How to Overcome Apathy in Our Churches
DATE: 21 April, 2002 AM
PLACE: BBC Blarney
Introduction (Rev 3:20)
A. We are studying the seven churches listed in the Book of the Revelation
B. They portray real issues that still plague us and all churches even today
C. They show the trend of church history over the past 2,000 years
D. They also show how far away from the Bible, modern Christianity has gone
E. Something is wrong with the church of Laodicea
1. It was a large church, living in a populous city in modern day Turkey
2. But these Christians had some major problems
3. This group of Christians is the worst state that any Christian could ever get into – a state of just not caring any more - Apathy
4. So much so, that Jesus is squeezed out of their lives, and their meetings, and has to knock just to be allowed back in
5. Thank God that Jesus doesn’t just walk away – He can’t (Heb 13:5)
6. He still wants to be Lord of His church, and His people!
F. A Biblical Church is
1. Alive – a living organism, not an organization
2. Full of faith and confidence in the Lord – not in themselves
3. Full of Soundness – realness – not fake “christians” – counterfeits
G. But when Jesus examines many churches, they are like the one we are going to look at today - full of apathy, indifference, lethargy, lack of interest, boredom, unconcern
H. When we are not passionate about learning this Bible, being soul-winners, and giving to Missions and tithing, and training our families, and building Sunday School classes, and starting up discipleship classes, and having Men’s and Ladies’ retreats, and starting more churches… when we have somehow lost those passions, then WE NEED TO REPENT!
A. This is our seventh, and last church we are studying in this series
B. The first six churches dealt with:
1. Ephesus - Keeping our First Love, First
2. Smyrna - Staying faithful, consistent, dependable as Christians
3. Pergamos – A Worldly church needed to repent of compromise
4. Thyatira – Purifying an Impure Church
5. Sardis – Reviving a Dead Church
6. Philadelphia – Blessing a Strong Church
7. When God wrote the letter to the church at Philadelphia, He had nothing bad to say to them. When God wrote the Laodicean church, He had nothing good to say to or about them.
C. Today we want to look at the needs of the seventh church – Laodicea.
D. Just for your information, the name of the city, Laodicea, has a meaning, and it therefore is not by accident, that the Lord singled out this church – there may have been many like this church, but this one can apply throughout time
E. The meaning of the word Laodicea is: People’s Rights
1. This is the church of the people’s rights
2. Notice that for the last 50 years, all we have heard about is People’s Rights, people’s rights, civil rights – my needs, my-self, my will
3. And by focusing only on OUR rights and desires, and needs, churches are now only about PEOPLE, and their RIGHTS, instead of about Jesus, and HIS LORDSHIP!
4. And so, we have a big mess in Christiandom
A. Christ’s Credentials (3:14)
1. He’s the AMEN – the So be it! The shout of heaven! He is the final word (2Cor 1:20). Every time you say Amen, you are saying Jesus is right!
2. He’s the faithful and true witness
a. Do you want to know if there is life after death – He’ll tell you!
b. Do you want to know if you can trust the word of God – He’ll confirm it
c. Do you want to know if God cares – He’s the proof!
d. Do you want to know if you are going to heaven, or hell – He can settle it for you RIGHT THIS VERY MINUTE!
3. He is the beginning of the creation of God
a. God spake, and then Jesus did the actual work, not that Jesus was the first thing to be created by God
b. He is the beginning, the first, as well as the last - He is the Creating Power of God
4. Now – when somebody like that speaks, we would do well to hearken!
B. Christ’s Concern (Rev 3:15-17) - What was wrong with this church of people in Laodicea? EVERYTHING!
· They were neither cold, nor hot spiritually
· They were only concerned with THIS world
· They had gambled everything Christ had purchased for them, and lost it all!
1. These Christians were neither Cold, nor Hot – Lukewarm
a. Laodicea was neither good nor bad. They were not hot, but not cold either. They were not great but neither were they awful. You could say that the Laodiceans was somewhere in the middle, sort of typical, common, mediocre, lukewarm - or just plain average!
b. Being cold is – Unsaved - Clearly uninterested
c. Being hot is
2) Passionate about God and living His word
3) Hungry for things that are true, and right, and clean, and eternal
d. Lukewarm is:
1) Compromising – don’t believe anything controversial
2) Ecumenical –try and get along with everybody – even the devil
3) Not caring about the things Christ died for!
b) Living godly and righteous
d) THE faith – not just “faith”, but THE faith of Jesus Christ
e) Having a TRUE church you can call yours
e. Of course it is not a sin to be average in most things.
1) It is not a sin to be average in athletics.
2) It is no sacrilege to be moderate academically, providing you are performing to the best of your ability.
3) Average physical appearance is certainly not blasphemous.
4) No one would say it’s a sin to be average when it comes to one’s ability to accumulate wealth
5) But God HIMSELF declares it exceeding sinful to be average when it comes to spiritual things! “Most Christians are average. That means they are in the middle of the spectrum. They are both the best of the worst and worst of the best.” When you think of yourself, is this where you view yourself?
