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To the Church in Laodicea

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
November 13, 2020 7:00 am

To the Church in Laodicea

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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November 13, 2020 7:00 am

Knock, knock. Whos there? Jesus. Jesus who? That may sound like a joke, but its not. Not for the church in Laodicea, or any church, that has to ask, Jesus who? The last letter in Revelation is to a church that had closed the door on Jesus and no longer recognized his voice.

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Welcome to the final studio radio and Internet ministry of confessing Evangelicals featuring the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce for more information please contact us by calling toll-free one 804 88 18 and now the alliance is pleased to present the Bible study our preparing you to think and act biblically. Very strange thing about doors and use them in order to keep people from going out or coming in, closing the door like the door of a prison or use doors open them to allow people to commit and go out.

Hopefully the doors of most churches are like that allowing people to come into worship God and go out to service now in the case of Philadelphia church for which the last letter of Jesus in Revelation 3 was addressed was an open door Jesus. In such an open door before the church is an open door entrance into the kingdom of an open-door administrator. But now, in the case of the church in Laodicea we find is that they church had closed the door of their fellowship must understand that in order to keep Christ out. It was a door that church itself had to throw open.

Interesting to compare those 2X Christ's letter to the church in Philadelphia contains no criticism letter was a really bright high point in this collection. Sadly, his letter to the church at Laodicea contains no praise was a church was self-satisfied and complacent and what was worse, it wasn't even aware of it sent spiritual condition may remember that line in the comic strip Pogo years ago, probably the most famous line ever spoken by that comic strip philosopher Pogo said on one occasion we have met the enemy and he is us. Remember that very wise but this church in Laodicea had not met the enemy because the church didn't know that they were it. Jesus called the church lukewarm is not a fair assessment of many churches today John so I think so and his exposition on the seven letters to the churches. He wrote perhaps none of the seven letters is more appropriate.

The 20th century church than this describes vividly the respectable sentimental mama moleskin date religiosity which is so widespread today. Our Christianity is flabby and anemic. We appear to have taken the lukewarm laugh of religion (something about the city in the church.

Glad to see him was about 45 miles southeast of Philadelphia in about 100 miles east and slightly south of Ephesus lay in likeness Valley along with two other cities where there were churches, Harry Coppola some Colossae did been founded about the middle of the third century BC by a king's name was auntie August 2, in order to guard the way to Phrygia and it'd been settled with Syrians and with Jews from Babylon is called Laodicea because Antioch is named after his wife Leo to say number of features of the city that give color to the kind of things that are said to it in the letter are interesting to know for one thing that Laodicea was located near an area of hot Springs. We didn't have a very good water supply itself that did bring in water through an aqueduct, about 6 miles one from a town called DeNisi and what that meant was that the water was lukewarm by the time it got there other thing the city was famous for was school of medicine produced, among other things, a remedy for week eyes recall substance. Clearly, I called it Phrygian Powder Laodicea were also raised sheep produced a soft black wool and of course at a clothing industry based upon the production of the wall, but most of all, Laodicea was famous for its wealth and land that meeting point of three great highways and although it had a slow beginning eventually prospered under Roman rule was the home of bankers, traders and millionaires I mentioned in passing when talking about the other letters that there was an earthquake in that area in a B-17 of the government help rebuild the cities that was true Laodicea but another earthquake came some years later, 80, 61 so far before the time in which this letter was written and when that happened town so proud of its wealth that it declined the offer of the government actually to help rebuild the city. Tacitus writes about. He said in his annals. One of the most famous cities of Asia Laodicea was in that same year overthrown by an earthquake and without any relief from us recovered itself by its own resources.

Other classical references are all great orator. He was traveling through the area cashed large bank drafts Laodicea because it was a banking capital where the church come from. It must've been founded during the time of Paul's missionary work in Ephesus so not by Paul himself probably was founded by his colleague at conference is commended in Colossians 4, chapters 12 and 13 for his hard work on the Christians of these cities.

Paul considered Laodicea to be a part of his mission field. He mentions that in Colossians 21 and he asked the Colossians to convey greetings to the believers.

There wrote a letter to this church although we lost at the less it's actually a copy of the letter to the Ephesians, which is what some scholars think the important point is that by the time John wrote his letter included in the book of Revelation spiritual condition of this church in Laodicea had deteriorated badly, people, and become just like the world around them. At the same proud attitude they thought their wealth was a proof of God's special favor to the worst of all, they had no awareness of sin. I didn't think they needed to repent, because, well they are doing just fine. What in the world that they have the repent of the church in Sardis was described as nearly dead, but at least it had a remnant of faithful believers, but no remnant is mentioned for this church at Laodicea. Jesus tells the Christians at Laodicea as it is disgusted with him and make him sick.

