NEITHER HOT NOR COLD; a devotion for 1 June 2017 Anno Domini
“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. Revelations 3:14-20 (All scripture quoted is King James Version)
In the first three chapters of the Book of Revelations – “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John” (Revelations 1:1) – our Lord addresses the seven churches prophetically. The last church counselled and rebuked by Christ is the Church of Laodicea – the church that can be most readily identified with the Church of our time. The reference does not have uniform application to all churches, for some remain dedicated to the Gospel of Christ and wear rags for body, but white woolen robes for spirit. Such churches exist in isolation to the mainline churches which have come to glory in wealth, size, and prestige over the things of God. There are still churches in the world whose adherents will willingly suffer martyrdom before renouncing their Lord. I call to the bar those witnesses of the Coptic Church who were stopped by pagan Moslems and ordered to convert to Islam. Even their children refused to do so and were slaughtered. Yet, our lukewarm Christians of the mainline churches often simply miss church in order to sleep late.
We do not like our bath water cold, or hot. We like it comfortable for our bodies. In fact, everything we do is geared toward a perfect comfort for our flesh. How sad! But Christ does not make reference to our physical comforts in His castigation of the Laodicean church but rather to the lukewarmness of our spirits.
What is meant by “I would thou wert cold or hot?” Most of us prefer our coffee, milk, or tea to be either cold or hot – not lukewarm. We do not like lukewarm water as a quench for our thirst. God would prefer a heart made of ice, or melted with fervent heat of love, to a heart that is indifferent to love and truth and is neither cold in ignorance, or hot in faith. Love is not a learned emotion. It is a gift of God that cannot be taught in the dens of education of America today.
The following verse is a perfect description of the lukewarm church: “And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.” (1 Kings 18:21) The people to whom Elijah addressed these words professed an off-hand belief in God, but when Elijah put the challenge of hard choice to them, “they answered not a word” just as the mainline churches of our day remain stone silent on abortion and homosexuality – in fact, some advocate the practice of these wicked sins. There is no deliberation necessary in deciding what is right. God has given us the Holy Scriptures as “…a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path”. (Psalms 119:105) In pronouncing homosexuality and abortion as abject sins, we use not OUR judgment, but simply pronounce GOD’s judgment clearly given on the matter.
“So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” When we taste of a menu item that is intended to be served hot, we spew it out if it is lukewarm. There will be a high percentage of lukewarm Christians who will hear the awful judgment of the Lord on the Day of Judgment: “…I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:23) Imagine the grave disappointment on the faces of these self-satisfied false ministers and professors. They believe that their distinguished professions, churches, and godless homes have exalted them above the common variety of do-gooders. Here are the words that precede the above indictment: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 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?” (Matthew 7:21-22) These posers will join the ranks of the self-righteous Pharisees whom our Lord condemn in the most serious of terms (generation of vipers!).
With the exception of the worldly poor, yet heavenly rich, Church of Smyrna, I believe those seven churches are prophesied in Book of Isaiah: “And in that day SEVEN WOMEN shall take hold of ONE MAN, saying, We will EAT OUR OWN BREAD, and WEAR OUR OWN APPAREL: only LET US BE CALLED BY THY NAME, to TAKE AWAY OUR REPROACH.” (Isaiah 4:1) Can’t you see the marks of similarity here concerning the modern church? There are, like those of Revelations, seven churches. They all seven have pretentions for the same ONE MAN – Jesus Christ. Yet, they do not wish to be fed with the BREAD OF HEAVEN, but they prefer their own bread of lusts. They do not desire the Prodigal’s Robe of Righteousness, but the filthy rags of their night-life pursuits. And they desire to be CALLED BY HIS NAME – Christian – in order to gain the respect and distinction in social and business circles.
Now God made one man for one woman, and it is so with the Church as well. He is One Man for His Bride the Church. I hope we will all become more like the Church of Smyrna than the Church of the World (six churches).
Remember the parable of the Mustard Seed in Matthew 13:31- 32: “The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.” This is a perfect description of a Church that has overgrown its spiritual mandate! It is not natural for a mustard plant to grow into a tree. Its branches are fibrous and stalk-like and not of sturdy wood. It does not NATURALLY become a tree. It is UNNATURAL! It grows so large that “the birds of the air come and lodge in its branches.” Who are these “birds of the air?” What do birds in a fruit tree do but destroy the fruit! I believe our Lord defined those in this same chapter. He is always consistent in His descriptive adjectives and nouns, so I believe He will have used the same metaphors in a consistent manner. In the parable of the sower, Christ says: “And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up.” (Matthew 13:4) Who are these fowl? Jesus tells us later in succeeding explanation of this parable. “When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.” (Matthew 13:19) Christ is comparing those fowl who devoured the seed to demons and devils. When the Church attracts great wealth and prestige, you can be sure that the wicked men of no principle will come into that Church and lodge in its branches. I am surer of this than of any other truth expressed today.
You may be thinking that surely God will protect His Church from such infiltrators. Yes, He will, but many posing as Churches of God are not so, but are “synagogues of Satan” as referred in Archbishop Cranmer’s quote: “If there were any word of God beside the Scripture, we could never be certain of God’s Word; and if we be uncertain of God’s Word, the devil might bring in among us a new word, a new doctrine, a new faith, a new church, a new god, yea himself to be a god. If the Church and the Christian faith did not stay itself upon the Word of God certain, as upon a sure and strong foundation, no man could know whether he had a right faith, and whether he were in the true Church of Christ, or a synagogue of Satan.” We have arrived at the time referenced by Cranmer – a time when the church is flooded with a new word in the proliferation of spurious Bible versions such as the NIV, ESV, NASB, and others. Let us become the Bible-believing Church of Smyrna: “And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive; I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.” (Revelations 2:8-11)
By the way! Did you notice where Christ is standing vis a vis the modern Churches? He is not INSIDE, but OUTSIDE! “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.”
WAKE UP AMERICA!