Charles Spurgeon Sermon: An Earnest Warning About Lukewarmness (Transcript)

Full text of Charles Spurgeon’s sermon titled ‘An Earnest Warning About Lukewarmness’ which was preached on July 26, 1874 at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

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TRANSCRIPT:

The text today comes from the Book of Revelation 3:14-21.

Revelation 3:14-21 (NIV): “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘These are the words of the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Ruler of God’s creation: I know your deeds, 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. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, so that you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so that you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with Me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.”’

No Scripture ever wears out. The epistle to the church of Laodicea is not an old letter which can be put into the waste basket and forgotten. Still glowing on its pages are the words, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

This Scripture was not only meant to instruct the Laodiceans, it has a wider aim. The actual church of Laodicea has passed away, but other Laodiceas still exist. Indeed, they are sadly multiplied in our day, and it has always been the tendency of human nature, however inflamed with the love of God, to gradually cool down – cool down to a state of lukewarmness. The letter to the Laodiceans is without a doubt the epistle for the present times.

I would guess that the church at Laodicea was once in a very fervent and healthy condition. The apostle Paul wrote a letter to it which did not claim inspiration, and therefore its loss does not render the Scriptures incomplete, for Paul may have written scores of other letters besides.

Paul also mentions the church at Laodicea in his letter to the Colossians; he was, therefore, well acquainted with it. And since he does not utter a word of censure with regard to Laodicea, we may infer that the church was at that time in a sound state. However in the process of time it degenerated, and cooling down from its former passion it became careless, lax, and indifferent. Perhaps its best men were dead, perhaps its wealth seduced it into worldliness, possibly its freedom from persecution produced carnal ease, or neglect of prayer made it gradually backslide.

But in any case it declined until it was neither cold nor hot. Lest we should ever get into such a state, and lest we should be in that state now, I pray that my message today will come with power to the hearts of all present, but especially to the consciences of the members of my own church. May God grant that it may arouse each one of us.

THE STATE INTO WHICH CHURCHES ARE VERY LIKELY TO FALL

My first point will be The State Into Which Churches Are Very Likely To Fall. A church may fall into a condition far different than that for which it has a reputation. It may be famous for zeal and yet be lethargic. The words of our Lord begins: “I know your deeds” which is the same as saying “nobody else knows you; men think better of you than you deserve; you don’t know yourselves. You think your deeds are excellent, but I know that they are very different.”

Jesus views with searching eyes all the deeds of His church. The public can only read reports, but Jesus sees for Himself. He knows what is done, and how it is done, and why it is done. He judges the church not merely by her external activities, but by her internal holiness. He searches and tests the hearts of men. He is not deceived by glitter; he tests all things and values only that gold which will endure the fire.

Our opinion of ourselves and Christ’s opinion of us may be very different. And it is a very sad thing when it is. It will also be very sad if we stand out as a church known for sincerity and distinguished for success, and yet are not really fervent in spirit or eager in soul-winning. A lack of vital energy where there seems to be the most strength put forth, a lack of real love to Jesus where apparently there is the greatest dedication to Him — all these are sad signs of fearful degeneracy.

Churches are very apt to put their qualities on display, very apt to make a good show in the flesh, and like men of the world, they try to make things look better than they really are. Great reputations often have weak foundations, and lovers of truth grieve that it should be this way.

Not only is this true of churches, but also of every one of us as individuals, that often our reputation is much more than we deserve. Men often live on their former accomplishments, and trade on their past characters, still having a name that they live though they are indeed dead.

To be slandered is a terrible thing, but it is on the whole a lesser evil than to be thought better than we are. In the one case, we have a promise to comfort us; in the second, we are in danger of self-conceit. Each one of us must judge how much of what I have said applies to us.

MOURNFUL INDIFFERENCE and CARELESSNESS

Secondly, the condition described in our text is one of MOURNFUL INDIFFERENCE and CARELESSNESS. They were not cold, but neither were they hot. They were not infidels, yet they were not serious believers. They did not oppose the Gospel, neither did they defend it. They were not committing great evil; neither were they doing any great good. They were not disreputable in moral character, but they were not distinguished for holiness. They were not irreligious, but they were not enthusiastic in holiness, nor well known for their zeal. They were what the world calls ‘Moderates’. They were neither bigots nor Puritans; they were prudent and avoided fanaticism. They were respectable and had an aversion to excitement.

