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The Christless Christianity

The Christless Christianity poster

“Behold I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” —Revelation 3:20

Christ outside! Such is the sad picture presented to us in our text—Christ outside, waiting at the door, pleading for entrance, pleading to unheeding ears.

The doors have been closed to our Lord Jesus Christ ever since the day the inn at Bethlehem had no room for Him. “He is despised and rejected of men,” it was said of Him long ago, even before He came into the world. He was lifted upon the accursed tree, as if to show that the earth had no place for Him. “He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not.” The world closed its doors to Jesus Christ. “He came unto His own, and His own received Him not.” His own people, Israel, closed their doors to Him. But in our text we find a still sadder picture, we find a picture—not of Christ outside the door of the heart of a sinner.

Frequently this text is preached upon as if it taught that Christ stands at the door of the sinner’s heart seeking admission. That may be true enough, but it is not the truth of the text. The truth in the picture of the text is Christ outside the door of His own church, at least of the church that bears His name—Christ rejected by the world, Christ rejected by His own nation, Christ rejected by His own church.

The superscription on the cross was written in Greek, in Latin and in Hebrew, the languages of culture, of power, of religion:—Athens and Rome, and Jerusalem in Palestine uniting in rejecting the Son of God. The wisdom of the world, the greatness of the world, and the religion of the world were united in rejecting Jesus Christ as the Son of God.

The Lord Jesus has always had the authorities against Him—governors, kings, philosophers, theologians, college presidents, everybody who was “somebody” was invariably against the Lord Jesus Christ, with a few noble exceptions. It will continue to be so until the day comes when the Lord shall rule with an iron rod.

Pleading in vain, for centuries His call has been unheeded; but soon He will speak in a voice that will be heard whether men want to listen or not. I know something of the love of God, the pleading, the unquenchable, and still the rejected love of God—but now we look for the wrath of God, when God shall smite in the fury of His wrath as He once smote Egypt of old, smote Nineveh and Babylon, God shall smite this old world until it reels and staggers and falls in a heap, and admits, “Thou hast conquered, O Galilean;” and we look for that day.

God will smite—let the ecclesiastical mollycoddles beware. I believe in the love of God, but, friends, I believe in a God who also has wrath, I believe in the wrath of God, and I am looking for it, because I want to see the world conquered for Jesus Christ. Since it will not listen to the pleading voice of the love of God, the Lord is going to use the iron rod. We look at that picture to offset the one of Christ executed, dishonored and rejected.

A Christless Church.

Now let us stop a moment and look into this church from which they have shut Christ out, and let us see what they have left when Christ is rejected. We may be disposed to ask, “Can there be a church where Christ is not, seeing that the church is built upon Him as the rock?” When we look at our text we find that the Lord Himself designates this as the church of the Laodiceans, a church, therefore. You know sometimes it doesn’t take very much to make a church. A church it is, therefore, but what kind of a church? It is respectable, it is self-satisfied, it is wealthy, but it is also tepid, lukewarm, miserable and nauseating—church sermons framed to please, the pulpit and pew in perfect accord, and Christ, the only disturber, put out in order to have peace.

What a picture drawn by the divine artist, the Holy Spirit Himself—indeed the church of the latter days. When Christ is excluded we find the church is made over all the more, it is spelled with a capital “C,” church emphasized. When the Son of God dwells within there is no need of the church glorifying herself; then she can live and glorify her Lord; but when the glory of the Lord is departed, then the church falls to glorifying herself. Her whole time is then taken up in glorifying herself and decking herself with the trappings of worldliness; and her testimony, which should have been given for the Lord Jesus, becomes instead a testimony as to her own greatness and glory.

In our day we hear a great deal about the greatness of the church, the wonderful church, her institutions and her programs. “The church is the only hope of the world,” I read in a journal recently. If that is so, then God pity the world. It is a poor hope the world has! As for us, our hope is not in the church, but it is rather in Him. Our hope is not in the church which has excluded Christ, but in the Christ which the church has excluded.

A World Program.

