About a year and a half ago we made the acquaintance of a Baptist on the train to Denver. We agreed to send him some of our literature and placed his name on our Reformed Witness Hour radio broadcast’s mailing list. Between us there sprang up an irregular correspondence. And it is concerning one of the matters of which he wrote that we would first write at this time.

Very correctly, we believe, he observed that the age in which we are living is the Laodicean age. Or, if you will, it is the lukewarm age. Though as far as our earthly life among the nations is concerned it may be the space age, as far as the church is concerned, it very definitely is the luke­warm or Laodicean age. We cannot agree with him that the church in the world has gone through these seven successive ages or stages of spiritual life in the order of the seven churches of which we read in Revelation two and three. Yet we can surely agree that we are in the last hour and that this last hour is characterized by the lukewarm attitude depicted to be the case in the church at Laodicea in Revelation 3:14-22.

There always has been a lukewarm attitude in the church. And this attitude does not appear only at the end of the world. It will manifest itself then as never before on a world­wide scale. But it was ever in the church here below. All is not Israel that is called Israel. And even those who are the true spiritual Israel have the flesh that hankers after the things of the world and is far more interested in the world and its vain treasures and pleasures than in the things of God’s kingdom. That also comes to light in the lives of the saints whose lives are treated somewhat extensively on the pages of Holy Writ. Abraham had his times when his faith was but faintly to be seen. There were times when Sarah’s faith outshone Abraham’s. In the wilderness Israel lost interest in Canaan and was willing to go back to Egypt’s bondage. The spirit of indifference in the church today has always been in the flesh of the children of God throughout the ages. This does not simply manifest itself in the last days.

But it surely is here as never before. There is so little interest upon the principal things. The truth? Who cares today what his church teaches? Men are not interested in that to any great degree. For the sake of numbers; for the sake of power and satisfaction of the flesh; for the sake of an unscriptural oneness, they are ready to keep silent exactly on the things which in ages past have made them a separate denomination and group. Beautiful buildings, a rich social life, a lower church budget for the individual by a larger group, these are the things that interest men in the church today.

You can with great difficulty get them to talk about doc­trine. O, they will proudly speak of their mission projects. With glowing faces they will tell you of the money they pour into the work of saving those poor heathens in yonder land. On the map they will show you how far flung their mission activity extends and list the number of missionaries and the size of the groups among whom they labor. But when you come back to home and ask them what their own children are being taught, when you want to discuss with them their doctrines and examine them in the light of Scripture, they suddenly remember something that can draw them away from you, or when flight is impossible, they will resort to silence or vague generalities. Interest in the truth of God’s Word is at a low ebb today. In a time when more Bibles are printed and sold than ever before, in a time when the facilities for printing spiritual material are far superior to ages past, men do not care to study that Word or take the time to read spiritually edifying literature. It is the lukewarm age. There is apathy, indifference, a what-do-I-care attitude that for the sake of convenience will gladly tolerate your radically different views but does not wish to be disturbed in its vain dreams and worldly pleasures.

O, belonging to a church is all right. It’s nice to be a member. Well, it is even the fashionable thing to do. What church does not make much difference. After all there are different roads to heaven, and each church walks on a dif­ferent road and arrives at a different section of heaven. To be sure, some parts of heaven will be more wonderful than the others, but they are all wonderful; and we need not disturb ourselves too much about what church it is to which we belong, as long as we belong to a church. After all we want to be buried from the church, do we not?

That is not what Jesus said!

He said, “Narrow is the gate and straight is the way that leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it,” Matthew 7:14. He did not seem to know that there was more than one road. He speaks of THE way and THE gate as though there was only one. In that same connection and in that same chapter He also says, “Not everyone that says to me, Lord, Lord shall enter the kingdom, but he who does the will of my Father Who is in heaven,” Matthew 7:21. The age old argument is raised that we will all be one in heaven, why should we not be one now? In heaven we will not argue and fight about doctrinal issues, why should we do so now? Are we doing the will of our Father in heaven when we separate, call the views of others heresy and are filled with fire to say things just so and allow no other interpretation? Ah, but let us remember that the will of the Father is that we glorify Him. Surely we may not get heated with passion to defend ourselves and our position simply because it is our position. But just as surely we may not be indifferent when God’s glory is denied Him. Indeed we will not argue about doctrine in heaven; but not because then it will not be our calling to maintain God’s glory. It will be because there will be none there who desire to do anything else but glorify God. And after all, it is not a question of whether we get to heaven or not, for we do not get there by our works. But it is a question of the glory of God. That is our calling. As His image bearers we have no other calling, and all we are called upon to do centers in that one principal calling of glorifying the God who created and redeemed us. Those who walk on another road do not walk toward heaven but toward hell. Therefore it is not necessarily so that we shall together walk the street of gold when this earthly pil­grimage is over for us.