Says he's actually ready to spit them out its durable language. Anybody who was red Dale Carnegie's classic book on self improvement how to win friends and influence his people know that you don't get people to change by criticizing the least of all by language like this, but of course that's exactly what Jesus does, he does criticize this church and moreover he insists that his judgment is right, because of the very beginning of the letter, he identifies himself as the Aman, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God's creation.

These descriptive phrases don't go back to that vision of Jesus. John describes in the first chapter, but the words faithful witness to go back to John's own introduction of Jesus in the first chapter verse five Jesus indicates there is the one who in his trial before Pilate told the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth. He always tells the truth and is continuing to tell the truth here. That's why his witnesses called faithful and true is also called the Aman is a common word means truly so be it is regularly to express a sense agreement. Sometimes our Bibles it's translated truly truly are in the older versions.

Verily, verily, that's the way it is and I agree with that. Only twice in the whole Bible is used as a name as it is here in the other occasion is in Isaiah 6516 access think that John probably has that in mind as he describes Jesus as the Aman in Revelation.

Now in the new international version versus translated. Whoever invokes a blessing in the land will do so by the God of truth Hebrew text words are literally the God of the Aman.

When Jesus calls himself the Aman, the faithful and true witness is not only saying that his words are true and to be trusted is identifying himself with God the Almighty. The altogether truthful.

One all has similar use of that word. A man in second Corinthians 120 no matter how many promises God has made.

They are yes in Christ, and so through him the Aman spoken by us to the glory of God and Jesus also describes himself as the ruler over God's creation, Paul uses the word in the sense of ruling, all things are creating all things in Colossians 118 where and arbors of the word is translated beginning was like this. He's the head of the body, the church is the beginning was the word coming the beginning source are also the ruler of the firstborn among the data. That's what Jesus says of this church which he writes the letter that we need to look at his evaluation of the church carefully and especially we have to do so with ourselves in mind, we have to say. Are we like this but he wants to make Jesus sick like this, of course, that's exactly what he saying to us what is it that made the Lord. Six. Strikingly, it's not what we might suspect, we might say well what would really bother him in some false doctrine but is not that dangerous as false doctrine is is not disgusted with them because I fallen into idolatry or compromise with the moral standards of the world bandage that maybe is not disgusted with them because they have left their first love.

That's what he said to the church of Ephesus, but he didn't say that he was disgusted with our church all those things are bad and challenges the other churches in those areas. But that's not what makes them sick. What makes Jesus sick is that the church was lukewarm, which means that it was sinfully self-satisfied that it was oblivious to its true spiritual condition. Let's look at those first of all, they were lukewarm.

Jesus says I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot.

I wish you would either one of the other because you are lukewarm, either hot or cold. I'm going to spit you out of my mouth, the nearby city of Heliopolis had well-known additional hot Springs city of Colossae all that far away. Beautiful, cold, refreshing water later to see a headband water and when they tried to bring it in with the aqueduct. As I indicated, became lukewarm, but although that's the background of these words, you don't need that kind of archaeological pretty and understand what Jesus is saying here what he saying is that this church was just nearly dead in lukewarm church in Smyrna was hot. Flaming was the only church in Sardis was cold like a corpse is called the Sturgeon Laodicea was neither cold nor hot, was alive was sadly apathetic and Pilgrim's progress.

John Bunyan has a character called Mr. facing both ways Christian gas gas not passionately Sturgeon Laodicea was perfectly able to get on with the world around it because it was very much like the world somebody said of another dispassionate person he is as insipid as the white of an egg.

That's what this church was like people who study Revelation have trouble understanding how Jesus would say that he would rather church were cold or hot lukewarm course.

It's easy to understand. Hot church is what you want. Of course, a passionate one cold here today church can always be revived.

But what you do with one that's lukewarm and self-satisfied afford to do anything with such people. When Jesus seems to be indicating here is the best thing he doesn't do spit them out and start over again. How can a body of believers who know the greatest news world is ever heard become in different or be lukewarm and living it out only be one explanation I had drifted so far from Christ that they have lost the joy of their salvation. That's very unnecessary and it is very tragic. Many churches are filled with people just like that today. Professing Christians they have no real zeal for Christ. When anyone, the Savior, you say well asked but I belong to a lively church. My church is on fire. Look at all the things that it's doing you can belong to a very lively church and be lukewarm yourself and say how can I do that well you can just get nominal attendance going on Sunday because of course that's what you really ought to do not actually becoming active neglect, Bible study, you can find prayer difficult. You can enjoy the company of the world more than the company of Christian people, you can drift on never reading the Christian book attending a Christian conference aspiring pretty great thing for God and be utterly indifferent to those with whom you work are perishing.

Apart from Jesus Christ. That's a lukewarm Christian.

I daresay can belong to a church like 10th Presbyterian Church be exactly like that of the church is filled up with enough people like that the church loses its fire falls under the condition of the church at Laodicea Valley. Also, self-satisfied discos, along with their lukewarm condition just means they were blissfully content to be as they were. They thought they had everything they could possibly want that they did achieve everything I could possibly achieve. After all, they had a big church was beautiful. I suppose I have all sorts of rich programs. What they said in verse 17 is this, I am rich, I acquired wealth. I don't need say was that material wealth or spiritual wealth of data was both probably use the one is proof that they were fine and the other after all, God has blessed us materially look at all the money we have at our budget, people give must be satisfied with the spiritually. Jesus says to a church like that is that they didn't understand it at all the contents in their supposed superiority because of their money is people who have lots of money off of our they didn't under stand that they were actually poor immigrants blind. That's what he says next they were ignorant of their true condition but did not realize that they were wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked and all the Bible. I don't think there's an expression that is more comprehensive. The devastating denunciation of alleged people of God in that short sent's wretched, pitiful, poor, blind naked, they thought they were rich and prospering, but they were actually poor they thought they were so well-off they should be envied the whole world to be like them Jesus as they were actually to be pitied. Remember what God said to Israel in the Old Testament of the book of Hosea using the word Ephraim to describe the nation. Ephraim boasts I am very rich I have become wealthy, with all my wealth, they will not find in me any iniquity or sin met an interesting combination of physical riches and the assumption that because we have them. We must be right with God. These believers were actually poor in the sight of God. They thought they were spiritually perceptive. A guide for the blinding light for those who are in the dark instructor of the foolish teacher of infants is what Paul writes in Romans Tobit they were blind not only to the state of the world.

They were blind even to their own spiritual condition.

I thought they were close righteousness, they were actually spiritually naked before God. What she's going to say people like this is your like that going to say to you is disgusted with them. Maybe disgusted with you about to spit them out of his mouth like something horrible but surprisingly after he's explained their stated how he sees them. Instead of speaking harshly. He actually stoops to offer counsel recently offers it explains in verse 19, it's because he loves them all their failures. This is nevertheless a church composed of his people whom he loves me wants to bring to repentance is about to spit them out of his mouth but he hasn't done it yet. His words remarkably gentle these self-satisfied materialists discuss them, but what he does is advise him to buy gold refined in the fire so they can really be rich white clothes to wear to cover their shameful nakedness. Since I have to put on their eyes so they can see refined gold you know is a biblical image or idiom for righteousness of being purified from sin, Job 2310 says he knows the way that I take when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold. Malachi uses the imagery known very well because the words are picked up and used in Handel's Messiah who can endure the day of his coming. Who shall stand when he appears, he will be like a refiner's fire or wanderer slope will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver white clothes conveys the same idea white stands for purity, reward of living for Christ white garment was promised of the faithful in Sardis because they have not soiled their clothes would see not already verse four and later in Revelation were going to find this counsel obviously from Jesus himself speaking to those on earth, he says, behold, I come like a thief. Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed and there's 1/3 image, so I have going to rise so they can see it's a picture of the healing what's needed if we are to see our spiritual blindness perceiving rightly and be cured. Words remind us of John my Jesus made salve and anointed the eyes of the man who had been blind from birth. He received physical sight but far more important than that was the spiritual side of CNET's progressive understanding of who Jesus was, at the very beginning because of just a man later in the story.

A prophet finally a man who's been sent from God and then finally he ends up calling him Lord, and he falls down at Christ's feet to worship him. We need need the spiritual site enables us to see our sin, repent of the sin and flee to Jesus Christ. Where cleansing and holiness may be found. John Newton, former slave trader turned preacher in his early life was as blind as anyone could be after he been converted wrote about it in his words go like this amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see what would get this church of self-satisfied blind materialists to come to Jesus for the gold upright character of the white garments of personal righteousness in the slab would enable them to see Christ counsel alone. People receive counsel every day and rejected know of anything would draw them to Christ.

It would be apprehending what Jesus says next verse 19 those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. What draws us Christ's love. It's not a man be family undemanding kind of love.

It's not indifference. I was the sin of the church of Laodicea.

