Sermon #8                      Christ’s Warnings To The Churches[1]


          Title:                   Christ’s Letter to

the Church at Laodicea

          Text:            Revelation 3:14-22

          Readings:     Paul Winderl – Mark Henson

          Subject:       Lukewarm Religion - Gradual Apostasy

          Date:            Tuesday Evening - July 13, 1999

                             Tuesday Evening - August 3, 1999

          Tape #         V-36b V-38b



          The Lord Jesus Christ ought to be loved ardently, with an all-consuming love. He ought to be served with an all-consuming zeal.


·        Behold, how he loved us!


·        Behold, how zealously he served us!


          Yet, there are many who, professing to know him, professing to trust him, professing to love him. are lukewarm, apathetic, indifferent toward him. And, it must be acknowledged that even those who do truly know, trust, and love him, because of the weakness of our flesh, because of our own sinfulness and corruption of heart by nature, struggle incessantly with a horrid tendency toward lukewarmness. Tonight, I want to deal plainly and honestly with this terrible, terrible, inexcusable sin.


Revelation 3:14-22  "And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; (15) I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. (16) So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. (17) Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: (18) I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. (19) As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. (20) Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. (21) To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. (22) He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches."


          Laodicea was a famous city of great wealth in Asia Minor. It was the commercial, financial center of the region. Laodicea was the home of millionaires. It had three marble theaters, a great stadium, and a huge gymnasium equipped with baths. There was a famous school of medicine at Laodicea, which, among other things, claimed to have produced a remedy for weak eyes. The city was also well known for its hot-springs, which emitted lukewarm water continually.


          The people of Laodicea were rich. They were the envy of the world; and they knew it. They were very proud of themselves. Really, they were unbearable snobs! This arrogant “we are it” attitude was also found in the church at Laodicea. Perhaps they thought that their wealth was a sign of God’s favor. But, in general, the church at Laodicea had gradually become a lukewarm, apostate, useless assembly of religionists, without life before God. It was in danger of being entirely rejected by Christ.


          Apparently, this church was at one time a healthy, strong, spiritually vibrant congregation, a pillar of truth, and a lighthouse in the midst of great darkness. Paul, at least once, wrote a letter to this Laodicean church. He talked about it with warmth, and never mentioned anything amiss concerning it (Col. 2:1-2; 4:13-16). Since the apostle Paul held this church in such high esteem, it is safe for us to assume that, at least during his ministry, it was a strong, vibrant congregation.


          But something went wrong. In the process of time this great church, once on fire for God, degenerated into a sickening state of lukewarmness. It became careless, lax, and indifferent.

·        Perhaps the earlier generation had died out.

·        Perhaps its wealth had seduced this assembly into worldliness.

·        Perhaps its freedom from persecution had produced in the people a sense of carnal ease.

Whatever the cause, the church was now in a state that was nauseating to the Son of God. It was neither cold nor hot, but lukewarm.


          Nothing can be done with lukewarm people. There is hope for cold, hardened rebels. And it is a great joy to work with men and women whose hearts glow with love and zeal for Christ. But lukewarm religionists are sickening, nauseating, disgusting! Even Christ himself cannot stand them. He says, “because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth.”


May God the Holy Spirit now be our Teacher. May he graciously and effectually apply this portion of Holy Scripture to our hearts, lest we gradually degenerate into this state of lukewarmness.


Proposition:         Lukewarmness, apathy and indifference, toward Christ betrays the apostasy of the heart from Christ.


Divisions:    As we look at our Lord’s letter to this Laodicean church, I want to call your attention to three things in it:

1.     The Charge of Lukewarmness (vv. 14-17)

2.     The Counsel of Love (vv. 18-19)

3.     The Call to Life (vv. 20-22)


I.     The Charge of Lukewarmness (vv. 14-17)


Revelation 3:14-17  "And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; (15) I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. (16) So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. (17) Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:"


          In these verses, the Lord Jesus Christ lays a solemn charge against the church at Laodicea. It is a charge that would most assuredly be followed by judgment, if they did not repent. The charge was lukewarmness, apathy, indifference, and carelessness.


Let us be warned. Lukewarmness is gradual apostasy, lingering death, and the forerunner of judgment. Stephen Charnock was exactly right when he wrote, “If once we become listless, we shall quickly become lifeless.” Complacency is a spiritual sickness that usually ends in spiritual death. May God save us from this plague which seems to have swept through the church of the twentieth century.


