That we live in the day of the lukewarm church is plain to see on every side.
Jesus teaches us in the seven letters to the seven churches in Asia in Revelation 2 and Revelation 3 that the church that does not heed His admonitions and rid herself of the evils and false doctrine held and maintained within her midst shall soon become a lukewarm church. The lie and failure to discipline a sinful walk are two types of spiritual cancer that eat away and corrupt the whole congregation, unless they are cut out completely. God is not mocked, and where the lie is introduced and cherished, this cancer will thrive and grow at first somewhat slowly and unnoticed but later on with amazing rapidity. Soon enough such a congregation finds itself unable to cut it out any more and sinks fast into a coma of spiritual death. Pretty soon there is nothing pleasing in that church at all, and Christ is ready to spew her out of His mouth. Water has no taste and is satisfying only when it is hot or cold. There are times when we like a cold drink of water. There are times when a, sip of hot water is more satisfying than the cold water. But lukewarm water never satisfies. Instead it is always repulsive, loathsome and spewed out of the mouth.
So it is with many a church today. Men may call it a church. According to the standards of the day, it may be considered a flourishing church, even as the church of Laodicea thought herself to be rich and to have need of nothing. She had buildings, and beautiful ones at that. She bad wealth and was increased with goods. She was no poor struggling congregation. Apparently God bad blessed her abundantly, far more so than many other congregations of smaller size, with less pretentious buildings and with higher church budgets. She was a prosperous congregation, and her membership was growing steadily. For she was the type of church to which men liked to belong. This is not what Jesus says of her however. He tells her that she is poor, wretched, naked and without the eye salve to get her diseased, pus closed eyes open. Let no man be deceived by such external matters. God’s blessing is upon the church where confession of sin can still be found, where there is abhorrence of evil, where the membership still holds the lie repulsive and longs for the pure preaching of the Word and the use of the key power in the church.
But much of the church integration of today can only result in one gigantic church of Laodicea. That is what happens. The six churches in Asia with their sins and shortcomings, that hold on to these sins and welcome the Nicolaitanes, those with the doctrine of Balaam and Jezebel in their membership, will soon become like the seventh, a dead church where you will not find Christ. He is outside the door of that church. You do not fad Him on the pulpit or in the consistory room. You find Him outside the church and calling His people from there rather than from the pulpit in the preaching of the Word. For there is no preaching of the Word there anymore. For the sake of the Nicolaitanes, to satisfy Jezebel, and to keep peace with those who have the doctrine of Balaam, Christ must not be preached. It is not the polite thing to do, you know, to offend the brother in the church by preaching that which condemns him and his doctrinal position.
That is not what Jesus said, however. He stands at the door of that church and calls to His people to open the door, to demand that He be brought back in on the pulpit and in the key power which the church board has rejected. And remember that in rejecting the key power and discipline, they have rejected Christ and put Him exactly there, outside their church, instead of in that church. Lot the faithful continue to try to open the door for Christ’s return in the preaching and Christian discipline, and what happened to Luther will be their lot. The will be cast out through that door to be with Christ outside. But be of good cheer, there He will sup with you and make you to sit with Him on His throne.
The method of merging and integrating with churches that are less pure in doctrine and walk demands giving up the standards of truth and righteousness which have barred these other churches throughout the years. And then integration becomes a step toward the Laodicean church. And we better examine very carefully all our integration of churches, lest the Nicolaitanes, the followers of Balaam and of Jezebel soon rule us and the Reformation which God gave His Church through Luther be nullified and a more terrible situation than that of Luther’s day come forth from this unholy alliance.
