Inviting Jesus into your Heart (Dan Wallace)

In Revelation 3:20 Jesus says, “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 [will dine] with me.” The crucial phrase for our purposes is “I shall come in to him.” This text has often been taken as a text offering salvation to a lost sinner. Such a view is based on two assumptions: (1) that the Laodiceans, or at least some of them, were indeed lost, and (2) that the Greek εισελεύσομαι πρό means “come into.”

Both of these assumptions, however, are based on little evidence. Further, the resultant notion is anything but clear. To invite Christ into one’s heart is hardly a clear picture of the gospel.

Regarding the idea that those in the Laodicean church were not believers, note that in the preceding verse, the resurrected Lord declares, “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline.” Here φιλέω is used for “love”—a term that is never used of God/Jesus loving unbelievers in the NT. This φιλέω is applied to the Laodiceans here, for the verse concludes, “Be zealous, therefore, and repent.” The inferential ‘therefore’ connects the two parts of the verse, indicating that the Laodiceans are to repent because Christ loves (φιλέω) them!

The second assumption is that εισελεύσομαι πρό means ‘come into.’ Such an assumption is based on a less than careful reading of the English text. The ASV, NASB, RSV, NRSV, for example, all correctly render it ‘come in to.’ (Note the space between the prepositions.) The idea of ‘come into’ would be expressed with είς as the independent preposition and would suggest a penetration into the person (thus, spawning the idea of entering into one’s heart). However, spatially πρό means toward, not into. In all eight instances of εισοέρχομαι πρό in the NT, the meaning is ‘come in toward/before a person’ (i.e., enter a building, house, room, etc., so as to be in the presence of someone), never penetration into the person himself/herself. In some instances, such a view would not only be absurd, but inappropriate (cf. Mark 6:25; 15:43; Luke 1:28; Acts 10:3; 11:3; 16:40; 17:2; 28:8).

What, then, is this verse is affirming? First, it is not an offering of salvation. The implications of this are manifold. Among other things, to use this text as a salvation verse is a perversion of the simplicity of the gospel. Many people have allegedly “received Christ into their hearts” without understanding what that means or what the gospel means. Although this verse is picturesque, it actually muddies the waters of the truth of salvation. Reception of Christ is a consequence, not a condition, of salvation. Second, as far as the positive meaning of this verse, it may refer to Christ having supremacy in the assembly or even to an invitation (and, consequently, a reminder) to believers to share with him in the coming kingdom. Either way, it is not a verse about salvation at all, for the Laodiceans were already saved.

Does this mean that those who have come to faith in Christ via Rev 3:20 are not saved? This answer needs some nuancing. First, if they have truly put their faith in Christ, and they understand that he alone can save them from their sins, then of course they are saved. The problem is that many people cling to the symbol but never understand the reality it is intended to represent. Hundreds of thousands of people have “invited Christ into [their] hearts,” thinking that a mystical experience is what saves them. Then, they go on their merry way, living their lives as they did before. If you were to ask them, “How do you know that you are going to heaven?” they would respond, “Because I invited Christ into my heart.” But if you probe, there is nothing beneath the shallowness of that reply. They did what someone told them to do, but never really embraced the Savior.

What then should we say when we are trying to lead someone to Christ? I think a better picture is simply what the New Testament uses as its normative word– πίστι/πιστεύω. The noun form (πίστι) can be translated ‘faith,’ ‘belief,’ or ‘trust.’ The verb can be translated ‘I believe,’ ‘I have faith,’ ‘I trust.’ In some contexts the object of belief is emphasized (namely, Christ); in other contexts, the kind of belief is emphasized (namely, a genuine trust, an embracing). Thus, πίστι has this twofold force of content and conviction. To be saved, one must have the right object of faith (content); and one must truly put his trust entirely in that object (conviction).

