I know that Bob Wilkin wrote an article about lukewarm Christians, but I would appreciate some further comments, please.
In Revelation 3, Jesus said He knows their (Laodiceans) deeds. Why was He so displeased with their deeds? Was it because they were relying on their own resources to do good deeds? Or is it because the believers forgot how they need Him to accomplish anything? Or because they forgot their true spiritual condition? He said hot or cold is good, which seems to mean hot and cold are…useful? Hot is good for cooking food/tea, and cold water refreshes, etc.
Here are four points that help us understand the letter to the Laodiceans and, indeed, all seven letters in Revelation 2-3:
- All seven letters are addressed to churches. Churches are groups of believers, born-again people.
- The words, “I know your works” occur in all seven letters (Rev 2:2, 9, 13, 19; 3:1, 8, 15). The issue the Lord is concerned about is the works of these seven churches.
- None of the seven letters have a call to faith in Christ. Two of these letters have reference to the fact that the readers have faith in Christ (“you did not deny My faith,” 2:13 and “I know your…faith,” 2:19).
- All seven letters encourage the readers to become (or remain) overcomers, that is, victorious believers who will rule with Christ in the life to come (Rev 2:7,11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21). The issue in these letters is eternal rewards, not eternal destiny.
Now to the seventh letter and PC’s questions:
- The Lord was displeased with their deeds because their deeds were not pleasing to Him. As PC mentions, hot water and cold water are good. But lukewarm water is not good. Lukewarm water indicates deeds—and attitudes—that displease the Lord.
- The believers in Laodicea thought they were spiritually rich and had need of nothing (Rev 3:17). But, in reality, they were spiritually poor, blind, and naked. Their arrogant attitude, in addition to their poor actions, displeased the Lord.
- PC’s point about whose resources they were relying upon is on the right track. Believers have the life of God within us and the power of God to obey (2 Pet 1:3). But we only live that out if we have the right mindset (Rom 12:2; 2 Cor 3:18). The text indicates that they were spiritually blind to the reality of their situation. They did need God to work through them. The solution given in the text is repentance: “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore, be zealous and repent” (Rev 3:19). They were to turn from wrong actions and attitudes, and they were to be zealous to please God. The next verse, Rev 3:20, is a call to fellowship with God for those who open the door by being zealous and repenting.
Here is a link to an article I wrote on the seventh letter to the seven churches. Check it out for further details.