Revelation: The Beginning of the End?

Showing items filed under “Ken Keltner”

The Sky Will Fall (Manuscript)

main image

Do you remember the childrens fable of Chicken Little?  She was eating her lunch one day and an acorn fell on her head.  She went into a panic, running around yelling, The Sky is falling!  The Sky is falling!”  In the English version, that dates centuries ago, the chicken runs toward the palace to warn the king, gathering all sorts of animals along the way.  She convinces them that the sky is truly falling and they all get in a panic.  All of these animals, if you remember, had rhyming names!  Henny Penny” and Turkey Lurkey” and Goosey Loosey.  Then who comes along?  Foxy Loxy.”  Do you remember him?  He promises the animals that he can protect them from the falling sky.  However, he lures them into his trap and eats all of them, except Chicken Little who escapes with her life.  The moral of this story?  Dont believe everything you hear. 

What has survived over the centuries with this phrase, The sky is falling,” is this is the message of an alarmist who predicts the worst.  People will say, They think the sky is falling.”  This is sort of a mocking statement.  In other words, Do not believe the doomsayers.  They are deluded, confused people, running around like silly chickens.  The sky is not falling and the sky will never fall.”   

Its interesting, however, to observe a change in attitude in todays generation.  The tune of Chicken Little” has changed.  One author put it this way, Forty years ago, Hollywoods futuristic movies were utopian”—life evolved into something perfect and wonderfulbut today, they are apocalyptic.”  The world is not getting betterthe world in the future might be a world of wild creatures, with earth either uninhabited or unlivable, and the planet filled with dangerous or a barren wasteland.  So, its not unusual anymore to hear a philosopher like Alfred North Whitehead say, It is the business of the future to be dangerous. 

Carl Sagan, the astronomer and secular humanist whose television program, Cosmos:  A Personal Voyage in the 1980s was watched by an estimated six-hundred million people, led many people to basically worship the universe.  In fact, his pseudo-science theory laid the groundwork for the current rage in which people were told to communicate their wishes to the universe.  The universe will then, by the laws of attraction, fulfill their wishes.  Before his death, Carl Sagan wrote, We may have only a few decades until doomsday.”   

No one accuses these men of being Chicken Little.”  “The sky is going to fall.” A new prediction says that The world will be destroyed in twelve years,” and the average person today believes its true.  They know that this is a threatening universe.  They cant prevent it no matter how many new green deals are confirmed; Gods judgment is going to come.  Friends, there will be no more earth days.  This is a disposable earth.  

Ladies and gentlemen, yet we have a great opportunity to deliver the truth today of this impending judgment of God.  Prophecy is not just about tomorrow but its relevant today.  We can announce to our generation that their inborn fear of the future; their sense of doomsday is coming; their suspicion that earth and the human race cannot keep going forever without encountering global, apocalyptic terror is all true.  There is coming a day when the sky will truly begin to fall.  Challenge for EE. 

What a great privilege we have this morning to once again look into the future and see Gods prophetic message.  Take your Bible, or one under the seat in front of you, and turn to the sixth chapter of Revelation.  I want us to get this message this morning:  Prophecy is not just about tomorrow but it should  impact us today.  Because the wrath of God is coming! 

Follow along as I begin reading from verse one to the end of the chapter.  Now I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures saying with a voice like thunder, Come and see.’ (2) And I looked and behold, a white horse.  He who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer. (3) When He opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, Come and see.’ (4) Another horse, fiery red, went out.  And it was granted to the one who sat on it to take peace from the earth, and that people should kill one another; and there was given to him a great sword. (5) When He opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, Come and see.’  So I looked, and behold, a black horse, and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand. (6) And I heard a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not harm the oil and the wine. (7) When He opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, Come and see.’ (8) So I looked, and behold a pale horse.  And the name of him who sat on it was Death, and Hades followed with him.  And power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the earth. (9) When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. (10) And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?’ (11) Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed. (12) I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood. (13) And the stars of the heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind. (14) Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place. (15) And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, (16) and said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! (17) For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?’” 

The days of God visibly working on earth seem so far gone.  A thundering voice from a cloud, a fire from heaven, and devastating, divine plagues are just distant words we read about in the Old Testament.  In the technological and scientific world we live in today, often wickedness looks as if it is winning and nothing will arouse God to show His hand publicly.  Right now man is having his having his day, but dont be fooled.  One of the central prophetic themes in Scripture is the coming of the great day of Gods wrath.  Revelation 6 begins the fulfillment of this future prophecy that we have themed The Beginning of the End.    

