Revelation 3:16
So because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to vomit you out of My mouth!
Sermons
The Epistle to the Church At LaodiceaS. Conway Revelation 3:14-21
AmenDean Farrar.Revelation 3:14-22
An Earnest Warning Against LukewarmnessC. H. Spurgeon.Revelation 3:14-22
Christ's NamesJ. Culross, D. D.Revelation 3:14-22
IndifferenceH. J. Wilmot Buxton, M. A.Revelation 3:14-22
LaodiceaD. C. Hughes, M. A.Revelation 3:14-22
LaodiceaA. Maclaren, D. D.Revelation 3:14-22
Laodicea -- the Self-Complacent ChurchA. Mackennal, D. D.Revelation 3:14-22
LukewarmnessW. Mitchell, M. A.Revelation 3:14-22
LukewarmnessC. H. Spurgeon.Revelation 3:14-22
LukewarmnessJ. N. Norton, D. D.Revelation 3:14-22
Lukewarmness in ReligionJohn Erskine, D. D.Revelation 3:14-22
Lukewarmness Injurious to OthersG. Bowes.Revelation 3:14-22
The AmenC. H. Spurgeon.Revelation 3:14-22
The Church Abhorrent to Christ Because of the Lukewarm Temperature of its Spiritual LifeJ. S. Exell, M. A.Revelation 3:14-22
The Condition of the LaodiceansJ. Culross, D. D.Revelation 3:14-22
The Creation of GodW. Milligan, D. D.Revelation 3:14-22
The Danger of LukewarmnessCanon Girdlestone.Revelation 3:14-22
The Danger of Lukewarmness in ReligionS. Davies, M. A.Revelation 3:14-22
The Destiny of a Lukewarm ChurchS. Martin.Revelation 3:14-22
The Epistle to the Church in LaodiceaR. Green Revelation 3:14-22
The First Stages of Spiritual DeclineJ. B. Marsden, M. A.Revelation 3:14-22
The Three Stages of Religious EmotionJohn F. Ewing, M. A.Revelation 3:14-22
The Word of Christ to the Congregation At LaodiceaD. Thomas, D. D.Revelation 3:14-22
The Words of Christ to the Church At LaodiceaD. Thomas Revelation 3:14-22
It was a wealthy city in which this Church had her home, and it was large and beautiful also. It stood on one of the great Roman roads which led away to Damascus and Arabia. Hence there was a large stream of traffic continually flowing through it, and its inhabitants became very rich. At the time when this letter was sent them they were building for themselves one of those huge amphitheatres which the Greeks and Romans of the day were wont to build in all their chief cities, and where those too often barbarous and degrading sports, in which they so much delighted, might be carried on. As a further evidence of their wealth, it is recorded how, when their city was almost destroyed by one of those earthquakes by which the whole region was so often disturbed, they rebuilt it entirely at their own cost. A Church was early formed there, and was one of considerable importance. It was probably founded by one or other of those earnest-minded brethren, who, like Epaphras, whom Paul names in his letter to the neighbouring Church at Colossae, and who were commissioned by St. Paul for such work, probably during his sojourn at Ephesus. We know that Epaphras was a near neighbour, Colossae being only some six or eight miles distant from Laodicea; and hence it is likely that he - "faithful minister of Christ, and beloved fellow servant," as St. Paul calls him (Colossians 1:7; Colossians 4:12) - had something to do with the planting of the Church there. And we can have no doubt but that the Church was once in a very flourishing condition. The Epistle of St. Paul to the Ephesians was intended, it is all but certain, as much for the Laodiceans as the Ephesians, if not more so. The high praise which we find in that letter is therefore to be regarded as given to Laodicea, which now, when St. John writes to it, is so sadly fallen. And in Colossians 2:1, 5, St. Paul speaks of them and of the "steadfastness" of their "faith in Christ" (cf. also Colossians 4:13-16). But a sad change had come over them, and the result is this letter before us now. Note -

I. THEIR CHARACTER AND CONDITION. They are charged with being "neither cold nor hot," but lukewarm. That is to say, that whilst there was not absolute denial of the faith and disregard of all Christ's claims, there yet was neither the fervent zeal, the devout spirit, nor the all-sacrificing love, springing from a vigorous faith, which would make a Church glow with holy fervour and sacred heat. And this half and half, neither one thing nor the other, condition is all too common amongst not a few who profess and call themselves Christians. How many Churches, and how many churchgoing people, may, and probably have, seen their portraitures in this sad letter to the Church at Laodicea! They cannot be said to be cold and so utterly disregardful of religion, or of Christian faith and custom; but as certainly they are not "hot," not filled with love and zeal and desire towards Christ, willing to do all, bear all, be all or anything or nothing, so only as the honour of his Name may be increased, and the boundaries of his kingdom enlarged. Christians are to be known by their ardour, and so tongues of fire came and rested upon their heads on the great Pentecostal day. But Laodicea and the like of her show nothing of this kind, nor will nor can they whilst they remain as they are. And the common run of men like to have it thus. Cold makes them shiver; heat scorches them, - they like neither; but to be moderately warm, tepid, or but little more; that is pleasant, is safe, is best every way, so men think. The cynic statesman's parting charge to one of his agents, "Surtout, point de zele," is, in fact, what the ordinary Christian vastly prefers for himself and for others. They confound zeal with eccentricity, fervour with wild and ill-considered schemes, earnestness with rant, enthusiasm with mere delirium and extravagance; and, under pretence of discountenancing these undesirable things, they desire neither for themselves nor for others that glow of Divine love in their souls which is desirable above all things else. They congratulate themselves upon being moderate, sober-minded people, and they pity the poor deluded enthusiasts, to whom it is a dreadful thing that sin and sorrow should prevail as they do, and who, therefore, are in the very forefront of the battle against them, Laodiceans think well and speak well of themselves, and other people credit them with what they say, and hence they are self-complacent and well satisfied, and wonder why anybody should doubt or differ from them. They do not hear the world's sneer or see its mocking look when their names are mentioned; still less do they hear the sighing of the sorrowful heart which yearns to see the Church of Christ rise up to her Lord's ideal and intent. But they go on saying and thinking that they are well to do, and have need of nothing. But their condition is abhorrent to the Lord; he cannot abide it, nauseates it, would rather far that they were either cold or hot; either extreme would be better than the sickening lukewarmness which now characterizes them. To such it was that the Lord said, "The publicans and harlots go into the kingdom of God before you." Whilst of the irreligious multitudes he only said, as he looked on them with compassion, "They are as sheep having no shepherd." Elijah said, "If Baal be God, serve him;" "better be hearty in his service than serving neither God nor Baal, as you now are." And experience confirms this seemingly strange preference which the Lord declares. We could understand that he would men were "hot" rather than "lukewarm;" but that he would rather that they were "cold" without religion altogether - than as they are, that seems a strange preference. But, as St. Paul says, "If a man think himself to be wise, let him become a fool that he may be wise;" by which he meant that a man who thinks himself wise when he is not, there is more hope of a fool becoming wise than he, for his self-conceit stands in his way. And so in the matter of a man's real conversion to God, he who knows he has no religion is more likely to be won than he who thinks he is religious and has need of "more" nothing. There is hope, therefore, for the cold than for the "lukewarm," and hence our Lord's preference. And this condition is one which drives the Lord away, chases him forth from his Church. Christ is represented, not as in the Church, but as outside, standing at the door, and knocking for admission. He has been driven out. He cannot stay either in that Church or in that heart which loves him with but half or less than half a love. We do not care to stay where we are not really welcome: we get away as soon as we can. And our Lord will not stay where the love which should welcome and cherish his presence is no longer there.

II. HOW CHRIST DEALS WITH THEM.

1. He reveals to them their true condition. And to make them more readily receive his revelation, he declares himself by a name which ensured that his testimony was and must be infallibly true. He tells of himself as "the Amen, the faithful and true Witness." Therefore they may be sure that he could not err and would not misstate what he, as the Son of God, "the Beginning of the creation of God," saw and knew, and now declared to them to be true. And so he tells them how it is with them, though they knew it not and kept saying the very reverse. Hence he tells the Church, "Thou art the wretched one and the pitiable one, and beggarly and blind and naked." Ah! what a revelation this! how it would startle and shock them! no doubt the Lord intended that it should. Their condition justified these words. They thought that they were certain of their Lord's approval. He tells them that no shivering criminal waiting in terror the judge's sentence was ever more really wretched than they. And that they thought as they did proved them "blind." And as those whom it was designed to degrade were stripped "naked" so as "shameful" were they in the sight of the Lord and of his angels.

