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When they came to Christ they had to go on living in that world. To make it through life without getting neutralized, defeated, and sidelined, God’s Word taught them the key to godly living, which is: Avoiding the Ultimate Temptation!
The Saints at the Epicenter were immersed in a self-seeking, lust-feeding culture. When they came to Christ they had to go on living in that world. To make it through life without getting neutralized, defeated, and sidelined, God’s Word taught them the key to godly living, which is: Avoiding what Displeases God
In the world that which the New Testament was written, saints learned that they had to avoid the overpowering culture of amusements. Most Roman citizens were drawn into the gaming world of spectacles in the arenas.
A non-stop calendar of events began in the capital city of Rome and soon went to the furthest flung provinces, of ever-increasingly exciting spectacles: live gladiatorial fights to the death; and men vs. ravenous beasts; and beasts vs. beasts fighting to the death; duels, bloody deaths, shocking sights, and intense visual stimulation. The roar of the crowds became intoxicating and no one wanted to miss the events that often ran all day long for days at a time.
The overpowering Gladiatorial gaming culture of the 1st Century that troubled, tempted, and weakened the early church has morphed into an even more alluring 21st century, irresistible, and almost inescapable culture that even the lost world is sitting up and sounding a warning cry about.
What is the Ultimate Temptation?
The ultimate temptation is anything that can distract us from God. We are to love Him most, seek Him first, program Him as our destination in life, set Him as the start-up page of our day, and tune our minds to listen to Him.
All of those choices come back to our minds. Anything that can even slightly pull our minds regularly away from God is a temptation. Today we live with seemingly the strongest and most universal temptation since the days of Noah.
How clearly are you seeing God these days? Crystal clear, bright, and empowering, or has God gotten blurred over the past weeks and months of life that have gone by? If so, you may have gotten infected with distraction.
One great benefit of this chosen lifestyle of “reverence” for God is that when we do so, we see Him in His glory and it changes us.
This is a 20 lesson course on the final book of the Bible.
Revelation’s 404 verses contain over 800 quotations, allusions, and connections to the rest of the Bible.
There is no new doctrine contained in these 22 chapters, only clarification on how they will come to pass.
This is the ONLY book of the Bible Jesus came down to supervise as the conclusion of God’s Revelation. Moses went up to God to get the Pentateuch; Jesus came down to Earth on Patmos to show John what to write.
Welcome to class #8 of our 20 classes summarizing & applying Revelation’s truths.
This course is called HOW IT ALL ENDS–an Expositional Bible Study course I just finished teaching to 300 college students, leading them through a personal study of each verse of the Book of Revelation.
Every chapter, every verse, every doctrine, every prophetic theme–all here in this one 20-hour class.
Want to get a personal grasp of what God explains about “How it All Ends”?
This 20 lesson course is just what you need!
Thanks for praying for us through these months of travel, and supporting us financially while we were teaching groups of both FrontLine missionaries and NextGeneration students this course three times in 10 weeks!


We’re looking at Revelation. This is our eighth journey through the chapters. We’re looking at the church that was infected with the idolatry of distraction. Remember what we’re looking at. We’re looking at Jesus assessing the second generation church. I want to keep bringing this up every few classes that Jesus came and ministered on Earth 40 days after the resurrection, He was on the top of the Mount of olives, He ascended into Heaven blessing the disciples, and sent them into all the world to preach the Gospel. They did, even to the point of martyrdom. They wrote everything He asked them to write and so they wrote the Gospels, the epistles, then the most well-known of the apostles, most of them, get martyred. Peter and Paul are martyred, and the second generation church keeps going.

John, as Jesus said in John 21 if he tarries till I return what’s that to you, Peter? Jesus said John was going to be around for a long time and he was. John is the last living apostle and Jesus comes to visit him on Patmos. That’s what the book of Revelation is all about; Jesus visiting John at Patmos after Jesus had swung through the seven churches. He visited all the churches, walked around unseen, looked into their hearts and minds, what they were thinking during the message, what they were thinking as they came to church, and what they were doing when they left the church. He analyzed all that. Jesus, God the Son with those eyes and all that we saw. He came back to John and said I want to give you the report, My medical report of these places. He tells him where He went. He said I did the loop: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea, and now I’m coming to you on Patmos.

