Contend Earnestly: Which Church is it? Universal or Philadelphia's

Monday, January 08, 2007

Which Church is it? Universal or Philadelphia's

I know that we have a lot of reformed readers here that will jump on this band wagon and love to "make fun" of me and my co-horts being dispensationalists, but I still must point out a troubling "proof" text that someone recently used for the rapture of the church. And when I say that my reformed friends will "make fun" I am kidding as they have been very gracious to us here at Contend Earnestly and I have enjoyed their company. Now time to move on.

As I was a young boy in the pew of my churches we would always sing "Just as I am" or "I surrender all," both great songs, and as people would respond to the altar call, which I longer adhere to, the pastor would almost always say, "Jesus stands at the door and knocks and whomever lets Him in will have eternal life."

This reference has been used by a lot of "free-willers" and Arminians to show that Jesus Christ literally stands at the heart of every man. This view of Christ really depicts a sorrowful Saviour with no control, and definitely no sovereignty, but almost seems as though He just waits on us and when we finally decide, "He wins one for the gipper!" Sorry, but this is not what this means and this is not what happens. Read John 6:35-45 and pick up "Drawn by the Father" for the illustration and exhortation on that text.

The verse used is in Revelation is speaking directly to the church of Laodicea, and them alone. Christ was not welcomed in their worship and Christ was commanding to be worshiped or their church was to be condemned.

Anyway. If we take this in context, we must also throw out another misnomer. It is this letter directed towards Philadelphia.

Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you
from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole
world, to test those who dwell on the earth.

Revelation 3:10

I have heard many use this as a way of showing a Pre-Trib Rapture, which to many reading this sounds like folly in itself, but bear with me. There are other verses that I see that we can use for the pre-trip rapture but we must not go here for that exhortation. For if you use this we must adhere to, Jesus standing at the heart of every man waiting to be accepted, which I will never do.

We must test all those who are teachers to the word of the Lord and as I look at this defense of a pre-trip rapture it leaves me wanting. Are we really willing to use this verse as a an overarching message to the universal church? Because if we do we must not stop there and must charge that the same is meant in the next view verses to Laodicea when speaking of the knocking at the door, and that cannot be or the whole of the Doctrines of Grace does not make sense.

This promise is only for Philadelphia and not for us. Philadelphia's faith was great, therefore they will not have to go through the time of wrath.

Use discernment and test these Scriptures that have been used so many times in the past.


Anonymous said...

Might you be overlooking characteristics of the Seven Churches manifesting in various degrees, one to another, down through the ages until culminating in the Laodicean Church age? Consider generational characteristics present at his first advent and assigned in increasing intensity to the terminal generation to be present at his second coming by Jesus Christ.


Seth McBee said...

I can see that, yes, but I guess my trouble comes with the church at Laodicea...I do not agree with the the knocking of Christ at every person's door, that, to me, is not Scriptural. I don't where you stand on this part of Scripture.

My stance though, is that if we argue for one demand or exhortation to one of the churches applies to us today, we must apply all those demands or we are choosing which apply and which don't...tough to do in my opinion.

What are your thoughts?

Anonymous said...


Your thesis makes Sardis (the dead church) the era of the Reformation. That strikes me as pretty funny.

That is just plain bad exegesis. As bad as my grammar :-)

Rather, I think we see each of the seven churches again and again throughout history. We also see churches that have fit more than one condition of the seven.

Paul E said...

kyamanika said: Rather, I think we see each of the seven churches again and again throughout history. We also see churches that have fit more than one condition of the seven.

Since you mentioned David's view as being poor exegesis, is your comment above the results of your exegesis as the interpretation or is it a type of secondary application?

Anonymous said...

Ahh, good question. Wish I had put that in my first comment.

I take it as a secondary application.

Anonymous said...

To clarify and be fair to David, I also meant funny, as in ironic, haha, comical. Not slanderous or rude.

Hopefully it was taken that way.

Paul E said...

Good call, I can see it as having a secondary application as well. What is interesting is that I think David takes it as the interpretation of the passage. Isn't this just what you posited as an illustration on your other blog? Your thesis would be correct in David's case in applying the double hermeneutic just like you do in making your system appear coherent. :)

Anonymous said...


Let me see if we agree: I believe that the verse: "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" (Rev 3:20) reveals that Christ has been excluded from the Laodicean church and replaced with material wealth. The verse has often been used as a witnessing tool to extend invitations of salvation to unsaved, and that is a reapplication without completely misapplying the verse. God saves the individual, not the body; and so the members of the church of Laodicea are solicited individually here too.


Anonymous said...


I said: we see "characteristics of the Seven Churches manifesting in various degrees, one to another, down through the ages until culminating in the Laodicean Church age"

You said: "we see each of the seven churches again and again throughout history. We also see churches that have fit more than one condition of the seven."

Sounds pretty close to me. Both of us bad exegesis?

Josh said...

Hopefully this is not the 6th posting of the same comment. Blogger gets weird at times and does not let me post comments.

Perhaps I am just bad at interpreting blog comments. I think I read your comment to quickly and didn't get the entire gist of it. I filled in the spots I thought you were saying.

Paul E.
You are correct :-). I also see you have a blog in the making? Will it be open for business soon?

Paul E said...

I hope to soon Josh. Having the time to commit to it and do an honorable job of it is the main hurdle. I really like and appreciate what you guys have been doning, both here and at your other blog. The subjects have depth, and the series on the atonement is cutting edge. There is also a maturity at your blogs that gives space to hash out differences in a good way. I would like to see more traffic come this way.

Anonymous said...


Thanks for the encouragement :-) I know we all look forward to your interaction.

Seth McBee said...

secret rapture.
If you would like to comment that is fine, but please don't just put your website up for the viewing...discussion is promoted at this site, self promotion is not.

Seth McBee said...

keep it up Josh...just you wait...


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