We hear so much nowadays about what we are going to do. “We are going to accomplish such wonderful things with our great institutions of learning, our untold wealth and our great and marvelous combinations. We are going to bring the world to us, and we are going to convert it to some kind of a religion. We are going to make the world well behaved and decent. We are going to establish the kingdom of God on the earth, and that in the absence of the King.” This is what we hear.

Oh, yes, the church will establish a kingdom, I do not doubt that for a moment. The “mustard see” will develop abnormally into a great and marvelous tree; and when it has so developed the birds will come, the blackbirds will descend and roost there. When the kingdom which the church will establish on the earth has been established, a king will come—but not from heaven. He will come from the pit, and will be a “bird” all right. It is a wonderful program which the church has undertaken to carry out.

Since it shut the Lord Jesus Christ out, Laodicea has no Christ, but it has a church, and a church with an emphasis, a most wonderful church, but it is nauseating to the Lord. Looking at this church from which Christ has been excluded, we find that there is religion enough there. I read recently in a daily paper that the world is in need of more religion. I think the world has religion enough. There is religion in the church of the Laodiceans. What kind of a religion? Let us call it “Christianity,” for the time being, accepting the terminology of the church because the church would resent its being called anything else, Oh Christianity! How thy name has been abused, taken in vain. Apparitions from hell have been decked out in all the colors of the rainbow, in all the trappings that human philosophy and imagination could invent, and then the torn garment of Christianity has been added to the garb, and the spook has been called Christianity.

We marvel not when we remember that even the murderers of the Lord Jesus Christ divided His garments between themselves after they had nailed Him to the cross. The world has never objected to religion, in fact the world loves religion, it gives the world a standing of respectability and decency. The world does not even object to Christianity provided that Christ is left out. Even the devil takes kindly to a Christianity that repudiates the Lord Jesus Christ. Such a Christianity generally laughs the personality of the devil off the stage, and the devil loves to work in the dark. He can always accomplish the greatest results when men doubt his very existence. A Christianity therefore, that laughs the personality of the devil out of court, such a Christianity the devil even will take kindly to, and Christianity without Christ has what they call a universal appeal that is pleasing to human nature. The carnal mind that is enmity to God finds nothing in a Christless Christianity to oppose.

“I see nothing here,” says Sir A[rthur] Conan Doyle, in regard to spiritism as a new revelation. “I see nothing here of atonement and redemption.” O, the devil and all his ilk are afraid of the blood. “I see nothing here of atonement or redemption. I, for one, stand ready to accept this scheme as perfectly feasible and reasonable.” No doubt the whole world will give that as its verdict about the Christianity of tomorrow. The elimination process will continue until the last vestige of the supernatural and of revelation and of Christ has been removed. Then the world will glory in a Christianity that appeals to all.

In the sixth chapter of the book of Revelation we see the beginning of the redemption of the purchased possession; we see the Lamb of God breaking the seals of that wonderful book, which He that sat on the throne held in His right hand, and as the seals were broken four horsemen came forth. Now, I believe that Bible students generally agree as to the interpretation of the second, third, and fourth. Not so about the first. Many see in him Christ, I suppose, because of the color of the horse, because Christ comes on a white horse in the 19th chapter of Revelation, comes as King of kings. So some of my brethren believe that it must also be Christ on the white horse of the sixth chapter, and they argue from that interpretation that great revivals of salvation will occur immediately after the rapture of the church.

The Sword Of The Spirit Missing.

I would counsel them to take care not to hold out a false hope to Christ-rejecting men of our age. If the rider on the white horse were Christ on a conquest of salvation, the first thing I would look for would be the sword of the Spirit in His hand. But it is not there. Instead, we find the bow, the weapon of deceit which the devil uses. You may remind me that God uses the bow in the 7th Psalm. It speaks of God using the bow, I admit that He does, not as a weapon of salvation, however, but as a weapon of destruction. When God uses the bow He sends a strong delusion as a judgment on men who receive not the truth in love. That is how God uses the bow.

We must not let the white color deceive us. Even Satan transforms himself into an angel of light. In the latter days we must be prepared to see beautiful heresies, to see religious delusions. We prate a great deal about righteousness of the Cain-kind, the human-made, the man-made kind. We must expect to hear a great deal about charity, about social service, about loving our fellowmen and all that kind of a thing, because the false Christianity that is coming, yea, that is already here, is preaching a righteousness—not a righteousness that we receive from Christ, our Redeemer, but a man-made and Cain-related righteousness that worships at the altar of natural religion, not at a diving altar of redemption through the blood, the blood of the Son of God.

