Summary: John 3:16 is all about grace and love while Revelation 3:16 is about accountability and judgment.
Don’t Be Spew
Everybody loves to quote John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life." People at football games proudly hold up signs with this scripture reference on it. Homeless guys will hold the same sign on the street corner hoping to attract a believer to hand them some money or food. The whole world recognizes this incredible verse.
But what about Revelation 3:16? How many of us know this verse? It’s not as touchy feely and John 3:16. It’s because John 3:16 is all about grace and love while Revelation 3:16 is about accountability and judgment.
To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:
These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. 15I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17You say, ’I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. 19Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. 20Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. 21To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."
So let me ask you a question. Are you hot or cold?
Our challenge is to not be SPEW.
This church of Laodicea wasn’t always lukewarm. They were a well established church. Laodicea was known for it’s wealth, it’s banking, the manufacturing of a special eye salve, as well as of a glossy black wool cloth. Paul even referenced this church a few times in his letter to the Colossians.
However, Jesus said “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot.”
They Lost Their Fire (v15-16)
We see here that God is gauging Christians in three different spiritual temperatures.
Remember, he is talking to the “church”, not the world.
1. HOT: a burning heart on fire for God
In Luke 24 we see two men walking as they were discussing the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. At that very moment, Jesus appeared to them but they didn’t recognize Him. They walked and talked about it and they even sat down to eat a meal together. Then they finally realized who they were talking to and Jesus vanished. Their response was “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?"
A HOT Christian is one whose heart stirs for the things of God. They want to know and experience all that they can in their relationship with Christ. They want to talk about Him as they walk through their day. They discuss the things of God as they eat. They post it on their blog. They show it by how they live.
2. COLD: a cold heart
In Matthew 24 Jesus is telling his disciples about the signs of the end of the age. He tells them that there will be wars, famine and earthquakes as well as false prophets and persecution. Then he says, “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.”
A COLD Christian, simply put, isn’t a Christian at all – at least not any more. It’s someone who once believed and had a relationship with Christ, but because of circumstances, conditions, conflict, or cowardice, they turned their hearts cold to the things of God. They no longer put their trust in Christ and their faith has wavered.
The lukewarm Christian is comfortable, complacent, and either ignores or simply doesn’t realize their need for Christ in their daily lives. Here in Revelation 3:16 is the only instance of this word in scripture, yet we see many stories of characters who suffered with this very affliction – Lot, Samson, and Judas.
So the Lord revealed these three spiritual temperatures and then made the indictment that the church of Laodicea was indeed lukewarm.
Illustration: your waitress
Illustration: 2nd law of thermodynamics requires that a “closed system” eventually moderates so that no more energy is being produced. Unless something is added from the outside, the system decays and dies. Without added fuel, the hot water in the boiler becomes cool; without electricity, the refrigerant in the freezer becomes warm.