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October 23: Humble Dependence (Revelation 3:14-22)

Prepare for Sunday morning worship using the guide below.

Adult Education

This Sunday we will continue a series on personal evangelism at 9:00am in the youth room. Ray Rutledge will be in the Adult 1 classroom continuing through The Gospel Project (currently going through the Old Testament).

Revelation 3:14-22

[14] “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God's creation.

[15] “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! [16] So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. [17] For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. [18] I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. [19] Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so 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 eat with him, and he with me. [21] The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. [22] He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”

Sermon Summary

In our passage for this Sunday we read the last of the letters to the seven churches, addressed to the church at Laodicea. Like Sardis, this is a church that received no commendation from the Lord, only condemnation. The spiritual condition of the members of this church so disgusted Jesus that He described them as something fit to be spat out of His mouth. What was it about their spiritual state that provoked the Lord to give such strong words? Consider how the Lord described them: “For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.”

From history, we learn that Laodicea was a materially wealthy city. Ironically, their prosperity led to a feeling of spiritual self-sufficiency whereby their faith rested on their wealth and their ability to create wealth. They may have thought that because things were going well temporally, they are in good standing with God. Jesus tells them that the reality is just the opposite of how they saw themselves.

But in the midst the darkness of Christ’s condemning words, His compassion shines through as He extends the gospel invitation to the church, expressed through metaphors as “buying gold, white garments and eye salve” from Him, Jesus “standing at the door and knocking,” and Him “having a fellowship meal” with the believer. God’s mercy extends even to bodies that have just about forgotten Him, and if there are churches out there that are like the Laodicean church, there is hope for them.

May we, as a church body, never forget the reality of our total dependence on God to do what is pleasing to Him.

Review and Apply

1.  Think back on times of prosperity and times of difficulty in your life. In your recollection, was there a difference in your feeling of dependence on God between those times?

2.  Can you think of some aspect of Christian living that God has called us to obedience (e.g., sharing the gospel, giving to the church, loving our enemy, etc.) that you find difficult or intimidating? How does “stretching” ourselves in those areas help us combat spiritual self-sufficiency? (see 2 Corinthians 12:9)

3.  The Laodiceans did not invite Christ to assess them spiritually, but in His mercy the Lord did so anyway – they needed it. What do you think are reasons why it’s so difficult for us to let a trustworthy brother or sister do a spiritual check-up on us? Or even to do it on ourselves?

4.  In our passage, consider the gracious invitations that Jesus extended to the Laodicean church. Meditate on them, apply the invitation to yourself and give thanks to God for His mercy.