Rev 3:16-17              I Will Vomit Thee Out of My Mouth                     5/8/2005         ßà   

  • The Church at Colosse (Col 2:1,8-9,16-23, Matt 5:17)

 

 

 

#1.       The Church at Laodicea (Rev 3:14-22, Matt 24:37)

 

 

 

  • Thou Art Neither Cold nor Hot (Rev 3:15-16, Luke 18:9, Prov 26:12)

 

 

 

#2.       Because Thou Sayest, I Am Rich (Rev 3:17, Rom 7:24)

 

 

 

  • The Faithful and True Witness (Rev 3:17)

 

 

 

  • I Counsel Thee to Buy of Me Gold (Rev 3:18-19, Isa 55:1-3)

 

 

 

#3.       Behold I Stand at the Door and Knock (Rev 3:20)

 

 

 

  • To Him that Overcometh Rev 3:21-22)

 

 

 

 

 

Please open your Bibles to the Epistle to the Colossians, Col 2:1 (2X). We have come to the last of the seven letters from the Lord Jesus Christ to the seven churches in Asia Minor. This last one is to the church at Laodicea. The Lord Jesus says to the church at Laodicea, “I will spue thee out of My mouth”. Literally the words in the Greek text say, “I will vomit thee out of My mouth”. And that is also the title of this sermon; I will vomit thee out of My mouth (2X). Does Christ mean what He says? Absolutely Yes! But that is not the end of the story. If you have an old world map in the back of your Bibles, you may see that the cities of Colosse and of Laodicea were very close together. God’s messages to the churches at Colosse and at Laodicea are very much intertwined. And thus, before we are going to look into Christ’s message to the church at Laodicea, let us first look at:

  • The Church at Colosse (Col 2:1,8-9,16-23, Matt 5:17)

In fact, the letter of the Apostle Paul to the church at Colosse was also addressed to the church at Laodicea. Let us see what information we can obtain about the church at Laodicea from the letter of the Apostle Paul to the church at Colosse. We read in Col 2:1,

Col 2:1 ¶  For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh;

And so we see that the Epistle to the Colossians was also addressed to the Laodiceans. And what was that great conflict that the Apostle Paul had in his soul for the congregations of Colosse and Laodicea? He feared that they would give heed to the Judaizers and to the Gnostics, which were false teachers coming after him. The Judaizers would make them believe that they should follow the Law of Moses, and the Gnostics would make them believe that Christ is not God. We read in verse 8,

Col 2:8  Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

Col 2:9  For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.

The Colossians and the Laodiceans were warned that they should not be led astray by philosophy and empty slogans of deceit, referring to the philosophy and deceit of the Gnostics. In Christ “dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily”. There is no question that Christ is fully God. They were also warned of the tradition of men, referring to the Judaizers who would come with great persuasion to follow the Law of Moses. But after Christ died on the cross the Ceremonial Law became a set of traditions, since the Law was fulfilled by the Lord Jesus Christ on behalf of all for whom Christ died. God says in Matt 5:17, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill”. There is no question that the Law was fulfilled forever on behalf of all for whom Christ died. As a result God’s grace will be showered on them to regenerate their soul so that they will be “Born Again” and upon hearing the Gospel they will have faith in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ. But for all those who remain in unbelief, their unbelief is evidence that their sins have not been forgiven, and thus Christ did not suffer and die for them who are themselves going to Hell. And thus, the Law still stands for all those who remain in unbelief. They shall die in their sins and will be judged for it. This is the great warning to the churches of Colosse and Laodicea, and this is the great warning also to us who live in the time after the cross. This warning must be repeated in this day and age, because today people are more ignorant than ever about what God has said. That is why God says in Col 2:16,

Col 2:16 ¶  Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days:

Col 2:17  Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.

Col 2:18  Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,

Col 2:19  And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God.

Col 2:20-21  Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances,     Touch not; taste not; handle not;

Col 2:22  Which all are to perish with the using; after the commandments and doctrines of men?

Col 2:23  Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.

