(7/19) The Bible often expresses Godís relationship with His people as a marriage.
Isaiah 54:5, "For your maker is your husband, the Lord of Hosts is His name."
Hosea 2:16-23, "Öand it shall be in that day, says the Lord, that you will call me, My Husband,...I will betroth you to me foreverÖ"
Paul speaks of the Church as being espoused to one husband (2 Cor. 11:2)
And Paul relates the union of marriage as a picture of the relationship of the Lord and His church in Eph. 5:22-32.
Sadly, we know that what can begin as a vibrant relationship, can become humdrum. Thatís why marriage renewal weekends are good. They arenít just for marriages in trouble but are to encourage you to put the zest back into your marriage.
One of the ways they do that is by getting you to talk and to listen. To learn what your spouse needs or wants in this marriage at this time. Dr. Gary Chapman has written a book called the The Five Love Languages. Every body has a love language, that is, a specific way that makes you feel loved and appreciated. Dennis Swanberg, a former pastor and now
comedian, does a routine that puts a humorous touch on this called, Is Your Love Tank Full. Do you know your spouseís love language? Dr. Chapman says the 5 Love Languages are:
ē words of affirmation
ē quality time together
ē receiving gifts
ē acts of service
ē physical touch
Every once in a while it is good to get away, whether it is to a marriage renewal weekend or just a few days at the beach and ask your spouse to be honest with you and tell if you are speaking his or her love language. And if you need to improve, do it. Sometimes what we think is okay, really isnít. Then, you need to work on doing what you have heard.
The same is true with our Lord. We may think that we are okay, that our relationship is good, when in fact it isnít. We have slipped into a complacent state of relating to each other and He is saying, "I wish you wouldÖ"
I believe this is what He is expressing to us in the last of the seven letters that He wrote to the churches in Revelation 2-3. In this letter, He states clearly what he wants from us. Look at Revelation 3:14-21, "And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write,
ĎThese things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: 15 "I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. 16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. 17 Because you say, ĎI am rich, have become wealthy, and have
need of nothingíóand do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and nakedó 18 I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore
be zealous and repent. 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 dine with him, and he with Me. 21 To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.
I. The Character of the Author- Our Lord Jesus. (v.14) He lets them know from the outset 3 very important things about Himself.
A. He is the Amen- The Embodiment of Truth. The final word. What I am telling you is absolutely reliable, it is the complete truth. There is nothing exaggerated or left out.
B. He is the Faithful and True Witness. A witness is one who testifies as to what He or she sees, hears, or experiences, or knows to be true. What He Testifies is the way things are, not as anyone would like them to be. Have you ever said, "its not as bad as that, or itís not that bad?" Well, what our Lord says, is exactly the way it is and you can
believe it- straight up.
C. The Beginning of the Creation of God. Beginning doesnítí mean, here, the first to be created, but the one who began creation, He is the Creator. (John 1:1-3; Heb. 1:3; Col. 1:15-18; 4:4). The one on whom we are dependent. The world isnít about us. It is about Him.
II. Notice the Condition of the Church.
A. They were indifferent to the works God had called them to. (vv.15-16a) They were lukewarm concerning the ten things we talked about over the last few months. There was no zeal, no urgency, no desire, nothing really being done to change the world, or represent Jesus. Iíll come back to this in a moment.
B. They were insensitive to their need. They had become self sufficient and satisfied. (v. 17). Laodicea was a very wealthy city. It was the center of banking in the first century. It also produced an expensive, and much sought after, Black wool. There was also a medical school there that produced an eye salve that was supposed to heal a lot of eye
problems. This was the Beverly Hills, the Montgomery or Arlington Counties of their day. There was a major earthquake around 60 A.D. and much of the city was destroyed, however, they completely rebuilt their city, without any assistance from FEMA or the Roman government. We must assume that some of these wealthy people made up the church. The offerings were always good, the
pastors were paid well. They didnít need a building program, they just built it. Therefore, it didnít require a lot of faith, nor did they see the need to reach out. They had become very complacent. There are a lot of people who think that this church was meant to typify the condition of the church that will be on earth just before our Lord returns. Look at His description of
them. They think they have everything but they have nothing.
1. wretched- literally, miserable- to have everything and in reality- to
2. miserable- more literally- pitiful. To be pitied. You have it all here
as believers, but you will have nothing in rewards when you stand
before His Bema (judgment or rewards) seat. No treasure in heaven.
3. Poor. Their works were wood, hay and stubble.
4. Blind- Their material blessings had blinded them to their spiritual
condition and to the needs around them.
5. Naked- Their lives were fully exposed and shameful to their creator.
If believers are given white robes that represent their righteous
works on earth. These will have mini- mini- skirts.
C. They lacked intimacy with their Lord. (v.21) Implied. (We will return to this.)
III. Notice the Concern and Counsel of the Lord
A. I Could Wish You Were Cold or Hot. An awful lot of preachers and commentaries understand their condition as either saved (hot) or cold (unsaved). But I donít think so. Even though I know that in every church there are folks who have never truly trusted Jesus, I donít think that this is what our Lord is referring to. I do not think that He would ever
say, I wish you were not a believer. We know that His heart wants all people to be saved (1 Tim. 2:4). He is long suffering, not willing that any should perish, but that all would come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9).
To understand what our Lord means you need to understand, that Laodicea did not have an adequate water supply, so they piped their water in via aqueducts. Fresh, cold water came from Colossae which was piped underground from about 10 miles to their south. Likewise, hot springs mineral water was piped in from Hierapolos, about seven miles to their
north. People would soak in it for healing purposes. The problem was that by the time the water arrived it was no longer hot or cold. Both would be lukewarm, like, letting a cup of coffee sit on the table for an hour or a glass of Pepsi sit on the porch in the sun shine. The one that should have been hot, soothing, and healing was bland and the other that should have been
refreshing and thirst quenching was disgusting (like, the water fountain back in the 60ís in school).
