Master Sermon List
by Charles H. Spurgeon
"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." Revelation 3:15-16
Lukewarmness is so distasteful to Jesus because it is a direct insult to the Lord Jesus Christ. If I boldly say that I do not believe what he teaches, I have given him the lie. But if I say to him, "I believe what thou teachest, but I do not think it of sufficient importance for me to disturb myself much about it," I do, in fact, more willfully resist his Word; I as much as say to him, "If it be true, yet is it a thing which I so despise, and consider so contemptible, that I will not give my heart to it."
Did Jesus Christ think salvation of such importance that he must come from heaven to earth to work it out? Did he think the gospel which he preached so worthy to be made known that he must spend his life in proclaiming it? Did he think the redemption, which he wrought out, to be so invaluable that he must shed his own precious blood in order to complete it? Then, surely, HE was in earnest; so, if I profess to believe the truths that he taught, and yet am indifferent, do I not insult Christ by seeming to insinuate that there was no need for him to be in such dead earnest, that, in fact, he laid these things too deeply to heart?
His intense zeal was not on his own account, but on behalf of others; and, according to all reason, those who are the interested parties for whom Christ's solemn engagements were undertaken should be even more earnest than he himself was, if that could be possible. Yet, instead of that being the case, here is Christ in earnest, and we, too many of us, are lukewarm, "neither cold nor hot." This lukewarmness doth not merely seem to give God the lie, it doth not merely appear to censure Christ, but it doth, as it were, tell him that the things, which he thought were so valuable, are of no worth in our esteem, and so it doth insult him to his face.
O my brethren and sisters, have you ever really thought what an insult it is to God when we come before him with lukewarm prayers? There stands the heavenly mercy-seat; the road to it is sprinkled with the precious blood of Jesus, yet we come to it with hearts that are cold, or we approach it leaving our hearts behind us. We kneel in the attitude of prayer, yet we do not pray. We prattle out certain words, we express thoughts, which are not our real desires, we feign wants that we do not feel. Do we not thus degrade the mercy-seat? We make it, as it were, a common lounging-place, rather than an awful wrestling-place, once besprinkled with blood, and often to be besprinkled with the sweat of our fervent supplication.
When we come to the house of God, to which Jesus Christ hath invited us as to the banqueting-house full of rich provisions, do we not come up, full often, just as we go to our shops, nay, not with so much earnestness as we take with us to the Exchange or to the counting-house? What do we thus seem to say but that God's house is a common place, that the provision thereof is but ordinary food and that the solemn engagements of God's sanctuary are but everyday things, not worthy of the zeal and energy of a sensible man, but only meet to be attended to with lukewarmness of spirit. I think, if I were to pause longer here, I could prove to you that I went not too far when I said that lukewarmness is an insult to God. It insults him in all that is dear to him by casting a disparagement upon everything, which he would have us to believe to be precious.
Does the Lord Jesus deserve such treatment at our hands? May he not well say to us, if we are lukewarm, "I would thou wert cold or hot?" O Jesus, thy heart was full of love to those in whom there was nothing lovely! Thou didst leave the glories of thy Father's house, though there was no necessity for thee to do so, save the divine necessity which was found in thine own heart, for thou didst love thy Church so much that thou didst become bone of her bone and flesh of her flesh. Thou didst fight her enemies; thou didst rescue her out of the hand of him who was stronger than she was; thou didst pour out thy life's blood as the ransom price for her redemption. Thy pangs were grievous, thy sufferings were bitter, thine anguish was extreme.
Does His love to us not deserve our full love to Him? I look up to thy thorn-crowned brow, I gaze into thy marred face, and see those eyes; red with weeping, and those emaciated cheeks, and I say, "O Jesus, thou art worthy of the best place in the human heart! Thou ought to be loved as never one was loved before. If there be flames of love, to thee in my heart, let them burn like coals of juniper, and let them be fanned to a most vehement heat." Oh, if it is possible for us ever to feel warm emotions, we ought to feel it here!
Is it not a sad thing that, after all Christ's love to us, we should repay it with lukewarm love to him? Which would you rather have, lukewarm love or positive hatred? Perhaps you have but little choice with regard to most people; but were it one very dear to you, the partner of your life, for instance, lukewarm, love would be no love at all. What but misery could there be in a family where there was only lukewarm love? Is a father contented with half-hearted affection from his children? In those relationships, we give all our heart; but with regard to Christ, who has a far greater claim on us than husband, or father, or mother, or brother, how is it that we dare to offer him a distant bow, a cool recognition, a chill, inconstant, wavering heart? Let it be so no longer, beloved.