If it causes us some measure of panic to have to use other than Revelation 3:20 when we share the gospel, keep in mind that the earliest Christians did not have this verse. Revelation is the last book of the Bible to be written. How was it possible for Peter and Paul and James to ever see anyone get saved without this verse? They never had it! But if I read the book of Acts correctly, they had a measure of success in sharing the gospel even in spite of this handicap.

66 Responses to “Inviting Jesus into your Heart (Dan Wallace)”

  1. OMG, I’m so excited that you’ve written on this, Dan! It’s so helpful to have a careful examination of this text from the Greek…and an explanation of the context/recipients of, this call to repentance by Jesus.

    Wow, I’m listening to the radio right now and realizing that Phillip De Courcy is speaking from Rev. 3 today. Currently he’s addressing the topic of “confessing Me before men”…..the declaration of the gospel. I wonder if he’ll make it to v.20….(nope, not today)

    Anyway, I think that it’s so important for the church to re-examine the way that the gospel has been presented over the past few decades and the carnage which has (in some cases) occurred because of it, in the form of spurious conversions. R.C. Sproul has been doing an excellent series on this subject for the past few days (radio). Here are links to two of the 4-5 messages which deal with false vs. true conversion:

    My husband and I have just listened to the entire series because he was a false-convert for many years. He is still asking the question, “Was I a believer for the past 25 years or only for the past two”. This series is very helpful. My husband had gone forward at an evangelistic meeting 25 years ago and ‘prayed a prayer’ but lived a life devoid of fruit evidencing the spirit for the next 21 years.

    If you have questions about this topic DO listen to this series (Google Sproul’s website to find the rest)

  2. It seems most things that are variously represented as prerequisites for salvation actually are results of salvation. I swear I’m becomming more Calvinist every day…….

  3. Inviting Jesus into your heart is like inviting Him to come and sit in your septic tank.

    What would He want with our hearts?

    He is inviting us into His heart!

    He wants to give us His heart. That is a much better deal.

  4. “Reception of Christ is a consequence, not a condition, of salvation.”
    Dan, that’s another concept I’ve been thinking through. You are the first person I’ve ever heard make this distinction. This makes sense. Typically there is a big emphasis on ‘receiving Christ’….like it’s all up to us, when in reality I see it as having everything to do with a movement of the Holy Spirit in the life of an individual. The Holy Spirit brings about illumination and understanding so that a person CAN believe in Jesus, who he is, and the significance of his death and resurrection, AND the Holy Spirit convicts a person of their sin and rebellion against God, thus bringing a person to the point of Repentance.

    Dan, could you perhaps write another piece on Repentance? I know that you have told me that it means ‘to change one’s mind’. Is the concept of conviction of, and turning from sin also packed into that?

    If the two things necessary for salvation are belief and repentance then that should somehow be the direction of our presentation of the gospel, (right?)….and “repent!” was often spoken in the form of a strong command. How do you present this concept to a not-yet-saved person?
    How do you bring home the concept of sin and false belief about Jesus and then bring the discussion to some sort of call to repentance?….rather than “just pray this magic prayer”.
    I just would like to follow your thought processes, Dan…in action (since I know you to be one who is always available to preach the gospel to any individual whom God’s Spirit brings your way). Take me with you! I want to tag along. I want to avoid ‘canned’, truncated gospel presentations. I realize that we tweak the message a bit as we *listen* to the individual we are sharing with…but I’m always wanting to pick up on good verbiage for these conversations.

    As you know God is constantly schooling me on this subject and I still have SO much to learn!

  5. Steve, your comment made me CRACK UP!

  6. The Holy Spirit leads us to repentance, also.

    When we preach Christ, say to a person who’s just lost his job, or in the middle of a divorce, the law is already acting upon them. The law is not just, “have you ever stolen a paperclip/ have you ever told a lie”etc..

    So then a person being hammered by the law (life), can be told the good news, that Christ is FOR him/her.

