Do Lukewarm Christians Lose Their Salvation? Revelation 3:16 Explained – Once

Do Lukewarm Christians Lose Their Salvation? Revelation 3:16 Explained

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In this lesson, we’re going to look at one of the most feared passages in the Bible: Jesus’ message to the Laodicean church in Revelation 3, where He tells them that, because they are lukewarm, He will spit them out of His mouth. Does this mean lukewarm Christians could lose their salvation? The short answer is no. But we’ll also examine at what WILL happen to Christians who are lukewarm. Let’s look into it.

The passage we’re going to look at is a letter to the church at Laodicea. It was spoken by Jesus to the Apostle John on the isle of Patmos in the first century. This was one of seven letters recorded in the first three chapters of the book of Revelation, addressed to the seven predominant churches at that time.

These churches were actual churches in the 1st century. But more than that, if you look at the history of the church in world events over the last 2,000 years, there’s a remarkable parallel between historical events and these letters to the churches, leading many to conclude that the 7 letters represent a prophecy of the church age over the past 2,000 years, ending with the type of church that will be dominant during the end times, the church of Laodicea.

Church Age Over The Past 2,000 Years


A.D. 33-100













Apostolic Church

Roman Persecution

Age of Constantine

Dark Ages


Missionary Movement



I won’t go into all that history here, but the point is that this letter is more than just a letter to a first century church. This is something that applies to us today.

Here’s the passage from Revelation, chapter 3, and we’ll answer the question: Can lukewarm Christians lose their salvation? Here’s what Jesus said:

14 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this: 15 ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. 16 ‘So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.

17 ‘Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, 18 I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.

 19 ‘Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent. 20 ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. 21 ‘He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. 22 ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'”  (Revelation 3:14-22 NASB95)

The answer to our question is a resounding NO. This is NOT saying that a lukewarm Christian will be spit out of Jesus’ mouth and lose their salvation. 

But how do we know this?

How do we know from this passage that no lukewarm Christian can lose their salvation?

Simply because of this: These are NOT Christians!

This is a Christless church. This is an apostate church, symbolic of the apostate churches that will dominate the scene during the end times. They are gathering as a church and they think they are saved. But they are not saved. So this is not saying that a Christian can lose his or her salvation. Let’s prove this.

Here are 6 reasons why this is a Christless church.

First, They have locked Jesus out of the church. Jesus said in verse 20, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock…” This is an amazing picture that tells you so much about this church. Here’s a church that calls itself Christian and the people inside think that they are all saved, but they have locked Christ out. Amazingly, Jesus is on the outside of His own church, knocking on the door, asking if anyone inside the church will let Him in.

Second, we can tell that they are not saved from Jesus’ description of them. In verse 17, He called them “wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.” These are words that are NEVER used to describe a saved believer. They are only used to describe unbelievers, the lost.

Third, Jesus advised them to buy white garments, showing that they are not saved. They weren’t already clothed in white, indicating that their sins had already been forgiven. How do we buy white garments? By believing in Christ and having our sins washed away by His blood. These people are not saved.

Fourth, we can tell they are not saved by what Jesus said He will do if any man opens the door. Jesus said, “I will come in to him,” indicating that they do not already have the indwelling presence of Christ in them.

Fifth, the people in this church do not hear His voice, showing that they are not His sheep.  In John 10:27, Jesus said “My sheep hear my voice…” But here in verse 20, Jesus said, “If anyone hears My voice and opens the door…” These people were neither hot nor cold toward Jesus. They were gathering as a church and thinking they are saved, but it appears no one even hears His voice so as to open the door.

And then sixth, there’s no belief in Jesus. Jesus tells them in verse 21 that they have not overcome. He uses the phrase, “he who overcomes.” What does this word “overcome” mean. It does NOT mean obedience. The word “overcome” is not referring to a walk of obedience, observing Christ’s commandments. The Apostle John, the very same author who wrote this letter, tells us exactly what this word “overcome” means in 1 John 5:5 –

“Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:5 KJV)

To overcome means to believe in Jesus, to believe the Gospel. It has absolutely nothing to do with a walk of obedience. Jesus is telling them that they need to overcome this world by believing in Him. To believe in Jesus for salvation is to overcome. This is just like in Revelation 3:5, where Jesus said,

“5 ‘He who overcomes (believes in Jesus) will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.” (Revelation 3:5 NASB95)

That’s another proof of Once Saved Always Saved.