The first horseman of the sixth chapter of the book of Revelation is a great revival indeed, but I believe it is a revival of false religion, a revival of spurious Christianity, a Christless Christianity sweeping the world when “the salt of the earth” has been taken away, when the saints have been raptured, the “cranks,” who never could agree to cutting up the old Book of God, who never could agree to the elimination of blood salvation. When they are taken away, when they are raptured, then and only then, can the false Christianity make the sweeping onward rush that it is going to make. It has no sword in its hand, because the fallen church has repudiated the Word of God long ago, and instead it is preaching delusions. It is not preaching the Word of God, but it is preaching everything but the Word of God.

A Shorter Bible.

That was the Christianity of Laodicea, and that is the Christianity of the church of the present hour, in general. Well may we ask, what this reconstructed Christianity is, this product of the twentieth century wisdom and human philosophy of which we hear so much, and which is to accomplish such wonders. In the first place we find that it is not based on Revelation, but on natural religion. “Everything beyond the ken of human vision and wisdom must be eliminated. We must have a Christianity that does not offend the world; therefore it must take in human wisdom and base itself on human wisdom. The inspiration of the Bible must also go,” we are told. “The Bible contains the Word of God,” is the catchy phrase that covers up the ugly cut of the critic’s knife. “The Bible must be studied as literature,” said a professor, speaking to the students in my home state university, recently, “the Bible must be studied as literature and compared with other sacred books.” That means that everything that poor, blinded human reason cannot grasp must be cut out. The results is a shorter Bible from which everything supernatural has been read out.

The manna of God has been cooked in a Yale kettle over a fire of Yale religion and what a hash they have made of it! May I remind you that even the manna from God may become wormy if treated in opposition to the God-given directions. As for us, we prefer it as it came down from heaven. We trust Paul’s inspiration a great deal more than we do the Yale professor’s judgment. We take the reiterations of the apostles rather than the critics’ eliminations.

A “shorter Bible” will be the textbook of Christless Christianity, and therefore we expect it will be made a great deal shorter yet. It reminds me of what Sam Jones (blessed in memory) said once upon a time, when so many women began to ride bicycles. “Ladies,” he said, “the ballroom has cut off your dresses at the top, and the bicycle at the bottom, until there is very little left.” I am afraid that the shorter Bible will be cut, and cut and cut by the critics until they will have only the covers left. Hang onto the whole bible as the Word of God and do not give up any of it. When you begin to give up any of it you will soon be giving up a little more and a little more, and you will have none of it left.

The incarnation of the Lord cannot be understood by sin-blinded reason, therefore it must, of course, be given up. Blasphemous Christless Christianity makes a bastard of the Son of God, and that is considered cultured and scholarly. I have to ask God to give me grace to hold my blood a bit cool, when I hear a man make a bastard out of my Saviour. I cry, “Lord, how long?” and I look for the rule of the iron rod. God grant that the day of vengeance may be near. Atonement also offends the world, insinuating, of course, that the world is sinful. Therefore Laodicean Christianity will not have any atonement, its theology must be bloodless. The devil and the world cannot stand the old truth about the blood. Of course there is no sin, in their estimation; what seems so is only error. The fall was imaginary, they think. Men fall? Why, perish the very thought!

Golden-mouthed hirelings stand ready to quote poetry by the yard, and deliver glorious, fine orations to prove that man is divine. “No fall, no sin, therefore no atonement necessary, no Calvary redemption, no Saviour needed. Man is his own saviour and the saviour of the world as well. What use have we then, for Christ? Of course He may come in as a teacher of ethics, as the great example, as the way-shower,” we are told, but, friends, the Lord will not come in on such an invitation.

