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James Merritt - Laodicea, Spiritually Bankrupt

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    James Merritt - Laodicea, Spiritually Bankrupt
TOPICS: This is Your Captain Speaking, Seven Churches of Revelation

Let me tell you a story, true story. It is one of the greatest things that ever happened in my life, and I'm being serious, and you'll know why. From the time I started school, my first day before I went to school, my dad told me, he said, "Son, I expect you to make As and Bs. If you make a C, you'll get a spanking". That's what my dad told me, "Can't make a C. Make As and Bs". So I kind of went to school with a fear of dad in my heart from the very first day. And I've always been a real competitive guy, those that know me, and so I really always have tried to make straight As and all that kind of stuff. Well, very grade-conscious, so that kind of lends the color to this story.

I was in the eighth grade, Mrs. Probst. Ms. Probst, if you're still, if you're watching, I think you watch me. So you may or may not remember this. She was our math teacher in the eighth grade. Now, Ms. Probst was a believer. She went to my church. She was a great teacher. She was hard. She's just hard. So she would assign a lesson for the next day. Every day she'd assign a lesson, and we were expected to learn how to do the math problems that she assigned. The problem was she would always review the lesson and walk us through how to solve the problems. So nobody really ever paid attention or read the lesson because the next day we knew she would basically do the work for us.

So we just didn't do our homework. It just was a habit. And I don't know whether she figured it out. I don't know whether she came in a bad mood. I don't know what happened. But one day she walked into that classroom, and she did something, only time she ever did it. She walked in, and she put... We were ready to kind of start going through the lesson. She said, "Okay, everybody get out a sheet of paper. We're gonna take a pop quiz". I'm telling you, we were terrified. I was. Nobody studied the lesson. We didn't have a clue how to do these problems. So we all reluctantly took the test. We turned in our papers, and everybody in the class knew we had flunked that exam.

So we're watching her, and she's grading these papers while we're watching her. And I mean, you could see the steam starting to come out of her ears. She was so angry at the fact nobody done their homework, and we hadn't. Nobody knew what they were doing. Nobody studied the lesson. So afterwards, she was just, I can remember she'd do this. She's just, you know, red ink. She'd ran out of red ink. She's red-inking those papers, and, man, she starts stacking those papers will-nilly on top of each other, you know. And then I'm gonna tell you, she lit into us like, you know, a football coach probably lit into Tennessee after that game was over. I mean, she let us know how disappointed she was. Everybody had flunked. This was gonna be 1/3 of our grade. I mean, she was letting us have it with everything.

Well, she asked one of my classmates named Barry Stewart. God loved Barry. Barry attended our church, but unfortunately, Barry went to be with the Lord a couple of years ago. But she asked Barry to come up and to get the papers and to distribute the papers. She said, "Now, here's what we're going to do". She said, "Everybody, when you get your paper, I'm gonna call your name. I want you to call out your grade out loud, and I'm gonna record your grade". I mean, it was kind of like her version of the Chinese water torture, right? So I wanna tell you what happened next. It was agonizing to watch, but it was thrilling to behold. Barry goes up to her, and he hands her our papers, and they're kind of stacked, you know, not in a neat stack, just kind of willy-nilly. And she gives 'em to him. I can still see this like it happened in stereo.

It was awesome. He took those papers in his right hand, and he turned around, and he went, "Blech". And he tossed his cookies all over those papers. I mean, it was gushing out of his mouth like Niagara Falls. It was glorious. It was awesome. It is the best barf you have ever seen in your life. Mrs. Probst had this look on her face, and it didn't help that we all broke out in a hallelujah chorus. That didn't help matters at all because she had not recorded the grades, and they had all gone up in a smoke of barf. And what made him sick to his stomach made our year. I'll never forget it. It was wonderful. But you say, "Gosh, okay, what in the world does that have to do with a sermon"?

I can make a sermon out of anything, okay. So it actually has everything to do with this one. Let me tell you why. If you're a guest of ours today, we're in a series that we're calling "This is Your Captain Speaking". We've been speaking on seven letters that Jesus wrote to seven churches about 2,000 years ago. And of all the letters that Jesus wrote to all of these churches, this letter we're going to study today, and if you wanna look it up in the Book of Revelation, the last book of the Bible, chapter three, this letter that Jesus wrote to this church is the harshest letter He wrote 'cause this is what Jesus said to this church: "When I see your version of Christianity, when I see how you live your Christian life day in and day out," this is Jesus talking, He said, "It makes me so sick, I wanna throw up".