2. And by thus revealing their true state, he rebukes and chastens them. What humiliation and distress and alarm must this revelation have caused! But next:

3. He counsels them what to do. He will not leave them thus, but points out the way of amendment. He bids them "buy of me." But if they were so poor, how could they buy? "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise." This is the money wherewith they must buy. And when they have laid out this money, and have become possessors of what it will surely purchase, they will tell you, if you ask them, that even this money he gave them from whom they went to buy. And what is it they will get in exchange?

(1) "Gold tried in," etc. This is faith (cf. 1 Peter 1:7). "The trial of your faith, being much more precious than gold and silver." Oh, to be "rich in faith"! They are rich who have it.

(2) "White raiment that," etc. True righteousness of character, the holiness which becometh saints.

(3) "Eyesalve that," etc. The illuminating grace of the Holy Spirit. Such is the way of amendment: coming thus poor to the Lord, gaining faith, holiness, wisdom - so shall we rise up from the condition which the Lord cannot abide to that which he loves and will ever bless. Shall we not follow this counsel? He does not compel, but counsels. Let us also thus buy of him.

4. He waits for their repentance. "Behold, I stand at the door," etc. How true it is he desireth not the death of a sinner, but rather that he turn from his wickedness and live! What a picture this well-known and ever-to-be-loved verse presents! Our Lord, who died for us, standing there outside, seeking to enter in.

5. He encourages them to repent. See his promises.

(1) "I will sup with him, and he with me." Communion with himself. A piece of clay gave forth a sweet fragrance. It was asked whence it had such fragrance. It replied that it had long lain by the side of a sweet-smelling rose, and so it had become filled with its sweetness. So our claylike souls, if we be in communion with Christ, shall come to be as he. Ah, then, "open the door," and let your Lord in.

(2) He holds out to those who "overcome" the same reward as he had when he overcame - "to sit with me in my throne, even as I," etc. (ver. 21). It tells of the highest, holiest joys, of the everlasting kingdom of God. So would he lure them to himself. Shall he not succeed? "Behold, he stands at the door and knocks." - S.C.







The Laodiceans.
Laodicea is the type of a self-complacent Church. Underneath the condemnation of luke-warmness there is a yet more heart-searching lesson. Lukewarmness itself is the sure result of self-complacency; it is absolutely impossible for self-complacent men ""o be other than lukewarm. If we grasp this truth we get below symptoms of a grave and conspicuous evil in Churches to its very source; we reach the heart and display its hidden weakness and woe. Perhaps, also, we shall find the way of deliverance; many a man is lukewarm, and he knows not why. It is his constant morrow and his wonder; he ought to be earnest, and he feels he is not. To show any who may be conscious of this strange indifference the real reason of their unimpassioned, powerless piety, to disclose the secret of the lukewarmness which is their never-forgotten perplexity and their self-reproach, may suggest to them how they are to be cured. There are two points in the description of the self-complacency of Laodicea, the simple statement of which bites like satire; it is the self-complacency, first, of the moneyed man, and, secondly, of the so-called self-made man. By a strange moral irony the self-complacent man fixes his attention on what he has of least value, and lets his higher possibilities go unthought of. The R.V., "I am rich and have gotten riches," strikes harshly on the ear accustomed to the older reading, "I am rich and increased with goods"; but it has this merit — it shows us the self-complacent congratulating himself that he is the author of his own success. Laodicea "was a town of some consequence in the Roman province of Asia." "Its trade was considerable; it lay on the line of a great road." It is now a ruin, absolute and utter; the site of its stadium, its gymnasium, and its theatres alone discernible. "North of the town are many sarcophagi, with their covers lying near them, partly embedded in the ground, and all having been long since rifled." "The remains of an aqueduct are there, with stone barrel-pipes, incrusted with calcareous matter, and some completely closed up." It is an awful historic parable — broken buildings, rifled tombs, water-pipes choked with the earthy matter they conveyed. So may the soul be charged with the dregs of what we allow to filter through it; so will the soul be rifled which has allowed itself to become a tomb, the receptacle of dead forms of activity that might have been ennobled with the highest life. The curse of societies which measure the things of God by a worldly standard — and where this is not done, self-complacency is impossible — is the inevitable degradation and ruin which set in. There is no common measure between the surpassing purpose of the Saviour and the satisfaction men have in what they have attained, and in themselves for having attained it. "All things are possible to me," says the believer in Christ; for his faith goes out to a life, an energy beyond him; it becomes surety for what his eye has not seen. "All things are possible to me," says the worldly Christian; for he takes care never to admit into his purpose anything more than he has already achieved. Where the purpose is thus debased the thought is narrow, and mind, and heart, and soul are contracted to the limit of what they hold. So, when the appeal of the gospel is made, there is no response; there is nothing which seems worth a transcendent effort. The man is lukewarm, there is nothing to fire him in his purpose, no heart in him to be fired. He is poor for all his wealth. Thus the central thought of the message to Laodicea, when once we have caught it, dominates all our perception; it recurs to us again and again; its inevitableness strikes us; we never can forget that the self-complacent man or Church is and must be lukewarm. In Hogarth's picture of Bedlam, the most distressing figures are those of the self-complacent — the Pope with his paper tiara and lathen cross; the astronomer with paper tube, devoid of lenses, sweeping not the heavens, but the walls of the madhouse; the naked king, with sceptre and crown of straw. Their misery is seen upon their faces; even their self-complacency cannot hide it. The heart is hopeless where the man is self-centred; gladness is as foreign as enthusiasm to him who is full of the sense of what he has acquired. But out of this same dominating thought comes the hope of recovery. When we are conscious of lukewarmness, the first thing which occurs to us is that we ought to be earnest; and we set ourselves to try to be so. We try to arouse the lukewarm to intensity; we lash them with scorn; we overwhelm them with demonstrations of their misery, and present them with images of the resolved; "Be earnest," we cry to them again and again; "without earnestness there is no possibility of Christian life." How vain it all is! The young may be awakened by appeals; but not those who have come to their lassitude through prosperity, "the rich, and increased with goods." One way remains — give them to see the glory of Christ; there is in Him a sublimity, an augustness, a moral dignity and worth which may thrill the soul with a new passion, and set the tides of life flowing toward a central splendour. And this is what we find in the message to Laodicea. First there is presented a stately image of Him who walks about among the seven golden candlesticks. "These things saith the Amen," etc. We feel at once the mystic sublimity of the phrases: an unrevealed grandeur is behind the form of the man Christ Jesus, arousing our expectation, moving the heart with a faintly imagining awe. Next, we have a picture of the tender Saviour, one which has entered into our common Christian speech as few presentations even of Christ have, luring on the painter to body forth, and the poet to describe what they can never express, but what we all can feel. "Behold, I stand at the door." etc. Here, too, is a cure for self-complacency. The heart can be won by tenderness. And then there is the sublime promise, so reserved, yet sounding into such depths of suggestion — "He that overcometh, I will give to him to sit down," etc. The throne on which Christ is seated is a Divine throne; but it is also a throne on which are exalted disappointed human hopes. When Jesus died upon the cross He died in faith of what He had not realised. And then the triumph came. God "raised him up from the dead and gave Him glory." Christ's mission is accomplished when human souls awaken to a faith and a hope for ever in advance of all men can attain to on earth, a faith and a hope which are in God. There is a cure for self-complacency here; and with self-complacency the deathly lukewarmness is gone. There are some pathetic touches which we should notice before closing this solemn, heart-searching appeal to the self-complacent. The abrupt change of tone in vers. 17 and 18 is significant. "Because thou sayest, I am rich, and have gotten riches, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art the wretched one and miserable and poor and blind and naked" — with such an introduction, what words may we not expect to follow, of warning, censure, doom? They are not spoken. The Lord begins in another strain — "I counsel thee to buy of Me," etc. The pathos of all self-complacency, at once its condemnation and the more than hope of deliverance from it, is this — the delivering Lord is so nigh. The true riches, the robe of righteousness, the Divine vision, all are for us; to be bought, as God's best gifts can only be bought, "without money and without price." Some words follow with which we are very familiar, the thought they express entering so largely into Biblical teaching and human experience. "As many as I love," etc. One of the suggestions of this utterance is, that with all its self-complacency Laodicea was profoundly unhappy. The denizens of Bedlam are more than half conscious of their derangement; the self-satisfied Christian knows how deep is his discontent. Another suggestion is that of coming tribulation; the knocking at the door of which the next verse speaks is an intimation that trouble is at hand. Let it come; it will be welcome; anything will be welcome which can stir this mortal lethargy. The treasures of the Divine chastisement are not exhausted; and they are treasures of the Divine love.

(A. Mackennal, D. D.)