They had some good practices, but they did not make too much of them. They had prayer meetings, but there were only a few present, for they liked quiet evenings at home. When more persons did attend their prayer meetings, they were still very dull, for they did their praying very deliberately and were afraid of being too excited. They were content to have all things done decently and in order, but they considered energy and zeal to be vulgar.

Such churches have Sunday-schools, Bible classes, preaching services, and all sorts of other activities, but they might as well have been without them, for no energy is displayed and no good comes of them. They have deacons and elders who are excellent pillars of the church, if the chief quality of pillars is to stand still and exhibit no motion or emotion.

They have ministers who may be the angels of the churches, but if so, they have their wings closely clipped, for they do not fly very far in preaching the everlasting Gospel, and they certainly are not flames of fire. They may be shining lights of eloquence, but they certainly are not burning lights of grace, setting men’s hearts on fire.

In such communities, everything is done in a half-hearted, listless, half dead and half alive way, as if it didn’t matter much whether it was done or not. It makes one’s flesh crawl to see how sluggishly they move. I long for a knife to cut all their red tape to pieces, and for a whip to strike them on their backs to arouse them.

Things are respectively done, the rich families are not offended, the skeptical person is appeased, and the good people are not quite alienated. Things are made pleasant all around. The right things are done, but as to doing them with all your might and soul and strength, a Laodicean church has no notion of what that means. They are not so cold as to abandon their work, or to give up their meetings for prayer, or to reject the Gospel; if they did so, then they would be convinced of their error and brought to repentance.

But on the other hand, they are neither hot for the truth, nor hot for conversions, nor hot for holiness. They are not fiery enough to burn the stubble of sin, nor zealous enough to make Satan angry, nor fervent enough to make a living sacrifice of themselves on the altar of God.

They are neither cold nor hot. This is a horrible state because it is one in which a church with a good reputation renders that reputation a lie. When other churches are saying, “See how they prosper! See what they do for God!” Jesus sees that the church is doing His work in a careless, make-believe manner, and He clearly sees that it is deceiving its friends.

If the world recognizes such a people as being very distinctly an old-fashioned pure and godly church, and yet there is unholy living among them, and careless walking, and a deficiency of all real holiness, prayer, kindness and zeal, then the world itself is being deceived, and that in the worst way, because it is led to falsely judge Christianity, for it lays all these faults on the back of religion and cries out, “It is all a farce! Nothing but a mere pretence! All Christians are hypocrites!”

I fear there are churches of this sort. God grant we may not be counted with them.

In this state of the church, there is much self-glorification, for Laodicea said “I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.” The members say, “Everything is working out fine, what more do we need? Everything is right with us.” This makes such a condition very hopeless, because reproofs and rebukes fall without power, where the person rebuked can reply: “We do not deserve your criticism, such warnings are not meant for us.”

If you stand up in the pulpit and talk to sleepy churches as I frequently do, and speak very plainly, they often have the honesty to say: “There’s a good deal of truth in what the man has said.” But if I speak to another church which really is half asleep, but which thinks itself to be quite a model of diligence, then the rebuke glides off like oil down a slab of marble, and nothing comes of it.

Men are less likely to repent when they are in the middle, between hot and cold, than if they were at the worst extremes of sin. If they were like Saul of Tarsus, enemies of God, they might be converted. But if, like Gamaliel, they are neither opposed nor favoring, they will probably remain as they are till they die.

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The Gospel converts a sincerely suspicious Luther, but Erasmus, with his flexible spirit, flippant and full of levity remains unmoved. There is more hope of warning the cold than the lukewarm.

When churches get into the condition of half-hearted faith, tolerating the gospel but having a sweet tooth for error, they do far more mischief to their generation than downright heretics.

It is a great deal harder to work for Jesus with a church which is lukewarm than it would be to begin without a church. Give me a dozen earnest spirits and put me anywhere in London, and by God’s good help, we will soon cause the wilderness and the desolate place to rejoice.

But give me a whole church full of half-hearted, undecided and unconcerned people, and I can do nothing. They will only drag down a man’s zeal and earnestness. 5000 members of a church all lukewarm will be 5000 impediments. but a dozen earnest passionate spirits determined that Christ will be glorified and souls won will be more than conquerors. In their very weakness and fewness will reside capacities for being all the more blessed of God. Better to be nothing than to be lukewarm.

