I will spit you out of My mouth
Pastor John, I see very plain statements in the Bible that show that Christ does not lose any of His true sheep. However, I am struggling to understand a passage in Revelation 3 where Christ says “because you are lukewarm... I will spit you out of My mouth.” Are you able to help me understand what these words mean?
Thanks for your question. The phrase you quoted, lifted out of its context, has caused many to doubt the biblical doctrine of the perseverance of the saints. To correctly understand the verse in question, one has to see the broader context and know something of the historical background.
Please allow me to illustrate. Suppose someone 300 years from now, comes across a letter written this year (2013) in which a mother writes, “After the Church service today, we all went to McDonalds and each of the kids had a happy meal.”
Then let us imagine (hard as it may be to do so) that sometime between now and 300 years from now, all the McDonalds restaurants go out of business. I realize that might be a far fetched notion, but lets go along with it for a moment for the sake of illustration.
Then, 300 years from now, someone who has never heard of the McDonalds restaurant chain looks at the words “we all went to McDonalds” and assumes that this meant a Scottish family (rather than a restaurant). They then assume that the phrase “each of the kids had a happy meal” meant that the kids were happy when they ate the food. We can almost laugh at such an interpretation knowing that it misses the mark completely. That is because here in the 21st Century, the words “McDonalds” and “happy meal” are almost universally understood to refer to a restaurant and a special sized meal for children (that includes a small toy for them to play with).
The idea of McDonalds being a Scottish family and that the kids enjoyed their meal, is a possible interpretation, but that is not how these words would normally be understood in our early 21st Century context. It is far more likely that the intended meaning of the words are that the family went to a well known restaurant called McDonalds, and each of the kids had child sized meals which included toys for each child.
I say all this because the words in Revelation chapter 3 had a context, that when known, make the passage easy to understand. However, when historical context is either unknown or ignored, we are likely to misinterpret the intended meaning of the text.
The words you quote are taken from a passage in Revelation chapter 3 (v. 14-22) where the Lord Jesus, through His apostle John, is writing to the Church at Laodicea. The city of Laodicea was located in the Lycus River Valley and was an important commercial center in the first century. The local water supply was not adequate for the many residents of the city and so an underground aqueduct was built.
Debating Predestination, Election and the Will of God
Dr. Michael L. Brown vs. Dr. James White at Southern Evangelical Seminary, February 14, 2013.
Even Arminians Believe that the Natual Man Has No Free Will
If the natural man has a free will to believe the gospel, then why does he need grace? If his will is naturally free then it would do away with the need for grace altogether. Therefore, anyone who acknowledges that even a LITTLE grace is necessary to believe, by default, acknowledges that man in his natural state has no moral ability to come to Christ. We all know that Jesus himself says (and I quote) "no one can come to Me unless God grants it" (John 6:65) and "the Spirit gives life (quickens) the flesh counts for nothing." (John 6:63). And Paul says "...no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit." (1 Cor 12:3)
If you agree with the above statements from the Bible, then by definition, you already agree that man (left to himself) has no free will to come to Christ. You agree that his intentions are so sold to evil ... that his will and affections are under such bondage that he would never come apart from the grace of Christ. Therefore to teach that the natural man has a free will actually overthrows the gospel ... it is precisely because man is in bondage that he needs Christ to set him free." (John 8:34, 36)
So we have already ESTABLISHED that man has no free will. We all agree on this, EVEN ARMINIANS. The question really is what is the nature of God's grace? Is it effectual or does it merely help the sinner? Jesus answers this in John 6:63 when he declares: "All the the Father gives to me will come to me..."
Parable of the Soils is Clear Evidence Against Libertarian Free Will
The parable of the soils (Matt 13) is direct evidence against the unbiblical doctrine of "libertarian free will" since it is the quality of the soil that determines whether or not it bears fruit. Libertarian free will proponents teach that the choices people make are not determined in any sense by the character or inclinations of the people who make them, which would render this parable meaningless. Fact is, the soil can not choose its nature, therefore it can not choose its fruit. Therefore, the soil must not only be prepared by God (Rom 9:23) the seed will not grow unless the Lord causes it to grow (1 Cor. 3:6).
We all agree that faith is not a work since it points away from self to Christ for salvation, but many make it into a work when they declare that it has its source in a good heart and so turns our eyes back from Christ to a self-generated faith apart from grace alone.
