God’s Prescription For The Lukewarm Church
God knew today’s churches would have this “lukewarm church” problem. He even told us how to overcome it. There are four important points to understand in his prescription. We are told to buy from God gold refined in the fire, white garments, and eye ointment, and to listen for Jesus’s knock and open the door. The really surprising thing is that Jesus is not to be found inside these lukewarm churches. Each believer must individually let him into their hearts from outside the church. Take a look:
The Message to the Church in Laodicea
NLT Rev 3; 14 “Write this letter to the angel of the church in Laodicea. This is the message from the one who is the Amen—the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s new creation: 15 “I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! 16 But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit (YLT Vomit) you out of my mouth! 17 You say, ‘I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. 18 So I advise you to buy gold from me—gold that has been purified by fire. Then you will be rich. Also buy white garments from me so you will not be shamed by your nakedness, and ointment for your eyes so you will be able to see. 19 I correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference. 20 “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. 21 Those who are victorious will sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat with my Father on his throne. 22 “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches.”
We’ll take a look at each of these 4 issues separately
1. Buying Gold Refined In The Fire
This can be difficult to understand. What does this mean, buying gold refined in the fire. I think this verse shows us what is going on here.
Suffering Through Trials Refines Our Faith Into Gold
NIV 1 Peter 1;3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that your faith-of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may be proved genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Buying our Gold from God is suffering through trials. As we persevere through trials our faith is refined to be more valuable than gold. We need to understand that suffering for our faith is a part of each believer’s life. Sometimes we are surprised who is persecuting us. Often this suffering comes in a way that we never expected, but if we are following God’s call on our lives, it will come. We need to hold on to our faith thru these trials. This is God’s refining process.
2. Buying White Garments From God
The white garments represent our salvation. I think the problem for believers is way that today’s churches talk about “being saved”. They make it sound like once we ask Jesus into our hearts we are OK. The Bible talks about salvation as Being Made Complete And Perfect. Even Paul did not claim that he was perfected while he was walking the earth. See the details in Stop Selling Packaged Salvation!!. Rememeber the we are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling:
KJV Phil 2;12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of [his] good pleasure.
3. Buying Eye Ointment From God
Spiritual blindness is caused by worldliness. When all our treasure is in this world, when we have no heavenly treasure, not caring and giving to the poor this shows (actually proves) that we are spiritually blind. This is fully developed in Seeing Straight, Seeing With Spiritual Eyes Spiritually blind leaders are advised to give to the poor. When they honor God in this way he can begin to speak to them, and can give them spiritual sight.
4. Hearing Jesus (Outside) And Opening The Door
This is hard for most churchgoers to understand. It requires folks to first develop their spiritual eyes. Only someone with spiritual eyes can see that today’s church machines are poor substitutes for the simple natural Church that Paul established. This gathering of seekers had no authoritative leaders. These assemblies were full of Servant Leaders following Jesus Foot Washing Example. Another major distinction is the salvation of those in attendance. Biblical believer gatherings have controls and encouragements that ensure those gathered are plugged into the vine. Todays churches ignore many passages that ensure this connection.
1. suffer for our faith and persevere; God refines our faith into Gold
2. live our lives in repose to God’s call, pushing towards our salvation; God completes us
3. give to the poor; God begins to develop our spiritual eyes,
4. hear Jesus knock and open the door;
When we do these things God will deliver us from this lukewarm state, and re-ignites the fire within us.
May we suffer for our faith and persevere, live our lives in repose to God’s call, give to the poor and seek spiritual eyesight, and hear Jesus knocking and open the door.
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- March 13, 2009 / 6:12 pm