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by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan, Deacon

A sermon preached on Lord’s Day Evening, January 2, 2005
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

“Because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:16).

In Revelation chapter three the Lord Jesus addresses the people in the church at Laodicea. His assessment of the people in this church is terrible. Christ knows this people and He describes them as being neither cold nor hot. The temperature described here as either cold or hot reflects the nature of the entire sphere of their Christian profession - the performance of outward duties as well as the presence of any inner spiritual realities. Both of these are essential to vital Christianity as James says, “faith without works is dead” (James 2:20). Yet these works alone are useless if they spring from a lost Pharisaical heart. The heart must be renewed in conversion if outward religious duties are to be of any merit. Jesus said, “Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also” (Matthew 23:26). All the classical commentators describe these people as indifferent church members, unconverted people in the church who will be spewed out into Hell when they die. What Christ said to the unsaved church members in Laodicea is also true of unconverted young people in our church. This is what Christ says to you unconverted “church kids.”

“Because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:16).

I. First, you are “not cold.”

“Cold” would indicate neglect of all the outward practice of Christianity. This would be true of a raw lost sinner in the world. He doesn’t pretend to be religious. He doesn’t pretend to be a Christian. He virtually never attends church, has never read the Bible, and has never prayed a real prayer. There is no habit whatsoever of any regular religious activity.

But that is not you. You have been instructed well in the outward forms of religion and have made a regular habit of performing them. You are careful to attend church every Sunday morning and Sunday evening as well as the mid-week prayer meeting. You even go regularly to every stated time of evangelism and may even get a few names of students at your college or high school campus. You read your Bible most days and pray before meals and lead an outwardly clean life. Further, to a large degree you are behind the pastor and want our church to succeed. You enjoy seeing young people come into the church and do your best to take care of them. In the main you are happy coming to church. You are “not cold.”

II. Second, you are “not hot.”

“Hot” would indicate you have experienced real conversion to Christ and have a secret inner life with Him. You would be moved by spiritual things such as private prayer, personal holiness, love for the Word of God, zealous personal evangelism, exuberant singing to God in the hymns, and sacrificial giving. This is certainly not you. You are definitely not hot. The Puritan commentator Matthew Poole said,

“Neither cold nor hot: partly good, partly bad, having something of profession, nothing of the life and power of religion” (Matthew Poole, A Commentary on the Holy Bible, Banner of Truth Trust, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, reprinted 1963 from the 1685 first edition, p. 959).

III. Third, you are lukewarm.

What are you then if you are neither cold nor hot? The Lord Jesus says that you are “lukewarm,” the worst of all possible conditions. You are content to have a little religion as a salve to your conscience but want no real inner spiritual life. You are complacent and resist becoming anything but what you are now. With no motivation for change you will remain in your same lost condition with no hope for conversion. After all, conversion means a change, a radical change, a change which you are unwilling to undergo.

The Lord Jesus desires that you were either cold or hot but not that you remain lukewarm. Even cold would be far better than being lukewarm. For if you were cold, or realized that you were lost and that no outward religious activity could help you, you would become a good prospect for salvation. Witness the young people coming into our church that don’t have your religious background and upbringing and have no pretense of knowing God or knowing Christ. They come to Jesus and are saved quite easily but you stumble time and time again and never get saved. What truth rings in Jesus’ words, “Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and harlots go into the kingdom of God before you” (Matthew 21:31).

Further, if you were a cold lost sinner in your own eyes and didn’t pretend that you’re “OK” in your religion you would not be a source of stumbling for other young people from outside the church. It’s our experience that if a young person from outside the church comes in and doesn’t get converted rather soon he quickly becomes a church kid himself and is then in the same pathetic lukewarm state that you are in. Jesus said, “But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in” (Matthew 23:13).

