The editor: You will find it helpful to read this over several times during the week.



(Based on Revelation 3:15-22)

It's hard to say whether it was a vision of a past age or a glimpse of another world …….

There was this town out in the middle of nowhere with absolutely no link to the outside world except a single railroad track, overgrown with weeds and covered with rust, that ran past an old broken down station which hadn't been used in years. No one in the entire town had ever seen a train in their lifetime, and no one knew where the track came from or where it went.

For two-and-a-half years the town hadn't had any rain. The animals were dying and the food supply was almost exhausted. Every life in that town was doomed. It was only a matter of time, and death by starvation would claim them all.

One day the dying town was electrified by news that a stranger had come down the track on a hand car and had stopped in front of the old station. Everybody in the town gathered to watch the first stranger they had ever seen carry some boxes from his hand car and pile them on the platform. The stranger climbed to the top of his boxes and began to speak.

"You all know," he said, "that this town is doomed. By the end of summer there won't be a living soul left.

I have come to announce that very soon a train will come down this track to carry everyone who is willing to safety. The train will stop at this station and those who are ready can climb abroad."

"How do we get ready?" shouted someone in the crowd.

"In these boxes I have the necessary things:

- gold refined by fire,

- white robes to cover your nakedness,

- and salve to anoint your eyes.

When the conductor sees the gold in your hands, the robe on your bodies, the salve on your eyes, he will welcome you aboard.

It doesn't matter whether you are rich or poor, whether you own ten houses or sleep in the alley, I will give you these three things when you sign over everything you have to me."

"Sign over everything we have to you? Who do you think you are?"

"It's your only hope friends. Think it over."

The next day a few townspeople began to sign over their possessions to the stranger. In exchange they were given gold refined by fire, white robes - beautiful robes - to cover their gaunt bodies, and salve to anoint their eyes, causing things to appear in a new light.

For the first time, in who knows how many generations, the railroad station came back to life. Men and women in white robes set to work cleaning away the cobwebs, washing the walls and the windows and the floors. Soon the old station, gleaming with a new coat of paint, was the busiest place in the town.

Daily the stranger talked to the people, pleading with them to buy their gold and robes and salve while there was still time. But as the days passed, it became apparent that most of the interest was curiosity. Yes, crowds came to the station every day. They even sang songs and clapped their hands every time the stranger made a speech. But very few men and women actually signed up and put on the robe.

People were saying,

"When the train comes, then I'll buy a robe."

"No," answered the stranger, "then it will be too late. Do it now."

Then some of the people who bought robes in the beginning took them off and were no longer wearing them.

"I feel silly in this thing," they'd say.

"I figured the train would be here by now."

"I'm tired of waiting."

Faithfully every morning the stranger climbed up on his boxes and pleaded with the people to get ready. But by now the novelty had worn off. Even the regular customers would often fall asleep as the stranger spoke.

One morning the townspeople went down to the station for their daily entertainment. But the stranger was gone. His hand car, his boxes with gold, robes, and eye salve were also gone.

"0 well," said one of the older men, "He was a fake anyway. Look how he kept talking about the train weeks on end and it never came."

Just then there was a hissing along the tracks, and off in the distance a whistle. Five minutes later a beautiful shining train lumbered to a stop in front of the old station. A handful of men, women, and children wearing robes gathered on the platform and were welcomed aboard. The rest of the people didn't dare to enter. They knew it was too late.

The whistle blew, the train moved down the tracks and was soon out of sight - leaving the town to perish.

This old church building has seen a lot of people come and go from it in the last few years. Nobody who's been around at all can deny that this place has been visited by the Holy Spirit even as the train station was visited by that stranger.

And if there's anything the Spirit has been telling us it's that the gospel of Jesus is not some little added thing to round out our lives – it's our only hope. There is no way out of this kingdom of death ... but Jesus.

"Whoever has the Son has life, whoever does not have the Son does not have life."

And the Spirit has been telling us that while salvation is free it is also the most expensive thing on earth.

- Salvation costs us everything we have.

"Whoever loves their life loses it.

