How Lukewarm is too Lukewarm?

November 14, 2011

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Did he really say that?

I recently read Francis Chan‘s book entitled “Crazy Love“. He is a pastor and author that I admire and respect. His church gives away 55% of their money. He has walked away from fame and fortune to follow the plan of God. He has kept himself financially and morally clean.


The book,”Crazy Love”, is a challenge to the church’s commitment, calling them to be sold out. He especially focuses on the passage in James 2:17. “So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”

He challenges the reader in the following ways:
“Are you willing to say to God that He can have whatever He wants?”
“Do you believe that wholehearted commitment to Him is more important than any other thing or person in your life?”
“Do you know that nothing  you do in this life will ever matter unless it is about loving God or loving people?”

Fantastic! All believers need should be convicted and challenged on these things.

Then he moved into a profile of the lukewarm, stemming from the passage in Revelation 3:16 where Jesus speaks to the church of Laodicea. “So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.”

The following are parts of the profile of those Francis Chan calls lukewarm in his book.
“attend church regularly”
“give money to charity and church”
“choose what is popular over what is right”
“don’t want to be saved from sin, but from the penalty of it”
“rarely share their faith with their neighbors”
“will serve God and others within limits”
“think of life on earth more than heaven”
“thankful for luxury and comfort and rarely give to the poor”
“want to do the minimum to be good enough”
“are concerned with playing it safe”
“feel if they belong to a certain political party they are safe”
“don’t need to trust God if something happens, they have savings account”
“sin less than average but are not very different from typical unbeliever”

I found myself identifying with some of these statements. I appreciated the deeper call to commitment Francis challenged in me.

Then he said it….

Francis Chan said people who are lukewarm are not even saved.

On page 84, he says, “To put it plainly, churchgoers who are “lukewarm” are not Christians. We will not see them in heaven.”

“Francis, am I saved?”
“Are you saved?”
“Is anyone saved?”

“How lukewarm is too lukewarm?”
“What is the line?”
“Do I jump back and forth over that line; in and out of salvation?”

I am  challenged on some of the above areas.
Am I not saved if sometimes I choose the popular over what is right or if I think of life on this planet more than heaven?

I say “Amen” to calling the church to deeper commitment and application.
I say “Amen” to admonishing obedience, even radical obedience.

But not saved?

Have we removed the scandal and mystery of grace? Is salvation becoming something that we earn by our lack of lukewarmness?

Is it now a formula : Jesus + not being lukewarm = salvation?

If so, how much “not being lukewarm” does one need to still be saved?

How do we know when we have done enough to have confidence and assurance?

Anytime we add something to Jesus, it is a work.
Anytime a work is in the equation of salvation, it becomes about us not about God.

Perhaps not being lukewarm is a response to grace, not a requirement.

I realize I am stepping into dangerous ground. I may be foolish to disagree with a man whom I greatly admire, who has a radical obedience.

I doubt anyone would encourage me to do this as a way to gain followers of this blog. Disagreeing with a book which sold a million copies is not a recipe for success.

But, I must.

I don’t think we can remove the scandalous nature of the grace of God and turn it into a formula.

Click here for Part 2 of this post. I will look at the lukewarm passage in Revelation and offer some further thoughts on Crazy Love. I will clearly show that I DO NOT want to encourage a lukewarm Christianity

Related Posts:
Tipping the Scale
7 Minutes a Day in Galatians: Intro
7 Minutes a Day in Galatians: 1:1-10 
How Lukewarm is Too Lukewarm? Part 2 

Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” 

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A missionary teacher for 24 years currently living in South Africa. I am a recovering superhero, daily in need of the grace of God