Sadly, this state of lukewarmness is agreeable with human nature that it is hard to get men away from it. Cold makes us shiver, and great heat causes us pain, but a tepid bath is comfort itself. Such a temperature suits human nature. The world is always at peace with a lukewarm church, and such a church is always pleased with itself. Not too worldly? No, we have our limits.

There are certain amusements which of course a Christian must give up, but we will go right up to the limit, for why are we to be miserable? We are not to be so greedy as to be called miserly, but we will give as little as we can to the cause of Christ.

We will not be completely absent from church, but we will go as seldom as we can. We will not completely forsake the poor people to whom we belong, but we will also go to the world’s church, so as to find acceptance into a better society, and find fashionable friends for our children.

Oh how much of this we see everywhere! Compromise is the order of the day. Thousands try to cling to the hare and run with the hounds. They are for God and money, Christ and Baal, truth and error, and so they are neither hot nor cold.

Do I speak a little too strongly? Not so strongly as My master, for He says “I am about to spit you out of My mouth.” He is nauseated with such conduct; it sickens Him, and He will not endure it. In an honest, earnest, fervent heart, nausea is created whenever we fall in with men who refuse to give up their profession of being a Christian, and yet will not live up to it, who cannot completely forsake the work of God but yet do it in a sluggardly manner, trifling with that which ought to be done in the best possible way as unto a good and gracious Lord and Savior.

Many churches have fallen into a condition of indifference, and when it does so it generally becomes the meeting place of worldly professors of Christianity, a refuge for people who want an easy religion, which enables them to enjoy the pleasures of sin and the honors of holiness at the same time; where things are free and easy, where you are not expected to do too much or give much or pray much or to be very religious, where the minister is not so precise as the old ministers of the past, a more liberal people with broader views, free thinking and free acting, where there is full tolerance for sin, and no demand for vital godliness.

Such churches applaud cleverness in a preacher, as for his doctrine, that is of small consequence, and his love to Christ and zeal for souls are secondary. He is a clever fellow, and can speak well and that suffices. This situation is all too common, yet we are expected to hold our tongue, for the people are very respectable. The Lord grant that we may be kept clear of such respectability.

We have already said that this condition of indifference is attended with perfect self-complacency. Perfect self complacency. The people who ought to be mourning are rejoicing, and where they should hang out signals of distress, they are flocking the banners of triumph, “We are rich, we are adding to our numbers, enlarging our Sunday School, and growing in all areas. We have need of nothing. What can any church desire that we don’t have in abundance?”

Yet their spiritual needs are terrible. This is a sad state for a church to be in: spiritually poor and proud. The church which God will bless is a church that cries out to God, because it feels itself in a backsliding state; a church that grieves over its deficiency; a church longing and panting to do more for Christ; a church burning with zeal for God; and therefore quite discontented with what it has been able to do.

But that church which boasts to be the model for others is most likely grossly mistaken and is in a sad plight. This church which was so rich in its own esteem was utterly bankrupt in the sight of the Lord. It had no real joy in the Lord; it had mistaken its joy in itself for that. It had no real beauty of holiness on it. It had mistaken its formal worship and fine buildings and harmonious singing for that. It had no deep understanding of the truth and no wealth of vital godliness. It had mistaken carnal wisdom an outward profession for those precious things.

It was poor in secret prayer, which is the strength of any church. It was destitute of communion with Christ which is the very lifeblood of religion. But it had the outward appearance of these blessings and walked in a vain show.

There are churches that are as poor as the beggar Lazarus when it comes to true religion, and yet are clothed in expensive garments and dined sumptuously every day on the mere form of godliness. Spiritual leanness exists side by side with pride.

Contentment with worldly goods makes men rich, but contentment with our spiritual condition is the sign of poverty. Once more, this church of Laodicea had fallen into a condition which had chased away its Lord… which had chased away its Lord.

The text tells us that Jesus said “I stand at the door and knock.” That is not the position which our Lord occupies in reference to a truly flourishing church. If we were walking rightly with Him, then He is in the midst of the church dwelling there and revealing Himself to the people. His presence causes our worship to be full of spirituality and life. He meets His servants at the table, and there spreads them a feast of His body and His blood. It is He who puts power and energy into all our church action, and causes the word to sound out from our midst.

True saints live in Jesus, and He in them. Oh brethren, when the Lord is in a church, it is a happy church, a holy church, a mighty church, and a triumphant church. But we may grieve Him till He will say “I will go back to My place until they admit their guilt, and they will seek My face; in their misery they will earnestly seek Me.”