Revelation starting in chapter 3 verses 14 onward tells us about idolatry. What is an idol? An idol is something that pushes God out of the way and that takes God’s place. An idol is something we put in place of God. So many Christians have allowed the idol of distraction to push God out to the periphery. As a pastor for 38 years the most frequently confessed struggle people told me about was, they just don’t have time to read the Bible. They just don’t have time to memorize the Bible. They just don’t have time to share the Gospel. Why? They were distracted.

Let’s look at this, starting in Revelation 3 in verse 14. “To the angel of the church of the Laodiceans, write, ‘These things says the Amen.” Remember you can see this little pattern, the city name, then Jesus’s calling card, His introduction. “‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God.'” Then He starts the commendation. “I know your works.” That’s the only commendable thing. They were doing something, but then it went downhill from that. “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish that you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold or hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.”

As a dad, a father with eight children, we homeschooled so I was around the kids a lot. I was a pastor; they were involved in the church. I was around the kids a lot. Boy, do I know a lot about this word vomit. Kids get sick. They drink too much, eat too much, run, jump, whatever and do all this stuff. All of a sudden you can see it in their eyes. They’re putting their hands over their mouth and have wide eyes. Normal vomit is where you put your hands under their chin and catch it and mom wipes their face. You carefully go to the sink and wash your hands and it’s just a little. That’s not this word. This is the word that in the parenting books, they would call projectile vomiting. That’s the bad one. You see them coming, their eyes get big, they run, and it flies out. I mean in slow motion that would be a cool slow-mo shot, watching it go out. That’s awful. It’s gross. Makes it a little sick to see it, to smell it, to do it.

Look at this. “So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will [projectile] vomit you out of My mouth.” You make Me sick. You make Me vomit and not just a little one. Let me ask you, is that positive at all? Is that anything good? That is very negative. That is gross. Jesus can feel that a Christian makes Him sick. Have you ever thought about this? This is a fascinating passage. Okay.

Jesus keeps His word. This is the 49th thing I’ve found, I found about seven for each of the churches. You can see the number there when I was doing my journal. Jesus is the Amen. That means He agrees with God’s truth. We already studied Hebrews 1:3. He is the exact representation of God. He’s the Faithful and True Witness He told us in verse 8 of chapter 1. We can trust Him. He’s the beginning. That means He is the author of the universe. Something we know from the Old Testament is it means He’s watching over His word. Remember Jesus says I am the Word. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the word was God.” That’s Jesus, Jesus is the Word.

Do you know what Jeremiah 1:12 says? God the Father says I am watching over My word to perform it. God the Father is watching over the revelation of His truth through Jesus Christ, which is the Bible that you’re holding, and He is going to perform it. Do you want to know what God the Father is doing? Jesus is busy. He’s running around the church and He’s visiting us and He’s checking on us and coaching us. The Holy Spirit is helping Him empower us. What is God the Father doing all this time? He’s telling us in Jeremiah 1:12 that He is watching over the scriptures and making what the scriptures say happen. Wow. That means this morning at 5:00 AM when I didn’t want to get out of bed, I did get out of bed and I got to this wonderful, beautiful Word of Life rocking chair in the little cabin we have, and I pulled my Bible out. I was so excited to be interacting with the script of what God is doing in this universe.

He is watching over this book and He’s going to perform it. If we will calibrate and adjust and harmonize and get our lives in step, that’s what it means to be walking in the Spirit. The Holy Spirit inspired the word of God, and the word of God reveals Jesus Christ. God the Father is watching over that revelation of His Son Jesus Christ that was breathed out through the Holy Spirit and He’s making it happen. Do you know what the greatest thing to do in life is? To do what? What does 2 Chronicles 16:9 say? Or is it 1 Chronicles? Which one of you knows? I think it’s the first. No, it is second. Okay. I’ll quote it for you. I’ll just tell you. 2 Chronicles 16:9. “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole Earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.” God the Father is looking for someone that will say I want to do Your will. You know how I know that even though I’m rusty on the reference? Boy, I know that verse because when I was your age, after I got done studying, I worked on it.