Whoever loses their life for my sake and the gospel's keeps it."

Our problem is that many of us have listened and listened, come to fellowship, said prayers. But the one thing needful we have never done:

- We have never totally, absolutely surrendered ourselves into the hands of Jesus Christ.

Hence, because we haven't truly committed ourselves we're neither  cold nor hot. We're lukewarm. And like lukewarm people always are, we're blind to our true condition. We have no idea how lost we are in our lukewarmness.

"So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing; not knowing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. Therefore I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, that you may be rich, and white garments to clothe you and to keep the shame of your nakedness from being seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, that you may see."                                             Revelation 3

“Therefore I, counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire that you may be rich” 

And what is this gold but a heart made pure by following Jesus - not just through fields of daisies and daffodils - but through suffering. Through the baptism of fire, to a cross.

Our flesh wants the easy, the painless, the convenient, and the safe way. And for this reason many of us part company with Jesus,

- as soon as he starts toward Jerusalem,

- as soon as it starts getting hard,

- as soon as our routine is upset,

- as soon as people give us a rough time,

- as soon as Jesus leads us away from the limelight.

Our hearts will never become pure until we begin to know Jesus in the fellowship of his sufferings and become like him in his death.

Our Lord's question to us now is,

"Are you willing to buy this gold refined by fire?"

All we have to do is say yes, and it will start to happen. We'll begin to feel the flames.

"Are you willing to leave the lukewarm, mediocre, vapid, half-baked, sheltered religious life for a journey with me down into the Valley of Trial?

I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire that you may be rich."

“And white Garments to clothe you and keep the shame of your nakedness from being seen.”

What are these white garments but a life made pure by taking on the nature of Jesus.

Put on then, as Gods chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, and patience, forbearing one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.                                                                          Colossians 3


We don't just admire Jesus.

We don't just adore him from a distance.

- We put on Christ.

- We clothe ourselves in his love,

                                                his forgiveness,

                                                his forbearance,

                                                his patience,

                                                his lowliness,

                                                his meekness.

Over the shame of our petty, narrow-minded egotism, which was condemned on the cross, we now put on a new nature which was created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

Why do you think Jesus sends us the Holy Spirit? To enable us to be like him! No longer lukewarm slobs walking around bragging that they're saved, but sons and daughters of the living God who bear the marks of his nature.

"Whoever says they abide in him, ought themselves also to walk as he walked."

"And we all with unveiled face, reflecting as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness - from one degree of glory to another by the Spirit of the Lord."

Don't ever let anyone tell you that you can't be like Jesus. One day you will be either perfectly like Jesus or perfectly like Satan. And right now, with an act of your own will, you're clothing yourself either in one nature or the other.

“I counsel you to buy from me salve to anoint your eyes that you may see”

And what is this salve but vision made pure by facing reality in terms of Jesus Christ instead of escaping reality into our own delusions.

Lukewarm people don't want to see. They want to daydream. They want to wish. They want to endlessly escape. They want to sleep their way through life.

''Dear me! I just don't know what's happening. I don't know what to do !''

That's exactly the shape you want to be in so you can excuse yourself and go right on doing your own thing.

But if you really mean business with Jesus he won't allow you to go on lying to yourself. You will have to see things in terms of how they relate to him instead of in terms of your own vain imagination.

The issue is not

- is it going to rain,

- can Hitler be saved,

- how can I get more fun out of life?


- what am I doing about Jesus Christ, right now?

When I settle that, everything looks different. I begin to see for the first time.

One day the people of the town went down to the station to listen to the stranger and he was gone. So, one day, those of us who've been playing around with commitment for years will come to hear the Word and there won't be any Word.

Behold the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land. Not a famine of bread nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord; and they shall wander from sea to sea; and from north even to the east they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord and shall not find it.

God help us to hear his call to repentance while he still stands at the door and knocks.

God help us this day to leave our lukewarmness, open the door, and buy from his Son,

            - the gold for a pure heart,

            - the garments of a pure life,

            - the salve of pure vision,

even if it costs us everything we have.