Revivalist preachers of the early 20th century used to say 95% of American churchgoers were on their way to hell. Not sure how they knew that. But, it does make me wonder what they would say about today’s churchgoing populace. Ninety six percent? Ninety seven?
Regardless of numbers, the book of Revelation gives crystal clear insight into the impending judgment of Christ upon earth and does indicate that a vast majority of supposedly saved people are not saved at all. The book goes on to ardently urge people become faithful so they are set apart and protected from judgment. In Revelation 3, we read a convicting warning to churchgoers of Laodicea who call themselves “Christians” but are not fully committed to Christ.
FEAR BEING LUKEWARM
In Revelation 3:15 Jesus says, “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. Jesus is making the point that He sees the business, efforts, and life display of the Laodicean church and wishes that they’d make up their mind to be either passionately Christian or just overtly pagan. In Christ’s mind, it’s better that they go party with the pagans in Las Vegas than stick around on Sunday and pretend to care!
Why would Christ rather a person be cold than neutral? The answer likely lies in the ancient work of Lucifer who works as the father of lies. Do you remember how Satan tricked Eve? He got her to question God’s truthfulness, getting her to believe that she knew better than God, and could have a life better than that promised by God (Gen 3:1-5). Satan has been up to the same trick for 6,000 years – getting people to believe they’re good, while they’re bad. Getting people to believe they’re saved, while they’re damned.
Last week a well-known religious singer released a letter stating, “he’s divorcing his wife and leaving his two children because he’s gay and has accepted whom God made him.” He’s now planning a tour of both “churches” and gay pride parades. Friends, this man’s letter precisely states Satan’s ploy, and why Christ disallows lukewarm behavior – Cut up God’s word, urge people accept what they do like, have them dismiss what they do not like, and elevate themselves as mini-god, all the while clearing their conscience while they walk straight to damnation.
Christ commands clarity. He knows that Satan desires confusion. Christ wants a group who’s passionate for His truth, or a group who’s clearly resigned themselves to their selfish ways. But, He detests those who join Satan “pretending” in the middle.
Christ detests this behavior so much so that He tells the Laodiceans, “I will spit you out of My mouth!” (Rev 3:16) The Laodiceans had built a large aquifer running from the Lycas River into town so they knew what muddy tepid water tasted like. Christ says, “That’s you, and I’ll spit you out!”
Check out the intensity of this response compared to the other six churches in Revelation: To Ephesus Christ says, “I have this against you” (Rev 2:4), to Smyrna “I know your tribulation” (Rev 2:9), to Pergamum “I will make war against them” (Rev 2:16), to Thyatira “I will cast her (Jezebel) into tribulation “ (Rev 2:22), to Sardis “I will come like a thief” (Rev 3:3), and Philadelphia “I will keep you from the hour of test” (Rev 3:10). Do you see the difference between the other six and Laodicea? Christ leaves and out, an opportunity, for each of the other six, and only judges the wicked in them all! But not Laodicea, for Laodicea, it’s one lump judgment, and they all get His wrath! “Laodicea, I know YOUR deeds, that YOU are neither cold nor hot, because YOU are lukewarm, I’ll spit YOU out!”
If you’ve been taught that God, or Christ, is always merciful and never judgmental, take time to read how God responded to the nation of Israel in Exodus 32, or how Christ will respond when He returns in Revelation 19-20. Friends, Christ is very patient, and very merciful, but He is also just, and no deed will go without account. Every thought, every word, and every action will one day be brought before the throne of Christ. Anthropomorphically speaking, some people make God pleased, some make Him cry, some make Him angry, and some just plain make Him sick.
Why did the Laodiceans make Christ sick? Revelations 3:17 tells us, “Because you say, ‘I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing, and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked…’” Why did Laodicea make Christ sick? Because they thought they had it all together! The term “have become wealthy” is in the perfect tense describing a completed action with finished results. They were sitting back comfy, in their nice Sunday suits, in their big buildings, with a nice children’s program, saying, and “We’ve arrived.” Yet, Christ says you’re spiritually a beggar! The imagery is graphic – that of a homeless beggar, with tattered rags, and missing teeth. Not a penny to his name. Yet, he sits on a plush couch in the alleyway, pretending to be Donald Trump or Jay-Z. We would pity that man and take him to get help! He would be called “delusional.” Yet, this is precisely what Christ says about the churchgoer who is content with himself and feels no need for help.
PAY THE PRICE OF FAITH
If you find yourself this self-sufficient-con-artist type of Christian what should you do? Jesus answers, “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.” (Rev 3:17-18) Christ’s point to this rich, industrially focused church (which shipped medicine and linens around the world) is to stop putting hope in EARTHLY items and start paying the price for HEAVENLY ones!