This Laodicean church had no belief in Jesus. They had not overcome the world through faith.

So when Jesus says He will spit them out of His mouth, He is NOT referring to spitting out even one saved Christian!

As a bonus, we also see a GUARANTEE of eternal salvation by faith alone: For it says in verse 21, “He who overcomes (who believes in Jesus), I will grant him to sit down with Me on My throne.” In other words, every believer will be saved and will sit with Christ on His throne. That’s yet another proof of Once Saved Always Saved. By faith in Jesus alone, we overcome the world and will sit down with Jesus on His throne. We don’t deserve it. We haven’t earned it. It is entirely a gift of God’s grace through faith in Christ.

So, can lukewarm Christians lose their salvation? NO. Absolutely not.

But then what WILL happen to lukewarm Christians? This does not give us a blank check to go live and sin however we want. 

There are two very real dangers for lukewarm Christians, though the loss of salvation is not one of them. The dangers are:

  1. Loss of blessing, both in this life and in heaven
  2. Loss of assurance that you are really saved

Let’s look briefly at each of these.

First, the loss of blessings. God has a plan for each one of us that includes how He would like to use us for His glory and bless us. But when we are unresponsive or lukewarm, or when we indulge in sin, God can’t use us. Instead of blessing us, He may have to start disciplining and chastening us. When that happens, we lose whatever blessings God was ready to bestow upon us. Many Christians are living far below where God would have you, having already forfeited many blessings God would have given us if we had been walking faithfully with Him. I’m not saying that to scold anyone, but to encourage every person who hears this to live for Christ while you can. There is great reward for obeying God. Let each of us strive to end our lives well for Jesus, so that we will not be ashamed at His coming.

The cost of living a lukewarm life is very high. When we live a lukewarm life toward Christ or allow sin to remain in our lives, we lose heavenly rewards as well. 

To understand this, let’s look at the timeline of events. For the past 2,000 years, we’ve been in the Church Age,” also called the “Age of Grace,” where God is waiting patiently for people to choose whether they will turn to Him and accept His free offer of salvation through faith in Christ. The Bible warns us, however, that this “Age of Grace” is coming to an end very soon. The next big event on God’s timeline will be the rapture of the Church, followed by the final 7 year tribulation where God judges the nations, those who choose not to believe in Christ.

The rapture is God’s snatching away of the Church. In an instant, every saved believer in Christ will be caught away to be the Lord and will be given our eternal bodies. The first thing that will then happen following the rapture will be the Judgment Seat of Christ, where Jesus judges every believer in terms of how they lived and served God in this life. This judgment is only for believers. There will be no judgment of sin, for sin has already been paid for on the cross. This will be a judgment of our works.

2 Corinthians, chapter 5 speaks of this judgment:

“For we (referring to believers only) must all appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5:10 NASB95)

Every believer will be judged based on how they lived for Christ. In 1 Corinthians, chapter 3, we see how this judgment will unfold:

First, fruitful Christians will be rewarded for faithful service.

“For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. (1 Corinthians 3:11-14 NASB95)

But then lukewarm Christians, those who only lived for themselves or in sin in this life, will see their works burned up. There will be nothing of value for Christ. And instead of Christ rewarding those believers, the believers will see the rewards that they could have had, but are now lost forever.

“If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss;...” (1 Corinthians 3:15 NASB95)

Having no works of value in their lives is the very definition of a lukewarm Christian. Even so, we see that the lukewarm Christian will still be saved. 

“If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.” (1 Corinthians 3:15 NASB95)

Why is the lukewarm Christian still saved? Because sin was paid for in full on the cross. There will be no sin mentioned at the Judgment Seat of Christ. This is only about works, how we lived for Jesus. This reference to fire is not saying that the lukewarm believer with no works will be burned up or sent to hell. Notice that it says “as through fire,” not “in the fire.” It’s saying that the examination of that believer’s life before Christ will feel like fire. It will be a moment where those lukewarm believers will see how poorly they served Christ and the weight of that will sink in on them, as they realize all the rewards that they could have had for all eternity are lost. But, nevertheless, they will be saved, which is far better than not being saved. But it’s like being saved by the skin of your teeth. God desires so much more for each of us.

What types of rewards will be given to believers? At least two types of rewards are mentioned in Scripture. First, those who not only believed but walking in faithful obedience will reign and rule with Christ.