I. THREE ASPECTS OF THE CHARACTER OF CHRIST.

1. "The Amen." This sets forth His immutability.

2. "The faithful and true Witness."(1) Christ is a Witness —

(a)In His personal life and death.

(b)By the Holy Spirit in the inspired Word, in the plan of redemption, and in the organisation of the Church.

(c)In the hearts of individual believers, where He dwells by faith.(2) Christ, as Witness, in this threefold sense, is faithful and true.(3) His promised rewards will be faithfully fulfilled, and His threatened penalties will be strictly carried out.

3. "The beginning of the creation of God." The Head, Prince, or Potentate.

II. THE TWOFOLD CHARACTER OF THE LAODICEAN CHURCH.

1. Latitudinarian.

2. Self-deceived.

III. CHRIST'S APPROPRIATE COUNSEL.

1. This counsel is characteristic of our Lord.

(1)Tender and considerate.

(2)Appropriate and definite.

(3)Timely and solemn.

2. This counsel is very suggestive.(1) "Buy of Me." In one sense grace cannot be bought. It has been bought — not with silver and gold, etc. In another sense, if we are not willing to give up the world and its sinful pleasures for Divine grace, we shall not obtain it.(2) "Gold tried in the fire." That which enriches the soul for ever, and will endure the test of His judgment.(3) "White raiment" (Revelation 19:8).(4) "Eye-salve." The illumination of the Holy Spirit.

IV. THREE PROOFS OF CHRIST'S LOVING INTEREST.

1. Discipline.

2. Patient, personal appeals to those who have practically rejected Him.

3. His gracious proffer of the highest honour to him who becomes conqueror in His name.

(D. C. Hughes, M. A.)

I. ITS REAL CHARACTER WAS THOROUGHLY KNOWN.

II. ITS SPIRITUAL INDIFFERENTISM IS DIVINELY ABHORRENT.

1. Spiritual indifferentism is a most incongruous condition.

2. Spiritual indifferentism is a most incorrigible condition.

III. ITS SELF-DECEPTION IS TERRIBLY ALARMING.

IV. ITS MISERABLE CONDITION NEED NOT BE HOPELESS.

1. Recovery is freely offered.

2. Recovery is Divinely urged.

3. Recovery is Divinely rewarded.

(1)The throne of all approving conscience.

(2)The throne of moral rule.

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

I. THIS CHURCH WAS LUKEWARM IN THE TEMPERATURE OF ITS SPIRITUAL LIFE.

1. The language of this verse aptly describes the religious state of many Churches now.(1) A lukewarm Church is unique in the world. In every sphere of life, save the moral, men are red hot.(2) A lukewarm Church is useless in the world. It cannot make any progress against a vigilant devil and a wicked world.(3) A lukewarm Church is an anomaly in the world. The Church is destined to represent on earth the most energetic and spiritual ministries which exist in the unseen universe.(4) A lukewarm Church has much tending to awaken it. It should be awakened by a study of the lives of the Old and New Testament saints, by the earnest life of Christ, by the great need of the world, by the transitoriness of life, and by the quickening influences of the Divine Spirit.

2. That this lukewarm Church was abhorrent to the Divine Being. It is better to be a sinner than a merely nominal Christian; because the latter brings a greater reproach upon the name of Christ; because the latter is in the greater peril; and because hypocrisy is a greater sin than profanity.

II. THIS LUKEWARM CHURCH, SADLY DECEIVED, WAS WISELY COUNSELLED AS TO THE REAL CONDITION OF ITS SPIRITUAL LIFE.

1. Sad deception.

(1)The members of this Church imagined that they were rich and had need of nothing.

(2)The members of this Church imagined that they were prosperous.

(3)The members of this Church imagined that they had attained all possible excellence.

2. Wise counsel.

(1)This Church was advised to get true wealth.

(2)This Church was advised to get renewed purity.

(3)This Church was advised to get clear vision.

(4)This Church was advised to get Christly merchandise.

3. Disguised love. All the Divine rebukes are for the moral good of souls, and should lead to repentance and zeal.

III. THIS CHURCH WAS URGENTLY ENCOURAGED TO AMEND ITS MORAL CONDITION AND TO ENTER UPON A ZEALOUS LIFE. The advice of Christ is always encouraging. He will help the most degraded Church into a new life. Lessons:

1. That a lukewarm Church is abhorrent to the Divine mind.

2. That Christ gives wise counsel to proud souls.

3. That the most valuable things of life are to be had from Christ without money and without price.

4. Are we possessed of this gold, raiment, eyesalve?

(J. S. Exell, M. A.)

These things saith the Amen
The name which the Lord assumes in addressing this Church is threefold, yet one — "the Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God." The name "Amen" as here employed has its root in the Old Testament, where God is called "the God of truth," the God of the Verily, the God of Amen — not merely distinguishing Him from the "lying vanities" of the heathen and the phantom-gods of philosophy, but bringing into view the absolute truth of His nature and of all His attributes. We cannot but mark how supremely and absolutely, in assuming this name, Jesus claims to be what the Jehovah of the Old Testament was. Two successive steps may give us a glimpse of the meaning of this name as now assumed and worn by the Lord. In the first place, He Himself is true, and deserves our absolute trust. His compassions are true, His love is true, His word is true, His smile is true, yea, His very silence is true, even as He said to His disciples, "If it were not so, I would have told you." He does not say and unsay; He does not come and go; He is without variableness or shadow of turning. In the second place, He is the Amen, the Verily, to all that God has spoken. The ancient promises that had come down through thousands of years unfulfilled are fulfilled in Him, and that not in the letter merely, but in the inner spirit. The promises that still look to the future are in Him certain and sure, as hopes. And so with every word that God has spoken, whether promise or threatening. There is no may be or may not be about them; in Him they are all Amen. He is their full and sure accomplishment, even as He is the accomplishment of the past, Besides being the Amen, Jesus is to the Laodiceans "the faithful and true Witness." He is the Messenger and Revealer of the Father, who answers all the deep questions of the conscience and heart, as well as of the intellect, according to the ancient prophecy — "Behold, I have given Him for a Witness to the people." "I have manifested Thy name," He says to the Father, "unto the men whom Thou gavest me out of the world." It is essential to a witness that he have personal knowledge of that which he reports; and this Witness was in the bosom of the Father, and knows what is in His heart. As Witness He is "faithful and true." These two words are like the right hand and the left. As I conceive, they are not interchangeable; but each conveys its own distinct and special meaning. Taken together, they mark that He kept back nothing which the Father delivered unto Him, and that all He said might be relied upon to the last jot and tittle. Once more the Lord names Himself "the Beginning of the creation of God." We trace "the things that are" back and up to Jesus Christ; He is the uncaused cause of their being, their vital origin, "willing" them into existence; and the "increasing purpose" is but the gradual unfolding of the thought of His heart. It is the same truth that fills such words as these: "All things were made by Him," etc. "In Him (comprehended within the sphere of His being, power, and will) were all things created," etc. The grand thought is, that this glorious universe, whose origin lies back of human imagination, was brought into being (according to the will of the eternal Father) by our blessed Redeemer's creative power, and exists for His sake.

(J. Culross, D. D.)

The word "Amen" is much more full of meaning than may be supposed, and as a title of our Lord Jesus Christ it is eminently suggestive. I might have divided my discourse very fairly under these three heads — asserting, consenting, petitioning. For in each of these our adorable Lord Jesus Christ is certainly "the Amen." He asserts the will of God — He asserts God Himself. God the Son is constantly called the Word; He who asserts, declares, and testifies God. In the second place, we know that Jesus Christ consents to the will, design, and purpose of Jehovah. He gives an Amen to the will of God — is, in fact, the echo, in His life and in His death, of the eternal purposes of the Most High. And, thirdly, He is "the Amen" in the petitionary sense, for to all our prayers He gives whatever force and power they have. But we have preferred to divide the discourse another way.

I. OUR LORD IS SUPERLATIVELY GOD'S AMEN.

1. Long ere you and I had a being, before this great world started out of nothingness, God had made every purpose of His eternal counsel to stand fast and firm by the gift of His dear Son to us. He was then God's Amen to His eternal purpose.

2. When our Lord actually came upon the earth, He was then God's Amen to the long line of prophecies. That babe among the horned oxen, that carpenter's son, was God's declaration that prophesy was the voice of heaven.

3. Christ was God's Amen to all the Levitical types. Especially when up to the Cross as to the altar He went as a victim and was laid thereon, then it was that God solemnly put an Amen into what otherwise was but typical and shadowy.

