by Mike Ratliff
14 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:
The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this:
15 ‘ I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. 16 So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. (Revelation 3:14-16 NASB)
14 Καὶ τῷ ἀγγέλῳ τῆς ἐν Λαοδικείᾳ ἐκκλησίας γράψον·
Τάδε λέγει ὁ ἀμήν, ὁ μάρτυς ὁ πιστὸς καὶ ἀληθινός, ἡ ἀρχὴ τῆς κτίσεως τοῦ θεοῦ· 15 οἶδά σου τὰ ἔργα ὅτι οὔτε ψυχρὸς εἶ οὔτε ζεστός. ὄφελον ψυχρὸς ἦς ἢ ζεστός. 16 οὕτως ὅτι χλιαρὸς εἶ καὶ οὔτε ζεστὸς οὔτε ψυχρός, μέλλω σε ἐμέσαι ἐκ τοῦ στόματός μου. (Revelation 3:14-16 NA28)
All Christians should study the Old Testament book of Jeremiah. Why? Jeremiah was a prophet of God. What he was called to do was be the prophet to warn of God’s coming judgment to apostate Judah. They were still very religious. They still offered their sacrifices and held their festivals, but they also mixed in worship of other “gods” that called for the sacrifice of their own children. Jeremiah was threatened. He was beaten by the priests and told to shut up. He was put into stocks. When the Babylonians did come and fulfill the judgment he had prophesied, he was still despised by the apostates. The point is that God would not allow him to quit. He had to continue to preach. He had to continue to tell the truth. Even if only a few listened, he had to remain faithful. The religion that he preached against was the religion the people wanted. It was man-centered. Now keep that in mind as we look at the four Greek words that are key to understanding Revelation 3:14-22.
The first three are ψυχρός or psuchros, which the NASB translates as “cold,” ζεστός or zestos, which the NASB translates as “hot,” and χλιαρός or chliaros, which the NASB translates as “lukewarm.” The word ψυχρός not only means cold, but “frigid cold, sluggish, inert with cold.” This is the cold of death. In a metaphorical sense then, the ψυχρός are spiritually dead since they have an an aloofness to Christianity. They are lost and do not care that they are lost. On the other hand the ones our Lord described who are ζεστός actually means to be so hot as to boil. In a metaphorical sense, then, this would describe Christians who are fervent in their faith. These are genuine Christians who are spiritually alive. Who the the χλιαρός whom our Lord is so disgusted with that He is ready to vomit them out of His mouth? This word means “tepid, warm, a mixture of cold and hot.” The “church” at Laodicea was a mixture of professing Christians who were simply religious, but who were lost. They had some real believers, but they tolerated the apostates. They tolerated the worldliness. They tolerated the compromise and this created the lukewarmness, which was nauseating to our Lord. Many were professing Christianity, but were not Christian at all. This is apostasy, which is: Professed Christianity but a denial of its basic truths.
Now we come to our fourth key word for this passage. Actually, it is not found directly here only indirectly. In the NASB version of Revelation 3:14 our Lord says, “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:
The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this:” The city where the church is is Laodicea or, in Greek, Λαοδικείᾳ, however, the people there were called “Laodiceans” or Λαοδικεύς or Laodikeus. This word is comprised of two words: λαός, which means “people” and δίκη, which means “law, right, custom, and even prescribed punishment (depending on the context of course).” Combining these words together gives us the concept of “the law or custom of the people” or “the people ruling.”
As I stated earlier, what we have going on now in the “visible church” is this very thing. Everything is backward or upside down. It has all become people-centered. People have the authority instead of the Word of God being the authority. This is why someone like Rick Warren can strip mine the Bible, twist it like a pretzel and make it look like it supports everything he is doing and saying when it most certainly does not. The entire “seeker” movement is built upon or based solely upon what people want. This is Laodicean to the core.
In the visible church right now what do we see? Isn’t it either built around the worship of the god of self-indulgence or, on the opposite extreme, you see a very bitter part of society demanding their “right” to whatever they consider is being withheld by others simply because they are a different Race? All forms of these with everything between are still “false gospels” based on something other than the true Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. None of them, nor any other man-centered ideology in between these extremes use the Word of God as their authority because if they did, they could not stand. These things are based on what people want rather than what God says.
We are all sinners. None of us are perfect. We sin. We must come daily to the throne of grace, confess our sins, seeking forgiveness, and by the grace of God, turn in repentance from those sins. It is God’s Word that is the objective truth He gave us that we can trust to always be right and that the Holy Spirit will use to transform us as we learn to walk before the Lord as living sacrifices. Forget perfectionism. Forget keeping the Law to earn Heaven. If you are in Christ it is because of the Grace of God and so, your call from now on is to be that disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ that we are all called to be.
Soli Deo Gloria!