Proclaiming the universal fatherhood of God, this human Christianity says, “No need of a mediator between God and man to cleanse men, that they may approach the holy God of heaven and Earth.” They bow at the altar of Cain in a bloodless worship of nature. When Abraham Lincoln, in the dark days of the Civil War, called this nation to its knees and pleaded with it to approach God in prayer and confession of sin, he asked men and women to approach God in God’s own way through the Lord Jesus Christ; but when leading men of our age counsel men to approach God, it is not through Christ, but through their own worthiness.

Religion vs. Regeneration.

In the 17th chapter of Revelation we read of the ten kings and the beast making war with the Lamb. That is the spirit of the world, opposition to God’s Lamb, to God’s sacrifice, the Redeemer. This is the false Christianity that the world takes to so much, and it will make possible the federation of state and church, of which I shall say a few words later. Regeneration and salvation are terms that grind on the tender sensibilities of a dead church. There is no place for such experiences in the new religious program. Instead of preaching regeneration through the Spirit of God, we are asked now to inoculate the youth of the land with a tendency to religion.

Inoculation? What does that mean? To vaccinate. How do you go at vaccination? You take the virus of the disease against which you want to inoculate or vaccinate, introduce a small portion of it from the outside of the skin and produce a spurious attack of the disease. In so doing, you render the subject immune to a real attack, so the phrase is well chosen. There are a lot of vaccinators going around, there are a lot of doctors, a lot of D.D.’s who go around and vaccinate with their religious vaccination. They will take a very small quantity of the virus of Christianity, introduce it from the outside, through the skin, through the hide, and in so doing they produce a spurious attack of Christianity. When a spurious attack has been brought about, it is impossible to get men and women who have had that spurious attack, under the influence of real salvation. They are indeed immune to an attack of the real kind. It works, God pity men, it works to the satisfaction of the devil himself.

Education vs. Salvation.

Education is substituted for regeneration, ethics substituted for salvation. The church loves to preach the ethics of the Sermon on the Mount to unregenerated men, as if they could live that! You might as well preach etiquette to tadpoles. You cannot preach the ethics of Christianity to a man who is not a Christian. You can preach it at him, but it will never strike home, he cannot live that. You might as well tell a corpse how to behave. Give it life first, and then tell it how to behave.

Many of you know how the old State church of Sweden years ago sent out a man and his wife to the Congo to preach the Gospel. They labored there for eight years without a soul saved, and they preached the ethics of Christianity to the heathen, trying to civilize them. After eight years the missionary wrote home that something had happened, that two heathen had been born again—himself and his wife. Do you know what happened? The church recalled him. They did not want him out there after that, and called him and his wife back home. They did not want regenerated folks out there. Why? Because the bishop and the elders of the State church of the Old Country were unregenerated men themselves. If he was a heathen, of course they were heathen, and I suppose they argued, “He had better stay home and convert us.” Anyway, they did not let him go out again.

Intellectual conceptions minus the heart, bring no spiritual dynamics. The Gospel of God believed in the heart becomes the power of God unto salvation. This Christless Christianity also becomes the religion of humanity. The divine having  been eliminated the human is preached all the more. We do not hear so much of what has been done for our salvation by our Redeemer, but we hear all the more about how much we must do for our fellows and for the world. “Service!” is the watchword of the hour. The church must busy herself about all kinds of reforms for the betterment of the world. Cain-like we are asked to forget the curse that sin has brought upon the earth, ignore it, and busy ourselves to make of this old sin-cursed globe an earthly heaven. We are asked to challenge the church of God and return to Paradise in the face of the flaming sword.

“Individuals are not saved, that is a selfish gospel,” they tell us, and instead, we are to regenerate communities, cities, countries, yea, regenerate the world. The Scripture declares that the world lies in the evil one, and we are supposed to make a better bride for Christ—not by any change of nature, but rather by change of dress. The Gospel of service and reforms culminates with a blasphemous, well-defined lie that a man may earn his soul’s salvation by giving his life for his country or for a just cause.