In Revelation 6 the first four seals depict it for us with horsemen.  Thats where we get the term, The four horsemen of the apocalypse.”  The imagery is vivid; its potent and even shocking.  Jesus stated, All these [judgments] are the beginning of sorrows [or birth pangs-NASB] (Matt. 24:8).  So you will see a more severe progression that develops as we go through these seal judgments.  Look with me at the insights and lessons the Lord gives us for these last days.  



  1. Seal One - Be aware of deception with the white horse.  The rider on the first horse is the Anti-christ and he comes as a counterfeit prince of peace primarily for Israel.  Deception works because it includes as much truth as possible.  There are skilled deceivers today.  At this moment, ladies and gentlemen, there are dozens of semi tractor trailers parked on the property of Yisrayl Hawkins’ compound near Odessa, Texas, stocked with food and water, where all of his followers await the beginning of the end of the world in a nuclear war.  He is a self-proclaimed prophet and witness sent by God to prepare the world for the Second Coming of Christ.  In fact, he claims that he and his brother were prophesied in the Old Testament to be the Two Witnesses in Revelation 11.  He has a few seeds of truth mixed into his bushels of deceptive teaching.  Blinded people ignore the cover-up of delusion and greed.  Whats worse, he is a public disgrace to Bible believers everywhere who claim to believe in this Book.  Maybe youre thinking, Ken, I would be the last person on the planet to fall for some guy who says nuclear war is coming.  Thats good, but maybe you have fallen for a different kind of deceptiona deception just as deadly.  Like, God wants you to be happy first and foremost, so do what makes you happy.  All that stuff about holiness and disciplinethat kind of talk will only hold you down.  Satan has always and will always come with a message of deception. 
  1. Seal Two - Be aware of devastation with the red horse.  The color of the second horse is fiery red” and rightly depicts his mission of bloodshed and slaughter.  The idea seems to convey civil strife within, and between peoples and nations.  No one will be safe.  One will live in fear of life not knowing who to trust.  Jesus said in Matthew 24:10, And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another.”  Anarchy and worldwide bloodshed will be signatures of the last days.  As if that werent bad enough, the Lamb opens the scroll just a little further as another rider mounts up and then another.  Look with me at the third and fourth horsemen. 


