Well, this is it! I’m preaching at the worst church in the world at the worst possible time, toward the end of the end of time. Is there something I can say that they actually will hear? I guess it doesn’t matter. I’m here and I know what to say. It’s already in Revelation 3.
“It’s great to be here today!” I lied. Actually, this is where God wanted me. So it was the truth.
“You know that your church is mentioned in Scripture. You do know that, right? Turn to Revelation 3. Unfortunately, what the Bible says is not very complementary about the church here. It is accurate. First, you know that most of the money made in this town flows from the pharmaceutical company here. Pharmacy is big business in this day and age. Did you realize that pharmaceuticals are mentioned in the book of Revelation?
I’m not against pharmaceuticals but it is mentioned in Revelation.
Rev. 18:23 “. . . for your merchants were the great men of the earth, because all the nations were deceived by your sorcery.
Rev. 21:8 “But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”
Rev. 22:15 Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying.
You didn’t hear the words “pharmaceuticals” or “pharmacy” in those verse, did you? That’s because the Greek root for the words for “sorcery” and “sorcerer” is “pharmakeia.” What does that sound like? How many of you are on antidepressants? You don’t have to answer.
I’m not saying that you never need those pharmaceuticals, but maybe a lot of you don’t need them! What do we all need? The Bible! What does the Bible say about Laodicea?
Personally, I believe that the seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3 represent three things: 1) seven literal churches in ancient Asia Minor, 2) stereotypical churches that have the same characteristics throughout time and 3) seven church ages. If I’m correct, then the age named after Laodicea is the last age before the coming of the Lord.1 That is the age in which we are living!
There was actually a church in Laodicea in present-day Turkey. There have been churches like yours, with the same characteristics, throughout time. And there is an age that has the same characteristics of your church.
In fact, your church isn’t too much different than almost all churches in the world right now! The current age has even been referred to as “The Laodicean Age.”
That really is not a good thing. Look at Revelation chapter 3, verses 14 through 22. I know your last pastor got in trouble for what I’m about to do. I’m going to guide you through what the passage says.
First, the Lord says His preference is that you be either hot or cold.2 What God really does not want is a person that is “lukewarm.” What does that mean? The word for “hot” means boiling hot. The word for “cold” means icy cold.3 God can do something with someone who is “on fire” for Him. He can deal with someone who has defected away from Him. But if someone is just lukewarm, there is nothing He can do.
“He is saying that your church is lukewarm. A church that sings vapid songs is lukewarm. A church that preaches insipid sermons is lukewarm. “A church that waters down the gospel is lukewarm. If a church is afraid of the gospel4 and afraid to tell the truth about the world5 is lukewarm.”
“I am not saying this about your church. God is saying this about your church. And His response is not a good one. He says He will “spit you out of His mouth.”
“Let me give you a few synonyms for “spit.” “Spue, that is, the antiquated S-P-U-E, the more modern Spew,” and “vomit.” To that I would add a few synonyms of my own, “throw up,” “regurgitate,” “hurl,” ralph,” “upchuck,”“heave,” “purge,” “puke,” and “retch.” Ewww. You get the idea, right?”
“Do you remember a few weeks ago when the power went out and all our water supply was warm. We had no refrigeration and no hot water heaters. All of our water was lukewarm. Did you want to drink that water?”
“God is not happy with a church that is lukewarm. We are complacent. We have compromised with the world. We are bombarded by images on our computers, on TV and in movies. We are tempted by depictions of all sorts of material wealth. We can’t even watch baseball on TV without visages of good looking ladies in bikinis drinking beer. C’mon. Do you really think a woman that healthy can drink that much beer? In fact, I would suggest to you that all commercials are lies! Check me out on this. See if any ad you see on TV is not filled with lies!”
“The result is that we are being lulled into complacency, we are content. We have put a man on the moon, we have more intelligence in our smart phones than all those NASA engineers had in stacks of computers. We have conquered diseases and built skyscrapers. We can traverse the world in tons of titanium jets in a matter of hours. Yet despite this our farmer ancestors had more access to Heaven than any group of people in our present-day churches!”
“Many of you have had your eyes lasered. The main supply of ointment you put in your eyes afterward came from the pharmaceutical industry in this very town! We have everything in this day and age. We can even have our eyes fixed! But can we see the obvious? The world is going to come to an end! The nation and, indeed, the entire world is coming apart at the seams. Can’t you see it? Just turn on the news any night. Factions and groups screaming at each other and violence all over the world.”
“You need to wake up!5 If you don’t wake up, you will be completely surprised when the Lord comes back! You will be get caught with your proverbial pants down! You don’t want that to happen, do you?”
“God doesn’t want you to fill your closets with stuff and garages with luxury cars. He doesn’t even want your medicine cabinets to be filled with prescriptions. He wants you to come to Him to have spiritual eyesight.”7
“God’s message to us today is to repent. It is the same thing He has been saying throughout the ages. Repent.”8
“You might think that repent means that you should feel sorry for your sins. But how deeply do you have to feel about your sins? Can you feel bad enough to cover what you’ve done? You can’t.”
“Here is what repent means literally: change your mind! The word is metanoia. Meta means change and noia is mind. Literally, repentance means a change of mind.”
“God is asking you to change your mind! Look at verse 20.9 You may know it by heart. Christ is saying that all you have to do is open the door to Him. And He will fellowship with you. That is what He really wants now and in eternity. But you are the one who has to open the door. The knob is only on the inside. You have to turn the knob and He will have a relationship with you. Isn’t that what life is really about?”
“Put your material things aside. Put your lust for money and power in your closet. Sell your extra cars, clothes, and houses. Change the way you are thinking and turn to Him!”10
A shot rang out. Verb drooped to the floor in front of the pulpit. Dead. George Rich stood in the corner with a smoking gun.
1 Zechariah 14:4: “In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south.”
2 Revelation 3:15-16: “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. 16 So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.”
3 John Stott, What Christ Thinks Of The Church, p. 116
4 Romans 1:16: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”
5 1 John 2:14-15: “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.”
6 Revelation 3:2-3: “Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God. 3 So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you.”
7 Revelation 3:18: “I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.”
8 Revelation 3:19: “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.”
9 Revelation 3:20: “‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.”
10 Romans 12:2, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”