Laodicea: The Self Sufficient Church

Revelation 3:14-22

This is the message from the one who is the Amen—the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s new creation:

  • Amen = Complete Agreement with God’s Will
  • What He reveals about ALL REALITY is the Perfect Truth
  • Primary agent of ‘New Creation’ (It All Begins with Jesus Christ)

I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!

  • God knows exactly were you are
  • Being ‘Known’ is either unnerving or comforting depending on your theology
  • Christ desires us to be ‘Useful’ (with water, hot is useful, cold is useful)
  • There is no place in ‘Christ’s Body’ for being ‘Without Use’
  • Relatable to them because of their water situation

You say, ‘I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.

  • The church had become satisfied with what they could do themselves
  • Materially they had it all (See USA Church)
  • Their self-sufficiency had rendered them spiritually bankrupt

So I advise you to buy gold from me—gold that has been purified by fire. Then you will be rich. Also buy white garments from me so you will not be shamed by your nakedness, and ointment for your eyes so you will be able to see.

  • Christ says: get from Me what is valuable, that which is proven valuable
  • Christ says only what HE provides creates ‘True Wealth’ (Spiritual Wealth)
  • They are clothed in their own righteousness (Filthy Rags: Isaiah 64:6)
  • Living by our own righteousness leads to legalistic, shame-based culture
  • We can’t see truth and reality without Christ ‘Healing’ our eyes (Doctor My Eyes)
  • Christ wants us to define richness the way he does (Treasure in Heaven)

I correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference. Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.

  • This Church, like all of us have the chance to receive correction and repent
  • It takes intention, motivation and persistence to be a disciple of Christ
  • ‘Pay Attention’ Christ is always there, you and I can respond TODAY
  • If we let Him in HE will create the intimacy were were meant to have (Shalom)

Those who are victorious will sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat with my Father on his throne.

  • If we are His we will be Victorious
  • Repent and obey the Gospel and His will in your life
  • This brings us together with Christ

Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches.

  • At the end of each of the seven messages to the churches in Asia Minor
  • Jesus tell us how we can get the blessings promised for reading this letter
  • How well do WE / Midtown listen to the Spirit and understand what HE is saying?

Mark Bates:Our hearts can get addicted to ‘Salvation by works’ As a result, we often wear our good deeds like spiritual merit badges on preening chests, thinking we can impress God with our righteous acts. Like the Pharisee in Luke 18, we pride ourselves that we are not like other men. After all, we are not engaging in the perversity of our culture. Instead, we fast, tithe, read our Bibles, and serve in the church. Yet, we must realize that arrogant self-sufficiency results in disgusting works, no matter what these works may be.”

Application Questions:

What do you learn about Jesus Christ from the way He addresses Laodicea?

Where is there opportunity for you to be more ‘useful’ in The Church?

In what ways are you guilty of ‘Spiritual Self Sufficiency’?

What are the specific things you need to trust Christ for in your life rather yourself?

What daily disciplines help you cultivate a more intimate relationship with Christ?

What enables you to receive discipline & correction from God and see it as love?

What is your motivation for renewed closeness with Christ? (Your ‘WHY’)

Philadelphia: A Vision of Obedience (Rev. 3:7-13)

After the last two weeks of hearing Jesus Christ address churches mired in sin and disobedience (Thyatira & Sardis) it is awesome to have the example of Philadelphia

Statements of Affirmation regarding God’s Covenant with HIS people

How God’s people respond to His love, Grace, Mercy, Holiness and Salvation: WITH OBEDIENCE!

And we are now given this ‘Vision for Obedience’ as Christ’s Church

Write this letter to the angel of the church in Philadelphia.

  • Gateway City, an outpost for the expansion of Greek thought & language
  • Named in Greek: ‘City of Brotherly Love’ in honor of the founder’s Brother
  • New city: just over 200 years old at this point

This is the message from the one who is holy and true, the one who has the key of David. What he opens, no one can close; and what he closes, no one can open:

  • He defines a ‘Set Apart Reality’ Who He is defines who we are to be!
  • Christ is the perfection of what David was a flawed example of: Obedience

Philippians 2:8

And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!

  • The identification with Obedience as David modeled is the ‘Door Opener’
  • This is a picture of what a real relationship with God looks like (David Example)
  • What Christ opens to us is Salvation (Undeserved & Done Deal)
  • What He closes is God’s Judgement and Wrath (Deserved & Done Deal)
  • These are affirmations of the Covenant Promises made by God in The Old Test

I know all the things you do, and I have opened a door for you that no one can close.

  • He knows exactly where their hearts are by their actions
  • He Says: ‘I know the reality of your obedience and THAT is the door’
  • What they do comes from what they believe; that Jesus is The Christ!
  • Once God opens the door to you it cannot be closed (Eternal Security)

You have little strength, yet you obeyed my word and did not deny me.

