The Lukewarm Church
The church at Laodicea was a church that had lost its zeal. Much bragging went on – but it was an unholy mixture. This church was spiritually bankrupt and sickly. Apathy is a serious spiritual virus. Our Lord rebuked the backslidden, worldly church. We see the signs today, in churches where Biblical separation is neglected and people settle for the superficial. Rather, may we have a holy desperation for a gutsy Christianity – and be a people sold out for Him. It’s time to refire the passion and seek wholly after God.
Some adapted content from various sources; incl parts of 818, 894, 959, 970, 1029, 1042
And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write…
The Lord undertakes an audit here…
In Revelation 2:1 it says
He walks in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks.
Our Lord is actively watching – observing what’s going on in His name.
He is inspecting the churches…
It’s been said that… The devil wants to get control of the Church, to pervert it, to make it spiritually barren and rotten.
“A spiritual church converts souls from sin soundly, clearly and fully… It is its chief and only business” to convert sinners to holiness and perfect saints in holiness. The devil wants the church to be worldly. (E. M. Bounds)
Someone has said, the less power a church has the more entertainment it needs.
The Lord is doing an audit here… And He comes to the church at Laodicea.
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;
The Lord is the Amen.
The Lord Jesus – the ‘Amen’ shows His divinity.
He is the Word of God, and He is the Truth of God…
In Isaiah 65:16, God is called
‘the God of truth’.
The Lord Jesus Christ says: ‘I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end’.
He is the beginning, not HAD a beginning, He is the beginning!
He is the Originator and the Source.
(15) I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
God wants us to be on fire for Him.
Laodicea had a problem. It was neither cold nor hot.
It was a lukewarm church.
(16) So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
This church was lukewarm – in other words it was without warmth or feeling.
It had no heart, no zeal.
Lukewarmness is a big problem.
Truly its been said that the greatest enemy of the church is COMPLACENCY and APATHY in THE HEARTS of believers.
Lukewarm people tend to be hit and miss. Yet the godly will want to worship.
Lukewarm people rarely witness of their faith.
Lukewarm people do not love God with all their heart.
Lukewarm people are more attached to things of earth than things of heaven.
Lukewarm people cannot be counted on.
Lukewarm people are much the same as the worldly.
Lukewarm people say they believe in God but they don’t strive to know Him.
They say they believe in God, but they live as though He doesn’t exist.
This lukewarm church makes the Lord sick.
He is disgusted with this church.
This is THE ONE CHURCH in a list of seven that the Lord HAS NOTHING GOOD TO SAY ABOUT.
It is a half hearted church.
It is easy to settle for an easygoing kind of Christianity… To lack passion for God.
Several years ago an “APATHY CLUB” was formed on a certain college campus. The officers of the club advertised a meeting of the membership. Not one soul showed up.
Why? They were too apathetic to attend.
Perhaps that story causes us to laugh.
Yet, APATHY is a serious SPIRITUAL VIRUS that is afflicting the church.
Someone has said that 90 churches a day are closing,
Pastors are giving up.
I know a number of Christians and preachers like this.
What is apathy? The dictionary defines apathy as “lack of feeling or emotion; impassiveness; lack of interest or concern; indifference.”
Do you believe that some Christians are living apathetic spiritual lives? I do.
Although lost people are living all around us, some of us don’t care enough to go out and help bring them to the Lord.
Although people are in poor physical health, some of us don’t care enough to call them, visit them, or pray for them.
Let’s make an honest self assessment.
Presently, would you say that you have a great spiritual passion for the work of the Lord, or are you spiritually inactive?
‘People can be passionate about many other things such as automobiles, houses, clothes, political views, and movies, but they dare not be passionate about Christ and His kingdom.’
This church had lost its passion for the things of the Lord.
The hymnbook of the Lukewarm church includes songs like…
Take My Life and Let Me Be
Where He Leads Me, I Will Consider Following
I Surrender Some
Pillow of Ages, Fluffed for Me
A Comfy Mattress Is Our God
My Hope is Built on Nothing Much
God hates such false religion… he is heartily sick of it…
As Vance Havner puts it – “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.”
Our Lord continues His audit…
(17) 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:
This is a proud church.
Yet God said it was poor, miserably poor.
As poor a beggar…
Laodicea as a city was noted for its wealth, luxury and fine living…
This church was claiming great success and power…
It was bragging that it was increased with goods… you can imagine them busily merchandising their self-help books, tapes, CDs, their cool T-shirts, caps, pens…
There’s a pre-occupation with the world… a marketing mentality… with Christian psychology, Hip Christian clothing, Christian weight loss schemes, and there’s even a Christian Rubik’s cube…
Increased with goods…
There is a lot of arrogance and ignorance…
Of exaltation of man…
A lot of bragging goes on in churches, about their power and the things they have…
And it’s become an unholy mixture…
The Laodicean’s focus was on goods and worldly pursuits, and a SELF-RELIANCE… a self righteousness, a self-confidence…
Whereas for the Christian, OUR SUFFICIENCY is of God…
He is the all-sufficient one, who truly meets every need…
This church had a form of godliness but lacked the power.
This was a bankrupt church.