  1. Seal Three - Be aware of deprivation with the black horse. vv. 5-6.  War has always had a close companion, an ever-present partner we call famine.    When He opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, Come and see.’  So I looked, and behold, a black horse, and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand.”  
  • Famine is unstoppable - v. 5 Christ opens the third seal and the third living creature commands the rider, Come.”  John looks and its rider is holding a set of scales” or balances in his hand as he rides onto the stage of history.  The color black is associated with the famine found in Lamentations 5:10.  There is no reason to wonder what these scales symbolize.  There will be measuring and rationing of food.  Look with me at verse six.  And I heard a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not harm the oil and the wine. 
  • Famine is unbearable - One quart of wheat in the first century represented the daily need for one person to survive.  The denarius was a Roman silver coin equivalent to one days full wages.  In other words, enough wheat to feed one man for only the cost of a full days labor.  Let me put it to you this way.  Suppose you work at a fast-food job and you work tomorrow for eight hours and are paid the minimum wage, which in our state is $7.25.  You would need every bit of Mondays income $58 minus taxes puts you at $43, to buy one loaf of bread.  Imagine paying $43 for one loaf of bread!  You wouldnt even be able to eat at McDonalds because a Big Mac would cost a hundred dollars.  Its runaway inflation. You gather the family around your paycheck and decide that more than one person needs to eat today.  And since you cannot afford one loaf of wheat bread anymore, you will eat barley.  John tells us that a person can get about three times more barley than wheat for one days wage.  By the way, coarse barley bread was the food of animals and poverty stricken people.  
  1. Seal Four - Be aware of death with the pale horse. vv. 7-8 When He opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, Come and see.’ (8) So I looked, and behold a pale horse.  And the name of him who sat on it was Death, and Hades followed with him.  And power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the earth.  By the way, the Greek word for pale is chloros from which our English word chlorine” is derived.  It is a word that referred to a pale green color.”  This word was used by the ancients to refer to the decay of death.  In the fifth century BC, Thucydides, the Greek historian, used the word for the appearance of people dying in a plague. 
  • Identity of the rider - Death and hell”  The mention of the word hades” would indicate that this worldwide tragedy is affecting those who are unbelievers.  Hades” is the resting place for the wicked until the lake of fire.   
  • Impact of this judgment - In the wake of this horseman, one-fourth of the worlds population will die.  Today it would be like the entire population of Africa and South America combined being wiped-out.  In 1800 the world reached a billion in population.  In 1974 the world reached 4 billion.  In 2011 the world reached 7 billion people.  By 2044, the projection is 9 billion.  Think about it.  In all too brief a time, over 1.75 billion people will depart planet earth, not by the rapture but by death.  Later in Revelation 8:18, because of the sixth trumpet judgment, one-third of those remaining will die.  In less than 7 years, a half of the worlds population will be taken in death (Ezekiel 14:21).   
  • Instruments used in this judgment - These four instruments have been predicted by God to be His means of judgment in a number of Old Testament passages.  Jeremiah 14:12, I will consume them by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence or by plague.” (Jeremiah 24:10, 44:13; Ezekiel 6:11.  Listen to what Ezekiel wrote, Son of man, when a land sins agains Me by persistent unfaithfulness, I will stretch out My hand against it; I will cut off its supply of bread, send famine on it, and cut off man and beast from it. (14) Even if these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness, says the Lord God. (15) If I cause wild beasts to pass through the land, and they empty it, and make it so desolate that no man may pass through because of the beasts, (16) Even though these three men were in it, as I live,’ says the Lord God, they would deliver neither sons nor daughters; only they would be delivered, and the land would be desolate’” (Ezekiel 14:13-16).  In other words, even the presence of righteous men will not ultimately stop the judgment.    
  • First by way of the sword - I believe, along with many others, that this is a reference primarily to death by murder.  People will take the law into their own hands and create their own killing fields. 
  • Second by cause of famine - This is the culmination of lingering starvation, with few survivors foraging for whatever food they could find. 
  • Third by cause of pestilence, or another word would be plague.  Can you imagine the effects of worldwide hunger, bloodshed, and plagues as well as the loss of civility and respect for human life?  It will be the survival of the fittest, fastest, strongest, or meanest. 
  • Fourth by cause of wild beasts on the earth.  Have you ever been chased by a wild animal?  I havea group of young men on a twenty acre ranch where lions roam. I was on a missions trip with a group of young men from Brookside including two of my sons.  We were touring a twenty-acre ranch where lions roam free.  I was walking with another man from our church when my son decided to run back to the house.  I told him to stay by the fence in case he needed to climb over.  Before I knew it, he came running back up over the hill, with sheer fear on his face, screaming for us to run.  I stood there in shock, while my buddy took off running, and the whole time I was thinking, what am I doing out here without a weapon?  But soon a jeep with the rest of the team came roaring up over the hill, laughing at their joke on us.  I cant imagine if it had been real!  But friends, Revelation will come true.  Some believe that this could be bears, lions, and tigers on the rampage.  My primary objection with this view is that the carnivorous beasts would have all they want to eat among the starving, and the already dying, worldwide.  The most dangerous wild animal on the planet, by far more dangerous and destructive to man than the lion, tiger, or bear, is the common rat.  The rat carries at least thirty-five known diseases.  Their fleas carry bubonic plague, and history verifies the impact they had in Europe 600 years ago when the bubonic plague swept millions to their death.  They also carry typhus, which has killed an estimated 200 million people over the last four centuries.       

Transition: There has never been a time when the results of all four horsemen have occurred in overlapping sequences of time; there has never been a time in world history when world madness like this has been experienced in this sequence, to this extent.  And this is just the beginning.  But the thundering of the four horsemen and the coming world madness with all its terror, as the wrath of God is unleashed on the planet, is still nothing compared to having the wrath of God unleashed on you forever.   Perhaps you have been brought here this morning to hear one more fire and brimstone warning.  My prayer is that time you will hear, and believe in, and find safety in Christ.  

Listen, the wrath of the Lamb, the wrath of God are a reoccurring theme (11:18; 14:10; 16:19; 19:15), in Gods prophetic message.  Dr. Warren Wiersbe, former pastor of the Moody Church in Chicago, puts it all in perspective, If men and women will not yield to the love of God, and be changed by the grace of God, then there is no way for them to escape the wrath of God.”  Look at the two remaining seals here in chapter 6 and what it will be like, and what we should learn when the wrath of the Lamb comes? 

  1. Seal five - Martyred saints will seek justice - vv. 9-11  As 

     Jesus opens this fifth seal, three truths leap from the 

     passages of Scripture from the perspective of His saints 

     during these terrifying days. 

