Get to Work
Revelation 3:14-22 SCC 10/22/17
Complacent believers need wake up calls too. This is especially true when believers have an inflated view of their walk with the Lord. It is possible for believers to be spiritually lazy and yet at the same time think they are serving the Lord well. That was the problem with the Church at Laodicea, Gods household in that city. The Lord gave them a wakeup call, as well as to all believers who are listening. This is the last of seven letters. All seven letters concentrate on works, not faith. The statement I know your works appears in all seven letters. There is no call to faith in any of the letters since all are addressed to genuine believers.
SPIRITUAL POVERTY, BLINDNESS, NAKEDNESS IS THE PROBLEM
Verse 14: Here is a description of Jesus the Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the origin or source of the creation of God. John says three things about Him. First, He is the Amen. That means that He is true and right. Second, He is a true witness, one that is faithful and true. Third, He is the Creator. Jesus is the Creator (Jn 1). The point of v 14 is clearóthe one calling deserves to be heard.
Verse 15-16: Here is an evaluation by Jesus I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I would that you were cold or hot v 15. Both hot and cold are good here. Hot water is good to drink. So, too, is cold water. So because you are lukewarm and neither hot nor cold, I will vomit you out of My mouth v 16. Lukewarm water is not good to drink. The Laodicean believers were like lukewarm water. Their works displeased the Lord. This is the only church with only bad things. To vomit water out of his mouth is a figurative way of the Lord warning that He is about to judge the Laodicean believers. If they donít wake up right away and change their behavior, He is going to discipline them. The problem is even worse because not only are their works bad, they donít even realize they have a problem and you do not know that you are v 17. But specifically what kind of deeds were displeasing to the Lord? What were the Laodiceans doing that made them nauseating to the Lord?
Verse 17: They say I am rich and have become wealthy and have need of nothing. Yet the reality they miss is that they are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. The reason they are being warned of divine discipline is because they are using their wealth to live in luxury. Actually the believers in Laodicea were wealthy in a physical sense. So they thought since they were physically and spiritually sound too.
PT: The problem with riches is that they are like a drug, they keep you from realizing how poor you are. If you have enough wealth to keep you from hardship you can go through life and not realize your true condition of being poor before God. Why does James write, come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries which are coming upon you (James 5:1)? Jamesí answer is the rich are to weep because of their judgment at the coming of Christ for the church. But why are they judged? One reason is, you have lived luxuriously on the earth and led a life of wanton pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter (James 5:5). The same is true of the rich man who went to Hades (Luke 16:22-23). Abraham told the rich man that he was suffering because during your life you received good things. But Abraham does not simply mean that the man had wealth. After all, Abraham ... was very rich in livestock, in silver and in gold (Genesis 13:2, 6). What he meant was described in verse 19, the rich man ... habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, gaily living in splendor every day.
So the problem is not wealth, it using wealth to live luxuriously. This condition has left these Laodicean believers wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. Believers whose wealth has made them comfortable become anesthetized to their need to do works that prepare them for their eternal life. It brings them to the condition as spiritually wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked, even if they might be wealthy, well clothed, living in fine homes, driving nice cars, and have 20-20 vision. This problem requires that they wake up and use their wealth to contribute to their eternal welfare. †
REPENT AND BE ZEALOUS IS THE SOLUTION
Verse 18: Instead they should get eternal treasures. In these verses word pictures illustrate the point. Jesus adviseí they buy from Me gold refined by fire that you may become rich v 18. The refined gold represents eternal treasure, eternal rewards, the true spiritual riches. And white garments that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed. The white garments represent looking good spiritually. To be clothed well spiritually, we need the Lordís approval. And eye salve to anoint your eyes that you may see. The eye salve represents the ability to see spiritual reality clearly. Believers who deny or ignore their sin problem do not see well spiritually. These represent what prodigal believers need. Note that these things are not free. The recipient must buy them. That is, pay for them but it does not state the price the Laodiceans are to pay. That is stated in the following verse, v 19.
Verse 19: To purchase these things, believers must be zealous and repent those who I love I reprove and discipline; be zealous and repent. The words I rebuke and chasten are words for believers only. The word chasten is a child-training word never used of unbelievers in the NT. Repentance is an aspect of the Christian life necessary to avoid Gods discipline with the need to turn from their sins to escape temporal judgment. Repent of what? Of living luxuriously and the attendant spiritual problems that has causedóone of those being lukewarm works that are half-hearted, numb, preoccupied, dull, indifferent, apathetic. In order to lay up treasure in heaven, slothful believers must be zealous for good deeds and turn from our sins of omission. To be well-clothed spiritually, and to see Godís Word clearly, we must be zealous for good deeds and turn from our sins. The phone is ringing. The alarm is going off. Itís time to wake up and get to work! They needed to repent of bad works, wrong motives, and spiritual lethargy.
RESTORING FELLOWSHIP WITH CHRIST IS THE RESULT
Verse 20: If we read this one verse divorced totally from the context, we might be tempted to think it is a salvation verse. The preceding verse says, as many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore, be zealous and repent. The way to open the door to Jesus Christ is to be zealous for good deeds and to repent of bad deeds. If they wanted the Lord to come and share a meal with them, then they needed to straighten up their lives. What is promised is a shared meal together, not eternal life. Dining is a figure of speech which symbolizes fellowship. Sharing a meal together is one of the highest forms of fellowship and joy. In all cultures meals are a time of fellowship. Thus for the Lord Jesus to tell this church that He wishes to dine with them is a call to fellowship with Him. Fellowship with God is only possible if we are honest and open with Him (1 John 1:9). These believers thought they were doing well spiritually. In reality, they were out of fellowship with God and thus needed to repent to get right with God. The wakeup call to the complacent believer, your works and attitude are bad, finds its solution to be zealous for good works and turn from your many sins of omission specifically the sin of luxurious living and complacency about eternal things. †
RULING WITH CHRIST IS THE REWARD
Verse 21: The Greek word for overcome Nike. It means victory or winning a victory. Thatís where Nike shoes got their name. They are the shoes of winners. Well, Jesus wants us to be Nike kind of Christians. He wants us to overcome the world, the flesh, and the devil by being zealous for good deeds. If we are overcomers, then He promises us a wonderful reward. Overcomes what? The community of believers who are living in wealth and luxury and because of that have become lukewarm. Overcomers will sit with Him on His Throne He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne as I overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. That is, Nike Christians will rule with Christ forever. The Laodiceans were not doing well, yet the Lord holds out the possibility that they might rule with Him if they wake up and get to work now, and continue doing well until He returns.
PLEASE LISTEN TO CHRIST
Verse 22: This statement occurs in all seven letters and is a fitting conclusion to all seven He who has an ear let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The Lord wants us to listen. The epilogue and the prologue are like bookends. Pay attention. Do what He says. Pleasing God and gaining His approval is not automatic. It takes effort. To please the Lord and lay up eternal treasure means not living in luxury so that you omit works that prepare for your eternal life due to preoccupation or apathy or comfort.
1. Wake, remember, and repent. Be sensitive to your deeds. Remember Godís standard and repent of the difference between Godís standards and your deeds.
2. Living in luxury is deceptive. It makes us think we are also spiritually okay. And that makes us lukewarm Christians. Invest your wealth in eternity.
3. Believers must be aware of spiritual slothfulness for any number of reasons, one of them being living in luxury. We can become apathetic about our sanctification and that is a danger that God warns about. It invites divine discipline and can ruin potential of ruling with Christ.
4. Be an overcomer. Overcome the world, the influence of the parts of the church that are worldly, and the persecutions of this age. Itís the overcomers who receive the rewards.