Miserable. It was a shameful thing…
It was a worldly church.
Wretched – helpless…
As in the words of Horatius Bonar: ‘I looked for the church, and I found it in the world; I looked for the world, and I found it in the church’.
There’s an overwhelming ignorance… As the spirit and thinking of the world just seems to take over.
And there is a great neglect of spiritual things.
To neglect God’s Word is a reproach and a dreadful thing…
Today, many Christians are not only having trouble sharing the gospel, but they’re having trouble explaining what it is!
Check this out.
Here are the so-called Spiritual Beliefs of the American Church.
- 53% says the Holy Spirit doesn’t exist.
- 30% says that Jesus Christ died but never had a physical resurrection.
- 29% contend that when he lived on earth, Jesus Christ was human and
committed sins, like other people.
- 25% agreed that it doesn’t matter what faith you follow because all
faith groups teach the same lessons.
- 31% says that a good person can earn his or her way into heaven.
- 12% don’t know what will happen to them after they die.
- 47% says that satan does not exist.
- Campbell Morgan, called…
“LUKEWARMNESS” “the worst form of blasphemy… If there is anything abhorrent to the heart of Christ it is a tepid church… this condition of being tepid is utterly repugnant to Him. No emotion, no enthusiasm, no urgency, no compassion.”
It seems as if there are two extremes in the church today – it is either WILDFIRE or NO FIRE.
A while back I met with a couple who attend a large local church where they have a traditional worship service followed by a contemporary one that features loud rock music, clapping, swaying and dancing… They told me that genuine songs of worship would be out of place at the second service…
A preacher (Ravenhill) has said, “The church has to rediscover two things.
“One, THE MAJESTY AND THE HOLINESS OF GOD, and the other, THE SINFULNESS OF SIN.”
The Bible says that with some worship God hated the “NOISE” of their music.
MUSIC affects the SPIRIT…
- Will we use good, Christ-exalting music?
- Or will it be a compromised substitute, with a worldly beat and emphasis?
In about 400 BC, the Greek philosopher Plato wrote: “If one listens to the wrong kind of music, he will become the wrong kind of person.”
God says it’s SIN…
It is iniquity, even the solemn meeting.
SIN in the church is spreading like a plague of black death…
LUKEWARM churches are WORLDLY.
WORLDLINESS means basically DISOBEDIENCE – God says “SEPARATE FROM THE WORLD AND BE HOLY” – and man says “NO.”
The devil wants to blur the line of separation between holy and unholy; saved and unsaved; good and evil…
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.”
Something is seriously wrong when a church can get a big crowd for a picnic or to some kind of game or outing, but no one shows up for soulwinning.
Something is wrong when Christians make no effort to get out for prayer meeting, never give out tracts, never win souls to Christ, etc.
Vance Havner said,
“PEOPLE GO WHERE THEY WANT TO GO.
WHERE THEIR HEARTS ARE THEIR HEELS WILL FOLLOW.”
Our Lord rebuked the BACKSLIDDEN CHURCH at Laodicea.
One writer has described it like this: Christianity of old quenched the flames of oppression, lit the fires of freedom, and led two continents out of the darkness of paganism.
Today’s Christianity is known for bingo games, softball leagues, and milquetoast preachers. Christianity of old toppled the Roman Empire. Today’s Christianity cannot even rid the nation of legal abortion. (Chuck Baldwin. Christians No Different From The World)
Rick Warren is an example of this kind of problem.
He neglects separation. He has spoken at Hillsong.
When he spoke at Hillsong, he taught that all Christians should hear direct prophecies from God.
He has yoked together in partnership with other religions and ecumenical outfits, including praising the so-called Pope himself… He has referred to him as “our pope” and “holy father”…
Warren quotes often from The Message which is a woefully bad paraphrase of the Bible.
Rick Warren has been softening on homosexuality, partnering up with Elton John and he has also apologised for promoting a proposition that would ban same sex unions.
Rick Warren has endorsed Catholics Come Home – an organization whose goal it is to undo the Reformation and bring everyone together into the Catholic church.
This is just one example of the lukewarmness that prevails…
What of our church?
Will we be…
- A soul winning church…
- A church faithful to the Word.
- Marked by DEVOTION to the Word…
The people at Laodicea were fooling themselves…
The Lord gave some counsel to this church… In verse 18…
(18) 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.
It’s a picture of godly faith that comes from going faithfully through times of trial.
White robes – this symbolises the righteousness of Jesus applied to the believer.
And our Lord says, Anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. There’s no blindness more terrible than being blind to someone’s own real condition before God. They needed to see things as Jesus saw them.
(19) As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
This church is under God’s judgment.
In love, He rebukes us…
He wants to restore us.
That we have a zeal and freshness…
It’s been truly said that “There are no crownwearers in Heaven that were not crossbearers here below.” —Spurgeon
Our Lord calls out to you…
- Deny yourself.
- Take up your cross.
- Follow me…
Repentance is “a change of mind that results in a change of direction.”
Some will find out too late that they were not saved…
(22) Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
(23) And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
Be zealous and repent…
Don’t settle for the superficial.
Turn fully to God.
