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Jack Graham - What Makes God Sick


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    Jack Graham - What Makes God Sick
TOPICS: Seven: To The Victors, The Seven Churches of Revelation

The title of this message is "What Makes God Sick". Revelation chapter 3, verse 14. This is the last of the seven letters that Jesus gave to the churches in Asia Minor. It is a kind of message to Last Days believers. Many believe that Laodicea is representative of the church in the last era, the last generation before Christ comes again. Certainly we see the problem that was at Laodicea multiplied today. It is predominate and prominent today as in this day. "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.

"I know your works: you are neither hot nor cold. Would that you were either cold or hot? So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, 'I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing', not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind and naked. 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. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. 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. To 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. (That is, we will reign with Him, to the victors) He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches".'"

Jesus, as in all the letters, introduces Himself as the Lord of life and the Lord of all! He says, "I am the Amen". Now Amen means of a certainty, of a truth; it is an affirmation. When you say "Amen" or when we sing Amen, Amen, Amen, it is truth, truth, truth. That's the truth! It's yes with an exclamation point. Amen! So Jesus is the Amen! You see, that's the final word. It says here He is truth and faithful. The final witness. He is the ultimate and final witness of God. He is the last word. He fulfills forever the witness of the word of God! That's Jesus! He's the Amen, the Faithful and True, the final Witness! That means that nothing in your life is the final word but Jesus. His opinion is the only one that really matters! And He looks at His church and He says, "I've got a problem".

Before we discover that problem, a little back study on the Christians at Laodicea. Laodicea was an affluent city in Asia Minor, now today Turkey. It supported a flourishing clothing industry. And you're going to see how this shows up importantly in the message later on that Jesus would give to the Church, the background. A flourishing clothing industry. It was a very important trade route through this city in its day. Because of its wealth and prosperity in the city, they were independent. In fact on one occasion when they were destroyed by earthquake, rather than taking government money from Rome, the people at Laodicea said, "We got this; we don't need your money, we'll rebuild on our own". So that produced a kind of affluent and even an arrogance and self-reliance in the people at Laodicea. They said, "We can handle it".

So they were an economic powerhouse; they were it was filled with sales people working through and selling the goods they produced a certain black wool that was a sign of prosperity in that day. They sold this everywhere. It was also know for its medical schools. There were ophthalmologists there that developed an eye salve, an ointment for the eye, so if you had an eye problem in the ancient world, you would do the best that you could to get to Laodicea and their hospital there, or their Mayo Clinic there in order to be treated. Here's something interesting about Laodicea: They were one of the few cities in the ancient world that had indoor plumbing. Unfortunately the water that came into the houses, some from the springs which were cool in the mountains, others that came from beneath, the hot water. By the time it got to Laodicea it wasn't hot, it wasn't cold; it was very bland and even dirty. It was bad water. But, be that as it may, the Laodiceans were wealthy, they were opulent, they were sophisticated.

It was in a significant place, and in this significant place God planted a church, His people, in order to get the Gospel to the world. But there was a problem because the church was neither hot nor cold. But He said, "You are lukewarm". Look at verses 15 and 16 again. He said, "Because you are neither cold or hot. I wish you were cold or hot, but because you are lukewarm and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth". Thus my title: "What Makes God Sick". This was a church that made Jesus sick He said, "You're not cold, all out against Me. You're not hot; you're not cold, but you're in the middle. You're lukewarm". How many of you like coffee? Humm? You like coffee? I do. I like hot coffee, really good hot coffee. I like sometimes cold coffee, ice coffee. But lukewarm coffee. Naaa! Same's true with milk. You like cold milk, really good cold milk, especially with hot chocolate chip cookies? Really good! Hot milk! Put some chocolate in it, you know, vanilla in it and that's really good. Hot milk, cold milk, but lukewarm milk? That's a gagger right there, okay! And Jesus said, "You gag Me. You make Me want to throw up".

Now the word here in ESV is "I will spit you out of My mouth". That's fairly sophisticated. "I'll spit you out". The old King James is really sophisticated. It said, "I will spew you out of My mouth". That sounds like something right out of Downton Abbey, doesn't it? You know, Lord Grantham says, "You know, I'm rather sick at my stomach today. Think I'll go to the watercloset and spew". You know, maybe women spew and guys barf! I don't know! I know this is gross, this whole thing, but it's a word picture here! "You make Me want to throw up! I'm regurgitating! Because you're not hot, you're not cold, you're lukewarm! You're half in and half out"! Some of you single guys, if you went on a date and, you know, it's been a couple of hours, you've paid for a nice dinner and you've had, you think, some good conversation along the way, and you say to your date, "Hey, how we doing? How I'm doing"? And she says something like, "I just threw up a little bit in my mouth". That's not good, alright! Jesus is saying, "This is not good because I have called you to be all in, all the time"!

