In the last chapter we discussed various inappropriate responses to God's love.
Now we are going to look at Scriptural examples of poor responses to God's gift of love" (p.83).
Chapter 5 begins with a...
WARNING AGAINST LUKEWARM CHRISTIANITY
If You're Lukewarm You're Not A Christian
"A lukewarm Christian is an oxymoron; there's no such thing. To put it plainly, churchgoers who are ‘lukewarm' are not Christians. We will not see them in heaven" (p.84).
Revelation 3:15-18 (NASB) 'I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. 16 'So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. 17 'Because you say, "I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing," and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, 18 I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.
To "spit" or "vomit" connotes "gagging, hurling, retching."
A.T. Robertson says it means "to reject with extreme disgust."
John Piper says, "Jesus' threat to the lukewarm church is that He will spew them out of His mouth. If you wanted to shock a lukewarm Christian, you could hardly think of a more gross and startling image: Jesus Christ putting the cup to His lips in the hope of tasting a pleasing drink, and then spitting it out on the ground. I find it very hard to make this mean that such people will, after all, be saved and enjoy the blessings and fellowship of Christ for all eternity. Surely the image of spitting people out of His mouth means that He has found them to be unacceptable and rejects them. The faith that saves is not lukewarm, half-hearted faith. And so He warns Laodicea, and every other church, if you do not repent (as verse 19 says) and become zealous, or hot, then the mechanical, cool, superficiality of your faith will be your destruction."
"When you read this passage, do you naturally conclude that to be ‘spit' our of Jesus' mouth means you're a part of His kingdom? When you read the words ‘wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked,' do you think He is describing saints?' When He counsels them to ‘buy white clothes to wear' in order to cover their ‘shameful nakedness,' does it sound like advice for those already saved?" (p.85).
There is No Such Thing As A No-Fruit Bearing Christian
All Christians bear fruit - only non-Christians do not bear fruit.
John 15:1-6 (NASB) "I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 "Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. 3 "You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. 5 "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. 6 "If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.
Matthew 13:18-23 (NASB) "Hear then the parable of the sower. 19 "When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road. 20 "The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away. 22 "And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. 23 "And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty."
"Is this idea of a non-fruit bearing Christian something that we have concocted in order to make Christianity ‘easier'?"
Some people claim that we can be Christians without necessarily becoming disciples.
Matthew 16:24-25 (NASB) Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. 25 "For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.
"Jesus' call to commitment is clear: He wants all or nothing. The thought of a person calling himself a ‘Christian' without being a devoted follower of Christ is absurd" (p.85).
"Can I go to heaven without faithfully loving Jesus?"
Each of us has lukewarm elements and practices in our life.
The Scripture demonstrates clearly that there is room for our failure and sin in our pursuit of God.
Lamentations 3:23 (NASB) They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.
2 Corinthians 12:9 (NASB) And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.
To call someone a Christian simply because he does Christian-y things is giving a false comfort to the unsaved. But to declare anyone who sins ‘unsaved' is to deny the reality and truth of God's grace.
From Colossians 2:1; 4:13, 15-16, the church at Laodicea appears to have been a healthy and legitimate church. But something happened. By the time Revelation was writer, about twenty-five years after the letter to the Colossians, the Laodicean's hearts apparently didn't belong to God-despite the fact that they were still active as a church. Their church was prospering, and they didn't seem to be experiencing any persecution. They were comfortable and proud. Sounds familiar, doesn't it?" (pp.87-88).
OFFERING GOD OUR BEST
God "wants our best, deserves our best, and demands our best. From the beginning of time, He has been clear that some offerings are acceptable to Him and others not. Just as Cain, upon whose offering God ‘did not look with favor' (Gen.4:5)" (pp.90-91).
We Give God Our Leftovers And He Doesn't Accept It
Genesis 4:5 (NASB) but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell.
Hosea 13:6 (NASB) As they had their pasture, they became satisfied, And being satisfied, their heart became proud; Therefore they forgot Me.
Malachi 1:8 (NASB) "But when you present the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? And when you present the lame and sick, is it not evil? Why not offer it to your governor? Would he be pleased with you? Or would he receive you kindly?" says the Lord of hosts.
"They assumed God was pleased because they had sacrificed something. God described their practice as evil" (p.91).
Leftovers Are Not Merely Inadequate, They're Evil
"Let's stop calling it ‘a busy schedule' or ‘bills' or ‘forgetfulness.' It's called evil.
God is holy. In heaven exists a Being who decides whether or not I take another breath. This holy God deserves our excellence, the very best I have" (p.92).
Malachi 1:10 (NASB) "Oh that there were one among you who would shut the gates, that you might not uselessly kindle fire on My altar! I am not pleased with you," says the Lord of hosts, "nor will I accept an offering from you.
"God wanted the temple gate shut. The weak sacrifices of the laid-back priests were an insult to Him. He was saying that no worship is better than apathetic worship" (p.92).
"Jesus' instruction to the people of the church at Laodicea was to buy from Him the things that really matter, the things they didn't even realize they needed. They were wealthy, but Jesus asks them to exchange their wealth for His gold that is refined through fire; they had clothing, but Jesus counsels them to buy clothes that were truly white and would cover their nakedness; they did not desire anything, but Jesus say they needed salve for their eyes that would cure their blindness. He asks them to give up what they thought was so necessary and valuable, in exchange for what really matters" (p.92).
God Measures Our Lives By How We Love
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (ESV) Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.
1 Corinthians 13:13 (ESV) So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
"According to God, we are here to love. Not much else really matters" (p.94).
Take the phrase "Love is patient" and substitute your name for the love love" (e.g, "Steve is patient). Do it for every phrase.
1 Corinthians 13:4-6 (ESV) Steve is patient and kind; Steve does not envy or boast; Steve is not arrogant 5 or rude. Steve does not insist on its own way; Steve is not irritable or resentful; 6 Steve does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.
"By the end, don't you feel like a liar? If I am meant to represent what love is, then I often fail to love people well" (p.94).
"Following Christ isn't something that can be done halfheartedly or on the side. It is not a label we can display when it is useful. It must be central to everything we do and are.
Are you willing to say to God that He can have whatever He wants?
Do you believe the wholehearted commitment to Him is more important than any other thing or person in your life?
Do you know that nothing you do in this life will ever matter, unless it is about loving God and loving the people He has made?
If the answer to those questions is yes, then let your bet match your talk.
Truth faith means holding nothing back; it bets everything on the hope of eternity" (p.97).
So which are you? Lukewarm, cold, hot?
Are you truly saved?
Are you offering God your leftovers?
Remember "Truth faith means holding nothing back; it bets everything on the hope of eternity."