  • Their justice is declared before God - vv. 9 When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held.”  The question first of all is, who are these people?  These are martyrs who have already died during the onset of the persecution in the Tribulation.  During the beginning of the birth pangs in the first three and half years, there will be initiated persecution.  It is not going to be a wholesale massacre; it will be a beginning persecution.  These martyred ones parallel Christs words in the Mount Olivet prediction that was read for us this morning, Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My names sake” (Matthew 24:9).  Some believe that these people are the martyred from the entire church agenot simply this martyred during the Tribulation.  The primary problem with this view is simply the fact that, as we will see in a moment, they are praying for justice against their tormentors who are still alive on the earth.  They are praying in heaven while their persecutors are alive in earth.  The word souls” comes from the Greek word psuche.  This sounds like misty spirits floating around heaven.  The word translated souls” can be translated living ones.”  They are under the altar which means they are not hiding but under” the altar.  The Greek noun used for altar in verse 9 is always used to refer to the golden altar of incensepatterned after the altar of incense in the Old Testament tabernacle and temple. These are the lives of those who were slain crying out to God.  John leaves no doubt about the reason for their death.  These people died because they would not recant their new found faith in Christ alone. 
  • The Word of God -  They would not deny its message 
  • The testimony (witness) which they hold. 
  • Their justice is deferred to God - v. 10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?’” This does not sound like a very spiritual prayer request, does it?  But the prayer is not for personal revenge but for divine vindication and justice.  This request arises out of concern for the reputation of God.  Romans 12:19 says, Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, Vengeance is Mine, I will repay’ says the Lord.”  Vindication, not bitter revenge, is their prayer, and all of it they defer to God.   
  • Their justice is determined by God - v. 11 Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed.”  The fact that they are given white robes certainly implies some sort of intermediate, temporary bodies while they wait for their resurrected bodies.  Interestingly, they are told to rest which is their reward in heaven as they await the purposes of God to be fulfilled.  Dear Christian, you do not need to fear death.  Paul said, For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).  Paul is saying its greater leave this world and live with the Lord.  Its also comforting to know that God is in complete control over the wickedness of men.  Arent you glad?  Because when I am going through suffering, all I need to know is one thing.  I dont need to know why, but I do need to know that God is in complete control.  Notice that God has a specific number that will be martyred for their testimony.  When that number is completed, His patience will run its course on the wickedness of men.    
  1. Seal six - Worlds response to earthly and heavenly

     disturbances - vv. 12-14  Jesus opens the sixth seal and the 

     world begin to convulse and reel.  Just as Scripture promises, 

     the entire cosmos and all of nature begins to unravel and 

     come apart at the seams.  While some students of Scripture 

     regard these judgments as symbolic and a reference to social 

     and political upheaval, it is better to take these end-time 

     events as literal descriptions of Gods direct intervention and 

     judgment upon a world in rebellion against its Creator.   

  • There will be earthly disturbances - v. 12 I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake.” The original language calls this a megas seismos meaning this is a mega earthquake, the like of which mankind has never seen or felt. 
  • There will be heavenly disturbances - And the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood.”  Listen again to Isaiahs prophecy, Behold, the day of the Lord comes, cruel, with both wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate; and He will destroy its sinners from it.  For the stars of heaven and their constellations will not give their light; the sun will be darkened in its going forth, and the moon will not cause its light to shine” (Isaiah 13:9-10; Joel 2:10-11, 3:14-16; Matthew 24:29-30). 
  • Total eclipse of the sun and moon - These disturbances bring fear and terror to the world. 
  • The stars and sky fall and split open 


  • There will be unbelievable fear of the Judge - vv. 15-17 And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, (16) and said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! (17) For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?’”  The message title for this sixth seal could easily have been, Scared to Death!  The writer of Hebrews states, It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31). 
  • They will fear His presence - vv. 15-16  From kings to common laborersall are running to find safety somewhere, anywhere.  They are all screaming, literally out of their minds, as we can only imagine.  Whats amazing is that, with all of these terrifying events, it sparks the biggest prayer meeting the world has ever seen.  This is a universal call to prayer and all of humanity is praying.  However, they are not praying to Godthey are praying to Mother Nature and not the Creator God.  They pray to be hidden from the face of God or to die, rather than face God.  One author said it this way, They would rather hide from God in fear than run to Him in faith.”  In the unbelievable rebellion of these people, like Pharaoh of old, they absolutely refuse to submit to the terrors of these plagues and they harden their hearts.  Make no mistake about it, these people know that God is behind their terror, yet they reject the Rock of Ages and pray to the rocks of the earth.   
  • They will fear His punishment - v. 17 For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?  When we look at Revelation 7 we will see the ones who are able to stand before the Lord in that great day of His wrath.  But unrepentant people will fear His punishment. 

Conclusion:  In closing, I need to ask, Are you ready to be rescued from all of this should Christ come for His church today?  If you know Christ, the wrath of God has already been released against Jesus on your behalf and you will never experience the terrors of these seals.  The message is a difficult one but its for your benefit.  When the Surgeon General of the United States first issued dire warnings that smoking increases the possibilities of cancer, he was not very popular, but he saved lives.  Its told that one man was so concerned from the newspaper articles about the dangers of smoking that he decided to give up the newspaper.  You can call me Chicken Little,” but its coming!  The sky will one day fallbut there is a way out.  There is a way up, and away from the wrath to comeAre you ready? 

Apatheists (Manuscript)

main image

Thank you for joining us this morning in our study of Revelation:  The Beginning of the End.  We have been studying the letters that are directed at seven churches, which were actual churches, historical churches in actual cities in Asia Minor which today is Western Turkey.  These churches transcend time and space to become model letters for the church age This morning we will be skipping over the church of Sardis and Philadelphia and will be looking at those churches in the next two weeks.  But today we are focusing on the last church, and its the church of Laodicea.  Even today, they still have a reputation of being the church that made the Lord Jesus Christ sickthe lukewarm church. 

Jesus warns us that He is sick of spiritual complacency and indifference on the part of believers in the church.  If you noticed the title of the message this morning it might have had you scratching your head.  What is an Apatheists?  Pastor Ken, this sounds like a made up word and you know what?  Youre right.  But let me explain.  Most people profess belief in God, meaning they are theists.  True atheism is a rarity.  Recently, however, it has been suggested that we need a new term for the multitude who are theists but are indifferent to God in daily living.  The word apatheists is built on the noun apathy, which means indifference,” a sort of sluggish unconcern.  And sadly, whatever belief an individual professes, he may be living as an apatheists.  His faith may make only a minimal difference in his/her behavior.  So the message is for each one of us today who profess faith in Jesus to be either hot or cold not lukewarm.  Are you lukewarm?  You might be thinking well, I pray,” but is our praying a mere obligation?  Im here at church arent I?”  But is it just a matter of routine, like brushing your teeth or cleaning your house?  Have we lost our first love, the zeal that we should have in our spiritual journey?  Today, lets make the psalmist prayer our own:  Will You not revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You? (Psalm 85:6).   


All of us know that if we have a doctor that we trust and he gives us a diagnosis and then the prescription for the cure, we most assuredly should take his recommendation.  But of course if youre self-absorbed or if youre prideful and think, Well, I know better than my doctor,” and you try to figure out your own self-diagnosis and cure for the pain or illness and not the doctors, it could result in disaster for you.   Jesus is the great physician of the soul and He has so much to say to us in His Word and so lets look together at Revelation, chapter 3, and verses 14-22 to see the seriousness of His words for us today.  And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write.  Notice this time  Jesus’ says, And to the angel of the church Of the Laodiceans instead of  And to the angel of the church IN Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, or Philadelphia,” because this self-sufficient church was run by the Laodiceans and not by the Head of the Church, the Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Col. 1:18; Eph. 1:22-23).  Subtle, but very alarming and lets us in on our number one spiritual battleour pride.  Lets keep reading, “‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: (15) I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot.  I could wish you were cold or hot. (16) So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. (17) Because you say, I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked(18) I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. (19) As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten.  Therefore be zealous and repent. (20) Behold, I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. (21) To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. (22) He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”’”  

Let me ask you, when does a person who claims to be a believer start drifting away from the Lord?  Or when does a person just get the spiritual blahs?  Or when does the person who says he loves Christ get apathetic or indifferent to the things of the Lord?  Is it not when you take your eyes off the Lord who is the Head of the church?  We are in this series of What God thinks of His Church.  Our assignment has been that as we go through the study of these seven churches that we examine what church best represents Brookside Baptist Church?  And what church best represents you and me?  Possibly you see characteristics both good and bad from all seven different churches here at Brookside or in your own life.  But the minute you and I lose that love and zeal for the Lordwatch out.  When you can take or leave spiritual things and its no real big deal to yoube careful.  Remember, none of these churches are around today.   

Laodicea has the grim distinction of being the only assembly of the seven that the Lord of the church did not commend in some way.  The church of Laodicea is unfortunately todays most prevalent church type.  As we read these nine verses what a sad commentary of a group of believers in the body of the church.  Youre thinking, yes, absolutely terrible but listen to some statistics of a study of the church today I came across:  Ten percent of all church members cannot be found; twenty percent never pray; thirty percent never attend church; forty percent never give to any cause; fifty percent never go to Sunday school; sixty percent never go to church on Sunday evening; seventy percent never give to missions; eighty percent never go to prayer meeting; ninety percent never have family devotions; ninety-five percent have never been involved in seeing a soul come to Jesus.  Ladies and gentlemen these are the kind of statistics that break Gods heart and makes Jesus sick.  The spiritual battle Laodicea ignored is ours to fight. . .or else. 

Jesus, the Creator, is making the diagnosis and He will give us the cure from being Apatheism and a promise for being sanctified, passionate and refreshing followers of Christ.   

