Wealth Weighs (Revelation 3:14-22)

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Almost every dad loves a good knock-knock joke. Here are few…

  • Knock! Knock! Who’s there? Spell who? W-H-O.
  • Knock! Knock! Who’s there? Oink oink. Oink oink who? Make up your mind, are you a pig or an owl?
  • Knock! Knock! Who’s there? Etch. Etch who? God bless you.
  • Knock! Knock! Who’s there? Hatch. Hatch who? God bless you again.
  • Knock! Knock! Who’s there? Broken Pencil. Broken pencil who? Nevermind, it’s pointless.
  • Why doesn’t America like knock knock jokes? Because freedom rings.
  • Knock! Knock! Who’s there? The Lord. The Lord who? The Lord who opens doors and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens (Rev 3:7).

 

As we reach the last letter of the 7 churches in Revelation, the Laodicea Church repeats the door theme from Jesus, where the Lord and Savior – the Chief Shepherd of the Church – is knocking on the door of the church but without response.

Let’s look at Revelation 3:14-22 and see three realities with each application.

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EXAMINE

Revelation 3:14
14  “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation.

Jesus communicates with His church; are we listening?  

Jesus writes to the angel of the church. As in all the churches, we see Jesus reaching out for relationship. Christianity is God initiating communication with us having to respond. We cannot reach God without Him revealing Himself. So far in Revelation 1-3 we have seen God unveiling insight and interaction with the church. In the case of the letters to the 7 Churches, the angel of the church receives a letter from Jesus. Whether the church angel is an elder/pastor (my view), church leader or member, we are uncertain. But we know Jesus communicates and we must listen.

The church was in Laodicea.

  • Laodicea was like a Nordstrom Dept Store, John Hopkins Hospital, and Bank of America all rolled into one.
  • Another prosperous city, known for being for being a center of trade and communication between other Roman cities. Much of its wealth came from production of glossy, raven black wool from local sheep (dyed or original unknown), as well as wealth from its school of medicine, known for “Phrygian Powder” used to help cure eye and ear defects. Resulting from its wealth was a banking center that exchanged currency in a trade route and sustained the city’s economic industry.
  • City had an earthquake in A.D. 60, which destroyed large amounts of the city. However, the city’s affluence made it possible to rebuild on its own wealth without help from the Roman government.
  • Geographically, the city was located 10 miles east from Colossae (Colossians). It was a strategic crossroads from Ephesus towards East Asia. Colossae became known for a cold spring of water that arrived from a nearby mountain, perhaps during the referenced earthquake. Further, to the north was Hierapolis, which was known for its famous hot springs and mineral spa baths. In antiquity and present, people flocked to Hierapolis for the medicinal healing of the hot mineral springs.
  • However, Laodicea was in sharp contrast to the hot and cold springs and because of its affluence had developed a considerable aqueduct system to have water piped into its city.
  • The Laodicean Church likely was started from the Epaphras spreading of the gospel (Col 1:7; 2:1; 4:12-16). Paul also influenced the church with its proximity to Colossae and on the route to Ephesus.
    • Laodicea receives no commendation, only correction (like Sardis who was described spiritually dead).
    • While the church does not appear to be directly involved with immorality or idolatry, it still receives one of the harshest critiques. Why? Pride is a powerful influence leading people to walk away from God. Self-sufficiency is equally sinful as self-indulgence.
      • Too often this describes American Christianity. While there can be a lot of critique about immorality inside the church – largely American Christianity is losing impact because it was built on the labor of a previous generation but the next generation has grown lethargic and apathetic. It seems more concerned about comfort than Christ, more passionate about entertainment than equipping disciples to be an army, more focused on the Sunday show than what it means to serve God in a lifestyle.

All of these characteristics of the city will be featured by Jesus in application.

