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Revelation 3:14-22 (ESV):

14 “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God's creation.

15 “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. 19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so 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 eat with him, and he with me. 21 The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered 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.’”

You cannot spit out of your mouth something that is not inside your body in the first place. But if Jesus will spit lukewarm believers out of His mouth, it follows that those lukewarm believers were part of Jesus's body in the first place. And if someone was part of Jesus's body in the first place, it follows that they were saved:

12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:12-13 ESV)

27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. (1 Corinthians 12:27 ESV)

Similar ideas are expressed by John 15:

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. (John 15:1-11 ESV)


The argument in deductive form

P1: Jesus will spit lukewarm individuals out of his mouth (from Revelation 3:16)

P2: If Jesus spits something out of his mouth, that something must have been part of Jesus's body in the first place (from common sense)

C1: Lukewarm individuals were part of Jesus's body in the first place (from P1 & P2)

P3: A person is saved if and only if they are part of Jesus's body (from 1 Corinthians 12, John 15:1-11)

C2: Lukewarm individuals were saved (from C1 & P3)

P4: If Jesus spits a lukewarm individual out of his mouth, they are no longer part of Jesus's body (from common sense)

C3: Lukewarm individuals will no longer be part of Jesus's body (from P1 & P4)

C4: Lukewarm individuals will no longer be saved (from C3 & P3)

C5: Lukewarm individuals will lose their salvation (from C2 & C4)

P5: If salvation can be lost, then Eternal Security is false (from the definition of eternal security (link) and the law of excluded middle (link))

C6: Eternal Security is false (from C5 & P5)


Question

How do those who believe that salvation cannot be lost rebut the deductive argument above?


Related BHSE questions

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  • 4
    If I take into my mouth something that tastes bad, I spit out. It never enters my body. I did not swallow it. It never became part of my own flesh and blood. It remained exterior to me. This 'deductive reasoning' starts from a false premise.
    – Nigel J
    May 9 at 21:00
  • 1
    Nice deductive argument, +1 May 9 at 22:16
  • As Nigel says, P2 doesn't seem valid to me at all (I believe salvation can be lost so won't make an answer); Jesus is simply rejecting this church (who may not necessarily even be or have been true believers) for their lack of zeal one way or the other. I also think you may have generalized P1 too much May 9 at 22:35
  • @IsaacMiddlemiss - how would you answer this question: hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/q/76198/38524 ? May 9 at 22:38
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    it follows that they were saved: No it doesn't, the sheep and the goats express this reality. Only God and Jesus know who are theirs. It simply places them into the time of judgement and possible salvation.
    – steveowen
    May 10 at 11:40

2 Answers 2

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P1 - Jesus will spit lukewarm individuals (reflects a change in the OP) out of his mouth (from Revelation 3:16)

Premise 1 is fine as far as it stands as worded as can be seen from verse 20 of the same chapter:

Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

There are some individuals within the church who are apart from Christ.

But if those in the Laodicean church are all believers ... born again, filled with the Spirit, and members of Christ's body ... as premise 2 assumes;

P2 - If Jesus spits something out of his mouth, that something must have been part of Jesus's body in the first place (from common sense)

then verse 20 has Jesus standing outside his own body waiting to enter. Premise 2 is false.

But it is not common sense that something in the mouth is part of the body. Is the mouthwash I gargle with part of my body? My toothbrush? A piece of chewing gum?

Revelation 3:20 is often used as an invitation to salvation during gospel presentations, and it is rightly so for He wants to save everyone who will respond to the knock, but let the context sink in...

That Jesus may stand outside the door of a church ... a gathering in His name ... and beg entrance.

Oh, that we would dethrone self-righteousness, religion/church attendance, theology, etc. and apprehend only Christ. There are many sitting in the pew who have not.