Where I went to school we had to study until 10:00 PM. 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM we studied. Those were the old days. At 10 o’clock we could get out and I would go and do my laps and run. I would always go to the back campus. On this 260 acre campus, I would do the back road where it was so dark, and the stars were all there because I didn’t want anybody to see me. It was embarrassing. I would jog my laps and when it was time to get back to the dorm, I would pause in my favorite spot where I could see the whole sky. I would say out loud, I know You’re looking, the eyes of the Lord are running to and fro throughout the whole Earth. I want You to know that my heart is Yours, I’m here and I want to do whatever You want me. I didn’t want anybody to see me. They would think I was crazy like the lady on the subway in London that was raising her hand with her earbuds in and reaching out to God. I wanted Him to know that as His eyes run to and fro throughout the whole Earth, here’s one, as David said with my whole heart, I seek You. Jesus keeps His word. God the Father is watching over His Word. Look at verse 15. Jesus knows our loyalty to Him. He knows whether we’re floating in our canoe down the river of life and no longer resisting the current or not. That’s what they were doing, they were floating. I’ve already explained that to you.

By the way, the Laodiceans had every advantage, but they were so focused on everything that didn’t matter, that they could no longer see the one thing that did matter. Have you ever seen what spelunker’s, cave explorers, find? Like national geographic. I used to love reading national geographic. I looked at all the pictures, it was so much fun. When they go down into the depths of the caverns in these hundreds of miles of rivers underwater and everything else, they find these curious creatures that have been in the dark so long that their eyes are sightless. They have skin that’s grown over their eyes. The scientists have looked, they still have optic nerves, they have everything there. It’s just that they haven’t been exposed to the light for so long that to see the optic nerve needs optics. It needs light, but they are with no light. The adaptation, the protective, genetic code that God built into all animals has enough stuff to get them in any kind of weather they can move. That’s why creation is so amazing. God put into the DNA enough for all these different variations. Those salamanders, their eyes grow skin over them so that nothing gets in them as they’re bumping around underground. That’s the picture. Remember? I think in pictures, that’s how the Laodiceans looked. They had not been exposed to the light for so long that they had lost sight of seeing God and it made them sick. Wow.

By the way, what is hot or cold and lukewarm? To me, I think what did it mean geographically back then? See, that’s what’s most important. That’s why this is expositional. If you lived in Laodicea, it was a very wealthy town, and I could talk all about it. Their crops, they raised black sheep and they had the best black glossy wool, kind of like famous Paris fashions we would call it today. They had gold mines, so gold was big. They also were the Mayo clinic of the ancient world. They had the highest ophthalmology treatment center in the world. They produced the only ophthalmologic medicine in the ancient world, and it was in demand. If you knew anything about the ancient world, when you walked around you would get all the dust in your eyes, so people had a lot of eye diseases and they had a cure.

The three things that they were really good at were gold, eyes, and clothes and Jesus addresses those. What about the cold, lukewarm? What is that? Laodicea had a problem. They didn’t have the natural resource of water, but they had the gold and everything else so what they did is the Romans built aqueducts. Remember I told you, they built them hundreds of miles long. They built an aqueduct one way to Colossi, like Colossians, and they built another aqueduct the other way to Hierapolis. It was almost like the C and the H on the faucets. Colossi had these incredibly cold, like Aquafina, springs. They had Perrier water coming to them in an aqueduct for about 20 miles from Colossi Springs. Also, they had super-hot, healthy, spa water coming from Hierapolis. If you go to Hierapolis today it looks like Yellowstone with all those pools of bubbling water. They were pumping in the hot spa water from Hierapolis, and they were pumping in the Perrier water from Colossi. When it got to Laodicea it was no longer hot, it was no longer cold. It all arrived, after chugging along 20 miles of aqueducts, to be lukewarm.

Do you know what’s interesting? I’ve heard so many different messages that God wants you hot or cold. God wants you cold. That’s a curious thought. God wants you cold, which would mean like a Sardis person, dead. Which would mean like a Thyatiran or a Pergamite with Jezebel’s immoralities. Is that what you mean? No, but they can’t figure out it’s the opposite of hot, right? We want to be hot. That’s the positive one. No, neither one is positive.

If we’re refreshing, fresh, pure water God wants us to be that, not this not cold anymore kind of stale stuff. Or if we’re bubbly, hot spa cleansing, renewing, hot water He wants us to be that. When spa water gets lukewarm it has a smell like volcanic sulfur. Do you know what I mean? We don’t want to be hot or cold. Sorry. I forgot to turn off my watch. It was ringing and I didn’t want them to talk to you, so I turned it off. God says either be like the hot Hierapolis water and bathe people, helping them to be restored to what they’re supposed to be. Or be like Colossi and refresh people, but I don’t want you just being neutral, in the middle. Yet, that’s what Christians have become.