A.  This, like the other six, letter was addressed to the angel, the pastor, of the church at Laodicea.


          It appears that there were some in the church whose hearts were true; but, generally speaking, the whole congregation was insensitive to Christ, the gospel of his grace, and the glory of his name. There was no fire in the pulpit and no warmth in the pew.


B.  This message of stern reproof came from Christ himself, the righteous Judge.


          He calls himself “the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God.”


1.   Christ is “The Amen.” - He is steady, unchangeable, immutable in all things. His purpose will stand. His promises are sure. His word is true.


·        Malachi 3:6

·        Hebrews 13:8

·        2 Corinthians 1:20


2.   Our Lord Jesus is “The Faithful and True Witness.”


He who is our Judge is faithful and true in his judgment. What he says is true; and what he does is just. Because he is both faithful and true...

·        Christ’s testimony of God to men is to be received and believed.

·        And his testimony to God about men will be received.

Those whose names Christ confesses to the Father will be accepted. And those lukewarm, carnal ones who merely profess faith in his name, whom Christ shall deny before his Father, shall be rejected.


3.   Then, our Savior calls himself “The Beginning of the Creation of God.”


          Do not let that language confuse you. This is just another way of saying that he is himself God. He who is the parent, producer, and first cause of all things is himself God.


John 1:1-3  "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (2) The same was in the beginning with God. (3) All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made."


Hebrews 1:1-3  "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, (2) Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; (3) Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;"


Jesus Christ, our Savior, the Son of God is the One who began everything that is, has been, or shall hereafter be. He is the beginning of the old creation. He created all things out of nothing. And he is the head and beginning of the new creation, the church and kingdom of God. Jesus Christ is “the everlasting Father” (Isa. 9:6) from whom all things have life.


          “The Lord reveals himself here as the One whose eyes not only see exactly what is going on in the hearts of these people of Laodicea but whose lips also declare the exact truth of what is seen.”                                                                  (William Hendriksen)


          As he describes himself here, Christ is saying to the Laodiceans, You are dead. You need life. You need a new heart. Look to me. Turn to me. I can make you new creatures!


C. Then, in verses 15-17, the Son of God draws up a solemn indictment against this church at Laodicea.


          He says to the church as a whole, to the pastor, to the elders, to the deacons, to the teachers, and to the people in general, “Thou art lukewarm.” They had been so secure. They thought they were healthy and strong. But Christ knew their hearts. He said, “Thou art lukewarm.”


1.   Christ, who is our Life, charges this congregation of professed believers with spiritual death (v. 15).


Revelation 3:15  "I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot."


          The Laodiceans were not hypocrites. They were deceived. They were blind men who thought they had perfect vision. They were dead men who thought they were alive. They were lost people who were very sure they were saved.


          Lukewarmness, apathy and indifference, regarding the Lord Jesus Christ is the very worst condition a person can be in in this world. If Jesus Christ is real, then he is the unspeakable gift of God. We should earnestly seek him, lovingly embrace him, and zealously serve him. If he is an impostor, then he is the most vile impostor the world has ever known, and we should earnestly oppose him.


If Jesus Christ is worth anything, he is worth everything! “Why halt ye between two opinions?” If Jesus Christ is God our Savior, faithful and true, we should devote ourselves to him totally. If he is not, we should set ourselves against him totally!


Concerning the Son of God and the gospel of his grace there is no room for neutrality! Matthew Henry wrote, “Christ expects that men should declare themselves in earnest, either for him or against him.” With Joshua, I hope we can, each of us, declare, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”


          Indifference is an intolerable evil. Our Lord says, “I would thou wert cold or hot.” It is better to be utterly ignorant of the gospel than to be a vain, carnal, indifferent, lukewarm professor of faith. These Laodiceans...

·        Professed faith in Christ, but had no interest in promoting it.

·        Professed love for Christ, but had no real, heart attachment to him.

·        Professed allegiance to the gospel, but had no zeal for the gospel. They were lukewarm!


2.   This lukewarmness, this apathy and indifference toward the Son of God, is nauseating to him (V. 16).


Revelation 3:16  "So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth."


          He threatens, “I will spew thee out of my mouth.” As lukewarm water turns the stomach and induces vomiting, so lukewarm religion turns the stomach of the Son of God and sickens him! Those are not my words, but his. Lukewarm religion turns his stomach and sickens him! Men excuse their apathy, calling it moderation, charity, and meekness. But Christ looks upon it as effeminacy. Quite literally, the Lord is saying, “I am gagging on you. I am about to vomit you out of my mouth!”


