Passionate Faith (Revelation 3)

We begin a new series on a passionate faith that compels us to emulate and follow Jesus.

On the one hand it feels like there's not much passion for much of anything today. People are isolated, stressed, weary… weary of mask wearing, economic shutdown, homeschooling, politics, all the division.

It seems many of us are too pooped to be passionate.

On the other hand, I see a lot of passion. Passion for racial equity. Passion for political issues, the police, the supreme court, making people wear masks, getting out the vote; many passions burn zealous for the presidential election.

How is your passion for God, your zeal for Jesus, your zest for His glory. Not just emotionally, but is your faith in Jesus making a real difference in your life?

If you trust Jesus, you have a passion for Him. This varies in intensity according to the grace given us. It can also whither without use, get crushed in tragedy, be dismissed as familiarity, or buried under other passions.

Yet Jesus desires a passionate faith that compels you to emulate and follow Him.

In Revelation 2-3, Jesus addressed seven churches that were active at the time. When Jesus speaks to a church He speaks to a regional community of Christians, born again believers. Jesus spoke in very strong terms to one of these, a spiritually complacent church in Laodicea, in present day Turkey.

Revelation 3:15 "I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were [either refreshingly] cold or [boiling, glowing] hot. 16 So because you are lukewarm [lacking glow, lacking zeal, neither refreshing or glowing], and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.

These are hard words, and remember this is to a church full of Christians. So what is Jesus saying? And why would He rather we be cold than lukewarm?

Cold water brings refreshment on a hot arid day like in Turkey, while boiling hot water is good for cleaning, healing. Yet lukewarm water was useless, it didn't benefit anybody.

Jesus didn't say I wish you were cold and didn't care about Me or on fire for me. He says your deeds show your lack of concern for the things that concern My Father and I.  Your faith isn't making a difference. You've no passion to serve Me, to help others. And it's displeasing.

Here you are, you're My people, bearing My name, living in a materially rich yet spiritually poor city, but you don't bring healing to the spiritually sick or refreshment to the weary. Because you are lukewarm, I'm not influencing you at all, it's not pleasing; I'm about to spit you out of My mouth.

That's a strong warning. The letter to the Hebrews warned us not to go there,   

Hebrews 3:12 Take care, brothers [believers], that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called "Today," so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

The point is Christians can lose our passion and stop walking with Jesus because of sin and deceit.

COVID can zap our passion. The election can divert our passion. Technology, entertainment, wealth and abundance can totally displace it.

But what about Jesus saying He's about to "spit you out of my mouth"? Can we lose our salvation?

He doesn't say that at all! Elsewhere He says just the opposite. We are convinced by an overwhelming number of passages that Jesus doesn't revoke our citizenship in heaven nor kick His selfish children out of His family. But because He loves them (v19) He is about to discipline them.

What brings this up? What's the problem? I thought Jesus was always nice?

Revelation 3:17 Because you say, 'I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,' [because you've satisfied your passions with the things of this world and think you've got it all together] and you do not know that [you're living spiritually detached, zealous for worldly things] you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, [You don't know you need Me!]

I.e., you're righteous in standing but not in practice or lifestyle. You aren't living out the righteousness of Christ, or experiencing the riches of His grace, the love of the Father, or the fellowship of the Spirit.

Being able to have pretty much whatever the world offers, we can forget that we long for what the world does not offer. It's not that we reject Jesus but being materially occupied we don't perceive a real need for Jesus.

Revelation 3:18 I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed [at the Bema]; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. 19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.

In verse 18, Jesus tells self-satisfied Christians, "Buy from Me gold refined by fire", seek from Jesus the refined gold, true spiritual riches, eternal rewards.

In Revelation 19:8, we're told the "white garments" are "the righteous acts of the saints." For while every believer is clothed in Christ's righteousness at the Bema Seat we'll be rewarded or not for the works of Christ done by faith, we still need to "put on Christ" by faith that we may walk in the good works that He's prepared.

The "eye salve" is the humility necessary to see what Jesus is saying to us, to see our spiritual need for Jesus, to nurture passionate faith.

Revelation 3:19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore, be zealous and repent.

This reproof is a loving act; discipline is a loving act. It seems few people trust this about discipline, fewer parents trust that discipline is a loving act. But this rebuke is meant in love, and any action Jesus takes is also in love…

So in that spirit, for any of us whose passion for Jesus is on the back burner or hidden in a cupboard, who hardly think of Jesus let alone walk with Him or tangibly serve Him or make choices to glorify Him, Jesus gives one command,

Revelation 3:19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore, be zealous and repent.

Be zealous to trust the LORD, to follow Jesus, and repent, bring your need for change to the Lord.

Trust His grace and tell Him, "My passion is gone. I'm living for myself. I'm spiritually poor, blind. I need you!"

Repentance is not saying, "I repent!" Or "I will change. I will live for you starting today." Realize, if you're spiritually poor and miserable and blind, you can't change, you can't make things right.

Repentance is a humble response of trust before God's grace.

It is not making things right with God. Repentance is seeing the needed change, acknowledging your inability to be a great Christian (or a great mom, a great husband, a generous person, a forgiving person, etc.) and welcoming God to work in you.

Before He disciplines us, Jesus makes an appeal,

Revelation 3:20 Behold, 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.

Notice the scene as Jesus presents it. Jesus has left the building, He's on the outside and nobody even noticed He's missing.

Jesus says we haven't been close for a while so renew your passion for Me, be zealous and repent.  That's how you open the door. And He promises to come in and eat with you when you do.

So many use this passage to say this is how we have eternal life.

This is spoken to born again believers who already have eternal life by faith in Jesus but who have squandered their passion for Christ. Jesus is offering fellowship, intimacy, closeness. Be zealous. Repent. In His presence is the fullness of joy, the assurance of love, the renewing of passion.

And this doesn't just impact our life today, it changes us forevermore,

Revelation 3:21 He who overcomes [who repents, lets God deal with our spiritual apathy], I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

This is Christ's passion for you. To have fellowship with you. Intimacy. Impact. that He may use you in other people's lives, that He may reward you forevermore in the kingdom. To sit down with Him, as He sits with His Father. In Revelation chapter 2 He promises overcomers to also co-rule with Him.

That is the fruit of a life that is passionate for Jesus? Greater intimacy with Jesus. Great rewards in the kingdom. A greater understanding of His love for when we're aware that we are needy, miserable, naked, and blind we repent and turn to Jesus trusting Him to meet our needs and to work in our lives.