O my brethren, I conjure you, by his agony and bloody sweat, by his cross and passion, by all the pangs that went through his sacred body, and by the deeper anguish of his inmost soul, I beseech you, either love him or hate him; either drive him from the door of your heart, and let him know that you are not his friend; or else give him, a whole heart full of affection, almost ready to burst with the fervor of your love toward him!
But though these two things, insult and ingratitude to Christ, would be quite sufficient to justify the strong expressions in our text, let me remind you, further, that the lukewarm professor compromises God in the eyes of the world by all that he does and says.
If a man be an infidel, openly profane, known to have no connection with Christ and his cause, let him do what he may, he brings no scandal on the Savior's name. He has no fear of God before his eyes, he is in open enmity against the Most High; and, therefore, though he is rebellious and wicked, full of sedition and blasphemy, yet he does not compromise the dignity of God. But when the lukewarm professor of Christianity goes forth before ungodly men, they say, "This man pretends to be a child of God; he professes to have been washed in the blood of Christ; he stands before us, and challenges our observation as one who declares that he is a new creature in Christ Jesus.
He tells us that he is the workmanship of the Holy Ghost, that he has been begotten again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." Now, whatever that man does, the world considers his acts to be those of a new creature in Christ Jesus, to be, in fact, acts inspired by God's Spirit within him. The world does not endorse our beliefs, true though they are, concerning the old and the new natures. Men of the world look at us as a whole, and if they see anything wrong in our principles or practice, they set it down at once to the account of our religion, and charge it with inconsistency.
Now, lukewarm professor, what do worldlings see in you? Do they see a man who says he is going to heaven but who is only traveling at a snail's pace? He professes to believe that there is a hell, yet he has tearless eyes and never seeks to snatch souls from going down into the pit. They see before them one who has to deal with eternal realities, yet he is but half awake; one who professes to have passed through a transformation so mysterious and wonderful that there must be, if it is true, a vast change in the outward life; yet they see him as much like themselves as can be. He may be morally consistent in his general behavior, but they see no energy in his religious character.
When they hear a solemn, stirring sermon concerning the wrath of God, they say, "It is all very well for the minister to appeal to our emotions, but what does it matter? The people, who constantly hear him, are not in earnest; the saints, who profess to believe what he says, trifle over it, and are, no doubt, in their hearts, as incredulous as we are ourselves." Let the minister be as earnest as ever he may, the lukewarmness of professors to a large extent neutralizes any effect which his ministry produces, because the world will judge the church, not so much by the pulpit as by the pew. Worldlings say, by their conduct, if not in so many words, "There is no need for us to make any stir about religion; these saints take it remarkably easy, yet they think all will be well; we do quite as much as they do.
They seem to think that; after all, it would be fanaticism to look upon the things that they hear from the preacher as facts; they do not act as if they were realities; and so," say they, "doubtless they are not realities; and, as one form of religion is as good as another, and there is nothing of value in any one of them, we see no reason why we should have any religion at all." Thus, the careless worldling is lulled to sleep by the lukewarm professor, who, in this respect, acts the part of the siren to the sinner, playing sweet music in his ears, and even helping to lure him to the rocks where he will be destroyed.
This is a solemn matter, beloved. In this way, great damage is done to the cause of truth; and God's name and God's honor are compromised by inconsistent professors. I pray you either to give up your profession or to be true to it. If you really are God's people, then serve him with all your might; but if Baal be your god, then serve him. If the flesh be worth pleasing, then serve the flesh; but if God be Lord paramount, then cleave to him. Oh, I beseech and entreat you, as you love your own souls, do not play fast and loose with godliness! Either let it alone or else let it saturate you through and through. Either possess it or cease to profess it. The great curse of the church, that which brings more dishonor upon the Lord than all the ribald jests of scoffing atheists, is the lukewarmness of its members. Well may he say to his lukewarm church, as he does in our text, "I will spew thee out of my mouth."
Let me remind you, also, that the day is coming when you will think these things worthy of your whole heart, when you and I shall be stretched upon our dying beds; I think we shall have to regret, above everything else, our coldness of heart. Among the many sins, which we must then confess, perhaps this will lie the heaviest upon our heart and conscience, "I did not live as I ought to have done; I was not as earnest in my Lord's cause as I should have been." Then will our Sunday-school classes appear again before us; and those who taught us to teach others will come and reprove us for having despised their training and not having profited by that holy instruction which we received when we were set apart for God's cause and were first trained to serve in his great army.
We may reckon these things of small importance now; but when we lie on the borders of eternity, we shall think them worth living for, and worth dying a thousand deaths for. If you have lived lukewarmly, the things of God will then, even though you be a child of his, weigh down your spirit with a fearful load of sad reflections. God give us grace to make our religion all, that we may put our whole heart into it, and live it out, and then be prepared to die for it, if need be, and God so please, that we may live to enjoy the results of it in glory everlasting!