    Relate how life has hammered you, and what it means to know that Christ is FOR YOU. And that Christ died for, and loves them, and forgives them all their shortcomings and in all they ways they have mishandled their relationships, and their lives.

    No decision required. The death on the cross was the decision.

    When someone places a requirement of ‘acceptance’, or a ‘decision to be made’, then they have just turned the gospel…into another law.

  7. Dr. Wallace,

    As you are probably aware there is a dispute among some in the Christian faith about the nature of salvation and repentance in the Lordship vs. Free Grace vs. somewhere in between debate. I had a discussion a few days back with someone who was obviously better educated in the original languages then me (or at least his knowledge seemed to indicate so) concerning the meaning of repentance. Since it relates to the Gospel and how we share the Gospel I am wondering if you could comment on the meaning of the Greek word used here (μετάνοια I believe).

    Thank You.

  8. Dr. Wallace,

    As I’m sure you are aware there is a debate within the Evangelical/Fundamentalist community regarding what exactly is required for salvation and what salvation looks like within in Lordship vs. Free-Grace vs. somewhere in between debate. The other day I had a discussion in the context of that debate with someone regarding the Greek word used for repentance here (μετάνοια I believe). I honestly have virtually zero knowledge of Greek myself. Since it effects the Gospel and how we share the Gospel I am wondering if you could comment on the meaning of that word.

    Thank You

  9. Thank you, Dr. Dan, for this timely post. This has been a contention of mine for along time, and I have had many conversations that have ended with me being called a “Pharisee”, and worse, for “legalistically demanding” that people do more than “ask Jesus into their hearts”.

    When we examine the Gospel, especially Matthew, we see that Jesus did not preach “receive”, but “repent”.

    And Peter, whom you mentioned, when asked by those who heard his message at pentecoost, announced to those inquiring about what they must do to be saved, said, “Repent…”

    Being an old Jarhead, the understanding of that term for me came when another old Gyrene said, “Picture it as ‘to-the-rear, march!’ You don’t just turn around, you actually advance in the opposite direction.”

    Perhaps some of the confusion has arisen from the wording of John 1:12, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.”

    Again, thank you for the scholarly examination of this doctrine that has too long given a false sense of eternal security to too many.

  10. Best I have ever been able to find is Rom 8:10; 2Cor 3:5; Col 1:27. But I am not sure the issue as Dan has described is about whether or not Christ is “in” someone, but the formula of asking Christ into our heart that becomes somewhat of a evangelical personal litergical tradition that is void of meaning and, often, unable to communicate faith.

  11. Oh, there is also Romans 8:11.

  12. Daniel B. Wallace September 23, 2010 at 6:43 pm

    Thanks, folks, for the good responses. I should point out that the Greek did not show up properly. I’ve asked Michael Patton to fix it. I appreciate the suggestions about writing a blog post on repentance. Something to think about.

  13. Good words, Dan. I’m wondering if you think we should emphasize that someone is saved after the point of baptism, not because baptism saves someone, but the commitment/trust/conviction to follow Christ seems to be made publicly at this event. It certainly was emphasized for that reason in the NT (I’m thinking in Acts specifically), although it is not necessary, since one can trust in Christ without the event, as we see in Acts 10:44-48 (cf. however, that Peter urges them to be baptized right away); but it may be that the early Church saw this event as the time in which the commitment took place. Before that, one might have the type of faith in content that is gained from a supernatural experience with Christ, but does not necessarily have salvation until the commitment is made. I think the Fathers may have seen it this way, and perhaps the Reformers as well. Augustine himself has a religious experience that he views as being from the Spirit, but doesn’t seem to talk about himself as being saved until he commits himself to Christ at his baptism event. In other words, I’m wondering if our quick proclamation that someone is saved because they had an experience or prayed a prayer may run counter to that of the NT and the Church throughout the ages (perhaps it’s more puritanical or rooted in mysticism to some degree)?