You say, "Is lukewarmness really a big deal"? It's big enough that Jesus says, "I'm going to spit you out of My mouth if you don't deal with this"! G. Campbell Morgan was a great Bible student and scholar. He said this about lukewarmness: "Lukewarmness is the worse form of blasphemy"! You know why? You know why lukewarmness is the worse form of blasphemy? Because it's saying, "Jesus, you don't mean enough for me to either hate You or love You". So this is a now or never kind of statement that Jesus makes to the church of Last Days believers. Churches like ours, churches like congregations all around us. Christians, personalize this. Jesus deserves more than just a piece of our lives. He deserves more than being just something on our to-do list. We've made Christianity too convenient in our generation, too casual, too consumer-driven, too comfortable. It's settling for less than God's best. "Let's just do enough to get by".

Here's what Mark Batterson says: "I'm afraid we've cheapened the Gospel by allowing people to buy-in without selling out! We've given people just enough Jesus to be bored, but not enough to feel the surge of holy adrenal that courses through your veins when you decide to follow Him no matter what, no matter where, no matter when"! So is it true that so often we're saying to people, "Come in, but you don't have to really buy in. You don't really have to sell out"! John Stott put it this way: "The Laodicean church was a half-hearted church. Perhaps non of the seven churches is more appropriate to the twenty-first century church than this. It describes vividly the respectable, sentimental, nominal, skin-deep religiosity which is so wide-spread among us today. Our Christianity is flabby and anemic. We appear to have taken a lukewarm bath of religion"! And in so many churches and congregations today among so many Christians, the preaching is passive, the teaching is compromised or moderate, the worship is boring, the fellowship is blah, the ministry is tired, and the witness is routine and room-temperature! And Jesus says, "It makes Me sick"! We've become so palatable to the world that we make God sick!

There are two spiritual temperatures really. One is cold. Jesus said in the last days, Matthew 24:12, that "in the last days the love of many will grow cold". And we see a coldness in peoples' lives today. The other spiritual temperature is hot! Walking along with those disciples on the road to Emmaus after the resurrection, Jesus opened the Scriptures to them, opened their eyes to the Scripture, showed them in all the Scripture the things concerning Himself, and they said, Luke 24:32, "Didn't our hearts burn within us when we walked with Him in the way"! So there you have it, that's two spiritual temperatures. Red hot, aflame, burning; or cold and indifferent to the things of God. Jesus calls us to get out of our Lazyboy and into the fight, the fight of faith! Or out of the bleachers and onto the field. Complacency is no way to live your life! Going half-way with God is an epic fail! Playing it safe is for losers. We need a new normal.

You know, what we call normal in the Christian life today is abnormal according to New Testament standards. I heard one preacher say one time, "So many churches are so lukewarm, you would have to back-slide to get in them". Yes, the pathetic version that we often see in the Christian life today, just going through the motion, is not anything that Jesus had in mind when He died on the cross for you and rose again so that you could have an abundant and eternal life. Jesus is calling you to get out of your comfort zone, out of the shallow end of the pool and get into the deep end with Him! Too often we settle, even hear a message like this, yawn, and go home and take a nap and forget about it. Another way to put it is too many Christians are decaffeinated. Speaking of coffee, I was with someone not long ago and we were in a coffee shop and I said, "What do you want"? And they said, "Okay, get me a skinny, nonfat, decaffeinated latte". And I said, "Why? Really"?

We've got a lot of decaffeinated Christians. There's no adrenaline surge for God! There's no empowering in the Christian life. And so many churches are just dull and monotonous and routine and predictable! I hate predictability! These preachers, you know the bland leading the bland! It's not a small problem. If Jesus says, "It's enough to make Me sick and spit you out of My mouth," that's a big problem. I think it's one of Satan's most effective tools, to throw a fiery dart of lukewarmness into our hearts. Jesus calls us to be all in, all or nothing, to live under His Lordship, that He would be the Master and Commander of our lives. This means surrendering our lives to Him. This means dethroning self and enthroning Jesus! It means allowing Jesus to take His rightful place of preeminence in His church and among His people!

So many people have just enough Christianity to make them miserable! Half in, half out, half-hearted, not whole-hearted. Half-hearted religion is worthless! And being just okay is not okay with Jesus! That's what He says here. The problem is He says there, "You say". You see that there? He says, "You say you are wealthy, you are sophisticated, you are prosperous, you've got it all together. You say". They were suffering from affluenza like a lot of people in our society. You've got money, you've got it together, but Jesus said, "You are poor and naked and blind"! Like beggers! So I counsel you to buy into Me". Verse 18, look at verse 18. Chapter 3 of Revelation, verse 18. He says, "I counsel you". He's counseling them and correcting them. And again this isn't just good advice! This is, "I'm counseling you, I'm telling you to buy from Me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich". Spiritually rich.