Now, get that in your mind. These people who said they were saved, they said they were Christians, He said, "You make me so sick, I wanna vomit you out of my mouth". It's only one of two churches that Jesus had nothing good to say. Say, well, what was the problem? Here's the problem. This was a church that was blind, but it thought it could see. It was a church that was poor, but it thought it was rich. It was a church that was naked, but it thought it was clothed. And it was guilty of the one sin that is so bad, it makes Jesus nauseated. It's the sin of lukewarmness, just being lukewarm. You say, "What do you mean by being lukewarm"?

Let me tell you, here's what I call lukewarm Christianity. It's ho-hum Christianity. You can take it on Monday, leave it on Tuesday, take it on Wednesday, leave it on Thursday, take it on Friday, leave it on Saturday. And Sunday's always a coin flip. Sunday's always, if the weather's fine, if the close sun is shining, it's not too hot, it's not too cold, the boat, I don't need to go to the lake today. I've got nothing else to do, I'll-go-to-church kind of Christianity. Have you ever heard the phrase no man's land? No man's land is a place where you never ever should be because only bad things happen in no man's land. Let me give you an illustration. How many of you have ever played tennis? How many of you've ever played tennis? Okay, then you can relate to this. In tennis, there's an area called no man's land. It's that area where it's right in front of the baseline where you stand behind to serve, but it's behind the service box where the ball has to land. You'll see a picture of it right up here.

So here's the problem. If you're ever get in no man's land, you're too far from the net to really volley the ball effectively, but you're also too far from the baseline where you really can't hit a ground stroke. You are in no man's land. That's why they call it no man's land. Don't ever go there. That's what lukewarm Christianity is. It's no man's land. You're stuck where you really can't be what you oughta be and do what you ought to do. You see, the problem with this church was it wasn't that they were hot. It wasn't even they were cold. They were just lukewarm. And I really believe that one of the most unconfessed, unrecognized, unnoticed sins in the church today is the sin of lukewarmness.

And let me tell you why. The average lukewarm Christian doesn't even realize they're lukewarm. Somebody said about the average Christian we have become so abnormal, so subnormal, that if we became normal, we'd think it was abnormal. We've become so subnormal that if we ever became normal, we would think it was abnormal because the average Christian is either too ignorant to realize they're lukewarm, or they're too proud to admit it. So I hope you'll listen to this message today because there are some of us, and I get there sometime, you're stuck in no man's land. Some of you know this deep down. You know, I do love Jesus. But is it a burning, passionate, on-fire 24/7 love for Christ? No, it's not. There are times when it's not that we don't like Jesus or don't love Jesus. We're just indifferent to Jesus.

So let me give you this sermon in a sentence, okay. Here's my sermon in a sentence. In the Christian life, sitting on the fence is the wrong side of the fence. In the Christian life, sitting on the fence is the wrong side of the fence. So how do you avoid the sin of lukewarmness? How do you stay out of old man's land? I'm gonna say three quick things this morning. Number one, we've got to acknowledge our condition of lukewarmness. I mean, right out of the bat, gotta admit it. Now, I'm sure the church at Laodicea was shocked when they read the opening line of this letter. We're in Revelation 3:14: "To the angel of the Church of Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful, and true witness, the ruler of God's creation".

Now, why does He call Himself that? Jesus wants us to know, "Hey, I don't lie. I call it like it is. I don't call it like you wish it was. I call it like it is. I call it like I see it". He said, "I know your deeds". Well, at first they thought, "Well, good. I know He knows that". No, that's not good because you're neither cold nor hot. "I wish you were one or the other". So Jesus looks at this church, and here's what He saw. It was a church that was too cold to be hot. Yet it was too hot just to be cold. And if you lived 2,000 years ago in Laodicea, you would've understood. Why does Jesus talk about hot and cold? Because if you lived there, you'd say, "Okay, now I get it".

Laodicea had no water of their own, had no source of water, and they were dependent on two other cities to get water. So they had no fresh water supply. So just a few miles of them on one side of their city was a city called Hierapolis. You don't need to remember that. It was called Hierapolis. Hierapolis had a large body of boiling water, kind of like the hot springs that we have here in Georgia. They had this hot, what we call hot springs. It was like almost boiling water. The problem was the only way to get it from Hierapolis to Laodicea was an aqueduct. And the problem was, by the time you got the water from there to Laodicea, it was no longer hot. It was lukewarm. On the other side, there was a city called Colossae.