4. Christ is God's Amen to the majesty of His law. He has not sinned Himself, but He has the sins of all His people imputed to Him. He has never broken the law, but all our breaches thereof were laid on Him. The law says He is accursed, for He has sin upon Him: will the Father consent that His own Beloved shall be made a curse for us? Hearken and hear the Lord's Amen. "Awake, O sword, against the man that is My fellow, saith the Lord." What, does God the Father say Amen? Can it be? It is even so. He says, Amen. And what an awful Amen too, when the sweat of blood started from every pore of His immaculate body.

5. Jesus Christ is very blessedly God's Amen to all His covenant promises, for is it not written that "all the promises of God in Him are yea and in Him Amen."

6. Jesus Christ will be God's Amen at the conclusion of this dispensation in the fulness of time.

II. HE IS OUR AMEN IN HIMSELF.

1. He proved Himself to be Amen; the God of truth, sincerity, and faithfulness in His fulfilment of covenant engagements. "Lo I come! In the volume of the book it is written of Me: I delight to do Thy will, O God." From all eternity He declared Himself to be ready to go through the work, and when the time came He was straightened till the work was done.

2. He was also "the Amen" in all His teachings. We have already remarked that He constantly commenced with "Verily, verily I say unto you." Christ as teacher does not appeal to tradition, or even to reasoning, but gives Himself as His authority.

3. He is also "the Amen" in all His promises. Sinner, I would comfort thee with this reflection.

4. Jesus Christ is yea and Amen in all His offices. He was a priest to pardon and cleanse once; He is Amen as priest still. He was a King to rule and reign for His people, and to defend them with His mighty arm; He is an Amen King, the same still. He was a prophet of old to foretell good things to come; His lips are most sweet, and drop with honey still — He is an Amen Prophet.

5. He is Amen with regard to His person. He is still faithful and true, immutably the same. Not less than God! Omnipotent, immutable, eternal, omnipresent still! God over all, blessed for ever. O Jesus, we adore Thee, Thou great Amen. He is the same, too, as to His manhood. Bone of our bone still; in all our afflictions still afflicted.

III. HE IS EXPERIMENTALLY GOD'S AMEN TO EVERY BELIEVING SOUL.

1. He is God's Amen in us. If you want to know God you must know Christ; if you want to be sure of the truth of the Bible you must believe Jesus.

2. Jesus Christ is "the Amen" not only in us, but "the Amen" for us. When you pray, you say Amen. Did you think of Christ? Did you offer your prayer through Him? Did you ask Him to present it before God? If not, there is no Amen to your prayer.

3. I want that Jesus Christ should be God's Amen in all our hearts, as to all the good things of the covenant of grace; I am sure He will be if you receive Him.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

What, then, is the meaning of this sacred word? It means truth; it means reality. I want to bring before you the awfulness of truth — that is, of reality, of sincerity, of guileless simplicity, both as regards our conduct in the life that now is and as regards the eternal life of man's spirit. First, as regards our earthly life. We may each of us spend our lives either in the world or in God. If we live in God — "if that life which we now live in the flesh is lived by faith in the Son of God" — then we are living in the world of reality. If we are living for the world — if we are setting our affections on the things of the earth — we are living in the midst of fatal delusions and fading shadows. Let a man but once catch a glimpse of the true light, and he learns utterly to despise the dim rushlights of this earth's tinselled stage; let but one ray out of eternity shine down into his heart, and for him the world and the things of the world shrivel into insignificance. God is the Amen, and all His laws are eternal: they abide for ever; they are laws not only of reality, not only of righteousness, but of pleasantness and peace. Earnestly, then, would I invite you all to base yourselves on the "Amen," on the solid and ultimate reality of life, by denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, and living soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world. And no less earnestly would I invite you to base your unshaken lives on the Amen of true religion, without which the house of your life will only be built upon sand. The Church depends solely on the presence of Christ. Religious partisans show their greatest zeal always not for God's eternal verities, but for what is doubtful and questionable and valueless, and often they pass over the whole essential message and meaning of the gospel of Christ in order to insist on the grossest misinterpretation of some single text. But God is the God of Amen, that is, of truth. Let us then look to the basis of our faith and the basis of our conduct. "Will ye, by hypocrisy in conduct, will ye, by petty unreality in faith, offer to the God of Truth the unclean sacrifice of a lie?" Reality, sincerity, holiness — the elementary Christian graces, faith, hope, love — the primary Christian duties, soberness, temperance, chastity — these are the things and these are the tests of a true religion; apart from these all else is fringes and phylacteries.

(Dean Farrar.)

The Beginning of the creation of God
The third appellation cannot be limited to the thought of the mere material creation, as if equivalent to the statement that by the Word were all things made. It would thus fail to correspond with the two appellations preceding it, which undoubtedly apply to the work of redemption, while, at the same time, the addition of the words "of God" would be meaningless or perplexing. Let us add to this that in chap Revelation 1:5, immediately after Jesus has been called the "faithful Witness," He is described as the "First. begotten of the dead," and we shay not be able to resist the conviction that the words before us refer primarily to the new creation, the Christian Church, that redeemed humanity which has its true life in Christ.

(W. Milligan, D. D.)

