Laodicea“I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” (Rev 3:15-16). 

Laodicea is the last stage of the church age before the Rapture.

We live in that day.

If it is not that day that I am distressed because could this form of Christianity get worse?  God help us if it does.  It is at an all time spiritual low like I have never seen.

No wonder he tells this church to, “be zealous…and repent.” (Rev 3:19). 

Jesus teaches that there are three spiritual states:  the cold, the lukewarm and the hot.  It is important to determine what condition they each indicate, in order to not interpret this passage incorrectly.  One thing is clear: these three conditions of spiritual life  relate to the church not the world. 

It is easy to see what the term hot means.  It is a state of spiritual intensity, passion and enthusiasm. It is a heart on fire for God and is filled and floats with the joy of God’s love and presence.

Christ hates lukewarmness. It is obnoxious and an abomination to him. When a person is Lukewarm the state of their heart has no zeal. They have no forward motion.

They are stagnant.

They may go to church but they would not know self-denial if it bit them in their blessed assurance. They do not fast, they do not pray or read their Bible. They do not strain, stretch or exert any spiritual muscles. There is no self-denial that costs them anything. There is no cross bearing for them, they never get a splinter. They feel no need to be a witness to others about Christ. They are vapid, bland and innocuous.

The old preachers used to say the devil does not even bother them because they are no threat to him at all.

But what is it to be to be cold? Does it indicate a state of corruption, wickedness or being an unbeliever. That is ridiculous. It is repulsive to think that our Lord Jesus would wish that anyone would be like this! “No state can be more offensive to Christ then that of the sinner in open rebellion and his heart filled with every evil.” (Smith)  It says of Christ, “Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity.” (Heb. 1:9).

Heat and cold are preferable to lukewarmness. They will be rejected if they are not hot or cold.

But what kind of spiritual state is indicated by the term cold? Cold would seem to be a spiritual condition where a person realizes that they are spiritually destitute.  They realize that they are “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” (Rev. 3:17) and they long to recover what they have lost!

The lukewarm are content where they are.

But the “cold” are alarmed that they are spiritually unfit, and seek to be restored. The Lukewarm person feels they don’t need any restoration and are just fine.

So it is easy to see why Christ prefers to see his church in a state would not be comforted, because they are not where they should be. You can’t stay cold long.

Cold people will seek out heat.

The lukewarm person is in great danger until Christ finally has to reject them as nauseatingly loathsome.

The Conveyor Belt of Guilt

The picture that you see is an X-ray of a unnamed 36 year old Norwegian man who passed out and curled up into a fetal position on a baggage claim belt at a very busy Rome airport in August 2012, and inadvertently received this full body scan in the process.

He had arrived at the international terminal with a backpack and a can of beer in his hand and when he went to check in for his flight he found nobody on duty at the airline desk. So, he jumped over the counter and went to sleep.

Eventually, the belt began to move and took the man for a ride. It is believed he traveled for 15 minutes before his body was spotted by shocked officials in an X-ray image on their screens.

Officials say it was difficult to wake up the snoozing traveler, who was still clutching his beer as he went through the scanner and traveled 164 feet on it before anyone noticed.

If you have any kind of sense of humor this is quite the story to tell around the office.

But as I heard about this story I immediately began to think of how we are laying in a fetal position on a conveyor belt of  another kind. Did you know that when a certain people suffer extreme trauma or distress, they resort to a fetal position. It seems this is a natural reaction of the brain and the body to protect itself  and when they are no longer able to cope-the mind just shuts down for a time. Drug addicts during withdrawal or even people suffering from extreme anxiety resort to a fetal position.

This is the dangerous conveyor belt of guilt and misguided self examination on which some believers in Jesus have been crippled and traumatized by the wrong view of God and sin.

Paul says this, “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” (2 Cor. 7:10NIV 1984).

There is a godly sorrow. There is a worldly sorrow. There is a sorrow that results in repentance and salvation. There is a sorrow that results in death.

There is a healthy repentance and there is a toxic regret and remorse. Repentance is a special grace, a gift of tears, a result of seeing our sin in light of the Cross. Where sin abounds grace abounds even more. The gospel offers God to the ungodly and forgiveness to the unforgiven. Repentance is a God-kind of change. Your thinking changes and the direction of your life changes as a result. You were moving away from God and His love brings you back home.  It is the gift that God gives when He releases the human will from the confinement and chains of sin and enables a person to turn to Christ for salvation.  That is repentance after a godly manner. It is a change only God can bring about.

Many Christians due to bad teaching have a caricatured view of God, a distorted view of sin and a toxic view of obedience. They actually should repent of their thinking when it comes to who God is! That is the deepest repentance one can have. They way you see God must be through the scriptures especially in light of the finished work of the Cross and New Covenant. God loves you and it is not his will you walk about in sorrow all the time.  He has forgiven you and offers a clear conscience to you and complete open access to him and his gifts.

