Sunday Sermon, 2020-01-19, “Revelation, Seven Churches, part 2.”

“Revelation: The Seven Churches, Part 2”
Revelation 3:1-22

Welcome to Revelation chapter three! Here’s what we will cover this morning:

3 mini-letters sent to 3 actual churches that actually existed at the time John received this Revelation: Sardis (yes, the fish “Sardines” are derived from the root word “Sardis” which means “Red”, Philadelphia (Yes, THAT Philadelphia), and Laodicea. SEE MAPS.

Reminder, even though the details of each letter are specific to that church, we find something in each letter that applies universally to every church:

• Use listening ears! Vv. 6, 13, 22, “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches.”
• God knows His church. Vv. 1, 8, 15, “I know you …”
• We’re a mixed bag. There is good to be praised, and problems to be addressed.

A. Sardis.

Revelation 3:1-6, “Write this letter to the angel of the church in Sardis. This is the message from the one who has the sevenfold Spirit of God and the seven stars: “I know all the things you do, and that you have a reputation for being alive—but you are dead.
2 Wake up! Strengthen what little remains, for even what is left is almost dead. I find that your actions do not meet the requirements of my God.
3 Go back to what you heard and believed at first; hold to it firmly. Repent and turn to me again. If you don’t wake up, I will come to you suddenly, as unexpected as a thief.
4 “Yet there are some in the church in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes with evil. They will walk with me in white, for they are worthy.
5 All who are victorious will be clothed in white. I will never erase their names from the Book of Life, but I will announce before my Father and his angels that they are mine.
6 “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches.

Good:
• Backhanded compliment: “You have the REPUTATION of being alive …”
• There are SOME who have remained pure.

Bad:
• “… but, you are dead.”
• Actions don’t measure up to God’s standard.

Command:
• Wake up!
• Focus on making what little you have better.
• Restore what you originally heard and believed.
• Repent and turn to Jesus.

Warning:
• Sudden appearance, like a thief.

Promise:
• Victorious: Clothed in white, name never erased, announced before the Father and angels.

B. Philadelphia.

Revelation 3:7-13, “Write this letter to the angel of the church in Philadelphia. This is the message from the one who is holy and true, the one who has the key of David. What he opens, no one can close; and what he closes, no one can open.
8 “I know all the things you do, and I have opened a door for you that no one can close. You have little strength, yet you obeyed my word and did not deny me.
9 Look, I will force those who belong to Satan’s synagogue—those liars who say they are Jews but are not—to come and bow down at your feet. They will acknowledge that you are the ones I love.
10 “Because you have obeyed my command to persevere, I will protect you from the great time of testing that will come upon the whole world to test those who belong to this world.
11 I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take away your crown.
12 All who are victorious will become pillars in the Temple of my God, and they will never have to leave it. And I will write on them the name of my God, and they will be citizens in the city of my God—the new Jerusalem that comes down from heaven from my God. And I will also write on them my new name.
13 “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches.

Good:
• Obeyed Jesus without denial, even with little strength.

Bad:
• None!

Command:
• Hold on to what you have.

Warning:
• If you don’t hold on to what you have … lose your crown.

Promise:
• Wrong-headed Jews will bow down before you, and admit Christians are loved by God.
• Protected from a great time of testing.
• Victorious: Pillars in the temple, God’s name written upon them, citizens of the New Jerusalem.

C. Laodicea.

Revelation 3:14-22, “Write this letter to the angel of the church in Laodicea. This is the message from the one who is the Amen—the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s new creation:
15 “I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other!
16 But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!
17 You say, ‘I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.
18 So I advise you to buy gold from me—gold that has been purified by fire. Then you will be rich. Also buy white garments from me so you will not be shamed by your nakedness, and ointment for your eyes so you will be able to see.
19 I correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference.
20 “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.
21 Those who are victorious will sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat with my Father on his throne.
22 “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches.”

Good:
• None!

Bad:
• Make Jesus ill.
• Blinded by personal wealth: “I have all I need.”

Command:
• Buy the “real stuff” from Jesus.
• Be diligent and turn from your indifference.

Warning:
• None!

Promise:
• Because I love you … you will be corrected and disciplined.
• I’m knocking on the door of your heart … open … enter … share meal as friends.

Hierapolis, which is about six miles from Laodicea, is famous for its hot springs. The waters are as hot as 95 degrees Fahrenheit. By contrast, the waters of nearby Colossae were cold and pure. The site of Laodicea appears to have been chosen because it was a crossroads, not because it had its own water supply. It seems that Laodicea received water from “a remarkable aqueduct of stone pipes.” Archaeological evidence indicates that the waters around Laodicea were afflicted with a “calcium carbonate content” that resulted in the waters being impure and emetic—that is, they caused vomiting

Calcium carbonate may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
• upset stomach
• vomiting
• stomach pain
• belching
• constipation
• dry mouth
• increased urination
• loss of appetite
• metallic taste

Jesus was saying to the people of Laodicea, “You make me sick.”

Main Point: “God wants our church to honor Him and remain faithful to His calling upon us to help ordinary people experience full life in Christ.”

A closing prayer, “Dear God, we are one of many churches in Wythe County, Virginia. God help us to know what is good here, and what you have against us. Command us. Help us to hear and heed Your warning … and God, make us a people of promise. In Jesus’ name, amen.”