I know thy works, that thou art neither hot nor cold
"I know thy works." There is to be no dealing with them in the dark, as man is compelled to do; no drawing of a bow at a venture; the arrow is aimed straight at the mark. He is about to judge the Laodiceans, and His judgment proceeds on a perfect knowledge of their condition. "Thy works," in all that they are and all that they mean and involve, lie open under Mine eye, in the broad, bright sunshine, as they do not lie open even to thyself. An awful thought! you exclaim. Yes, but also unspeakably precious. It is the word, not of the detective who has found us out, and who delivers us to the judge, but of the physician who comprehends our case. His knowledge, His diagnosis, if I may so say, is the stepping-stone of His grace and help. What the works were is not set forth in detail in the epistle. It is not mere quantity, so to speak, but quality that is taken into account. The special region into which the Lord looks is that of the affections. The stress of His charge is that they were indifferent: "I know thy works, that thou art neither hot nor cold." From what follows it is evident that the Laodiceans themselves were quite satisfied with things as they were, and had no wish for a change. Christian discipleship (rooted in faith) implies love to Jesus Christ personally. Not merely a true creed, not merely a virtuous and beautiful life, but the heart's love. There may be very few on earth who think our love worth the having; but not so with Jesus, the glorified Redeemer. Man all over, He desires and seeks our love. Year by year our fellowship with Him ought to become more close and delightful; year by year our hearts should become more fully His; and last love should be a greater thing than even first love. In the light of such considerations let us now look at Christ's words to Laodicea. "Thou art not cold." A Church of Christ should certainly not be that. Yet such Churches exist. They are quite orthodox; their creed is a model of clearness and Scripturalness; they are examples of moral propriety; there is not merely good order, but even fine taste and exquisite grace in their arrangements; yet the temperature is down at freezing-point. Now, the Laodiceans were not cold. The Lord testifies that concerning them. Neither were they "hot." The condition indicated by this word is one of entire devotedness and joyful response to the love of Him who died for us, and rose again. It is not merely the supreme affection of a holy soul, rising above all others and commanding them; in some sense it carries in it and contains all other Divine affections, and is also the sum of all duty — the fulfilling of all law. how the Laodicean Church was not in a condition like this. There was nothing among them that could be called fervour, or zeal, or self-consecration, or enthusiasm, or holy passion in the cause of Christ. "I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot." Their condition (for it is a condition, and not a stage in the process of warming) is described by the word "lukewarm." Love, zeal, joy, delight in worship, desire for the salvation of men, and every other Christian affection and emotion, have been cooling down till they have reached the temperature of indifference. The lukewarmness is shown in all directions. It is shown in the angel of the Church dealing in pleasant nothings, instead of the mighty truths of God, or in intellectual and philosophic refinements, in place of the gospel of grace — accommodating his words to the taste of his hearers, lest he should lose his popularity and preach them away from the church — it is shown in the general community, who love to have it so. It is shown in the tone of conversation common among them, which, instead of being alway with grace, seasoned with salt, degenerates so readily into gossip, debate, frivolity, uncharitable censure of the absent, or merest religious gabble, in which the tongue does everything and the heart does nothing. It is shown in the weekly assembly, in the conscious "distance" from God that is maintained; in the dislike of spiritual thought, and indeed incapacity for it, and unfitness to deal with any great and deep questions of Divine truth. It is shown in the lightness with which they regard abounding iniquity, smiling where once their eyes would have filled with sudden tears, and they would have withdrawn to pray. It is shown in the neglect of personal effort for the extension of the gospel, and the transference of the work to a substitute — a missionary or Bible-woman — paid at the cheapest possible rate, with the boast of having found the missing link. It is shown in conformity to the world, in the love of worldly society and amusements, in doing what is religiously fashionable, in giving the cold shoulder to unapplauded truth, and in avoiding whatever leads to reproach and the cross. It is shown in the practical powerlessness of the creed which they profess to hold; the most awful and mysterious truths, as one has expressed it, "losing all the power of truths, and lying bedridden in the dormitory of the soul." It is unnecessary to proceed further with an account of this evil estate. It is made up of negations, and chiefly the negation of all earnestness. Some things indeed there are that evoke feeling in a lukewarm Church, even to passionateness. Let one, for example, tell plain truth about wine-bibbing or ballrooms or theatres; or let one whose soul is thrilled with a sense of Divine mercy, and who longs to be Christ-like, stand up in the church-meeting and propose united prayer for the revival of religion; or let some Jeremiah with the fire in his bones stand up, not fearing the face of clay, and speak of eternal things with cries and anguish and weeping; and instantly you find the very passion of resentment aroused — though it dare not, for shame's sake, express itself plainly — against this troubling of Israel, this breaking of the peace, this molesting of souls, this accusing of the brethren; while it moves them not to know that the honour of Christ's name and the salvation of the perishing are at stake. What is the secret of all this? For beforehand we should pronounce lukewarmness on the part of saved men an impossibility; and it can never be regarded otherwise than as most unnatural and even dreadful in a Christian Church. How does it come to pass? One cause, operating more extensively and with greater force than is commonly thought, is the endeavour to retain the first joy of conversion without making progress. The whole and only joy sought after is the joy of forgiveness, to the neglect of the joy of holiness and new obedience. The consequence is that gradually they lose the very joy they have, and sink down into a state of heartless apathy. Again, there is failure in personal, living, realising communion with the Lord Jesus Himself as our Redeemer. It is the grand lack of to-day. Is it strange that spiritual fervour should decline? Would it not be a miracle if it continued? It is as if a betrothed should cease to correspond with her affianced husband; the natural result is the decay of affection. Another cause, operating very widely and very subtly, is unbelief in the fulness and power of grace to enable us to live a victorious Christian life. It is quietly taken for granted that a life of self-consecration and likeness to the Son of God is an impossibility, and that the very utmost we can expect is a never-ceasing debate (conflict it cannot be called) between the flesh and the Spirit, with "heaven" somehow at the end. The question of main interest — apparently never quite settled — is, How to get clear off in the day of judgment? As for reproducing the life of Christ among men, manifesting it afresh in this mortal body, and being in some real sense His "gospels" to our age, this is smiled at as a very simple imagination indeed. Then, next, those who forget how high the Christian calling is, and who neglect fellowship with God, become blind to the evil of intermingling the Church and the world in one visible community. For the sake of numbers, or out of friendship with the world, or to make ourselves seem great, or out of a cruel charitableness, the flesh is received into church-fellowship, is treated as a Christian, is taught to use Christian forms of speech, to sing Christian hymns, to pray Christian prayers, to do Christian acts, to aim at the production of Christian virtues, to sit down with saints at the Lord's table and commemorate a love that is not believed in or felt. The necessary issue in the long run — indeed, the run is not very long — is the repression of spiritual fervour in the Church and the spread of apathy. Another thing working most disastrously is the poor, poor conception prevalent in Churches of the tremendous necessity of salvation. It is first emptied of its significance, and then it is put into the second rank instead of the first, and then the ardour of the Church inevitably cools, and they are content and take it as quite a matter of course that there should be no conversion of sinners to God. Again, there is the spirit of self-pleasing, the love of comfort and pleasurable sensations, the substitution of taste and culture for godliness, the cry of the preacher, Move us, move us I which by and by becomes, Tickle us, tickle us! Once more, there is the formation of worldly friendships and the entering into associations in which it is impossible to preserve the spirit of Christ. The injury done to piety by such associations and friendships is beyond calculation, both in extent and depth. Now, in whatever light men may regard this condition (and the world praises it, for the world loves its own), Christ is displeased and grieved with it. "I would," He says, "that thou wert cold or hot." Wilt thou not be so? That "would" is no unimpassioned word, as one might say, I should prefer it thus or thus: it is a sigh from the heart of distressed love; it carries Divine emotion in it, reminding us of that lamentation over Jerusalem, "I would — and ye would not." Thus the Lord makes it evident that He has no pleasure in this half-and-half condition. This is the Lord's judgment in the case: "I will spue thee out of My mouth." No doubt every believing soul in Laodicea would be saved in the day of the Lord, even though involved in the prevalent lukewarmness. But the Church would be rejected from being a Church. Lukewarmness unrepented of issues in rejection. It is in the history of the Church of Laodicea as a spiritual community that the fulfilment of the Lord's threatening is to be found; and the outward desolation is to be regarded only as the visible symbolism of a tremendous spiritual fact.

(J. Culross, D. D.)

I. THE STATE INTO WHICH CHURCHES ARE VERY APT TO FALL.

1. A Church may fail into a condition far other than that for which it has a repute. It may be famous for zeal, and yet be lethargic. The address of our Lord begins, "I know thy works," as much as to say, "Nobody else knows you. Men think better of you than you deserve. You do not know yourselves, you think your works to be excellent, but I know them to be very different." 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.

2. The condition described in our text is one of mournful indifference and carelessness. They were not infidels, yet they were not earnest believers; they did not oppose the gospel, neither did they defend it; they were not working mischief, neither were they doing any great good.

3. This condition of indifference is attended with perfect self-complacency. The people who ought to be mourning are rejoicing, and where they should hang out signals of distress they are flaunting the banners of triumph. What can a Church require that we have not in abundance? Yet their spiritual needs are terrible. Spiritually poor and proud.

4. This Church of Laodicea had fallen into a condition which had chased away its Lord. "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 are walking aright with Him, He is in the midst of the Church, dwelling there, and revealing Himself to His people.

II. THE DANGER OF SUCH A STATE.

1. The great danger is, to be rejected of Christ. "I will spue thee out of My mouth." 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. When God is with a people they speak with Divine power to the world, but if we grow lukewarm Christ says, "Their teachers shall not profit, for I have not sent them, neither am I with them. Their word shall be as water spilt on the ground, or as the whistling of the wind." Better far for me to die than to be spued out of Christ's mouth. Then He also ceases to plead for such a Church. Mighty are His pleadings for those He really loves, and countless are the blessings which come in consequence. It will be an evil day when He casts a Church out of that interceding mouth. Do you not tremble at such a prospect?

2. 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 so without delight in the ways of God.

III. THE REMEDIES WHICH THE LORD EMPLOYS.

1. Jesus gives a clear discovery as to the Church's true state. He says to it, "Thou art lukewarm, thou art wretched and miserable, and poor, and 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 an ill sign. We shall never get right as long as we are confident that we are so already. Self-complacency is the death of repentance.

2. Our Lord's next remedy is gracious counsel. He says, "I counsel thee to buy of Me gold tried in the fire."

3. Now comes a third remedy, sharp and cutting, but sent in love, namely rebukes and chastenings. "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten."

4. The best remedy for backsliding Churches is more communion with Christ. "Behold," saith He, "I stand at the door and knock." 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 far away: He loves His Church too much to leave her altogether, He longs to come back, and therefore He waits at the doorpost. He knows that the Church will never be restored till He comes back, and He desires to bless her, and so He stands waiting and knocking.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. THE COMPLAINT.

1. This complaint is made against the Church. We learn from this fact that Churches do become corrupt; they do decay. Keep, therefore, the Christ of God, who never will fail, or decay, exalted above the Church in your minds and hearts.

2. This complaint is made by One who can say, "I know."

3. This complaint is made by One who does know, and cannot misrepresent.

4. This complaint is made by One who does know, and cannot misrepresent, and who has a right to complain. Just let us see now what is meant by the lukewarmness complained of. The people had love for Christ, but it was not ardent. The people had charity among themselves, but it was not fervent. The people received spiritual blessings, but they did not thirst for them. The people wrought good works, but not zealously. The people prayed, but not fervently. They gave, but not liberally or cheerfully. The whole heart was not given to anything in connection with church life. Perhaps through the neglect of the means of preserving spiritual heat, or by using unwise means or false means, these people had become lukewarm, or perhaps by some besetting sin.

5. Now this complaint is based on works. "I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot." One would have thought that "the Amen, the true and faithful Witness," would have said, "I know thy heart; I know thy spirit." The complaint is based on works, and not so much on general conduct as on labours of love. These were less than since their first profession. Oh, what a striking fact this is in church life! How thoroughly it reappears before the eye of every pastor.

