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I find striking similarities between John 15:1-11 and Revelation 3:14-22:

John 15:1-11 (ESV)

“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.

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.’”

  • Are the branches that are thrown away (from John 15:1-11) and the lukewarm believers that Jesus will spit out of his mouth (from Revelation 3:14-22) the same group of people?

  • If so, does this prove that salvation can be lost?

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    Wow, this is a very interesting question. I've never thought of this before! +1 :)
    – Rajesh
    May 9, 2022 at 21:15
  • A grape vine has fruit bearing branches as well as branches that only leaf out (suckers). Both are in the vine just as wheat and tares are both in the field. Verse 8 says producing fruit "proves" who is a disciple. The fruitless branch (sucker) is pruned out and therefore does not abide. May 10, 2022 at 13:13

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This question conflates two matters that I will keep more distinct. Whether the lukewarm members of the church of Laodicea (Rev 3:14-22) are the same as those not bearing fruit (John 15:1-11) are exactly the same is not entirely germane to the question about whether the doctrine of "Preservation of the Saints" (the "P" in TULIP) is true or not.

The teaching here and elsewhere shows the following:

  • In John 15:1-11, those living "in Christ" can be pruned out. Note the careful selection of verbs in V2: αἴρω = removed, cut out, ie, to remove from the vine; καθαίρω = cleanse, purify, "prune" in this case suggests some discipline and chastening of those who remain connected to the vine of Christ.
  • In Rev 3:11-17, we have a similar distinction between those who are removed ("spat out") and those who are disciplined and chastened.
  • In Rom 11:17-21, there is an even more pointed metaphor based on grafting as follows:

17 Now if some branches have been broken off, and you, a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others to share in the nourishment of the olive root, 18 do not boast over those branches. If you do, remember this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you.

19 You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.” 20 That is correct: They were broken off because of unbelief, but you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, He will certainly not spare you either.

Note that in this passage, Paul is discussing biological Jews (the "natural" branches) vs spiritual Jews (the "grafted-in" branches) and says that those who prove unfaithful will be "broken off", just as the natural branches were, and for the same reason, unfaithfulness.

Thus, in all three passages, we have the teaching that God is capable (and will) cast people out, purge them, prune them out, etc, who are unfaithful, thus making some people lose their salvation.

The appendix below lists many for examples.

