Robert Jeffress - The Church That Makes God Want To Vomit
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress, and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. Have you ever spent the day in an amusement park? One too many loops on the rollercoaster, paired with one too many bites of funnel cake and you might find yourself feeling a little bit nauseated. Well, many Christians don't realize it, but there are things that make God feel sick, too, though for completely different reasons. My message is titled "The Church That Makes God Want To Vomit" on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.
This week, a woman called our switchboard after hours with an urgent message. She said our church had been vandalized. And what she meant by that, she went on to explain was somebody went out to the marquis and put an awful message on the marquis saying the church that makes God want to vomit, first Baptist Dallas. Well, we got back in touch with her and told her it wasn't a vandal who did that, the pastor did that. That's the title of the message today, "The church that makes God want to vomit". As you'll see in a moment, we're actually using a biblical word that Jesus used to describe a particular church, not first Baptist Dallas, but it was the church at Laodicea.
And today as we turn to Revelation 3, we're going to look at Jesus' report about this last church and we're going to discover what it is in a church, what it is in an individual Christian that nauseates God. You know, there could not be any two more distinct churches than the one we looked at last time, the church at Philadelphia, and the church at Laodicea. Two different churches. And we're going to talk about this church at Laodicea. Let me just say something first of all about the city of Laodicea itself. It was a very prosperous city. It had a large gross national product. It was the center for the production of fashion, wool, black wool that was very expensive that came from black sheep. It was a banking center. It was also a city that was known for the production of its eye ointment, eye salve that was the only what to really treat ophthalmology problems back then and they had this eye salve that could cure problems with the eyesight. That's what the city was known for.
In fact, it was so wealthy of a town that when an earthquake destroyed Laodicea in 60 A.D., they didn't have to appeal to the Roman government for help in rebuilding their city. Their own tax revenue was sufficient to rebuild the city. They were prosperous in many ways and even though they were economically prosperous, Jesus is going to say to them you are spiritually bankrupt. Even though you're fashionably dressed. Spiritually you are naked. Even though you're eye salve may give you 20/20 eyesight, you are spiritually blind. That was the problem with the Christians at the church at Laodicea. Now notice how it is in all the letters, Jesus began with a description of himself. It's a three-fold description found in chapter 3 verse 14 and did the pastor of the church in Laodicea write, and here's his prescription. The amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God says this. He refers to himself as first of all the amen. Jesus is the amen. This hearkens back to Isaiah 65:15 in which God is called the God of the amen.
Now we say amen a lot without knowing what it really means. When you say amen, you are asking God to enter into a covenant with you, that God would agree to do what you have asked him to do. God, this is something I believe is your will and I'm asking you to use your power to bring it about. It points to something that is true and binding. He is the amen, God's final word. Secondly, he's described as the faithful and true witness. Even though the Christians at Laodicea were faithless in many ways, Jesus was faithful. And then finally he is called the beginning of the creation of God. Now this is particularly important. He is the beginning of the creation of God. That is, he is the source of everything that is created.
Now when you think of the creation of the universe, and God's role in it, which member of the Godhead do you think of as being involved in creation? I don't know about you, but for years I used to think it was God the Father who created the world. No. It is Jesus the son. Jesus is the agent of creation. In Colossians 1:15-16, Paul says Jesus is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation, for by him, that is by Jesus, all things were created both in the heavens and on earth. Visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities, all things have been created through Jesus and for Jesus.
I mean think of the vastness of this creation for a moment. Think of our own sun in our solar system. The heat of that sun is able to provide energy every day for this planet to keep it alive and active. The sun is a magnificent star, but actually it's only a medium sized star and did you know that in our own milky way galaxy, it is only one of anywhere from 100 to 400 billion stars that we have in our galaxy. The sun is just one of those. Perhaps 400 billion stars, some of them much larger than our sun in our galaxy. And through the Hubble telescope, we know that our galaxy is just one of perhaps 2 trillion galaxies. Think of the vastness of that. Who created all of that? Jesus is the Creator, the source of everything that we see. And by the way when you deny Jesus' role in creation.