You know that we've got a book called Colossians. They had rivers of cold water. But the problem was by the time they transferred the cold water from Colossae to Laodicea, it was no longer cold. It was lukewarm. And what Jesus was saying was, "Look, hot water is good. Cold water is good. Lukewarm won't work". You can drink hot water to bring healing. You can apply cold water to be refreshed, but lukewarm doesn't do either one. As a matter of fact, lukewarm water really can make you sick. That's why Jesus goes on to say this: "So because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I'm about to spit you out of my mouth".

I'll give you a good example. Take milk for example. If you wanna kind of help you go to sleep at night, people do this. One of the things you can do is you can drink hot milk. Hot milk kind of relaxes the body, slows the blood flow down, and kind of brings the blood pressure down. And you can do that. Or if you're like me, you know, one of my favorite desserts is chocolate chip cookies. And what I love to do, I like hot chocolate chip cookies. You know what goes real good with hot chocolate chip cookies, right? Somebody tell me. Yeah, cold milk, right? So you drink cold milk. So some people drink hot milk in the morning or in the evening. They'll drink cold milk in the morning.

However let me tell you something that doesn't taste good and can make you sick, lukewarm milk. Take that cold milk out of the refrigerator, let it stay out for three or four hours, and then drink it. It doesn't taste good, and it can actually make you sick. And what Jesus is saying is the lukewarmness, the indifference, the spiritual apathy of this church, it didn't just make Him sick. He said, "It makes me want to spit you out of my mouth". Now you may say, "Well, pastor, that's a little bit nicer than saying vomit". Well, I don't know. I mean, you know anybody that dips snuff or chews tobacco? I mean, that spit doesn't do a lot for me.

I remember, I may have told you this, I remember I was pastoring my second church in Kentucky. I was doing my PhD work, and we had a big tobacco farmer in our church. And so he came. Labor Day was coming up, and he said, "Hey, preacher". He said, "You ever gathered tobacco"? And I said, "No, I've never gathered tobacco in my life". He said, listen, "Got a bunch of church guys, and their families are coming over. We're all gonna get 'em out, bring it, you know, gather my tobacco and hang tobacco". And he said, "Then were gonna have a big dinner on the grounds. Would you come"? Well, we didn't have anything else to do, Teresa and I, and James was a baby. I said, "Yeah, we'll come".

So I hung tobacco all day. Anybody ever hung tobacco? It's hard work, I mean, not something you wanna do for a living. So anyway, so we hung tobacco all day. I'll never forget we was out there, and this farmer was next to me, this guy on the tobacco field. And he was kind of gigging me a little bit, and he said, "Preacher, I wanna ask you a question". I said, "Yeah, sure". He said, "Can I chew tobacco and go to heaven"? Thought he was being a smart aleck, you know. He said, "Can I chew tobacco and go to heaven"? I said, "Yeah, but you'd have to go to hell to spit". So you know, Jesus said, Jesus said, "I wanna spit you out of my mouth".

Do you know the word that Jesus used there? Jesus used the Greek word that gives us the English word emetic. Now, if you're a nurse or a doctor, you know what an emetic is. An emetic is something that you give to someone to force nausea or vomiting. If you swallow poison accidentally, you go to the hospital, they're gonna give you an emetic. They want you to throw that poison up out of your body. So what Jesus literally said, we just cleaned it up. What Jesus literally said to this church was, "You are so lukewarm in your Christianity. You are so apathetic. You're so take it or leave it. You are so ho-hum. You make me literally want to vomit".

And lukewarmness, I'm convinced, is where most churches are and a lot of professing Christians are. See, the average Christian, the average Christians not fighting Jesus. The average Christian's not just forsaking Jesus. He's just not really following Jesus. They're just apathetic. It's not that you don't believe Jesus, or you don't love Jesus. It's just that sometimes you're just kind of indifferent. And I'm gonna prove this to you. I'm not gonna tell you anything you don't already know 'cause study after study proves it, and I see it with my own eyes. There's not a whole lot of difference today between the world and the church. And I knew I wouldn't get an amen to that, and I don't want one. I'm just telling you there's just not a lot of difference 'cause the same things you see in the world, divorce, sexual immorality, pornography, materialism, racism, sexism, indifference to the things of God, same thing you see in the world, you see in the church.