Worship of angels? Does that ring a bell? Did you notice how many supposed angels are portrayed these days on television? Worship of angels was a Gnostic idea, but this idea is being promoted in our days more and more, because people are ignorant about what God has said. And so, can we see if the church at Laodicea became a victim of the Judaizers and the Gnostics? Indeed they were. The churches at Colosse and Laodicea were being obedient to the ordinances laid out in the Ceremonial Law. Those ordinances had become doctrines of men. Those ordinances made a good show of being religious, but they were only an outward show of “will worship”, in verse 23. Have you ever wondered what “will worship” is? “Will worship” means a voluntary worship beyond what God requires. That is always dangerous, because then we would be adding to the Word of God. “Will worship” is the foundation of the appointments of the fasts and festivals of the church, of no meat on Fridays, of no marriage for the clergy, of painful all night prayer meetings or prayers for the dead, of penances and self-inflicted tortures, of pilgrimages, and of the merits of the “saints”. God knew best what things were good for us, and what things were conducive to the piety for His people. We are most safe if we adhere to what He has appointed, and do not add more days and ordinances than He has directed us to do so. To go beyond that is not more piety, but is much wickedness of the heart, and there is nothing that tends more to corrupt religion than “will worship”. Let us now look at:

#1.       The Church at Laodicea (Rev 3:14-22, Matt 24:37)

Please turn in your Bibles to the Revelation of Jesus Christ, Rev 3:14 (2X). Are people who add to

the Word of God unsaved? Yes, according to Rev 22:18 they are. When unsaved people conduct worship services that are inspired by Judaizers, their children are most likely also unsaved individuals who continue to worship God in this unholy tradition. All in all it creates an atmosphere of pharisaical self-righteousness. And that is exactly what was going on in the Laodicean church.

Re 3:14 ¶  And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;

Re 3:15-16  I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.   So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

Re 3:17  Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:

Re 3:18  I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.

Re 3:19  As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

Re 3:20  Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

Re 3:21  To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.

Re 3:22  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

What is the first thing that strikes us in this letter? Christ is going to spit out this church. But even though this church is going to be abandoned by Him, as long as there are still a few faithful believers in that church Christ still calls it His church. As long as there are still a few saints left in a church Christ still holds out some blessings to that church. This letter to the church at Laodicea completes the sevenfold picture of the NT church. These seven aspects of the NT church are always there, at any time throughout the NT history. At any time there are churches that are being persecuted, like the churches of Smyrna and Philadelphia. At any time there are churches that are dead, like the churches at Sardis and at Laodicea. And what we can see in this overview is that there are good qualities in some of the churches, like soundness in doctrine, faithfulness in regard to discipline, an abounding in the work of the Lord, a warmth and fulness of spiritual life, love, hope, confidence, and patience in suffering and persecution for Christ’s sake. These features are praised by God and they who have them receive His commendation, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant of the Lord”. On the other hand there are also evil qualities in some of the churches, like coolness of spiritual life, lack of love, laxity in discipline, a tendency to false mysticism, a lack of zeal in the work of the Lord, and a miserable lukewarmness toward anything that might be pleasing to the Lord. These evil features are strongly rebuked by the Lord, and He admonishes the churches to repent from these.

Yet it must not be overlooked that there is some intentional arrangement in the order in which the seven letters appear. The Last church listed is the church at Laodicea, which is a church that is most miserable in every respect. Did God arrange this sequence in this a way to indicate what we might expect of the church toward the end of time? I believe so. God gave us this sequence of the churches to let us know that we may expect a gradual decline as we approach the end of the world. The Lord Jesus said in Matt 24:37, “But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be”. In other words, in the days of Noah only eight souls out of a world population of perhaps a few million were worth saving. That is the example of how small the fraction of truly saved people will be when Christ returns. And thus the evil elements in the church will develop more and more, until the general aspect is such that the Lord is ready to vomit the church out of His mouth. What was the condition in the church at Laodicea? It can be summarized in these six words:

  • Thou Art Neither Cold nor Hot (Rev 3:15-16, Luke 18:9, Prov 26:12)

