THE FIRST THREE CHAPTERS OF REVELATION find Jesus Christ addressing seven
letters to seven churches. We can learn a lot from these letters. They seem to
have a three-fold application. 1) They are letters to real-live churches existing at
that time; 2) they have a personal application to you and me, and 3) they have a
prophetic application. For example, it is commonly agreed that the last letter, to the
Church of the Laodiceans, prophetically describes the average church in these last days.
Keep that in mind as you read the following:
"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:" Rev. 3:14-17.
For the most part, Bible-believing churches in the United States today are more
prosperous than those early churches. Comparatively speaking, most churches in this
country are sitting on enormous assets. Add to that the relative "personal wealth" of
every member, and we too can easily say, "I am rich, and increased with goods[.]"
However, one also can't deny that with all our prosperity we are not accomplishing what
we ought to for God. That is why Christ could just as well be describing us when He
said, "thou art lukewarm[.]"
WHAT DOES THE LORD MEAN BY HOT?
Human nature being what it is, the average church member today will read Christ's
rebuke and assume that their church is at least somewhere between hot and lukewarm.
We deceive ourselves by thinking we only need minor improvements. But let's forget our
self-deceiving definition of hot. When the Lord says hot, He means HOT as in those early
churches in the Book of Acts. After all, can you point to any other churches that did
more for God in a short amount of time? Compared to those churches, can we honestly
say we are hot, or anywhere near it?
However, there was hope for the Laodiceans, there's also hope for us. Christ told them
to "be zealous therefore, and repent." (Rev. 3:19) We must take heed and do the
same, modeling ourselves after those early churches, and practice some of the very
things that made them hot. For example, in Acts 5:26-29 we find those early members
being rebuked by "the authorities" for witnessing to others. The Bible says,
"Then went the captain with the officers, and brought them....before the council:
and the high priest asked them, Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should
not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and
intend to bring this man's blood upon us. Then Peter and the other apostles answered
and said, We ought to obey God rather than men." Interesting, isn't it, the
boldness they had? They didn't hold back or hesitate. These early members were more
afraid of offending God if they didn't witness, than offending other people . . .
. . . UNLIKE SOME OF US TODAY!
PETER'S RESPONSE TO THE COUNCIL reveals what motivated him and those early
disciples. It also says a lot about their perspective. They were missions minded,
seeing themselves as strangers and pilgrims left on this earth to carry out a mission--the
spreading of God's Word.
"Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees
were offended, after they heard this saying?" Mat. 15:12
When it comes to religious matters, we live in a world that is easily offended--but then
again, so did the early church members. Unlike us, however, they didn't cater to the
world's sensitivity. They didn't painstakingly analyze to death the person they were
going to evangelize. We don't find them calculating the best time, determining the best
approach, rehearsing the best opening line, discerning where the lost person's "head was
at," reserving the ideal place, only to conclude that since the timing was not right, it
would do more harm--by possibly offending them--to give them the Gospel.
They had a boldness that naturally supported their claim that they were on a rescue
mission from God. They didn't send mixed signals. Their belief, that most were
unknowingly on a greased slide to Hell was matched by their sense of urgency and
willingness to possibly offend in order to save a lost soul. May God help us obtain the
How Can this Possibly Hinder Revival?
Perhaps we don't realize the sins we commit when we "give in" to the world. You may
not realize it, but when we back down from witnessing because of what a man MAY
think, we are blantantly ignoring what God WILL think. That is why Peter said, "We ought
to obey God rather than men." On another occasion, we read, "And they called them, and
commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John
answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to
hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye." Acts 4:18-19
Let's face it, sinful man doesn't want to hear that he is a lost, hell- deserving, hell-bound
sinner that can't save himself and therefore must repent. Yet, this is exactly what he
needs to realize before he can even call upon Christ to save him. Naturally, such a
message may very well offend him--why do we act surprised? If we soften the
message, or forego warning him because it's "not the right time and place," we would
be hearkening to men instead of God. That, my friend would, be a definite sin. Yet, there
are other sins behind holding back.
HYPOCRISY--if Hell is as real as we claim, how can we not warn them in spite of
possibly offending? Would any of us not wake up someone in a burning house for fear
that they might get upset? Our urgent claim coupled with our reluctance to offend sends
mixed signals--they don't coincide. One unsaved person has even been known to ask,
"If salvation and Hell are as real as you Christians claim to be, why don't you all quit
your jobs and become evangelists?" (Makes you wonder, doesn't it? Ironically, the early
church members did just that! Could we ever be as hot as they were?)