Not a lot of Christians have a lot of passion for being sent, spending time with the Lord, sharing Jesus, serving in the church, being really committed to God's work. I mean, I'm just talking about the average Christian. Listen, you're saved. I'm not trying to get anybody to doubt their salvation. You know Jesus. I don't have any doubt about that at all, but I'll give you an example. If I were to ask most of you today, "Do you believe that people need Jesus"? You'd say, "Sure". If I were to ask most of you today, "Do you believe that people who die without Christ are lost?" you'd say, "Sure". But the average believer doesn't live like they believe that because the average believer never shares the gospel. The average believer never brings up Jesus. We believe it. We say we believe it, but then we look and say, "Well, wait a minute".

I'll give you an example. Let's just tape this book right here, the Bible. If I were to say this to you today, "Do you believe the Bible"? most of you'd say, "If I didn't believe the Bible, I wouldn't be here. I believe that". And I'd say, "You know, well, what about this? Do you believe that we oughta learn the Bible and live the Bible"? You'd say, "Sure". So let me give you this illustration. When the pandemic hit in March of 2020, at first everybody thought, "Wait a minute, it looks like this is gonna have a real positive effect on America's spirituality". As a matter of fact, three of the largest online evangelism ministers, three of the largest reported vast increases in people streaming services. But did that cause people to become engaged? No, because what we found out was in June of that year, one million fewer Christians were engaged either in the church or reading the Bible than before the pandemic hit, one million.

What about worship? Here's where we are today. If we go to church, no big deal. If we don't go to church, no big deal. And when we do come to church, being honest, I mean, do we really worship, sing, get engaged, hearing God's Word with the same passion we do at a movie or a ballgame? I mean, when it comes to really being different to the world by living a pure holy, godly life, we're kind of lukewarm. So here's what I'd like to ask all of us to do. I did it with myself this morning. I want you to imagine I had a spiritual thermometer, and I gave it to you, and I said, "Take your spiritual temperature".

Now, just be honest. Is your Christianity, if you took your temperature, is it hot enough and passionate enough to bring healing to people who are spiritually sick, to bring refreshment and hope to those who are hurting? Or is it just lukewarm? Now, if you're one of those people that would say, "That's me," well, that's okay. Just acknowledge, as I have to do sometimes, your lukewarmness.

Second thing, we have to affirm the cause of lukewarmness. So what causes us to be lukewarm? What's the problem? Well, Jesus identifies the two causes, verse 17. Here's the problem: "You say, 'I am rich. I've acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked". So what causes lukewarmness? Why am I not more passionate about Jesus? Why am I not more in love with Jesus? Why doesn't my fire burn more brightly for Jesus? Why not? Jesus said there are two causes. Arrogance and ignorance. That's the problem. Arrogance and ignorance.

Let's take the first one. You know what was so amazing about this church? I mean, it really is kind of mind-boggling. This church really didn't realize how bad off they were. This church thought they were pretty cool. This church thought they would deserve a blue ribbon. This church looked at their budget, and they looked at their buildings. They said, "Man, I think we're doing pretty good. I think we're doing okay". The church thought, "We're well," but it was sick. They thought, "We're in great shape," but they were dying. First of all, they were arrogant. He said, "Look, you say, 'I'm rich. I've acquired wealth and do not need a thing.'"

Now, there's no question that that church probably had a lot of money. Laodicea was a very prosperous city, and they probably had a lot of very prosperous people who attended that church. And the bills were paid, and money was in the bank, and people were coming, and everybody seemed happy. So they thought everything was good. And back in that day, if you had walked into that church on a Sunday, sat through a worship service, here's what you would not have seen. You would not have seen people getting saved. You would not have seen people being baptized. You wouldn't see anybody weeping and broken over their sin, repenting of their sin. You wouldn't really see people doing, I mean, going all out in their worship, being discipled, you know, serving, being sent.

And see, the problem with this church was they had decided, "You know what? We're gonna measure our success by our worldly wealth rather than by our worshipful witness". We are so blessed, and we should be so thankful, but don't you ever measure your success by what you own. You measure your success by what owns you. See, the church at Laodicea, they were prosperous. They were popular. They were polished. They were proud. But they were powerless. You say, "How do you know that"? Because as you're gonna see in just a moment, you know what the biggest problem this church had was? You're gonna see this in a minute. Jesus was on the outside looking in. Jesus wasn't even in the church.

