Written: November 25, 2012 | Updated on September 18th, 2022 | Jun P. Espina | 4 min read
Lukewarmness and Church Membership Restrictions
A certain pastor opposed Mr. Applicant’s membership in his church. But the latter kept on applying despite the rejection.
“How’s your spiritual life now, Mr. Applicant?” the pastor asked. “Have you already prayed to God for your church membership?”
“I preyd to Gud,” he replied. “En He tol me He also wunted to jine yu church, suh, fu twenny yir.”1
This is the epitome of the power of pastors and deacons in the church. Those saved church applicants who have already been accepted in heaven can still be rejected by the church leadership. Worse, the deacons can expel the pastor against the will of the Lord most of the time.
In Revelation 3:20, we find Christ knocking at the door of a Laodicean church, as what He is now doing in most churches that are lukewarm to Him. “Behold,” said Christ, “I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.” (Rev 3:20)
Lukewarmness and the Control of the Church
The reason Christ is not actively taking part in our church affairs or our lives is that we don’t hear His voice, nor do we open the door of our hearts for Him.
I attended a Bible conference where the speakers, the so-called top-notch pastors all over the country, shared their strategies on how to run a church. And yes, they shared themselves.
They talked about church organizations and management approaches, which are all anchored on their own resiliency, sociability, and sensitivity to people’s needs. The key ingredient in their success formula is their supreme focus and commitment to their goals.
It is sad to note that no one among them talked about Christ’s control of the church and the Spirit’s sweeping possession of their lives. Where’s the place of our Lord Jesus in their so-called church success when it all begins and ends with their persistence, guts, and winsome personality?
There is indeed more to this question than mere humor: “Is God a member of our church?”
I asked a friend, a former seminary president, about the main cause of liberalism (a religious persuasion which professes belief in Christ but not in His word!) in his own denomination, to which he retorted: “Further studies in Germany of our brightest preachers were the main cause of it.”
“Further studies” when what people really need is more Jesus—the unction of the Holy Spirit—not more books. The apostle Paul taught that “knowledge makes arrogant” (1 Cor 8:1 NASB).
Many church leaders are so engrossed with their seminary notes, their books, and training that they think their theology matters most in the church’s life.
“But to those who are the called… CHRIST THE POWER OF GOD AND THE WISDOM OF GOD.” (1 Cor 1:24)
Lukewarmness and the Testimony of Powerlessness
Academic gatherings, many opined, may somehow help nourish the church back to good health. As a result, Bible conferences and other Christian fellowships have become routine in all denominations.
But lukewarmness, the name of this church’s disease, is so gangrenous and deadly that in desperation our leaders cry for more fresh approaches, more Bible knowledge. Their shibboleth has always been, “study to show thyself.”
Lukewarmness, however, remains the most eloquent testimony of our pulpits’ spiritual powerlessness! We need more Christ, not more verses, for He is the wisdom of God. The apostle Paul wrote:
No single church leader, notwithstanding his academic excellence, can give us the wisdom we need to combat lukewarmness victoriously—to make God a member of our church, so to speak! Paul wasn’t convicted of the preaching of Stephen until he saw the latter’s “face like the face of an angel” (Acts 6:15).
Great preachers in the past, such as Moody, Finney, John Rice, R. A. Torrey, and A. W. Tozer, among others, have attributed their successful ministries to the Spirit’s control of their lives. Spurgeon once said that the best thing to do when the preaching is devoid of the Spirit’s power is to let the people go home.
Let Him In to Heal Lukewarmness
Lukewarmness, the Holy Bible says, is simply our lack of trust, devotion, and love for our dear Lord Jesus. (See Revelation 3:14-22.) And this problem is being deepened by the twisted logic of most church leaders who think they can solve it through intense Bible study. Peter said, “Grow in the… knowledge of our Lord.”
Serious study of God’s word is useless until one is drawn closer to Jesus—to the Throne! “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life… and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life.” (John 5:39-40)
Leaders of the church have to step aside now—and stop pretending to have a working solution to our church problems!—for Christ to come in and give us revival as the Head of His body, the church. Otherwise, we will let brother Mr. Applicant speak to us again and this time more clearly: “God told me He also wanted to join your church, Sir, for twenty years.”
1 My apologies to the writer of this quote as I couldn’t recall its exact source. It wasn’t my plan before to give it a good job here since I originally wrote this article to fill in a vacant space in an unknown little church bulletin.
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