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CHRISTIANITY - LUKEWARM CHRISTIANITY Revelation 3:14-16

LUKEWARM CHRISTIANITY

Laodicea was one of the wealthiest and most prosperous cities in Asia Minor.  The church there would have been financially wealthy but was not rich spiritually. Revelation 3:14-16 tells about its lukewarmness.

Warnings to the Laodicean church are likewise warnings for churches of today,  churches which are "within themselves" and don't grow due to lack of local outreach and lack of Biblical application to today’s world. Churches with good local programs and events for members aren't always reaching out to the unsaved, the primary work of the Church. Churches also need to be aware of what is going on in the world so they don’t get fooled by Satan. It is important for a church to be “in the loop” of correctly-teaching national Christian organizations for access to their materials.

Isn't fire for Jesus Christ what is missing from our churches? With our doctrines and our traditions and our programs and our wonderful ways of doing things, isn't that so often what is missing--the fire? And, of course, if the fire is missing, it can't spread. People are deceived into thinking that the individual who is filled with the love of God and is on fire for God is really a bit odd, and that the rest are the normal Christians. This is backwards. This deception spread by Satan has led thousands into a form of lukewarmness. It is my conviction that the Spirit-led life of the man or the woman on fire is the normal Christian life. We see clearly in Revelation 3:17 that the Laodicean church had lost its fire.

I see four marks of lukewarmness today.
1.    Pride and Materialism is creeping into our churches and society in general.
2.    Self-sufficiency is a hallmark of the modern person, dependent on no one and embarrassed to be dependent on anyone. Dependence is an offense to their pride, so they drift away from the fellowship that is so emphasized in the Word of God.
3.    Complacency is the result of accepting wrong conditions rather than standing up for the right. We are in spiritual warfare. We need to go to the battlefield armed with the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit. When we fight for righteousness, and stand up to be the salt and light in this world, we're coming in from the corner of Victory which  has been settled by Christ. It's for you and me to advance the victory of Christ by how we live our lives. The Church today needs to live out the Word of God like never before.
4.    Misery and poverty, blindness and nakedness is our real situation without Jesus. We need to follow the Lord's instructions in Revelation 3:18-19.

Here are John's ten signs of a true convert found in the book of 1 John.
1.    A true convert admits to being a sinner who cannot go to Heaven by being a "good" person (1 John 1:8).
2.    A true convert lives a life of obedience by keeping God's commandments more often than breaking them. There's a difference between stumbling into sin and jumping in with both feet. While true converts may sin as part of the struggle with our sin nature, the life of a true convert is marked by a desire to pursue holiness and walk in obedience to God's Word in Jesus’ footsteps (1 John 2:3-6; 1 John 3:6; 1 John 5:2).
3.    A true convert does not harbor hate but offers forgiveness, love, and compassion (1 John 2:9, 11; 1 John 3:15; 1 John 4:16, 20).
4.    A true convert does not love the world or put the things of the world above the Christian life (1 John 2:15).
5.    A true convert proclaims Jesus Christ as the Son of God (1 John 4:15).
6.    A true convert hopes and longs for the return of the Lord (1 John 3:2-3).
7.    A true convert desires to serve and help other Christians (1 John 3:14, 17).
8.    A true convert loves being with other believers and hearing the Word taught (1 John 5:1).
9.    A true convert rejects false teaching based on their present knowledge (1 John 2:22-23).
10. A true convert remains in the truth and perseveres in the faith (1 John 2:24).

The search for God has led many people down a path of futility. Why is that? God is beyond description and is in some ways beyond human comprehension. How can we possibly grasp the God who simply spoke the entire universe into existence about 6,000 years ago much less have a relationship with Him? It seems impossible.

With our limitations in mind, God provided a simple way for us not just to find Him but to know Him, through faith in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Many people can't believe it is truly that simple. They feel that there must be rules to follow, good deeds to do, and special prayers to offer to have peace with God. Yet the Bible makes it very clear: we come to the Father through His Son. That wonderful relationship is a gift of God's grace. It’s all about Jesus! Jesus will cleanse us from all sin.

Revelation 3:20 is a strange picture: Christ Himself on the outside, asking to be let in to one of His own churches. It is true of many churches today, operating in the name of Jesus, but with Christ Himself little in evidence. He is knocking and knocking at the doors of our hearts, and perhaps for some of us He has been knocking for a long time. He is longing to take us into a deeper walk with Himself, into power in prayer and in witness, into reality in relationships.

Believers should understand that witnessing is more than a friendly chat between people. Witnessing is warfare. Christians are soldiers who use the strong weapon of the Gospel to set people free from Satan's tyranny. But the enemy does not sit by and let this happen without a fight. He counterattacks in an attempt to discredit the Christian message. This is why it is so important to have accurate Christian education in the church for both adults and youth. We must teach correctly from Genesis chapters 1 to 11 as a basis for understanding the entire Bible.