          This is Christ’s warning to all compromising fence-straddlers, who try to serve God and mammon. They shall be rejected, completely rejected, and forever rejected!


3.   One great cause of this Laodicean lukewarmness was their foolish pride (v. 17).


Revelation 3:17  "Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:"


          Their pride deceived their hearts. These men and women had a very high opinion of themselves. Therefore they had a very low opinion of Christ. They flattered themselves with the delusion that all was well, when in fact nothing was well. They were doctrinally sound and morally pure; but they were spiritually dead. They had a great name to uphold, a sound creed to defend, and religious ceremonies to maintain. All they lacked was life!


a.   Look at the high opinion they had of themselves. - “Thou sayest, I am rich and increased with goods, and have need of nothing.”


          Without a doubt, this congregation was materially wealthy, rich and getting richer every day. They had no earthly needs. But riches seldom do any good for churches or for men who seek to serve Christ. The problem was that these rich men and women presumed that they were rich toward God, that their souls were rich in spiritual things.

·        They knew the way of life. So they presumed that they were in the Way.

·        They had the doctrines of Christ. So they presumed that they had the life of Christ.

·        They had the gifts of the Spirit. So they presumed that they had the grace of the Spirit.

·        They kept the ordinances of God. So they presumed that they had the power of God.


          How careful, how careful we must be that we do not deceive our own souls. There are multitudes in hell today who once thought they were heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ!


Psalms 139:23-24  "Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: (24) And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."


          Be warned, my friend, there is nothing more dangerous, more deadly, or more damning to your soul than self-complacency, self-satisfaction, and self-conceit. Complacency, satisfaction with yourself, is your soul’s most deadly enemy.


b.   Now, look at the opinion Christ had of these proud, secure Laodiceans (v. 17).


          Though they knew it not, Christ knew that they were “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.”


·        They were poor spiritually. Their souls were starving, though they lived in affluence.


·        They were blind spiritually. Yet, they thought they had perfect vision. The light that was in them was darkness. They could not see their own condition. And they could not see the things of God (John 3:3; I Cor. 2:14).


·        They were naked. Their righteousnesses were filthy rags. They had nothing but their rags of self-righteousness to cover them. And those rags were filthy. Not only were they naked before God, their filthy rags of self-righteousness increased their defilement.


·       Though they were very religious and moral, the Laodiceans were sinners, dead before God in trespasses and sins; and as such they were both wretched and miserable.


          They were “wretched,” deserving of the wrath of God, under the just sentence of death, and in danger of hell. And there was nothing they could do to change their condition. They were “miserable,” or pitiable. Who is more to be pitied than a person who imagines he is a true believer and an object of Christ’s favor, while in reality he is utterly disgusting and revolting to the Son of God?


Application: Do not be so foolish as to read this charge of lukewarmness as a mere historical narrative about a church that once existed in Laodicea. This is a message from Christ to you and me. Will you honestly examine yourself? Will I? Let us ask of God that he will show us our true condition before him.


1.     Lukewarmness is indifference, apathy, and complacency regarding the things of God.

2.     Lukewarmness is caused by self-satisfaction and carnal security.

3.     Lukewarmness will result in reprobation. Apostasy is always followed by reprobation.


The Lord Jesus Christ does reject men and women who reject his counsel (Hos. 4:17).


Hosea 4:17  "Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone."


Our Lord does stamp Ichabod upon the doors of churches where once his glory was revealed and known (Jer. 7:12-16).


Jeremiah 7:12-16  "But go ye now unto my place which was in Shiloh, where I set my name at the first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of my people Israel. (13) And now, because ye have done all these works, saith the LORD, and I spake unto you, rising up early and speaking, but ye heard not; and I called you, but ye answered not; (14) Therefore will I do unto this house, which is called by my name, wherein ye trust, and unto the place which I gave to you and to your fathers, as I have done to Shiloh. (15) And I will cast you out of my sight, as I have cast out all your brethren, even the whole seed of Ephraim. (16) Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to me: for I will not hear thee."


Very often, if not always, those whom God has rejected are so far from knowing that judgment has fallen upon them, that they vainly imagine that God is greatly blessing them.