And I don't care if a church exceeds its budget. I don't care if you build new buildings. I don't care if you call the finest staff. I don't care if you got a good preacher. I don't care if you've got the most influential people. I don't care if you've got the best worship ministry. If that church is not burdened for lost people, if we don't wanna see people saved, if we don't bathe ourselves in prayer, if we don't see people repenting of when they're wrong, walking with God, if they're not on fire for the gospel, if we're not on fire for the gospel, we're just a lukewarm church. We may think we're rich, but we're not, and it makes God sick. But here's the other problem. Boy, not only were they arrogant. They were just ignorant.

Jesus says in verse 17, "You don't realize that you're wretched and pitiful and poor and blind and naked". They didn't even realize they were lukewarm because, see, here's the danger of lukewarm Christianity. You can come to church. You can give your money. You can live a clean life. You can pay your taxes. You can even keep a Bible on your desk and not even know that you're just lukewarm because the lukewarm Christian is usually the last one to know they are a lukewarm Christian. I mean, look, let's just take our heart out and put it in the mirror. Let's just look in the mirror of our heart today. You say, "Well, I'm not against God".

I know that. You wouldn't be here if you were against God. Here's my question, are you excited about God? Is He the passion of your life? I have a mentoring program every year. I mentor eight guys. There was a man I mentored a few years ago. Our group helped this man in ways I won't even go into. I mean, this guy was in the tank, and we really helped this guy get back on his feet. Well, about three years ago, he left our church. He just never said goodbye, just boom, gone.

So what happened? Well, he was in a leadership position in our church, and I'll just put it this way. He just had some serious blind moral spots in his life. And when he was lovingly confronted just to do the right thing, he just left because, you see, there are believers that, I hate to say it this way, but I'm gonna be honest. They're believers. They just want to go to heaven and be left alone. I'm being honest. They just wanna go to heaven and be left alone. They just wanna come to church and be left alone. They don't wanna be challenged. They don't wanna be asked to serve. They don't wanna be asked to share their faith. They don't wanna be asked to give.

See, the arrogance of this church was rooted in the ignorance of this church because wherever you find arrogance, you always almost find ignorance. You say, "Well, how do you know that"? I'll tell you why. Do you know what an arrogant person, and by the way, I could ask you this question. If I were to ask you, "Have you ever met an arrogant person in your life"? you'd all have to raise your hands because if you have never met one, go look in the mirror. Listen, can I get an amen to this? We're all arrogant at times. I am. I admit it. You know, we're all arrogant at times. But let me tell you what an arrogant person is. Here's how you get arrogant. You get arrogant when you forget just how small you are compared to the one that made you. That's when you get arrogant.

When you realize, you know what? I have what I have. I am who I am by the grace of God, period, I can walk today because of the grace of God. I can see today because of the grace of God. I can hear today because of the grace of God. I have money in the bank today because of the grace of God. I'll eat great food at Thanksgiving all because of the grace of God. Because you cannot totally appreciate the grace of God and be arrogant at the same time. So an arrogant person is just someone... Yeah, you can clap. Give the Lord a hand. You can be arrogant, but arrogance always is rooted in ignorance. Man, I didn't even know it. Now watch this. Arrogance plus ignorance equals lukewarmness. That's what it is. Arrogance plus ignorance equals lukewarmness. So I'll ask you again, what's your spiritual temperature? Anybody here stuck in no man's land, second question.

All right, third thing, we're done. So what do you do? You're lukewarm. What do you do? You admit it. You realize it. You're awake. What do I do, pastor? Number three, we have to apply the cure for lukewarmness. Now here's what I love about Jesus, and I love this about Jesus. I never have a problem with people being critical. I wanna make something very... I really don't. Well, this is kind one those when I'm in the neighborhood kind of deals. I got no problem with being critical. Got no problem with pointing out when I do wrong, our church does wrong. We blew it here. We didn't do that. No problem.

One thing I got a problem with is don't send me an anonymous letter 'cause I never read 'em. I'll just tell you that right now. Don't do that. And by the way, you may say, "Well, I'll send a fake name". No, we check every name, so don't do that either. We're ahead of you. Got no problem, really do. I don't have any problem with that whatsoever. In fact, I like it. However this is what I don't like. Don't curse the darkness and then refuse to light a candle. You wanna be critical, that's fine. Tell me what you'd do about it. You know, as Dr. Rogers used to say, "It doesn't take a lot of size to criticize". It's one thing to say, "Okay, you're doing this wrong". Okay, well how would you do it? Tell me. Tell me.

