‘Some ages are lukewarm and complacent, and then it is our business to soothe them yet faster asleep” (C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters )
“I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm — neither hot nor cold — I am about to spit you out of my mouth!” Revelation 3:15-16
Here is a solemn charge: “You are neither cold nor hot!” We profess the latter — to have the fire of love burning in our bosoms; and holy zeal boiling in our hearts. We profess to possess and be influenced by the most pure and powerful principles — to be like Jesus, whose food was to do His Father’s will, and who could say, “Zeal for your house has consumed Me!”
But we are not quite the former — or altogether cold. It cannot be said there is no concern, no attention, no interest manifested. We are not altogether careless and hardened. We are charged with the intermediate state, “You are lukewarm.” You are at ease, instead of . . .
laboring in the Lord’s vineyard,
fighting the Lord’s battles, and
carrying out the Lord’s commands.
You are resting on the bed of sloth — instead of fighting the good fight of faith.
You are formal — instead of being full of life, vigor, and the power of godliness.
You are presuming — instead of attending to the admonition which says, “Let us therefore fear, lest a promise being left us of entering into His rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.” And the command, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”
Fire is lacking. Holy determination, and diligence in the Lord’s cause, are lacking. “You are lukewarm!”
Here is a satisfactory proof of the truth of the change, “I know your works!” Jesus knows not only our profession — but our works. He observes not only our hearts — but our conduct. He expects not only a sound creed and a scriptural profession — but fruit, “much fruit,” fruit that will, “remain,” “fruit that will abound.” He knows all our works — their nature, number, and tendency. He knows them intimately and perfectly. Works are a proof of our real condition — and we should take them as such, for Jesus does.
“Faith without works is dead, being alone.” Professing faith without works answerable thereunto, is hypocrisy! “Show me your faith without your works — and I will show you my faith by my works.”
Here is a serious wish. “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!” The Lord hates indecision. The Savior declares that those who are not decidedly for Him, are against Him. He condemns half-heartedness in His cause. He desires that all who profess Him — should honor Him. He prefers coldness to lukewarmness in religion. Here we are taught that a little religion is a very bad thing; we had better have none — than be satisfied with a little. Christ would rather have no servants — than cool, selfish, worldly ones; He loves to see His people throw their whole hearts into His cause — burning with love to His name, and boiling with zeal for His glory.
Here is a conditional sentence. “So, because you are lukewarm — neither hot nor cold — I am about to spit you out of my mouth!” That is, without repentance, as the following verses show. Jesus as the Intercessor takes up our names into His mouth, and even for the fruitless fig-tree pleads for a time, saying, “Let it alone this year also.” But if it remains fruitless, He says, “Now cut it down!” So with the lukewarm — He may bear long with them; but He will reject them at last. He will reject them and their services — as loathsome and disgusting. He has cast away many lukewarm churches — until their places could not be found! And He has cast away many lukewarm professors — and they have been gathered up, cast into the fire and burned! And as sure as His name is jealous, as certain as he hates lukewarmness — He will cast away every cool professor with loathing and disgust!
Many who are now considered respectable professors, whose external conduct is decent, and whose attendance on the means of grace is tolerable regular — will be rejected and disowned by Him at last. Why? They are not hot! There is no fire, no zeal, no self-denial, no determined efforts for the promotion of the Lord’s glory, or for the advancement of the Redeemer’s cause!
Professor, examine, are you lukewarm? If so, “look to it — for evil is before you;” and no common evil, the Lord Jesus will disown you, refuse you, reject you as vile, loathsome, and abominable in His sight! Surely, many professors have cause to tremble. Surely, some of our churches must be in a dangerous case. “Let us search and try our ways — and turn again to the Lord.”
See the need of repentance — for professors to repent, lukewarm professors especially. Jesus says, “Be zealous therefore, and repent.” “I rebuke you in the way of chastening — be zealous therefore, in the way of repentance.”
See the importance of a revival of religion in our churches, and in all our hearts! Oh, to keep at a distance from the danger against which we are warned!