APPENDIX - Bible passages that show that some will lose their salvation

  • Ps 69:28 contains a plea for David’s enemies to be blotted out of the book of life!
  • Eze 18:21-28 also teaches that the wicked can reform and be saved, and the righteous can apostatize and be lost.
  • 1 Cor 9:27 Paul says he disciplines his body to keep it under control so that after preaching to others he does not become a castaway/disqualified. That is, Paul believed that it was possible that he could lose his way and become lost.
  • Gal 6:9 says, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
  • 1 Tim 6:10, For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.
  • Heb 2:1-3, We must pay closer attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every transgression and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?
  • Similarly, Heb 6:4-6 also teaches that some “who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit…” can fall away.
  • Heb 10:26: If we(!) deliberately keep on sinning after receiving the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left.
  • Heb 10:29: How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them and who has insulted the Spirit of grace. This verse clearly shows that it is possible to be sanctified and subsequently lost.
  • Heb 10:35: Therefore, do not throw away your confidence which has a great reward.
  • Heb 10:36: You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God you will receive what he has promised.
  • Heb 13:9, “Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace …”
  • 2 Peter 1:10, “make your calling and election sure”. This clearly allows for the possibility of losing one’s election.
  • 2 Peter 2:21, “It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them.”
  • 2 Peter 3:17 contains a very stern and sobering warning to be on guard that we do not fall from our secure position. Verse 14 contains a similar warning.
  • Jesus’ parable of the 10 virgins contains two classes of people called “wise” and “foolish”. All were invited to the wedding; All were virgins symbolizing purity, see Rev 14:5; All had lamps, ie, lights symbolizing Christ as the light of the world, John 1:4, 9, 8:12, 9:5, Matt 5:14-16; All, at least initially had oil - but this is the crux of the parable - five virgins had enough oil and five did not have enough because they complained that their lamps were going out. In the NT oil represents the gift of the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:18, Acts 10:38, 2 Cor 1:21, 22, 1 John 2:20). Thus, Jesus teaches that some who are called and have been given the Holy Spirit (see also Heb 6:4-6) can still be excluded from the Kingdom of God.
  • Jesus’ parable of the sower, or perhaps the parable of the soils (Matt 13:1-23, Mark 4:1-20, Luke 8:4-15) contains several classes of people (soils) who start out well in the Christian life but lose their way. The conclusion is also significant: “by their constancy bear fruit”. (Luke 8:15)
  • Jesus’ parable of the banquet (Luke 14:16-24) contains a very good example of people rejecting the call (or “election”) of God as well as God having to ask some people more than once and begging them to the wedding banquet. Jesus’ conclusion is, again, significant, “not one of those men who have been invited shall taste of my banquet.” In the parallel passage of Matt 22:1-14, Jesus concludes by saying, “For many are called, but few are chosen.”
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  • The promise (Gen. 15) that we are made heirs of (Galatians 3) has laid no condition upon Abram or his kids. God cut covenant with Himself on behalf of Abram and his seed while Abram slept. Those who are "in Christ" are the children of Abe and cannot disanull a covenant they had no part in ratifying. If salvation can be lost it would be by God breaking His own covenant with Himself. May 10, 2022 at 13:31
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    @MikeBorden - I think you are confusing the Abrahamic covenant (of the land and Messiah) with the Israelite covenant to make a nation of priests. Even you are correct, does that leave the possibility that people cannot be lost and so all will be saved?
    – Dottard
    May 10, 2022 at 20:55
  • Circumcision in the flesh, done by the hand of man, the sign of remembrance of the Genesis 15 covenant of promise, is now circumcision of the heart done by the Spirit of God. This is a deposit, given by the God who cannot lie, guaranteeing the inheritance of the covenant promise which laid no obligation upon Abram and his seed. The promise is not for all people but for all who are "in Christ". It is not the natural descendants of Abraham who are his children (for not all of Israel are Israel) but it is those of the faith of Abraham. These will never be condemned ... He will lose none. May 11, 2022 at 12:48
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    @MikeBorden - in that respect we agree - all are called to be saved.
    – Dottard
    May 13, 2022 at 21:03
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    @MikeBorden surely the scriptures are not at logger heads. There must be reconciliation.. It is same spirit who inspired Romans 8:29 that inspired other scriptures that speaks clearly about a believer falling away. Now you pit one scripture over the other. Dec 17, 2022 at 8:20
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Who are the people referred to in John 15:1-11?

Jesus' followers are being personally addressed by him. They already believe in him, love him, and are following him. Note how, in 14:23, Jesus answered a disciple's question as to how Jesus would manifest (show) himself to them yet not to the world with this promise:

"If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him."

The connection with 15:1 is clear - As the Father and the Son abide in those who love Christ, so that loved one abides in "the true vine" - Christ. There is the connection between Christ, "the true vine", and 'branches' that bear fruit. They are to abide in Christ as he abides in them. Such ones receive pruning in order that they go on, and increase in bearing fruit.

The warning Christ then gives about unfruitful 'branches' shows the danger to those who do not have Christ's words abiding in them (vs. 6). Jesus had just said (vs. 3) that it is his word spoken to them that has made them 'clean'. Clearly, those who do not believe Christ's word are unclean, and those ones have no part in the true vine - Christ - therefore, they do not bear fruit. They will be cast out as a branch that withers. Men gather them and burn them (vs. 6).

It must not be overlooked that many people who profess to love Christ and to be Christians live spiritually unfruitful lives, suggesting that they are not abiding in Christ, the true vine. That would mean that their appearance of being followers of Christ will not be tolerated forever by the Lord. Sooner or later, their unfruitfulness will result in them being cast out. If they had been abiding in Christ, that would never happen.

Who are the people referred to in Revelation 3:14-22?