  • It’s not about resources, it’s about a ‘Heart’ that obeys
  • We are to be obedient with what we have (resources can be a curse)
  • Denial of Jesus as the Christ is disobedience (in any way, shape or form)
  • What does it mean to be ‘Disobedient to The Gospel’?

Look, I will force those who belong to Satan’s synagogue—those liars who say they are Jews but are not—to come and bow down at your feet. They will acknowledge that you are the ones I love.

  • Legalistic Jews were persecuting ‘The Church’
  • To be ‘Jews’ means be God’s People… more ‘playing church’
  • The truth of who belongs to God will be found out (every knee will bow…)
  • THIS church survived, Christianity survived, the Jewish community did not

Because you have obeyed my command to persevere, I will protect you from the great time of testing that will come upon the whole world to test those who belong to this world.

  • The obedience to persevere in the face of cultural attacks takes ‘True Faith’
  • Obedience that sets us apart can only come from knowing who we belong to
  • Who do you belong to? Are you divided?

I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take away your crown.

  • The idea that he is coming soon is to remind us tomorrow can be too late
  • These guys told to hold on to what they have instead of to go back to original
  • Crowns are about rewards for faithfulness and obedience (we lay them down)

All who are victorious will become pillars in the Temple of my God, and they will never have to leave it.

  • Victorious = Biblical Salvation
  • God uses HIS people to create His place of worship!
  • Christ will use ‘The Saints’ to uphold HIS Church (Pillars)
  • This is a permanent deal (More Covenant)

And I will write on them the name of my God, and they will be citizens in the city of my God—the new Jerusalem that comes down from heaven from my God. And I will also write on them my new name.

  • This is an affirmation of who ‘Saints’ belong to
  • Citizenship in God’s city is every Saint or True Confessor’s destiny
  • This is Eternity

Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches.

  • The repetition is to call our attention to the importance of this statement
  • Listen & Understand: Life Application

Application Questions:

How is David an example to help you connect with God?

Why can it be an advantage to have little strength when seeking to obey Christ?

How do you tell the difference between being Obedient and being Legalistic?

What motivates you to persevere differently than ‘those who belong to this world’?

Why does Christ say He is coming soon?

How can you use your ‘Victory’ to be part of building a ‘Community of Worship’

In this message what’s clear about God’s Covenant with ‘those who belong to HIM’?

Sardis: ‘Playing Church’

Revelation 3:1-6

Write this letter to the angel of the church in Sardis. This is the message from the one who has the sevenfold Spirit of God and the seven stars:

  • Sevenfold = Totality
  • There is no God’s Spirit’ stuff outside of what Christ is and taught
  • The messengers (angelic or human?)
  • The Church Universal is ‘ALL’, (number seven) in His Control / Possession

I know all the things you do, and that you have a reputation for being alive—but you are dead.

  • Christ knows who and how you are, no matter what everyone else thinks
  • Demanding / Easily Offended / Entitled (can’t be Christ focused and be these)
  • Talking about consistent, unchanging attitude and action

Wake up! Strengthen what little remains, for even what is left is almost dead.

  • Being dead spiritually is like sleep walking, ask God to wake you up!
  • Christ is trying wake us up EVERY DAY!
  • Build on what you have, baby steps
  • Sow attitude, reap action, sew action, reap habit, sew a habit, reap a lifestyle
  • Is there a part of your spiritual life that needs life-support? (Purpose of Church)
  • Inaction in these areas will result in some aspect of ‘Spiritual Death’

I find that your actions do not meet the requirements of my God.

  • Our actions can never be good enough to earn salvation (Works vs Gospel)
  • All the religious posturing and posing we do cannot save us
  • What are the requirements of Jesus Christ / God?

Go back to what you heard and believed at first; hold to it firmly.

  • The original Gospel that was codified in Scripture is ALL WE NEED
  • How do we hold to it firmly?
  • Engagement / Practice / Commitment
  • To do these things we need to have a valuable ‘Why’

Repent and turn to me again. If you don’t wake up, I will come to you suddenly, as unexpected as a thief.

  • This speaks of those who had looked to Christ in the past but didn’t surrender
  • They have been exposed to the Gospel but have held God at arms length
  • God is patient, wants all to come to faith, there is an end to that at some point

Yet there are some in the church in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes with evil. They will walk with me in white, for they are worthy.

  • The only way our clothes can be unsoiled is to give our lives to Christ as Lord
  • The walking with HIM makes us white (Walking Signifies Surrender To HIM)
  • The walking comes from HIM making us worthy

All who are victorious will be clothed in white. I will never erase their names from the Book of Life, but I will announce before my Father and his angels that they are mine.

