Sunday, March 27, 2011

Revelation Chapter Three, Part 6 of 7

3:15-16 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.
Laodicea is the only church of the seven in which nothing commendable exists. If this is indeed the spirit of the majority of the churches today—which many believe it is—the boom of “mega churches,” the integration of psychology, casting doubt upon Scripture’s sufficiency, moral laxity toward sexual deviance (adultery, divorce, fornication, homosexuality), a focus on being entertained instead of being taught, et al. is the hallmark of this dispensation.

We have a generation of Christians that believe God’s word is filled with errors, Evolution is how man came to be, Christ is not the only way to God, sex outside of marriage is one’s personal choice, personal holiness (sanctification) is unnecessary to pursue, and more so; that the body of Christ, the universal invisible church that comprises all believers on earth has devolved into merely attending “church.”

Christians today speak out of both sides of their mouths. They pay lip service to both God and the world, which Jesus warned cannot be: you cannot serve two masters, Matthew 6:24. We vacillate on issues such as abortion, homosexual ministers, the unique claims of Christ, the authority of God’s word and more. We want some profession of loyalty to the faith we claim to have espoused, yet when the pinch comes we “opt out” as it were by either holding our tongue or casting in our lot with the world’s fallible and fleeting wisdom so as not to look stupid, James 3:14-15; 4:17; Matthew 13:5, 20-21.

For the Christian who so treats his Savior with such contempt by not simply allowing Jesus to be Lord of his life and having his mind and heart conformed to God’s thoughts Christ issues this warning. Now for anyone who has been misled to believe that this verse indicates loss of salvation, Jesus addresses the reason why He is about to spew these lukewarm believers from His mouth: “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent,” Revelation 3:19. This is not the judgment of Jesus coming to cast these vapid believers out of salvation and eternal life; it is a jealous God and a wise Father coming to correct and discipline a portion of His body that is in vital need of the medicine He offers. That is also why Jesus tells them “I counsel you to but from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see,” verse 18.

It is interesting to note that our Lord would prefer someone hot (that is for Him) or cold (that is against Him) than someone straddling the fence. An opponent of the faith has more integrity than someone who plays at being a disciple of Jesus Christ, but is unwilling to take up his cross and follow after his Lord. Jesus never said following Him was simple or easy; He only said it was the narrow and only way to eternal life. Justification is the first step on the road of our new life; we are saved by faith—God would now have us strengthen our trust in Him by walking in that same faith, which is our sanctification. Laodicea was more interested in material wealth and temporal advantage than spiritual growth and dependence on Christ’s Spirit to both direct and bring maturity and victory in their lives. Today’s church lacks this patience, willingness, and devotion to simply trust. Waiting and trusting is difficult; acting (even from the source of fleshly strength) is much more fulfilling. But is it helpful? Read the great Physician’s diagnosis of this final church’s spiritual state.

3:17 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
Our Lord cautioned us not to lay up treasures on earth where moths eat and thieves steal; He likewise questioned what a man might gain in exchange for his immortal soul, were it truly his to offer, Matthew 6:19; 16:26. These believers loved the world, and things therein, which deluded them and made them enemies of God, James 4:4; 1st John 2:15-17. James calls such Christians adulterers and adulteresses. They are pledged in marriage to Christ, but desperate to bed the world, too. This arouses God’s enmity, because this desire is not from God, or is it of God, but it is manifested by this world system and its god, Satan. Believers entrenched in this sty of rebellion are bedfellows with the Devil, the god the unsaved serve.

Jesus informs these believers that though they think themselves rich and increased in goods (which they may be, materially speaking), they are spiritually wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked. They failed to heed Peter’s warning about lack of foresight and failure to mature in the faith, 2nd Peter 1:9. This is quite the contrast with Smyrna who was materially poor but rich in faith, Revelation 2:9.