Oh you that know my Lord, and have power with Him, plead with Him not to leave us. He can clearly see that we are people who grieve His Holy Spirit and know so much about each one of us to cause Him to be provoked to anger. I pray that you will hold on to Him and do not let Him go, or if He is already gone, beg Him to return and then say to Him, “Stay with us who You are our life and our joy, and everything to us as a church. Ichabod is written across our house if You leave, for Your presences our glory and Your absence will be our shame.”

Churches may become like the temple when the glory of the Lord had left the holy place, because the image of jealousy was set up and the house was defiled. What a solemn warning that is which is contained in Jeremiah chapter 7 verses 12 through 15. Listen.

Jeremiah 7:12-15 (NIV): “Go now to the place in Shiloh where I first made a dwelling for My Name, and see what I did to it because of the wickedness of My people Israel. While you were doing all these things, declares the LORD, I spoke to you again and again, but you did not listen; I called you, but you did not answer. Therefore, what I did to Shiloh I will now do to the house that bears My Name, the temple you trust in, the place I gave to you and your ancestors. I will thrust you from My presence, just as I did all your brothers, the people of Ephraim.”

Now secondly let us consider the danger of such a state. THE DANGER OF SUCH A STATE. The first great danger is to be rejected by Christ. He says “I’m about to spit you out of My mouth”, because you disgust Him and cause Him to be nauseated.

Then the church must first be in His mouth, or else it couldn’t be spewed from it. What does this mean? Churches are in Christ’s mouth in several ways. They are used by Him as His testimony to the world. He speaks to the world through their lives and ministries. It is just like He says, “O sinners, if you want to see what My religion can do, look at these godly people banded together in My fear and love, walking in peace and holiness.”

He speaks powerfully through them and makes the world see and know that there is true power in the gospel of the grace of God. But when the church becomes neither cold nor hot, He no longer speaks to her; she is no longer a witness for Him. When God is within a church, the minister’s words come out of Christ’s mouth. “Out of His mouth came a sharp double-edged sword,” says John in the book of Revelation, and that double-edged sword is a gospel which we preach.

When God is with the people, they speak with divine power to the world. But if we grow lukewarm, then Christ says, “Their teachers will not profit, for I have not sent them; neither am I with them. Their word will be like water poured out on the ground, or like the whistling of the wind.”

This is a dreadful thing. It is far better for me to die than to have Christ spit me out of His mouth.

Then He also ceases to plead for such a church. Christ’s special intercession is not for every man and every woman, for He says of His people, “I pray for them: I am not praying for the world, but for those You have given Me.” (John 17:9)

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I don’t think Christ ever prays for the Roman Catholic Church. What would He pray for, but her total overthrow? Other churches are nearing the same fate. They are not clear in His truth or honest in obedience to His word; they follow their own plans, they are lukewarm.

But there are churches for which He is pleading, for He has said, “For Zion’s sake, I will not keep silent; for Jerusalem’s sake, I will not remain quiet, till her righteousness shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch.” (Isaiah 62:1)

Mighty are His pleadings for those He really loves, and countless are the blessings which result. It will be an evil day when He casts a church out of that interceding mouth, and leaves her unrepresented before the throne because the church is no longer His.

Don’t you tremble at such a prospect? Will you not ask for grace to return to your first love? I know that the Lord Jesus will never stop praying for His own elect, but for churches as corporate bodies, He may cease to pray because they become anti-Christian or are mere human gatherings, but not assemblies of the elect as they are supposed to be.

Now this is the danger of any church if it forsakes its first love and becomes lukewarm.

“Therefore remember the height from which you have fallen, repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.”

What is the other danger? This first one comprehends everything, but another evil is hinted at. Such a church will be left to its fallen condition to become wretched, that is to say miserable, unhappy, divided, without the presence of God, and therefore without the light in the ways of God: lifeless; spiritless; dreary; desolate; full of divisions and splits; and devoid of grace. They are miserable and pathetic, churches which once were a glory will become a shame.

Whereas men used to say, “The Lord has done great things for them,” they will now say, “See how they have fallen!” What a change has come over the place! What emptiness and wretchedness! What a blessing rested there for so many years, but what a contrast now!”

Pity will take the place of congratulation, and scorn will follow on admiration. Then it will be poor in membership, poor in effort, poor in prayer, poor in gifts and graces, poor in everything. Perhaps some rich people will be left to keep the semblance of prosperity, but all this will be empty, vain, void, Christless, lifeless.