We can sicken and Christ for a while. Jesus wants us to obey and serve Him, be either hot or cold or if we’re neither, it makes Him sick. What was the problem? What caused this condition? Okay. Look at chapter 3 and verse 17. “Because you say, ‘I am rich.'” Hey, look up. Think about it. What is the goal? What is the American dream? The American dream is to come here, and you can accomplish anything, you can be anything. You can start your own business. You can become a TikToker and make millions like that one girl does, more than any of the corporate executives. You can do anything in America. That’s the American dream. You don’t just do it. You save it so that you can retire at 50 something and live in a big house, go out to eat all the time, and have new cars. If you’re a man play golf, and if you’re a woman have perfect hair and nails and tan and everything else. I don’t know what the American dream is for women, but it’s there. They had the American dream.

Look at verse 17. You are rich. You are not just rich, you’re wealthy. You’re not just wealthy, you’re self-sufficient. You don’t need anything. You do not know how I see you. I just visited your church. You, in My sight, are wretched. God the Son, the Savior who shed His blood for these people, looked at them and said you’re wretched, miserable, poor, blind, naked. I wrote down that riches can be toxic. Jesus said riches can be deadly to our spiritual lives because we can come to the point where we don’t need anything.

Do you remember what the Lord’s prayer is? Do you all know the Lord’s prayer? “Our Father who art in Heaven.” What’s the middle petition? “Give us this day,” what? What kind of bread? What’s the word before bread? Daily. Are you kidding? Who wants to need God to help them make it through today? I want to save up enough money that I have years of bread. I have enough socked away that no one can order me around. I want to have my own business. I want financial independence. I want to be self-sufficient. God told us every time we pray, we’re supposed to focus on Him as our Father which art in Heaven and say I want to bow before You, hallow Your name. I want to submit to You for Your kingdom to come and I want to follow You so that Your will is done in my life like it is in Heaven. Then we get to the middle which says give us this day. I am supposed to say, Lord, I want You to supply me with what I need to make it through this day so that I can declare that You are good and faithful and able. I want You to supply me. These people said we’re consuming our lives to be rich, wealthy, and not need anything.

Did you know, in America, none of us want to be this way, but we learn to look down on people that have less? We think they don’t work as hard, they don’t try as hard, they haven’t studied as much. In America, well it’s just humanity, we look down when we think we’re better. What is the measure of better? Look at our programming. Yesterday Bloomberg announced that there are 877,000 different episodic sessions of all the shows on Netflix, Hulu, Prime, and Disney. Those four have 877,000 movies and episodes of series. If you look at them, and people analyze them, do you know what people love to watch? The lives of the rich and famous, the houses of the rich and famous, the bodies of the rich and famous, and the hair of the rich and famous. Whoever is going to start a company, Goop or whatever, if they’re famous we want it. It’s just amazing.

What we do is we measure people just like they did in the book of James. Do you remember when you studied James? They’re coming to your assembly, a poor man in vile raiment. The word rhypos in Greek means smelly, a street person. “For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings…and say to him, ‘sit here'” in the front and to the smelly ones stay in the back. Have you not become a respecter of persons? This has been the original problem in the church, that we look up to rich people. We think there’s something inherently better about them because they’re rich. We think of homeless people as there’s something inherently wrong with them because they don’t work hard enough or whatever they don’t do. They just ought to pull up their bootstraps and get going.

There are a lot of lazy people and God already said if you will not work you will not eat. God has already settled all this, but what Jesus said that we should pay attention to is that riches can be toxic. Why? Because we start wanting our treasure. I like Randy Alcorn, he’s one of my favorite authors. He wrote a lot of good books, but in one of his good books he wrote about this: he said most people live with Earth in front of them and Heaven is behind them. He says they’re backing toward Heaven, facing and reaching for the things of Earth. They don’t want to let go of all their treasures on Earth. They don’t want to go to Heaven. They’re scared to die. The tractor beam, it’s like Star Wars. God’s bringing them toward Heaven, and they don’t want to let go of Earth. That’s how dangerous riches are. Wow. They can be deadly to our spiritual lives. We come to the point where we don’t need anything, and God wants us to ask Him to supply us.