  • Symbolism of ‘Clothed in White’ a faultless state only Christ can make happen
  • Once you are there it is permanent
  • You will be known by the “All Knowing One’ and His representatives as Christ’s!

Victorious:1 John 5:1 & 4-5

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has become a child of God. And everyone who loves the Father loves his children, too…For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith. And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God.

Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches.

  • As one of Christ’s Churches be are on mission against ‘Spiritual Deadness’
  • He is saying: Be a Church that is a ‘Birth Center’ rather than ‘Hospice Care’
  • How well are we listening?

Application Questions:

Why are being demanding and easily offended symptoms of “Spiritual Deadness’

How aware are you of what needs to be strengthened in Your Spiritual life?

How might you ‘Spiritually Invest’ in the Church rather than ‘Play Church’?

Why does Christ keep telling Churches to go back to their original faith?

How do ‘Waking up’ and Repentance go together for you?

Why would Jesus Christ announce you as belonging to HIM?

Thyatira: Compromised Leadership

It is the progression of Non Biblical Theology leading to Non Christ-like Doxology

It goes from ‘tolerating some among you’ @ Pergamum to ‘permitting Jezebel to lead servants astray’ @ Thyatira

And Jesus goes from declaring the truth to pronouncing Judgement

This sort of situation comes from apathetic members not holding leaders accountable

Revelation 2:18-29

Write this letter to the angel of the church in Thyatira. This is the message from the Son of God, whose eyes are like flames of fire, whose feet are like polished bronze:

  • Thyatira: nothing special
  • Blue collar town, Trade Guilds ran the town
  • Known for Purple Dye and textiles / armor production (Where Lydia was from)
  • Along the trade route
  • ‘Son of God’ / Eyes of Fire / Feet of Bronze = Judgement…

I know all the things you do. I have seen your love, your faith, your service, and your patient endurance. And I can see your constant improvement in all these things.

  • Christ wants us to know He sees ‘All The Things’ we do,Corporate & Individual
  • He has seen the these 4 key attributes of ‘Real Deal’ Christianity
  • He has seen spiritual growth…this is what HE WANTS to see from us

But I have this complaint against you. You are permitting that woman—that Jezebel who calls herself a prophet—to lead my servants astray.

  • But all that Good can be corrupted…through corrupt leadership
  • The Church Body is called to hold leadership accountable to Scripture
  • Jezebel is a ‘Nickname’ for a person who is as evil as the OT Jezebel
  • The church is allowing her to operate in a position of authority
  • The problem is not her gender, it is her theology and practices
  • You can only lead servants astray if you have some authority (who gave it?)
  • Every Church Member shares responsibility to keep leadership ‘Biblical’

She teaches them to commit sexual sin and to eat food offered to idols. I gave her time to repent, but she does not want to turn away from her immorality.

  • Same Heresy, different situation
  • Pergamum & Smyrna people were bringing Heresy in, here it is in the leadership
  • What was being taught in other cities was good but people were disobeying
  • Here they are being ‘Taught’ what is wrong / non biblical (Heresy)
  • God has waited for her to turn, but she had made her choice

Therefore, I will throw her on a bed of suffering, and those who commit adultery with her will suffer greatly unless they repent and turn away from her evil deeds. I will strike her children dead.

  • Her and those being deceived will suffer judgement
  • But God is STILL ready for them to repent
  • Those who replicate her ‘Spiritual DNA’ will be ‘Spiritually Dead’

Then all the churches will know that I am the one who searches out the thoughts and intentions of every person. And I will give to each of you whatever you deserve.

  • ‘The Churches’ means those with God’s Spirit inside them
  • They will have clarity about God’s Omniscience
  • They will have clarity about God’s Justice
  • He knows it all and so His justice is perfect

But I also have a message for the rest of you in Thyatira who have not followed this false teaching (‘deeper truths,’ as they call them—depths of Satan, actually). I will ask nothing more of you except that you hold tightly to what you have until I come.

  • Non Biblical Doctrine is always presented as a ‘deeper, more enlightened understanding’ (it plays to our PRIDE)
  • The fear is of being ‘left out’ or being ‘Old Fashioned’ or being ‘Traditional’
  • God says: don’t go looking for ‘New’ spirituality, hold fast the to the Biblical Gospel.
  • If the Gospel is enough we don’t need to ‘Reinvent the Wheel’

To all who are victorious, who obey me to the very end: ‘To them I will give authority over all the nations. They will rule the nations with an iron rod and smash them like clay pots’.

  • The Victor is won for us, we yield by God’s Spirit to surrender
  • Victory is ‘Expressed’ with consistent obedience
  • Christ quotes Psalm 2 (About God’s Final Authority)

They will have the same authority I received from my Father, and I will also give them the morning star!

  • Oneness with ‘The Son’
  • ‘Co-heirs with Christ’

Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches.