6. See, the complaint is based on works, and it is made with evident feeling. Christ could not speak without feeling, far less could He complain without feeling. It is the want of feeling in the complaints that people make about Churches that so often distresses one.

II. THE THREATENING. Any food or drink which ought to be either hot or cold is most unpleasant if lukewarm; and the strong language used here means, "I will reject thee."

1. This threatening is addressed, not to the individual, but to the Church. Christ presently turns to the individual, counselling him "to buy of Me gold." You cannot be in communion with Christ without being rebuked. Why? Because your faults and defects are continually coming out, and His love for you is such that He will not let them pass — He cannot let them pass. If, however, you be merely a nominal disciple, they will often pass unnoticed, and you will not hear a sound of rebuke from the skies until the day of final reckoning.

2. "The Amen" rejects the lukewarm Church. He rejects it — how? First, by withdrawing His Spirit from it because such a Church is not His temple. And secondly, by not using it for the purposes of His kingdom.

3. Now, observe, in conclusion, that works are expected from a Christian Church, and the works of the Church show whether it be cold or hot.

(S. Martin.)

I. THE LOVING REBUKE OF THE FAITHFUL WITNESS. The persons thus described are Christian people (for their Christianity is presupposed), with very little, though a little, warmth of affection and glow of Christian love and consecration. Further this defectiveness of Christian feeling is accompanied with a large amount of self-complacency. Then again, this deficiency of warmth is worse than absolute zero. "I would thou weft cold or hot." Because there is no man more hopeless than a man on whom the power of Christianity has been brought to bear, and has failed in warming and quickening him. Is that our condition? Look at the standard of Christian life round about us. Mark how wavering the line is between the Church and the world; how little upon our side of the line there is of conspicuous consecration and unworldliness: how entirely in regard of an enormous mass of professing Christians, the maxims that are common in the world are their maxims; and the sort of life that the world lives is the sort of life that they live. Look at your Churches and mark their feebleness, the slow progress of the gospel among them, the low lives that the bulk of professing Christians are living, and answer the question, is that the operation of a Divine Spirit that comes to transform and to quicken everything into His own vivid and flaming life? or is it the operation of our own selfishness and worldliness, crushing down and hemming in the power that ought to sway us?

II. THE CAUSES OF THIS LUKEWARMNESS OF SPIRITUAL LIFE. Of course the tendency to it is in us all. Take a bar of iron out of the furnace on a winter day, and lay it down in the air, and there is nothing more wanted. Leave it there, and very soon the white heat will change into livid dulness, and then there will come a scale over it, and in a short time it will be as cold as the frosty atmosphere around it. And so there is always a refrigerating process acting upon us, which needs to be counteracted by continual contact with the fiery furnace of spiritual warmth, or else we are cooled down to the degree of cold around us. But besides this universally operating cause there are many others which affect us. I find fault with no man for the earnestness which he flings into his business, but I ask you to say whether the relative importance of the things seen and unseen is fairly represented by the relative amount of earnestness with which you and I pursue these respectively. Then, again, the existence among us, or around us, of a certain widely diffused doubt as to the truths of Christianity is, illogically enough, a cause for diminished fervour on the part of the men that do not doubt them. That is foolish, and it is strange, but it is true. And there is another case, which I name with some hesitation, but which yet seems to me to be worthy of notice; and that is, the increasing degree to which Christian men are occupied with what we call, for want of a better name, secular things. I grudge the political world nothing that it gets of your strength, but I do grudge, for your sakes, as well as for the Church's sake, that so often the two forms of activity are supposed by professing Christians to be incompatible, and that therefore the more important is neglected, and the less important done.

III. THE LOVING CALL TO DEEPENED EARNESTNESS. "Be zealous, therefore." Lay hold of the truth that Christ possesses a full store of all that you can want. Meditate on that great truth and it will kindle a flame of desire and of fruition in your hearts. "Be zealous, therefore." And again, "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten." "Be zealous, therefore." That is to say, grasp the great thought of the loving Christ, all whose dealings, even when His voice assumes severity, and His hand comes armed with a rod, are the outcome and manifestation of His love; and sink into that love, and that will make your hearts glow. "Behold, I stand at the door and knock." "Be zealous, therefore." Think of the earnest, patient, long-suffering appeal which the Master makes, bearing with all our weaknesses, and not suffering His gentle hand to be turned away, though the door has been so long barred and bolted in His face.

IV. THE MERCIFUL CALL TO A NEW BEGINNING. "Repent."

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

The soul of man is endowed with active powers that it cannot be idle: and, if we look round the world, we see it all alive. What vigorous action, what labour and toil about the necessaries of life, about riches and honours! But it is quite otherwise in religion. Only a few act as if they regarded religion as the most important concern of life. For look round you, the generality are very indifferent about it. They will not Indeed renounce all religion entirely; they will make some little profession of religion; but it is a matter of indifferency with them, and they are but little concerned about it; they are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot. Now such a luke-warmness is an eternal solecism in religion; it is the most inconsistent thing imaginable: more so than avowed impiety; therefore, says Christ, "I would thou wert cold or hot" — i.e. "You might be anything more consistently than what you are. If you looked upon religion as a cheat, and openly rejected the profession of it, it would not be strange that you should be careless about it and disregard it in practice. But to own it true, and make a profession of it, and yet be lukewarm and indifferent about it, this is the most absurd conduct that can be conceived; for, if it be true, it is certainly the most important and interesting truth in all the world, and requires the utmost exertion of all your powers." There are some aggravations peculiar to the lukewarm professor that render him peculiarly odious; as —

1. He adds the sin of a hypocritical profession to his other sins.

2. He adds the guilt of presumption, pride, and self-flattery, imagining he is in a safe state and in favour with God; whereas he that makes no pretensions to religion has no such umbrage for this conceit and delusion.

3. He is in the most dangerous condition, as he is not liable to conviction, nor so likely to be brought to repentance.

4. The honour of God and religion is more injured by the negligent, unconscientious behaviour of these Laodiceans, than by the vices of those who make no pretensions to religion; with whom therefore its honour has no connection.But to be more particular: let us take a view of a lukewarm temper in various attitudes, or with respect to several objects.

1. Consider who and what God is. He is the original uncreated beauty, the sum total of all natural and moral perfections, the origin of all the excellences that are scattered through this glorious universe; He is the supreme good, and the only proper portion for our immortal spirits. He also sustains the most majestic and endearing relations to us: our Father, our Preserver and Benefactor, our Lawgiver, and our Judge. Is such a Being to be put off with heartless, lukewarm services?

2. Is lukewarmness a proper temper towards Jesus Christ? Is this a suitable return for that love which brought Him down from His native paradise into our wretched world? Oh, was Christ indifferent about your salvation? Was His love lukewarm towards you?

3. Is lukewarmness and indifferency a suitable temper with respect to a future state of happiness or misery?

4. Let us see how this lukewarm temper agrees with the duties of religion. And as I cannot particularise them all, I shall only mention an instance or two. View a lukewarm professor in prayer. The words proceed no further than from your tongue: you do not pour them out from the bottom of your hearts; they have no life or spirit in them, and you hardly ever reflect upon their meaning. And when you have talked away to God in this manner, you will have it to pass for a prayer. But surely such prayers must bring down a curse upon you instead of a blessing: such sacrifices must be an abomination to the Lord (Proverbs 15:8). The next instance I shall mention is with regard to the Word of God. You own it Divine, you profess it the standard of your religion, and the most excellent book in the world. Now, if this be the case, it is God that sends you an epistle when you are reading or hearing His Word. How impious and provoking then must it be to neglect it, to let it lie by you as an antiquated, useless book, or to read it in a careless, superficial manner, and hear it with an inattentive, wandering mind! Ye modern Laodiceans, are you not yet struck with horror at the thought of that insipid, formal, spiritless religion you have hitherto been contented with?

1. Consider the difficulties and dangers in your way. You must be made new men, quite other creatures than you now are. And oh! can this work be successfully performed while you make such faint and feeble efforts?

2. Consider how earnest and active men are in other pursuits. Is religion the only thing which demands the utmost exertion of all your powers, and alas! is that the only thing in which you will be dull and inactive?

(S. Davies, M. A.)

I. WHAT IS LUKEWARMNESS IN RELIGION? It is not Christian moderation. There is the popular and not unfounded prejudice against extremes, a suspicion of too great zeal, too much enthusiasm. And so in the service and the worship of God people choose a middle course between those who are "very jealous for the Lord God of Hosts," and those who turn their backs upon Him. They would not like to think anything extravagant; and they prefer to follow public opinion as safest; and then they think they are letting their moderation be known unto all men. Yet, after all, when we come to scrutinise this spirit, it is not quite like moderation and sober-mindedness, and the Lord's carefulness not to offend the weak. It is much more like worldly-mindedness.