Look really quickly at 1 Timothy 6. If you’ve never seen this, Paul gives a theology of wealth in 1 Timothy 6. What he says is this, let’s see, number 1 verse 6. “Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.” Lesson number one, things are always temporary. Everything around you is going to burn up and there’s only one thing you can take with you to Heaven: people. There’s only one thing you can do with your treasures; send them ahead. If they stay here, they’re toast. “And having food” verse 8, “and clothing, with these we shall be content.” Only seek necessities and wait for the rest. That would solve a lot of people’s problems. Don’t go into debt to buy a depreciating asset and be careful about buying an appreciating one, if you’re sure it appreciates.

Bonnie and I got married, we went out to serve with John MacArthur, Grace Community Church, and we slept in the basement on a single mattress with no box springs under it, on the floor of a Christian’s basement. They let us stay there until we could save up enough money to have the first and last month’s rent and whatever. It took three months. You have to have the first month, last month, and security deposit to rent in California, and rents were astronomical back then. It was like $2,000 we needed in 1984. We lived in the basement and these gracious Christians let us live down there with the spiders and the cockroaches and the mold and everything else. It was wonderful because we saved up enough money for rent. Then we got our first apartment. We had not a stick of furniture. Yet, all of our friends who went to school with us were sending their pictures and they all had everything. Why? Because instantly they started borrowing money.

You’re going to that financial meeting; I hope you go to the financial thing. We all need to know more about how to be disciplined in our finances. The simplest thing you need to learn is to spend less every month than you earn. Spend less every month than you earn. That’s what the Bible says. It says to cut your portion into seven and don’t use it all up. Live on less than you earn. What you do is you lower your purchases down to your earnings rather than to what you can borrow and make payments on because you become a servant to the one that you borrow from.

Then he continues, look at verse 10 of 1 Timothy 6. “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith,” Paul says, “in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” Do you know what he’s saying? Avoid a consuming desire for riches. Why? Because it’ll pierce you. Do you know what we’re supposed to learn to be? Content. Paul was content. He says I’m around senators of the Roman empire. He was, he lists them off in Roman 16. He also palled around with slaves. How do I know that? He named them. Do you know how you know they’re a slave? Do you know how they named slaves in the 1st century? They named them by their birth order. One, two, three, or four. When Paul says Tertius, my friend, do you know what Tertius means? He was the third born of a slave family. Quartus, my brother. What does quartus mean? Four. Paul palled around with senators, that’s the highest crust, and with slaves, that’s the lowest in the socio-economic spectrum. Avoid a consuming desire for riches. Don’t think that if you had more, you’d be happier because you wouldn’t be. God already told us that.

Then look what it says. Verse 12. Oh, we’ll start at 11. “But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness.” Flee what things? Materialism and riches are toxic. Everyone says, oh, I’ll just earn more so I can give more. Yeah. Yeah. That’s really hard to do. Do you remember the Wesley’s? Charles Wesley, John Wesley, the Wesley brothers, the ones that wrote all those hymns and started Methodism and all that. They were incredible servants of the Lord. When Charles Wesley started out, he earned 10 British pounds a year. He lived on three pounds a year and gave away seven. At the end of his life, he earned a thousand pounds a year. He said in his journal that he lived on 300 and gave away 700. Do you know what he did? He never changed the proportion. He said I’m going to be sacrificial. I’m going to live on the least amount so that I can expand the kingdom the most.

Do you know what most people do? They earn 10, they spend 15 and they pay monthly payments on it. If they earn a thousand, they’ll spend five thousand. The goal is to be bigger, higher, better, newer, whatever. Flee materialism. Look at verse 12. “Fight the good fight of faith, and lay hold on eternal life.” Cling to eternal life, not temporary toxic riches. Look at verse 17. “Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches.” Uncertain riches. Remember how crypto went down a trillion or two and all those people that borrowed money to buy crypto had a headache? Pin your hope on God, not on riches.