  1. The Creator - v. 14 And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God.’”  So, the reason we need to pay careful attention to the text is because Jesus is omniscient and He can see right through us.  We cannot fool Him.  But here we are given the  identity of Jesus Christ and His identity reminds us that we are to trust Him fully and depend on Him completely which the church at Laodicea was not doing.  We are given a two-fold description of Jesus. 
  • You can trust what He says - We read the Amen.” Usually when we hear the word Amen,” it means lets eat.”  It is the Greek transliteration of the Hebrew word for certainty or truth.”  In the New Testament, the Lord often began by saying, Verily, verily,” or literally, Amen, amen. . .”  In other words, What Im about to say to you is the final wordthe word of certainty and truth.  So, when you Amen,” you are effectively saying to the preacher, Youre telling the truth and Im committed to following it.”  So, be careful when you say it.  Jesus with this descriptive title tell us that His word in final; its fixed; its unchangeable.  Were told that He is the Faithful and True witness.” Here Jesus repeats his description that we saw in verse 5, of chapter 1.  In other words, Jesus is saying, What Im about to tell you is the truth because I only tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.  You can trust what Jesus says every time. 
  • You can trust what He starts - the Beginning of the creation of God.”  This is a favorite verse of those riding bicycles, who come knocking on your door wearing white shirts.  They interpret this verse to say that Christ is the beginning of Gods creation.  He was the first created being.  Sometimes the English translation can be unclear and can be misleading.  However, the Greek word for beginning” is the word arche which could be translated originator” or creator.”  Colossians chapter 1 informs us that it was Jesus who was actually doing the creating.  Listen, He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.  For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers.  All thing were created through and for Him” (Col. 1:15-16).  He is first in time and position.  The Colossians believers were evidently stumbling over the deity of Jesus that He is God and eternal.  They received their letter from Paul, who told the Colossian believers to pass it on toguess who?the church in Laodicea.  Paul wrote in Colossians 4:16, Now when this epistle is read among you, see that it is read also in the church of the Laodiceans. . . . 
  1. The diagnosis - vv. 15-16 I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot.  I could wish you were cold or hot.  So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.  Ouch!  In order to understand Jesus’ diagnosis, though, we need to understand some of the background of this city.  Its interesting that most of the things that the Lord says to the church at Laodicea, as in the other letters, come directly out of the situation, and culture, and background of the day.  If you had lived in the cities around the Mediterranean Sea two thousand years ago, and someone told you they were going on vacation and had found the perfect resort for relaxation in natural hot springs, shopping in designer label stores, gambling in busy casinos, watching professional sporting events, and attending the theater for award winning plays, you would have immediately known that there was one city like this where you could have it all.  The city was named after the wife of its founding emperor.  Her name was Laodice, and the citys name was Laodicea.  The city was the Las Vegas, Beverly Hills, and Chase Manhattan Bank all rolled into one.  It wasnt just for Gentiles either.  In fact, the Jews in Jerusalem had complained about the number of their kinsmen who had forsaken Israel for the luxuries and the baths of this region.  Laodicea was the garment capitol of the world with sheep that were renowned for having a glossy, black, almost violet-colored wool.  Everyone in Rome wanted the garments made in Laodicea.  Laodicea was also known as a medical center and had one of the largest schools of ophthalmology.  They had created a tablet that when crushed and mixed with water would create a paste that was rubbed into the eyes and was reported to cure a variety of eye problems.  The city was also the banking center of Asia Minor.  In fact, the citizens of Laodicea were by large so well off that when the earthquake of 60 AD destroyed the city, they actually declined financial help from Rome to help rebuild it, saying they didnt need any assistance.  The city was also consumed with physical fitness since many of the athletic competition took place there.                                   The city was in a Tri-City area in the beautiful Lycus River Valley (map) and was surrounded by the mountains of Western Turkey.  The city of Laodicea was bordered on the north about six miles by the city of Hieropolis, a city that was famous for its hot springs.  The springs had a high mineral content and a great medicinal value.  A little to the east of Laodicea was the city of Colossae, known for its cold, clear, refreshing waters.  Hot springs to the north.  Cold waters to the east.  It seems that Laodicea received water from a remarkable aqueduct system of stone pipes.  Archaeological evidence indicates that the waters around Laodicea were infused with a calcium carbonate content that resulted in the waters being lukewarm, impure and emeticso that is, if swallowed caused vomiting.       

      This text has been misinterpreted in my opinion more often 

      than not.  Many good men believe the cold represents 

      unsaved people and stand in opposition to Christ and the 

      lukewarm are carnal Christians or possibly not Christians at 

      all.  Remember, Jesus is writing this letter to a church.  Some 

      even believe the cold represent believers who stand in 

      opposition to Christ.  However, to me it is hardly conceivable 

      that Jesus would say to His church be cold and oppose Me. 