II. WHAT ARE THE CAUSES OF LUKEWARMNESS?

1. May we not put first, worldly prosperity, the intrusion of something else into the place which God once occupied, and which God alone ought to occupy in the affections?

2. Another cause is the frequency of little sins. Evil speaking, untruthfulness and exaggeration, outbreaks of temper, vanity, self-indulgence, these, freely indulged, show not only that religion has no real power in the heart, but relax the hold of conscience, lessen our confidence towards God, and so chill our love.

3. Then, again, we may mention dissipation of mind, occupation in so many pursuits that little or no time is allowed for undisturbed communion with God in prayer and meditation. We all find it difficult to keep our attention fixed upon God without distraction. But how much harder if we allow our hearts to be choked with the pleasures and cares of this world! And if we cannot find time to think about Him we certainly shall not have power to love Him first, perhaps not to love Him at all with anything that deserves the name of love. In other ways this dissipation of mind serves to produce lukewarmness. If we are too busy to fix our minds upon God we shall scarcely have time to pay much attention to ourselves. How should we manage that which requires so much resolution, so much abstraction from worldly things, strict self-examination? How should we accurately measure our gain and loss since the last solemn inquiry into our spiritual state? How ascertain where we stand before God?

III. These are some of the causes, and some of the symptoms too — for it is impossible to keep them distinct — of lukewarmness. SOME OTHER SYMPTOMS may be mentioned. If you suffer yourself on every little pretext to shorten, or to omit, your devotions; if you care more about the fact of going through them than about the manner or the spirit in which you go through them; if, when you feel not altogether happy in your conscience towards God and man, you either neglect self-examination, or set about it in a slovenly way; if, when you have detected a fault in yourself, you are slow at reformation; if you act, day after day, without once sanctifying your motives and your actions to God; if you never aim at forming habits of obedience to His commandments; if you never attack any one particular sin; if you despise little things and daily opportunities; if you delight rather in thinking of the good you have done than of the good you have left undone, resting on the past rather than looking forward into the future; if you never care to have God in all your thoughts, and, by meditation at least, to be a partaker of the sufferings of Christ, then I fear it must be said of you that you are lukewarm.

IV. Would to God that we could as easily tell THE REMEDY as the disease. Try, then, if ever you feel your love growing cold, your faith less vivid, to quicken them by meditation on eternal truths, so as to saturate your minds with the conviction of their infinite importance. Fight against the cause of lukewarmness; against worldliness, self-indulgence, carelessness, habitual sins, however little they may seem, self-complacency in the past, the oppression of too many cares. That can be no duty which perils the soul.

(W. Mitchell, M. A.)

I. AN EXPOSURE OF SOME OF THE DISGUSTFUL THINGS WHICH ARE FOUND IN LUKEWARM RELIGION.

1. A lukewarm religion is a direct insult to the Lord Jesus Christ. If I boldly say I do not believe what He teaches, I have given Him the lie. But if I say to Him, "I believe what Thou teachest, but I do not think it of sufficient importance for me to disturb myself about it," I do in fact more wilfully resist His word; I as much as say to Him, "If it be true, yet is it a thing which I so despise that I will not give my heart to it."

2. Bethink you, again, does the Lord Jesus deserve such treatment at your hands? and may He not well say of such hearts as ours, He would that we were "either cold or hot"?

3. The lukewarm Christian compromises God before the eyes of the world in all he does and says. The world sees a man who professes to be going to heaven, but he is travelling there at a snail's pace. He professes to believe there is a hell, and yet he has tearless eyes and never seeks to snatch souls from going into the fire. Let the minister be as earnest as ever he will about the things of God, the lukewarm Christian neutralises any effect the minister can produce, because the world will judge the Church not by the standard of the pulpit so much as by the level of the pew. And thus they say, "There is no need for us to make so much stir about it; these peculiar people, these saints, take it remarkably easy; they think it will all be well; no doubt we do as much as they do, for they do very little."

4. The Lord hateth lukewarmness, because wherever it is found it is out of place. There is no spot near to the throne of God where lukewarmness could stand in a seemly position.

II. DISSUASIVES AGAINST LUKEWARMNESS. As Christians, you have to do with solemn realities; you have to do with eternity, with death, with heaven, with hell, with Christ, with Satan, with souls, and can you deal with these things with a cold spirit? Suppose you can, there certainly never was a greater marvel in the world, if you should be able to deal with them successfully. These things demand the whole man. And the day is coming when you will think these things worthy of your whole heart. When you and I shall lie stretched upon our dying beds, I think we shall have to regret, above all other things, our coldness of heart. Ay, and there will be a time when the things of God will seem yet more real even than on the dying bed. I refer to the day when we shall stand at the bar of God.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

If the Christian's progress may be likened to a steep and difficult ascent, we may compare his first beginnings of decline to the slow and doubtful motion of some heavy substance from which the force is removed which caused it to ascend, while the impetus is not yet gained which will shortly urge it down its headlong, unresisted course. Betwixt ceasing to mount upwards and beginning to fall back, there is an awful moment of suspense. Or, to use another illustration, when the tide has risen to its height there is still-water for a time, before the ebbing waves begin to retire. Just so with the business of the soul.

I. THE SIGNS OF LUKEWARMNESS IN RELIGION.

1. We may first describe the state to which the Lord refers in the message to Laodicea as a state of great spiritual insensibility.

2. Another symptom of lukewarmness in religion may be discovered in the influence which the opinions and the example of the world exert upon us. Why not preserve just so much of religion as will satisfy the meagre demands of a sleepy conscience, and yet enjoy the pleasures, and pursue with breathless haste the riches, of the world? The attempt is vain!

3. But, further, that Laodicean spirit which the text describes, betrays itself at length in a decay of zeal for God. Does it cause you but little sorrow that the Saviour of the world should still be an outcast from so large and fair a portion of His inheritance? Have you no bowels of mercies for a perishing world?

II. Some of those CIRCUMSTANCES WHICH RENDER THIS LUKEWARM STATE SO DANGEROUS TO THE SOUL.

1. The first that strikes us arises from the very nature of spiritual religion. For it is a contest against a corrupt nature. All the natural aids are on the side of sin: the world and the flesh are banded in one common cause. So that to lose ground in religion is not merely to risk our souls by wasting those advantages we have gained, but, further, it is to arm our enemies; it is to give to them the advantages which we have lost: for the attractive power of sin increases as we approach it.

2. The danger of this state is increased by the circumstance that there is in it nothing which at first excites alarm. For it is not a lapse into open sin. It does not amount to a rejection of the gospel. After all, the lukewarm Christian, compared with the multitude, is a religious man. And all this serves to soothe and to quiet his conscience.

(J. B. Marsden, M. A.)

1. There seems to be more likelihood of repentance, where men are manifestly wrong, than where there is ever so small ground on which they flatter themselves that they are right. Conscience in the one case may be awakened more readily by God's ordinary dispensations of providence and grace, than in the other, where it is lulled by the fatal satisfaction of being no worse than the world in general, of being almost if not quite a Christian.

2. The absolutely cold are in one respect less hardened than the lukewarm. They have at least usually less familiarity with those means of grace, whose abuse is as sure to harden the heart as their right use is to melt and refine it.

3. A third reason why the faithful Witness might wish even that we were cold rather than lukewarm is, that in the latter case we do more signal disparagement to the grace He dispenses, to the gospel He has revealed.

(Canon Girdlestone.)

I. THE HOT CONDITION. Some degree of warmth is necessary for the commencement of a religious experience. In the earliest days, wherever the Word was preached, wherever it penetrated men's hearts, there was s rush of spiritual emotion, a glow of inspiration, an effervescence of feeling, a new, strange joy. This was the token of the Spirit's presence. And what was true at first is true still, because religious history is a history of commencements and recommencements. Science has taught us that heat and motion are interchangeable, that heat is but a mode or form of motion, and motion but a mode or form of heat. The heat of the furnace and boiler is turned into the motion of the engine; the heat produced by the food we eat is turned into the motion of our bodies. The sun's heat stored up in the coal measures becomes the motion of a thousand factories. So it is in the moral world. To start and to keep up motion, right action, zealous effort, painstaking and fruitful activity, you must have heat within the soul. You know the type of Christian men whose enthusiasm is always at a glow. It brightens, and sparkles, and runs over. They thaw you, they warm you, when you come near them. These are the men who seem to respond to every genuine influence of God's Spirit. They have built the house of their faith not merely on the good foundation, but they have been wise, and built it with a warm, bright exposure as well. The forces of evil and temptation are strong. You must, therefore, have ardent religious feeling; you must have the action, the sympathy, the way of looking at and speaking of things that come with such strong feeling; otherwise the young and trustful, the men full of keen, vigorous life, will be swept into some of those vortices of evil and be lost.