  • The repetition of this sentence is important
  • Here it comes at the end, instead of before promises to ‘All who are Victorious’
  • The last three messages after this one all end like this.

Application Questions:

What about how Jesus describes Himself is interesting to you?

Where do you see love, faith, service and patience constantly improving in your life?

What cultural influences can lead you astray? What are wise precautions?

What does Scripture teach about leaders of Christ’s Body & their accountability?

What can we learn about God’s justice from this passage?

If God knows your thoughts and intention why it is important to embrace repentance?

Do you have a plan for how you will obey Christ until the very end?

Pergamum: ‘Loyal To The Truth’

The truth matters! The truth of God’s Word / Jesus Christ matters!

The truth is a rare commodity in a information age. I encourage you to dig for the truth, the only way to be well informed is to have multiple source who acknowledge their bias. If they do not acknowledge their bias they are trying to deceive.

So there is a battle for your ‘Heart’. Who and what has captured your heart?

The word ‘tolerate’. The Cult of Tolerance in our world is not about ‘The Truth’

Beware when ‘The World’ tells you that ‘Everyone’ should agree that _______

Do not detach the message from the messenger: ‘Test the spirits’

1st John 4:1

Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world.

We have to see and fight for truth and protect our lives & minds from being corrupted

The danger is not in the outright lie, but in the subtle distortion of truth

Beware the ‘Truth Plus’…the tolerance of untruth along with truth

The message to the church in Pergamum is very relevant to us here today.

Revelation 2:12-17

Write this letter to the angel of the church in Pergamum. This is the message from the one with the sharp two-edged sword:

  • Provincial Roman Capital City ‘Seat of Power’ (Temple of the Imperial Cult)
  • Art, Science & Technology ‘Parchment’
  • Healing Cult of ‘Esculapius’ (Serpent)
  • Library 2nd only to Alexandria in Ancient World (Mark Anthony Gift to Cleopatra)
  • High level of ‘Spirituality’…
  • The two edged sword: The Truth / God’s Word / 2 edges signifies separating

I know that you live in the city where Satan has his throne, yet you have remained loyal to me. You refused to deny me even when Antipas, my faithful witness, was martyred among you there in Satan’s city.

  • Satan is empowered when he is worshiped…
  • Satan sets himself up to be worshiped in deceptive ways
  • Pergamum: Zeus / Snake Healer / Emperor
  • But the church as a whole had remained loyal to Jesus Christ
  • The martyrdom of Antipas: Refusal to worship the Emperor
  • The definition of faithful witness: He was confessing / preaching Christ Jesus

But I have a few complaints against you. You tolerate some among you whose teaching is like that of Balaam, who showed Balak how to trip up the people of Israel.

  • What does it mean to tolerate? Is it ok to not tolerate evil?
  • Can followers of Jesus Christ say “we will not tolerate Evil”?
  • Balaam’s teaching is a perversion of Christian Liberty
  • The intermixing of evil with God’s people & God’s way is what Balak did
  • This is the error of becoming ‘Worldly’ or ‘Married to the World’
  • Pergamum means: Completely Married

He taught them to sin by eating food offered to idols and by committing sexual sin. In a similar way, you have some Nicolaitans among you who follow the same teaching.

  • Taking part in some of the Temple festivities & practices / Mixing lifestyle
  • The Nicolaitans their current example of this heresy…we have our examples

Repent of your sin, or I will come to you suddenly and fight against them with the sword of my mouth.

  • Christ says the church body has sin in this area (individuals and corporately)
  • Repentance is how we connect to ‘The Truth’
  • We can learn with spiritual sensitivity and humility or…
  • He will come amongst us and fight the ‘Grace Abusers’ with HIS Truth
  • It will be a lesson we learn but it will be with conflict and pain (the sword)

Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches.

  • We’re called to obedience by God’s Spirit as one Body, we understand together
  • We must consider what is important to our Lord as important to us

To everyone who is victorious I will give some of the manna that has been hidden away in heaven.

  • The reward of the intimate presence of Christ
  • God sustained the Israelites with mana, Christ declared he was that same thing
  • Only by standing for ‘The Truth’ will you get to be standing with ‘The Truth’

And I will give to each one a white stone, and on the stone will be engraved a new name that no one understands except the one who receives it.

  • The personal identity of exactly who God made you to be
  • You will be exactly who God made you to be and you will know it

Repentance is Crucial

Application Questions

What areas of your life are more impacted by Satan’s Throne than by Christ’s Truth?

What does ‘remaining loyal’ & being A Faithful Witness look like in your life?

How do we figure out what we as ‘Christ’s Body’ should not tolerate?

What sins of association, compliance, and silence do you need to repent of?

How might we raise our cultural value of ‘repentance’ here @ Midtown?

Why should we care about getting Hidden Manna or A White Stone?