Jesus

  • Amen: truly/certainly, so let it be… says: this message resonates in our heart and reverberates in our soul.
    • 2 Corinthians 1:20 “all the promises of God find their yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.” When we pray according to the will of Jesus, we can trust the certainty of God’s promise to confirm its happening.
    • We use amen as the final word to a prayer, but to God it’s just the beginning of His work. While our prayers may end, God never sleeps or slumbers to work in ways beyond our comprehension.
    • ALKBC – after prayers everyone said “Amen.” We unite our amen asking for God’s attention.
    • PZ… Helen White as my amen corner. I/we need this crowd to grow!
  • The faithful and true witness: Jesus recalls himself as the faithful witness (Rev 1:5). In a #fakenews world we need the trustworthiness of Jesus’s witness and God’s word.
  • the beginning [ἀρχή, first, chief] of God’s creation: Jesus is not created and has no beginning, but rather is the (arche) chief source, the cause, the originator through whom all creation derives its existence and purpose. Jesus is the Creator (Col 1; Heb 1) and the ruler over the new creation (2Cor 5:17; Rev 21-22).
    • JW/Mormon believes Jesus was a created being and thus a lesser deity not equal to God. “There was a time when the Son was not.” This heresy was condemned with its proponent Arius in 325AD.
    • John 1:1-3 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.”
  • An alarm system is only as good as its connection to the communication system. If your security alarm is not connected to a battery source or to 911 system, then you will not be alerted to problem or peril. If your smoke alarm has a dead battery, it will not be able to alert you to danger. Likewise, God’s word is like an alarm system to communicate warnings and guidance for our life. Therefore, we must stay connected to God’s alarm systems – Scripture, spiritual disciplines, the saints.

Revelation 3:15-19

15  “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot!
16  So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.
17  For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.

18  I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see.
19  Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.

 

Jesus corrects His church; are we repenting?  

The comprehensive knowledge of Jesus permeates each letter to the 7 churches. Jesus’s eyes are piercing and penetrating to see all our deeds good and bad.

In the case of the Laodicea Church, he is unmistakably unhappy with them.

  • Neither cold nor hot… lukewarm.
    • Jesus is not saying, “I wish you would either go all in with faith or all in with atheism.” It is inaccurate to view the opposite of love as hatred. Hatred still has passion, just altered in negative emotion. The opposite of love is lethargy and apathy.
      • They didn’t have the hot spring healing from Hierapolis or the refreshing cool water of Colossae. Instead, Laodicea was known for lukewarm water filled with minerals that caused the water to stench and stale.
    • Jesus is saying, “I wish you were good for something – you’re nothing without Me (Jn 15:5). Your arrogance is nauseating. Your pride is sickening. Your actions make me want to vomit.” This is the harshest critique Jesus gives, and it’s obvious the spiritual condition of Laodicea needed significant help, but shockingly they were completely unaware.
      • Affluence can lead to apathy; prosperity can decrease our dependency.
      • Wealth is a weight that squeezes the soul with one of two traits to spill out: greed or generosity.Proverbs 30:8-9 “give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.”
  • Rich, prospered and need nothing, but not realizing you are…wretched (ταλαίπωρος; one beaten down and miserable; cf Rom 7:24). The idea is a person miserable with severe side effects from ongoing strain; they’ve grown callous to any new problems and all the pain. They are in a state of unrest, unhappiness, never content, and without hope.
    • pitiful (ἐλεεινός; desperate need of mercy). Imagine a person speeding downhill without brakes and the bridge is out at the bottom. They’re in great need of relief and rescue!
    • poor (πτωχός; begging poor, grinding poverty). A community full of wealth was empty of worth. You can gain the whole world but lose your soul.
      • For the unbeliever, this world is as close to heaven as you’ll get.
      • For the believer, this world is as close to hell as you’ll ever be.
      • Let us be sure which world we are storing up treasure.
    • blind. They could not see and were blind. Again, the irony for a community that boasted of helping others to see with its medicinal tech, yet the church had no spiritual awareness of their emptiness or discernment for what God desired.
    • They were unproperly covered. The irony for a community that boasted of its fine fabrics and woolen industry was exposed naked and humiliated before holy God.