Philosophy will fill the pulpit with chaff, the church will be a mass of worldliness, the congregation and assembly of vanity.

Next, They Will Become Blind. They will not see themselves as they are; they will have no eye on the neighborhood to do it any good. No eye to the coming of Christ, no eye for His glory. They will say, “We see,” but yet are blind as bats. Ultimately they will become naked, their shame will be seen by all, they will be a proverb in everybody’s mouth.

“ Call that a church?” says one. “Is that a church of Jesus Christ?” cries a second. Those dogs that dared not open their mouths against Israel when the Lord was there will begin to howl when He is gone, and everywhere the sound will be heard, “How are the mighty fallen? How are the weapons of war broken?”

In such a case as that the church will fail to overcome the world, for it is to him that overcomes that a seat on Christ’s throne is promised but that church will fall short of victory. The very same words that were spoken against the children of Ephraim will be written concerning that church, that being armed and carrying bows they turned their backs in the day of battle.

“You were running a good race,” said Paul to the Galatians, “who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth?” Such a church had a great opportunity, but it was not up to the occasion. Its members were born for a great work, but because they were unfaithful, God set them aside and used other means. He raised up in their midst a flaming testimony for the gospel, and its light was sent across the oceans and delighted the nations. But that church who failed to overcome was not worthy of it, or true to it and therefore God removed the lampstand from its place and left them in darkness.

May God prevent such an evil from coming on us, but such is the danger to all churches if they degenerate into listless indifference.

REMEDIES WHICH THE LORD EMPLOYS

Thirdly, I have to speak of the remedies which the Lord employs. I earnestly pray that what I say may affect everyone here, especially the members of this church, for it has greatly affected me and calls great searching of my heart and my soul. I beg you to judge yourselves so that you won’t be judged.

Do not ask me if I mean anything personal. I am personal in the most emphatic sense, I speak of you and to you in the plainest way. Some of you show obvious symptoms of being lukewarm, and God forbid that I should flatter you or be unfaithful to you. I am aiming at each person personally, and I earnestly want each beloved brother and sister here to accept each affectionate rebuke.

And you who come from other churches whether in America or elsewhere, you need arousing just as much as we do. Your churches are no better than ours. Some of them are not as good and so I speak to you also for you need to be stirred up to nobler things.

Note then the first remedy. Jesus gives a clear picture of the church’s true state. He says to it, “You are lukewarm; you’re a wretched; pitiful, poor, blind, and naked. I rejoice to see people willing to know the truth but most men do not wish to know it, and this is a bad sign.

When a businessman tells you that he has not looked at his ledger or daily records or has not taken inventory for over a year, you then have a good idea about this man. And you say to your manager, “Do you have an account with him? If so, keep a close eye on it.”

When a man runs a business and does not care how he is doing, then most likely he is not doing well. But he that is right before God is thankful to be told what he is and where he is.

Now some of you know the faults of other people, and in watching this church you have observed weak points in many places. Have you wept over them? Have you prayed over them? If not, you have not watched as you should have for the good of your brothers and sisters, and perhaps have allowed evil to grow which ought to have been rooted up. You have been silent when you should have gently and seriously spoken to the offenders or made your own example of warning to them. Do not judge your brother but judge yourself.

If you desire to be strict and firm, then be strict and firm concerning your own conduct and heart. We must pray that the Lord will use this remedy and make us know just where we are. We will never get things right as long as we are confident that everything is fine. Self-complacency is the death of repentance.

Our Lord’s next remedy is GRACIOUS COUNSEL. He says, “I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire.” Doesn’t that strike you as being very much like the passage in Isaiah: “Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.” (Isaiah 55:1) It is true and it teaches us that one remedy for lukewarmness is to begin again just as we began at first.

When we were first converted, we were hot for the Lord and His word. What joy, what peace, what delight, what comfort, what enthusiasm we had when we first came to know the Lord. Back then we purchased gold from Him for nothing; let us go and buy again at the same price.

If our religion has not been genuine until now, or if we have been adding to it great lumps of shiny stuff, which we thought was gold and was not, let us now go to the heavenly mint and buy gold tried in the fire that we may really be rich. Come, let us begin again each one of us, and as much as we may have thought we were clothed and yet we were naked, let us hurry to Him again and at His own price which is no price, procure the robe which He has fashioned by His own righteousness and that delightful covering of His Spirit which will clothe us with the beauty of the Lord.