“‘He who overcomes (which means “believes”), and he who keeps My deeds until the end (which means “obedience,” so we have not just believing but believing + obedience), TO HIM I WILL GIVE AUTHORITY OVER THE NATIONS;” (Revelation 2:26 NASB95)

Second, Daniel chapter 12 says that saved believers, in their eternal bodies, will radiate the very brightness and glory of God based on how faithfully they served Him, some shining far more brightly than others.

“Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt. “Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.” (Daniel 12:2-3 NASB95)

But none of this affects our eternal salvation, only our rewards. Salvation and rewards are not the same.

Salvation means eternal life, while rewards refer to the eternal rights, privileges, authority and glory we will have. Salvation cannot be earned or lost but is a free gift of God, while rewards are not given freely but have to be earned and can be lost.  Salvation is based solely on believing in Jesus, while rewards are based solely on our obedience, our fruitfulness, how faithfully we served Jesus in this life.

Again, I’m not trying to make anyone feel bad for not living more faithfully for Christ. That’s not the point of this. The point is that getting saved is not the end. It’s just the beginning and all of us could do better. There’s so much more that God desires for each one of us. Don’t be discouraged. If you are hearing this, that means you are not dead yet. There’s still time to end your life well for Jesus. Choose to serve the rest of your life for Christ. Rededicate yourself to Him if you need to. Don’t settle for being saved by the skin of your teeth.

There’s also a second danger for those who choose to live a lukewarm Christian life, which is the loss of assurance that you are really saved. I’ve seen this so many times when Christians allow themselves to walk in sin, especially for a sin habit that is difficult to break. After a while, you begin to question whether you are really saved at all and, instead of having joyful assurance that you are saved, you get fearful.

Today is the day of salvation. Today is the day of God’s grace and forgiveness. Turn your life over to Christ and rededicated yourself to Him if you need to. God wants us to walk in joy and be assured of our salvation. 1 John chapter 5 says,

“These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1 John 5:13 NASB95)

God wants you to know with certainty that you are saved. We can know we are saved by the evidence in our lives. Here are three ways we show evidence of salvation:

By His Spirit in us

“We know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.” (1 John 3:24 NASB95)

By our obedience

“By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; … If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him.” (1 John 2:3-4, 29 NASB95)

And then by our love

“Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him” (1 John 3:18-19 NASB95)

None of these three things save us or keep us saved, but they give evidence that we are saved, for it is IMPOSSIBLE to be born again, have the Holy Spirit indwell you and NOT be changed. If you think you are saved but you are living in sin like the rest of the world that is not saved, how are you showing any evidence that you are saved? Maybe you aren’t. If that sounds like you, you can fix that problem today.

So to sum this up, the Laodicean church is a Christless, apostate church. The people are not saved, so no one has lost their salvation. This letter is prophetic of the type of church that will dominate the scene during the end times. Perhaps you know of a church like this where the people think they are saved but the Gospel is not preached.

Even so, SAVED Christians should be concerned if they are living a lukewarm life toward Christ, NOT that they could lose their salvation, but that they could lose blessings and eternal rewards that God has for them. And that they could lose the very assurance of salvation, causing them to become fearful and ineffective for Christ.

There is a solution to all this. If you think you are saved but lukewarm, or possible not saved: Rededicate your life to Christ NOW! Don’t wait.

God wants you to be assured of salvation and that there is a purpose for your life. God’s forgiveness and restoration is available now if you will seek it. That restoration comes through His Son, Jesus.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 NASB95)

I want to end this video with a prayer of salvation or rededication. If you are not sure of your salvation or you would just like to rededicate your life to Christ, I urge you to pray along with me. Saying a prayer doesn’t save you. Only faith in Christ saves you, believing that Christ’s shed blood pays for your sins. This prayer is just a means of expressing that faith. If that’s what you would like to do, please pray with me.

“Lord, I have sinned and I need you to save me. I have not lived the way You desire me to live. Against You and You alone have I sinned. I am so sorry. From this point forward, I want to dedicate my life to You. I believe that Your Son Jesus shed His blood and died on the cross to pay for my sins, and that He rose from the dead to show me the new eternal life You have for me. I believe solely in Jesus to save me, that He paid my debt of sin 100%. Thank you for this forgiveness. Please live inside of me, be my Savior and Lord, and enable me to live for You. In Jesus Name I pray. Amen.”

If you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, God gives you this assurance:


Now live for Him!

Thank you for watching.


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