Stop conforming to the world, and instead totally depend on God…
Charles Spurgeon once said, “It is harder a great deal to work for Jesus with a church which is lukewarm than it would be to begin without a church.
“Give me a dozen earnest spirits and put me down anywhere in London, and by God’s good help we will soon cause the wilderness and the solitary place to rejoice; but give me the whole lot of you, half-hearted, undecided, and unconcerned, what can I do? You will only be a drag upon a man’s zeal and earnestness.
“Five thousand members of a church all lukewarm will be five thousand impediments, but a dozen earnest, passionate spirits, determined that Christ shall be glorified and souls won, must be more than conquerors; in their very weakness and fewness will reside capacities for being the more largely blessed of God. Better nothing than lukewarmness”
(fromTreasury of The Bible, vol. 8, p. 719).
Our Lord continues His challenge, in Verse 20…
(20) 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.
The message for this lukewarm church is…
Open the door.
Let Jesus in.
Let us turn to God fervently, in believing prayer.
Be zealous of spiritual gifts…
Let us act like we care about the great commission – it’s not the great suggestion.
May the love of Christ constrain us.
Let us love one another with a pure heart, fervently…
Let us earnestly contend… for the faith.
Get back to where we need to be…
The Old Upper Room.
They didn’t have Bible schools, denominations, programs, padded pews, and pretty buildings. But they had the Old Power- The Holy Ghost- the holy passion. He’s been “Moving” since Gen. 1:2.
There’s a sickness in the church – liberalism. Too much machinery and too little power. Too many committees, meetings and organisation- too many preachers acting like managers running a business.
We must get back to Pentecost.
Psalm 92:10 “I shall be anointed with fresh oil.” A fresh anointing – the same as the early church had. Not noise and emotion, but a true touch of Heaven.
Our Lord gives a promise…
(21) 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.
(22) He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
When we look at the church of Laodicea we see the kind of church that we ought to be…
The OPPOSITE of that one…
Let us prayerfully seek to be a church of God’s design…
- Not diluted
- Not compromised.
The church of God is NOT meant to be…
Certainly, we are not meant to be…
The church of God is meant to turn from its…
God wants His church to be passionate people… An overcoming people…
It’s been said that a church that has passion is a church where “Discouraged folks cheer up, dishonest folks fess up, sour folks sweeten up, closed folk, open up, gossipers shut up, conflicted folks make up, sleeping folks wake up, lukewarm folk, fire up, dry bones shake up, and pew potatoes stand up! But most of all, Christ the Saviour of the entire world is lifted up.”
If we are to truly be disciples, it ‘will cost us our sins, our self-righteousness, our ease, and our worldliness’ (Ryle).
Our Lord has conducted His audit of the church at Laodicea.
What if he were to do the same to us?
What if we were to conduct a self audit?
Do we love the world more than we love God?
Do we neglect to pray?
Do we seek worldly interests above seeking first the kingdom of God?
Do the cares and worries of this life obsess us and dominate most of our thoughts and conversations?
You can’t serve both God and the devil
One of the worst train disasters in history occurred in the El Toro Tunnel in Leon, Spain, on January 3,1944. Over five hundred people died.
The train was one of those long passenger trains with an engine on both ends. On this particular day, when the train went into the El Toro Tunnel, the engine on the front stalled. When the front engine stopped, the engineer on the back engine started up his engine to back the train out of the tunnel.
At the same time, however, the front engineer managed to get the front engine started again and attempted to continue the journey.
Neither engineer had any way of communicating with the other. Both engineers thought they simply needed more power. They continued to pull in both directions for several minutes.
Hundreds of passengers on the train in the tunnel died of carbon monoxide poisoning because the train could not make up its mind which way to go.
The people on that train died because the train had one too many engineers. Many of us struggle as to which way to go with our lives-whether to come to Jesus or to remain in our sin.
This indecision can cause us to miss out on the most important decision in our lives.
Sometimes we think we can have it both ways, but we can’t.
We can’t serve God and also serve the devil. Jesus Himself warned us against trying to live a double life. He said No one can serve two masters (Matt. 6:24a).
Hot Illustrations For Youth Talks
Wayne Rice, Zondervan, pp. 208-209.
Are you zealous of GOOD WORKS?
The Lord wants us to…
Be a people…
Have you lost…
- The Drive
- The Fire
ZEAL changes People…
He gives to us…
Let’s not settle for being a half way Christian.
There was a crowd of people standing in a field with a fence dividing them into two groups. Jesus came and took the little group of people who were on His side of the fence and then the Devil came and took the larger group. After this, there was one man left sitting on the fence. The Devil came back and told the man to come with him but the man said, “I don’t belong to you, I’m sitting on the fence.”
The Devil replied, “Oh, but you do belong to me. I own the fence.”
The lukewarm are self righteous. Self satisfied. Lazy. Half hearted.
Let us not be lukewarm, but rather be white hot for God… With a burning love for Him.
With a holy desperation.
God wants us to be sold out for Him.
Living godly, righteously…
Let go of an easygoing Christianity that…
- Makes no demands
- Carries no cross
Instead, determine to be…
A Zealous People