Friday 8 November 2019
CAN A LUKEWARM BELIEVER GO TO HEAVEN?
Can a lukewarm believer go to heaven?
Jesus said that He will spit or vomit out (Revelation 3:16) those who are neither cold nor hot. His warning was directed at the lukewarm church of Laodicea. If one is lukewarm, he is neither fervent nor completely dead, spiritually speaking.
Here is the relevant passage:
“I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked—I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent” (Revelation 3: 15-19).
These lukewarm believers claimed to be wealthy and self-sufficient, having no need of anything (Revelation 3:17) but, in God’s eyes, they were wretched, spiritually poor and blind. Jesus challenged them to be zealous and repent for He desired to have fellowship with them (Revelation 3:19-20).
If they accept the warning and repent, they will continue to have fellowship with God. But if they do not repent, they will be cut off from God.
So the topic question should be rephrased: “Can a lukewarm believer who fails to repent go to heaven?” Let us examine several references.
Failure to abide is serious
If a believer is unrepentant and no longer in fellowship with Christ (like in Revelation 3 above), he will be like those who fail to abide in the Vine (Christ) and will be destroyed.
“If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned” (John 15:6).
The words used in this verse are serious and imply hell fire: cast out, thrown away and burnt. Jesus was referring to genuine believers who were initially or already attached to the Vine, not professing believers.
A foot in heaven, the other foot on earth
The believers in Laodicea loved the things of the world. They had the form and trimmings of religion but deep inside they loved money more than God. Now how does God view this?
“Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4).
“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money” (Matthew 6:24).
Learn from the example of prophet Balaam and Judas, one of the disciples. Both loved money more than God and perished because of it.
Learn from Lot’s wife, who looked back as she fled Sodom (as it came under God’s wrath) and became a pillar of salt. She could not bear to leave the worldly pleasures of Sodom and paid a heavy price.
“No one who puts his hand to the plough and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62).
Christ warned: Repent or perish
Christ used an incident to illustrate the fact that, unless we repent, we will all perish. Some Galileans, while offering sacrifices in the temple of Jerusalem, were killed by Pilate soldiers and their blood were mixed with that of the sacrifices at the altar. To those who think that these unfortunate souls must have been great sinners, Christ has this to say: “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:2-3).
Repent or be judged
Paul preached to the people of Athens (idol worshippers and philosophers)
“Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained” (Acts 17:30-31).
It is evident here that failure to repent will invite judgment from a just God in future. If that is so, how can an unrepentant person go to heaven?
Faith without repentance will not save
Jesus, after emerging victorious from the temptation in the wilderness, preached: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15).
Paul affirmed that “I have had one message for Jews and Greeks alike—the necessity of repenting from sin and turning to God, and of having faith in our Lord Jesus” (Acts 20:21).
Faith and repentance are like two sides of the same coin. If we say we have faith, we have to prove that its genuineness by living out a repentant lifestyle in the fear of God (James 2:17, Philippians 2:12-13). Without holiness, no one can see God (Hebrews 12:14).
Taking into consideration all the above points, what is the answer to the question, “Can a unrepentant, lukewarm believer go to heaven?”