In brief, anyone who lives out a lukewarm version of Christianity needs to compare their faith (gold) to the word of God, their works (robes) to the word of God, and their knowledge (eyes) to the world of God (Ps 119:9, 105, 119). When a falsified, self-satisfied, proto-churchgoer falls to their knees in repentance, and asks Christ open their eyes, He WILL anoint their eyes to see with new heavenly faith and knowledge. They will suddenly begin to see things they’ve never seen before. What will you see?
Truly See Yourself
Your anointed eyes will suddenly be aware of the eternal battle for life and death which wages war inside your heart. For years you will have operated with only one proclivity – selfish desire. Yet, suddenly through Christ, you are given a new nature, realizing that there is now a battle for your affections, and the nature you feed the most, will win the fight for your allegiance.
Truly See the World
Your anointed eyes will suddenly see the world for what it is – bleak, dark, sinful, and an enemy of God – what Bunyan in Pilgrim’s Progress called Vanity Fair – the ongoing party, searching for satisfaction, ever-aging, diseased bodies and lonely souls, nothing but a barren wasteland.
Truly See the Future
Your anointed eyes will suddenly see the bright firmament of heaven rising above the murky waters of Vanity Fair! No matter how hard earth tries; crowds of a stadium, mass genocide, school shootings, New Year’s celebration, or promise of euphoria, all will pale in comparison to the glowing light of heaven and account given one day before Christ.
How do you get these eyes? Jesus says, “I advise you to buy (aquire) from Me…” Acquire agorazo in the Greek means pay the ransom price – the illustration is of a person approaching Christ’s Calvary Superstore and paying the entire price – the totality of his person – in exchange for Christ’s blessings and promises. This is what Jesus called, “Denying self” and what Paul called, “Working out salvation with fear and trembling.” It’s an image of entire surrender, complete commitment, and 100% faith, counting the entire cost, to follow Christ.
Dear friend, Satan has hijacked the word “faith” from our American vocabulary. He has contorted it to mean a mere “verbal assent” when in reality true faith is followed by a transformed life. To truly accept that there is a Savior of the universe, to truly believe that He is the only solution for all sin and entrance into heaven, naturally demands a wholehearted devotion to His commands – any faith, which is not followed by transformation, is false faith!
Many modern churchgoers walk into the Calvary Superstore and quickly pray a prayer, tossing a nickel across the counter at Jesus. Friend, he steps back and watches that pithy payment spin on the counter and tinkle to the floor… you must throw YOURSELF on the counter! Approach Christ, fall to your knees, and offer all of you for all of Him – trust me, you will win greatly in this exchange!
What is the outcome of true and entire faith? Revelation 3:18 concludes, “and the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed…” If we don’t buy His goods, we’ll be forced to pay with what we have on the last day, and all heaven will watch as we (like the delusional beggar) stand before God muttering our pedantic reasons for gaining entrance into His holy heaven – rejection will be the response, damnation the result!
PREPARE FOR ETERNITY
Here we read one of the most frightening moments in all Scripture… Jesus says, “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.” (Rev 3:20) Christ is outside of a church knocking to get in! A “church” won’t let Him in! Doesn’t that make you cry? The Laodicean church is too busy with politics, posting videos, building water parks, and releasing chart-topping albums, that no one opens their Bible or gets on their knees to pray! Sound familiar?
For centuries churches held Sunday morning service, Sunday night service, Monday prayer meeting, Wednesday study. Today, thousands will gather at churches for a Sunday morning 27 minute service or Friday night pop artist, but no one will show up to pray! Does it really matter if a church owns a city block, releases a dozen books, and puts out a chart topper if no one wants to dine with Christ?
Jesus says, “If anyone hears My voice…” Apparently, the pastor at Laodicea had long ignored Him and Jesus is looking for anyone… even a boy or girl from the children’s ministry, to speak with! Brothers, if your pastor (me included) don’t model 100% devotion to Christ, lead the church deeper into the full gospel, prayer, and equipping of the saints for ministry, then you MUST gather your family and flee. Jettison yourself far from anything that calls itself Christian but ignores the voice of Christ!
“He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne…” (Rev 3:21) Christ will share His coming kingdom with those who overcome – the world may reject your words, disease may destroy your body, but the true Christian’s soul will grow ever closer to Christ, and Satan will not deter his faith.
I’ve heard many preachers say the final words of Christ to His church are from the Great Commission, “Go into all the world…” But they’re wrong… The final words of Christ to His church are right here in the book of Revelation where He commands, “Repent!”
Are you lukewarm? Repent, or you will be spit out.