Sermons

Summary: Tepid Faith is condemned by Holy God. The Risen Saviour calls us to hot faith that impels us to glorify His Name.

“To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation.

“‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.” [1]

A silly woman had few life skills; she had never owned a thermos. One day while shopping, she saw thermoses were on sale. She asked a saleslady what a thermos was used for. “Well,” the merchant said, “a thermos keeps hot things hot and cold things cold.”

“Wonderful!” exclaimed the silly girl, selecting a thermos, “I’ll take this one.”

The next day at her job, she set the thermos on the desk. A co-worker asked her what she had. “It’s a thermos,” she replied. “It keeps hot things hot and cold things cold.”

“What do you have in it,” asked the co-worker.

“Tomato soup and pistachio ice cream,” she replied. Yuck! Instant, lukewarm pistachio tomato soup! The only thing to say about such a feast is, “Yuck!”

Christ’s final word to the churches of Asia opens with a serious charge to the Laodicean congregation. Jesus warned, “Because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I am going to vomit you out of my mouth” [REVELATION 3:14 CSB]. I suppose this verse qualifies as one of the better-known verses of the Apocalypse, even if few among the churches are willing to make application of the verse to themselves or to their own congregation. The picture is graphic as presented in the original language. The Lord warns that Laodicean congregation that they make Him sick. Cold? He could work among them to kindle a flame to get a few coals burning again. Hot? He could employ them in His service. Lukewarm? They had become worthless.

Lukewarm means we think we are warm enough to be useful. Lukewarm means that we are not hot enough to be used. We pastors want to be “cool,” to be suave, to be someone who speaks with verve and passion ensuring that people hang onto every word. Christians, in general, especially in the western world, want to live with one foot in the world and one foot in the church. Far too many contemporary church members want just enough religion to be comfortable with churchy matters, but not so committed that they offend the world.

It is as if we approach the local assembly saying, “Give me three dollars worth of religion. Don’t make it too spicy; and be careful with the sweetness. I want just enough religion to get me by until the next time I come to the service.” So, the preacher serves up a dish that avoids all bitterness, affirming listeners as they are and carefully avoiding giving offence.

We don’t need to speculate about the impact of such an approach to the Faith—and make no mistake, the approach just described is rancid, sickening to the Sovereign Lord of Glory. When the Lord witnesses rancid religion such as just described, that religious practise makes Him want to vomit. There is no danger that the message delivered by a lackadaisical preacher to a lukewarm congregation will offend sinners, because sinners will never hear what is said. If they bothered coming to the services, they wouldn’t be offended; neither would they be convicted. It is the Spirit of God Who convicts the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgement [see JOHN 16:8-11]. The old southern evangelist, Vance Havner, described the preaching in far too many contemporary churches as consisting of “Repent after a fashion and believe such as it were or be damned in a measure.”

The Risen Saviour, through His Apostle John, confronted the nauseating congregation, the First Church of Laodicea. Tragically, despite the putrefying stench of death pervading the assembly, the congregation was unaware of the terminal malady with which they were infected. The congregation appears to have held quite a high opinion of themselves. Like many Christians in this day, they held the opinion that if they experienced no hardships and if they weren’t upsetting anyone, they were surely engaged in doing God’s work in a pleasing manner. They considered that because they were blessed materially, they surely enjoyed the smile of Heaven. The reality was quite different, however. Studying the Master’s view of the First Church of Laodicea is revealing, especially when we apply those views to our own situation.

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