If you knew you were a cold lost sinner you wouldn’t congratulate yourself that you’re an asset to our church when in fact you drag us down. This awareness of your lack of fruitfulness would be a means of grace to your own salvation rather than being an additional means of deception and stumbling. The famous English commentator Matthew Henry said,

“Lukewarmness or indifference in religion is the worst temper in the world. If religion is a real thing, it is the most excellent thing, and therefore we should be in good earnest in it; if it is not a real thing, it is the vilest imposture, and we should be earnest against it. If religion is worth any thing, it is worth every thing; indifference here is inexcusable: Why halt you between two opinions? If God be God, follow him; if Baal [be God], follow him. Here is no room for neutrality. An open enemy shall have a fairer quarter than a perfidious neuter; and there is more hope of a heathen than of such. Christ expects that men should declare themselves in earnest either for him or against him” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, Fleming H. Revell, Old Tappan, New Jersey, no reprint date, p. 1135).

IV. Fourth, you are deceived.

You are deceived into believing that you are “rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing” (Revelation 3:17). This is the reason for your lukewarmness for the things of God. You are self-content with the way you are, pleased with yourself, and feel that you lack nothing. You are quite happy with the little religion you have as it doesn’t interfere with your real pursuit of worldliness, material wealth, and pleasure. You are perfectly sanguine. You feel that any more of real religion, attentiveness to the sermons, talk of conviction of sin, awakening, and judgment in Hell would only serve as a bother and a distraction - an interference in attaining your selfish, earthly goals. You will go through the motions as if you are interested but in reality you will have none of that. But notice that the Lord Jesus has quite a different opinion of you than you do of yourself. He says that you are in fact “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17). Your condition is the polar opposite of what you think of yourself. What insanity! What self-deception! Instead of the opinion you have of yourself as being at the pinnacle of success and accomplishment you are in fact wallowing in the dregs of poverty and hopelessness. That is your real condition. Indeed the Lord Jesus’ evaluation is directed to your terrible spiritual condition which is the most important aspect of your person, because your spiritual condition will determine where you will spend eternity. How well you church kids do fit the description of the Pharisee in Luke 18:

“The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess” (Luke 18:11-12).

There is a great contrast between the view you have of yourself and the Lord Jesus’ view of you. Which view should you trust - your blighted and blind heart and mind or the “Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God” (Revelation 3:14)? Consider what is at stake - your eternal soul. Don’t second guess on your soul. Certainly don’t trust yourself on this. If you are to have any hope of conversion you must lay aside your vain opinion of yourself and see yourself as a wicked publican, humbly repent, and come to Jesus.

V. Fifth, you are under imminent judgment.

Jesus said, “Because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” The Greek word for spew (spue) is emeo and means “to vomit.” A. T. Robertson says (Word Pictures in the New Testament, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan) that the Greek word emeo means “to reject with extreme disgust.” This Greek word emeo is found only once in the entire New Testament and is reserved here for the utter revulsion that the Lord Jesus has for those in this lukewarm condition. The equivalent word in the Hebrew Old Testament is qow’ and occurs a total of only seven times and is translated either “spew, vomit, or vomited” (Strong’s Concordance). Whenever this word is used in the Old Testament it is used in the context of severe judgment for such heinous sins as sacrificing your children to idols, adultery, voyeurism, and incest (Leviticus 18:1-25; 20:1-22). Observe again than when the Lord says that He will spew thee out of His mouth He is rejecting you with extreme disgust, because he considers your lukewarm condition as being worse than that of a murderer, one who commits incest, or a child molester. Picture that, you lost church kid. Jesus is disgusted with your lukewarm, dead religion, and you will soon be judged in the deepest part of Hell with the worst of sinners.

Notice also the Lord’s proposition, “ because thou art lukewarm…I will spue thee out.” Because … I will. The Lord Jesus has reasoned with you and has warned you that if you remain lukewarm He will spew you out. Drinking lukewarm water is well known to have a nauseating effect and in times past was used to purge oneself of foul food or poison. Your condition is so sickening to the Lord Jesus that you are to Him as lukewarm water to spew out. He wants none of you in your present condition.

Such lukewarmness in a church kid nauseates the Son of God and your attitude so sickens Him that He prefers to purge you from Him and His church and have done with you if you refuse to change. Throughout the gospels our Lord Jesus is found to be very patient and long suffering toward sinners but is frequently indignant and repulsed by the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. The reasons for Jesus’ disgust are many.

