Does Your Church Make God Vomit?

Posted: February 11, 2011 in Uncategorized
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One of the most misunderstood scriptures of the Bible would have to be Rev. 3:16 that talks about the “lukewarm” church. Pastors throughout the ages have used this scripture as a tool to motivate their church members to live a life that is “on fire for God” lest you be found lukewarm, causing God to spew you out of His mouth. Any time a person uses fear as a motivator, you can be sure the message is not from the throne. Fear is the opposite of faith – a tool of the enemy. God is love, and perfect love casts out fear. Here is the scripture in question: I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. (Rev 3:15-16)

Whenever possible, it is best to let the Bible interpret the Bible. The “I know your works” part should be compared with 1Cor 3:13: each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. God is basically saying I know the motivation behind your works. Only works that were properly motivated out of love will be saved after the testing of the fire. Any work done strictly to fulfill a law that had already been fulfilled by Jesus, or a work that is done to earn a blessing, or obtain favor – will be burned. Traditionally the “hot and cold” part has been explained like this: If you are hot, you are 100% on fire for the things of God and serving Him with all your heart. If you are cold, you are doing nothing for God, and are living for your self. Now here’s the catch. God said “I wish that you were hot or cold.”

Going off of that traditional explanation, why would God wish that we were cold? If hot means “on fire” and cold means “doing nothing” would He really wish that we were cold? Wouldn’t doing a little bit be better than nothing at all? After all, Paul said that whether Christ is preached from selfish ambition or envy,  strife, and insecurity, or whether He is preached in truth, he rejoices because at least He’s preached! (Phil 1:15-18) That doesn’t line up.

The Answer:

God is talking about mixing the Old and New Covenants. “Cold” is referring to the Old Covenant when people had stony hearts and tried to have a relationship with two stone tablets that had no life in them. Hot is referring to the New Covenant where people have been given new hearts and are able to have a real relationship with a living God. God wants us 100% hot or 100% cold. He is saying that if we were entirely cold, or under the Old Covenant we would despair of ever being good enough to fulfill the law’s requirements of perfection, come to the end of ourselves ( which was the whole point of the law), and turn to a Savior – to Jesus, making us hot.

What God hates, is when people try to mix the two covenants: hot+cold= lukewarm. That is what makes Him want to vomit, and here’s why. He hates lukewarm because it denies the finished work of His Son. We are either saved by grace through faith, or we are saved by works, but not a combination of the two. The Galatians were mixers that tried to throw in a little bit of law with the gospel of grace. Paul gave them his harshest rebuke of all his letters to the churches. He said two times that if anyone tried to pervert the true gospel, to let them be accursed (Gal 1:6-8) Chapter 3 is a long rebuke that starts with: O foolish Galatians! Now contrast this with his letter to the Corinthians, who had some that were living in gross sins. To them, he said that he thanked God that His grace abounded toward them. God, like Paul, is more concerned with right believing than right actions. Anyone can modify their behavior without real change on the inside. Paul knew that right believing would give birth to right actions.

Mixing the New Covenant of Grace with the Law is a slap in the face of Jesus! That is what it means to be lukewarm. That is what makes God want to puke!  Study the Covenant that actually applies to us: The New Covenant! And thank Jesus for it! Remember, you put new wine into new wineskins and both are preserved (Matt9:17).

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