  14. I have been noticing more and more that while Jesus often said “believe in me,” he was also pretty fond of “follow me,” which carries somewhat different implications.

  15. “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” Matt. 10:37-38

    I heard MacArthur say recently, (as a somewhat tounge-in-cheek dare) that if we added that passage to our alter calls maybe there wouldn’t be so many false conversions.

  16. For me, Rev 3:20 was important (along with Eph 2:8-9) in my own conversion. I was raised Roman Catholic and visually reminded often that Jesus was still on the cross. In reflecting back, Rev. 3:20 really underscored the resurrection of Jesus which is an important part of the gospel preached in the book of Acts.

  17. Hmm that was weird my post didn’t show up the first time so I rewrote it and now both showed up – oh well.

  18. Michael, same thing happened to me when I posted that silly little chart on another thread. I just wanted to see if it would work to cut n paste it, then I was going to delete it…..but it didn’t show up till much later…too late to delete!

  19. LOVED the article!! And some of the comments were almost as good as the article. I am passing the article along…thank you! Really appreciate this blog.

  20. Daniel B. Wallace September 24, 2010 at 12:36 am

    Hodge, you raise an interesting question about assurance of salvation—whether we should offer it to someone at the point at which they believe or only after they are baptized. On the one hand, the pattern we see in the NT is that people were baptized immediately after they put their faith in Christ. There was no catechism class, no new members class, no “I need to make sure that you are truly saved before I baptize you” class. And the Great Commission places baptism before teaching. We tend to turn this around nowadays. I believe that baptism is a means of sanctifying grace, which implies that we should encourage those who profess faith in Christ to get baptized as soon as they can.

    On the other hand, WE can’t give anyone assurance of salvation any way. I don’t know if you’re saved, or even if Michael Patton is saved. I only know my own heart, and often not even that very well (since I do such evil things and think such perverse thoughts that surprise even me!). Assurance of salvation is not a third party affair. All we can do is say, “If you have truly trusted in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and believe that God raised him from the deaad…, then you can have assurance of salvation.” But I see no reason to withhold this information from a new convert until he or she is baptized. Instead, I would encourage such a person to get baptized as soon as possible, so as to make his/her confession a public matter, seen by witnesses.

  21. Thanks Dan. That leads me to another question along the same lines then. If baptism is an act of sanctification rather than the event where one exercises faith (conviction faith in your article above, what I would call commitment or covenant faith) as a result of a religious experience (i.e., the HS drawing men to see the truth in what is said in the gospel), would you then see the baptism in Acts 2:38 as something reflective of one who is already saved? In other words, would you say, as it seems commonly held, that eis here is “in view of” salvation, and what would you say to someone who sees eis as that which works toward an ultimate end or goal? I think I remember you addressing this in your grammar, but I must confess I’m too lazy to get up and walk across the room to check it. ;)

  22. Daniel B. Wallace September 24, 2010 at 2:09 am

    Hodge, I think you’re thinking of Acts 2.38, not 2.24. And, yes, I do address it in my grammar–and I’m too lazy to get it and paste in the discussion!

  23. Michael T and Susan, sometimes and quite randomly, comments fall into the spam queue. Every so often I go fishing them out, which is why you all’s comments suddenly resurrected. The fact that it does this randomly to regular posters is a mystery, at least to me anyway.

  24. Dan,

    You are obviously correct about Rev. 3:20 not being a soteriological passage. However, I note that you avoided the question of lordship salvation.

    You say : If you have truly trusted in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and believe that God raised him from the dead…, then you can have assurance of salvation. The key word in your statement is truly . This, in my experience, is what caused many introspective people trouble. They often wondered if they truly trusted Christ. Perhaps their level of faith, being imperfect as everyone’s is, was somehow not true. Thus, many people struggle with the assurance of their salvation and feel the need to trust Christ again and this time really mean it. Of course, this brings up another issue that you did not address and that is the so-called “sinner’s prayer.” Must a person pray in order to be saved?

