Updated: Oct 22, 2022
Answers For the Heart
A reader of my articles in the Summerville News recently recognized that he is "Lukewarm" and wanted to know what to do about this state. The following is my attempt to answer his question.
I would like to discuss a very important word with you today. That word is
The word is found in Revelation 3:16.
16 So then because thou art
lukewarm, and neither
I will spue thee out of my mouth.
This is the only place in the entire Bible that this word is found. There must be a singular truth here that we are being encouraged to discover and consider.
God is using these thermal understandings to show us something about the way he feels, and also about the way He wants us to be. The word, lukewarm means moderately warm; between hot and cold (and therefore not agreeable to the taste or to the mind).
Another word that could be used is the word tepid. The word tepid opens to us a broader understanding….an understanding which is clearly meant by the word “lukewarm” in this passage. Tepid can mean “lacking in passion, force, or zest.” Tepid can also mean that which is marked by an absence of enthusiasm or conviction
One can also understand the word “lukewarm” by comparing it to what it is not. In this verse, we discover what lukewarm is not cold (Cold means to have a low or inadequate temperature), nor is it “hot” (Hot means to have a high or higher than desirable temperature or giving off heat).
Now, may I remind you that God is not speaking about our body temperature here. He is talking about something altogether different. The context tells us to what God is referring, look at
15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
When God was talking about being hot, cold, or lukewarm, he was referencing the Laodicean believers “works.” Do you see that? Now these works were of a particular type. The type of “works” here described are also found here in the text. Please read
14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;
Each one of the designations in this verse, describing Jesus, are given for the purpose of showing the Laodiceans what they should be instead of what they were.
The “Amen” - Jesus is to be understood as God’s ultimate statement of affirmation. There is nothing else to be said after Jesus is called the “Amen.” This word summarizes the definitive, complete, strong, and powerful declaration of His value, aspect, and essence.
The “faithful and true witness” - Jesus is characterized by steadfast affection, dedication, and allegiance to the truth even though it led to his death. This is the uttermost limit of devotion!
The “beginning of the creation of God” - In the beginning, it was Jesus that initiated the creative acts we see recorded in Genesis, chapters one and two (See Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:1-2). These verses teach that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the creator! He is the cause of the existence of everything that we know.
Now then, let's go back to the cold, hot, and lukewarm metaphors and see if we can make better sense of them. It is obvious that the passage that we are dealing with here is encouraging the Laodiceans to be more zealous for Christ than what they were. However, when Jesus made this statement, he was not suggesting that the Laodicean church be ice cold in its reaction to the things of God. This would clearly be ridiculous.
What is being described here has to do with a first century understanding that is lost on us, unless we understand the history. There were two other prominent cities in the region of Laodicea (Colossae and Hierapolis).
There were waters in Hierapolis that were hot and had medicinal / healing effects.
The waters of Colossae were known for their refreshing coldness, drinkability, and purity.
But the water in Laodecia was neither cold nor hot. It was known for being lukewarm, not very palatable, and basically nauseating.
In Laodicea, the professing believers testimony, witness, and work for Christ, was so bad that it had the negative effect of making people sick concerning the name of Christ. It was so lackluster and ineffective that it even made Jesus want to spew them out of his mouth. Do you wonder now why Jesus commanded them to repent?
As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
By all means let us avoid being like the Laodiceans.
In order to avoid being lukewarm, you must first
REALIZE your pitiful state
17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
The next verse is very interesting...and revealing. The verse encourages the believers to:
RECOGNIZE some things about themselves
18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
Laodecia was known for three other things (not including yucky water). It was known as a wealthy city, rich in gold. It was the center of a garment industry known far and wide for their fancy black garments. They were also famous for their medicinal eye salves. These Christians had adopted the cultural aspects of the place where they lived, but God was not pleased. He wanted them to be different and unique. He wanted them to transform the culture rather than adopt it. Yes, they would suffer for it, but the gold they would receive, "tried in the fire," would be far more valuable than any yellow rock.
1 Peter 1:7
7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:
Jesus encouraged the Laodiceans to buy "white raiments" of Him so that they might be clothed. They stood naked before him in their pitiful state, in spite of they fact they they were dressed in the best their city had to offer. Jesus had a righteous garment to give them that far exceeded anything they could ever produce on their own. They needed to be clothed in the righteousness of Christ in their practical lives rather than the worldly garments of self righteousness that had produced self satisfaction.
Next they were encouraged to buy eye-salve of Jesus. The special salve obtained at Laodecia might help with physical eye maladies, but it could not touch their spiritual eye problems which had led to blindness. they could not even see the pitiful state that they were in. So sad! Sounds like American Christianity!
The next thing, after realizing all of this, the Laodiceans were to:
To repent means to reconsider — to have a change of self (heart and mind) that abandons former dispositions and results in a new self, new behavior, and regret over former behavior and dispositions.
You turn away from what your Scripture guided Spirit enlightened conscience tells you is wrong and you turn toward, and follow, that which your Spirit enlightened, Scripture guided conscience tells you is right.
These precious but wayward Christians, by the lives they were living, had effectively excluded Jesus from their congregations. They had their own little religious thing going and it did not include Jesus....but the interesting thing was this; Jesus wanted back in!
20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
Even if one man will open the door, Jesus will enter in! The hope is that the church will be revived, but even if it is just that ONE MAN, Jesus will fellowship with him!
The final step is to
We must get to work for God. In spite of the obstacles. In spite of the hardships. In spite of the hindrances, we must press on for Jesus!
21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
Don't ever think you are done until you are putting into practice what you have been taught and what you have learned. Some people are very good at telling others what they should be doing, but very poor at doing anything themselves. This is the Laodicean spirit.
Get effectually busy for God! Be a passionate, enthusiastic follower of Christ that makes a difference: One that lives, and acts in such a way as to bring refreshing and healing to the place where you are!
Please send me more questions, from your heart. We will discover, together, what God says in His word. Thanks!