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  • I replaced 'believer' with 'individual'. With this small change the argument is preserved but the objection against premise 1 no longer applies. You could still make an argument against premise 2 though. May 10 at 13:54
  • @SpiritRealmInvestigator Premise 2 is just trying to make the individuals of premise 1 out to be part of Christ, hence believers. If you drink from a straw is the straw part of your body while it's in your mouth? Your toothbrush? P2 is false also. The implication is that the lukewarm is not taken in by Jesus ... not part of Him. May 10 at 14:02
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    I agree, premise 2 is the one that can more successfully be attacked. There is interpretative room for not seeing it that way. As with many other discussions, the ambiguity of Scripture strikes again. May 10 at 16:05
  • @SpiritRealmInvestigator "Clear stuff" should inform "ambiguous stuff" and, even then, our faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. 1 Corinthians 2:5. Jesus said he would not lose one of all that the Father gives him. That sounds like eternal security for the ones that have been given to me :-) May 11 at 12:55
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The resolution is found in recognizing that Jesus is delivering warnings that are both collective and individual. At the individual level were true believers who had lost zeal and been distracted by wealth and pride as well as unbelievers who were causing problems. The believers were warned that they would be disciplined strongly if they did not repent. If they repented quickly and sincerely, then they would be able to keep their church. Otherwise they would become individual believers cut off from fellowship, which causes suffering and impairs spiritual growth and health. Their church would lose its lampstand.

What happened in real life? At the council of Laodicea in 363-364 AD, the church of Laodicea rejected the book of Revelation as worthy of being included in Scripture. Revelation ends with a curse against anyone who tries to cut words out of the Bible. Almost exactly 1,000 years after that council, Laodicea was destroyed by earthquake and never rebuilt. (Sometimes God's prophesied judgment has a merciful waiting period of 1,000 years, a prophetic day, to allow the chance of repentance. Such was true with Adam and then with the Genesis reduction in human lifespan to 120 years, which was phased in over a 1,000 year period, concluding with Moses at the end of the 1,000 years). Every other one of the seven churches saw their city last until almost the end of their respective church age, and some faithful ones, like Ephesus, saw their city last until long after their time ended. Laodicea is the exception. That city only lasted about half way to the church age whose spiritual condition matches theirs. (Some people say that the church recently entered the age of Laodicea, while others believe it will arrive after the current wave of world missions concludes and that we are in the waning days of the church of Philadelphia, the missionary church.)

Supporting information:

Ephesus was destroyed by Goths in 263, partially destroyed by earthquake in 614, sacked by Muslims in 654, 700 and 716, and then entered a period of slow decline. It still existed during the time of the Crusades but was reduced to a small village. Thus it lasted long past its era of church history, which ended with the death of the last Apostle, John.

Smyrna had a Christian presence until the great fire in 1922, during a war between Greece and Turkey. It endured long past its era, which ended when the Roman persecutions ended in the time of Constantine.

Pergamum was promised and received the double-edged sword. It was captured, destroyed and rebuilt in the 7th, 8th, 11th, 12th and 13th centuries. By 1300 AD, it was an abandoned ruin.

Thyatira is last mentioned in historical records late in the tenth century, near the end of its era.

Sardis was lost to the Ghazi emirs in 1306 and destroyed by Tamerlane in 1402 AD, near the end of its era.

Philadelphia was also destroyed in 1922 during a war between Greeks and Turks, near the end of its era. Philadelphia represents the missionary age from the Reformation on.

Laodicea was destroyed and rebuilt several times, but another earthquake in 1354 AD spelt its end. This was 987 years after Laodicea rejected the Book of Revelation. It also falls 700 or so years before the start of the church age of Laodicea. It was the only city that did not endure to see the dawn of its church age.

Peculiar fact:

We do not know when Revelation was written, but Irenaeus wrote that is was written near the close of the reign of Domitian, who died in 96 AD. If Revelation was written in 94 AD, then if you add 1,260 years you get 1354 AD, the year that Laodicea was destroyed. The number 1,260 appears in several prophecies in Revelation. Curious?

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  • Up-voted +1 but I am hoping you will add some links to verify your historical comments about Laodicea.
    – Nigel J
    May 10 at 16:56
  • As you wish. I dedicate a whole chapter to this in my newest book, "Peace, like Solomon never Knew". May 10 at 16:59
  • . . . . and can I download that book from somewhere ?
    – Nigel J
    May 10 at 17:10
  • "Peace, Like Solomon never Knew" is available as an eBook on Amazon, Apple Books, Kobo and other retailers. May 10 at 17:22
  • Oh - I have to pay. I see. My own books are freely downloadable. Saves a lot of bother.
    – Nigel J
    May 10 at 17:29

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