      It is better, I believe, to interpret the statement against the 

      historical and geographical background of Laodicea.  Hot, 

      medicinal waters bubbled up at nearby Hierapolis, while cold, 

      pure waters flowed at Colossae.   In fact the Greek word for 

      cold here is the word psychros which is equivalent to the  

      Hebrew word for qar where we see in Proverbs 25:25, As 

      cold water to a weary soul, so is good news from a far 

      country.”  So, maybe our Lords point, then, is that the cold 

      and hot references are both positive qualities.  If thats the 

      case, and I believe it is, then you are either providing 

      refreshment for the spiritually thirsty or healing for the 

      spiritually sick.  If not, then youre not making a difference 

      and youre lukewarm.  This indifference and complacency is 

      what Christ hates.  Thus you can either be hot and 

      passionate or you can be cool and refreshing and able to 

      take people in their time of need and invigorate them or 

      youre not.  We should all as believers be refreshing and 

      passionate in our love for the Lord, like we heard yesterday at 

      the funeral of Rachelle Bergeron-Hammerling who was used 

      of the Lord in a great way on the Micronesian island of Yap. 

      Let me ask, can people read your social media statements 

      and be refreshed and encouraged in a biblical way?  Do you 

      invigorate people to passionately serve the Lord with all their 

      heart, soul, and mind?  You may not care about your 

      spiritually lukewarm status but the Lord says, I do and I 

      will not tolerate you.”  You are flat and unsavory.  You have 

      sat, soaked and soured and are content to be lukewarm. 

      If you havent noticed, lukewarmness to Jesus is tepid and  

      He says, I will vomit you out of My mouth.”  Friends, 

      lukewarmness is present all about us.  The problem wasnt 

      unique with Laodicea.  Today lukewarmness exhibits itself in 

      several ways:  A lukewarm Christian never declares, This 

      Bible is my sole reason for spiritual existence.”  He never 

      sees missions to be a serious business.  He never allows 

      Scripture to serve as His guide for the handling of his home 

      and professional life.  Lukewarmness is the diagnosis that 

     Jesus reveals. 

Transition:  In the light of what Jesus is saying here, take inventory and face up to your true spiritual condition.  See the cure for your apatheism.  Isnt it wonderful that Jesus doesnt leave us with no cure? 

  1. The Cure - vv. 15-19As many as I love, I rebuke and 

     chasten.  Therefore be zealous and repent. 

  • Repent of any spiritual neutrality - vv. 15-16 Spiritual neutrality is when we stop aggressively resisting the world.  We are not cold and refreshing like the springs of cool water that were enjoyed in Colosse; nor hot and therapeutic like the thermal springs of Hieropolis.  Living the Christian life is resisting the pressure of the world that is constantly squeezing us into just going along with things, not discipling ourselves for godliness, and instead just pleasing ourselves.  We need to be a thermostat” and set the spiritual temperature in our homes, and not be just a thermometer” that moves up and down with society.  Spiritual neutrality is when we say that it no longer matters that every part of our life come under Christs control.  Paul stated in I Corinthians 6:19-20, Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?”  Paul says our bodies are reserved.  We are owned by God, inhabited by the Spirit, and no longer solely ours.  Therefore because of the purchase of God look at verse 20, For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are Gods.”  The word glorify” is in the imperative mode of the verb that means, valuing God for who He really is,” or giving God the credit for what belongs to Him.”   
  • Repent of any spiritual self-sufficiency - v. 17a Because you say, I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing.”  Spiritual self-sufficiency is when we think we are making it on our own, and dont need the Lords power, guidance, and presence.  We stop seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” in our lives and thus slowly begin to drift from His righteousness (Matthew 6:33).  These believers were self-enamored, self-absorbed, anemic people who had no interest in providing either comfort or refreshment to those around them.  Notice the difference between who they thought they were and who Christ said they were.  If you ask the average Bible student what is wrong with the church at Laodicea, they very often will say, It was because they were lukewarm.  That is not the worst problem of the church at Laodicea.  Lukewarmness was not the worst problem and I will tell you why.  Theres a good cure for lukewarmness and its called repentance.  That can be taken care of quickly.  There was a much more serious problem at Laodicea.  It was that they were lukewarm but they thought they were hot!  The greatest problem is this misperception of who they were in Gods presence.  Thats why so many Christians believe they are okay, but really they are indifferent and have no idea of how they are perceived by the Lord Himself.   
  • Repent of any spiritual insensitivity - v. 17b and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.”  Notice the words You say and “You are in verse 17.  Jesus is saying to the Laodiceans, You say you have everything, but youre spiritually poverty stricken.”  Smyrna was the rich poor church, but Laodicea is the poor rich church.  Because they are insensitive, they are deceived Christians.  They could not have been more off base in who they thought they were.  They were: 
  • Wretched - unfortunate, devastated, afflicted 
  • Miserable - the object of extreme pity and compassion 
  • Poor - poor as a beggar; a slap at a city that bragged about its wealth and banking industry 
  • Blind - again a slap at a city that prided itself on its ophthalmology school and famous eye salve 
  • Naked - a slap at a city that boasted of its famous designer clothing 

 These believers were pursuing the same dreams and the  same comforts and the same goals as the world around  them and they were content to play their little religious  games, while the world around them pursued empty  dreams.  This makes Jesus Christ sick! 

  • Repent of any spiritual wastefulness - v. 18a I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich.”  The Laodiceans knew all about gold but the Bible refers often to purified faith as refined gold.  Remember Job saying, But He knows the way that I take; when He (God) has tested me, I shall come forth as gold?  Instead of floating downstream in the current of our culture, stand up for the truthlook trials of life squarely in the eye and confirm what Peter tells us, That the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, who having not seen you love” (I Peter 1:7-8a)  Spiritual wastefulness is when we abandon Christ as our investment counselor and start investing our time and money in get-rich quick schemes for earth and not Heaven.  We begin to measure things by earthly and not eternal worth.  Slowly we begin to trade the precious time we have for objects that will only rust, burn, get stolen or weigh us down in life.  The Bank of Heaven gets neglected and the treasures we lay up are buried here on Earth.  
  • Repent of any spiritual neglect - v. 18b and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed.”  Spiritual neglect is when we drop out of the work force and begin not to get dressed for work any more.  Jesus often told us to dress ourselves with His character, His power, and His armor.  Clothing ourselves with Christ gets neglected and finally forgotten.  Spiritual neglect is when we become more preoccupied with what we look like to men rather than to God.  We impress people outwardly rather than pleasing god inwardly.   
  • Repent of any spiritual blindness - v. 18c and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.”  Laodicea was known all over the world for helping people see, but Jesus says, Youre blind.”  Spiritual blindness is just that: Blindness to things of God.  We no longer see Him in His Word.  Spiritual blindness is when we begin to stumble along, acting more and more like lost people who do not know, cannot see, and do not follow the Lord.   
  • Repent of any spiritual laxness - v. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten.  Therefore be zealous and repent.   In other words, Change course, turn around, confess your sinful pride and self-centeredness and get moving.”  The Lord is writing to Christians.  He is writing to people who had become indistinguishable from the world.  Wow, what an indictment of the church in the 21st century.  We fit it.  But shouldnt we live differently?  Christ wants us to be either cold or hot.  But if we never cause anyone to get heartburn over the gospel what is that saying about us?  They did not come across as fanatics for Jesus, yet they did not act like atheists either.  Imagine getting a letter from the Lord saying, You make me sickyou think you have everything and that God is blessing you, but you are, in reality, poor and naked and blind.  Would you be devastated to know that you make God sick?  Spiritual laxness is when we drop our guard about unconfessed sins in our lives.  Spiritual laxness is when we forget how horrible sin always is to Jesus.   
  1. The promise - vv. 20-22 
  • His invitation - vv. 20, 22 - Behold, I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.  This is an invitation first and foremost to the church.  This is still a valid church.  There is still hope for this church.   Though often used as a text for an evangelistic appeal, this is an invitation from Christ to the church to let Him in to fellowship.  He is knocking.  Its in the present tense meaning Hes knocking.  In verse 22 He concludes as He has with every church, He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”  Many can hear, but not all are listening.    
  • His promise - v. 21 To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.”  Years ago, there were revivals where God did unusual things in the lives of people.  One man said, I thought it was a good thing for us to have a revival for the church,” but then he said, And then it dawned on me that I was the one who needed it.”  When we let God have all of us, its deep; its abiding; its immensely worthwhile.  Life without Christ and eternal punishment or life with Christ, sitting with Him in heaven on His throne.  You become an overcomer by confessing your sins and asking Jesus Christ to save you.  And then in Him, you and I become overcomes and will sit with Him on HIs throne.  But until then He stands at the door of your life and knocks.  Could I urge you today not to say no to that voice?  Hes not only the One who can save you and set you free.  He is the One at your door wanting to fellowship with you.    

Conclusion:  Let me give you the bottom line from the challenge of this letter to the church at Laodicea.  Do not settle for half-hearted complacent spiritual living.  

  • Mediocrity neutralizes our perspective 
  • Mediocrity neutralizes our motivation 
  • Mediocrity neutralizes our witness 
  • Mediocrity neutralizes our availiability.   

There is no place in the Christian life for neutral affections; or for coasting.  It is never too late to start doing right.  What pleases God is that we are either refreshing or passionate in our love and service for the Lord.