If moreover, we have lost some of our vision and no longer look up to God and see His face and have no bright vision of the glory to be revealed and cannot look on sinners with weeping eyes, as we once did, then let us go to Jesus for the eye salve, just as we went when we were stone blind at first, and the Lord will again open our eyes and we will see Him with perfect clarity as in days gone by.

The word from Jesus is, “I pray, come near to Me, My brethren. If you have wandered from Me, return. If you have been cold to Me, I am not cold to you. My heart is the same to you as ever. Come back to Me, My brethren. Confess your evil deeds; receive My forgiveness. And from this day forth, let your hearts burn towards Me for I still love you and will supply all your needs.” That is good counsel, let us receive it.

Now comes a third remedy: sharp and cutting but sent in love, namely rebukes and discipline. Christ will have His favorite church walk with great care, and if she will not follow Him fully by being shown where she has gone astray, and will not repent when gently counselled, He then commits himself to use some sharper means. “Those whom I love, I rebuke and discipline.”

The word here used for love is a very choice one; it is one which signifies an intense personal affection. Now there are some churches which Christ loves in a very special way, favoring them above others, doing more for them than for others, and giving them more prosperity. They are the darlings of His heart, His Benjamins.

Now it is a very solemn thing to be dearly loved by God; it is a privilege to be favoured, but note this that the man who is so honored occupies a position of great delicacy. The Lord your God is a jealous God and He is most jealous where He shows most love. The Lord lets some men escape without any penalty or punishment for a while after doing many evil things, but if they had been His own elect people, He would have disciplined them long ago.

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He is very jealous of those whom He has chosen to take into His arms and to be His close friends. A person who works for you may do many things which would not even be thought of by your child or your wife. And so it is with many who profess to be servants of God. They live a very lax life and they do not seem to be disciplined for it. But if they were the Lord’s own special loved ones, He would not endure such conduct from them.

Now mark this: if the Lord exalts the church and gives it a special blessing, He expects more of it, more care of His honor and more zeal for His glory than He does of any other church. And when He does not find it, what will happen? Why because of His very love He will rebuke it. He will rebuke it with hard sermons, sharp words and painful afflictions of conscience. If these do not arouse it, He will take down the rod and deal out strict and painful discipline.

Do you know how the Lord disciplines churches? Paul says, “Many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep.” And this in the context of discipline. Bodily sickness is often sent as discipline on churches and losses and crosses and troubles are sent among the members, and sometimes weakness in the pulpit, their breaking out of heresy and divisions in the pew and lack of success in all the church’s work. All these are caused by the use of the rod.

It is very sad but sometimes that rod does not fall on that part of the church which does the wrong. Sometimes God may take the best in the church and discipline them for the wrong of others. You say how can that be right? Why, because they are the kind of people who will be the most benefited by it.

If a vine needs the knife, it is not the branch that bears very little fruit which is trimmed, but the branch which bears a lot of fruit is purged because it is worth purging. In their case the discipline is a blessing and a token of love. Sorrow is often brought on Christians by the sins of their fellow members, and there is many an aching heart in this world that I know of, of brothers and sisters who love the Lord and want to see souls converted, but they can only sigh and cry because nothing is done.

Perhaps they have a minister who does not believe the gospel, and they have fellow members who do not care, whether the minister believes or not. They are all asleep together except for those few zealous souls who plead before the throne of grace day and night. And they are the ones who bear the burden of the lukewarm church.

Oh if the discipline comes here, whoever bears it may the whole body be the better for it and may we never rest till the church begins to glow with the sacred fire of God and boil with enthusiastic desire for His glory.

The last remedy in my mind is the best of all. I love it the best and desire to make it my food when it is not my medicine. The best remedy for a backsliding church is MORE COMMUNION WITH CHRIST.

“Here I am,” He says, “I stand at the door and knock.” I have known this text to be preached on many times to sinners as though Christ knocked at their door and they had to open it and so on. For this reason the preacher had never managed to uphold the doctrine of free grace, because the text was not meant to be used this way. This text belongs to the church of God, not to the unconverted. It is addressed to the Laodicean church. There is Christ outside the church, driven there by her unkindness, but He has not gone very far. He loves His church too much to completely leave her. He longs to come back and therefore He waits at the door. He knows that the church will never be restored till He comes back, and He desires to bless her and so He stands waiting knocking and knocking again and again.