When you say that this all happened by chance. When you buy into the myth of the evolution that we are just accidents that happened here, think of what you're really doing. You are blaspheming the work of Jesus Christ. He is the agent of creation and when you fail to give him credit for that, you are blaspheming Jesus Christ and he doesn't take blasphemy lightly. He is the agent of all creation. Now notice his word of condemnation for the Laodiceans. Usually at this point, if there's something good to say about the church, this is where Jesus points it out. He could find nothing to say good about Laodicea. So here's the condemnation, verse 15. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you and literally the word there is I will vomit you out of my mouth. Because you say I am rich and have become wealthy and have need of nothing and yet you don't know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.
Now to understand what he means by being lukewarm, tepid, you have to understand something about the city of Laodicea. 10 miles to the east of Laodicea was the city of Colossae. Paul wrote a letter to the Colossians. Laodicea, 10 miles to the east, it was known for its cold springs and the cold water from Colossae would flow by aqueduct in the city at Laodicea. But by the time it made the journey through that aqueduct, the cold water had become tepid, flat. 10 miles to the north of Laodicea was the city of Heirapolis. And it was known for it's hot springs. Literally, it's boiling springs. And the hot water, the boiling water from Heirapolis would travel by aqueduct as well to the city of Laodicea. When it got there, it was not hot, it was lukewarm.
That's why, Jesus said you're just like this water in Laodicea. You're neither hot nor cold, you're lukewarm, you're rancid. It makes me want to vomit. He said that's what your condition is spiritually. You're neither hot nor cold. You know, when you love somebody, obviously, that's a good thing. When you hate somebody you have strong feelings about the person you hate. But when you're indifferent towards somebody, you're saying basically you're not worth enough, you don't have enough value for me to even have an opinion about. I'm indifferent towards you. And that's exactly what the problem was with the Christians at Laodicea. Just a little bit of Christianity, a lukewarm version of Christianity, you find in many churches inoculates Christians against the real experience of Christianity.
They get enough of God, enough of the Bible to build up a resistance toward the real thing when it comes into their life. It's detrimental to their spiritual health. That's why God hates lukewarm churches. They are the poorest testimony of all to the power of God. And that's why God says I want to spew you out of my mouth, you make me sick. What is it that causes a Christian to become lukewarm? Well, for the Laodiceans, it was their money. Their money, their wealth had quenched the spiritual fire in their heart. They thought they were rich, but verse 17, Jesus said you are wretched, you are miserable, you are poor, blind and naked. Let me stop you here for a moment, ask you the all important question. If God were to take your spiritual temperature right now, what would it be? Are you burning as hot for God and the faith as you were two years ago, 10 years ago? Has your spiritual temperature increased or decreased? How would God evaluate your spiritual temperature? Are you hot? Are you cold? Or just lukewarm. What's the cure for a lukewarm Christianity?
Look at what Jesus said to the church at Laodicea, verse 18. Here's the cure. I advise you to buy for me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich and buy for yourselves white garments so that you may clothe yourself and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed and buy eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. I want you to notice the three things Jesus said you need to purchase if you want to increase your spiritual temperature, if you want to become hot for pursuing God again. First of all, you need gold refined by fire. What does he mean you need to purchase gold? In the Bible gold represents that which isn't perishable. That won't fade away, that is eternal. And what he's saying is you need to have gold, the things that really count for eternity in your life.
You know what those things are? They're character qualities that we take with us from this life into the next life. Galatians 5:22 to 23 talks about love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, Godliness, gentleness and self control. How many of you would like to be more loving than you are right now? How many of you would like to have more peace in your life no matter what's happening around you, you just have a peace of mind. We all want those things. Jesus says you can have them, but before you ask God for them, realize it has to be gold refined by fire. Those important character qualities come to our life through trials and testing.
Remember Peter's words in 1 Peter 1:6-7. He says in this you greatly rejoice even though for a little while you've been distressed by various trials knowing that the proof of your faith be more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the Revelation of Jesus Christ. You know if you're a craftsman in the first century and you are trying to make a piece of gold Jewelry, you would take the gold and you would heat it until it became molten in its state, liquid gold and once it was heated up to that temperature, the impurities of the gold would rise to the surface and the craftsman would skim the impurities off of the gold. And only when the craftsman could see his own reflection in the molten gold did he know the gold was ready to be used. It's the same way with God. God many times sends some heat into our life. He sends problems in order to remove the impurities in our life.
