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Winter 2011: Microwave Christianity and Spiritual Hydrotherapy
Publish date: Mar 7, 2012
Summary: © Dan Gabbert 2011
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In the past—before I was blessed with my gifted cook of a wife, Patsy, and before I was introduced to the inside scoop on healthy eating—I used to cook frozen burritos in the microwave.
The tantalizing odor made my mouth water with anticipation. After merely a minute, I would take the burrito out, and sit down to enjoy the results of the miracle of microwave cooking. But without fail, as I chomped down on that burrito, my teeth would collide with an uncomfortable surprise: a sizzling outside, but a frozen core!
You've probably begun to imagine what kind of spiritual lessons a person could glean from such an experience. But before you do, let me throw this one out for your thoughts: that befuddling burrito experience is spoken of in the book of Revelation, under different terms of course. Let’s look at the Lord's message to the church of Laodicea in Revelation 3:15-16:
I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
This verse addresses three different temperatures of Christianity: hot, cold, and lukewarm. Is it possible to appear hot on the outside, but be lukewarm—or even as frozen as a burrito—on the inside? How I praise God for the fact that if someone’s spirituality resembles a discombobulated burrito, they do not have to remain that way!
Vine's Expository Dictionary tells us that the word "hot" in these verses means "boiling hot," from the Greek verb to be hot or fervent. Thayer's Greek Dictionary defines "hot" figuratively as "fervor of mind and zeal."
Spiritually speaking, hot works are produced in the life of an earnest praying Christian who is growing more and more in love with the Lord Jesus Christ. This Christian is actively practicing the mind of Christ by training His thoughts to mirror the Master's thoughts about whatever situation he is facing, and actively practicing responding to life events as he believes Jesus would (see Philippians 2:5; 1 John 2:5-6).
When someone's works are truly hot, genuinely fervent for the Lord, they are actively experiencing three conditions:
1. Their hearts are being moved by the faith and love of Christ to a daily personal decision to surrender to God and hold to Jesus as both Saviour and Lord of their lives (John 1:12; Romans 5:10);
2. Their hearts are moved by the faith and love of Christ to daily study the Word of God prayerfully to know Him and His ways (Psalm 25:4,5; 2 Timothy 2:15); and
3. In every situation, their hearts are being moved by the faith and love of Christ to continue doing their best to glorify God instead of protecting themself. They keep doing the best they can to make the Lord look attractive and desirable to others (see 1 Corinthians 10:31; 2 Corinthians 5:14-15). There may be other indicators, but these three are vital evidences of a living heart experience with Christ that make a person's works hot, empowered, and engendered by the indwelling Holy Spirit in harmony with the will of God found in His Word. These "hot works" are like a healthy burrito that is hot on the outside and on the inside!
ColdCold works are man-made, not coming from any prompting of the Holy Spirit of God, but from the damaging fleshly desires of the unconverted heart (see Galatians 5:19-21). The three conditions in place when works are cold, are as follows:
1. Their hearts are not responding to the wooing of the Holy Spirit, and not surrendered in faith to the Lord Jesus Christ;
2. Their hearts are not interested in God's Word; and
3. Their lives are producing works that are focused on protecting their own interestes, disobedient to the will of God found in His Word. These works are like the burritos just removed from the freezer, frozen both on the outside and the inside.
Thayer's Greek Dictionary defines "cold" in these verses figuratively as “destitute of warm Christian faith and the desire for holiness.”
Revelation 3:17 clearly indicates how extremely dangerous a lukewarm spiritual condition can be! Why? Have you ever taken a bath and attempted to keep part of the water hot and the other part cool? It doesn't work for long, does it? Mixing hot and cold always results in lukewarm
Lukewarm water can make a person relax to the point of falling asleep! And just like in the physical bathtub, Christians who are spiritually lukewarm are in danger of falling asleep, and missing out on what’s happening.
Lukewarm works can deceptively appear on the outside as very religious and genuine—or to follow our analogy, hot—but spring forth from a cold, unsurrendered heart still clinging to self-interest (Isaiah 29:13; Ezekiel 33:31).
That blend of spiritual lukewarmness does its destroying without a person being aware of what's happening. The enemy of our souls likes it that way! But praise our blessed Redeemer for His call to our hearts found in this message to the Laodicean Church.
Testimonies makes this alerting statement:
No stronger delusion can deceive the human mind than that which makes them believe that they are right, and that God accepts their works, when they are sinning against Him. They mistake the form of godliness for the spirit and power thereof. They suppose that they are rich, and have need of nothing, when they are poor, wretched, blind, and naked, and need all things (4T: 406).
I believe the devotional Steps to Christ adds to this picture of a lukewarm experience:
…there may be an outward correctness of deportment without the renewing power of Christ. The love if influence and the desire for the esteem of others may produce a well-ordered life. Self-respect may lead us to avoid the appearance of evil. A selfish heart may perform generous actions (58).
By now you may be asking, is there any way to know what temperature my works are? Is there any way to be assured that my experience with Jesus is healthy? The answer is yes!
The Spiritual Thermometer
Where do my works originate? Matthew 12:34-35 tells us that, “ out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks."
How can I tell where my heart is at in my relationship with Christ? Matthew also has that answer:
....where your treasure is there shall your heart be also (6:21)
So here's the truth of the matter: whoever or whatever I am giving the majority of my mental attention to—spending the most of my time thinking about—is my treasure, the "heat of my heart." And friends, the heat of our hearts determines the temperature of our works for Christ.