You know, I love the story about the lady. Dwight L. Moody got through preaching one Sunday morning, and he was walking out the door, and a lady stopped him. He was talking about winning people to Christ. She said, "Brother Moody, I got a problem with you". He said, "What's your problem"? She said, "I don't like the way you witness to people". He said, "Well, how do you do it"? She said, "Well, I don't do it". Dwight L. Moody said, "I like the way I do it better than the way you don't". I don't mind you cursing the darkness, but light a candle. That's what Jesus does. See, Jesus doesn't just condemn this church because they're not where they ought to be. He says, "Let me counsel you so you can be where you need to be". So this is what Jesus says. This is His cure, verse 18: "I counsel you," now watch this, "to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich".

Now what in the world did He mean by that? Here's what I think you oughta do if you're lukewarm. Jesus said, "You need to come into my store and buy from me the gold refined in the fire. That's what will make you rich". What did He mean? Here's what He was saying: "Quit doing business with the world. Quit buying counterfeit goods. You need to return to the gold standard. Stop focusing on the worldly things that are just temporary. Focus on spiritual things that are permanent". And here's what Jesus would say to anybody listening to me right now: "Hey, if you're shopping for peace, fulfillment, true success in any other store except my store, you're shopping in the wrong place. You're wasting your money". And then He goes on to say this, verse 18: "And white clothes to wear. so you can cover your shameful nakedness, and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see".

Now what would did Jesus mean by that? Here's what He was saying: "If you'll just recognize how poor you really are without me, and if you will come to me, I will give you true riches. If you'll recognize where you are without me, and you'll come to me, I will clothe you with purity and power. If you'll just recognize just how blind you are without me, and you'll come to me, I will give you eyes to see what is really important in life". See, so many of us, so many churches, so many Christians, we're just blind to our lost neighbors and our lost relatives and our lost colleagues at work. And actually to the fact of why the world's in the mess that it's in right now, listen, one of the reasons why so many marriages are in the mess we're in right now is because they refuse to come to the only One that can heal their marriage. They refuse to realize one simple truth, life and love and marriage is just like a triangle.

And a husband's here, and a wife is here, and God is here. And the closer the wife gets to God, and the closer the husband gets to God, the closer they get to each other. I have yet to meet, while I'm in this neighborhood, I have yet to ever experience and see a marriage that ever didn't make it where both people really, truly loved Jesus. They may said they did. I'm not saying that, but I'm talking about you cannot be passionately in love with Jesus, and you cannot be passionately in love with Jesus, and both of you not be able to love one another. So, we don't come to the only one that can solve every problem and heal every hurt and answer every question and bring every life out of the pit.

Now here's the good news about being lukewarm, and I've experienced it in my own life. So I don't want you to sit there at a pity party, and I certainly don't want you to wallow in a guilt trip, and I don't want you to walk out the same way you walked in. So if you're watching right now, or you're in this room, and you're saying to yourself, "Look, I'm lukewarm. I get it. I am. I do love Jesus. I do trust Jesus. He is my Lord. He is my savior. But my spiritual temperature, I'm not really doing real well right now," here is the good news. You ready for this? You may be lukewarm. You don't have to stay that way. You don't have to stay where you are.

By the way, if you're in a lukewarm church, you don't have to stay in that church. Well, but that's where my grandmother went. Well, I got news for you. Your grandmother's in heaven. And I'll tell you something else. Now that she's experiencing what she's experiencing in heaven, if she came back there, she'd tell to get out of that church. So if you're in a lukewarm church, you don't have to stay there. If you're in a lukewarm marriage, you don't have to stay there. You don't have to stay lukewarm in your marriage. You don't have to be lukewarm. If you're in a lukewarm family, maybe all your family's lukewarm, you don't have to be lukewarm. That's why Jesus says now in verse 19, watch this: "Those whom I love, I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent". That word earnest literally means be on fire. It means to boil.

Here's what Jesus was saying, was: "Hey, if the pilot light's kind of gone out in the furnace of your heart, anytime you're ready, we've got this person called the Holy Spirit of God. He can relight that pilot light, and he's got plenty of kerosene, and he can make that light burn as bright as you want. You can burn red hot again if you're willing to take the time, make the effort to pour the kerosene of the Holy Spirit into your heart". That's why the next verse is so familiar to us, and sometimes we don't understand it. But listen to what Jesus said in verse 20. He says, "Here I am. I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me".