  25. Dan,

    Do you think that in Rev 3:20 Jesus could be speaking to the professing church, not the true church. Much like when he addressed Israel, he addressed believing Israel and the huge majority that were unbelievers. He still called them Israel and loved them, yet they did not have faith. He often called them to repent because of his great love for them. It seems we may be seeing something similar in Revelation. He addresses the true church but also a church that claims to be his, but really is not. He callsthem to repentance. They know the facts and outwardly appear to belong to him, but do not. What do you think?

  26. I see, Lisa. In the case of that last little one you fished out for me I’d have to say that it belonged in the spam file, but thanks.
    In fact, it would be great if God would always send my worst comments to ‘spam’ You then, could be my own personal ‘spam editor’! Fix-um or delete-um. And, just be thankful you’re not as lazy as those guys…..

  27. Your post is an important reminder to me of the importance of understanding scripture in context and not misusing scripture to present something that it isn’t teaching. This is the essence of what false teachers and false prophets so often do.

    “What then should we say when we are trying to lead someone to Christ?”

    I have listed the short quotation from your blog post above because it is one of many Christian sayings we so casually use. I doubt that this is something we actually do; lead someone to Christ. Rather, I suspect Christ draws someone to Himself and may use our faithful presentation of His word to accomplish that.

  28. Susan, that’s the problem. Sometimes they go in because the commentor has decided to delete the comment. Sometimes they go in arbitrarily. I suppose with more time and less attention to other things on my plate, I might be better at discerning which is which and fix everything up ;) But for now, please forgive the oversight.

  29. “And, yes, I do address it in my grammar–and I’m too lazy to get it and paste in the discussion!”

    LOL. touche. :)

  30. Well I will do you one better, I actually pulled out the grammar and opened to the page in the prepositions section where Acts 2:38 was discussed, but then was too lazy to read it :)

    See Susan, I get lazy too ;)

  31. Ha! Yeah, but you got off your butt ;-) (or did you?)
    I guess I can forgive you, this time. I suppose, if you start fixing my comments I too might get lazy!

  32. Ken wrote: “Of course, this brings up another issue that you did not address and that is the so-called “sinner’s prayer.” Must a person pray in order to be saved?”

    A couple of years ago during a rather moving Sunday evening service, a young man (late teens) pulled me aside, concerned that he had never “prayed the prayer of faith.” This got me to thinking a lot about this issue. I’ve pretty much come to the conclusion that it’s not whether you have “asked Jesus into your heart” or said a prayer with certain words, but it comes down to this:

    Do you believe that Jesus died to take the punishment your sins deserved, that He rose again victorious to give eternal life, and are you trusting in Him and His work as opposed to your own efforts to reach God, with the consequent life-change (because your desires change as a new creation)?

  33. I was discussing this very issue with a pastor in the States via And I sent him Dr. Wallace’s similar post on, and the pastor said that he does not agree with Dan Wallace. If one does not agree with a humble scholar, I do not know what to say!

  34. I was discussing this very issue in regard to my 9 y/o son’s upcoming baptism. I’ve always avoided the “invite Jesus in your heart” expression, though I’ve heard it from other young people.


    “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.” (John 14:19-20)

    I frequently see verses misused in terms of what they are saying, but in such a way that is saying something that is validly expressed elsewhere. A Christian is both in Christ, and if we believe what Jesus says, He is in the Christian.

    So to come to faith is to come to be in Him and Him in you. Praying for forgiveness and to welcome this kind of relationship with Christ, well, the expression “inviting Jesus into your heart” is ultimately not all that far out of things.

    As for the spacial aspects of eiserchomai pro, of course, in the way this is thought of, the door is “the door of your heart.” So the fact that it does not indicate coming into the person him/herself rather than into a room where the person is may not be as decisive as all that.

    So the point is, yeah, it’s misusing the text, and results in a substandard expression of trusting in the good news, but it stays close enough in bounds of salvation imagery elsewhere that it is not overly noxious.