Steps to Christ expounds on this simple concept:
By what means, then, shall we determine whose side we are on? Who has the heart? With whom are our thoughts? Of whom do we love to converse? Who has our warmest affections and our best energies? If we are Christ's, our thoughts are with Him, and our sweetest thoughts are of Him. All we have and are is consecrated to Him. We long to bear His image, breathe His spirit, do His will, and please Him in all things (58).
How does a person allow Christ Jesus to become the Heat of his heart? How do I place myself in a position where I can experience the motivating love and empowering faith of Christ? How can I learn to cooperate with the Holy Spirit, and delight in giving Christ my best energies every day and please Him in all I do?
In Ephesians 5:25-26 we discover that Christ is going to cleanse His Church through "the washing of water by the word." This is His spiritual hydrotherapy that will bring healing to the Laodicean lukewarmness.
In Bible prophecy, we understand water to represent peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues (Revelation 17:15). However, in our personal relationship with Christ, water represents the Holy Spirit:
He that believeth on Me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. But this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive (John 7:38-39).
Through the Scriptures the Holy Spirit speaks to the mind, and impresses truth upon the heart. Thus He exposes error, and expels it from the soul. It is by the Spirit of truth, working through the word of God, that Christ subdues His chosen people to Himself (DA: 671, emphasis added; see also Psalm 119:9-11).
The Holy Spirit uses the medium of God's Word to convict, convert, and transform our hearts.
The Good Fight
And this is where the fighting mode fits into the spiritual hydrotherapy of the Holy Spirit.
2 Timothy 1:12 says, "Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses" (emphasis added). Anyone truly desiring to make sure they are spiritually healthy Christians—hot for Jesus inside and outside—truly laying hold on eternal life, must be willing to fight the good fight of faith.
What is that good fight of faith? The same verse answers: it is the fight to "lay hold on eternal life." According to John 17:3, eternal life is based upon knowing the only true God and His Son Jesus Christ.
Did you catch the combination? The good fight of faith is to a) lay hold on eternal life and to b) know God and His Son Jesus Christ. That is why it is so vital for us to study the Word of God.
God’s Word is what the Holy Spirit uses to reach our hearts with the truth about God and convert us to Jesus Christ (see Ephesians 1:13; John 16:13-14).
God’s Word is what the Holy Spirit uses to increase our faith in God (Romans 10:17).
God’s Word is what the Holy Spirit uses to sanctify us (John 17:17).
God’s Word is what the Holy Spirit uses to lead us into the liberty of a fervently hot love experience with the Lord Jesus Christ, both inside and out (2 Corinthians 3:17-18; 5:14-15).
The true temperature of a person's relationship with Jesus Christ is reflected in his relationship with the Word of God. Let me ask you dear friend, what is the Bible to you? Is it a decoration on your coffee table, or a intimate part of your habitual communion with God?
The Word of God is to be studied and taught. Converse with God through the medium of His Word. Thus our characters will be transformed. The ideas and habits once thought essential will be changed. God's Word is to be our lesson book. It is through the medium of this Word that we are to learn all about that better country, and the preparation essential for everyone to obtain an entrance into the kingdom of God, and come into possession of eternal life. That Word obeyed cheerfully and willingly, will ennoble your whole being in this life (1SAT: 286).
Precious friend, are you longing for greater confidence that you really do have eternal life, that Jesus really is the "heat” of your heart?
Do you long for greater assurance that you are truly the Lord's, that you are one of His jewels? Read Malachi 3:16-17.
Are you desiring to be sure you are experiencing a hot, intelligent, faith-filled love relationship with Christ, not cold or lukewarm? Read Revelation 3:15.
Are you wanting your Christian experience to shine brighter and brighter for Him unto that perfect day? Read Proverbs 4:18.
If you are willing, Christ, through the Holy Spirit, can do all this for you, and more! Read Ephesians 3:20.
Your part in this powerfully healing team effort is to fight for daily quality time alone with God. Commune with Him through His Word with a willingness to diligently practice what His Spirit impresses upon your heart.
It is essential for each of us to develop the eternal habit of willingly spending quality daily time alone with God in His Word. This means beholding Christ and His ways of thinking and responding, visiting with Him unceasingly in prayer, and practicing in our daily life what the Lord impresses upon our heart from that heavenly communion with Him. This practice is what will keep us from becoming Laodicean burritos.
May this statement of inspiration challenge and encourage you:
Our bodies are built up from what we eat and drink. And as in the natural, so in the spiritual economy; it is that which our minds dwell upon which sustains the spiritual nature. Our Saviour said, "It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life" (John 6:63). Spiritual life must be sustained by communion with Christ through His Word. The mind must dwell upon it, the heart must be filled with it. The Word of God laid up in the heart and sacredly cherished and obeyed, through the power of the grace of Christ can make man right, and keep him right; but every human influence, every earthly invention, is powerless to give strength and wisdom to man. It cannot restrain passion, or correct deformity of character. Unless the truth of God controls the heart, the conscience will be warped (2 SM: 124, emphasis added).
I want to be steaming hot inside and out for our loving Saviour and Lord Jesus Christ. How about you? Let's settle in our hearts to daily experience some spiritual hydrotherapy, what do you say?