Preventing Lukewarmness in the Last Days.
Many in the church across the world are sensing that “this present age” is winding down to transition into “the age to come” (Mk 10:30). The “signs of the times” (Mtt 16:3) are being observed from Manila to Moscow to the Middle East.
One of the shocking facts of the End Times is the predicted apostasy or “falling away from the faith” by believers (1 Tim 4:1). Many Christians imagine that this will take place because of the great persecution by antichristian forces prior to the Final Battle.
But I think that one doesn’t just “fall into apostasy” because a gun is pointed at one’s head! I believe it will be a more seductive slide down a slippery slope of deception and searching after comfort and financial security which will lead to a “lukewarmness of heart”. Jesus had stern warnings against lukewarmness in the book of Revelation. (Rev. 3)
If you are not up-to-date on your “falling away” scriptures, I offer some of them here:
In that day many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. (Mtt 24:10-11)
Let no one in any way deceive you, for it [the day of the Lord] will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed (2 Thess. 2:3)
But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons. (1 Tim 4:1)
The point we must realize in all this is that these believers won’t just fall into apostasy; they will find their way there, I believe, “little by little”.
“A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest”— Your poverty will come in like a vagabond and your need like an armed man. (Prov. 6:10-11)
These are NOT Tares…
Just to be clear, those that fall away from the faith before the Great Day of the Lord (Joel 2:31) are not the same as the tares that grow side-by-side with the wheat until the harvest. Tares will stay in the kingdom until the angels remove them at the Second Coming of Christ. Tares are planted by satan (‘An enemy has done this!’ Mtt 13:28) to grow as an “imitation crop”, tightly interwoven amongst the true wheat of Jesus’ body to infiltrate and weaken.
At the Second Coming of Jesus, not before like the apostasy, the Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom – the professing church – all “stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Mtt 13:41-42)
God’s Answer to Lukewarmness
In the book of Revelation, which covers very well the conditions on earth during the Last Days, Jesus offers advice to the lukewarm, self-sufficient believers in Laodicea. In highlighting those lukewarm ones, Jesus flat out tells us that He would prefer we be hot or cold… but NOT lukewarm.
Did you ever ask yourself why Jesus would actually prefer us to be cold rather than lukewarm? Here are some great insights on that subject from Albert Barnes, noted New Testament scholar:
“Such a state of open and professed coldness or indifference is more honest. There is no disguise; no concealment; no pretence. We know where one in this state “may be found”; we know with whom we are dealing; we know what to expect… we all prefer such a character to one where professions are made which are never to be realized – to a state of insincerity and hypocrisy.”
The Laodicean “lukewarm church” is an interesting case as it had no opponents from without, nor heresies from within (ie. Nicolaitans, Jezebel), rather it suffered from thinking it had life and was “in need of nothing” when it was “wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.”
In an effort to win back those with lukewarm hearts, Jesus declares:
“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. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.” (Rev 3:16-19)
Believers all around the globe can freely follow our King’s same advice!
1. Gold refined by fire.
Gold refined in fire speaks of God’s purification process — heat makes impurities rise. God will allow “fiery trials”, that brings us to true holiness.
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. (1 Peter 4:12-13)
To “buy” speaks to me of hard work to acquire money to be able to spend it on the cost of an item! Buy up time in His word! Buy up time with Him in prayer.
2. White Garments.
White garments are expressive of purity and holiness: sins forgiven are as white as snow or as white as wool; the white garments of angels and the 24 elders around the throne; and the transfiguration of Jesus.
“And He was transfigured before them; and His garments became radiant and exceedingly white, as no launderer on earth can whiten them.” (Mark 9:2-3)
3. Eye Salve.
Eye slave speaks of not seeing clearly. In lukewarm Laodicea Jesus is outside the church, standing and knocking to get in!
“To see clearly the character of God, the beauty of the way of salvation, the loveliness of the person and work of Christ.” (Barnes)