6) If you don’t think it is bad – notice that Jesus warns He will throw us UP – It makes Him sick! That’s serious!
f. I am afraid that we are just like the church in Laodicea. We are not hot or cold - just lukewarm. We don’t allow false teachers to come into the church and preach and teach. Neither have we seen the loads of people professing Christ as their Saviour and Lord. We are just average. We are not full of apostasy, yet we are not growing like we ought. Some times, I think we are just average.
g. How to know if we are Lukewarm
The pursuit of goods has overtaken the pursuit of God!
We don’t have people pursuing God anymore.
What do I mean by pursuing after God?
Let me try to answer that question with some verses of scripture.
the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.
My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and
appear before God? Ps 42:1-2
that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them
that diligently seek him.
are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be
filled. Matthew 5:6
he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life
consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. Luke 12:15
what is a man profited, if he shall gain thewhole world, and lose his own soul?
or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? Matthew 16:26
a) People are obsessed with success - Some work multiple hours a week to achieve success and prosperity. In Laodicea they were prospering materially but coasting spiritually.
We are obsessed with appearances.
Tanning beds (cancer coffins), weight loss programs and hair
replacements treatments have grown into a multi-million euro businesses. It is not sinful to look nice.
I try to dress nicely.
But the pursuit of appearances has clouded out the pursuit of God.
1Sam 16:7 says, “But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance,
or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth
not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD
looketh on the heart.”
2) You are only concerned with the things of this world
3) More concerned with the satisfied life than the crucified life.
4) We are more concerned with “fitting in” with the worldly crowd instead of staying in good with Jesus. We want to look just like our heroes. Girls want to be just like Brittany Spears. In reality, they lack real role models.
a) Boys think wearing their pants down as far as possible is cool. Why? It is because others are doing it.
b) Girls and women as well dress showing as much as possible. Why? Because GOD does not figure in their thoughts – even Christians girls!
2. They had gambled everything that Christ had purchased for them, and lost it all!
a. No vision – blind to the condition of the world, and of themselves
b. No spiritual health – sick and dying on the inside
c. No joy – full of envy, strife, depression, frustrations, hatred, instabilities, and so on, and so on!
d. No inheritance – they had gambled it all and lost it in the world – Jesus said we can have SSIA accounts in heaven, and yet people have squandered away every cent!
e. No clothes – they were naked and shamed in God’s sight
1) They had started out as a chaste virgin
2) They had had white robes of righteousness
3) They had had modesty
4) But now, they were like tramps – used up, and discarded
f. No fellowship with God
1) Only had “a” fellowship – didn’t even want to call themselves a church anymore
2) Only wanted to be known as a “fellowship”
3) Only lived to be around their friends!
g. They had LOST all this – just like the prodigal son
h. We should call this church, the Prodigal, or Wayward Church! I call it, The Pathetic Church!
i. These people, who had been born again by the precious blood of Christ, now simply had NO need for Jesus – self-sufficient
C. Christ’s Correction (Rev 3:16-22)
1. How to get out of such a mess
a. Definitely a big mess – spiritually, they were in deep trouble
b. But not impossible to remedy – AMEN!
2. He gives some Counsel – some wise advice from Jesus – We overcome our apathy, coldness, lukewarmness, unconcern by:
a. Dumping everything we have, and buy back the things you have lost
1) Idols should be broken and tossed
2) Hearts should be given back to the One who earned our love
3) Empty ourselves so we can become filled with the Holy Spirit
b. Buy stuff from the Lord though – not from a church (Isa 55:1,2)
1) Gold in heaven – rewards for living right and godly
2) Clean, white clothes – washed in the blood of the Lamb (1Jn 1:7)
3) Eye-salve to restore your spiritual eyesight
3. At what price is all this? (3:19)
a. It all begins with Repentance – seeing that being average is sinful
1) We need to have a ZEALOUS repentance
2) Serious about getting right with God
3) Serious about getting on fire for God
4) Serious about pleasing Him all the days of our life
b. We need some long seasons of prayer
c. Even fasting – when the TV, and entertainment, and drink, and old friends have such control of your life – you need to break away from all that and fast from it to get back close to God
d. Yield to Christ as LORD once again (3:20) Listen for His voice, and respond (“my sheep hear my voice…” John 10:27)
1) Invite Him to again be Lord of this church – of every church
2) Lord of your home
3) Lord of your heart and emotions
4) Lord of your plans
5) Lord of your successes
6) Lord of your failures
D. Christ’s Soon Call (Rev 4:1,2)
1. The rapture is soon
2. There may not be much time left
3. You have no guarantee of tomorrow
4. Today is the best day to:
a. Get saved
b. Get on fire for God
c. Get busy for God
A. Folks, It is not a sin to be average in athletics To be moderate academically, providing you are performing to the best of your ability. Average physical appearance is certainly not wrong.
B. But God HIMSELF declares it exceeding sinful to be average when it comes to spiritual things
C. How much fire burns in our hearts for a closer, more real, and more powerful walk with God?
D. Jesus stands at the door and knocks. Answer the door!