It's rather an honest love that brings rebuke and provides discipline versus a close quotation of something is found in Proverbs 312 the Lord disciplines those he loves, because Jesus loves the city process. Repent and to be zealous, you notice that the new international version translates this is be Ernest's right doesn't preserve the unique sense of the word for this letter in the Greek language the word is actually saying that all we got our words seal zealous and zealot really means to be caught or boiling. That's what Jesus is asking the church to be debate heated up that they were to please Christ. They needed to be zealous in serving that many churches are not like that. There's a story about an atheist from a small town in Tennessee never went to church when everybody would go to church on Sunday morning or evening or on Wednesday night. He'd sit outside little store on the main Street in the city whittling little figures of making fun of the church one day the church caught fire was no fire department and the buildings are everybody in this little town, so everybody formed a fire brigade, and this man's name was uncle George pitched. Janet was actually at the head of the line throwing water on the flames.

The pastor was there. The pastor said to those of the first time ever saw you at church. Uncle George was uncle George replied is the first time I ever saw church on fire and we got on fire for Jesus Christ.

People will be attracted to it and they'll believe on him was a famous first year that comes toward the end.

Revelation 325 and used as an evangelistic text used picture Jesus standing helplessly at the door.

The sinners heartbreaking to commend but it's not an evangelistic text version is like that happens in conversion is through the preaching of the word Jesus speaks the word heart turns around and brings people to camp some what's happening here. Here Jesus is knocking at the close parts of those work is but who have turned their backs on them and shut them out of their complacent, self-satisfied, worldly Christian lives mocking Christ as an image of Jesus calling unbelievers give their hearts to him calling drifting worldly believers to sincere repentance and renewal of the commentators, Steve, Greg says, familiar as an evangelistic text for sinners. This verse in context actually expresses Christ's feelings of being an outsider from his own church desiring to be invited back in been in many churches are. I think Jesus Christ is been walked out, the people inside and found them to be too honest to disturbing to commanding, to collate for their worldly compromising state they don't mind going on being religious thing lipservice to Jesus Christ but I don't want them in their requiring anything of my so I can't help but ask you a Christian like you keeping Jesus on the outside because you don't want to actually respond to what he may say to you, or require of you fits the case is because you're simply self-satisfied with your insipid life. Maybe you've seen a copy of that famous painting by Holman Hunt which is actually hanging in St. Paul's Cathedral in London, Jesus was standing by a closed door. The hinges rusting was no handle on the outside of the door, finds cover the side posts in the lintel's hand is raised ready to block been a very powerful painting and many stories told about it. But here's one applies to what were saying here. Father took his little girl to see the painting and she stood there very moved by contemplating it very seriously and finally she asked her father. Father that he ever get in very good question. Apparently didn't get into the church in Laodicea because it soon ceased to be your shutting Jesus out as he ever going to get in to eat fellowship with you the letter to the church affiant, Tyra, Christ's appeal was to a remnant's artists. There were still a few people who were present but here Laodicea. The appeal is to anyone just anyone to the individual believer is to you on John's vision in chapter 1 Jesus is seen standing in the midst of the lampstands represent the seven churches in the vision to, chapters 4 and five seen as the one who is the Lamb before the father's throne here. He seated upon his father's throne offering the right to sit with him to wall read these words and overcome important factors. It is already enthroned promises of those who overcome in this life will reign with him in his kingdom will ask her to harsh expectations. This, to hear what the Spirit is saying to the church is will you hear you alter your life. As a result, we all have to do that we have to always repenting was a pastor named Francis McConnell and he once painted a word picture of the Boxer Rebellion in China.

At the close of the last century and the beginning of this one in which hundreds of Chinese Christians were martyred as word picture. He described them kneeling with her heads on the execution blocks the executioner standing there with drawn swords in their hands. All the Christians needed to do to escape death is the grunt. A mere word indicating that they were willing to renounce their Christianity in order to be saved and the pastor asked this he said what what I have done under those circumstances, and the answer for himself and others. I speak. He said not only personally but in a representative capacity right think the rest of you are very much like myself, my head on the block. I think that I should of said hold on a minute I think I can make a statement will prove satisfactory to both sides.

Many Christians trying to do that may be the way you are living in the world, but that is exactly what makes Jesus Christ sick when he tells you to do is repent of to live a lukewarm Christian life but to get on fire for Jesus Christ and for heaven's sake, do something worthwhile for him our father. We see ourselves in the picture.

Forgive us for our sin of self contentment in our lukewarm spirit Kindle fire will awaken us to the glories of the gospel and point others to that one in whom alone they can be saved. We pray in his name. You are listening to Bible study hours with the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals.

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