Revelation # 11 Revelation 3:14-22 (MSG) End Time Dilemma: Doing Nothing


Revelation # 11 Revelation 3:14-22 (MSG) End Time Dilemma:  Doing Nothing


Ephesus is infected with a spirit of judgmentalism. Smyrna is in danger of giving in. Pergamum is contaminated with a spirit of compromise. Thyatira tolerates false teachers. Sardis looks alive but it’s a false front, they’re dealing with hypocrisy. Philadelphia needs to stay strong.  Now Jesus turns His attention to the congregation in the city of Laodicea. 

Laodicea was a wealthy city, maybe one of the wealthiest in the day.  It was a center for banking.  It was known for its clothing manufacture and export.  The city also boasted a medical school and hospital.  The medical folks were famous for their ointment for ears and eyes.  This school and hospital were part of a temple dedicated to Men (Meh-n) Carou the god of fertility, healing, and trade. Laodicea also had a thriving imperial cult. The city was located by several hot springs, the city utilized aqueducts stretching 6 miles to bring the water in which was used for drinking and irrigation.  There was also a large Jewish population.  As we shall read, there is no apparent persecution of Christians. Probably members of this congregation were well-connected and affluent. Archippus was the bishop, the one charged with nurturing the spiritual welfare of the Christians in that area. In Paul’s letter to the Colossians (4:17) he sternly writes: “Say to Archippus, “See that you fulfill the ministry which you have received in the Lord.”  The tone suggests that Archippus was not leading up to expectations, and this may have contributed to the decline of spiritual fervor amongst the believers over the preceding years.


Jesus tells John---


Rev 3:14-22 (MSG)

Write to Laodicea, to the Angel of the church. God's Yes, the Faithful and Accurate Witness, the First of God's creation, says:


15 "I know you inside and out, and find little to my liking. You're not cold, you're not hot—far better to be either cold or hot! You're stale. You're stagnant. You make me want to vomit. You brag, 'I'm rich, I've got it made, I need nothing from anyone,' oblivious that in fact you're a pitiful, blind beggar, threadbare and homeless.


18 "Here's what I want you to do: Buy your gold from me, gold that's been through the refiner's fire. Then you'll be rich. Buy your clothes from me, clothes designed in Heaven. You've gone around half-naked long enough. And buy medicine for your eyes from me so you can see, really see.


19 "The people I love, I call to account—prod and correct and guide so that they'll live at their best. Up on your feet, then! About face! Run after God!


20 "Look at me. I stand at the door. I knock. If you hear me call and open the door, I'll come right in and sit down to supper with you. Conquerors will sit alongside me at the head table, just as I, having conquered, took the place of honor at the side of my Father. That's my gift to the conquerors!


22 "Are your ears awake? Listen. Listen to the Wind Words, the Spirit blowing through the churches."


Jesus introduces himself as God’s Yes, God’s Amen.  The title relates to Isaiah 65:16 which can be understood to mean that that Jesus is the faithful one, the reliable one, and the trustworthy one, who can be trusted to keep His promises (Ladd, p 65). The first of God’s creation is very misleading because it reads as if Jesus is a creation of God and not God incarnate. The scholars argue, but Jesus being the beginning, source, and origin of all creation seems to fit the idea of the original language.  Jesus is the agent of creation (John 1:3, 1 Corinthians 8:6).


The testimony through the Christian age is that Jesus can be trusted.  His teachings are a sure guide to living your life to the full.  Follow Jesus’ instruction and you will spiritually prosper.  Spiritual prosperity is knowing that you are loved and that you are loving others with the same love that God has lavished upon you.  This type of treasure is found in knowing that you have been accepted and that you have been given a place to belong.  Knowing that Jesus has secured a resurrection from death and secured life eternal, a place in all eternity, is a source of joy. Your life in Christ has meaning and purpose because as you follow Jesus, people are influenced for the Kingdom, which makes you significant.  If you want to prosper spiritually, ask Jesus to show you how. ask for His favor, ask for His guidance, invite Him into your life, follow His lead and you will prosper spiritually.


Jesus tells the Laodiceans that He knows their works. Jesus sees the heart, what motivates all you do.  This congregation is not troubled by doctrinal rigidity, persecution, false teachers, or immorality, they are simply ineffective as a witness for the Kingdom. These folks are complacent and satisfied with how things are. Jesus uses the term lukewarm.  This would be a powerful illustration for the church.  There were hot springs used for healing, to the east was Colosse with its cold spring water which the scholars have associated with refreshment.  The congregation is ineffective in bringing neither healing nor refreshment to the populace and they frankly didn’t seem to care.  Recall that the water from the hot springs is being piped 6 miles, it's lukewarm when it arrives in the city.  Again, not hot enough to heal, not cold enough to refresh.  This is a do-nothing church, full of do-nothing believers. Jesus finds them nauseating.