Finally, “Let them do good, that they may be rich in good works,” verse 18, “ready to give, willing to share.” That’s Paul’s philosophy in 1 Timothy 6 on finances. Do you know what he said? Give until it hurts, give so much that it hurts you to give. These people were not hot. They weren’t cold. They were lukewarm. What it meant is they were going along avoiding the really big sins and living the American dream. That’s what Laodicea was, and it made the Lord sick.

When we don’t pursue Christ when we float when we’re not paddling. See everybody is floating along thinking that bigger is better and more is better. That the golden life is to be the most desirable, the kind of knockout looking person. We’re supposed to be pilgrims and strangers paddling against the current, bumping into people and helping Jesus turn their canoes around. It takes our focus rather than going along with the flow. When we don’t do that, when we float, we can become miserable and we blame all our problems on other things, rather than it being our own alienation from Jesus. Remember He starts resisting us. We can become poor in God’s wealth because we’re only measuring wealth by worldly standards. We become blind because we’re not exposed to the light. We’re not even interested in the Bible and our eyes get blinded. We become naked. Wow.

Do you remember what salvation does? One of my favorite verses that I’ve memorized is this one. This gives the seven effects of salvation. Acts 26:18. This is Jesus talking to Paul on the road to Damascus. “To open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.”

Look what that is. “To open their eyes,” that’s what happened when we got saved. We were turned away from darkness. Our canoe got turned around and instead of heading toward the dark, we want to head toward the light of the world. “From the power of Satan,” the shackles were removed. We receive forgiveness of sins. Jesus said I’ve been punished in your place, so you have an inheritance of that way. Instead of reaching for your earthly treasure as you go to Heaven as Randy Alcorn says, turn around and say, this world is not my home. I want to go this way. I want to send all I can ahead. I want to take as many people with me as possible to Heaven. “Among those who are sanctified.” What does sanctification mean? Remember I told you about 10 times, it means to be useful to God. Salvation is God’s lifelong desire to make us more and more useful. We call that progressive sanctification and it’s all by faith.

If it wasn’t so late, I would tell you about William Borden. You should be reading all these great heroes of the past, William Borden. His family owned the dairy company that’s up here on the east coast. They don’t own it anymore, but William Borden was the heir of vast mega riches and he died on his way to the mission field. He was in Cairo learning Arabic so he could reach the darkest unreached people groups of the world. His mother rushed to his bedside and got there hours after he died. This is what it said. It said when she got to the little dark room in Cairo where his body was laying on the bed, as the people hovered around, they found his Bible on the nightstand. She opened it to the back flyleaf, and this is what she found. No reserves. No retreat. No regrets. Wow.

What he said is I gave away my Borden milk fortune, no reserves. I went to learn the language of the least reached people group and got some horrible disease in Cairo. As he lay dying of a fever, he wrote in his Bible no regrets because the One whose eyes are running to and fro throughout the whole Earth watching now, knows that my heart was completely toward Him. God doesn’t measure how much we do. Don’t try and do more than anybody’s ever done. Just try and give more and more of yourself, your heart, your life, and your desires to the Lord.

What did Peter write to these people? To the very people Jesus is writing to look at what Peter wrote in 2 Peter. I love knowing what these people heard. Can you imagine Peter coming to your church? Look at 2 Peter 1 verse 8. “For if these things are yours,” these truths. If you embrace them if you can’t get enough of them, if you surrender to them, “if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Verse 9, “For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.” Wow. “Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

How did Peter make it to the end and die crucified upside down? How did he do it? He was looking forward to the abundant entrance into the presence of the infinite, eternal God. Everything in this world is passing away. Everybody’s going to die. Everything’s going to wear out. Do you know what I mean? It’s all going to burn up. His canoe was headed toward Heaven.

There’s a way to apply that at your age. I used to make all these little choices when I was your age. Next week, one of the sessions I will do is the 10 best decisions I ever made in my life. Just to show you how little choices can impact you and other things like that. I’ll just tell you one of them. Make a sacred vow to refocus on God. Read God’s word before your social media, any online activities, or anything else as you start your day.

