3. Heat and Cold
Is there a kind of warmth that does not depend on the outside sunshine nor on the fire? Do you know homes where you receive a "warm welcome" even in winter? Do friendships "grow cold " in summer? Could one "turn a cold shoulder" in July? We know that we may have a "warm heart" or a "cold heart" the year round, in the sunshine or the shade, for this kind of warmth does not come from the sun in the sky.
Let the class suggest other familiar words and phrases which refer to this spiritual heat or cold. We "warm up to our work;" we are "fired with zeal or enthusiasm," or we are "lukewarm." A person may be "chilling" to our "ardor," and "throw cold water" upon us. We may "burn with anger or revenge;" a discussion may become "heated." We may be in "a fever of excitement," and the "coolness" of a friend may be refreshing to us.
What is this warmth of the spirit, which even quickens the action of the heart till it touches the body with a glow of physical warmth? Kind feeling and zeal warm the spirit; fierce passion consumes it. Love, either good or bad, is the inward fire. (D. L. W. 95; A. C. 934, 5215; H. H. 134.)
Whence do we receive the heavenly fire, the love of what is good? It is given to us by the Lord as we obediently do right. Therefore John the Baptist said of the Lord, "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance; but he that cometh after me . . . shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire." (matt. iii. 11; A. C. 9818; A. E. 374, 504.) Do we see anything in the representative Jewish worship which pictures this descent of Divine love from the Lord kindling love in our own hearts as we serve Him? It is represented by the fire of the altar by which the offerings were burnt — fire which, in some cases, was seen to fall from heaven. (lev. ix. 24; 1 kings xviii. 38.) It means that when we consecrate our good interests and abilities to the Lord, He gives a new and holier love for these good things. The Lord gives the love for good, and He alone. " The God that answereth by fire, let him be God." (1 kings xviii, 24; A. C. 10055 5 A. R. 395.)
What can be the meaning of the appearance of fire about the Lord or His angel, as seen by Moses, and the prophets, and John? "The angel of the lord appeared unto Moses in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush." (Exod. iii. 2.) "The Ancient of days did sit: . . . his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire." (Dan. vii. 9.) To John, "his eyes were as a flame of fire; and his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace." (Rev. i. 14, 15.) Must not the fire in all such cases be an expression of the Divine love going forth from the Lord? (A. C. 5313, 6832; A. E. 68, 69, 504.)
There is also heat of another kind — the burning of evil loves. These consuming evil passions are the fires of hell. "The fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone." (Rev. xxi. 8; matt. xiii. 42, v. 22; A. C. 5071; A. R. 599; A. E. 825; H. H. 566—575.) This is the fire meant in the words of the rich man in hell, " Have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame." (Luke xvi. 24; A. C. 1861, 6832; H. H. 570; A. R. 282; A. E. 455.) If the fires of evil passion are fed and encouraged while we live here on earth, we shall not be willing to have them extinguished in the other world. "Their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched." (mark ix. 44; A. C. 8481.) "He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." (matt. iii. 12; A. E. 504.)
But read the Divine promise, "Fear not: . . . when thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee." (ISA. xliii. 2.) "We went through fire and through water; but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place." (Ps. lxvi. 12.) Here are promises of the Lord's protection enabling us to pass unhurt through the falsity and evil excitement of the world. They are assurances that false thoughts and evil passions which kindle in our own hearts may be overcome in the Lord's strength and leave our souls unharmed. (A. C. 739; A. E. 355.) A grand picture of the Lord's presence protecting us from harm, though evil passions do their utmost to consume us, is contained in the third chapter of Daniel. Three men faithful to the Lord were cast into "the burning fiery furnace," "heated seven times more than it was wont to be heated." Yet upon them "the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them." (P. P.) The devil ofttimes cast the child " into the fire and into the waters to destroy him," but the Lord cast him out. ( mark ix. 22.)
Indeed, the conflict in us between the flames of evil passion and the fire of the Lord's love, if we are faithful in the temptation, will purify us of the evil. "Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction." (isa. xlviii. 10.) "I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried." (zech. xiii. 9; A.C..1846; A. E. 532.) The Lord also said, referring to conflicts in men's hearts between the good love He brought and their natural evil loves, "I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled?" (luke xii. 49; A. E. 504.)
The evil fire and the good fire are the very opposites of each other. The good fire is cold to those in evil states, and the evil fire is cold to those in good states. (A. C. 4175; H. H. 572.) The Lord predicted days when iniquity should abound, and "the love of many shall wax cold." (matt. xxiv. 12; L. J. 35.) Remember the night when the Lord was brought before the priests and scribes. " The servants and officers stood there, who had made a fire of coals; for it was cold; and they warmed themselves; and Peter stood with them and warmed himself." (John xviii. 18.) Does the fact that it was cold tell also something of the affection for the Lord in the heart of Peter and the rest? in the hearts of all of us when we deny and forsake the Lord? (A. E. 820.) Read in the Revelation (Rev. iii. 15, 16) the message to the church in Laodicea: "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." It is a warning to us when we have learned to love the Lord and what is right, not to fall into evil of life, which would cool the love for the Lord. Such lukewarm-ness is more dangerous than never to have known the good, for we are set more hopelessly against it. (A. R. 202; A. E. 233.)