body has that reaction to any other number of things that go on as well, especially if you have a weak stomach. For example, I know that some of you are afraid that I will sing again in this service, because you say last week when you sang, I threw up a little bit in my mouth, and so that makes me, some of you have that reaction when you get really nervous.

I've known people who are like that. In fact, if I were to right now look out at the audience and just point at some of you and say, I want you to come up here and share a word of testimony and pray, your first impulse would be that little feeling in your stomach, like I'm about to lose my lunch. Some people have that reaction when they're very sad or upset. At the gym that I work out at, I've known people who vomited because they just got really exhausted. Of course, a lot of us have this reaction when we encounter something really disgusting. When you grab that milk carton out of the refrigerator that you're not quite sure how long it's been in there, and you feel the lumps slide down your throat as you start to drink, you have that reaction. I always thought that I had a very strong stomach, relatively speaking, but then I had four babies and the requisite diaper duty that goes along with that. And there's just all kinds of sights and smells that go along with that experience.

I would go in there and I would think, how did that cute little baby produce that? Here's the point. When something is so offensive to you that it makes you want to vomit, that is very serious business. So if Jesus says something makes him feel this way, then we will be wise to pay very close attention to it.

And that is exactly what he does in Revelation 3. What do you think it is? What is it that you do you think makes Jesus feel that way when he looks at somebody?

What is it? Is it Christians that are too political? Maybe it's Christians who don't give, maybe Christians who come late to church every week. Maybe that's what makes Jesus want to vomit. How about Christians who always adapt whatever, you know, is popular in the culture and try to make it, you know, Jesus-like. I saw a t-shirt not long ago that said, you who, you who Jesus died for, you should pay attention to him.

And I thought, really, is that necessary? Or CSI, you know, the show Christ Saves Individuals. And I was just like, I'm just not sure how pleasing Jesus feels about that. What is it that makes Jesus feel that way?

Right? Well, Revelation 3 is going to give you the answer that it is the lukewarm Christian. It is the lukewarm Christian. A lukewarm Christian, Jesus is going to explain to us, is an oxymoron. Now you know an oxymoron, right?

Remember English class? An oxymoron is when you've got a contradictory terms that appear in conjunction, right? Like jumbo shrimp would be an example, or government efficiency would be a good one, probably. Airline food might be one.

Adorable cat, that's self-explanatory. Or my favorite oxymoron, Microsoft works. Two things that don't go together in the same sentence. Well, the biggest one of all, according to Jesus, is going to be a lukewarm Christian. Somebody who believes in Jesus, but does not want to follow him wholeheartedly. Revelation 2 and 3 is John's recording of Jesus's words to the seven churches. Now these seven churches were actual churches that were in existence when John wrote these things. But scholars will tell you that they're also representative of churches of all kinds and every age.

So they kind of represent all churches. What we're doing this Christmas is we are looking at images of Jesus that are given to us in Revelation. Because what I explained to you last weekend is there's no way to understand the first coming of Christ, Christmas, unless you understand the second coming. And the book of Revelation is all about the second coming of Christ. So we can learn a lot about the Jesus who came at Christmas by looking at the images that are given to us in the book of Revelation. And so in Revelation 2 and 3, we're going to see how Jesus feels specifically about a church that is filled with lukewarm Christians.

Okay, here we go. Verse 14, Jesus says, write to the angel of the church in Laodicea. Now angel there just means messenger, a representative. Some scholars say that means the pastor of the church. Others say it's a literal angel who watches over the church.

Some say it just represents the church, you know, the whole of the church. The angel of the church in Laodicea. A few things you should know about Laodicea. First, Laodicea was a city that was extraordinarily wealthy.

Years before John wrote this, Laodicea had burned to the ground. And when it burned to the ground, it was rebuilt from scratch by one of the wealthiest families in the Roman empire, a family named the Zenonads. Think of it like Dubai.

Dubai is a city that was built from scratch with a sudden influx of money. That was Laodicea. Everything was brand new in Laodicea. Secondly, it was an important textile center. They produced this fine black wool that came from a rare breed of sheep that lived in the mountains surrounding Laodicea. Rich people came from all over the Roman empire to buy the clothes that were made in Laodicea. It was like the anthropology or the Lululemon of the ancient world. Finally, Laodicea was the medical center of the Roman empire.

Those same mountains contained a lot of hot mineral springs, which were thought in those days to have healing qualities. So Laodicea became a medical center and a number of legitimate medical cures were developed in Laodicea, essential oils, and stuff like that. There was a church that had been planted in Laodicea that was one of the offspring of Paul's missionary journeys. In fact, if you read the book of Colossians, you might've noticed that at the very end, did you see this? Paul tells the Colossians, hey, make sure you share this letter, the letter of Colossians, with the church in Laodicea and get the letter that I wrote to them and have it read in your church. Which of course makes us wonder like, where is this letter to the church at Laodicea? Why is it not in my Bible?