Now watch this. What's He been talking about? The church. Who's he been talking to? The church. Who's he been talking to? Individual Christians in the church. And here's what He was saying. He's standing outside the door of this church knocking, saying, "Can I come in"? And he's standing at the door of some of your hearts right now, saying, "Hey, can I come in"? 'Cause now we find the real reason why churches and Christians are lukewarm. You know why we're lukewarm? 'Cause somehow we put Jesus outside. He's kind of trying to get in because when you put Jesus where Jesus doesn't belong, always remember this. When you put Jesus where Jesus doesn't belong, that is, on the outside rather than right in the center of your heart, the fire will always go out 'cause He's the only kerosene that keeps the fire burning.

So Jesus said, "Would you just let me back in"? Because when you put Him where He doesn't belong, your fire goes out, your passion dies, your commitment vanishes. And Jesus is talking to the church, and Jesus is talking to the individual. So, be honest. Have you fallen into the pit, the trap, of lukewarmness? Because anytime you're ready to open the door, and let Jesus back in where He belongs, He says, "I will come in". If you've never given your heart to Jesus, you may say, "But you know, you don't know what I've done. You don't know where I've been. You don't know where I am. My door is so dirty, He wouldn't have put His hand on the knob". Oh, it's better than that.

You say, "Will He clean up my door"? He is the door. He is the door, and He will come into your heart. He will save you. He will clean you. He will forgive you if you'll just let Him back and let Him in on the throne of your life. So here's what needs to happen for two groups of people. If you've never let Jesus into your heart, you need to get off the throne of your heart and put Jesus on the throne of your heart. But if you say, "No, I've done that. I do love Jesus," okay, then you need to get off the throne of your heart and let Jesus back on the throne of your heart.

So I'm gonna close with this incredible story. I had this in my filing system for years and had forgotten about it. I still really can't get over it. I'm not making this up. Nate Roman lives in Marlborough, Massachusetts. So he came home from work one day and discovered somebody had broken into his house. Well, he thought it was a burglary, but the problem was nothing was missing. And when he walked around his house, he realized, "Somebody has broken into my house, and they have cleaned my house". I'm not making this up. They had vacuumed the carpets, made the beds, scrubbed the toilets. I mean, they gave him a five-star maid service. He calls the police. The police comes. They said, "Sir, we can tell somebody did break into your house, but we don't have any fingerprints. We don't have any hair. We don't have any DNA. The crime scene's totally clean".

To this day, that guy has no clue who broke into his house and cleaned his house. If you're out there listening, let me give you my address. If you'll just email me at the church, I'll be more than happy to let you come to my house. I'll even let you know when I'm not home. What's the moral of the story? Here's the moral. Jesus will never break into your house. But if you are an unbeliever, if you'll open the door of your heart and let Him in, He will clean you from top to bottom permanently.

If you're a lukewarm Christian, if you're a lukewarm Christian, and you'll just open the door of your heart and say, "Lord, sorry, come back in. Please sit on the throne of my life," you will find the joy, the peace, the thrill, the excitement, and the passion that oughta be in the heart of every Christian. So listen to this. When you get to heaven, and I get to heaven, and we finally lay our eyes on that Jesus, and we see those golden streets, and we see those pearly gates, and I see my sweet mom, and I see my sweet dad again, you won't be able to find lukewarmness anywhere in my heart, and there won't be any in yours. So why don't we practice that kind of Christianity right here, right now?

So would you pray with me? Heads are bowed. Eyes are closed. I wanna talk to two people quickly. Number one, you don't know Jesus. You've never given your heart to Jesus. Let me tell you what I know is happening in your heart right now. If you're in this room, this is what happening to you right now. If you were to die today, and you either know you would not go to heaven, or you're not sure whether you'd go to heaven or not, let me tell you what I know what's going on right now. Jesus is knocking on the door of your heart. And if you will just open the door of your heart like I did when I was a nine-year-old boy, if you'd just open the door of your heart, and you'll just say this:

Lord Jesus, come into my heart. Save me, forgive me. Cleanse me. Give me eternal life. Forgive me of my sins. I repent my sins. I confess you as my Lord. I trust you as my savior.

Jesus will come into your heart, clean you from top to bottom now and forever. He'll take over your life, and you can live a life like you never imagined possible.
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