Jesus' followers are being personally addressed by him. He examines the works of one group and finds lack of love, and an unacceptable level of spiritual indifference due to their pride in being rich and self-sufficient. He shockingly warns them that they are spiritually poor, blind and naked: they are miserable wretches. They are spiritually unclean - naked - yet he lovingly advises them that it's not too late to repent and to return to him. He has not yet spat them out. Those who have an ear to hear his appraisal and his remedy will repent and be cleaned up.

Jesus does not speak of any 'fruit' but only of their works. And their lack of love. Many Christians can fall into spiritual lethargy and indifference, once they stop heeding Christ's words. But he speaks words to them in their dreadful spiritual state, because he loves them, and shows them that they must repent and return to zeal for him: "Be zealous, therefore, and repent."

Are those two groups the same group of people?

Both groups are addressed by Christ as his followers - part of his spiritual 'body', the Church. The whole Church is called to abide in Christ and to remain clean by his word, keeping his word. That applies to good, fruit-bearing Christians, and to lukewarm Christians who deceive themselves as to their standing. But there is a difference thereafter.

'Branches' that are not abiding in Christ are not part of the true vine. They might appear to be part of him, with lots of 'leafy works' but no fruit. It is not the appearance of being part of the true vine that counts with Christ, but whether good fruit is produced. It is not produced when his word is lacking, either not being heard or not being carried out.

There is no call to repent and so to remain part of Christ's Church in John 15. The warning is clear: such unfruitful 'branches' are not part of the 'true vine' - Jesus Christ. They will be lopped off and destroyed.

This is where Revelation 14:15-20 shows us that there is a non-Christian vine that, at the end, will be cut down so that "the clusters of the vine of the earth" be gathered for trampling, "for her grapes are fully ripe." Ah, but such fruit is evil fruit, that must be "cast into the great winepress of the wrath of God" which is outside the city of God.

We humans are easily deceived by appearances, and led astray by words that are not the words of the Lord Jesus. Both passages of scripture speak of that, but in the first case, salvation does not apply to those not found "in Christ", while in the second case, salvation still applies to those who are spiritually pitiable, if they heed Christ's word and repent. But in John 15, there simply is no good fruit produced because those ones do not abide in Christ for they do not hear his word. They look as if they are in the vine, with leafy works, but they actually belong to the vine of the earth, not the true vine, Christ.

If so, does this prove that salvation can be lost?

Given that one group are not part of the true vine, Christ, while the other group are part of his spiritual body, the Church, there is no basis for using those two texts to teach the loss of salvation because one group never has salvation, unable to produce good fruit due to not being part of the true vine which results in lopping off and burning. The second group has salvation and Jesus has not spat them out, but lovingly shows them what to do to remain part of his Church.

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  • The second group has salvation and Jesus has not spat them out, but lovingly shows them what to do to remain part of his Church. - but if they fail to do so, they would be spit out (i.e. they would lose their salvation), right?
    – user38524
    May 10, 2022 at 11:01
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    @Spirit Realm Investigator A key point is that in Jn 15 the pseudo-Christians are not told to repent but in Rev 3 the whole group is urged to repent. The warning that they will be spat out is real, showing how distasteful they will be to Christ if they don't repent. But then another question needs to be asked - does that 'spitting out' equate with loss of salvation? Feel free to ask it!
    – Anne
    May 10, 2022 at 11:16
  • I kind of already did here: christianity.stackexchange.com/q/91039/50422
    – user38524
    May 10, 2022 at 11:21
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    @Spirit Realm Investigator And I've kind of already answered it here! But I note the answers & comments in your other Q. I just recall that Jesus gives this rebuke and chastisement to those he loves and they're addressed as part of his Church so he seems to own them yet they must not be presumptuous and think that means they can live how they like, trusting in riches and in their works. They dare not. Jesus is the judge here, and he knows. I have to take on board all that he says, even parts that are hard, and apply it all to myself.
    – Anne
    May 10, 2022 at 11:38
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    @ Spirit Realm Investigator You also asked here as well: hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/54992/… and at christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/81080/… You've asked this sort of Q so often you might already have over 100 answers, so why not revise them?
    – Anne
    May 10, 2022 at 12:23

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