Tuesday, September 17, 2019

“Laodicea: The Lukewarm Church” (Pt. 2) (Sept. 17, 2019)


Allen Raynor Weblog: “Laodicea: The Lukewarm Church” (Pt. 2)
(Sept. 17, 2019)

          After the type of rebuke Jesus gave the Laodicean church in Revelation 3:15-17, we might expect the Lord to just destroy this church full of hypocrites, but He does not.  In fact, He gives them some specific instructions as to how to correct their problems.  Jesus’ three-fold appeal played to the 3 features of the city they were most proud of.  These were their wealth, their wool industry, and their production of eye salve.  He offered to replace these 3 things with spiritual gold, spiritual cloths, and spiritual sight. 
          First, Christ advised them to “buy from Him gold refined by fire” which symbolizes true redemption.  The heat of the fire removes impurities from gold.  Second, He advised them to buy “white garments” so as to “cloth themselves” and not have to “walk naked” and have their shame on display.  Finally, He offers them “eye salve” to “anoint” their eyes.  The spiritual blindness of the Laodicean church was staggering.
          The discipline here is actually an encouraging thing.  God’s love for His children manifests itself in rebuke and chastening when they go astray.  The intent of the Lord’s discipline is always for our profit.  The Lord followed the call to repentance in vs. 19 with a tender, gracious invitation in vs. 20.  This verse has regularly been taken out of context to the extent the real point has almost been lost.  The picture here is of Christ standing outside the doors of the church knocking and the church is too busy doing its church activities to hear Him or if they do hear Him knocking, they are afraid to answer.  It has been suggested that with Christ knocking from the outside, it implies there were no true believers there at all.  This may be true, but it is unlikely.
          Christ’s offer to “dine” or “sup” with them emphasized the intimacy of sharing a meal together.  It was much more than just eating.  It was a bringing together of people in a disarming way.  Christ was criticized during His earthly ministry by the religious leaders for not only talking to them or associating with them but actually going so far as to “eat” with them!  We see this in, for instance, the cases of Matthew/Levi (Mat. 9:9-13) and with Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10)
          All true believers are overcomers and Christ promises that He “will grant to them to sit down with Him on His throne as He “also overcame and sat down with the “Father on His throne.”  The right to sit with Christ on His Heavenly throne is one of many promises made to overcomers.  Put another way; if we are “with Christ” we will be victorious!  The question all must answer is “Am I with Christ?”  Just being a church member or possessing a baptism certificate is not enough.  The Laodiceans had credentials; they just did not have Christ!
          The Laodicea’s had been hoodwinked by the evil one as many people have been down through history.  In the present day, Satan has blinded many into adopting a “watered-down” or “lukewarm” sort of Christianity which is not really useful for anything.  Many churches today seek numbers, influence, and acceptance by society.  These things cannot truly be achieved in the type world we currently live in, without compromise of the Gospel (the entirety of God’s Word).  In decades and centuries past there was a sort of prevailing “cultural Christianity.” In that environment it was possible for the church to influence culture to varying degrees.  Now, if churches teach what the Scriptures say about sex, marriage, cohabitation, homosexuality, gender identity, heaven, hell, abortion, creation, a young earth, gender roles, and a number of other things they will see the culture turn away in droves.  Many categorically dismiss the church as arcane and irrelevant.  Jesus never called on the church to be popular or charming.  He did call upon it to stick to the truth and not compromise.  He is saying to the church of the twenty-first century what He said to the Laodicean Church ten centuries ago; behold I stand outside the door of your church and I promise if you will let Me in, I will have perfect fellowship with you and you will be satisfied with Me.  The world offers satisfaction but cannot deliver.  Jesus offers satisfaction and He does deliver.

In Christ,

Dr. Allen Raynor, Pastor

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

“Laodicea; the Lukewarm Church” (Pt. 1) (Sept. 10, 2019)


Allen Raynor Weblog: “Laodicea; the Lukewarm Church” (Pt. 1)
(Sept. 10, 2019)

          The church in our day and age has often been described as apathetic.  I have read that description time and again and I have also heard it preached time and again.  Apathy is defined as the “absence of passion, emotion, or excitement.” (Dictionary.com)  We live in such a day as to where the world is largely indifferent/apathetic about the church and the church is largely indifferent/apathetic about itself.  We could fairly well say the church is “lukewarm” (not hot; not cold)
          In this upside-down day and age we live in, sports stadiums, restaurants, retail stores, and concert halls are full, and church auditoriums have lots of empty seats, Sunday School classrooms set empty, and volunteers are hard to find.  The church, by and large, is complacent and comfortable.  The church may desire more people, bigger offerings, and more programs, but it is rarely willing to totally sell-out to Christ, the Lord of the church, in order to see that happen.  This is a day and age where people would rather work to “raise something up,” themselves than to “pray something down” from Heaven!
          In Laodicea, the church was in their groove, they felt self-sufficient, and Christ was no longer a part of what they were doing.  Christ is and always has been the “power” of the church.  But in Laodicea, and in the modern church, it has been often proven, church can be done without Him.  Paul wrote to Timothy warning him of the perilous times to come and the selfish desires and evil motives that would be prevalent.  In the latter times, he said mankind would “Have a form of godliness but deny its power.” (2 Tim. 3:5) and from such people he was to turn away!  Laodicea, indeed had a “form/appearance” of godliness, but there was no power because Christ was no longer really a part of what they did.  Revelation 3:14-22 give Jesus’ sobering words to the Laodicean Church.
          Laodicea was 45 miles southeast of Philadelphia and 90 miles east of Ephesus.  It was a thriving city with banks, a textile (wool) industry, and medical school.  The city was also known for its sparse water supply.  All of these characteristics played into Christ’s various comments about the church.
          Jesus is said to be “The Amen” (the true one).  He is called “The Faithful and True Witness” and “The Beginning,” meaning He holds the “first” place or is the “ruler” of all of God’s creation.  These words of description are things they should have already known about Jesus, and probably did; however, at the same time, they acted as though they did not; therefore, Jesus reminds them.  When a football coach yells from the sideline “Block!” the players are not hearing of the need to block for the first time.  They have, in fact, heard it many times, know the importance of blocking, but are just not doing it.  Jesus is saying to the church at Laodicea “you already know this!”  Just do it!
          Christ’s words in vs. 15 are alluding to Laodicea’s water supply.  It traveled several miles through an underground aqueduct before reaching the city.  The water arrived foul, dirty, and tepid.  It was not hot enough to relax in, like the hot springs of Hierapolis, nor was it cold and refreshing like the stream water at Colossae.  Laodicea’s lukewarm water was in a useless condition!  Yet, this is what Jesus compares the church to!  Jesus tells them they would be better off cold or hot than lukewarm.  Hot and cold water both have value; usages, etc.  But lukewarm is never pleasing to the palate!  In vs. 16, He says He will vomit them from His mouth!  Interestingly enough, they thought they were ok!  Jesus warned in Mat. 7:22-23 “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name and done many wonders in Your name?’  And then I will declare to them, I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”  It was bad enough they were lukewarm, but even worse, they were self-deceived about it!
          The city of Laodicea was wealthy, and like all people have the tendency to do, when they have the feeling of security that money brings, they stop trusting in and relying on God as they should.  It is crystal clear in America that the wealthier our nation has become, the more we have cast God aside.  In Laodicea, the attitudes of the church mirrored the attitude of the city itself.  They were deeply prideful people, and prideful people don’t think they need your help, your advice, or much of anything from you.  Pride leads people to think, I’m doing ok, and I don’t need you!  We do need each other and we do need God.

In Christ,

Dr. Allen Raynor, Pastor