 

Jesus loved the church too much to leave it in its sin. His grace reached the depths of their depravity. His discipline was a sign of His devotion to the church. Jesus could have removed its lampstand (Holy Spirit), but instead He’s giving the church time for repentance. He counseled them to pursue pure gold (faith), to prioritize right clothing (holiness), and receive healing eye ointment (wisdom).

  • A word about discipline… All our sin is paid for on the cross, so God is not seeking retribution through discipline. God’s discipline is not to pay us back but to bring us back; it’s not to get us but to grow us into whom we should be. It’s possible a difficult circumstance is in your life because of God’s discipline. When this happens, the key is not to ask God “Why me?” but two questions: 1) “For what purpose?” There are lessons to learn in every problem. 2) “Who else?” Look for others experiencing similar suffering and comfort them with the comfort you’ve received in Christ & God’s promises (2Cor 1).
  • Part of what it means to be lukewarm is to be spiritually satisfied / status quo, and not pursuing growth. At SPBC, we have 3 aims of growth:
    1) Loving God: How are you growing in grace? Measured by convictions (Scripture) and character.
    2) Living Jesus to others: How are you sharing your time, talents, treasure? Measured by ministry competency skills and generosity.
    3) Leading Generations: #WhosYour1 Measured by disciples making disciples who make disciples.

rev 3_20 pic

Revelation 3:20-22
20  Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.
21  The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.
22  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”

Jesus completes His church; are we welcoming and worshiping?  

Jesus is not just knocking on the door, but he is also speaking from the outside. His voice can be heard through the door. He is doing everything possible for us to experience the fullness of family relationship that God offers to us. The family relationship is described by eating – the ultimate fellowship with God. Further, we will sit on the throne with God; perhaps Father God will have all his children sitting on his lap while he rules over the world. Can you visualize all this imagery in the words of Jesus?

  • What are the areas of your life that are unwelcoming to Jesus; where you are keeping Jesus on the outside?

APPLY/THINK

Summary application

  • Each letter reveals the majesty and might of Jesus. Jesus is not the politically correct god who winks at sin and endlessly tolerates disobedience. Jesus is not the sacred Santa to give us all our wishes. Jesus is not our therapist who simply listens and never holds us accountable for implementing His advice. Jesus is the Lord – the God who knows and sees all and will separate those who repented from sin away from those who rejected the Savior. God made humanity in His image and we’ve been repaying the favor ever since… let’s not do such. Make sure you see Jesus rightly by reading the Jesus of the Bible.
  • When the churches come together, they have a clear and complete vision of Jesus. SPBC must continue working together with its sister churches, as well as cooperatively through BCMD-NAMB-IMB (IMB Lottie Moon offering coming in December; start preparing $ as greatest xmas gift).
  • Jesus loves Christians enough to commend and correct. If you are experiencing discipline through confusion or negative consequences, thank the Lord for grace that forgives our sin but also invites us to second chances. God’s grace is full of fresh starts to begin again wherever you are in life.
    • But the love of Jesus does not limit His Lordship. The time for conversion and change is now.
  • Jesus loves the church enough to commend and correct. While there are many stats and cultural trends that want to put the church on death row, we have a Lord who specializes in raising the dead. Just as Martin Luther knocked on the door of the church with his theses calling the church to reform, so Jesus knocks on today’s church door to revive.
    • 80% plateau/decline, 3K die each year, and 80% churches stay under 100 members.
    • But, Jesus promises the gates of hell will not prevail, so we evaluate that we are part of the true church preaching a true gospel with the truth of Scripture and we stay faithful.
    • Yet, Jesus did not die for a bride who would keep Him on the outside porch while she sits inside comfortably on the couch eating bread & wine. No, Jesus wants the church not to be a cruise ship but a battle ship fighting for the souls of its community and the world.

Ultimately, Jesus didn’t just write a letter to us, He gave His life for us.

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