Jesus knew also of this.

He declared to His disciples, in connection with His giv­ing of the signs of His return, that the love of many would wax cold, Matthew 24:12. You see that so clearly today, and it will get worse as we approach the end. Even as far as the matter of discipline as well as doctrine is concerned, it does not bother men at all that their church is full of wicked practices. O, it ought not be that way they will con­cede, but it does not hurt them inwardly to see it that way. They have not been touched enough by the wickedness to see the need and wisdom of applying discipline to such. Indeed, the love has waxed cold. And then we mean the love of God within the church. They have a certain fleshly, carnal love for their fellow church member who does not trouble them with doctrinal and practical questions and lets them dream on in their unreal church world and life. In that emotional love they rather like the chap who walks in sin and like to treat him as an underdog who needs a little care and protection from the big stick tactics. But the love of God is not there. For it is the love of God in the heart of His office bearers that impels them, for the glory of God, to cleanse His temple and to purify the doctrine and walk of life of the congrega­tion entrusted to their care.

Knowledge of the truth is at a minimum. The covenant youth are given less and less instruction in the truth of God’s Word. The age when they are sent to catechism is continu­ally being pushed back. The lessons must be made shorter and simpler. Memorization must be cut to a minimum (whatever that might mean) and, lest they rebel at it, they must not be required to do anything at all in this line when they have arrived at the age when they can best understand these things and benefit from them. Religion is a good idea, and our children ought to get a little religion too. But be sure that it is a little! There are too many other more worth­while things for them!?

Shame on us! Continue on this way and the day will soon be here when God will also spew us out of His mouth. He will taste nothing pleasing in us. Were we only hot, or were we only cold, He could dwell with us. But as a luke­warm church we would be nauseating unto Him.

And you know, the sad thing about it all is that the very thing that we need to bring us back to spiritual sanity is the very thing we avoid when this spirit of unconcern, this lack of interest upon the principal things of God’s kingdom is ours: the Word of God. So much apathy, so little interest is there in the things of God’s kingdom that lines such as these are studiously avoided. Men will go to church once a Sun­day, if the weather is right and if the minister will cater to them and be sure to get his whole message across in thirty minutes, or better still in twenty minutes. And they seek a church where that which is proclaimed is in harmony with their own apathetic spirit. The very food they need in order to grow spiritually strong, they studiously avoid. And their love waxes colder and colder.

Were it not for the grace of God, we too would go that way and perish. We would hear Jesus say to us, “I never knew you. Depart from me, ye workers of iniquity” (Mat­thew 7:23). Were it not for the grace of God and His sovereign, unchangeable decree of election; were it not for the fact that having begun a good work in us, He will per­form it until the day of Christ, we would never turn from such indifference and would surely lose our love to Him. But He is faithful, and even though we may run away from His Word, in His faithfulness and mercy He will yet cause His Spirit in our hearts to recall to our memory and bring once again to our consciousness His Word of truth. By it He will call His people back. They may be in Laodicea and find it difficult to have interest in spiritual things in a congregation that has no use for these things. But Revelation 2:20 indicates that He calls His people out of that church by His Word and Spirit. He knocks, not at the door of their hearts but at the door of this church, to call out His elect with the promise that when they leave and reorganize, He will come in and bless their new congregation with His presence. Surely it is of His mercy that we are saved and due to the fact that He is unchangeable that we perish not. May He by His Word and Spirit wake us up and deliver us from our indifference and disinterested spirit. May He bring us back to live in His fear.