Pastor James J. Barker

Text: REVELATION 3:14—22


  1. There is a special blessing for those who read the book of Revelation (1:3).
  2. The book of Revelation is very easy to understand if you interpret it literally.  The outline is found in 1:19.
  3. “The things which are” describe the present church age (Rev. 2 & 3).  There are different ways to approach the seven letters to the seven churches of Revelation 1 & 2.
  4. Obviously they were seven literal churches in Asia Minor. Also, we can see in these letters, problems common to all churches – for example, every church is in danger of losing their first love like the church in Ephesus (Rev. 2:4).   Many churches right here in the NYC/LI area are like the church in Sardis – they have a big name, an illustrious history, but now they are dead (Rev. 3:1).
  5. Another interesting way to study the seven churches is by applying what C.I. Scofield called the “prophetic” application.  Dr. Scofield wrote that “the seven churches have a fourfold application,” local, admonitory, personal, and prophetic.
  6. According to this application, the seven letters to the seven churches of Asia Minor present a panoramic foreview of church history, from the apostolic all the way down to the apostate.
  7. But no matter which approach one takes, nearly all modern day expositors seem to identify the church of Laodicea with modern day Christianity.
  8. There is no word of commendation for this lukewarm, wishy-washy church – only condemnation. 




  1. This church was certainly very lukewarm, because our Lord refers to Himself as “the Amen” – “so be it” or “verily, verily” (3:14).  This indicates our Lord’s sovereignty as well as the certainty of His message.
  2. Our Lord is also called “the faithful and true witness” (3:14; cf. 1:5).  Romans 3:4 says, “yea, let God be true, but every man a liar.”
  3. Our Lord said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).
  4. Christ is “the beginning of the creation of God” (3:14b).   This means Christ is the Beginner.  Three times in the book of Revelation, the Lord Jesus Christ is identified as the “Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last” (Rev. 1:8; 21:6; 22:13).
  5. The cults teach that Christ is part of God’s creation, but the Bible teaches that Christ is the Creator.  “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:3).
  6. After these introductory remarks, our Lord rebukes the church at Laodicea.  As I said earlier, there is no word of commendation for this lukewarm, wishy-washy church – only condemnation.  This church makes our Lord sick (3:15, 16).
  7. It is better to be hot or cold, than to be lukewarm (3:15).  As a preacher, I obviously prefer red-hot Christians.  A hot Christian demonstrates genuine spiritual fervor.
  8. A cold, worldly, unsaved man may recognize his need; but a wishy-washy, lukewarm Christian does not recognize his spiritual need.  He thinks he is OK.  But God finds him nauseating (3:15, 16).
  9. We have a sickening, nauseating Lukewarmness in many churches today.  They are not hot or cold; they are not quite liberal, but they are not fundamental either. They are not pagan; but they are not Biblical.   They are just a wishy-washy, lukewarm mess.
  10. Today the churches are tolerating everything – you can live like a devil and still be a member in good standing in most churches. 
  11. Years ago, evangelist Vance Havner said,

    “The New Testament Church was an intolerant church. At once we throw ourselves open to a broadside of protest. ‘Intolerant’ is a scandalous word to use these days, for if there is anything that is in style among our ‘progressive’ churches it is that word ‘tolerance.’ You would think that intolerance was the unpardonable sin. We are majoring as never in all church history on being broad-minded. That we have become so broad we have become also pitifully shallow never seems to disturb us. We must ‘broaden or bust.’ Of course, some experts in tolerance can be amazingly intolerant of those who do not share their broad-mindedness, but that does not disturb them either…The New Testament Church was intolerant of sin in its midst. When serious trouble first showed up in Ananias and Sapphira it was dealt with in sudden and certain terms. When immorality cropped out in Corinth Paul delivered the offender to the devil for the destruction of his flesh. It was in line with our Lord's teaching on discipline in the eighteenth chapter of Matthew.To be sure, it was to be done in love and tenderness, and the brother overtaken in a fault was to be restored by the spiritual ones, and Paul was quick to recommend the restoration of the Corinthian brother. But, still, sin was not to be glossed over and excused as we condone it today in our churches until liars, gamblers, drunkards, and divorcees fill prominent places in Sunday schools and on boards and have never as much as heard that we must be clean who bear the vessels of the Lord.

    We have let the camel get his foot in the door and then his head, until now the whole camel is inside and along with him other animals far more unsavory. Peter added even hogs and dogs to our spiritual zoology, and the lambs today are so mixed with every other species that what was once a sheepfold has become a zoo. Our Lord warned us that the shepherd who did not stand his ground when the wolves appeared was only a hireling. We are bidden to feed His sheep but not to feed wolves. I grant you that it is often a complicated problem and can be handled only on one's knees. But we are paying an awful price today for our sweet tolerance of sin within the Church. If the church of the Acts had overlooked iniquity and by-passed evil and smilingly looked the other way while the devil sneaked into every phase of her life as we have done today, Christianity would have died in infancy.”

  12. Vance Havner was right.  These days, “Anything goes,” and if a preacher tries to draw the line, and if he practices church discipline, or if he preaches hard against sin, many of the worldly church members will raise a fuss.  They will either try and run him off, or they themselves will run off.
  13. G. Campbell Morgan, wrote: “Lukewarmness is the worse form of blasphemy…If there is anything abhorrent to the heart of Christ it is a tepid church…(But) this condition of being tepid is utterly repugnant to Him.  No emotion, no enthusiasm, no urgency, no compassion.”
  14. Do you know what turned William Booth into such a red-hot preacher?  He was listening to an infidel give a lecture.  The infidel said, “If I believed what some of you Christians say you believe about eternal hellfire and the judgment of God, I would not rest day or night warning people about it.  I would crawl on my hands and knees on broken glass all across London to warn people if I believed what you Christians say you believe about the fires of hell.”  That motivated William Booth – by his own admission, he went from lukewarm to boiling hot, and then he started the Salvation Army.  Of course, they have changed direction since then and are now preaching the social gospel but they were much different back then.
  15. When General Booth was an old man past the age of 80, the great evangelist J. Wilbur Chapman, asked him the secret of his success.  General Booth started crying and replied, “God has had all there was of me.”  Beloved, does God have all there is of you?
  16. We sometimes hear some folks say that we need more of the Holy Spirit.  If you are saved than you have all the Holy Spirit there is – the problem is that oftentimes the Holy Spirit doesn’t have all of you.
  17. “Thousands try to hold with the hare and run with the hounds, they are for God and Mammon, Christ and Belial, truth and error, and so are ‘neither hot nor cold’…Many a church has fallen into a condition of indifference, and when it does so it generally becomes the haunt of worldly professors, a refuge for people who want an easy religion, which enables them to enjoy the pleasures of sin and the honours of piety at the same time; where things are free and easy, where you are not expected to do much, or give much, or pray much, or to be very religious; where the minister is not so precise as the old school divines, a more liberal people, of broad views, free-thinking and free-acting, where there is full tolerance for sin, and no demand for vital godliness.” (Charles H Spurgeon).
  18. I do not know how a true child of God can be content with such a weak, anemic, watered-down, corrupt form of Christianity.
  19. And I cannot understand why certain Christians want to make our Lord sick (3:16)?  Why does lukewarm Christianity makes our Lord sick?
  • Skipping church services and goofing off.  The Bible says, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25).
  • Gossiping and running down the pastor.  “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you” (Hebrews 13:17).
  • Listening to rock music.  Ephesians 5:19 says, “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.”  Rock music is from the devil.  Every couple of years I hear reports that the teenagers in our church are listening to this garbage, and then I have to preach against it again.
  • You wouldn’t believe the junk I get in the mail – strange advertisements for so-called “Christian rock concerts”  featuring creepy looking rock groups and liberal preachers.
  1. The apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 2:21, “For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's.”   Doesn’t that sound like most people today – even most church people?
  2. Lukewarm church members are not interested in missions. They do not contribute to missions.  They are so stingy they could not care if the whole world went to hell!
  3. Tonight, we will show some of Bro. Dave’s pictures from the Philippines, but some people just are not interested.  They would rather stay home.



  1. Most church members today have a pretty high opinion of their church. They are very comfortable and complacent. They think they are rich. They think their church is doing just fine (3:17).
  2. Materialism and covetousness and affluence and consumerism are choking the churches of America.  It is a fact that Christianity is growing in poor third-world countries in Africa and Asia, but it is on the decline in America and Europe.
  3. “Instead of the Church penetrating the provinces of materialism, materialism has punctured the power of the Church” – Leonard Ravenhill.
  4. Here in America, church attendance is way down, but shopping malls are always packed out.  People will spend $1,000 on a fancy TV set but they will only give nickels and dimes to missions.
  5. God says this makes Him sick (3:16, 17).
  6. “I have need of nothing…” (3:17). Their great wealth has blinded the Laodicean church to her dire need of spiritual riches.   These lukewarm churches are “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (3:17).



  1. There is a terrible lack of spiritual discernment in our churches today.  I could give many examples: worldliness, rock music, perverted translations of the Bible, psychology, immorality, ecumenicalism, charismatic and Pentecostalism confusion, and all sorts of false doctrine, are sweeping into the churches.
  2. There is a sharp contrast in our Lord’s rebuke to the church of Laodicea – their exaltation of wealth revealed their lack of spiritual discernment (3:17—19).
  3. Our Lord uses some irony here.  Laodicea was known primarily for three things:
  • Banking – “buy of me gold” (3:18), signifying genuine faith, not some cheap counterfeit.
  • Wool cloth – “white raiment” (3:18), signifying righteousness.
  • Medicines, especially eye salve  (3:18), signifying enlightenment and spiritual discernment.
  1. “I have observed one significant lack among evangelical Christians. The great deficiency to which I refer is the lack of spiritual discernment, especially among the leaders” -- AW Tozer.
  2. Consider the so-called Christian leaders in America today:
  • John Hagee – he teaches: “Jesus did not come to Earth to be the Messiah. Jesus refused by word and deed to be the Messiah.  Therefore, the Jews cannot be blamed for not accepting what was never offered.”  The woman at the well said to Jesus, “I know that Messiah cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things” (John 4:25).  “Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he” (John 4:26).
  • Pat Robertson (700 Club) – has endorsed Rudy Giuliani (pro-abortion, pro-homosexual, etc.) for president.
  • Robert Schuller, Jr. (son of famous heretic and positive thinker) --  “I don't think God wants us to focus on the suffering of Jesus Christ.”
  • Joel Osteen – He told Larry King he does not really know who is going to heaven and who is going to hell.
  • Many other examples could be given.  Most of the slop on the so-called Christian radio stations is unscriptural.  Most of the books in so-called Christian bookstores are heretical.
  • The so-called Christian rock (CCM) business is a big money-making racket (a half billion dollar a year industry) but it is worldly and devilish.  If you listen to the wrong kind of music, you will become the wrong kind of Christian.
  1. To develop spiritual discernment, we must carefully study the Word of God (cf. Hebrews 5:11-14).



  1. I began this message by giving the outline for the book of Revelation (1:19).
  2. The Lord’s letter to the church of Laodicea ends the second division in the book of Revelation – “the things which are.”
  3. Next comes, “the things which shall be hereafter” (1:19; cf. 4:1).   Then in Revelation 4 & 5, the whole situation is different.  It is no longer the Lord in the midst of the seven candlesticks (churches), but the Lord seated upon His throne in heaven.
  4. In other words, soon the present church age will end.  Soon the Lord will return.  And soon we will all have to stand before the Lord and give an account.
  5. Are you ready?

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