Wrong Understanding of Revelation 3:20

Revelation 3 20 most of the timeMany of us have grown up in churches where the Pastor/ Evangelist would quote

Revelation 3:20: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.”

and say that Jesus is on the other side of the door and waiting for us to open the door and Jesus would save us.

Jesus is not a jilted suitor shut out in the cold by those who reject Him. As Paul Washer once said, “If He wants to kick the door down, He’ll kick it down.” Additionally, the door does not represent the hearts of all people but rather the particular church that Christ’s message was aimed at. John MacArthur rightly points out:

Though this verse has been used in countless tracts and evangelistic messages to depict Christ’s knocking on the door of the sinner’s heart, it is broader than that. The door on which Christ is knocking is not the door to a single human heart, but to the Laodicean church. Christ was outside this apostate church and wanted to come in—something that could only happen if the people repented. . . . The Lord Jesus Christ urged them to repent and have fellowship with Him before the night of judgment fell and it was too late forever. [1]

Not only is Jesus not waiting at the doorstep of your soul, He is also not waiting for you to offer an invitation, or even respond to His invitation. The language of Scripture is that of compulsion. Paul preached, “God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent” (Acts 17:30). When the apostles preached the gospel their messages ended with the strong commands to repent and believe (Acts 2:38; 3:19).

Finally, while it is true that Jesus promises to reside in believers (John 15:4), a drastic change must happen before that can take place. The unbelieving heart is dead, hard, and cold to spiritual things. Before Christ can reside in one’s heart through the Spirit, He has to exchange the heart of stone for a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26).

When you stop to think about it, asking Jesus into your heart goes against the nature of the gospel, and begins one’s new spiritual life with a poor understanding of what has just occurred.

Who Needs Acceptance?

The sloppiness of modern evangelistic clichés is also painfully evident in the phrase “accepting Jesus as your personal Savior.” A brief moment of reflection should be all that’s needed to identify the problem. On the day of judgment, it is we who will need Christ’s acceptance. To say that we accept Christ dangerously assumes that we sit in judgment and Christ stands on trial.

Our evangelistic terminology needs to reflect the knowledge of our proper place with respect to Christ when it comes to gaining His acceptance. Jesus clarifies who needs to accept whom when He says,

Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name cast out demons, and in your name perform many miracles?” And then will I declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.” (Matthew 7:21-23)

There is an eternal difference between you accepting Christ and Christ accepting you. I’ve often argued that the thief on the cross was a very good theologian because he had no trouble recognizing who needed whose acceptance. Perhaps, like me, you bought into the cliché without thinking it through. Whatever the case, it’s always dangerous to assume that Christian slogans equate with biblical truth.

We need to get a better understanding of the Scripture when it comes to salvation.



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