You do not have to live in regret and call yourself a sinner all the time. Do you think that pleases God? Walking around all day thinking how unworthy and undeserving you are? It does not please God at all  that you are going around and around on this conveyor belt with the baggage of guilt. God is not hostile to you, nor does he treat you like a stranger. You are a warmly welcomed, dearly loved child of your Heavenly Father.

All this is real change is it not. It is a changed life, with a changed heart and a changed destiny.

Sadly, some Christians are dominated by a guilty conscience and consciousness. They attempt to earn forgiveness and acceptance with God by saying, “I am sorry” over and over again confessing their sin as if they were an legal accountant and there is always simmering in their heart a sense of guilt and hurt because they think God will reject them when they fail. It seeks to make such an account of sin that it must name each individual sin specifically to satisfy their conscience and God. But can one confess sin perfectly? We always leave some sin out. We cannot even do this  correctly. I get exhausted just thinking about the way I used to confess sin. This so called form of repentance is “worldly”  it is spiritually suicidal  not Christ-centered nor founded on the biblical fact that God offers forgiveness at the point of failure and mercy when we crash and burn. He gives beauty in exchange for ashes. He takes off your dense heavy overcoat of sorrow and replaces it with the light linen fabric of joy! All you need do is ask and he has answered “forgiven” before the words are on your lips.

Some of the oldest “Christian” churches in their tradition are nothing more than a mill for legalism. The conveyor belt of guilt is incorporated in their rituals. They are taught to ask for God’ mercy over and over again as if by mere words and repetitive chanting God will hear them. Ever wonder why legalistic people are so mean? Because people who feel unloved get angry. Oh that they knew they were loved by God!

We may criticize the Roman Catholics for their sacrament of penance or Eastern Orthodox for their view of Penthos but we have our Protestant penance we call it revivalism. We think by our efforts we will bring the church back to life do we not? There is only one problem- we end up looking like we are trying to kill the people who are alive. We are attempting to satisfy God and please God by our own efforts and there is no need to do that. God is at rest and reposes on the work of Christ his perfect Son on the cross. He calls us to lean with all our soul on the cross and what Jesus did for us.

The sad truth is there are so many Christians who are alive but they are wrapped in a shroud of guilt, they are camouflaged in the legalistic uniforms of remorse and joyless living that must be unwrapped by the teaching of God’s generous grace. God is rich in mercy and he has thrown open the door to his throne room of grace! He has already shown it powerfully in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus the Son of God. Yet there are people who say they are saved and born again who never find any relief or rest in their hearts and they live in a fog of uncertainty about where they stand with God. It is a mindset that is hard to break and only understanding God’s generous grace can unravel the slavery of guilt fear and anxiety.

Don’t allow your guilt and disobedience to overshadow God’s grace! Repent!  You have become nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that you have been cleansed from your past sins  (see 2 Peter 1:9). You do not need to morbidly and constantly confess in the name of spirituality or godliness.  Your sin consciousness is working in reverse cornering you in sin and your attempts to keep the law is reinforcing sins grip over-making you feel dead. Like the shocked officials who found this man on the conveyor belt, may this article find those who are in the fetal position of guilt and wake you up out of this stupor of  remorse and regret!  Christ has given you a new life, a new heart and a new spirit.  It is time to move ahead.  God wants us to build on what he has started in us by grace! We mature spiritually not by riding in a helpless fetal position of the conveyor belt of keeping religious rules but by actively maturing and growing in the fruit of the Spirit.

© 2012 Soul Health Care Ministries. If you use this article tell people about us and where you found it. Don’t plagiarize.

Yes, there is a Lenten season, Stephen.

My son, asked me what Lent was. At that time, I could not give clear answer so I researched it and…this is what I came up with for my scholar son and buddy.

What is Lent? No one has told you? Or is it something you think only Roman Catholics do? Did you know that Anglicans ; Lutherans ; Methodists  and even some Presbyterians celebrate Lent as well.

No, I am not going back to Roman Catholicism, nor encouraging anyone to do so. No, I do not believe works contribute anything to your salvation. I am Protestant and I love my Roman Catholic friends even though I do not believe in many things they believe.

Why are we such snots about things such as tradition? What is the deal? What are we afraid of being normal Christians?

I think it is fear of being extra-biblical or legalistic perhaps, but I have to confess there is way too much ignorance of the rich Christian tradition that systematically helps us with understanding scripture.

I have called myself Catholic and part of the universal church and you should see how people raise their eyebrows when this simply confesses that I adhere to the Apostles Creed

Many of you see no need for celebrating Lent and some are adamant against it and I respect that.  I know some make fun of people with ashes on their heads (a practice as a sign of mourning and repentance) and there are of people who just are “nominal” church goers who just do things out of ritual with no thought. I am glad we do not have anyone like that in our churches (snicker).

