Summary: A congregation that is not actively benefitting and transforming the culture in which it finds itself, it is sickening to Jesus, the Head of the Church. Jesus condemns the Laodicean 'Health & Wealth Gospel' which is promoted by modern-day televangelists.
Verse 14 – Jesus introduces Himself to the congregation at Laodicea by three titles:
(1) “The Amen” which is a reminder that the Lord – by His death on the Cross – is the living confirmation of the New Covenant with its promises. 2 Corinthians 1:19-20, “For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, Who was preached among you by us...was not yea and nay, but in him was yea. For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in Him Amen, unto the glory of God.”
(2) “The Faithful and True Witness” is a declaration that Jesus accurately delivers Divine truth and, therefore, His word is both authoritative and dependable.
(3) “The Beginning of the creation of God” which means that He is both the Origin and Ruler of all creation. This is not the first time that the Laodiceans had been taught that Jesus is the Creator and Ruler of the Universe. Paul's Letter to the Colossians was meant to be read to the Laodiceans (Colossians 4:16), and in that Letter Paul wrote of Jesus in these terms - “He is the image of the invisible God, the Firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also Head of the body, the Church; and He is the Beginning, the Firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything” (Colossians 1:15-18).
In summation, the One who speaks in this Letter is the Amen, the great Guarantor of the Covenant, the infallible Witness Who is Truth Himself, with all the authority possessed by the Creator and King of the universe. And He has come to bear testimony against His congregation at Laodicea.
Verses 15-16 - Jesus addresses the congregation's leadership and members saying that their actions were so disgusting that He wanted to spit them out of His mouth. It's not that they had bad doctrine nor that their actions were wicked. The problem was that they were totally worthless in making an impact upon their local community. Jesus tells them that they “are neither cold nor hot” but “lukewarm.”
Now, there are some who teach that the terms “cold” and “hot” refer to degrees of zeal. In this view, “cold” means acting like a non-convert, void of any desire and interest in serving the Lord while being “hot” means being 'on fire' for the Lord, being zealous in serving the Lord. Thus, being “lukewarm” means a state of indifference and mediocrity.
However, there is a better explanation of Jesus' analogy that is better grounded in the history and geography of Laodicea. The city of Laodicea was located between the cities of Hieropolis and Colosse. Hieropolis was widely-known for its abundant and healing hot mineral springs. On the other hand, Colosse was well-known in that region for its clear, refreshing cold water that flowed from the melting snow and ice of surrounding mountains. Laodicea's water primarily came from the Lycus river and it was lukewarm, putrid, and nauseating. So, Hieropolis benefited society by its healing hot, mineral-laden pools. Colossae benefited society by offering refreshment to the thirsty with its clear, cold, invigorating drinking water. But, Laodicea's waters offered no benefit to society since it was neither hot (for health) nor cold (for drinking).
With that in mind, we can more accurately understand Jesus' message. The basic indictment against the Laodicean congregation is that it was of no benefit to society. With righteous indignation, Jesus says to them: “I wish that you were cold or hot.” 'In your community, you provide neither refreshment for the spiritually weary, nor healing for the spiritually sick. For My Cause, you are good for nothing. You do not have any influence or impact upon society.'
If a congregation is not transforming its society, if it is not Christianizing the culture, what good is it? Matthew 5:13-16, “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father Who is in heaven.”
If a person were to go door-to-door within just a five block radius of our church building and ask the residents about what they know about us, what do you suppose our neighbors would be able to say? If they were asked what does our congregation believe on how to be saved and why, how many of our neighbors could answer that? I have yet to come across a commandment or even a suggestion that says we are to sit-back and let the lost come to us to find-out about the Gospel. On the contrary, we are commanded to go to them.