This danger is very real. Even apart from the warning of Jesus in Revelation 2 and Revelation 3 that this is the order of events and that all harboring of false doctrine and evil practices results in a Laodicean church where Christ cannot be found, a somewhat less than superficial observance of all that which is being said and written will reveal the danger to be very real. Rome has not changed essentially and has the same ambition of being a truly catholic, that is, universal church. Her aim is to be the only church. On the side of Protestantism, there has always been division and separation, schism and reorganization. Ever since the Reformation there have been in Protestantism elements that depart further and further from the faith set forth by God once more through Martin Luther. And the further these groups are from the stream of truth as it came forth out of that Reformation, the closer they come to Rome which has placed the doctrines of man in the place of Christ, has put Him outside the door, so that there is really no preaching of Him, no exposition of the Scriptures, no feeding with the Word of life and the bread of life. And in His place in the Church are saints and idols and wafers and wine to worship. Instead of “Thus saith the Lord” a “Thus saith the Pope” has been maintained. And the further one gets away from this Christ and the truth in Him, the more Rome with its riches and increased goods—so that it can say that it “has need of nothing”—appeals and attracts. It is the civilized thing to have a religion. A church connection is the cultured thing to have. And it is a small step from the denial of the divinity of Christ to the weak and helpless Christ who can be persuaded by men and will for their sakes give blessing. And it is likewise a small step from the rejection of Christ as the King of His Church to recognizing a man as the final word in all doctrinal positions.
There is something decidedly wrong when one wants to be more tolerant than God is. And Jesus was quite intolerant. The same Jesus who prayed that they might be one had warned His disciples of the leaven of the Pharisees. He urged no integration with them. This same Jesus years later by His Spirit gave the Word to the Apostle John to write and gave us those significant words, “If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed.”
How different that is today! How ready many are to receive into their church fellowship men with quite a different doctrine than the one John has given us in the Word. The modernist who denies that “Jesus Christ is come in the flesh” is received with open arms. He is invited to be guest minister and to share the pulpit. The congregation is told to have respect for his views and not to be bigoted. It is declared that we are all advancing toward the same kingdom of God and to heaven, but only on different roads and from a different angle. Do not believe it for one minute! That is simply the lie of Satan and not the Word of God! The way is narrow. The gate is strait. Few there be that find it. All is not Israel that is of Israel. Neither is all that which calls itself the Church of Christ actually His Church. Many shall say, “Did we not cast out devils in thy name and do many wonderful works?” And Jesus will say, “Depart from me ye workers of iniquity. I never knew you.” What a difference! They claim to have done many wonderful works, but Jesus calls them workers of iniquity! Matthew 7:21-23. Let us beware that we do not receive such into our church home to corrupt our children with their philosophies. Let us be sure that we are not integrating with such and laying a snare for our children and helping in the work which denies God His glory!
These said, “Lord, Lord.” There are countless thousands today that say, “Lord, Lord.” Does that in itself mean that we must integrate with them and “be one” with them? Just because they claim to have done many wonderful works of social reform in the name of Christianity, just because men have judged it to be in the name of Christ does not mean that we and they should “be one.” That is not what Jesus means in His High-priestly prayer in John 17:21. It is quite easy to find texts in Scripture which, when rooted out of their context and explained without a thorough exegesis, will support well-nigh every doctrinal and political position a man may want to defend. After all Satan quoted the Scripture to Jesus in an effort to get Him to integrate into the kingdom of darkness. Of course, the Scripture declares that God will send His angels and bear Christ up, lest He dash His foot against a stone. But does that mean that Christ should indeed jump from the pinnacle of the temple to gain the praise and admiration of the worshipers gathered below?
Jesus does not pray for them who shall believe on His name that they may with His disciples and the church of that day be one, but that they may be one as He is in the Father and the Father is in Him, and that they may be one in Christ and in God. This integration of Father in the Son and Son in the Father is a union in the truth, the unadulterated, pure, absolute truth. God is a light, and in Him is no darkness at all or even a shadow of turning. Any integration of churches to be conducted at the command of Christ must be for the sake of the truth, and not at the expense of the truth. Churches will have to look for purer manifestations of the truth and not opportunities to gain in numbers by de-emphasizing or minimizing a single point of truth. And if the church seeks to effect union with a church of less pure doctrine, it must do so only in the way of educating and bringing that prospective “partner” UP to the level.
Here again the words of Paul apply. “What communion hath darkness with light? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?” And read once Deuteronomy 13:1-5. The death penalty was demanded in Israel for the false prophet who turned away the hearts of men from the truth. A drop of poison in the glass of water does not improve the poison, It corrupts the water. And so the cancer of the lie, if not cut out, will soon corrupt the whole body. The cancer must be segregated, cut off, be separated from the body. Woe unto us if we seek cancer and bring it into our church.