In many churches, children are taught Bible stories but don't know how to connect them together. They grow up not knowing how to give answers as adults. We need to teach them the truth of Creation to refute the teaching of Evolution they usually learn in public school and how to defend their faith in Jesus Christ.  

A good example is this story to emphasize how children can get confused. At Sunday School they were teaching how God created everything, including human beings. Little Johnny seemed especially intent when they told him how Eve was created out of one of Adams ribs. Later in the week, his mother noticed him lying down as though he were ill, and she said, "Johnny, what is the matter?" Little Johnny responded, "I have a pain in my side. I think I'm going to have a wife." Now that seems funny, but Christians need to be prepared to address the excuses, objections, and doubts which are common responses to the message of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 3:15).

Believers must have the proper attitude and approach when addressing non-Christians. Right answers may have wrong results if Christians fail to address people in a way that brings glory to God. People can easily be turned off by an argumentative or arrogant spirit. After admonishing Christians to "be ready," Peter instructed them to "be gentle, show respect, and keep a clear conscience.” God shows us grace. We must do the same for others. Jesus looks at us new each day, not at our past, and we should do the same for others.

Your unbelieving friends may not want to hear another sermon or want to hear you witness to them anymore. They want to see a life lived out from you and me that causes them to say, “I want this Lord Jesus in my life.” And there we enter into the victory of what God has given to us, faith in Jesus Christ. We are to live it out. We are to witness by example in addition to spreading the Gospel.

Satan deceives people into believing that later will be time for God. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:2 that “now is the time for Salvation.” We need to tell people that today is the day for response before Christ returns to take believers to Heaven.

A common objection is rooted in the apparent inconsistency between what many Christians claim to believe and the lives they lead: “I don't want Jesus because the church is full of hypocrites.” At times this is a legitimate, objection.
•    Christians can assure unbelievers that Jesus was equally unimpressed with and intolerant of hypocrites. He chastised "pretenders," calling them liars and "whitewashed tombs.”
•    We can emphasize to unbelievers that church is not a haven for saints, but rather a hospital for sinners.
•    Inconsistencies in the lives of others do not alleviate their own responsibility before God to repent and accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
•    Sin has separated them from God, and there is no way apart from Jesus to be united with God.
•    Salvation is not earned. It is a free, permanent gift offered by God's grace and mercy and received by faith in Christ.
•    Self-righteousness is worthless, for Jesus is the only way to life everlasting.

Consider this common excuse, “I believe God is love and will accept everyone into Heaven when they die. After all, a loving God could never send people to Hell, no matter how bad they were.” That belief sends them straight to Hell unless they accept Christ. Among the positive reasons for accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is the one negative reality unbelievers must recognize: the Bible leaves no doubt about the fate of those who enter eternity without faith in Jesus. Revelation 20:11-15 gives vivid details of God's wrath upon the disobedient and describes God's final judgments when all unbelievers will be cast into the lake of fire. There they will receive eternal punishment for sin and disobedience. Our spirit souls will live forever in Heaven or the torment of Hell.

Christ's ambassadors must prepare diligently as representatives of their Lord and King. Believers cannot afford to stand speechless when non-Christians raise doubts and objections about the truth of salvation through Christ. Instead, they must “be ready always to give an answer” to everyone they meet.

Taking up the cross means
•    that we identify ourselves with Christ
•    that we are willing to take His unpopularity
•    that we are willing to take the scorn that is often heaped upon Him
•    that we are willing to stand with Him.
We must preach a risen Christ and tell the world that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life--and that no one comes to the Father but by Him. My Jesus is not still hanging on the cross.

Are you willing to stand with Him? Are you willing to go back to your place of work, or to your neighborhood, and begin talking about Christ? Will you let people know that you are following Jesus?

★    You can't depend on your own goodness to get to Heaven. We've all sinned  (Romans 3:23). Jesus paid the penalty for your sins with His death on the cross and His resurrection (John 3:16).
★    To be forgiven and be guaranteed a place in Heaven, you need to repent of sin, confess that you are a sinner, and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ in your heart (Acts 2:21).
★    You can use the following prayer or your own words, but you must actually believe in your heart that your prayer is real:
            Lord Jesus, I believe You are the Son of God. I confess that I have sinned against You in thought, word, and deed. Please forgive all my wrongdoing and let me live in relationship with You from now on.
            I receive You as my Savior and recognize that the work You accomplished once and for all on the cross was done on my behalf.
            Thank You for saving me. Help me to live a life that is pleasing to You.
                In Your name I pray, Amen.

 

    Rev. Dr. Nicholas J. Gray, Pastor   Broadway Baptist Church   Sedalia, Missouri   2015