Laodicea: How to NOT be the church

Revelation 3:14-22

Laodicea: How to NOT be the church

Laodicea was situated on the bank of the River Lycus. Its position at the junction of three imperial roads traversing Asia Minor favoured its development as a wealthy commercial and administrative centre. Three facts known throughout the Roman world about the city throw light on this letter: it was a banking centre, whose banks even Cicero recommended for exchanging money; it manufactured clothing and woollen carpets, made especially from the glossy black wool of sheep reared locally; and it had a medical school and produced medicines, notably an eye ointment made from a pulverized rock in the area. The stern characterization of the church’s spiritual life (17) and the call for its repentance (18) are both couched in terms of these three activities of the city.[1]

1. Don’t include too much doctrine and teaching because people are stupid, spiritually, and they can’t get it. Dumb it down to the lowest common denominator v. 14

A. Don’t worship Jesus as the epitome of truth John 14:6

1. Make worship all about people and their experience

B. Don’t worship Jesus as the creator and controller of all creation Col 1:15, 16; Hebrews 1:3

C. Use Scripture as a means to talk about whatever is the most popular subject among your

demographic. Whatever you do, don’t teach people how to read the bible, they might

question your conclusions.

1. Worship Jesus as the way, truth and creator of life

A. Amen “truly”

B. Faithful and true witness

C. Beginner of all creation

1. Jesus is the reason, means and the end

2. Be useless to the mission, show a video once a year and take an offering after you feel guilty v. 15-16

A. Just exist

B. Seek to survive rather than obey Jesus’ words

2. Be useful to the mission of Jesus

The terms cold, hot and lukewarm are likely to relate to waters around and in Loadicea.

Nearby Hierapolis was famed for its hot springs; Colosse, also near at hand, was noted for a cold, clear stream of excellent drinking water.

Since, however, the River Lycus dried up in summer, Laodicea had to use a long viaduct for its water, which was not only tepid but also impure and sometimes foul, making people sick.

The church of that city had that effect on Christ—a vivid and horrifying picture of judgment.[2]

What Jesus is saying by illustration is that they were like their water, putrid, foul and useless.

Jesus’ point is that they should be useful. Ideally they should be useful for the mission.

A. Engage the mission

B. Do what you can to the best of your resources (people and otherwise)

3. Be prosperous and need nothing v. 17-18

A. God helps those who help themselves

B. Just write a check, don’t put yourself in a position to have to depend on prayer rather than

prayer being a fashionable trend to put one’s spirituality on display.

3. Be totally dependent on the Gospel

The point is that Jesus has all their resources needed bound up in himself. He has all they need. He does not need anything and we don’t need anything apart from him.

A. Gold – purity

B. Garments – righteousness

C. Salve – worldview for operating and making decisions

4. Don’t regard “frustration of events” or hardship as the Lord’s loving discipline. God just does not do that, right? v. 19

A. Is it really the Lord’s discipline or just karma? What goes around comes around, right?

B. Would the Lord really bring something painful on me? Isn’t he just supposed to make me


4. Know that Jesus will frustrate events for our good and he can uphold while he chastises and this is good

A. Acts 16:7 “…the Spirit of Jesus would not allow…”

B. Hebrews 12

5. Don’t fellowship with Jesus, that’s just weird, we need a production meeting v. 20

A. I don’t like to sit quietly or read. I can’t pay attention long enough.

B. I really need something to get my attention. You know, entertain me!

C. Really, isn’t Jesus and Christianity just a religious myth on par with the other world’s


5. Fellowship with the Lord Jesus at all costs

Contrary to a pragmatic worldview that says getting things done is just vital, Jesus commends to us to be enriched by time with him.

A. Luke 10:38-42 Mary sits while Martha serves. Jesus commends Mary for listening to Jesus

While Martha consumed with serving. Jesus’ repetition of Martha’s name is vital. Jesus is

speaking through the veil of perceived necessity to the soul of Martha to show what is most


6. There is nothing of import past this life, so let’s get as much here as we can v. 21

A. God wants me to be rich and successful while here.

B. After all, what does suffering really do for a person? Let’s throw a few dollars at the rest of

the world’s suffering and sooth our conscience.

6. Life is important but treasure in the Kingdom of Heaven is where our reward lies

A. Matthew 6:19-21

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

[1] D. A. Carson, New Bible Commentary : 21st Century Edition, 4th ed. (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., USA: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), Re 3:14–22.

[2] D. A. Carson, New Bible Commentary : 21st Century Edition, 4th ed. (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., USA: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), Re 3:14–22.

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