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Preaching God's Word: Revelation

Jesus speaks to the Church of Laodicea - and the Church of today!

Revelation 3:14-22
(a) The people spoken to by Jesus;
(b) The warning given by Jesus;
(c) The promise given by Jesus.
(a) The Laodiceans were unbearable boasters - "I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing" (v. 17a). The Laodiceans were not troubled by any consciousness of sin. The Laodiceans would never think of praying, "O God, be merciful to me, the sinner." The Laodiceans thought that they had arrived. They were the people. The Laodiceans thought that they had no need for correction and rebuke. The Laodiceans thought that they were above the call for repentance. The Laodiceans felt that they could do as they pleased without taking Christ seriously. The Laodiceans were lukewarm. They were neither hot nor cold. They were half-hearted. They were spineless. they were apathetic. They were always ready to compromise. They were indifferent. They had the "we're all good people here in Laodicea" attitude.
The Laodiceans are not a mere historical curiosity. We have our modern-day "Laodiceans" in today's Church. The modern "Laodiceans" are the kind of people who think to themselves, "we're all such very good folks here." This is sad. This is sinful. As we read about the Laodiceans, we are to come to God, confessing our sin, "Lord, I am the modern 'Laodicean'. I am the lukewarm Church member." If we come to God, in this spirit of honesty and humility, we will be ready to hear Christ's word of warning and His word of promise.
(b) Christ's word of warning must be understood in direct connection with His word of promise. Christ's word of warning is extremely severe. He speaks out in no uncertain terms against the hypocrisy of the Laodiceans. Why does He use such strong language in His condemnation of the Laodiceans?
- It is because He loves them (v. 19a).
- It is because He wants them to repent wholeheartedly (v. 19b).
- It is because He wants them to obey His Word and thus come to know His blessing in their lives now (v. 20) and forever (v.21).
What is the purpose of Christ's warning? - Restoration.
Let's look more closely at Christ's warning.First, Christ says that there are three types of people (vs. 15-16).
- the "hot": sincere, humble Christians who serve the Lord with joy.
- the "lukewarm": the church member who, despite hearing the Gospel of Jesus Christ often, continues to remain content with a religion which is a pretentious and hypocritical sham.
- the "cold": those who make no claim to be Christians and show no interest in the Gospel.Second, Christ tells us which type of person is the worst (vs. 15-16). This is Christ's evaluation of lukewarm religion - It's better to be nothing at all than to be lukewarm. Christ says that we must be one thing or the other. He says that we must be for Him or against Him. It's ridiculous to say, ""I'm not really against Christ" if we refuse to live for Him. Christ has ruled out that alternative. He has pronounced His awful judgment on lukewarm religion - "Because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of My mouth" (v. 16). If you and I continue to be lukewarm towards Christ, we harden our hearts against Him who is "the faithful and true witness" (v. 14).
- The lukewarm church member says, 'I can live as I please.'
- The Lord Jesus Christ says, 'Live as you please and you bring yourself under judgment.'
- The lukewarm church member thinks, 'I can keep Christ at a distance.'
- The Lord Jesus Christ stands at the door of the heart, seeking entrance (v. 20).
Let's look at the response of the Lord Jesus Christ towards lukewarm religion. Christ's response to lukewarm religion may be seen in terms of both a threatened judgment and a gracious invitation.
The threatened judgment is frightening in its severity. We don't read that Christ is grieved with the Laodicean church members. We don't read that He is angry with them. We are told that he is disgusted with them. He's not just slightly disgusted. He's thoroughly nauseated - "because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spew you out of My mouth" (v. 16). Even in the threatened judgment, with all its terrifying seriousness, we see the tender love of the Lord Jesus Christ. Even in the words, "I will spew you out of My mouth", we hear the voice of Christ's love. Christ speaks these terribly stern words as a warning that the Laodiceans might return to Him. He speaks these words to drive out lukewarmness from His Church. He says to the Laodiceans, "I am about to spew you out of My mouth if you do not return to Me."
The severity of the threatened judgment doesn't lead us to doubt the wonderful love of Christ. By linking the threatened judgment with the gracious invitation, the Lord emphasizes that He is very severe in His condemnation because He is very tender and kind, very loving and gracious. What is the significance of Christ's threatened judgment for us today? In verse 17, Christ draws attention to the radical difference between the religious man's evaluation of himself and Christ's evaluation of him - "you say, 'I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing;' not knowing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind and naked" (v. 17).
Try to picture an individual who has all of these five characteristics - wretched, pitiable, poor, blind and naked! That is the description Christ gives of the person who imagines himself to be a fine Christian when, in reality, Christ is utterly disgusted with Him. This is extremely challenging for every one of us. If we , who have heard the Word of God often, remain lukewarm, Christ will bypass us and build His Church around those who are, at present, cold towards Him. Their hearts will become hot towards Him as they hear and believe the Gospel. If we remain lukewarm, we will be an obstacle to others finding Christ. That, however, need not be. The Word of God comes to us, offering us tremendous blessings. These blessings will be yours if you receive Christ's Word with faith.
* Acknowledge your spiritual poverty and receive the spiritual riches Christ offers you (v. 18).
* Acknowledge the truth of Christ's evaluation of your life and make a true return to Him in the obedience of faith (v. 19).
* Acknowledge Jesus Christ as your only Saviour. He is the only One who can give you eternal life (vs. 20-21).
* The Spirit of God is speaking to you. Make sure that you respond to His prompting. He may never be so close to you again (v. 22).