II. THE COLD CONDITION. There is, of course, in human nature a continual tendency to cool down. Like the earth's surface during the night, our hearts are incessantly raying off heat. People don't intend probably to be cold and insensible to the things of God, but their mental force is run off, and so they grow cold. But then, once coldness comes it propagates itself, it even justifies itself. Men permanently, steadily cold, men with the spiritual thermometer standing constantly at zero, take various lines. There is among those who still profess to be Christians what may be called an orthodox and a heterodox coldness. Orthodox coldness still preserves the form of its faith, though that faith, instead of being a living figure, is a mere marble effigy — a corpse. Heterodox coldness has readjusted its beliefs and considerably modified them. Cold tends to contract most things, and faith among the rest. When men become cold after this fashion they become incapable of high belief, the belief that transforms a man and brings him near to God. They narrow their horizon, and all the stars go out of their sky. Cold men are dangerous neighbours. They very soon draw off all the heat from us. Let a centre of ice once form in a pond, and if the water be undisturbed, in a few hours it is frozen over. If we wish to preserve our heat, we must take care what company we keep. Alas! for that icy chill that has settled over many a heart that once throbbed kindly and truly in the service of Christ and of humanity I Some of the cold men look like icebergs. The fact is, they are not icebergs; they are extinct volcanoes. They once glowed with deep subterranean fires, and a red-hot stream of energy poured down the mountain-side. Now, there is only a collection of sulphur and ashes and crusted lava cakes.

III. THE LUKEWARM CONDITION. Lukewarmness is a stage of cooling down. No soul stops short at this stage. The heart leaps at once into fire and life. But it chills gradually. A lukewarm man you cannot describe. He is a mere collection of negations. His soul is like a reservoir or bath, into which streams of hot water and cold are being run at the same time, and you cannot tell which current is stronger, for they are often about equally strong. A lukewarm man has force, but it never moves him to any definite action. He has sympathies, but they tend to evaporate. He thinks, on the whole, he is a good, a religious man, on the side of Christ and of right. Other people are, on the whole, not quite sure what side he is on. The lukewarm man does not make it a principle to confine his religion to the four walls of the church, and the two boards of the Bible. He holds that it should not be so confined. And so he carries a few scraps of it into his daily life. He knows that prayer should not be an empty form, so he occasionally tries to pray inwardly and sincerely — that is, when he is neither very tired nor very busy. He has never given way on a question of principle, except when he was very hard pushed, or it appeared that very few people were looking on: and he has really often regretted giving way at all. He does not intend to do it again. A lukewarm man generally does a little Christian work, not, of course, enough to involve any sacrifice or exhaustion, nor would he take any pains to provide a substitute for occasional or even frequent absence. It is only genuine workers who do that. The lukewarm person has made a great many vows in the matter of religion in the course of his or her life — too many, in fact. It would have been better to have made fewer and kept some.

IV. CHRIST'S VERDICT ON THESE STAGES OF RELIGIOUS EMOTION. He regards it best to be hot, next best to be cold, worst of all to be lukewarm. Two or three reasons may be suggested.

1. There is, first, its unreality. Lukewarmness is a sort of imposture or sham. It is neither one thing nor another; and in a world that is sternly real, things and persons ought to have a definite character. Lukewarmness is the absence of character. It perplexes an outsider, and often imposes on a man himself.

2. Then it is useless. It has really no place in the order of things.

3. Further, it is a very impracticable state. You don't know how to deal with it.

4. Lastly, it is a dangerous state. It is more difficult to treat a man in a low fever than to treat a man who is sharply unwell. Lukewarmness tends not to get hotter, but to get colder. There is really more hope for s man who is cold outright. He is not blinding himself. He is not playing with truths. He knows he is cold. As a rule it is only when lukewarmness has died down into coldness that a change for the better comes. A man loses all, or almost all, religious life and interest, and then he starts to find himself thus dead, and turns in penitence and fear to Christ.

(John F. Ewing, M. A.)

I. THE TEMPER WHICH OUR LORD REPROVES IN THE CHURCH OF LAODICEA.

1. They are lukewarm who are at no pains to guard against error, and to acquire just sentiments of religion.

2. They are lukewarm who, from worldly hopes or fears, detain in unrighteousness the truth they know, and who will not profess it openly.

3. They are lukewarm who give God the body, but withhold from Him the soul.

4. The inactivity of professed Christians is a strong proof that they are lukewarm.

5. Many discover their lukewarmness by the limitations within which they confine their obedience, or by the weakness of their religious affections, when compared with their affections to worldly objects.

6. They are lukewarm who are little affected with the advancement or the decay of religion, or with that which concerns the common welfare of mankind.

II. WHY A LUKEWARM SPIRIT SO WOEFULLY PREVAILS AMONG MANY WHO PROFESS TO BELIEVE THE RELIGION OF JESUS. Lukewarmness prevails through an evil heart of unbelief. Men imagine that they believe the threatenings of the law and the promises of the gospel, who have never considered either their interesting nature or their undoubted certainty. Strangers they must be to holy fervour of spirit who see not the beauty and glory, and who relish not the pleasures of religion; who talk of treasures in heaven, but view the treasures of this earth as more desirable; and who fondly cherish a secret hope that God will be less severe on transgressors than the language of His threatenings supposes. The want of religious principles, ill-founded and presumptuous hopes, and that lukewarmness which flows from both, are greatly promoted by bad education and by bad example. The ordinary commerce of the world completes the ruin which education had begun. The conversation and manners of those whom the young are taught to love, or whose superior age and wisdom they respect, completely pervert their ideas, their resolutions, and their conduct.

III. THE FOLLY, GUILT, AND DANGER OF THIS LUKEWARM TEMPER.

1. The lukewarm practically deny the excellence and the importance of religion.

2. A lukewarm religion answers no valuable purpose.

3. The temper and conduct of the lukewarm is peculiarly base and criminal.

(1)It argues the vilest ingratitude.

(2)It indicates hypocrisy.

(3)The man who is lukewarm disgraces the worthy name by which he is called.

4. The lukewarm are not reclaimed without great difficulty, and they are always waxing worse and worse, whether it is pride, or self. deceit, or gross hypocrisy which chiefly prevails in their characters.

5. Lukewarmness exposes men to the dreadful effects of God's vengeance in temporal judgments, in spiritual plagues, and in eternal destruction.

(John Erskine, D. D.)

No one can help admiring a straightforward, honourable course, and when the world says of a man that he is "sitting on the fence," it is hardly considered as a compliment.

I. The first alarming symptom of the existence of lukewarmness is A GROWING INATTENTION TO THE PRIVATE DUTIES OF RELIGION.

II. Another evidence of the encroachments of lukewarmness is CARELESSNESS IN ATTENDING PUBLIC WORSHIP.

III. A third symptom of lukewarmness, about which there can be no possible mistake is AN INDIFFERENCE CONCERNING THE BENEVOLENT ENTERPRISES OF THE DAY, AND SCANT OFFERINGS FOR THEIR FURTHERANCE. The world has an eagle eye for anything inconsistent, and nothing disgusts it more than lukewarmness in those who claim to be followers of Christ.

(J. N. Norton, D. D.)

The besetting sin of that ancient Church of Asia was lukewarmness, half-hearted indifference. It is the besetting sin among us to-day. "I don't care," are words more commonly spoken among us than, "I don't believe." A careless, or idle, or even vicious boy at school may be reclaimed, but one who takes no interest in his work is a hopeless case. Look at some of the results of being indifferent about religion.

1. It makes our religion unreal. It is not the love of God which constrains us, but fashion, or custom. Our religion is like a spurious coin, good enough to look on, but when tried it does not ring true.

2. Next, indifference makes people ignorant of the teachings of the Church, they are often unacquainted with the very A B C of Christianity.

3. Again, this lukewarm indifference makes people selfish and idle. The idea of making any sacrifice for Christ's sake is not in their thoughts.

4. But above all, this lukewarm indifference leads to a shallow view of sin.

(H. J. Wilmot Buxton, M. A.)

One lukewarm Christian may do untold harm to a whole Church. Pour a quantity of tepid water into a vessel that contains boiling water, and immediately the temperature of the whole will sink. Just so the contact of men who are indifferent with those who are fervid, deadens their fervour, and tends to reduce them to the same lukewarmness.

(G. Bowes.)

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