I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot.  Would that you were either cold or hot!  So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.  Revelation 3:15-16

“The idea of being on fire for Christ will strike some people as dangerous emotionalism.  ‘Surely,’ they will say, ‘we are not meant to go to extremes?  You are not asking us to become hot-gospel fanatics?’  Well, wait a minute.  It depends what you mean.  If by ‘fanaticism’ you really mean ‘wholeheartedness,’ then Christianity is a fanatical religion and every Christian should be a fanatic.  But fanaticism is not wholeheartedness, nor is wholeheartedness fanaticism.  Fanaticism is an unreasoning and unintelligent wholeheartedness.  It is the running away of the heart with the head.  At the end of a statement prepared for a conference on science, philosophy and religion at Princeton University in 1940 came these words: ‘Commitment without reflection is fanaticism in action; but reflection without commitment is the paralysis of all action.’  What Jesus Christ desires and deserves is the reflection which leads to commitment and the commitment which is born of reflection.  This is the meaning of wholeheartedness, of being aflame for God.

One longs today to see robust and virile men and women bringing to Jesus Christ their thoughtful and their total commitment.  Jesus Christ asks for this.  He even says that if we will not be hot, he would prefer us cold to lukewarm.  Better be frigid than tepid, he implies.  His meaning is not far to seek.  If he is true, if he is the Son of God who died for the sins of men, if Christmas Day, Good Friday and Easter Day are more than meaningless anniversaries, then nothing less than our wholehearted commitment to Christ will do.  I must put him first in my private and public life, seeking his glory and obeying his will.  Better be icy in my indifference or go into active opposition to him than insult him with an insipid compromise which nauseates him!”

John R. W. Stott, What Christ Thinks of the Church (Grand Rapids, 1958), pages 116-117.

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4 thoughts on “Thoughtful, total commitment”

  1. Sallie Kate says:

    Ray Vander Laan teaches that the Laodiceans would have understood the message of this verse because it fits right into the geographical context around them. Nearby Hierapolis had hot springs that were believed to have healing properties, and people came to the city to bathe in the rich mineral waters in order to cure various ailments. {Be hot like these waters.}
    Colossae had a refreshing supply of cold water. {Be cold and refreshing like these.}
    I read that Laodicea had to fetch its water through high-pressure stone pipes from hot springs about five miles away, and by the time it reached them it would have been lukewarm.
    {Do not be spiritually lukewarm like your water.}
    God spoke in a way they would really understand.

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Ray Ortlund


Ray Ortlund is senior pastor of Immanuel Church in Nashville, Tennessee, and serves as a Council member with The Gospel Coalition. You can follow him on Twitter.

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