FEAR--To hold back because we are afraid to offend is a sin, as is any fear in the
Christian life. Ironically, if you read the Great Commission carefully, we find we have
all the reason in the universe NOT to fear. "Then the eleven disciples went away into
Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they
worshipped him: but some doubted. And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying,
All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and
teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the
Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you:
and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen." Mat. 28:16-20
Notice that some disciples were doubtful. (Sounds like some of us today!) Why were
they doubting? Perhaps they still questioned whether He was the risen Christ and not
some ghost pulling a cruel joke. Or perhaps it had to do with Christ leaving them to fret
alone in a world that hated them. Whatever the case, Christ eased their doubts (and
ours) by promising that, "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye
therefore..." That "therefore" ties the Great Commission with all the power we
would ever need to accomplish the monumental task lying before us.
What do we have to fear then? God backs us up all the way. God is surely more
powerful than any man! "Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them:
because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world." (1 John
4:4) "So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear
what man shall do unto me." Heb. 13:6 (See also Matthew 10:28)
LACK OF FAITH--possibly the "worst" revival-hindering sin behind our wrong
perspective is the lack of trusting God. All the pre-planning we do prior to witnessing
comes from taking our eyes off the all-powerful support God has promised us and
placing them on ourselves. The fear that smothers our boldness comes from practicing
self-preservation--TOO MUCH FOCUS ON SELF. "What will they think of ME?" "How
will they react toward ME?" "Will they be offended, and get mad at ME?" "Will they
think I'm a nut?" "Will I do the cause of Christ more harm than good if I don't approach
it the right way?" Me, me, me, I, I, I, and on and on it goes.
The Battle is Really Spiritual
The sad irony is that many times we fear what man will do as if it's man we are really
battling. Yes, the wicked, deceitful heart opposes God. And, yes, it is man's rationale
that gives us fits sometimes. But, in the end, the real battle is spiritual. The Bible says
"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities,
against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual
wickedness in high places." Eph. 6:11-12
The early, hot church never lost sight of the fact that God was working behind the
scenes providing all the support they needed. They knew, "the battle is the LORD'S" (1
Sam. 17:47). They had the right perspective. Why do we act like we have to evangelize
this whole world in our own power, while relying on our own resourcefulness? As long
as we do that, self-preservation, with its fear of offending, kicks in. The Bible promises,
"Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it." 1 Th. 5:24
Please consider what you've read. As long as we cater to man's feelings instead of
God's will, we may never see revival. God wants us to exercise the same dependency
on Him while trying to reach the lost as we did when we got saved! "Are ye so foolish?
having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?" Gal. 3:3
IF you were to die today, are you 100% SURE
you would go to Heaven? The Bible says
YOU CAN BE SURE (1 John 5:13).
BUT FIRST, you must realize that what keeps you
from going to Heaven are your sins, because:
"...your iniquities [sins] have separated
between you and your God," Isaiah 59:2.
In fact, in God's eyes YOU ARE A SINNER: "For
all have sinned, and come short
of the glory of God;" Romans 3:23.
SECONDLY, you must realize that there is
NOTHING you can do to save yourself and earn
Heaven: "For by grace are ye saved through
faith; and that not of yourselves: it is
the gift of God: Not of works, lest any
man should boast." Eph. 2:8-9 Baptism, good
deeds, church membership, self-righteousness are
all examples of good works that cannot save you,
because: "Not by works of
righteousness which we have done, but
according to his mercy he [Christ] saved
us," Titus 3:5.
THE ONLY WAY you can get saved is through
Jesus Christ. He said: "I am the way, the
truth, and the life: no man cometh unto
the Father, but by me." (John 14:6) THAT'S
WHY: "...while we were yet sinners, Christ
died for us." (Rom. 5:8-9)
THEREFORE: You must REPENT (change your
mind); admit that you are a Hell deserving sinner
and can't save yourself. And call upon Christ, and
Him alone, to save you. "if thou shalt confess
with thy mouth the Lord Jesus [REPENT], and
shalt believe in thine heart [TRUST] that God
hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be
saved." Romans 10:9
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[Christian Helps Ministry (USA)] [Christian Home Bible Course]