Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Buy From Me - Or Remain Lukewarm


Buy From Me - Or Remain Lukewarm

 

“I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot.  So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.  Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.  As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.” – Revelation 3:15-19

A few years back God had me searching for a church.  During that time I visited many churches in my home town, and other towns.  Some were powerful, and others were not.  But in all of them, within the first few minutes of being in each one, it was easy to discern the true power of the church. 
The power of a church isn’t about the beautiful voices of the choir or praise group.  It’s not about the quality of the carpet and pews.  It’s not about the church’s bank account, or even the many programs that are given as “opportunities of service”.  It’s not even in the message preached from the pulpit.  The power of a church is found in its true worship of God, for only the TRUE worship of God can bring His manifest presence. 

John 4:23-24 tells us how we should worship God as it says “the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” Worship should be “in spirit and truth”.  To worship in spirit (lowercase ‘s’), means to worship from your spirit, your innermost being.  And to worship in truth means being genuine with God, without pretense. 
We could probably all name a house of worship that is just a church.  They are without worship in “spirit and truth”.  They occupy themselves with the events and business of the church more than with God.  Many prepare for church by putting on their church faces, their church attitudes, their church behavior, and their church clothes.  As soon as they leave, they take it all off and become who they really are again because they have not been in true worship of Almighty God.  Having lived this religious life, I know it well enough to rebuke it, and I know its high cost.  This isn’t worship! This is like the childhood game of dress up.  It’s playing church. 

I’ve often wondered where we got the tradition of dressing up for church. We know that God looks upon the heart, not the clothing.  He told His own disciples not to take clothing with them when they went to minister.  God isn’t concerned with our outer garments, but with the garment of the spirit.  The only reason we have for trying to look like movie stars when we go to church is to be pleasing to everyone else there.  Friends, be careful that you don’t derail your worship of God by caring too much about what you wear and how you look when you attend worship!  I cannot begin to count the number of Easter services I have participated in that were more about the new clothes and Easter egg hunt than the One who died on the cross!  Can we not see how our pretend worship makes God sick?
In Revelation 3:15-19 God speaks to the lukewarm church, the one that is not really worshipping but just going through the motions.  He says that He is sick of watching them, and “will vomit you out of My mouth”.  Do we realize that our insincere worship of God makes Him sick?  Do we realize that our pretense of worship, for the sake of on-watchers, makes Him want to throw up?

God begins describing the lukewarm church in Revelation 3:17 by saying we aren’t humbled for worship.  Our hearts say “I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’.  Yet all the time, God sees our heart in its genuine state, and says we are “wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked”.  So often the one who needs God the most is the one who feels they need Him least.
Friends, it’s time for you to be honest with yourself, and for me to be honest with myself.  How does it feel to have our loving God call us “wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked”?  It hurts!  Who have we have compared ourselves to in order to put ourselves on such a high pedestal that we feel we are not in need of more of Him?  Our only example of Christianity is Jesus Christ himself. No other man man or woman is holy.  Unless you are as pure and holy as Christ, jump off the pedestal!  It’s much easier to humble yourself than be thrown off by a Holy God.

But God doesn’t just criticize the lukewarm church and walk away sick to His stomach.  He offers us a way out, a way to longer be “wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked”.  He tells us to go “buy from Me” three things.  These things are bought - they have a price of sacrifice.
First, He says to go buy gold refined with fire so we can be rich.  The refining fire is often spoken of in God’s word, and used by God to purify His children.  In Isaiah 48:10 He says Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.”  Psalms 66:10 says “For You, O God, have tested us; You have refined us as silver is refined.”  His purification will make you cry out.  God instructs us to submit ourselves to it.  He wants us to put away the sin in our lives and follow Him with all our heart.

In 1 Peter 1:7 it says that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ”. God is seeking genuine Christians, full of faith that has been tried through tests and affliction. The gold that we buy through that sacrifice leads us to holiness, which makes us rich in Him. 
Secondly, He says to go buy white garments so that we won’t be naked.  Sin leaves us naked, just as Adam and Eve found themselves naked when they sinned.  The white garment represents salvation.  Isaiah 61:10 refers to salvation as a garment, saying For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation; He has covered me with the robe of righteousness”. Unless He covers you – you remain naked.

Keep in mind that the entire time God is speaking in Revelation 3:14-21, He is speaking to the church – not the lost world.  What God is telling us is that we have church members that are not sealed with His Holy Spirit.  They haven’t accepted Christ for salvation, and don’t wear the white garment.  Friends, all the holiness you can muster up won’t bring you righteousness in His sight!  You can work every position in your church, organize events, sing in the choir, teach Sunday School, and never find righteousness in and of yourself.  You may fool your church, but you’ll never fool God. 
Your works will not buy your salvation.  Christ paid for it on the cross.  It is through faith in Christ that you receive salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9).  Unless you submit to Christ Jesus in faith, buying from Him the white garment of righteousness, you’ll be found naked.  Do you want to go to Heaven?  You can’t get there without Him.  The clock of your life is ticking down.

Lastly, He tells us to buy salve for our eyes, and anoint them so that we can see.  God refers to the spiritual eye, and spiritual blindness.  While the eyes in our heads allow us to see the things that are visible, the eye of our spirit allows us to see and know the invisible spiritual things.  In Matthew 6:22-23 Jesus refers to the spiritual eye and calls it “the lamp of the body”, and says that “If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness“.  In Psalms 19:8 we read that The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes”, and again Psalms 119:105 we read Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”  God’s word is the salve that cures spiritual blindness, and allows us to see ourselves as He sees us. 
In Isaiah 42:16 He says “I will bring the blind by a way they did not know; I will lead them in paths they have not known. I will make darkness light before them, and crooked places straight. These things I will do for them, and not forsake them.” God seeks to guide us, but requires our sacrifice of time to read and follow His word.  Apart from taking in His daily bread, you’ll remain lukewarm and weak in your spirit. 

We have a cure for being lukewarm straight from the mouth of God.  But we don’t want to be anything else because lukewarm feels good.  It feels good, even though it’s lacking the joy of salvation.  It feels good, even though it is complacent and apathetic about God’s will.  It feels good, because we can check into and out of church feeling accomplished, and then go back to our life of sin and self-satisfaction.  We don’t desire anything more.  We’re lukewarm.  We love ourselves more than anything in Heaven. 
Lukewarm comes with a cost just as buying these things from God come with a cost.  But being lukewarm costs us so much more! Romans 8:32 says He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?”  I want the “all things” that He “freely gives”.  Don’t you?

In his book “Crazy Love”, Francis Chan sums it up by saying “The core problem isn’t the fact that we’re lukewarm, halfhearted, or stagnant Christians. The crux of it all is why we are this way, and it is because we have an inaccurate view of God. We see Him as a benevolent Being who is satisfied when people manage to fit Him into their lives in some small way. We forget that God never had an identity crisis. He knows that He’s great and deserves to be the center of our lives.”  
Why can’t we understand - with a passion in our hearts - that God that deserves to be center of our lives?  Choose to buy from Him - who gives freely - salvation, His daily bread, and spiritual vision.  We’ve wasted enough time being lukewarm.

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