                   Illustration:          The Nation of Israel

                                                BS - KC - JW


II. The Counsel of Love (vv. 18-19)


Revelation 3:18-19  "I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. (19) As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent."


          What a tender, compassionate Savior Christ is! He stoops to counsel and reason with sinful men (Isa. 1:18).


Isaiah 1:18  "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool."


He counsels sinners to buy salvation from him (Isa. 55:1-7), though we often cast his counsel behind our backs!


Isaiah 55:1-7  "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. (2) Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. (3) Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David. (4) Behold, I have given him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people. (5) Behold, thou shalt call a nation that thou knowest not, and nations that knew not thee shall run unto thee because of the LORD thy God, and for the Holy One of Israel; for he hath glorified thee. (6) Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: (7) Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon."


There is hope for sinners so long as Christ, the sinners’ Friend speaks graciously by the gospel. “Today, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts!” (Heb. 3:7-8).


Hebrews 3:7-8  "Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, (8) Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness:"


          Here is the counsel of love which the Son of God gives to wretched, miserable, poor, blind, naked sinners, even to proud, self-righteous sinners.


A.  Our Lord counsels the poor to buy of him gold tried in the fire.


          The exceeding riches of God’s grace in Christ is like gold. But, as gold is refined by fire, so the grace of God comes to sinners only through the blood of the crucified Substitute, who endured the fire of God’s wrath for us.


·        Grace is gold that was refined in the oven of God’s infinite wrath and justice at Calvary.


·        Like gold, the grace of God in Christ makes poor sinners rich before God.


2 Corinthians 8:9  "For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich."


B.  Christ counsels naked souls to buy of him white raiment.


          This, of course, refers to his perfect righteousness. It is white because it is pure. It is called raiment because like a garment it warms, beautifies, and adorns us, making us perfect, holy, and blameless before the Lord God himself!


Ezekiel 16:6-14  "And when I passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thine own blood, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live; yea, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live. (7) I have caused thee to multiply as the bud of the field, and thou hast increased and waxen great, and thou art come to excellent ornaments: thy breasts are fashioned, and thine hair is grown, whereas thou wast naked and bare. (8) Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold, thy time was the time of love; and I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness: yea, I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord GOD, and thou becamest mine. (9) Then washed I thee with water; yea, I thoroughly washed away thy blood from thee, and I anointed thee with oil. (10) I clothed thee also with broidered work, and shod thee with badgers' skin, and I girded thee about with fine linen, and I covered thee with silk. (11) I decked thee also with ornaments, and I put bracelets upon thy hands, and a chain on thy neck. (12) And I put a jewel on thy forehead, and earrings in thine ears, and a beautiful crown upon thine head. (13) Thus wast thou decked with gold and silver; and thy raiment was of fine linen, and silk, and broidered work; thou didst eat fine flour, and honey, and oil: and thou wast exceeding beautiful, and thou didst prosper into a kingdom. (14) And thy renown went forth among the heathen for thy beauty: for it was perfect through my comeliness, which I had put upon thee, saith the Lord GOD."


Song of Songs 4:1  "Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair; thou hast doves' eyes within thy locks: thy hair is as a flock of goats, that appear from mount Gilead."


Song of Songs 4:7  "Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee."


Song of Songs 4:9-11  "Thou hast ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse; thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes, with one chain of thy neck. (10) How fair is thy love, my sister, my spouse! how much better is thy love than wine! and the smell of thine ointments than all spices! (11) Thy lips, O my spouse, drop as the honeycomb: honey and milk are under thy tongue; and the smell of thy garments is like the smell of Lebanon."


C. The Lord Jesus counsels spiritually blind sinners to anoint their eyes with eyesalve, that they might see.


          The eyesalve in this text is the gospel of the grace of God. When applied to our hearts by the grace and power of God the Holy Spirit, it illuminates our souls and brings us out of darkness into God’s marvelous light. This blessed eyesalve gives us “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6).


1.     Only in the gospel of substitutionary redemption can we see the glory of God revealed in saving sinners (Rom. 3:24-26).


2.     God’s glory is his grace and righteousness in Christ (Ex. 33:18 - 34:7).


3.     Though this eyesalve can only be effectually applied to sinners by the irresistible grace and power of God the Holy Spirit, we must each personally apply it to ourselves.


·        By Hearing It (Rom. 10:17).

·        By Believing It (Acts 6:31).

·        By Seeking to Understand It (Ps. 86:11; 119:26-27).