  35. I once heard the Director at Joshua Wilderness Institute, Rich Ferreira, give a short seminar, sampling one of the programs in the institute called “Viewing the Bible With a Middle Eastern Mindset.”

    He began by showing us a common picture of the Ten Commandments, 5 on one half, 5 on the other. No one could guess what a Middle Eastern Christian would find wrong with the image. Ferreira explained that a)the tablets were written on both sides–front and back–as clearly noted in Exodus 32, and b)I quote from a website: “the full Ten Commandments was replicated on two duplicate tablets. This would follow the Hittite tradition of making two copies of each treaty: one for the Hittite king and the other for the vassals.”

    Basically, God was saying “Here are two copies of our covenant–take yours, and because you mean a lot to me, take my copy, too (and put it in the ark of the covenant)”.

    Up until Jesus time, a priest had to enter The Most Holy Place and sprinkle blood and whatnot to make sacrifice to God. Now, I’m just saying what Ferreira told us, to see what you guys think. He said that a common misconception people believe is that when Jesus died and the curtain was torn, it was so that anyone could go to God. He said that really, it is not we who now go to God, but God is released from the curtain and now He can dwell in his people.

    He tied this back to Moses. All God has ever wanted to do is dwell with his people; He gave Moses his special copy to be in the ark of the covenant. Now, Jesus has died, and God can come dwell among us when we believe.

    He said he believed that God is in us in a very real way–to the point that if a Christian is around a non-Christian, the non-Christian is around God at that moment because God dwells in the Christian.

    What do you guys think?

  36. Daniel B. Wallace September 24, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    Folks, thanks for the excellent dialogue, questions, comments, etc. I’m getting ready to go speak at the first-ever Accordance Seminar in Mesquite, TX, so have to be brief.

    Ken, the reason I use the word ‘truly’ is not to emphasize how much faith a person has but to indicate that only genuine faith saves. This, in my view, implies a work of the Spirit. The parable of the sower is programmatic here: although three seeds are said to respond, only one is said to understand and be productive. John 15 is similar: only the branch that bears fruit is ‘in me.’ I recently gave a message at Voyagers Church in Irvine, CA on Romans 3.21-26 (called “The Divine Electrolux”). If you have a chance, you might want to listen to it, since it addresses the issue of how much faith is enough to be saved. It’s at feed://

    MarK, I can’t agree with you on this text. The specific use of phileo, followed by the inferential oun, leads me to believe that the Laodiceans are, to a large degree a group of genuine believers but are not living for the Lord as they should. Nowhere else is phileo used in the NT to speak of God’s or Christ’s love for unbelievers.

    Marv, I appreciate your point, but I have to disagree to a certain extent. Yes, the NT plainly teaches that Christ indwells the believer. But it does not happen because the sinner asks Jesus into his heart; it happens because the sinner puts his faith in Jesus. And even though there are texts that speak of Christ in us, Rev 3.20 is not one of them. To imply that ‘heart’ is in view and these are unbelievers is to distort the meaning of the passage.

  37. Jordan,

    If I understand you correctly, I think you are making a categorical error by assigning the reception of the indwelling Holy Spirit with the reception of Christ in our heart. The Holy Spirit indwells the believer upon conversion and baptizes the believer into the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13). The Holy Spirit marks the believer as God’s own possession (Romans 8:9) and bears witness to the testimony of Christ (John 16:13-14). So in a sense, the Holy Spirit is received by the believer but that should not be construed as receiving Christ as the means of justification. Rather, it is achieved because of justification, which is generated by belief in Christ as Dr. Wallace notes in his comment above.

  38. Daniel B Wallace, I know the youth pastor, Joey, at Voyagers. Not sure if you do, but interesting that we share similar location.

