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Hot or Cold

 

By Dr. Richard Ing

YOU'D BETTER BE EITHER HOT OR COLD

Recently, I got into a discussion about what it would take to get some of our members more involved with God.  It is a critical question, especially for these end times.  Failure to have a clear vision or understanding of what God is requiring of His saints today may lead to dire consequences. 

Many ministers avoid the Book of Revelation because few understand it; but lack of knowledge can be dangerous.  Revelation was written for our benefit so that we can make it through the difficult times ahead.  I suspect that its nuances and intricate metaphors were intentionally put in by God to force us to seek Him for answers.  Only the Holy Spirit can unravel its mysteries.

Some of the most important passages of Revelation are found in Chapters Two and Three.  In those chapters, Jesus warns six of His seven churches to repent for some failures each of these churches were guilty of.  However, the most scary warning was reserved for the church in Laodicea.

 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.  So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth.  Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing, and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: 

 

I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.  As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.  Revelation 3:14-19

Surely, this passage is one of the most read and yet least understood.  Will God really spit lukewarm Christians out of His mouth?  That is, deny them entry to heaven? 

In generations past, there have been many lukewarm Christians that made it into heaven.  In fact, the Church is used to having lukewarm Christians.  Why is it any different today?  I believe that the period immediately before the end of the world is vastly unlike any span of time preceding it.  For instance:  (1) God's true church will be formed (Rev. 12:1-6); (2) out of God's true church will come a mighty army of saints made up of mature and perfect sons and daughters of the Lord (Rev. 12:5; Rev. 14:1-5; Rev. 19:14-21; Joel 2:1-11); (3) Satan is going to be cast out of the heavens and will come with great wrath against the saints (Rev. 12:7-9); (4) Satan's beast is going to war against the saints and overcome them (Rev. 13:7; Da. 7:21, 25); (5) a group of true witnesses will lay down their lives for the sake of the kingdom of heaven (Rev. 12:17; Rev. 11:3-19) and will reign for a thousand years after Jesus returns (Rev. 20:4-5).

Never before has there been such a mighty people of God as those in His end time army of saints.  They will destroy all evil on earth.  They will never die.  Joel 2:8.  In heaven, they will be a special group, with the Father's name written on their foreheads and will be given a new name that will set them apart from the rest.  They will sit on the throne with God and inherit all things.  Throughout eternity, they will be recognized, respected and admired by all in heaven.  See Revelation, Chapters 2 and 3 regarding those that overcome.

The sifting of God's people will be intense in the last days.  Satan's beast will destroy the physical sanctuaries and seek to kill all Christians.  (Abomination of Desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet.  Mt. 24:15; Da. 11:31; Da. 12:11; Da. 9:27.  Only the strong will make it through.  The weak will fall; worse, many will lose their salvation because they will choose to take the mark of the beast rather than suffer for the Lord.  Rev. 14:9-11.  In short, only the "hot" will make it through the end of the world.  The cold and lukewarm may lose their salvation.  That is truly a spitting out from God's mouth.

God wants us either cold or hot.  Why?  It is within God's power to wake up anyone and change their hearts.  Why not the lukewarm?  The reason is that God will not do anything without our earnest crying out to Him to change us because we clearly see that we need to buy gold tried in the fire from Jesus.  The lukewarm, however, will not cry out to God to forgive and make them into red-hot Christians.  They are blind and naked but do not know it.  They feel with all their heart that they are pleasing to God and what they are doing is great and there is no need to change.  They are rich with worldly goods and pursuits and enjoy life on earth.  Yet, they are spiritually poor, wretched and miserable in God's eyes.  They don't want to be tried in the fire.  They love where they are.  They have no idea what "hot" means.  They are blind.

We need to find out what "hot" is.  We all know what cold is.  Whatever is not cold or hot is lukewarm. 

WHAT IS A "HOT" CHRISTIAN?

The original apostles are the best examples of "hot."  All of them except John willingly died horrible deaths.  John was thrown on the isle of Patmos to starve to death or be killed by roving gangs of criminals.  Each were willing to die for the sake of the Gospel and their Lord Jesus.  Something was bigger and more important to them than their own lives - bigger than life itself and something worth dying for.  Anything worth dying for is worth living for.  They each had a vision and a goal far beyond life itself - a vision so deep that it influenced and compelled them to willingly live a life of suffering and sacrifice.  They each had a goal so profound that they dedicated every ounce of strength to the achievement of that purpose.