Here is what I have found and I hope it proves helpful for the interested parties.

Lent is a very old Christian tradition that can be traced before or around the legalization of the Christian faith in the edict of Milan around 313AD.

The word Lent comes from an the Anglo-Saxon word Lencten, and German word Lenz and Dutch word Lente. The words actually mean length or lengthen because during the month of March and the season of Spring the days become longer. The word Lent can even mean Springtime or March.

From various dictionaries and all, the idea of Lent came from a much longer word  (no pun intended) Quadragesima, “fortieth” (Cuaresma) and is the Christian observance of the liturgical year from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday. According to the Synoptic gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, Jesus spent forty days fasting and prayer in the wilderness before beginning his public ministry, where he endured temptation by Satan.

Thus, Lent is described as being at least forty days during the Spring.

It is that simple.

Christians in the West celebrate Lent beginning on Ash Wednesday and Eastern Orthodox Churches call it “Great Lent” and it begins on Clean Monday. There is also the day before Lent which is  Shrove Tuesday in Great Britain (which comes from a word “shrive” meaning to confess) where people eat pancakes before Lent begins because pancakes have fat, butter and eggs which were forbidden during strict Lenten celebration. There is also Fat Tuesday where we have the Mardi Gras insanity which true Christians should avoid because the idea of getting sin out of your system by sinning it up, is a deception and unbiblical.

In my humble opinion, there is a double standard among Protestants because they reinvent tradition instead of embracing it. The popular,  “Forty days of Purpose” is one example. David Mains has the very helpful, “Fifty Day Spiritual Adventure” and some encourage spending twenty-one days of January in fasting and prayer.  

Lent is a time of self-denial and repentance and contemplation on the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Yes the gospel is a lifestyle for all Christians but I am glad we have this tradition in an increasing anti-Christian society.

I will be spending Lenten season reading through the four gospels and if possible reading them several times as a discipline during this season. I encourage you to let the Word of Christ dwell in your richly and learn more and more about the Jesus of the Gospels, in the Bible-the real Jesus.

Lent is an old Christian tradition where we learn about the biblical Jesus. No gimmicks offering changed lives, bigger churches after forty days. We only have to promise Jesus and that is the greatest promise we can make.

©2016 Rev. Stephen S. Gibney

Osama Bin Laden: An Example For Us All

Osama Bin Laden is killed.  All day long that was the news.

There has been has been all kinds of reactions to the death of this arch-terrorist: celebrations in the street, media frenzy and a plethora of conspiracy theories. People saw this as a major event in U.S. history when the mastermind of 9-11 finally was put out of the picture.

What caught my attention was one New York news paper that headlined his picture and the words “Rot in Hell.”  The newspaper obviously was not making a theological statement, but it reflects the mindset of many Americans that believe a place called hell is the exclusive punishment reserved for really bad or evil people and that there are other not so bad people or those that are good enough to escape hell.

I think that the headline should have read “Osama Bin Laden: An Example for us All.”  He is an example that not only genocidal maniacs, mass murderers and terrorists, but all those who commit treason against the Kingdom of God and all who break his laws will face God’s sentencing for eternity in a place called the lake of fire (Rev. 21:8).  I do not say that in an unfeeling and careless manner.  One has to wince in pain thinking about this because of the danger in which many people live who do not know Christ as Lord and Savior.

The first thing I thought of amid all the rejoicing  were the words of Jesus Christ, “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:3,5 ESV). Yes, in this way Osama Bin Laden is an example for us all.  I was taken back for a moment, but long enough to think that the Lord Jesus was emphasizing that when we see others demise we should be warned ourselves that God’s justice has no favoritism (Rom 2:11) and we should use this time to turn away from soul damning sins (Isa. 55:6-7).

No matter how many tragedies we have experienced, no matter how many terrible things others have done compared to us, that does not exempt any human being  from facing God for their sins against him. 

Jesus emphasized this. If I could slightly paraphrase what he was saying,  “Do you think that these people who were killed by Pilate or the others who had the tower of Siloam fall on them were perhaps worse sinners, meriting more of God’s anger and scorn that they would die in such a manner?”  

Jesus says, “No way!” You will all face the bar of God. You will  be destroyed unless you change your ways. Wow. How could he say such a thing, even to his own disciples?

He says this because he knows that everything human beings do will exposed. Every thought they think will be revealed. Nothing will be hid.  God will judge the secrets of all people (Rom. 2:16) So you had better do a one hundred and eighty degree turn on the road of your life immediately away from your sin or you will perish in the same or should I say an even worse manner.