The believers seem to be unaware of their revolting behavior.   “You brag, 'I'm rich, I've got it made, I need nothing from anyone,' oblivious that in fact you're a pitiful, blind beggar, threadbare and homeless” (Rev 3:17 (MSG). They think they have it all together, but they are spiritually destitute. What an irony, to be financially and socially secure in the world but in the Kingdom impoverished. When you’re wealthy it’s hard to rely on God, you depend on yourself to take care of yourself.  You always have, you think you always will.  You don’t need faith when things are going well.  God is in your life, but not the center of your life, not the priority in your life, not the one who gives meaning to your life. Your life is full of other more important things. You do God things when it's convenient, when it's expected, but your agenda takes precedence.  This type of religion makes you poor, naked, and blind when it comes to nurturing a right relationship with God.


Recall that Laodicea prided itself as a banking, clothing manufacturing, and healing center. Jesus tells the folks to get their gold from Him, get their clothes from Him, get their medicine from Him.  Wealth can do a lot, but it can’t purchase love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, faithfulness, kindness, or self-control.  Fine clothes can project an image of success, but the clothes don’t make the person, outerwear doesn’t affect the inner condition of the heart.  The medicine the world tells you to take to be well, to flourish, to make you happy is just so many dead ends. The medicine of the world is poison that will kill your soul.


Take the gold that Jesus gives, and you will be spiritually rich.  Connection with God, inner peace and harmony, wisdom and understanding, compassion and empathy, love and forgiveness, gratitude and appreciation, faith and trust, will be growing in your portfolio. Take the clothes Jesus gives, and you will live a righteous life, garments of honor signifying a life in sync with the Creator, a Kingdom fashionable life, you’ll be more beautiful inside than you are beautiful outside.  Take the medicine Jesus gives and you will see things how they really are, you will know the truth and be set free to become the person God created you to be.


We all fall short in our walk with God, some more so than others, but we are susceptible to giving into sin, giving in to the status quo, and giving into indifference.  Jesus doesn’t forsake when we mess up.  He doesn’t wring His hands in frustration and say I give up on you. No, instead he prods, corrects, and guides us to get us into right standing with Him again.


Prov 3:12 (MSG)

It's the child he loves that God corrects…


Maybe this letter to the Laodiceans has caused you to reflect on your walk with Christ and your effectiveness in the Kingdom.  Maybe the Holy Spirit has prodded you awake.  Maybe the Holy Spirit has revealed an area in your life that you need to straighten out.  Maybe the Holy Spirit is showing you a better way to go.  If so this is because of Jesus’ love for you. It may be that the prodding, correcting, and guiding is unpleasant.  Sometimes it takes the Lewis Megaphone of pain to get our attention, to get us to see the need for a change.


Hebrews 12:11 (MSG)

At the time, discipline isn't much fun. It always feels like it's going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it's the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God.


For those making the change, for maturing in their relationship with God, allowing Jesus in, there is a reward. So often verse 20 is used when we share the gospel.  Jesus is knocking at your door, let him in.  You’ve seen the picture.  But this verse 20 is written to believers, those who have already acknowledged their need for a savior to forgive their sins and reconcile their relationship to God. Those who have believed that Jesus is God’s Son and the savior they need. Those who have committed to being Jesus’ disciple, bending their knee in fidelity to the Lordship of Christ. Those who have called upon the name of the Lord and asked to be accepted, to be saved.  It is to those people that Jesus is standing at the door and knocking because somehow, maybe through neglect, maybe through indifference, maybe through pride, they left Jesus standing outside. You let Jesus in when you submit to His Lordship.  You acknowledge that He is the authority in your life and that you are committed to obeying His directions. For those who overcome, those who have conquered, they are given a place of honor, a throne to sit upon at the head of the table. 


What needs to be conquered in Laodicea is prideful indifference that created an apathetic malaise that destroyed the vibrancy of the church.  From a kingdom perspective, they had become a do-nothing church. The church is its members.  The members were doing nothing to carry out the Great Commission: Go and make disciples. The members were not sharing the good news of the gospel.  The gospel was good news for them it gave them peace of mind, but it’s a personal thing best kept to oneself.  They were not hungering and thirsting for righteousness, they were satisfied.  They were not praying for the salvation of others.  Oh, maybe lip service prayers because that is expected, but going and telling, not so much. The members lacked a passionate fiery relationship with God, God was not preeminent in their thinking but rather an add-on, rather an I’ll get around to it, placing their relationship with God on the back burner. The members were not bringing Jesus to the streets, they were content with their comfortable Christianity.  These are good people, moral people, but they were barely spiritually alive people, asleep in the light people. Their pride blinded them and lulled them into a false sense of security.   The members were not looking forward to the second coming, their lack of need destroyed that sense of hopeful urgency that Jesus would come and set all things right.  As far as they were concerned things were going right for them.  They thought they were doing great, but Jesus tells them they were missing the mark and urges them to change before they spiritually die.


This message to the Laodiceans speaks to us today.  We must guard ourselves against prideful indifference.  We must see material wealth as a means of doing good for others, and be good stewards realizing that spiritual wealth matters more than material wealth. We must guard ourselves from apathy and the complacency it brings to our relationship with Jesus. Make God and His Kingdom the most important thing in your life that everything comes secondary to doing the will of God to whom you have bent your knee.


If you hear the knocking at your door, open your life up, let Jesus in, and together you will partner to be transformed into a conqueror.



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