There will be culture there, there will be a form of godliness there, but the power of God will not be there. There will be no revival services, no after-meetings, no fervent prayers for salvation. Such will be out of keeping with the program. The great dynamic of this new Christianity will be money. Have we not had it flaunted in our faces only recently, that when the money power is consecrated to God the kingdom of God will be established in a day? As if the power of men could establish the kingdom of God; as if the kingdom could be established without the King. Then, of course, will wealthy men flock to the church, and as long as they have money for the church it will matter less whether they are unregenerated or not. In fact they will measure up favorably to the rest of the lukewarm crowd that constitutes the Laodicean church. There will be union there, but not unity. There will be federation, there will be rebuilding of old Babylon. Around that old pile was heard so much about what we would do, with a capital WE. “Let us build,” “Let us make,”—human energy bragging about great things. And the Lord came down (that is what we are all looking for) and ended it all.

State Church.

In the 17th chapter of Revelation you will find the harlot, the false church, the Laodicean church degenerated to the level where she appears riding a scarlet beast. There you have a picture of the antichrist state or government carrying the fallen church. The less of spiritual power in the church the more she seeks worldly power. In an alliance of spiritual fornication with the world government she will have her fill of world power. It will be used to persecute the people, who, like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego of old refuse to bow down to her image.

We have every reason to expect also, that spiritism will be incorporated into this body of everything religious and nothing divine. Men love immortality—that is, if it may be had without the giving up of sin. Death is a great disappointment under the curse of sin. If death could only be overcome, then sin would have no terrors. Now comes spiritism with the old lie of the devil, saying, “Ye shall not surely die! You may continue to reject Christ, continue to sin, continue to live according to the lusts of your own flesh, continue to live without God and still you are not without hope, because spiritism teaches you that death is but a beautiful adventure.” What a gospel for unrepentant sinners, and what a need it will supply in the Christless Christianity—spiritism instead of spirituality—spiritism a challenge to God instead of repentance.

We have already seen adumbrations of these foreshadowing movements that show the present religious trend to be exactly in the direction of which prophecy speaks. If we compare the program recommended to us from time to time with the program of God, what do we find? What is the program of God for this age? You will find it in Acts 15:14, “God at the first did visit the Gentiles to take out of them a people for his name.” That is God’s program, therefore “The Son of Man came to seek and save that which was lost.” But of this we find nothing in the modern program of the church. Instead, we find only world betterment from the first to last. I am going to read you a paragraph here, their own words, the most marvelous program ever presented to the church: “How Missionaries Aid Commerce—Commercial progress the work of Protestant Missions. To the missionary China owes her expertness in printing as well as her cotton and fruit agricultural success. Siam has become efficient in tanning leather; Brazil and India have increased the food production of their soils through the teaching of the missionaries; Japan is richer through the introduction of American fruit trees by the advance agents of Christianity and progress; the natives of South Africa, formerly unemployed, now earn wages in sugar plantations and the cultivation of cocoa beans introduced by the missionaries.”

Not a word about the salvation of men’s souls; not a word about bringing the message of Christ to those benighted people. Only teaching them how to better their present condition, making a heaven here and now, and not looking to any salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ. Indeed, they say that “missionaries have developed chicken-raising until the annual poultry shows are events to which people come from fifty miles around.” They used to have camp meetings and salvation conferences; now they have “poultry shows.”

Imagine James and Peter arranging for a poultry show in Jerusalem, and Paul and Barnabas coming out from Antioch as delegates! There would not have been very much persecution by the Christ-rejecting Jews in Jerusalem; but neither would there have been any power of God manifested. When the church goes to holding poultry shows instead of old-time camp meetings, her Christianity is a Christless Christianity.

The Byproduct.

We admit that world betterment is brought about by Christianity as a byproduct, but, not denying this fact, we deny the right of the byproduct to shut out the chief aim entirely from view. That becomes the case of the tail wagging the dog—and we want a conversion, we want things turned around. The chief aim of Christianity is not world betterment, but the chief aim of Christianity is giving Christ to men and women who are lost, and when the church sets her aim any lower than that she has shut Christ out. Christ will work in that church only which gives Him first place and abides by His program.

There are other world currents that we well might study in connection with this. The man who reads his Bible knows that the trouble with the world is that the birth of the beast is about to occur. The world is suffering—everybody knows that. The world, as the fiancée of the devil has rested in his embrace for so many centuries that at last she is to become the mother of the devil’s first-born, the beast, and his twin brother, the man of sin. The quacks of this world go around and tell you it is only a little passing attack of this or that. Some say an overdose of democracy, others of plutocracy, and that soon it will all be over. But according to the Word of God, the trouble with the world is that the birth of the beast is at hand. The power, the very power with which the fallen church is going to form a sinful alliance is already taking form. It seems a terrible thing to say, but I am afraid that it is true that the church in her blindness, is assisting in the bringing into the arena of this infernal beast.

