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Cold Or Hot, Which?

The Church in Laodicea is the last glimpse we get in the Scriptures of collective testimony in this dispensation. This church was one of the seven churches in Asia; these churches were but a remnant of the great work that was done in Asia by Paul. Many commentators treat those seven churches as though they were seven stages in what they are pleased to call the Christian church throughout this dispensation of grace. What "the Christian church" may mean is difficult to determine. It may mean the members of the Body of Christ scattered in all the sects in Christendom, or it may mean the sects in which true believers in Christ are scattered; but whatever it may mean, it is pure imagination to conclude that Ephesus is the Christian church in the closing period of the times of the apostles, or even times later than that, and that we are now in the period of Laodicea, in the closing phase of church truth and testimony. There were seven churches in Asia at the time in which John lived and wrote, and they were located in seven different cities in the Roman province of Asia. This is plainly the meaning of the first three chapters of Revelation.

In regard to several churches of the seven, it would be exceedingly difficult to say which is the worst. Ephesus had left their first love, and Laodicea was lukewarm. In Sardis the Lord found no works of theirs fulfilled before His God, and in Thyatira Jezebel was at her bitter and deadly work. Pergamum was little better, with persons that held the teaching of Balaam and of the Nicolaitans.

In Laodicea the fire and zeal of former days had gone. They were neither cold nor hot; they were lukewarm. The word for hot means boiling. The Lord says, "I would thou wert cold or hot." Both in curing and cooking cold and heat have their great virtues. But nothing can be effected when water is only lukewarm. The following brief narrative came under my notice.

"A converted Indian when he heard some strictures on too great eagerness in religion, remarked, "Surely it is better that the pot should boil over than not boil at all.'"

We think the same as this coloured man. You might as well have what is to be cooked done in cold water as in lukewarm. The Laodiceans were in an insipid, distasteful state to the Lord. They thought themselves rich and had gotten riches. No doubt they had attained to worldly prosperity, and in consequence thought that their spiritual prosperity was in equal measure, whereas the Lord described them as the wretched one and miserable and poor and blind and naked.

We need to take stock as well. Has our fire gone down? One of the early brethren used to say, " The Methodists have plenty of fire, but nothing to cook: we have plenty to cook, but no fire to cook it with."

Are we not in danger of getting into the same state?

It is said of Latimer the martyr,-" Latimer was not such a deeply read scholar as Cranmer and Ridley (both were martyrs also). He could not quote fathers from memory as they did. He refused to be drawn into arguments about antiquity. He stuck to his Bible. Yet it is not too much to say that no English reformer made such a lasting impression on the nation as old Latimer did. And what was the reason ? His simple Zeal."