Well, evidently in the sovereignty of God, God chose not to preserve it. But the point was, it was a church that Paul had visited, Paul had had a relationship with. This is the church that John is writing to and that Jesus is speaking to. To that church, here's what it says, thus says the amen.

Amen is a Hebrew word that means certainty. It means the end story, the one who's gonna be there when it's all said and done, the faithful and true witness, the originator of God's creation, the one who is the first and the last. He was there at the beginning. He'll be there at the end.

He's telling the truth here in the middle. I know your works. I know your works.

I see you. And I see that you were neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were cold or hot. Because you are lukewarm and because you are neither hot nor cold, you make me want to vomit you out of my mouth. Neither hot nor cold. Six miles southeast of Laodicea was the mountainous region of Hierapolis, which contained, I told you, all these boiling mineral springs that were believed to have healing power.

Six miles to the northwest were the tall mountains of Colossae, out of which flowed streams of ice cold water that came from the melting snow. These two different kinds of streams flowed down into the valley where Laodicea was, and they coalesced in these stagnant ponds of tepid water that were not hot, which means they weren't good for healing or for bathing, nor were they cold, which means they weren't good for a refreshing drink. They were just lukewarm and nobody had any use for it. Hot is good. Cold is good.

But lukewarm, no good for anybody. I think of it like coffee. Man, I love in the morning a piping hot triple espresso Americano. The only thing better than a triple shot of Americano in the morning is in the afternoon having an ice cold salted caramel cold phone call brew. Hot coffee, good. Cold coffee, awesome.

But if I find a cup of coffee that's been sitting out on the counter all day and it's just room temperature, man, even the thought of drinking that makes me want to vomit. Jesus uses this image to describe his reaction to the believers at Laodicea. You are lukewarm, he says. You are characterized by neither the warm passion that fuels sacrifice nor the awakening, refreshing of a cold shower. There's nothing distinctive about you. You feel just like the environment around you. You claim to originate from me. You claim to flow from me, but you feel and look like your environment a whole lot more than you do me. What Jesus says next is very important because it explains why they are lukewarm in his estimation. Notice it starts with the word for.

For means I'm telling you this happened because of this. All right, the reason you're lukewarm for you say I'm rich. I become wealthy and I need nothing. I told you the Laodiceans were rich. Here's how rich, 61 AD. There was an earthquake in that valley where Laodicea was. There were several cities in that valley.

The earthquake they guessed today measured somewhere around eight and a half on the Richter scale. It destroyed every single one of the cities and the Roman Empire made federal funds, Roman funds available to rebuild every single city. Every single city took all those funds except for Laodicea and Laodicea said we don't need your money.

We can handle this ourselves. Now first, has that ever happened in the history of the world anywhere ever where you just people turn down free money from the government? Well it happened in Laodicea and that's because Laodicea was proud. They were self-sufficient. That sense of self-sufficiency had seeped into the church. Laodicea and Christians thought you know we're all right.

We got this. They weren't people who cried out desperately for God that often because usually they felt like they had it all under control. He said because of that you don't realize that in my eyes you're wretched, you're pitiful, you're poor, you're blind and you're naked, blind. The Laodiceans told you they were a medical center.

They were most famous for this eye salve they had developed from these minerals and these mineral springs that could cure a lot of vision ailments in those days such that people from around the Roman Empire would come there to get their eyes healed and Jesus said the irony is that you're healing everybody else's sight but you're blind. You're blind in the part that really counts and your eye salve can't help with that. You're naked. He says all those fine clothes you provide for everybody made out of this luxurious black wool, none of it works for you because in my eyes you're still naked. I advise you he says to buy for me gold that is refined in the fire that you might actually be rich. In other words you need a different kind of gold. There's a kind of gold that can can fill your bank account but it's not the kind of gold that can satisfy your soul. It's not the kind of gold that can actually change what's broken in your heart to fix your relationships. You ever notice that some of the richest people in the nation are the people whose families are in the worst possible state and that's because gold does not change what's wrong in the human heart. Why is it that some of the richest people show the signs of being the least satisfied?

That's because we need a gold that that actually satisfies. Thanks for listening to Summit Life with J.D. Greer. There's more teaching in just a moment but before we return let me tell you about our latest resource created exclusively for our Summit Life listeners. It's time for our annual day planner.