The outlines of the coming Babylon are beginning to appear, and the harlot is already dressing up for the party. Only the true church must be taken out of the world before the Wicked One can appear.


Let us take a look, just for a moment, at the lack in this Laodicean Christianity. We have seen what they have, just a moment or two as to what they have not. The church does not even see her own need. The church has no vision for the coming One. How can a church that has shut Christ out be looking for His coming? Brethren, you try sometimes to teach premillennialism to unregenerated men. It is no use. When a man has shut Christ out of his church, out of his pulpit, do not expect him to preach premillennialism. I hope he never will. God grant that no unregenerated preacher will ever take to preaching the coming of Christ, because, if he does, the devil will use him. We want the truth preached by men who are born again, because only wo will it have any power.

There is no looking for the coming of the Lord in a Christless church. I will not undertake to say that every post-millennialist is a Laodicean, but I am sure that every Laodicean is a post-millennialist, and you cannot get away from that. You will never find one who is not going to establish the kingdom first and make the world fit for the Lord before the Lord comes.

Furthermore, the Lord says, if anyone opens the door He will enter in and sup with him. The joy is lacking, where Christ is shut out. There is no heavenly joy either in the church or in the heart where Christ dwells not. Some time ago in my home city I heard a prominent Methodist bishop state that the last shouting Methodist died forty years ago. The bishop was mistaken, we have evangelist L.W. Munhall on the platform tonight, a Methodist with a shout. I did not come here expecting to prove the good bishop untruthful, but I want to tell you that when a church shuts Christ out the shout is gone, and where Christ dwells, whether it is a Methodist or an Episcopal church the shout remains.

When you have Christ you have church suppers the likes of which you do not have in any other way, and there is not an oyster in them. “I will sup with him and he with me.” That is the only kind of church supper I care about, where Christ sups with us—joy, the joy of the Lord.

Christ Or The Church?

Christ is outside the door making His appeal, “If any man hear my voice.” Does He expect a committee of the church to come out and invite Him in? No, He does not expect it, and neither will such a committee ever be appointed. Do you expect to be able to turn the tide of the apostasy? Go at it, brethren, you cannot turn the tide. Apostasy will come on, and the Lord appeals to the individual in the fallen church who still has an ear to hear, saying, “If any man hear,” thank God. It will come to the pass where you may have to choose between the church and the Christ that the church rejected, and I want to tell you, my friends, if that day comes I choose Christ, church or no church. I can live without a church, but I cannot live without Christ. I can see the new Jerusalem without the manmade church and I know the true church of God will be there.

“If any man hear my voice.” Have you heard the appeal, the call of the Son of God? Will you separate yourself from men and women who deny your Saviour, and will you come out with the Son of God and stand on the foundation that God has built for you? Will you separate yourself from the world?

If so, you will become one with the chosen ones of God, with the blood-bought ones, with the redeemed throng, and God will know you and you will know Him. As it darkens in the world and the shadows fall, this is my attitude.

My six children and my wife were all sick, and I could not get a girl to help me work in the home, could not get a nurse. In three weeks I took my clothes off just twice. I worked pretty hard. I could sleep for three minutes and wake up instantly at the call of one of the little ones. The four-year-old called me suddenly one night after I had dropped off to sleep. I heard him say, “Daddy,” and [I] answered, “What is it Billy?” “Will you hold my hand?”

I took the little hand, it was feverish and quivering with pain, and as I held his hand in mine, he dozed off to sleep, contented because I held his hand. As I lay there staring upward, I sighed as I cried, “My heavenly Father, it is a very feverish world that I am living in, it is a very dark night that envelops me. Father, wilt Thou hold the hand of Thy child?” And I felt assured that my heavenly Father reached down and took my hand, and that He is going to hold it until the fair morning when the Lord Jesus will come for His own.