It was their works that our Lord saw and they were not soothing, helping, healing, nor were they refreshing and satisfying. They were, instead, disgusting and putrid.
Notice, He says, "I will spit you out of my mouth." Just like looking for a cold refreshing drink and instead finding this warm nasty stuff and wanting to expel it and wash the taste out of your mouth. That is what our Lord says their works or lack of them makes Him want to do with them. In fact, the original language says, "I am about to spit you
out." No, He is not talking about them losing their salvation, but He is talking to them about losing their close intimacy with Him. Remember, when He told Peter, that, "unless I wash your feet, you have no part with me," (John 13:8) so it is here.
You may also note that the wording literally means more than to spit, it means to vomit, puke, and throw up. You make me sick to my stomach (as in Isaiah 19:14). You are my people, my Brothers and Sisters, you are supposed to represent me, and you are to about my business. There is no vibrancy in your worship, no zeal in your ministry, no concern in
your fellowship, no heart in your evangelism, no sacredness in your Sundays, no dependency in your prayers, no faith in your planning, no obedience to my Word. Oh, how He wants us to do what He did and seek what He sought, and dream what he dreamed, and desire what he desired and care as He cared for people. How he wants us to seek his counsel and be about his business.
B. I Counsel you to Buy some stuff From me. The idea of buying is to exchange something you have for something you want or need. We exchange our money for food, clothing, shelter, toys, transportation etc. Our Lord is asking this church to exchange what they have for what He wants to give them. To exchange their wretchedness, misery, spiritual poverty,
blindness, and nakedness for:
1. Gold tried in the Fire. Is this treasure in heaven? Or, is it a life of faith. 1 Peter 1:6-7 or 1 Tim. 6:18-19, either way, it means to step out in obedience and trust in Jesus to a point that is beyond normal. This is the true riches of salvation. It is the blessings that come from giving.
2. White garments to be clothed and cover the shame of your nakedness. The deeds that should accompany your faith in me, as you let work through you. (Isa. 61:10, Rev. 7:7-14; 19:8)
3. Eye salve- So you can see things as they really are.
a. Your own true condition He just described.
b. The heart of God as revealed in His word and in Jesus.
c. The needs all around you.
d. The eternal consequences of your indifference.
e. How much He thinks of us- He loves us as His best friends and family (phileo, not agape).(v. 19)
f. That His rebuke is to help us not hurt us. (v.19)
g. His discipline (chastening) is to grow us up. (v.19)
h. How you can change and our relationship can be great again.
C. He counsels us to be Zealous. The word translated Zealous is sometimes translated as something bad, i.e., jealous. Other times its translated zeal with the meaning to be enthusiastically passionate. Do you have a passionate relationship with the Lord Jesus? It means to be fired up with enthusiasm or passion. When our Lord drove the moneychangers and
vendors out of the temple, the scripture was quoted of Him that said, "Zeal for your house has eaten me up." (John 2:17 from Psalm 69:9) Are you passionate for Godís House and Godís will? Then:
D. It starts with repentance Ė Not just saying, "Iím sorry," but an intentional act of changing my mind and my actions.
E. It continues with intentional restoration of our relationship. We invite Him back into our lives. He wants intimacy with us. A best friend, same page, brother to brother or brother to sister relationship. (v. 21)
I know that this is usually used as a picture of our Lord knocking on the heart of non-Christians and seeking entrance in the form of salvation, but I really believe that here it refers to His desire to have an intimate relationship with us. We have said it over and over again, Christianity is not about religion. It is not about keeping a set of rules.
It is not about how much we give or attend church. It is not about what we sing. Itís about an intimate relationship with our Lord.
God would say to Jeremiah in Jeremiah 9, "I want you to know me"
Our Lord said that Eternal Life is Knowing God and Jesus whom he has sent. The word, "know" means to know intimately like in the act of marriage.
He wants to come in and dine with us. To dine together is to share time and to talk and to fellowship and to get to know more about each other. He wants to be in on our plans and dreams, and activities. In fact, He wants to share His plans with us and is asking us to join Him in His mission to save the world.
We began this sermon comparing our relationship with our Lord to that of a marriage. Donít answer this aloud, but have you ever said to yourself or to God, "my spouse doesnít hear me anymore" or, "unless I scream or do something drastic my spouse doesnít hear?" Their complacency and or tunnel vision has, with or without realizing it, shut out the most
important person in the world. And he or she desperately wants to be back in and to renew the passion and intimacy that once was there. Can you hear His voice?
When is the last time you spent some intimate time with Jesus? Just you and Him, talking about life?
Our Lord says, let me back into your life, and letís do life together.
Thatís my love language. I want you to care about what I care about
Loving people like I do and reaching out to them with Grace and Healing and help and encouragement, and refreshment.
Focusing on what is really important in life.
Loving Me as I love you
Doing all of life together. Walking, talking, and sharing all of life.
Focusing on the day when you will share my throne. (v.21)
Can you hear Him knocking at your heart? Can you hear His voice asking if He can come in? Can you feel His disgust because we have become lukewarm? Can you see His disappointment because we have become indifferent to the love he wants and the world needs?
We need to Repent
Re-new our vows
Re-connect with the lover of our soul.
The invitation is for you to do that
Perhaps you arenít saved Ė you have never received Jesus and his forgiveness and eternal life as a free gift. Why not do it now?
Christians, Jesus wants to talk with you are you ready to open the door and spend some time together?
Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman