Pastor James J. Barker

Text: REVELATION 3:14-22


  1. The book of Revelation is easy to understand if you interpret it literally. The outline is found in 1:19.
  2. "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.
  3. 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 NYC are like the church in Sardis – they have a big name, an illustrious history, but are dead (Rev.3:1).
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. But no matter which approach one takes, nearly all modern day expositors seem to identify the church of Laodicea with modern day Christianity.
  7. A number of years ago, the Baptist evangelist John R. Rice preached and published a sermon about the church of Laodicea and he called it, "The Church That Makes Our Lord Sick." I do not think I can improve upon that title and so today I too will preach on "The Church That Makes Our Lord Sick."
  8. There is no word of commendation for this lukewarm, wishy-washy church – only condemnation. This church makes our Lord sick for the following three reasons:


I. THEY ARE LUKEWARM (vss. 15,16).

    1. Let me start out by saying that is far better to be ice-cold than lukewarm because at least a cold man realizes that he needs to warm up.
    2. Lukewarm church members are an embarrassment and a disgrace to the cause of Jesus Christ. The great Baptist preacher Vance Havner said, "Nobody ever saw a lukewarm church with power. Anything is better than a tasteless tepidity. The cause of Christ has been hurt more by Sunday-morning bench warmers who pretend to love Christ, who call Him Lord but do not His commands, than by all the publicans and sinners."
    3. Another great man of God, G. Campbell Morgan, wrote these words: "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."
    4. Notice that Morgan refers to churches with "no emotion and no enthusiasm" – this describes most churches today – either they are crawling around on the floor barking like dogs and braying like jackasses or they are as dead as a doornail – it is either wildfire or no fire. May God deliver us from these two extremes.
    5. Illustration: A Christian lady walked into one of these "dry as a bird’s nest" churches one Sunday morning and was rebuked for praising the Lord.
    6. 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.
    7. 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?
    8. We sometimes hear some folks say that we need more of the Holy Spirit. No, if you are saved than you have all the Holy Spirit there is – the problem is that oftentimes He doesn’t have all of you.
    9. Another problem today is that the majority of people who claim to be born again are not genuinely saved. The Bible says, "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (II Cor.5:17).
    10. Our churches are filled with so-called "carnal Christians" and backslidden Christians who are not Christians at all. They have never been genuinely saved.
    11. I believe that another reason many churches are lukewarm because they have a namby-pamby compromiser for a pastor.
    12. Lukewarm churches are worldly. Someone once asked A.T. Pierson, a preacher well-known for advancing the work of missions, "Don’t you think that the world is getting converted already?" "Well," he replied, "I admit that the world has become a little churchy, but the church has become immensely worldly."
    13. Something is seriously wrong when a church can get a big crowd for a picnic or softball game but no one shows up for soulwinning.
    14. Something is wrong when Christians make no effort to get out for prayer meeting, never give out tracts, never win souls to Christ, etc.
    15. So the first reason the church of Laodicea makes our Lord sick is because they are lukewarm. The second reason is…



    1. The church in Laodicea thought that they were rich (and from a worldly viewpoint they were), but in God’s estimation they were poor, blind, and naked.
    2. Since they were spiritually blind, many of these church members had never been genuinely converted. Let me ask an important question: have you been genuinely converted? Are you saved?
    3. Here our Lord uses some irony. Laodicea was known primarily for three things:
      1. Banking – "buy of me gold" (3:18), signifying genuine faith, not some cheap counterfeit.
      2. Wool cloth – "white raiment" (3:18), signifying righteousness.
      3. Medicines, especially eyesalve – "eyesalve" (3:18), signifying enlightenment and spiritual discernment.
    1. There is a terrible lack of spiritual discernment in our churches today. Worldliness, rock music, perverted translations of the Bible, psychology, immorality (by the way, a lot of the immorality is caused by so-called "Christian counselors" who are doing more than counseling), ecumenicalism, charismatic confusion, and all sorts of false doctrine, are sweeping into the churches. A lot of this garbage is being promoted by so-called "Christian radio" and TV programming.
    2. Few years back I received in the mail an advertisement for "Creation 97," billed as "The Nation’s Largest Christian Festival" (they really mean "Antichrist Festival). Inside this horrible advertisement were pictures of dirty, long-haired rock singers – grungy, mangy, they look like they hadn’t had a bath in years!
    3. Also featured at this worldly rock festival were several liberal preachers such as the degenerate Tony Campolo, a few lady preachers, etc.
    4. This brings me to my third reason why the church of Laodicea makes our Lord sick – they need to repent.


III. THEY NEED TO REPENT (vss. 19-22).

    1. Beloved, we need to be separated from this worldly, wishy-washy phony type of Christianity. Our Lord says to "be zealous" (3:19). It’s funny – people can be zealous over sports, over politics, over entertainment, over coin-collecting, whatever. But if he gets zealous for God, people call him a religious fanatic, a nut, etc.
    2. Oftentimes we hear preachers refer to the Great Commission as our Lord’s last words to the churches. But they are not. His last word is "repent" (cf. 2:5,16,21; 3:3,19).
    3. Repentance is more than just a change of mind. It means turning from your sin (cf. Isa.55:7). There is too much sin in our churches today. Sin is tolerated, sin is excused, sin is whitewashed, sin is minimized, sin is redefined (e.g. Clinton).
    4. There has to be a clean break from all sinful practices. Our Lord said that the prodigal son "came to himself," and then he climbed out of the pigpen. Some people believe they can stay in the pigpen and go to church at the same time. Our Lord says "be zealous therefore, and repent" (Rev.3:19).
    5. The church of Laodicea was so oblivious to their lukewarm condition that they kept our Lord outside (3:20). Beloved, He is outside most churches today. Is He is outside your life?


  1. In St. Paul’s Cathedral in London there hangs a famous painting of the Lord Jesus Christ, standing outside a door patiently seeking admission. When this painting, entitled "The Light of the World" was first hung the art critics were invited to come and see it. One of them said to the artist, Holman Hunt, "Mr. Hunt, you have made a big mistake – you forgot to paint a door handle on the door!" Holman Hunt replied, "That is no mistake, my friend – the handle is on the inside."
  2. Our Lord is waiting. Will you open the door or keep Him waiting?

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