Tony Evans — A Challenge Toward Authenticity
So, I challenge each one of us, including me, but us collectively as a church to be all-in. All-in in putting the spiritual ahead of the physical so that we're not a wretched church, a poor church, a blind church, and a naked church, but a church who eats with Jesus Christ individually.
You know, a lot of people try to fake it till they make it. They try to give the impression that they're one way when they're not that way. They're not being authentic.
Jesus challenges the church at Laodicea to authenticity, to no longer faking the Christian thing, but to be really Christian. This was the lukewarm church that needed an in your face challenge from the Savior, and that's exactly what they got, so that's exactly what we're going to try to give in today's message.
This is Tony Evans with "The Urban Alternative." Join me right now and let's find out what authentic Christianity really looks like.
Our final church through the final body of saints is Laodicea Bible Fellowship. Laodicea was a wealthy city known for three things. Some miles southeast of Philadelphia, our last city and last church, Laodicea was known for its finance industry, its banking industry. It would be akin to our common day Wall Street.
It was a very wealthy place to live, work, and raise a family. It was also known for its fashion industry. In New York, you would call it the fashion district, where they made fancy clothes that would go out to the retailers to sell to the general public.
Not only was it a financial district and a fashion district, but the city of Laodicea was a pharmaceutical district. It was known for its medical industry, particularly when it came to eye diseases. It was specializing in this salve for the eyes to improve the sight of those struggling with seeing.
That is why you will see these three areas, finance, fashion, and pharmaceuticals, referred to in Revelation chapter 3, verses 14 to the end of the chapter. Jesus, as he does in each one of these churches, introduces himself as he wants you to see him now.
And he says in verse 14, "To the angel of the church at Laodicea write, 'The amen, the faithful and the true witness, the beginning of the creation of God says this.'"
So, before he gets into what he wants to say, he wants you to know who's doing the talking. He says to the church at Laodicea and our church today, "I am the amen." Amen means so be it, it is so, that’s the way it is. Can't you hear? Amen means the final word on the subject.
So, when Jesus says, "Listen because the amen is talking," he's basically saying, "I don’t care what anybody else said to you. I don’t care what other folk told you. I don’t even care what you're telling yourself. I am the amen. I am the faithful and true witness. So, I'm going to give you the testimony."
A witness is a testimony. "And whatever I tell you is going to be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God." And you'll see in a moment why he defines himself this way.
He says, "I am the beginning of the creation of God." Now, if you're the beginning of the creation, that means you existed before the creation that you began. So, Jesus Christ declares himself to be the pre-creation, existing prior to creation. That is because he has always existed as the second member of the triune Godhead. And the one who's responsible for how history operates.
So, what he's saying before he ever gets into what he is saying is, "Pay close attention 'cause I know what I'm talking about. I am the amen, I am the final testimony and witness, and I am the one who existed prior to you even being here." Having established himself to the church at Laodicea, he now makes his complaint, his condemnation.
He says in verse 15, "I know your deeds, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish you were hot or cold. So, because you are lukewarm and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth."
He addresses the problem at Laodicea Bible Fellowship of lukewarmness. You are lukewarm. Now, to understand why he is saying this, you have to understand Laodicea's unique location.
On one side of Laodicea the city was Hierapolis, which was akin to Hot Springs, Arkansas. If you’ve ever been to Hot Springs, Arkansas, you know the heated water that comes up from the earth, the steam that shows up because of the heat, and that water is used for healing and refreshing. Hierapolis was the Hot Springs, Arkansas of the day, and that hot water flowed down to Laodicea.
But on the other side of Laodicea was the city of Colossae, where we get the book Colossians, and cold water came down from the mountains into Laodicea. When the hot water came down from Hierapolis and the cold water came down from Colossae, they met at Laodicea.
And when the hot and cold water met, the water now became lukewarm when it reached Laodicea. So, Jesus Christ uses this geographical reality to express a spiritual reality operating at Laodicea Bible Fellowship.
He says, "You are neither hot nor cold." Jesus writes this church through its pastor and he says, "You tell them I know about them. They are neither hot, ain't no hot coffee here. They're not cold, there's no ice in that glass here. They are lukewarm." In other words, they are unacceptable.
I want ice in this glass or heat in this coffee. What I don’t want is lukewarmness. He says their lukewarmness, that is their stagnant spiritual state, their in-between Christian commitment, their mixture that has made them unusable, unspiritual, is unacceptable.
ow unacceptable is it Jesus? "I want to spew them out of my mouth." The phrase "to spew out of the mouth" means to vomit. So, it's possible to be a church that makes Jesus sick.
What was it exactly about the Laodicea Bible Fellowship that made Jesus sick? Here's what Jesus says was the problem. Verse 17, "Because you say, 'I am rich and have become wealthy and have need of nothing.'"
He says, "I have a problem with how you view yourself. You say, 'I am rich, I am self-sufficient.'" They were measuring the spiritual by the physical. Let me say that again. They were measuring the spiritual by how things looked in the physical. The fact is the physical and the more of it you have camouflages the spiritual. He says, "Let me tell you what you really are."
Second half of verse 17, "You do not know you are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked." The worst thing in the world is to believe folk in your ears who are lying to you and not telling you the truth.
God says, "I don’t play those games. I'm going to tell you what I see, and what I see is not good. I see you playing church as lukewarm Christians. You coming to church, you part of Laodicea Bible Fellowship, but you're playing games with this thing. You're not--you're not committed to me. You're not dedicated to me. What you're doing is coming to show time at the church."