Psalms 86:11  "Teach me thy way, O LORD; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name."


Psalms 119:26-27  "I have declared my ways, and thou heardest me: teach me thy statutes. (27) Make me to understand the way of thy precepts: so shall I talk of thy wondrous works."


          This is the wise and gracious counsel of the Son of God, the Wonderful Counselor. If we follow his counsel, he is honor-bound to make it effectual. Will you obey his voice?


D. The Son of God graciously rebukes and chastens the people he loves, tenderly, but effectually, causing them to repent and come to him (v. 19).


Psalms 65:4  "Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts: we shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, even of thy holy temple."


Hosea 2:6-20  "Therefore, behold, I will hedge up thy way with thorns, and make a wall, that she shall not find her paths. (7) And she shall follow after her lovers, but she shall not overtake them; and she shall seek them, but shall not find them: then shall she say, I will go and return to my first husband; for then was it better with me than now. (8) For she did not know that I gave her corn, and wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold, which they prepared for Baal. (9) Therefore will I return, and take away my corn in the time thereof, and my wine in the season thereof, and will recover my wool and my flax given to cover her nakedness. (10) And now will I discover her lewdness in the sight of her lovers, and none shall deliver her out of mine hand. (11) I will also cause all her mirth to cease, her feast days, her new moons, and her sabbaths, and all her solemn feasts. (12) And I will destroy her vines and her fig trees, whereof she hath said, These are my rewards that my lovers have given me: and I will make them a forest, and the beasts of the field shall eat them. (13) And I will visit upon her the days of Baalim, wherein she burned incense to them, and she decked herself with her earrings and her jewels, and she went after her lovers, and forgat me, saith the LORD. (14) Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her. (15) And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt. (16) And it shall be at that day, saith the LORD, that thou shalt call me Ishi; and shalt call me no more Baali. (17) For I will take away the names of Baalim out of her mouth, and they shall no more be remembered by their name. (18) And in that day will I make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven, and with the creeping things of the ground: and I will break the bow and the sword and the battle out of the earth, and will make them to lie down safely. (19) And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies. (20) I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the LORD."


          Christ will not lose the soul he loves. Every blood bought child shall be brought by his grace to repentance. He may lead you through great difficulties and terrifying troubles to cause you to come to him, but if you are his, he will get your attention and fetch you to himself. If he has to set your barley field on fire, he will set your barley field on fire. If he has to send a swarm of bees, he will send a swarm of bees. If he has to kill your child, he will kill your child. But he will make you willing to come to him.


Psalms 107  "O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever. (2) Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy; (3) And gathered them out of the lands, from the east, and from the west, from the north, and from the south.


(4) They wandered in the wilderness in a solitary way; they found no city to dwell in. (5) Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them. (6) Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distresses. (7) And he led them forth by the right way, that they might go to a city of habitation. (8) Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! (9) For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.


(10) Such as sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, being bound in affliction and iron; (11) Because they rebelled against the words of God, and contemned the counsel of the most High: (12) Therefore he brought down their heart with labour; they fell down, and there was none to help. (13) Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them out of their distresses. (14) He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and brake their bands in sunder. (15) Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! (16) For he hath broken the gates of brass, and cut the bars of iron in sunder.


(17) Fools because of their transgression, and because of their iniquities, are afflicted. (18) Their soul abhorreth all manner of meat; and they draw near unto the gates of death. (19) Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he saveth them out of their distresses. (20) He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions. (21) Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! (22) And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare his works with rejoicing.


(23) They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; (24) These see the works of the LORD, and his wonders in the deep. (25) For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof. (26) They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble. (27) They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wit's end. (28) Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses. (29) He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. (30) Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven. (31) Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! (32) Let them exalt him also in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders.


(33) He turneth rivers into a wilderness, and the watersprings into dry ground; (34) A fruitful land into barrenness, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein. (35) He turneth the wilderness into a standing water, and dry ground into watersprings. (36) And there he maketh the hungry to dwell, that they may prepare a city for habitation; (37) And sow the fields, and plant vineyards, which may yield fruits of increase. (38) He blesseth them also, so that they are multiplied greatly; and suffereth not their cattle to decrease. (39) Again, they are minished and brought low through oppression, affliction, and sorrow.


(40) He poureth contempt upon princes, and causeth them to wander in the wilderness, where there is no way. (41) Yet setteth he the poor on high from affliction, and maketh him families like a flock.


