How Not To Be a Lukewarm Church in a Lukewarm AgeBro. David Chancellor
10/1/2006 11:00 AM
And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot; I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich: and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
This age is an age of apathy. That doesn’t mean that everything is done in an indifferent manner. Those that kill in the name of religion aren’t indifferent. (Is there such a thing as a lukewarm fanatic?) This passage of scripture describes a church in denial. They weren’t facing things as they really were. People fall into being what is pictured here as they deny being what is pictured here. We need to see ourselves as God sees us.
What does it mean to be hot or cold? You could be hot on one point and cold on another. Some were hot on the wrong things and cold on what really mattered.
I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue: I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me. I was dumb with silence, I held my peace, even from good; and my sorrow was stirred. My heart was hot within me, while I was musing the fire burned: then spake I with my tongue. Lord, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is: that I may know how frail I am. Behold, thou hast made my days as an handbreadth; and mine age is as nothing before thee: verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity. Selah. Surely every man walketh in a vain shew: surely they are disquieted in vain: he heapeth up riches, and knoweth not who shall gather them.
This speaks of keeping silence and overlooking things. There is right and there is wrong. Religion has been reduced to philosophy and a social order in our day and age. People are encouraged to just go wherever they desire and fit in. They think it doesn’t matter what you believe, just as long as you believe something. The word of the day is, "tolerate and keep silent." We can stand for what we believe without being rude or obnoxious. It does matter what you believe. We want to propagate the word of God. Are people hearing what God has to say?
This one said, "God, help me to see myself as I am. Help me to see my place in all this." Being hot is conviction and knowledge of our dependence on God, and our need for him to bring us through all that we face. The "hot" and "cold" of Revelation 3 have to do with our relationship with God, not with our practice of religion. People can be riled up about their religion, but be indifferent about God.
God wanted people to have a relationship with him that was hot. A hot relationship is where you are close to and dependent on God. This is about God, not a great teacher or champion. Just being enthusiastic in something isn’t enough; we need to be close to God.
All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
The cold is when people’s love gets cold. They begin to mistreat each other and be concerned primarily about themselves. Regardless of what happens in the world, you can’t afford to let your love for God get cold. No matter what else happens, we can’t let go of our relationship with God. If we hold onto that, we can love people regardless of that happens or how they treat us.
God would prefer that people either be close to him, or realize that they need help, than to have them be indifferent. People get so attached to their church, but in many cases, they lose their commitment to God. They get their church above the Savior. As this begins to be pointed out, they deny it and say, "No. Look at all our programs. See how many people are here. It’s all going great." Their relationship with God is on the back burner. We need conviction that what we’re doing is right. We need that close relationship with God.
And thou saidst, I shall be a lady for ever: so that thou didst not lay these things to thy heart, neither didst remember the latter end of it. Therefore hear now this, thou that art given to pleasures, that dwellest carelessly, that sayest in thine heart, I am, and none else beside me; I shall not sit as a widow, neither shall I know the loss of children:
These people were given to pleasures and were careless. God only has one church; if we get careless and turn to pleasures of this life, God will still have a church, but we won’t be part of it. God can still get there. He’s not stuck with us. As a people, we REALLY need him. We don’t want to get self-centered or arrogant about God’s church. There is one God and we need to do business with him. Our relationship with him needs to be what it should be.
Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him. The slothful man saith, There is a lion in the way; a lion is in the streets. As the door turneth upon his hinges, so doth the slothful upon his bed. The slothful hideth his hand in his bosom; it grieveth him to bring it again to his mouth. The sluggard is wiser in his own conceit than seven men that can render a reason.
We don’t want to get built up in ourselves. We can find courage in God, but we shouldn’t get stuck on ourselves. It’s hard to get through to someone who is stuck on himself.
We can find all kinds of excuses not to do what God would have us to do. God is able to make us able to do what he would have us to do. There are spirits out there that could trip us up, but God can keep us safe. There may be a lion in the street, but God needs us to walk the street anyway.
Being lazy doesn’t keep you from thinking that you’re the best at what you do. There are people who talk about how great they are, but don’t do anything. We don’t want to be saying, "we’re so great" (as the church) and not be doing anything. Great enlightenment is useless if it isn’t used to help others. If God has blessed you, he wants you to use it, not tell yourself how blessed you are. When you’re lukewarm, you can think you’re the greatest and be failing on every point.
Wherefore I will yet plead with you, saith the Lord, and with your children’s children will I plead. For pass over the isles of Chittim, and see; and send unto Kedar, and consider diligently, and see if there be such a thing. Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? but my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit. Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the Lord. For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.
We don’t want to trade what brings the glory of God for something that is unprofitable. Religious acts don’t bring the glory that the presence of God brings. Just doing is worthless if the relationship with God isn’t there. How’s your prayer life? Are you on fire for God, or are you just hot about religion? Has your relationship with God cooled off? We don’t want to replace the fountain of living waters with broken cisterns. We don’t want the water in our well to go stagnate; we want our relationship with God to stay fresh. Water in cisterns isn’t fresh and doesn’t taste very good. Social activities, programs, etc., will never be the same as people who have the power of God within and let it shine forth. Stay close to God.
I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich: and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
There is a solution for the problem. You don’t have to be lukewarm or indifferent in your relationship with God.
Buy gold. Buy something worth standing for. The truth is worth going through some things to keep. It’s worth taking a stand and suffering for it. Some chose to stand even in the face of death. Get hold of something lasting.
Buy white raiment. Get something worth living out. Live what God has shown you. If it is right, it’s worth doing. Man’s opinion doesn’t convince like God’s word convinces. The word of God is his opinion, not ours. As we hear the word of God, we need to get what we can take and live. We want what will help us to accomplish what God would have us to accomplish. Living the word of God brings righteousness.
We need the clear vision, individually, of one that is led by the Spirit of God. We need to be able to see the spiritual issues for our soul in the things we face.
If you have the wrong idea, acknowledge it and change. This is what he means by "repent" here. If you see failure, recognize it. Fix your relationship with God. Repentance says, "I’m wrong, and I need to change the way I’m going." The lukewarm church needs to acknowledge that they’ve been caught up in religious form and go back to having a close relationship with God.
Christ can be shut out by other things taking precedence in people’s lives. Your relationship with God can get cold. Keep that relationship with God first. He wants to have one-on-one time with you. Sup with him. (See Luke 24:31-32.) Supping with God stirs the fire up. It turns up the heat. When you open the door to Christ and sup with him, you can be on fire with God in a lukewarm age. Spend time with God. Study the word. Spend time in prayer. Take time to talk to God about the scriptures. Our prayer time is essential. It’s not a form or ritual, but it is time spent with God. Make it time to draw closer to God. Seek out God’s presence daily because you want to be close to him. This is where we find the grace to go out and live a life of righteousness. We don’t want to become apathetic about our relationship and walk with God. We need to feel our need of God. With God we can be a light and example, because of what he gives to us.