When I was a lukewarm Christian, I thought me and God were cool. My relationship with God was on my terms and He simply overlooked my sins because I was saved in Christ, right? That’s what salvation means, right? That Christ forgives us for our sins and we continue to live our lives pursuing our own interests? Living our lives for our own pleasure according to our own plans? Dating who we want to date, marrying who we want to marry, divorcing when our choice doesn’t work out never mind the fact that we never consulted God in the first place, wine and cocktails on the weekends, watching what we want to watch, listening to music that glorifies the things of the world, spending our money on what we want, living our lives according to our feelings …… all with a little bit of God on the side. A spiritual blue-plate special with a heapin’ helping of ourselves and a side-order of God. That was me and God for a long time, and nobody needed to question my relationship with God because me and God were good.
It is that deluded mindset of my past, that drives my passion for what I do now. Because God lifted me out of that self-deception, I have a passion for those who are still stuck in it. I was saved for a long time, but I had never bothered to read the Bible. Sure, I got snippets of scripture here and there and listened to the messages at church on my sporadic attendances, but I didn’t have time for Bible study. I was too busy with my own stuff. I didn’t need to go to church every Sunday because my relationship with God was my business, the Body of Christ could operate just fine without me. There was even a time when I taught Sunday school, feeling like I was doing “my reasonable service” for God, but all the while I was still worldly minded and living my life for my own desires and purposes.
When I finally read the Bible, you know, the whole thing, I was forced to reconcile the way I was living my life with the way scripture said I was supposed to be living my life. I was also forced to reconcile Who I thought God was, with Who scripture says He is. I was also forced to reconcile the actual Jesus of the Bible, with the love-your-neighbor Jesus I grew up hearing about. I was forced to reconcile these things with the way I was living my life, because according to scripture I was a hypocrite. I was not living out the faith I claimed to believe in and follow because my life was more about myself than Christ. You see, claiming to be a Christian and actually living like one according to scripture, are two totally different animals. It was when I read the Bible, that God revealed to me that I was a lukewarm virgin with an empty lamp, and that is something that you do not want to be when Christ returns.
Jesus speaks of Christians with lukewarm faith at Revelation Chapter 3. They are the middle-of-the-road Christians of the Church of Laodicea, which I wrote more about in an article titled, “Examining The Church Of Laodicea”. That was me for a long time. I was saved in Christ, but I wasn’t doing anything with my salvation, I had no passion for scripture and no passion to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. My faith was dead because I had no works to back it up (James 2:17), and there was very little change being done on the inside of me by the Holy Spirit because I lived a life that didn’t foster an environment where the Holy Spirit could flourish. I was full of the world and I was full of excuses. I was one of those that Christ said, “I will spit you out of my mouth..” (Rev 3:16). Those are Christ’s words, not mine. And they are harsh and they are painful to hear and they were offensive to my fleshly ears.
Jesus also tells a parable about the ten wise and foolish virgins at Matthew Chapter 25. They are believers in Christ who all began with their lamps full of spiritual oil. But only five took extra oil for their lamps with them to meet the Bridegroom (Jesus). All ten anticipated Jesus’ return. All ten fell asleep. All ten woke up at the shout of the Bridegroom. But only five had enough oil to go with Him. The haunting words of Christ tell us, “those who were ready went in with Him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut.” (Matt 25:10). Those who were ready. Those who had the extra oil. Those words haunted me because all that time I thought I was ready, I wasn’t ready according to the words of Christ, Who says those who are truly ready to be taken from this place will be those who have the extra oil for their lamps.
We can’t earn our salvation, nor do we keep our salvation with works of our own effort. The salvation of our soul from hell is free and it is ours eternally by God’s grace. However, the Bible speaks of a time in which Christ will return to take “those who were ready in with Him to the wedding feast..” And I don’t know about you, but that is a party I don’t want to miss. Neither do I want to find out what those who weren’t ready must endure after that door is shut, because the Bible also speaks of a time in which those in Christ will be, “handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of Me.” (Matt 24:9). A time in which the Beast that is coming will be “allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them.” (Rev 13:7). How this will all actually play out, I do not know. But I do know that if there is any way for us to escape it, then we should strive for it. We should be serious enough about our Father’s business to strive for the extra oil that He freely gives to those who seek it.
These should not be received as words of discouragement, but as sobering words for a church that is drunk with the world, enamored with “self”, and blinded by our emotions. I don’t write this blog to appeal to people’s flesh. God led me to start this blog to appeal to people’s spirit with His word of truth. Often times the truth is bitter to the taste, but sweet to the soul of those who are teachable– to those who genuinely hunger for righteousness and thirst for truth. I take great joy in the fact that Jesus’ instructions to correct someone like I use to be are simple and reasonable: “be zealous and repent.”
“Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.” (Rev 2:5)
“I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.” (Rev 3:18,19)
“Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.” (Rev 2:5)
“If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.” (1 Cor 3:14,15)