This will most likely be the condition of the church as we approach the end of time. It will be neither cold nor hot. I am not talking about the Roman Catholic church, or about the Mormon church, or about the Jehovah’s Witnesses, or about the Charismatic churches, since these denominations have added to the Word of God, or they have taken away from the Word of God, and so they have already abandoned the Gospel of the Bible alone, and therefore in God’s sight they are counted among the heathen nations out there. No, I am talking about the churches that consider themselves Bible based Christian churches. These are the ones of whom the Lord Jesus shall say, as in Rev 3:15-16, “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.   So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee (vomit thee) out of my mouth”. To be hot has the meaning of being on fire for the Lord, to be zealous in the work for the Lord, and to be filled with true spiritual life. To be cold must then mean a state of absolute spiritual deadness, like the heathen out there. Then should not the state of lukewarmness be better than the state of being cold? What does the state of lukewarmness mean? It means the state whereby the members of that church congratulate themselves for being so good. They consider themselves pretty good people because of the works they do for the Lord, and they are in no need to improve their relationship to the Lord. It is like the mindset of the Pharisee in the Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican. In Luke 18:9 God defines the mindset of the Pharisee. Luke 18:9, “And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others”. Here is the definition of Pharisees: “They which trusted in themselves that they were righteous”. These were lukewarm. You can preach to someone who is cold and you can tell him that he is in need of a Savior. But how do you tell a Pharisee that he is still unsaved? Absolutely he will not listen. They who are hot or cold have taken a stand. They know where they stand concerning God and concerning faith. But a man who is wise in his own conceits is almost a hopeless case. God says in Prov 26:12, “Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him”. This is where the church of Laodicea is at the time the Lord Jesus dictated this letter to them. The Lord Jesus says of them:

#2.       Because Thou Sayest, I Am Rich (Rev 3:17, Rom 7:24)

Re 3:17  Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:

The Lord Jesus Christ tells them in this letter that they are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked. The word “wretched” used here is the same word that we read in Rom 7:24, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” In the same sense this word “wretched” is used here of the church at Laodicea. She was wretched in herself. She was sinful and condemned. She was the object of the wrath of God. That is why she was at the same time miserable. While on earth she was spiritually miserable, and in the life hereafter she would be very miserable in Hell. And the wretchedness of this church is even more emphasized when the Lord says that she was poor, and blind, and naked. She is the very opposite of the church in Smyrna. There we read that the church in Smyrna was spiritually rich. In the church at Smyrna were found faith, love, hope, patience, understanding of the truth, watchfulness, & fighting the battle of faith. None of those were found in the church at Laodicea. She was blind. Instead of being able to see the wretchedness of her condition, she lacked even in the knowledge of self. She could not see her own misery. And she was naked. The church at Laodicea stood without a cover for her shame. There was nothing and no one to cover her sins. She stood before the eyes of Him who pierces and scrutinizes the darkest corners of the human soul. And that is how she stood, condemned and on the way to Hell. Did the church even in a small way acknowledge this? No! This is a proud and a complacent church. They believed that God has blessed them with material wealth because they deserved it. They were convinced that God’s blessing is synonymous with material wealth, and so they think that they lack nothing. The Lord Jesus said that she was wretched and miserable, but the church at Laodicea said that they had need of nothing. The Lord Jesus said of her that they were poor, but the church said that they were rich. The Lord Jesus said of her that they were blind and naked, but the church said that she was increased with goods. You see, earthly riches and spiritual poverty often accompany one another. It is difficult to remain strong in the faith and rich in spiritual life at the same time that we increase in riches in the material sense. That was also true here in the church at Laodicea. They were in a state of spiritual self-satisfaction. They were well satisfied with their own condition. This is a case where spiritual poverty and spiritual pride went together. Since this letter was first of all addressed to the angel of the church at Laodicea, meaning the pastor of the church at Laodicea, the pastor of the church is first of all to blame. The pastor had gradually flattered his congregation into their self-satisfied condition. The pastor did not preach about sin, or about condemnation, or about the wrath of God on all mankind, or about them having been born as condemned sinners in this world. The pastor left the people poor, blind, and naked. He told them that all was well with their souls, and that everyone in the church was a saved person. And that made their condition so hopeless. The publican who knows and confesses his wretchedness goes home justified. But what hope is there for the miserable Pharisee, who thanks God for his own goodness. And as you can see with your own eyes, the church of today is absolutely moving into the direction of the church at Laodicea. The church of the modern world today is waking up to her own goodness. They speak of big things: they are waking up to the great task of the church of all ages. They want to bring peace into all the world. Like John Paul the second they are visiting Moslem mosques and Buddhist temples, joining hands with Moslems and Buddhists, and so they intend to do in their own power what God was unable to do in the past 20 centuries. The words spoken to the church at PhiladelphiaThou hast little strength” are no more understood. The words “sin” and “misery” are no more understood, because sin is no longer preached, and the Gospel of Christ crucified for those whom Jesus came to save is disappearing from our pulpits. They will preach Christ of Galilee, but not Christ of Calvary. The Christ who loves all mankind and did much good, the social Christ, is held up and adored in movies and on TV. But the Suffering Servant of Jehovah, who was punished for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities is lost out of sight. But who has warned us for these days many years ago? Look at verse 14. It is:

  • The Faithful and True Witness (Rev 3:17)

Re 3:14 ¶  And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;

Already 1900 years ago the Lord Jesus warned the church that this was the direction the church would take. The church would become like a Pharisee, trusting in herself, and marrying her sons and giving in marriage her daughters with those of the heathen around her. The church has not understood that the condition of being unequally yoked would lead to the destruction of the church and of the whole world. And today the church is busily preparing for more mingling with Moslems and with other heathen nations. But Pastor, that is what you say, but whose word should we believe? The Lord Jesus emphasizes here in verse 14 that it is not their opinion of themselves, but His opinion of them that is true and reliable. The Lord Jesus says that He is the true and faithful Witness. He never makes a mistake. He is the “Amen”. What does that mean? “Amen” is originally a Hebrew word that has been translated into Greek and into English. It means “So be it”, or “Absolutely”, or Most assuredly”. When we read that the Lord Jesus says, “Verily, verily, I say unto you”, He is actually saying, “Amen, Amen, I say unto you”. God is the very essence of truth and trustworthiness. Therefore He is the Amen. But then He also says, “the beginning of the creation of God”. What does this mean? It does not mean that Christ is a created being, for this would conflict with all that the Bible says about Immanuel, God with us. The meaning is actually that He is the principle of all that was created. In that sense He is the Firstborn of every creature. All things were made by Him and through Him. He is the fountain of all that exists. And because He is the beginning of all things that are made, they all exist in Him, and by Him and for Him. And thus He is the eternal and all sufficient God, who possesses and controls all things in heaven and on earth, and at the same time He is the One by whom and for whom all things were created in heaven and on earth. Therefore, He alone is the beginning of all riches. He alone is the fountain of all that is good for the church. And then the Lord approaches the members of this church with an offer they cannot refuse:

  • I Counsel Thee to Buy of Me Gold (Rev 3:18-19, Isa 55:1-3)

Re 3:18  I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.

Re 3:19  As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

What are these precious articles, such as gold, and raiment, and eyesalve? These represent various blessings of grace. We cannot interpret these words as if the blessings of grace could be bought with money. That would be unscriptural and false. But these articles as symbols of the riches of grace represent those riches which the church at Laodicea so sorely needed and lacked. These are blessings of grace in the most absolute sense of the word. Grace means “Unmerited Favor”. And thus the sinner had nothing with which to buy them. How could anyone who is poor buy gold, and garments, and eyesalve? But in this the Lord Jesus portrays the figure of a merchant. The church at Laodicea thought that she was rich. Well then, let her buy what she needs mostly. Who that is rich and increased with goods walks about without garments? And what wealthy man is there without gold? And who that is blind and has the opportunity to buy eyesalve will go without it? But above all, they who are in need of all these things must first realize that they are in need of all these things. And so, the Lord impresses on them that the church is in need of these things, and that she must come to Him who possesses what she needs and will give it without money and without price. God expressed the same idea before in the prophecy of Isaiah 55:1-3, where He says,

Isa 55:1 ¶  Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.