Osama Bin Laden was an example to us all because although he was religious he was deluded. He thought he was doing the work of Allah. How very sad.  He thought he was earning his salvation by killing those considered infidels and all those that oppose Islam. Now all he leaves is a legacy of death. He is killed by bullets to the head and chest using his wife as a human shield. His lifeless body is carried away, ritually washed and thrown into the sea. What is worse he waits in a place of torture for the final judgment of God for his sins, where he will be hurled into a worse place.   How many still believe like him? How many think he died a martyrs death and that they want to follow his example. How can we who are Christians not weep for the salvation of those like him and those who are his devotees.

I pray they will learn from his example. An example that eventually not only will the United States of America catch up with its enemies but God will punish those who are his.  I pray we will see that God is serious when it comes to his laws and that “the mills of God grind slowly but they grind sure.”

Christ can save you from the wrath of God and his punishment catching up to you. He died to purchase your pardon, to save you from the self deception that you can save yourself by being good, or at least thinking you are not as bad as others.

God says all have sinned against him (Rom 3:10, 23). He will only accept one payment for sin and that is the death of Christ for sin. Christ gives us an ultimatum, “repent or be destroyed” it is not a pretty invitation but it is a solid one.  He calls you to turn from sin to God’s son now before it is too late.

God Laughs at the Plans of Men

“He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.” (Ps. 2:4).

The laughter of God is no laughing matter.

God is seen as administering justice from his throne in heaven. He laughs at the plans of those that rebel against him.

He does not just smile. He laughs at and ridicules and scorns the best laid plans of men.

As I thought of this scripture I could see the crowds that gathered in Egypt in the square and near the palace to oust their president. Hopefully they do the right thing.

In contrast, in this passage we observe evil gushing out against God in unholy rioting.  Christ has incurred the wrath of his enemies.  The massive cavorting nations who are gathering like a massive mob at God’s palace are under a delusion that they can disappoint the Anointed One resign from his position as God. They scream against Christ, “We will not have this man reign over us.”  (Luke 19:14). They see God’s laws as restraining them and they are like chains and ropes that tie them down.  How different from those whose citizenship is in heaven-they love God’s “perfect law of liberty!” and that love is the fulfillment of the law (Rom 13:10).

The nations cannot in any way shape or form prevent God’s plans but God can stop their dead in their tracks. He derides them, it is a word of mockery. It is almost like when we say, “Blah blah, blah.”  These insurgents do not merit the respect of God. He is not even disturbed by them in the least. He sees their efforts against as no problem to put down. He does not even need to stand to fight them. He just sits. “He has not taken the trouble to rise up and do battle with them.” (Spurgeon). I like what John Gill says as that the Lord and his Messiah are, “sitting there still and quiet, serene and undisturbed.”  

When we are intimidated by the nations going amuck, those who plot against our God and his people many we who are seated in heavenly places together in Christ rest and laugh with him.  See our Lord mocking their puny efforts! When we see the nations like boiling like a pot of human voices and doing a dance of protest against God’s rule may we sit with our Lord and his Christ and rest in his rule over the affairs of men.

The Trouble With Our Theology


“After that four hundred years of stillness there came this amazing man, John the Baptist. He shocked their culture. He upset their theology.

Nobody’s going to church. Why? Their all going out to hear a man in the wilderness.

What’s he doing-raising the dead?

No, he isnt.

He’s raising hell.

Did he raise the dead? No he did not raise a dead man but he raised a dead nation. Dear Lord, we could do with a John the Baptist in every city of the nation tonight…

Oh, they loved to hear him because he believed in..but not only believed it but actually raised the dead.  The trouble with our theology, its all on the blackboard. Our theology is all in textbooks. It has no life, it has no breath, it has no power, it has no authority…

How in the world could Jesus stand in the middle of the crowd of angry vexed people? He’d antagonize them. He’d reveal their spiritual bankruptcy. They were just getting over the shock of John Baptist standing there in the wilderness. They couldn’t fathom it.

Why are people going?

Read the third chapter of Luke…even the Roman soldiers went…they were fascinated when they heard him.

Nothing like this in Rome, Caesar has nothing like this.

Here is a little strange man with a leather girdle wrapped around his loins and an old camel skin wrapped around his neck and people are swarming from everywhere…

He uses that nobody likes, “Repent…repent!” Not only confess your sin, forsake your sin, repent,  run away from it!

Then Jesus comes up afterwards…Don’t you think the next day after he turned water into wine that everywhere they were saying. “Didn’t you hear what he did? They ran out of wine last night and he turned water into wine.”

“This is the man that tosses people out of the synagogues…this is the man that kicks over the extortioners.

This is the man that says to learned men, “You are the enemies of God.”


We are preaching an acceptable gospel today, making it as painless as we can. All we do is give people a shot to put them to sleep so they’ll get to hell quicker. We need some hell fire preaching on repentance.

The was a portion of a video message preached by Leonard Ravenhill called, “Are We Longing For Repentance?”