Yep it's back again. This is one of our most popular resources each year and for a good reason. You see there's nothing magical about January 1st but it does present a natural opportunity for reflection and direction and guess what that's next week. It's a great time to take stock of your life and set some goals for ways that you want to grow in the coming months. Maybe you want to start reading your Bible every day or maybe you want to get better at making time for ministry. Whatever it may be we hope that this planner will be a great tool to help you prioritize your time and meet those goals. Reserve your copy with a generous end of year gift today by calling 866-335-5220. That's 866-335-5220 or visit us online at jdgreer.com. Now let's get back to our teaching here on Summit Life with Pastor J.D.

Greer. I've always loved Isaiah 55 where the writer Isaiah says come to the waters and come buy bread that satisfies but your money won't do you any good because this is a bread that's not given to you because of how rich you are. It's a bread that God gives you in response to repentance and faith.

This is what he is telling them. I have stuff for you and I have clothes for you. I can clothe you but it's not the clothing you have.

It's not the gold that you have in your bank account you need. He says white clothes so that you may be dressed and your shameful nakedness might not be exposed. White raiment. The book of Revelation says that when we stand around God's throne we'll be clothed in spotless white raiment. Now what's awesome is Revelation 7 14 says, I love this, they've washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the lamb. If you wash something with blood is it going to become white?

No, it becomes crimson and scarlet yet this kind of blood has the ability to make what is dirty it makes it clean. You don't need clothes that impress everybody because of the label on them. You need to be clothed in my eyes and your clothing your money cannot supply that for you. You need an ointment he says to spread on your eyes so that you can actually see the problem's not your physical eyes the problem is the eyes of your soul.

You love the wrong things you evaluate things poorly and medicine can't help that. Verse 20, behold I stand at the door and I knock. Which is a jarring image is it not? What's Jesus doing on the outside of his church?