THE LIFE OF PAUL

The life of the apostle Paul is striking and most highlighted since his teachings make up more of the New Testament than any other writer.  In Acts 20, the Jews were seeking to kill Paul and lay in wait for him.  Jerusalem, especially, was a very dangerous place for Paul to be.  He wanted to be in Jerusalem for Pentecost and the Holy Spirit was urging him to be there.  No doubt, his companions were worried and warned Paul not to go.  The great apostle acknowledged their fears and said, "Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons, serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews."   Ac. 20:18b-19. 

He, nevertheless, felt compelled to go to Jerusalem.  "And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me.  But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God."  Ac. 20:22-24. 

Paul went everywhere with full knowledge that danger to his life and welfare awaited him.  But he never counted his life dear to himself.  His one desire was to finish what God had given him to do, complete his ministry and task on earth which was to testify about the gospel of salvation given by the grace of God. 

Each of us, too, have the same ministry and task - to testify about the gospel of salvation given by the grace of God to the whole world.  In the process of which, we are brought into right standing with God, spiritual maturity and perfection in Jesus Christ.

The apostle counted the things of the world, fame, wealth and position as nothing but dung, compared to knowing Christ and serving Him.  Phil. 3:7-16.

Paul not only spoke it, but lived it as well.  In 2 Corinthians 11:23-28, he recounts some of his sacrifices in answer to certain criticisms that challenged his ministry.  After apologizing for seeming to boast, he says,

Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool)  I am more: in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.  Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.  Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep: In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren, in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.  Besides those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the Christians. 

Serving the Lord and glorifying God was so important that his physical welfare paled in comparison.  "I know both how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need."  Phil. 4:12.  Whether he had much or little didn't matter; whether he was full or hungry didn't matter either.  There was something far beyond both comfort and need that captured Paul's heart.  There are many other scriptures that described what the apostle Paul went through in his life on earth, too numerous to mention here.  Paul's eyes were heavenward, as he looked to eternity.  He has long since gone to heaven, but his legacy lives on through the pages of the Bible as an example to us.  His life, heart and mind were that of a Christian totally sold out to serving God.  He was a "hot" Christian. 

Anything in between "cold" and "hot" is lukewarm.

Now, I realize that all Christians have other responsibilities too.  Some have young children, some are taking care of their elderly parents or are involved in politics or business or in a myriad of other things.  But for everyone who has an excuse, there are Christians with identical responsibilities who overcame circumstances and managed to put God first.  I once had lunch with Rolland and Heidi Baker.  At the time, they had two small children, around six and four.  They were blond and blue-eyed.  They lived in Southern California and both earned masters degrees in college.  Later, they both earned their PhDs in London.  They were not rich and had many responsibilities, not unlike some of us.  When Heidi heard an audible voice telling her to go to Mozambique, they sold everything and with their two small children, moved to Mozambique as missionaries.  They lived in shanty towns with their two children as the natives did, cooking out of tin cans and gathering wood.  Today, they have over 8,000 churches, experienced great miracles and healings and taken care of hundreds of thousands of children in their schools and missions.  They are hot for Christ.

Charlie Wedemeyer was born and raised in Hawaii, became a star football player and was named Prep Athlete of the 1960s.  He played for Michigan State's second ranked football team, earned a masters degree and became a teacher and football coach.  He contracted Lou Gehrig's disease (ALS) at 33 years of age, that eventually left him paralyzed from the neck down.  He could only move his eyes, lips and eyebrows.  He also lost his voice.  Nevertheless, he continued to teach and coach footfall with Lucy, his high school sweetheart who learned to read his lips.  He never missed a practice and his team won their league championship seven times in the nine years he coached.  He preached the gospel of Jesus Christ for many years whenever he could, even before huge stadium crowds.  I was there when he preached Jesus Christ at the Aloha Bowl to a crowd of almost 40,000.  He never let his extreme disabilities stop him from serving God.   The last twenty years, he had to breathe through a tracheotomy tube and respirator.  He died at 64, but not until he had given every last ounce of energy to serving God.  The four hours before he died, his family and friends gathered around his bed to sing his favorite Christian songs.

What will we tell God when we stand before Him next to Charlie Wedemeyer and Rolland and Heidi Baker? 

ONLY GOD CAN CHANGE YOU

If only the "hot" will make it through the end of the world and the lukewarm could lose their salvation, our number one need today is for God to change us into "hot" and "on fire" Christians.  There is no way that your flesh will allow you to stop worshipping Self.  After all, Self serves the flesh.  Only God can do it.

We need to cry out to God with all our heart.  Time is fast running out.


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