Despite all of that there is one thing our Lord did not call them: dead. They are not dead in their sins and trespasses, for the life of Christ abides in them and they are saved and remain saved because of their Lord’s worthiness and merit; not their own. Belief in Jesus Christ as one’s Savior will determine your eternal destiny. How you progress (or regress) in your walk of faith with the Lord you serve will determine victory or defeat here on earth and reward or loss of reward in eternity. Woe to the believer who mistakes anything other than Christ for their salvation! Why do you think God chose “faith alone” as the criterion for eternal life? I believe that it is this simple: Faith must have an object to fix upon. God presents Jesus Christ as the God-man, who suffered death on our behalf and paid the penalty our sins deserved so we can have reconciliation with God and forgiveness of sins in Jesus’ name. God in essence tells us “My Son has done the work necessary to bring you from death into life, and He offers this priceless gift freely if you are willing to concede your own inability and His total ability. Trust that what My Son has done is sufficient for Me; therefore by trusting in Him and His sacrifice it will be sufficient for you as well.”

When you believe on Jesus Christ you are making Him the object of your faith. You are confessing your belief that Jesus possesses the complete and utter ability to bring spiritual life, reconciliation, forgiveness of sin, security, and a living, vital relationship with God that had been severed through sin. Christ defeated sin and paid for it, therefore the obstacle barring your path to God has been removed in Christ; He is the only way to God, because only in Him was the obstacle of sin done away with. Christ paid its penalty; when you believe in Him you receive pardon and eternal life because of Jesus Christ. Faith is the opposite of ANY work because in it you realize that the work is done and you are trusting in the One who did it. John 19:30 is a succinct reminder that there is NOTHING left to do; our Lord did it all and He calls on us to believe on Him, John 6:29.

To introduce any other object besides Christ gives your faith, as it were, something else to rest upon that is incapable of doing what Jesus already did at the cross. The Roman Catholic church vies for one’s faith and stands in Christ’s place offering salvation they have no hope of giving; water baptism likewise becomes an idol of necessity because you believe you need to be baptized in water to be saved; therefore it is another object that detracts from Jesus Christ. Jesus came teaching belief in Him; not water baptism, John 1:7, 12; 2:11, 22-23; 3:15-16, 18, etc. Nor did He send His ministers to baptize, but to preach the gospel, 1st Corinthians 1:17. Baptism, like the Lord’s Supper, was given to the church as a physical ordinance to TEACH them spiritual truth. The Lord’s Supper is symbolic of what we shall read in verse 21: the believer feeding spiritually on Christ through fellowship.

Baptism teaches that the believer died with Christ and was buried with Him, and is now risen to newness of life as a partaker of Christ’s life through the agency of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Colossians 2:12 teaches spiritual—not water—baptism). How do we know this? Paul first tells us that true circumcision is spiritual: Christ’s entrance in our life through faith “cuts away” the body of sin. Likewise, spiritual baptism identifies us with Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. Water baptism was a symbolic act to TEACH this truth—not to impart eternal life! Make more of either and you have successfully created an idol that draws faith away from Jesus and heaps it on the ordinances He instated.

Christ “plus” (fill in the blank) actually becomes Christ “minus” because He will suffer no rival object of faith to take His place. If you are trusting in ANYTHING other than Jesus Christ for your salvation—the salvation He freely offers as a gift of His grace—you do not understand or possess eternal life, because you do not understand and haven’t believed the gospel. The reason why it is “faith only” is due to the fact that if it were anything else plus Jesus, you would have faith in that object plus the Savior. Your good works, your devout prayers, your church attendance, sacraments, etc.; all of these are rivals to genuine saving faith in Jesus Christ. If you believe good works will save you than that—not Christ—is the object of your faith. It is the same for everything else that strives to replace Jesus as Savior, or to “help” Him save. Ask yourself: if Jesus is the Savior, then has He really saved you? Why do you give Him such a lofty title if your Savior needs assistance? If He needs such assistance, He is not a Savior. No, Christ the Savior asks only that you believe He is a capable and complete Savior of men. When you trust in the Lord and believe the gospel you receive eternal life, because you have believed the testimony God gave of His Son, 1st John 5:10-12.

2 comments:

  1. A member of such a local church said, "Anyone can feel at home in our church, even Catholics and Mormons." The same church regularly hosts seminars to teach other pastors how to do the same. They don't have a clue what is missing.

    Good post.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great post and I agree totally with Don. God bless, Lloyd

    ReplyDelete

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