I visit the local Tim Horton’s to do a little scribbling, usually on a daily basis. And of course, invariably one will pick up on other people’s conversations. And as a matter of course, the committed Christian, especially pastors, intend that their conversations be overheard as part of their proselytizing efforts. I feel no guilt in eavesdropping on that which is intentioned to be eavesdropped.
The general tenor of the discourse of these two young and still zealous pastors concerned the general state of the Church. And the one line of thought that I picked up essentially went like this. “It is not adultery [or other sins] that is primary problem within the Church; but the passivity and lukewarmness”.
The sentiment derives from the admonition to the Church in Laodicea.
I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.1
In light of an incident the week before, a sermon on Salvation, it stirred my mind into a fury to remark:
The problem is not that ‘Christians’ nowadays are lukewarm and passive. They are lukewarm and passive because they are not Christians; not converted; not regenerated.
And they are not converted/regenerated because of silly preachers (of which I exclude these serious pastors), who dilute and thereby denigrate the true Gospel, which starts off with a solid understanding of Justification that grips, sears and scars the mind/heart; before moving onto sanctification. Otherwise, those sanctification messages, which seem to constitute 95% or more of sermons, merely become moralist adages to prod the stubborn mule of natural men’s hearts. Justification is the moral/legal license by which God can justly justify and grant His Spirit in the regeneration and repair of souls.
It is a general belief in Evangelical circles, amongst both Calvinist and Arminian circles, that a born-again person can never be lost. I am still at a loss as to how Arminian theology can credibly and coherently reach that conclusion. And even as a Calvinist, I must remember that this verity exists on the existential plane that God perceives these realities, lest one become prone to presumption. As Paul Washer declares in his final remarks in Ten Indictments against the Modern Church:
You see, my dear friend, I have great assurance when I study my own conversion, when I discuss it with other men, when I look over the twenty-five years of my pilgrimage with Christ, I have great assurance of having come to know him.
But even now, if I were to depart from the faith, and walk away, and keep going in that direction, into heresy, into worldliness, it could be the greatest of proofs that I never knew him. That the whole thing was a work of the flesh.
I know what I am saying is outstanding to you. You think, oh my, I have never heard such a thing, this is the old…read Pilgrim’s Progress.2
Thus, according to this justifiable understanding of Perseverance of the Saints, if those at the Church in Laodicea, who were passive and lukewarm, could be spit out of My mouth if they fail to repent of such tepidness, they will either repent or they were never truly converted/regenerated. If the congregation needs to be prodded like mules towards virtue and graciousness, it is good indication of the general unregenerate state of the church. Passivity and tepidness are mere symptoms.
1. Revelation 3:15-17
2. Paul Washer, “Ten Indictments Against the Modern Church in America”, Revival Conference 2008, Transcript accessed at http://media.sermonaudio.com/mediapdf/102308839520.pdf on April 21, 2013, p 61.