Bible Study on Fervor – Having Passion for Christ
Mark 12:30: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.
Deuteronomy 10:12: Serve the Lord with all your heart and with all your soul.
Colossians 3:23: Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord rather than for men.
The lukewarm church – Revelation 3:14-20: Because you are not cold or hot I will spit you out of my mouth.
Matthew 24:12 – Because of the increase of wickedness the love of most will grow cold.
Revelation 2:4-5 – I have this against you that you have forsaken your first love.
Joshua 24:15 – Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, but as for me and my house we will serve the Lord!
1 Kings 18:21- How long will you hold between two opinions? Serve Baal or God.
Matthew 6:24 – Cannot serve two masters, cannot serve God and money.
Psalms 119:20 – My soul is consumed with longing for your law at all times.
Romans 12:11 – Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.
Nehemiah 3:20 – Baruch zealously repaired the wall.
Galatians 4:18 – Be zealous always, not just when I am with you.
What does it mean to be passionate or zealous to serve the Lord?
What is the opposite of this zealous fervor?
What will this fervor look like in normal life?
Why should we have this fervor?
Can you think of any examples in the Bible of people who had fervor for serving the Lord?
What are the greatest obstacles to this fervor?
What are signs of an indifferent person?
What are signs of a zealous person?
How can we increase our fervor?
Examples of zealous people in the Bible –
Baruch – Nehemiah 3:20
Paul – Galatians 1:14, He was zealous for the Pharisaic traditions, but now was zealous for the Lord.
David – 1 Samuel 17:45-47, Was the only one who was willing to fight Goliath, zealous to defend God’s name.
Outline – The lukewarm church
Cold. There are different ideas on what exactly is meant by the term “cold” in Revelation 3. One is that it is basically the same meaning as hot. Both are useful believers. The other is that cold means a person who is clearly not a believer. What do you think? I’m still not 100% sure on the correct interpretation, but MacArthur and most of the others I read took the traditional interpretation that “cold” is an obvious unbeliever. The focus of this verse is not really on the “cold” aspect, but we will talk about it for a bit.
Joshua 24:15. We must make a choice in this world. John is not saying that we should choose to be cold, but simply that people must make a decision and it is better to be honest and clearly say what you are than to try to act like something you aren’t. We have to make a choice. We can’t be neutral.
1 Kings 18:21. So what choice do you want to make, serve God or serve something in the world?
Matthew 6:24. So what master do you want, God or money or something else?
I am sure all of will say that we want to serve God and have Him as our master. Our problem isn’t that were cold, but it may be that we are lukewarm.
Lukewarm (Indifferent/Hypocrites). This category encompasses a HUGE amount of the church in today’s world. Something like 75% of Americans will say that they are Christians. Most of them go to church from time to time. Something over 1 billion people in the world identify themselves as believers. But from the verse in Revelation it is clear that there will be many people in the church and even active in the church who Jesus will spit out. What is another word for lukewarm? What will this person look like? What are signs of a lukewarm believer? Being lukewarm isn’t only accepted for believers, but it is encouraged. As mentioned before the mindset is, “Sure, believe in God and go to church even, but don’t be too extreme! Don’t let it affect your life!” Just this week I was sharing at Nissi with a guy and he described a Christian friend who quit his job and started working for the Lord in a fellowship. He thought it was really weird and thought such passion was ridiculous. People in the world think passion for money and career or hobbies such as fishing, shell-collecting, and surfing, is great, but that passion for the Lord is a waste of time. But passion for these things will yield nothing eternally. Read and discuss the verses individually.
1 John 2:15-17. Probably the greatest hindrance to passion in believers is a love for the world. It’s hard to be in love with two things at the same time. If our heart is in the world, we will not be able to love the Lord fully. If we are living in sin, we will not be able to love the Lord fully. If we want to be truly zealous for God, we cannot love the world. Does that mean we have to go into seclusion and can’t take an interest in things in the world? Not at all! God put us on this earth for a purpose and we should enjoy our time here, but we should find joy in the right things and a passion for the Lord should define our lives and show up no matter what we are doing.
Romans 12:1-2. This verse is saying basically the same thing. If we conform ourselves to culture there is no room for a fervor for the Lord. All around us people are saying not to devote ourselves to God. People think that religion is silly and not worth the time. But we must not be like the world.
Revelation 2:4-5. Discuss the Ephesian church. The Ephesian church had a very similar problem to the church at Laodicea. It was doing the right things. People were obeying the Lord. People were talking the right talk and walking the walk. They had great doctrine. Their teaching was strong. So what was the problem? They had lost their first love. All of the things they were doing didn’t come out of a love for God. So why were they doing these things? Perhaps habit, perhaps they were brought up in the church, perhaps to receive the praise and recognition from men. Why do people today lose their love for the Lord?
Psalms 26:4 (hypocrites). Lukewarm people are hypocrites. They are in the church and surrounded by believers. But they don’t truly belong to God. They are goats. What are goats?