So that we perfectly reflect his glory and when he sees his reflection in our lives, then he knows he is able to use us. You want to be a Christian who's on fire for God, first of all, seek to buy those things that are eternal. Buy gold that has been refined by fire. Secondly, he says and buy white garments, white garments. What does he mean white garments? Later in on Revelation 19, when Jesus returns to earth the church comes with him and they are described as being dressed in white linen and John tells us what that white linen is. It is the righteous acts of the saints. When he says buy white garments, what he's saying is buy righteousness if you want a right relationship with God.
You know, we have this idea that God doesn't care about our works. He didn't care about them before we were saved. Our good works can only condemn us. He doesn't care about our good works before we're saved, but after we're saved, our good works mean a great deal to God. In fact, they determined the kind of heaven that we experience one day. And that's why Paul said to these Laodiceans, make it your goal to purchase righteousness, good works that will glorify your father in heaven. Buy white garments, good works. And then he says thirdly, buy the eye salve. Ask God to give you spiritual insight into what your life really is. How he'd use your life. Chuck Swindoll summarizes Jesus' intention well when he says instead of a physical salve to heal blurred eyes, Jesus offered them spiritual eye salve to cure their cataracts from their character. What's the promise if you do these things?
If you are spiritually lukewarm and take Jesus' cure, look at the promise in verse 19 through 22. First of all, there's a warning and then there's a promise. Here's the warning, verse 19. Those whom I love I reprove and discipline. Therefore, be zealous and repent. You know what God's saying? He's saying if you don't change, get out of your lukewarm commitment, I'm going to take my belt off and whip the living daylights out of you. That's what he's talking about, discipline. This is reminiscent of Hebrews 12:6, "For whom the Lord loves he disciplines". You know the sign that you're a child of God? One of the signs is he doesn't allow you to get away with anything. He is going to discipline you if you continue in disobedience. That's how you know you're a child of God. If you're not disciplined, it means you're not his child. You don't go around disciplining other people's children, do you? That's a good way to get thrown in jail trying to discipline somebody else's child. You only have the right to discipline your own child.
Same way with God. He doesn't discipline unbelievers necessarily, he disciplines Christians, for whom the Lord loves he disciplines. And the reason he does it is because he loves us. The same reason we as parents punish our children. We don't enjoy punishment. We do it for their good. I think about James Dobson, he has a great quote, he said, "The parent has to convince himself that punishment is not something a parent does to the child, it's something he does for the child". The parents' attitude has got to be, I love you too much to allow you to behave like that. God loves you and me too much to allow us to stay in a lukewarm condition. He'll bring discipline into our life and it's never pleasant. That's the warning. He said, I'm going to reprove you, therefore be zealous and repent. Have a change of mind right now that leads to a change of direction in your spiritual life.
And then notice the promise, verse 20. Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him and will dine with him and he with me. He who overcomes I will grant to him to sit down with me on the throne as I also overcame and sat down with my father on his throne. I want us to look at this verse for just a moment, the promise. Jesus wasn't talking to non-Christians. He was talking to the church Christians at Laodicea. The picture is Jesus is standing outside of his own church trying to get inside of his church. He's standing outside the door of a Christian's life wanting to come in and take control.
Listen, in the Bible, salvation is always a matter of trust in Jesus for your salvation. It's not inviting Jesus into your life. It is trusting in Jesus, believe, trust in the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved Paul said to the Philippian jailer. Jesus said for God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whoever what? Believes, trust in, clings to him, shall have eternal life. When you come to the point in your life that you realize you can't save yourself, you can't earn by salvation, that you have to receive it as a gift and you say God, I'm depending on what Christ did for me to save me from my sins.
You have eternal life, that's what salvation is. It's not about inviting, it's about trusting. But sanctification, the process by which we become more like Christ is inviting Jesus to take control of every part of our life. To jointly work with him in renovating our heart so that we become more and more like him. That's justification, that's sanctification, becoming like Christ. Let me ask you this morning, are you tired and living that lukewarm, tepid, nauseating Christianity? Are you ready to be on fire for God again, like perhaps you were at first? Open the door. Allow Jesus to come in and take control of every part of your life. Even those things that are in the locked closet. And experience the power, the release, that you long for.