Welcome to the first of a series called LET'S GET CONTEXTUAL. There are many verses in the Bible that we've heard used one way, but could possibly mean another! Using Scripture out of context can be dangerous, because it can cause others to think the Bible is contradictory or give God characteristics He just doesn't have. This series will walk through commonly misused verses, using historical context and other Scriptures to support our findings. First up is one I've heard many times growing up: Revelation 3:16.
Revelation 3:16 "So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth."
Most of the time we hear that verse in a sermon to make the point that God would rather us be "on fire" for him (hot) or a total heathen (cold). And if we are lukewarm Christians (just straddling some Christian fence), that makes God want to vomit. BUT DOES SCRIPTURE SUPPORT THIS CLAIM?
First we have to set up the scene: AUTHOR - John (Author of Revelation) Jesus (speaking these actual words) RECIPIENT - Church of Laodecia SETTING - John has been exiled to Patmos, and is being instructed in a vision by Jesus to write letters to seven churches. This one in particular is Laodecia.
Next we get into verses and context: BIG PICTURE (verses before and after) - Revelation 3:14-22 HISTORICAL/ORIGINAL MEANING - Finding the original meaning includes looking at the original context. Jesus always used metaphors and imagery that the people could relate to. The geographical location of this church was unfortunate when it came to water supply. The cites to the north and south either had USEFUL refreshing cold springs or USEFUL therapeutic hot springs. Because water had to be brought in by aqueduct for 6 miles, water was lukewarm and nasty by the time it got to them. It was no longer useful. Therefore, through that historical and geographical context, we can infer that Jesus was implying the church was not being spiritually useful for the kingdom. They were being as useless as their water, and that nauseated him. BRIDGE TO NOW - So how can we use this verse in today's context? We had a great discussion in my class this morning and discovered that this verse supports other verses seen in scripture when it comes to being useful for the kingdom. Looking at Matthew Matthew 28:16-20 (Great Commission), Acts 1:8, James 1:22 just to name a few). We can apply this verse to our lives as a mantra for being mission-minded in every area of our lives, utilizing the gifts God has given us to serve others, not just keep it to ourselves.
While there are multiple verses to support our findings in the "Bridge to Now", there are none to support the "God wants us to be on fire for him or hate him" theory. You can see why it may be concerning to have this thought. Why would a God who desires the world to know and love Him be okay with us hating Him?
Scripture will always support Scripture. That will be a theme throughout this series, and hopefully it will encourage you to research your favorite verse!