The Pharisees were profound hypocrites, like you church kids. They were very regular and habitual in their religious duties and took great stock in them. They also derided others who did not do the same and sneered upon them. This attitude on the part of Pharisees thoroughly disgusted our Lord Jesus Christ. How He wanted to rid Himself of them. Hear the language of our Lord against them, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness” (Matthew 23:27). Their hypocrisy was a major cause of stumbling for others and your hypocrisy is a large cause of the stumbling of young people that come in that follow your sickening example. Is it any wonder that the Lord Jesus spoke patiently to awakened sinners yet harshly only to this group of impenitent wicked sinners, “Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?” (Matthew 23:33). This stern warning to the Pharisees applies exactly to you, church kid.

The Pharisees preferred the praises of men over the praises of God (John 12:43). That’s a big reason why you church kids don’t get saved. You don’t want the other church kids to talk about you if you become serious about being converted. You’re afraid of them. You don’t want to lose favor among them. And so you cowardly and sickeningly remain trapped and lost out of fear of man.

The Pharisees were proud of themselves and despised others who humbly sought salvation through Christ. We cited this before in the passage of the Pharisee and the Publican. To be proud of a truly great achievement is one thing but to be proud over a base and sinful reason is quite disgusting and pitiful.

The Pharisees preferred outward form to reality in their religion. They had “a form of godliness” but denied “the power thereof” (II Timothy 3:5). They were profane like Esau who preferred physical comfort and ease to a spiritual inheritance and blessing (Hebrews 12:16-17). In the same way, you church kids are content with going through the motions of religion but don’t want Jesus Himself nor the claims He has on your life. You prefer the chaff over the wheat, the wood, hay and stubble over the gold, and the world with its lusts and pleasures over Christ. Such an attitude is stupid and sickening. How revolving to consider your lack of response to gospel preaching. You were not moved at all by The Passion of the Christ. I have read of murderers confessing their crimes and seeking forgiveness and salvation after seeing The Passion of the Christ, but you remain unstirred and unconverted. I have heard many God-anointed sermons by our pastor on the love of Christ for sinners and thought “certainly one of our kids would get saved today,” but alas, I find you laughing and joking during the fellowship afterward. You have a lukewarm response to the preaching of Christ and this quite sickens our Lord with disgust. Your tepid response to the gospel demands a just punishment. The Bible warns, “Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?” (Hebrews 10:29).

We have the adults sacrificing their time, money, health, and their youth to advance the cause of Christ in our local church and you sit back, do your minimal church duties, get a name here or there and feel no compunction to get saved and throw yourself into the work. The adults have sacrificed these things so that you can inherit a vibrant church and your attitude is indifferent at best. Such an attitude is sickening and nauseating to any good Christian and sickening to the Son of God.

Grace upon grace has been poured upon you through gospel preaching, importunate prayers by good Christians for your salvation, and pleadings from the pastor and deacons, yet you remain unstirred. Your pride and apathy is sickening and revolting. It’s a wonder that you can stomach yourself in your own miserable condition.

Become cold that you might be hot. Become a sinner in your own eyes that you might ultimately become a converted on-fire Christian.

May the Lord spue out all lost church kids from our church who refuse to repent and remain in their dead lukewarm condition. Cast them from us, Lord, that we might only have cold, raw sinners to preach Christ to or hot, on-fire Christians to advance the cause of Christ in our local church and bring Him great glory. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: Revelation 3:14-17.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:

“Ye Must Be Born Again” (by William T. Sleeper, 1819-1904).



by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan, Deacon

“Because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:16).

(James 2:20; Matthew 23:26)

I.   You are not cold, Revelation 3:15

II.  You are not hot, Revelation 3:15.

III. You are lukewarm, Revelation 3:16; Matthew 21:31;
Matthew 23:13.

IV.  You are deceived, Revelation 3:17; Luke 18:11-12;
Revelation 3:14.

V.   You are under imminent judgment, Leviticus 18:1-25;
Leviticus 20:1-22; Matthew 23:27, 33; John 12:43;
II Timothy 3:5; Hebrews 12:16-17; 10:29.

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