Now, of course, we don't buy salvation. Salvation is purchased by Christ at the cross; His blood poured out for our sins. He died and rose again to purchase a place in heaven for us which He offers as a free gift. You can't earn or buy or deserve your salvation. He's not saying buy into Me in the sense, this is what you do-you pay to be saved. "No, I paid it all". He's like a divine merchant here. He's saying, "You've got salesmen who are selling stuff and people are buying things". He said, "You buy into Me! Buy into Me! Receive Me and I will make you spiritually rich". You like your garments? You like your great clothes? You may cloth yourself, but the shame of your nakedness may not be seen until you're clothed with Me. He says clothe in righteousness. "Dressed in His righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne". He said, "I'm going to cover you with righteousness. I'm going to cover your nakedness and your shame with My righteousness".

And remember that eye salve? Remember going to get your eyes fixed at Laodicea? He says, "I'm going to give you salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. So that your eyes may be open, you can see the reality of where you stand". He says, "Therefore repent, verse 19: "Those whom I love". And you know, I worry about the people who, there's never any reproof, there's never any correction. You know, I worry about people like that because that means they're long gone. Jesus said, "I reprove and correct the ones that I love, My own children".

Now if you're standing in line at the grocery store and some other kids are creating havoc there, as much as you want to correct somebody else's kids, you can go to jail for that! You correct your own kids, and we should! So God corrects His own children. If He doesn't discipline us, if He doesn't correct us... So if you're going through a hard time and you feel like you're under, you know, maybe the chastening of the Lord and the correction of the Lord, most of the people that I talk to, they typically go through some kind of crisis and correction in their lives to get back to God or get to Him in the first place. So He's saying, "Because I love you, I'm reproving you. I'm correcting you. You're my child, and repent".

He said repent zealously. Not half heartedly but zealously. Not tomorrow, not the next day, not just partly, but repent zealously! And then He says, "I stand at the door and knock. And if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him and he with Me". Now this is another great word picture. Jesus is knocking at the door of His church. You say, "But I thought people in church were all saved". Not necessarily. There are a lot of people in church that are lost. They're not just lukewarm; they're lost! And Jesus is standing at the door of His church, of His people, knocking on the door, and says, "If you open the door, I will come in".

Jesus knocks-that's grace-and He's knocking on your heart's door today. Grace knocks at the door; faith has to open the door. Jesus is not going to burst the door down, tear the door down and force His way into your life. This is a relationship. And you invite Christ into your life and He said, "By faith open the door"... "As many as received Him to them gave He the right to be called the children of God". John 1:12, "To many as received Him, to them gave He the right to be called the children of God, even to them who believe on His name". Your heart is a home, represents your life. And He doesn't want just a place in an attic somewhere in your life; He comes in to be the Master of the house, Lord of the house. The Lord of the house is not Lord Grantham, it's Lord Jesus. And He wants to rule in you and to reign in you so that you can reign with Him. That's to the victor! He said, you know, this is a definite act when you definitely, you know, definitely open the door and invite Christ into your life.

Have you ever done that? So that's the word to lost people. There's a word to the lukewarm in this! How do you stand? Are you hot, are you cold, Christian? How's your prayer life? Lukewarm, casual, whenever? How 'bout your Bible study? Do you love God's Word? Can't wait to dig in, can't wait to hear the Word of God? Do you have a passion to know God and to know Him more through the Scriptures? How about your worship? Did you worship this morning or did you just stand around? Did you throw your heart into it? Did you throw your life into it?

You say, "Well, I don't sing very well". You can sing with your heart. The spirit-filled Christian sings, makes melody in their hearts! It's even good to do it with words because our words tell Him that He's alive. I mean, it's not cool, guys, when we just stand there and act like we're too cool to worship. How's your worship? How about your giving? We give so much without sacrifice, without commitment! Just tipping God! Most churches, their giving is lukewarm. Twenty percent of the people give eighty percent of the gifts to the advancement of the Gospel. Lukewarm Christianity! What about your witness? When's the last time we wept over some soul dying without God? Or with some friend who doesn't know Jesus? Where are the tears? Lukewarm. So to the lost, Jesus says, "Open the door, let Me come in". To the lukewarm He says, "Repent and recover; come back to Me with full and total praise and purpose to follow Me".
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