Matthew 24:12. It is not surprising that this is happening. See 2 Timothy 3:1-5, especially “having a form of godliness”. Discuss. Do you see these characteristics around you?
Mark 7:6. You honor me with your mouth, but your hearts are far from me. This problem is pretty much like the hypocrite problem in Psalms 26. Our mouth is not what is important. It is easy to say the right things. A key to a passionate life for the Lord is to have a heart that is close to Him.
Mark 12:30, Deuteronomy 10:12. We are not to love the Lord with part of our heart, but with all of it. We can’t separate our lives into different areas, being on fire for the Lord sometimes and not other times. We need to be consistently zealous in aspects of our lives. Colossians 3:23.
Psalms 119:20 – My soul is consumed with longing for your law at all times. What are the signs of being zealous for the Lord? One is a zeal for His words. We will love His word and crave His word. We will desire to get it into our lives. An indifferent person will not care to spend much time in the word. Zeal for the Lord will also show itself in a strong and healthy prayer life.
Romans 12:11 – Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.
Nehemiah 3:20 – Baruch zealously repaired the wall. Baruch really stands out as a zealous servant of the Lord always will. If you read through the chapter it says this person repaired the walk and that person repaired it and then it says that Baruch “zealously” repaired it. His eagerness and diligence was noticeable and made him outstanding. This kind of attitude is so rare people who are truly dedicated and zealous really stand out. It’s said that something like 1% of Christians in the church do 99% of the work. But that is not how it should be. Everyone has a role. Every believer has a gift. People need to look for areas that they can help in and then give themselves fully to it.
Galatians 4:18 – Be zealous always, not just when I am with you. This is a great verse. When is it easy to be zealous? Sometimes it is easy to be “zealous” when others are watching like our Christian friends or when we are at church or in fellowship. When is it difficult to be zealous for the Lord? When we are around the world or in the midst of trials. So what should we do?
So I want everyone to not just look at the church as a whole, but think about yourselves. Are you indifferent or a hypocrite? Has your love grown cold or have you lost it? Are you going to be spit out? Are you really zealous for the Lord? If so, how are you showing it? Have you found an area where you can devote all your energy and strength to God? Are you a person who is sometimes up here and sometimes down here? Do you get more passionate about sports, movies, etc. or about God? Who does your heart belong to? Passion isn’t something that I can give you. It isn’t just something that happens either. True love isn’t from first glance (though lust might be) and neither does true fervor come just from hearing a song or some other emotional thing. It comes out of a heart that is close to the Lord and that happens as we pour over His words, and come to Him in prayer.
Hot/zealous/fervor. We have looked at what we should not be. We should not be indifferent. We should not be hypocrites. We should not be cold. We should not just be talkers. What should we be? We should be zealous for the Lord. If you were wondering whether John meant to be cold or hot see Rev 3:19. Discuss the following verses.
Commentary on Rev 3:15-16
1. The heavy charge drawn up against this church, ministers and people, by one who knew them better than they knew themselves: Thou art neither cold nor hot, but worse than either; I would thou wert cold or hot, v. 15. Lukewarmness or indifference in religion is the worst temper in the world. If religion is a real thing, it is the most excellent thing, and therefore we should be in good earnest in it; if it is not a real thing, it is the vilest imposture, and we should be earnest against it. If religion is worth any thing, it is worth every thing; an indifference here is inexcusable: Why halt you between two opinions? If God be God, follow him; if Baal (be God), follow him. Here is no room for neutrality. An open enemy shall have a fairer quarter than a perfidious neuter; and there is more hope of a heathen than of such. Christ expects that men should declare themselves in earnest either for him or against him.
2. A severe punishment threatened: I will spue thee out of my mouth. As lukewarm water turns the stomach, and provokes to a vomit, lukewarm professors turn the heart of Christ against them. He is sick of them, and cannot long bear them. They may call their lukewarmness charity, meekness, moderation, and a largeness of soul; it is nauseous to Christ, and makes those so that allow themselves in it. They shall be rejected, and finally rejected; for far be it from the holy Jesus to return to that which has been thus rejected.
[I will spew thee out of my mouth.] He alludes here to the known effect of tepid water upon the stomach; it generally produces a nausea. I will cast thee off. Thou shalt have no interest in me. Though thou hast been near to my heart, yet now I must pluck thee thence, because slothful, careless, and indolent; thou art not in earnest for thy soul.
Referring, perhaps, to the well-known fact that tepid water tends to produce sickness at the stomach, and an inclination to vomit. The image is intensely strong, and denotes deep disgust and loathing at the indifference which prevailed in the church at Laodicea. The idea is, that they would be utterly rejected and cast off as a church-a threatening of which there has been an abundant fulfillment in subsequent times. It may be remarked, also, that what was threatened to that church may be expected to occur to all churches, if they are in the same condition; and that all professing Christians, and Christian churches, that are lukewarm, have special reason to dread the indignation of the Saviour.