Christ's Victory Over Satan (Revelation 12:9-12)

At Christmas time, we sing the well known and well loved Christmas carol, "Once in royal David's city." It speaks of Christ's first coming. It also speaks of His second coming. There is a great contrast between Christ's first coming and His second coming. At the heart of Christ's first coming, there is "a lowly cattle shed ... a stable and ... a stall." In His first coming, Christ lived among "the poor and mean and lowly." Christ's second coming is quite different. The hymn writer describes it this way: "And our eyes at last shall see Him ... not in that poor lowly stable, with the oxen standing by, we shall see Him, but in heaven, set at God's right hand on high."

When Jesus Christ comes again, He will come in power and glory. Christ's second coming will be a Day of total victory for Christ, a Day of full salvation for those who belong to Him. When Christ comes again, the conflict will be over. Christ will be proclaimed as we sing of the Christ who reigns. We sing, "Majesty, worship His majesty; unto Jesus be glory, honour and praise. Majesty, Kingdom authority, flows from His throne unto His own, His anthem raise. So exalt, lift up on high the Name of Jesus, magnify, come glorify, Christ Jesus the King. Majesty, worship His Majesty, Jesus who died, now glorified, King of all kings." Now, we have the promise of Christ's victorious reign. When Christ comes again, we will have the fulfilment. At His Return, Christ will reign over "every rule." When Christ returns, He will be Lord over "every authority and power" (1 Corinthians 15:24).

To "those who belong to Christ", the Lord's Return will bring full salvation, complete deliverance fro, the power of Satan, the enemy of our souls. No longer will we have to contend with Satan. His rule, his authority and his power will be brought to a complete and final end. When we think of Christ's Return, we must emphasize that it is a total victory over Satan.

In our day, Satan is busy. He tells people that it doesn't really matter whether or not they trust Jesus Christ as their Saviour. He tells people that God is dead. Satan is doing all that he can to lead men and women away from God. He is desperately seeking to undermine our faith in Jesus Christ. Why is Satan so busy?

The Bible is very clear about the answer to this question: "He knows that his time is short" (Revelation 12:12). There are many people who have doubts about Christ's first coming. They hear the words of the hymn: "He came down to earth from heaven, who is God and Lord of all", and they say, "I can't believe that!" Such people also have doubts about Christ's second coming. They hear Christ's words, "they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory" (Matthew 24:30), and they say, "I can't believe that!" Satan has no such doubts about either Christ's first coming or His second coming. He knows only too well why Christ came to earth: "The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil" (1 John 3:8).

He knows only too well what will happen when Christ returns. Satan faces absolute and certain defeat. This is how the Word of God describes Satan's downfall: "The great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world - he was thrown down ... the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down" Revelation 12:9-10).

This is the fearful prospect of judgment which faces Satan, the enemy of our souls. Satan's defeat will be completed on the Day when Christ comes again in power and glory, the Day when it shall be declared, "Now the salvation and the power and the Kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come" (Revelation 12:10).

The great Day of Christ's Return will be a Day of power and glory. Christ's power will be absolutely superior to Satan's power. On that Day, Christ will shine with a heavenly glory with which the glory of Satan (or Lucifer, the shining one) will not even begin to compare. What relevance does all this have to our live here and now? The message of Christ's Return in power and glory is a message of tremendous relevance.

It is a message of hope. It gives us confidence to face the future with the assurance of final victory.

It is a message which gives us strength to face our present conflict, armed with the victorious power of our Lord Jesus Christ. When the Word of God speaks of Christ's victory over Satan, it speaks also of our victory over Satan - "They have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the Word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death" (Revelation 12:11).

How are we to live, if we are really looking for Christ's coming again in power and glory?
  • We must confront Satan on the basis of Christ's death for us: "Satan, I don't belong to you. I belong to Christ."
  • We must stand up for Jesus, standing in His strength alone. We must stand up for Jesus, knowing that "the strife will not be long"; "This day, the noise of battle; the next, the victors' song."
  • We must look beyond our present conflict to our final victory: "To Him that overcometh, a crown of life shall be. He, with the King of glory, shall reign eternally."


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