It is "because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” (1 Cor 1:30-31)
Why I am not an atheist
On April 4, 2013 at Princeton University, Dr. Ravi Zacharias taught a remarkably profound and penetrating lecture on the subject, "Why I am not an atheist." Here is the video:
Here is the question and answers forum that followed the lecture:
An Inconsistency in Opposing Divine Election
Some within the visible church teach that it is unjust or unfair for God to choose some and not others unto salvation. But this assertion reveals an inconsistency in their view. Here's why. If you ask the same persons whether it would be just of God to save NO ONE, they would all answer in the affirmative since all Christians, without exception, affirm that fallen men all justly deserve the wrath of God. So, if it is true that God would be just if He saved no one, why then, ALL OF THE SUDDEN, would it be unjust if God saves some and not others?. Fact is we either get justice or mercy in this life, but no one gets injustice. If God leaves someone in their sins, they are receiving their just deserts, no? If in Christ He sovereignly grants mercy on some of these ill-deserving sinners, then by definition, they are not getting what they justly deserve. So it is wildly inconsistent to claim that any injustice is being done here. To do so reveals that somehow deep down these people still believe that we human beings DESERVE to be saved. This inconsistency exposes this is an invalid argument against the sovereignty of God in election.
Moral Outrage, Evil and Fatal Inconsistencies
When I explained to a man who recently left the faith that we are all ill-deserving and are in bondage to corruption, he said this idea was "evil". That is an interesting response because by declaring something as "evil" he is appealing to something he believes is universally binding. I assume this man and many like him are very moral.. perhaps in many ways more moral than I. The point is that they cannot account for their morality. This man said that my belief that mankind is ill-deserving is an "evil" idea. Yet he is unable to account for the authority for the standard he is appealing to.
The people of this world are filled with moralizing, especially about about the good and bad points of Christianity. Ironically while they say there is no objective morality with their mouths, yet they do require an authoritative reference point if they are going to claim Christianity is evil. Who says? That is where their view completely breaks down. It is a fatal flaw. I asked him to point me to the the place where he is getting his ideas for what is evil. Now either he objectively knows that my view is evil or he is just giving a self-declared personal preference. And if he is simply giving me his preference then he (if he wants to be consistent) should not care one iota what my morality is. But the funny thing, in spite of this glaring contradiction, folks like this often seem to be morally outraged about something. But moral outrage is absurd if they cannot tell me how they KNOW that their morals are binding for all. This is a contradiction -- their presuppositions are thereby demonstrated to be faulty at their foundation. This man spoke over and over to me as if he had authority to declare that my view was evil. So it is a natural question to ask, how does He know? His principle is only binding if he can show me the source for this authority. I propose this is the one of the best apologetics for dealing with persons in this age. Most are left speechless or they change the subject in order to avoid the question.
Theistic Evolution Is a Denial of the Gospel
Jesus physical death was what paid for the sin that led to Adam's physical death (and that which brought death into the world). Therefore those who embrace theistic evolution are embracing an untenable position which is contrary to the gospel. And so to believe the "last enemy" was part of God's original creation is to profoundly misrepresent the gospel itself. It attributes to God that which is only attributable to man - death. And so Jesus would end up dying for something God did, not for something man did - a complete perversion of the truth.
Therefore I find it more than a little disturbing to hear this view flourishing in some otherwise reputable Christian organizations. As Christians, such a view should be seen as outside the bounds of anything approaching historic Christianity.
Defending Divine Election - Six Video Teaching Sessions
As a supplement to the "Twelve What Abouts - Answering Common Objections Concerning God's Sovereignty in Election" book, I recorded six video teaching sessions totaling more than two and a half hours of material. The sessions are now made available here (free of charge). I trust these will prove to be a useful resource for people. God bless. - John Samson
(1) The first session is on John chapter 6, verse 35 and following:
(2) Covering Scriptures in Matthew 11 and Romans 8:28-30, here’s a 27 minute teaching on the question of election and evangelism, as well as what is referred to as the Golden Chain of Redemption.
(3) Romans 9 stands like Mount Everest - a majestic, spectacular, lofty and immutable testimony to God's supremacy and sovereignty in salvation. Here's a 36 minute video teaching on the chapter:
(4) Many Christians reject the biblical doctrine of God's sovereignty in election because of traditions associated with the love of God and what amounts to a pagan concept of the human will, as I seek to explain in this 20 minute video teaching:
(5) A biblical study of foreknowledge and the grace of God:
(6) This video deals with the three texts most often raised as objections to the Biblical doctrine of Divine election, namely John 3:16, 2 Peter 3:9 and Matt 23:37: