I was warned by a friend, who like myself doesn’t drink soda with caffeine, to drink Coke while oversees, because apparently it would keep me from getting sick. Not heeding his or my wife’s counsel, as soon as I got to the Sea of Galilee in Israel, several days into a New Testament Tour trip, I threw up twice. There must have been something in the water.
Jesus picks up on this same type of grotesque imagery to describe the spiritual condition of a church that lived in another ancient city I visited on this trip. In the book of Revelation, Jesus, as He typically did, masterfully weaved in imagery from the everyday real lives of the people He was addressing. To the church of Laodicea, in modern day Turkey, He uses the picture of an actual situation they were facing with their water to spiritually diagnose them. He says in Revelation 3:15-16…
Laodicea was known for it’s wealth and medical school, which needed hot water for medicinal purposes for healing the sick. And cold water provided a nice refreshing drink. But because Laodicea had no natural water of their own, they had to route it in through a six mile long aqueduct, so that by the time the water reached the city it was lukewarm. This meant it was distasteful to drink and not useful for healing the sick. Jesus looks at this church and says, “You’re just like the problem in your city. I wish you were hot or cold, cause then I’d find good use for you, but because you are lukewarm You are making Me want to vomit.”
What was it about the church of Laodicea that made Jesus sick? They were spiritually mirroring the attitude of the city. They were rich and in need of nothing in their own eyes. However, material wealth is often, though not always, connected to spiritual poverty. They couldn’t see their true condition as Jesus described it, “wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.” They were, in essence, blind to the fact that they were trying to do church, theology and spirituality without Jesus, without the Gospel. How do we know this? Because Jesus describes to them what they are actually doing, when He pictures Himself standing on the outside knocking on the heart’s door of His corporate church. Jesus is knocking on hearts saying, “Can I come in and dine with you in intimate fellowship? I’d like My church back now.”
Laodicea was the last of seven churches that Jesus addressed. Each of them representing a different phase of church history. Laodicea represents the church at the end of time. And if that is the case, that sounds like pretty bad news for us. But when we go over the Revelation 14, we see the same church, in the last days, full of the Holy Spirit and having worldwide impact. So what turns things around? What is the game changer? What happens to Laodicea? You want to know what happens to Laodicea? The Gospel happens! The Good News happens, which is the love of God revealed in Jesus Christ & Him crucified, resulting in our justification by grace through faith! It’s righteousness by faith in Christ and not by works! We, the church, finally open the door of our hearts and let Jesus in, permeating our theology and practice, vitalizing our experience and motivating our passion for His mission! So then what impact does the Gospel have on the world once it pulls the church out of Laodicean lukewarmness? I believe we’ll find our answer in Revelation 14:6-12.
The book of Revelation is a book full of symbolism as well as literal descriptions. Therefore the word “angel”, which means “messenger” in Greek, is here describing God’s last day church “flying” or rapidly preaching a message to the entire world with a loud voice. What is this message? The Gospel! The everlasting Gospel, which means it’s not some new Gospel. It’s the same one Paul preached. It’s the same one Jesus lived and preached. It’s the same one that was first announced in Genesis 3:15, that Christ, the Seed, would be wounded while defeating Satan on our behalf. Understand that the message doesn’t begin with “Fear God…” in verse 7. And notice I said message, singular, because what we are about to unpack is not three messages, but actually one message, unpacked in three parts. The message is the Gospel or Good News of Jesus Christ and…
The Gospel Produces a Powerful Response
This week my wife made the mistake of bringing home some raisin and banana bread pudding. I say mistake, because she knows that baked foods are my weakness. Now normally I’m not much of a pudding person, but this one had banana bread and raisins, both of which I love. And it smelled so good. So good that she said when she smelt it at Whole Foods she just had to try it. It tasted so good to her that when she got home she came over to me with a small piece on her fork, looking at me like, “Baby, you have got to try this!” After hesitating for a moment, I got a whiff of the smell and took a bit. I almost did a cart wheel and a back flip. It was so good. You see, Deedre had tasted and seen that the raisin and banana bread pudding was good. It had a powerful affect on her, so she couldn’t help but share what was so good to her with me! And I’m glad she did.
This is the effect of the Gospel. It produces a powerful response in you. And Because Jesus is so good to you, you can’t help but share Him with those in your world. So what is the powerful response the Gospel produces? The Fear of God. This doesn’t mean to be afraid of God. Remember they just received the Good News! This is not bad news which produces fear. For those who receive the Gospel, to fear God means to respect or revere Him; to be in awe of His mercy given to you in Christ. This leads you to give Him glory. Glory here means the lifting up or magnifying of His character of love in every aspect of your life. You glorify Him with your life as a response of love and gratitude for grace. This is all happening in full awareness that, according to Bible prophecy, since 1844, we are now living in the hour of the pre-Advent judgment. Yet you don’t fear the judgment, because you know that for those who are in Christ, judgment means freedom, deliverance, salvation and vindication! You believe what Paul says in Romans 8:1, that “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.” You believe what the apostle John wrote in 1 John 4:17-18, “Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgement… there is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear…” This kind of love from God leads you to worship Him as Creator, which the language of verse 7 is borrowed directly from the 4th commandment, which calls us to worship God as Creator on the weekly holy Sabbath. This reveals that they are obeying God’s commands in faithful love, not to be saved, but because they’re already saved in Jesus Christ.
This is the experience of those who receive the everlasting Gospel. This has always been the kind of response the Gospel produces. The question is, “Have you received the Gospel?” Are you experiencing it everyday? Is Jesus your deepest yearning and most frequent thought. Have you tasted and seen that He is good? Because when you do, you can’t keep Him to yourself. His overwhelming love for you revealed at the cross, moves you in love for Him, to share Him. You see when Jesus becomes our main emphasis, our primary collective focus, then the Holy Spirit will come down in latter rain power! The Holy Spirit is all about Jesus! Pointing us to Him, growing us in Him and driving the mission to share Him! He is not going to fall on a people who aren’t about what He’s about… Jesus! You see Revelation 14:6-12 is the fulfillment of Jesus prophetic words in Matthew 24:14,
However the response to the powerful, Spirit-filled preaching of the gospel is not always good as we see in verse 8…