By the way, when I say start your day it depends on when you start your day, God starts His day at night. In the Bible. It says in Genesis, the class that Mark Strout I think teaches, that the evening and the morning were the first day. When God reckons time, He starts at night. When you and I are going to bed, unconscious, unable to keep ourselves awake, defenseless, God starts the day. When we wake up in the morning, He’s already done half of the day. He asks us to check in with Him and say, what do you have going and how can I be a part of it? It doesn’t matter how your day starts, at night or in the morning. Seek God first. Why? Matthew 6:33, “seek ye…” after you checked all of your tweets and pokes and snaps, and I don’t even know what the new ones are, ticks. After you do all that, if you have enough time, you get to God. No. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God.” Martin Luther used to say that’s the terrible petition of the Lord’s prayer, “thy kingdom come.” He said it’s terrible to invite God to run your life. What He might do with you. It’s terribly wonderful. It’s sobering.

What else can we learn? The only source of true and enduring wealth, Christ says in verse 18, if you go back to chapter 3 verse 18, “I counsel you.” Jesus said you want Me to be your counselor, your financial counselor. The wealthy have two things. They have personal trainers as we saw in chapter 1, Jesus wants to be our coach, our personal trainer. He wants to be our financial advisor. He wants to not only do our physical health, but our financial health He wants to do too. Look at what He says. “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.” Whoa, did you catch what I just read? What were the three industries of Laodicea if we were having a quiz? Can any of you remember? Yeah. The black gold. Yeah, goldmine. The black sheep wool and what else? Eye salve, yeah, I love that you’re listening.

Jesus targets the three things their city was famous for. If someone is speaking and they say something familiar to you, you perk up, like what? That’s my hometown, or what? I like that kind of food. You light up when you hear something. Jesus was talking their language. He says to you that are in the gold capital of Asia minor, why don’t you get your gold from Me? You who live where the most expensive woolen garments are produced in the whole world, why didn’t you buy white garments from Me? He said you’re in the garment caring culture. I give the best garments. You are blind, why don’t you get My eye salve? See, it’s so amazing. Jesus calls them to walk with Him in the light of obedience, wearing white garments, walking cleansed, set free from sins and enslavements.

Only Jesus can fix our eyes. If you don’t get anything out of the Bible, it’s not the Bible that has nothing in it. It’s that you haven’t been exposed to the light and your eyes have skin over them. What you have to do is not try harder and just say, I’m going to find something in the Bible. It’s to go to Jesus and let Him put His eye salve on you.

You know what? Helen Lemmel, 100 years ago in 1922, wrote a hymn. Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face, and the things of Earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace. Wow. What happens if we don’t? Look at verse 19. “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten.” Look what I wrote, true children of God get spanked by Christ. I already told you about that in Hebrews 12.

Think about it. When the Great Physician examines my life, am I going to be like Ephesus? Is He going to find a spiritual heart condition like the silent killer that was in Ephesus? Their arteries were carotid, they were hardened, and they were full of everything, but Him. They didn’t love Him most anymore. Are we going to be like Pergamos? Will He find my spiritual immunity compromised? Like Thyatira, will raging infection be in my life with all that sin around and that false teacher? Or like Sardis, is He going to find me in spiritual cardiac arrest devoured by the Devil? Is Jesus going to check my eyes and shine the light in and my eyes are sightless?

What changes our life? Verse 20. Remember the goal is not just to make it through Word of Life Bible Institute and go right onto whatever. It’s so interesting. I love asking you all, what are you going to do with your life? All of you have different answers. I’m going to work in an orphanage and write movie scripts. I’ve heard so many wonderful things. Do you know what the simple answer is? I’m going to serve the Lord the rest of my life. I’m not sure exactly where, I’m not sure exactly how, but I do know this; I’m going to serve Him. I’m going to show up every day, every night, and say I’m checking in. With my whole heart, I seek You. Your eyes are looking. What do You want to do with my life?

He will let us know. Nobody wants you to do God’s will more than God. He’s going to design you a certain way and build into you. Usually, He gives us the desires of our hearts. If you’re walking with the Lord, whatever it is you want to do is probably the Lord’s will. It’s very exciting. It’s very liberating. We do everything we want to do because we don’t want to do anything except His will. Like Jesus, we came to do Your will, oh God, but look at verse 20. “Behold, I stand at the door” [knocking] every day. Jesus is at your bunk knocking. Hey, I’d like to spend some time with you, I’d like you to look Me right in the eye. I’d like you to focus on Me. “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.”