    Is it too fine of a distinction to say Christ dwells within a person not because they asked but because they put faith in Jesus? It seems to me that this stuff is occuring more at once and that temporal priority isn’t really that big of a priority. We have been justified and now Christ comes into us…Christ comes into us to justify us. Perhaps it best not to take the mystery away from this. And regarding the septic tank comment, remember that whatever Jesus touches becomes clean, and He surely got some weird looks when he went around cleansing lepers. Ultimately this isn’t what was presented in the original post though.

    Lisa, I see what you are saying. Perhaps he did not distinguish clearly. I was reading Brother Lawrence and he talks about drawing inward to speak with God…connecting with God who is in him. If one member of the trinity is in us, is not the whole God being in us (therefore Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are in us)? If we pray for the Holy Spirit to be in us and we sing the lyrics “Christ in me, the hope of glory” and not limiting the Father to have His place, it doesn’t seem too far off to me to say in a general sense that God dwells in his people.

  39. If one member of the trinity is in us, is not the whole God being in us (therefore Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are in us)? If we pray for the Holy Spirit to be in us and we sing the lyrics “Christ in me, the hope of glory” and not limiting the Father to have His place, it doesn’t seem too far off to me to say in a general sense that God dwells in his people.

    Yes and no. To be sure, if God is one in essence but distinct in persons, then God the Holy Spirit does indeed dwell within believers. But you are not accounting for the functional differences assigned to each person of the Trinity. Even though Romans 8:9 uses Spirit of God and Spirit of Christ interchangeably, it does not negate the fact that the Spirit serves a specific function in relation to God the Father and God the Son, which can be identified in John 16:13-15, for example. The functional difference can also be identified in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. Did the Father or the Spirit die and resurrect? No.

    So the function of the Spirit is to convey the command of the Father through the testimony of Christ. He makes the believer alive and equips the believer to respond to the father appropriately because of the believer’s position in Christ, which the Spirit affects. In a sense, God dwells within his people through his Spirit, which is equal in essence but not identical in purpose. But I don’t think we can say that inviting God the Son into our hearts is the same thing as inviting residence of the Holy Spirit, which is an automatic occurrence upon belief in the Son.

    Also, I don’t believe scripture ever tells one that they must ask for the Holy Spirit as a means of salvation. The only exception is in Acts 19:2, a tricky passage to be sure. But here Paul is equating reception of the Holy Spirit with belief in Christ and this group were most likely not believers (although I know there is debate on that).

  40. Makes good sense, that each has a different function. Just to clear up, you don’t think it’s heresy to sing “Christ in me”? Or else I would have to apologize for playing that song haha.

    Not to limit the entire function of each member, but to continue wrestling with this “in me” idea…if Christ can be in us, and if the Holy Spirit can be us, can the Father serve a purpose as designated by the Bible IN US?

  41. Jordan, I see in Colossians 1:27, John 15:5 and Romans 8:9 that it is not inconsistent to say Christ in me. The issue though is what does that mean. Isn’t it that Christ is taking up residence through the Spirit? Again, I don’t think that suggests that because Christ takes up residency in the believer through the Spirit, that it is accomplished through an invitation for Jesus to come into one’s heart. Rather Christ takes up residency through belief in Him by the work of the Spirit.

  42. Daniel B. Wallace September 25, 2010 at 12:36 am

    Lisa, you are articulating things better than I could. I appreciate your solid theological thinking. And Jordan, I appreciate your questions and probings.

    I’ll comment on one thing as an entrée into a larger discussion. Jordan, you said, “We have been justified and now Christ comes into us…Christ comes into us to justify us.” I’m not so sure I would agree with the second proposition. I know that some good and godly scholars do think so. But as I see it, justification is logically prior to indwelling. Significantly, Paul’s letter to the Romans—which comes as close to a treatise on soteriology as we have in scripture—speaks of justification (3.21-26) immediately after addressing our sin (1.18-3.20). The “in Christ” language is developed later. Paul first speaks of our redemption as being in Christ (Rom 3.24), then, when he launches into a discussion of sanctification, he says that we should consider ourselves to be “alive to God in Christ Jesus” (6.11). Is this saying that we are in Christ? Not very clearly. Paul summarizes his argument in 6.23—“the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus.”