He does not merely knock once but He stands knocking by strong powerful sermons by providences, by impressions on the conscience, by the stimulations of His Holy Spirit. And while He knocks, He speaks, He uses all available means to awaken His church; most condescendingly and graciously does He do this for having threatened to spit her out of His mouth, He could have said I will leave you and I will never come back to you again. That would have been natural and just, but how gracious He is when having expressed His disgust, He says “Disgusted as I am with your condition, I do not wish to leave you. I have taken my presents from you but I love you. And therefore I knock at your door and wish to be received into your heart. I will not force myself on you. I want you voluntarily to open the door to Me.”

Christ’s presence in a church is always a very tender thing. He never is there against the will of the church; it cannot be, for He lives in His people’s wills and hearts and works in them to will and to act according to His good purpose. He does not break down the door and come in, as He often does into a sinner’s heart, carrying the soul by storm, because the sinner is dead in sin and Christ must do it all or the sinner will perish.

But He is here speaking to living men and women who ought to be loving men and women, and He says “I wish to be among you; open the door to Me.” We ought to open the door at once and say come in good Lord, we grieve to think we should have ever put You outside the door at all.

And then see what promises He gives. He says He will come and eat with us. Now in the East, the supper was the best meal of the day, it was the same as our dinner so that we may say that Christ will come and dine with us. He will give us a rich feast for He Himself is the most delicious and most plentiful of all feast for perishing souls. He will come and eat with us, that is we will be the host and entertain Him. But then he adds, and he with Me. That is He will take turns being both the host and the guest.

We will give Him the best we have but even as poor that is, too poor for Him yet He will partake of it. Then He will be the host and we will be the guests and oh how we will feast on what He gives us. Christ comes and brings the supper with Him and all we have to do is to find a room.

The Master says to us, “Where is the dining room?” And then He makes everything ready and spreads His royal table. Now if these are the terms on which we are to have a feast together, we will most willingly fling open the doors of our hearts and say come in sweet Lord, he says to you, “Children, have you any meat?” And if you are obliged to say, no Lord, He will quickly come into you nonetheless, for there are the fish, the net is ready to break, it is so full. And here are more fish on the coals ready to eat.

I guarantee that if we eat with Him, we will no longer be lukewarm. The men who live with Jesus is soon feel their hearts burning. It is said about a piece of scented clay by the old Persian moralist that the clay was taken up in question, “What caused you to smell so sweet, being nothing but common clay?” and it replied, “I laid for many years in the sweet company of a rose until I finally drank in its perfume.” and we may say to every warm-hearted Christian, “What made you so warm?” and his answer will be, “My heart bubbles up with warmth, for I speak of the things which I have learned when I have been close to the King. I have been with Jesus and I have learned about Him.”

Now brothers and sisters, what can I say to move you to take this last medicine? I can only say take it not only because of the good it will do you, but because of the sweetness of it. I have heard it said of some persons that they vowed not to take any wine except as a medicine. But then they were very pleased when they became sick, and so it is with this medicine. I will come and eat with him and he with Me.

We may willingly confess our need of so delicious a remedy. Need I press it on you? I urge each one of you, as soon as you get home today, see whether you can enter into fellowship with Jesus, and may the Spirit of God help you.

This is my closing word: there is something for us to do in this matter. We must examine ourselves and we must confess the fault if we have declined in grace. And then we must not talk about setting the church right. We must pray for grace each one for himself, for the text does not say, if the church will open the door, but if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, it must be done by individuals.

The church will only get right by each person getting right. Oh that we might get back into an earnest zeal for our Lord’s love and service and we will only do so by listening to His rebukes and then falling into His arms, embracing Him once again in saying my Lord and my God that healed Thomas, did it not? Putting his fingers into the nail marks of Jesus’s hand, putting his hand into His side that cured him. Poor unbelieving staggering Thomas only had to do that and he became one of the strongest of believers and said my Lord and my God.

You will love your Lord with a fervent and glowing passion if you will daily… daily commune with Him; come close to Christ and once you get close to Christ, never leave Him again. The Lord bless you dear brothers and sisters. The Lord bless you in this thing. Amen.

For Further Reading:

Love The Lord Your God With All Your Mind: R.C. Sproul Sermon (Transcript)

Derek Prince Sermon: The Two Banquets (Transcript)

Jonathan Edwards Sermon: Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God (Transcript)

The Secret of Health: Charles Spurgeon Sermon (Transcript)

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