(42) The righteous shall see it, and rejoice: and all iniquity shall stop her mouth. (43) Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the lovingkindness of the LORD."


          Illustration: Brad and Iris


1.     He rebukes by his own gospel.


2.     He chastens by the terrors of his law and his providence.


3.     And he calls to repentance by the almighty, irresistible power of his Spirit.


NOTE: The chastening of the Lord, both that which brings us to Christ in the beginning and that which brings us to him day by day, is proof positive of his eternal love for us.


Hebrews 12:5-12  "And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: (6) For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. (7) If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? (8) But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. (9) Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? (10) For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. (11) Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. (12) Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees;"


III. The Call to Life (vv. 20-22)


          In verses 20-22 our Lord tenderly calls the dead to life.


Revelation 3:20-22  "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. (21) To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. (22) He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches."


Picture him, if you can, leaning, as it were, upon the door of this church, a door that had been bolted against him by complacency and self-sufficiency. But, thanks be unto God, he is not willing to be turned away! He knocks by the word of the gospel. He speaks by the voice of his Spirit. And he calls to all who hear his voice, saying, “Open the door.”

·        Song of Solomon 5:2-6


Song of Songs 5:2-6  "I sleep, but my heart waketh: it is the voice of my beloved that knocketh, saying, Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled: for my head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night. (3) I have put off my coat; how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet; how shall I defile them? (4) My beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved for him. (5) I rose up to open to my beloved; and my hands dropped with myrrh, and my fingers with sweet smelling myrrh, upon the handles of the lock. (6) I opened to my beloved; but my beloved had withdrawn himself, and was gone: my soul failed when he spake: I sought him, but I could not find him; I called him, but he gave me no answer."


          Our Lord sovereignly opens the door and lets himself into the hearts of his people. Yet, he only comes in where he is wanted. He opens the door in regeneration, pouring in his grace. We open the door in conversion, earnestly desiring and seeking him. We must not confuse the two (John 3:3-8; Acts 16:14; John 1:11-13).


John 3:3-8  "Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. (4) Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? (5) Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. (6) That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. (7) Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. (8) The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit."


Acts 16:14  "And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul."


John 1:11-13  "He came unto his own, and his own received him not. (12) But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: (13) Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."


A.  If you will open your heart to and receive the Lord Jesus Christ, he will graciously come in to abide with you forever (v.20).


John 14:23  "Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him."


          I fully realize that dead men have no ability in themselves to do anything. Yet, I know that if you will awake and rise from the dead, Christ will give you light (Eph. 5:14).


Ephesians 5:14  "Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light."


If you do rise up from your tomb of death and come to Christ, the fact that you do so will be the evidence that he awakened you and raised you from the dead. (Lazarus could not come out of the tomb; but he did! -- John 11:43-44)


If you open to him and receive him into your heart by faith, it is because he has already entered your heart in life-giving power. Yet, you must open to him. Otherwise, you will forever perish without him. Open now your heart to the Son of God!


B.  That fellowship and communion which begins on earth in conversion will continue in heaven in everlasting glorification (v. 21).


          All who overcome the terrible temptations and natural tendencies of the heart to lukewarmness, worldly indifference, and proud complacency, will sit with Christ in his throne forever. And this is the victory by which we overcome the world -- faith in Christ!


1 John 5:4  "For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith."


Application: “He that hat an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches” (v. 22).


1.   These seven letters are written to us. The seven churches of Asia Minor simply represent the whole church of God throughout this gospel age. The danger we face is the temptation to deny Christ and become engulfed in this world. Throughout the age the temptation will come from three basic sources:

·        Persecution

·        False Religion

·        Our Own Worldly Lusts


2.   If the Son of God has spoken to you by his Spirit, open to him, believe on him, come to him. He will save you.


3.   If you are a believer, but one who has become somewhat indifferent to Christ, flee away to him now, cast yourself down at his feet, open to him. He will come in again unto to you. He will forgive you.


4.   Children of God, fear carnal presumption like you would fear the plague. The thought of lukewarmness and indifference terrifies me. Yet, it is ever with me. Only Christ can keep me in life and grace. Let us ever beware of our danger and hold fast to our dear Savior, trusting his grace alone to sustain us, preserve us, and bring us to glory.


Jude 1:24-25  "Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, (25) To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and for ever. Amen."

[1] See also Revelation Series #15 - Preached at Danville 11-30-86 (PM) – 2-4-96 (AM)