Jesus makes a statement about the hot and cold of Laodicea that apparently does not sit well with some. Dr. Chip Bennett is lead “pastor” for Grace Community Church in Sarasota, FL. In a recent video, he counsels his followers regarding a new revelation he has had regarding the hot and cold of Laodicea.

He positions his lesson on Revelation 3:15-161 by expressing his long-held struggle with the inference from the passage that Jesus was condemning their lack of spiritual fervency. He shares that it gave him guilt, and “wondering does God really loved me; am I really a Christian, and all of that.” However, “One day,” he states, “when I was reading in Revelation, and I was reading some other commentaries, and started to go to school, and the academic setting, I realized…”

He explains that Laodicea could only get drinkable water via aqueduct from two surrounding cities. Colossae had cold water to provide, while Hierapolis provided hot water from its unique hot springs. Both “useful states” of water in their origin, but by the time the water reached Laodicea, it was lukewarm, or useless. Therefore, Dr. Bennett concludes, “What Jesus is really saying, he’s saying, ‘I know your works’, he isn’t saying I know your salvational fervency…what Jesus is wanting from the Laodicean church is a church that is useful…which is why he says, ‘I wish that you were hot or cold.’ But what they were, is that they were very rich…with goods, and didn’t think they really needed anything, so therefore their spiritual works for the Lord were very minimal, and that is what Jesus is taking about in Revelation chapter 3.”

Interestingly, this effort to explain scripture by Dr. Chip Bennett is based on unsubstantiated claims! This “story” about Laodicea is not supported by the historical record. Indeed, Wikipedia’s entry accounts for only one water source which came from the south (neither Colossae or Hierapolis).

How Scripture answers "What is the hot and cold of Laodicea?"

Explaining the hot and cold of Laodicea does not require some special revelation of modern theological thought or archaeological discovery (even if were true, Dr. Bennett). Jesus is, in fact, very concerned about their “salvational fervency,” unless we are to believe that Jesus “spitting them out” due to their lukewarm state and His call for them to repent1 would still allow for their salvation? Some Christians at Sardis were in the same predicament2 – instead of “lukewarm” they were “dead”. Likewise, those at Pergamum were in jeopardy to losing their salvation due to accepting false teaching3. Are we to believe any of these Christians were eligible for their final reward in their current state (lukewarm1, dead2, accepting false teaching3)? If so, why is Jesus telling them to repent1,2,3? Indeed, Jesus provides the grave warnings to Christians so that they might turn from their sin (e.g. “repent”) and “conquer” over the “second death”4.

The approach by Dr. Bennett to Revelation 3 and the hot and cold of Laodicea raises some important observations and lessons:

  • We don’t need extra-biblical information to understand God’s word — in fact, God Himself tells us that Scripture alone should interpret Scripture.
  • We can’t rationalize away what Scripture is plainly telling us, regardless if it makes us “feel guilty”, or we believe it to be particularly challenging, or maybe it doesn’t align with a pre-conceived doctrine (which would require us to rethink our pre-conceived doctrine).
  • Going to outside “experts” for insights into God’s word can lead us down a path of misrepresenting truth and leading others astray.

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