    The first time in which Paul speaks unequivocally of believers being in Christ in Rom 8.1—“there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” It seems that Paul is saying that if we are in Christ we are not under condemnation. This does not mean that being in Christ comes first, just that being in Christ is the reality which guarantees no condemnation.

    What is at stake is part of what theologians call the ordo salutis—that is, the logical order in the steps of salvation. Perhaps the major question along these lines is this: Which comes first, conversion (our believing the gospel) or regeneration (God’s making us alive)? I would personally argue that these events are simultaneous temporally but that there is a logical priority involved. And again I insist, to ask Jesus into one’s heart muddies the clarity of the…

  43. Dan, I posted this article on Dan Kimball’s fb wall. I know that he’s been giving some thought to reevaluating the presentation of the gospel message, wanting to avoid some common mistakes of the past, so I thought he’s appreciate this one. His response:

    Dan wrote:
    “Hey Susan! Just read it. Very good article!! I always love reading anything Dan W. writes.”

    I’ll let him know your sequel: *Repentance* is coming, and I’ll be sure to send it ;-)

    Lisa, I just arrived home from celebrating mom’s b-day….was reading through comments in my inbox thinking, I’d post a comment to you: “Gosh, Lisa, you in seminary or something?!”
    ….but I see that the master teacher has taken note (!)

  44. The Book of Revelation Chapters 2 & 3 deal with the church ages, from the time of Paul, the angel (messenger) to Ephesus (dealing with the Gentile Christian Eras) to our Age (Laodicea). Wherein Acts 15:14 is being carried out, (a Bride of Christ) through out the ages.
    If you will notice, He deals with two type of people within those ages, complement and rebuke. He deals with both of them as one since they have identified themselves with Christ (Christianity), but they are the wheat and tares in the field of the Christian world. Throughout the ages Christ is walking among them, but in the Laodicean church age they put him out. (Since He IS the Word, they replaced HIM (Word) for there own Gospel. Carrying out Isa.4:1, wherein seven women (church ages) take a hold of Christ, but desire to do their own thing, but would like to be labeled ‘Christians’ so they wouldn’t be seen as something else then Christian.
    In this age, He is ousted out of His Own Church, and is now knocking and calling to individuals to have someone hear HIS Voice. Only His sheep will hear, and they will eat and dine upon His Doctrine, for their age.

  45. This post is definitely one worth sharing. It seems like Rev. 3:20 has become a sort of old faithful when explaining to non-believers how to believe. And yet as you explain the context of the verse stands in opposition to how the verse is used in modern times. Great post!

  46. Daniel B. Wallace September 27, 2010 at 11:11 pm

    John, the church age view of Revelation 2-3 is certainly a minority view among exegetes. I am aware of only one professor who actually holds to it. One of the biggest problems with it is simply that no matter how people have tried to construct church history, the seven ages never seem to fit. They have to procrusteanize these chapters into church history! Another major problem is that this view would be meaningless to anyone in the first century–in fact, meaningless to anyone until the ‘Laodicean’ age. I would have to reject it as thoroughly implausible.

  47. Fantastic explanation, and strangely coincidental, as I posted along very similar lines yesterday before I had seen this. Thank you so much for sharing these clarifying insights.

  48. Two problems Mormonism for me 1) object of path is to become God which is absurd. Best Christians can do is try to live Christ-like.
    2)Proposed history of North America is profoundly illusionary with regard to all recorded history. OT and Acts are not fiction except Creation/Adam Eve, Jonah, and Noah. I think anyone that quotes Revelation in any debate ought to consider that its author obviously ate too many mushrooms or peyote and its inclusion as part of canon is just as crazy as well.


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