I know that’s used a lot as a salvation invitation, but it is so much more than Jesus knocking on everybody’s heart door. Don’t leave it as a salvation invitation or make it the real salvation invitation. Salvation is not a one time event sometime in the past that has nothing to do with what’s going on in my life today. The salvation event is the beginning of following Him. Remember Jesus reduced the whole Gospel call of His disciples down to two words; follow Me. Either you are, or you’re not. How do we know? “I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” You can tell your spiritual health today by how important your Bible is to you. Can you not wait to discover something else and bow before Him and ask Him to bring that to pass in your life? Jesus waits every day for our response to His knocking on the door of our life. He seeks our fellowship. He wants to feed us. He longs to have our attention.

Just before we go, we have five minutes, let me ask you a quick question, okay? Do you live like you’re part of what Christ called you to be? The special forces He’s deployed behind the enemy lines. Go into all the world and preach the Gospel. Go into the god of this world’s kingdom and the gates of Hell will not withstand against you. You can go in behind enemy lines and start rescuing people. That’s the Great Commission, okay?

Imagine today you’re a special force soldier invited to your final briefing before you go into active duty. Today you’re being sent to patrol on foot through Afghanistan’s Taliban controlled territory. There’s a lot of American history in that. Along every step of your patrol, there are going to be snipers, landmines, like being over in Ukraine, remote controlled IED, RPGs, 50 caliber machine gun nests, and thousands of terrorists, plus scorching heat that’s going to kill you anyway. The commanding officers are giving the last words before they deploy you. You’re getting your gear and they’re going to drop you to parachute down into enemy territory. The commanding officer has already led this patrol hundreds of times and he is the only one who’s ever made it back unscathed by the enemy. Okay.

You’re in the briefing. He gives you his personally written field manual on battlefield survival. He will explain it and the key elements of the body armor, the Christian’s armor, Ephesians 6, will be shown, explained, and fitted. Also, he gives the only offensive weapon that will be demonstrated and how this ammunition is used. Remember, the sword of the Spirit is the word of God. Wouldn’t every one of us being deployed be in the front row? We’d be taking notes. We’d stay after asking the commanding officer questions. We’d help each other as the soldiers geared up and we’d work together for our mutual survival. We’d say wow, now we know how to survive.

Yet today, most of the special forces, that’s us as believers, are deployed by the Lord with the great commission into the harsh territory of Satan, the master terrorist, who’s the god of this world, and they are riding around like they’re on vacation. They’re like sitting ducks. They ride in these open seats on top of a double-decker tour bus driving through enemy territory. They’re living on Earth like we’re all here to go to movies and play games and buy shoes and have good white teeth and a nice complexion. There’s no daily preparation, or prayer without ceasing. There’s no body armor, taking on the full armor of God, Ephesians 6 says. There’s no attending the briefings.

Do you know, we’re all supposed to be gathering together and having people going around and checking whether everything’s connected and how we’re doing? There’s no ammunition. We’re supposed to live by every word of God. There are no weapons in sight. We’re called to face our adversary, the Devil, who is a roaring lion. The number of verses you have is very proportionate to how long your sword is because our verse memorization is like the sword of the Spirit. Here we have this massive devouring beast that’s consuming people. We’re supposed to go out and if you ask most people how many verses, this moment, they know by heart that they can say in, out, forward, backward and ready at a moment, you say, do you have a hundred verses down? Most people say no. How about 50? Do you have 25?

Do you know what most people are doing? They’re facing our adversary the Devil with a Thumbtack. Do you know what a Thumbtack is? It’s a little round piece of metal with a tiny, short, pointed thing on the end that you push into a bulletin board. That’s the sword of the Spirit of most Christians. They have a couple of verses that they know well enough that they’re poking at the lion. Wow.

The daily casualties are horrific as you can imagine. There are many wounded Christian soldiers strewn along the road. Most of them have flaming darts burning in their unprotected lives. Most of them are incapacitated, and no longer on the mission. Only a few seem to be at the briefings. That’s what Jesus found when He visited the seven outposts of His churches. Are you obeying Christ’s last command to His Church or are you riding the tour bus? No matter how many steps you take away from God it’s always just one step back.


Check Out All The Sermons In The Series

You can find all the sermons and short clips from this series,  Revelation Taught In 2022 here.

Looking To Study The Bible Like Dr. Barnett?

Dr. Barnett has curated an Amazon page with a large collection of resources he uses in his study of God’s Word. You can check it out here.