Isa 55:2  Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.

Isa 55:3  Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.

Only in Christ is all grace and fulness of blessing, but outside of Him we lie in the midst of death. The testimony of the rich Christ and the poor sinner must go forth loudly. But will the church listen and heed this counsel of the Lord? When we look at the history of the church we find that there is often a return from apostasy by the power of the grace of Christ. But not in the sense that the existing church is revived. Rather, the church dies, and a group of believers who have left that church establishes a new church. And this is how the church has survived throughout the centuries. But when we are approaching the return of Christ, the time will come that the church will repent no more, and then judgment is expected. Throughout the letter we get the impression that such is the condition of the church at Laodicea. In the other letters the threat of judgment always depended on whether they repented or not. But when the Lord says to the church at Laodicea, “I will vomit thee out of my mouth” it means that the Lord will utterly reject this church from bearing His Name. There seems to be no hope for her, which means therefore that the church will not repent. Therefore, the admonition to repent is addressed to a few individuals in the church, rather than to the church as a whole. This is indicated by the words of verse 19, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent”. The thought is that even in the most miserable church of the Lord Jesus Christ there are still some of Christ’s true disciples. They must wake up to the situation. And the Lord says to them:

#3.       Behold I Stand at the Door and Knock (Rev 3:20, Eph 2:1-5, John 6:44)

Re 3:20  Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

You know how this verse has been taken out of context by those who love to hear a “free will gospel”. They believe that the Lord Jesus is standing at the door of the heart of a sinner, and is begging to come in. But that is taking this verse entirely out of context. Jesus is not standing at the door of the heart, but at the door of the church in Laodicea. That church had become unfaithful. That church had cast Him out. He  was now standing outside. Within, however, there are those whom He loves and whom He rebukes and chastens, that they may come to repentance and wake up to a new zeal. Therefore He addresses them from outside the church. The church as a whole seems hopelessly lost. But His own beloved, the elect of God, must not perish with the rest. Therefore He calls them. And then He promises, “And I will sup with him and he with Me”. This is a reference to the Lord’s supper. When the Lord Jesus sat down with the disciples, He broke the bread and said, “This is My broken body and shed blood. Eat and drink this in remembrance of Me”. When we become saved, we are in communion with the Lord Jesus Christ. We are supping on Him in the Bible, and we are eating with Him. The Lord Jesus is there feeding us with the Word of God. Finally there is the promise to him that overcometh and is faithful until the end.

  • To Him that Overcometh (Eph 1:20-21, 2:6, Rev 3:21-22)

Re 3:21  To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.

Re 3:22  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

In the previous promise the Lord assures us that we will be partakers of the glorious covenant, symbolized in supping with Him. But in this verse 21 the Lord promises the faithful that they will enter into the Kingdom eternal and will reign with Him forever. How are these two truths related? Man was created a covenant being, destined as the image bearer of God to have most intimate communion with Him. In that relation of friendship of man to God, he was at the same time to have dominion over all things. Man was to reign over the works of God. But as you know, Adam fell into sin, he became God’s enemy, and at the same time he became a slave to sin and Satan. But then Christ came. And in Christ the relationship of man to God is restored to the highest possible level. Christ came to be our representative before the throne of God, laden with the guilt of all the sins of all of God’s elect. He paid the penalty that was due us, and then He reconciled us to the Father as His Bride. And then He gave us faith, which allowed us to sup with Him. But after Judgment Day when He takes us to the new creation He restores our human nature to that height of glory and perfection where the perfect communion of the covenant is again possible, and is realized in the highest possible sense of the word. At the same time in Christ the dominion over all things is again restored to man. He overcame and was exalted. So shall all who overcome with Him be exalted. And so we will participate in the glory of the transition from the church militant to the church triumphant.

Hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches! And what doth the Spirit say? Watch and fight. Overcome and be faithful unto the end. Have no part with the church that lives in self-sufficiency and has no need of anything. Only in our Lord Jesus Christ is the fulness of grace. Only going out to Him shall we be satisfied with His friendship. Watch therefore and be zealous! Be faithful unto the end.

AMEN.                 Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.