Even more jarring how did they not know he's not there? How could you be in church for as long as these people were in church and not even realize that Jesus is no longer a part of it? By the way when I grew up this verse was always used to give to somebody who was not a believer right? Hey Jesus is standing at your heart's door he's knocking he wants to come in and that is fine by the way as an application of this verse there's nothing wrong with that but the primary context of this verse is not unbelievers who are accepting Jesus into their heart. The primary context of this verse is a church that has gotten so self-sufficient and has become so comfortable and so so lazy that Jesus is not even in the church anymore and they don't even realize it. Can you think of a better picture of believers in the American church? Again I'm one of us so I'm not hating on you but when Christians in poorer parts of the world come to the U.S. and they visit our churches we think they come in they just oh be amazed at all that look at the great worship and man look at all the stuff you got. Typically at least in my experience they're appalled by our lukewarmness by how little we pray by how little desperation there is in our prayers how little we give by how much we spend on ourselves by by by the things that we feel like we can't live without they are appalled at how afraid we are to identify ourselves as Christians in public or how lazy we are at sharing Christ with others when some of them literally live at risk of death or imprisonment if they share Christ. I told you a few weeks ago about one of our church planters over in central Asia whose little house church was stuck and hadn't grown in six or seven months remember I told you that he had them he said the problem is you're not sharing Christ with anybody so we had to take out a piece of paper and write down five names of people in their lives that they knew needed Jesus write down five names of people who need Jesus and he says now let's go back and circle the one that is the least likely to kill you or turn you into the police if you tell them about Jesus that's who we're gonna pray about you sharing Christ with this week and then they come over here and they hang out with us and we're like yeah I just don't want to tell my co-workers about Jesus because it makes me and them feel weird and they're like I I tell my people about Jesus and I do so under the threat of punishment or even execution in every possible way we mirror the Laodicean church now be clear on this lukewarm does not mean hypocritical a hypocrite is a liar it's somebody's two-face somebody who says one thing and does another these believers in Laodicea are actually pretty consistent they do not feel desperate for God and that is reflected in the lukewarmness of their obedience and in the lameness of their worship they are they're they're consistent they're just not on they haven't even the warmth of passion for Jesus nor the distinctiveness of behavior that makes them like a cold shower Jesus says the most negative thing he could have said he doesn't say I'm angry with you he says you make me want to vomit there's something personal and visceral about his reaction by the way that decision of that decision to vomit it's usually not a conscious decision I don't tell you about something disgusting you say that's disgusting I choose to vomit right it's just it's just a reaction right you can't control it Jesus says I look at you and I want to vomit that's how disgusting I find this now ask yourself why why would Jesus have such a visceral response to lukewarm Christianity well I have to think first Jesus has to see it as an absolutely disrespectful response to his grace I mean after who Jesus claimed to be and after Jesus did what he said he did for us how could we ever respond with lukewarm passion or boredom there's only two reactions that really make sense to Jesus or make sense in light of who Jesus is worship or mockery those are the reactions you see in the new testament people either fall on their face and say you're the lord or they disdain and mock him and say you're a traitor they either call for his crucifixion or they fall on their faces in worship the one reaction you never get in the new testament is boredom yet that is precisely the reaction of most lukewarm Christians in America which means the only conclusion must be that they've never really understood who Jesus is or the desperate condition that they are in without him hey I've described it to you before like this I'm like you know if you came home from a you were out one afternoon you came home and there's a guy sitting on your porch and one of your friends sat on your porch and he says hey just want you to know that while you were out shopping while you're out today some a guy came by who you owed some money to but man don't worry about it I paid your debt for you and I asked you I was like how do you respond to that friend the answer is it depends on how much they paid right I mean if they were like if they're like the postman came by and you were short on a stamp you know you didn't have enough postage have enough postage and so I paid the extra 35 cents to you know get the right postage on there right you're gonna you know kind of slap your friend in the back say man you're a great friend thanks a lot for that but if they say to you well the guy that came by was from the mafia and all of your gambling debts have caught up with you you owed nine and a half million dollars to the mafia and they were here to kill you but don't worry about it I paid it right it's not appropriate to slap them on the back and say thank you you fall at their feet and say commend me right my life belongs to you now in light of who Jesus is and what he has done for us a bored reaction doesn't make any sense there's only two possible reactions one is total worship or the other is total mockery you got to make up your mind be hot or cold is he who he said he is or did he do what he said he did is eternity as long as he said he is did he do on the cross did he save you from sin like he said so Jesus I think reacts that way because it's just a total a total obscuring of who he is and what he's done the second reason I think it makes him want to vomit is it tells the rest of the world a lie about him I'm used to the single biggest cause of atheism is people who claim to know God but are not distinct from any the world in any way just listen to stories of atheists most of them grew up in Christian homes or around Christian communities and what happened is they got to a point where they saw that God really made no difference in everybody's lives so they just assumed he wasn't real to begin with when we live in a way that is not distinct from the world around us we tell a lie about who God is our lives our morals our giving it was supposed to scream worthiness and the reality of God it's one of the reasons that our worship is so important in here you realize that when we come in here to worship we're not just singing for Jesus he loves our singing yes we're also singing for each other and we're putting the worthiness of Jesus on display and when somebody comes in who doesn't know Jesus and they see us singing about Jesus and we got our hands in our pocket a coffee cup in our hand or a bored look on our face we're looking around looking at our phone talking to our friends we tell them he's not that awesome that is our moment to put on display who he is and my worship is supposed to show his worth ship that's where we get the word worship from I am putting his worth on display and I want to tell everybody this is how grateful I am for who he is and this is how awesome I think he is I think Jesus wants to vomit because he realizes it's the single greatest distraction people have from actually coming to faith we have got a church that is not that distinct from the world around it and it is causing more people to walk away from God and you would say even it is causing people to walk toward God the irony is we keep telling ourselves hey we keep telling ourselves if we become more like the world if we have if we have as good of music as the world and if we are not as offensive and the morals that we preach if we just kind of you know if we're we're like everybody else they'll want to come in and be a part of us but the more we become like the world the less relevant and useful we become to anybody you're listening to summit life the bible teaching ministry of pastor author and theologian jd greer pastor jd as we look ahead to a new year a lot of people are setting goals for themselves whether that's a financial goal a health goal whatever it may be do you have any thoughts for our listeners as they're kind of looking ahead and making these plans yeah molly time is the one resource that at least humanly speaking is not renewable no matter what you do you cannot add time we all no matter where we are in life get the same amount of time every day and so what you want to do is make the most out of that time just like God will hold us responsible for how we use our our treasure and our talents he also holds us responsible for how we steward our time and so to help you in the pursuit of the wise use of time we put together something special for you it's a day planner an agenda call whatever you want it's it's a tool designed to assist you in structuring your days so that you accomplish what you want to accomplish and so you have maximum impact we've even put a bible reading plan into it this year that's going to help you maintain what i would consider to be the most vital spiritual discipline don't let this opportunity slip through your fingers head on over to jdgrier.com donate today so that you can secure this valuable resource thanks jd with your generous gifts we can continue to expand to new stations across the country transforming hearts and lives as people dive deeper into the gospel with us be sure to ask for a copy of the 2024 summit life planner when you give a generous year-end gift today by calling 866-335-5220 or request the planner when you give online at jdgrier.com i'm molly vidovich and guess what tomorrow is the last official program of 2023 and we're ending the year the way that we began by opening god's word and learning to love jesus more each day so we'll see you friday right here on summit life with jd greer today's program was produced and sponsored by jd greer ministries
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-28 10:14:29 / 2023-12-28 10:25:24 / 11

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