Revelation 3:20… A verse very often used in a personal evangelism settings (attempting to lead someone to respond in faith to Jesus Christ for the first time and “open their heart” to Him) or during an “invitation,” or an “altar call” in an evangelical church (inviting individuals who sense the Holy Spirit “convicting” them of sin or “convincing” them of their need of a Savior to “open their heart” to Christ, who is “knocking at their heart’s door” and desires to come in).
In both cases, although sincere, these are a misapplication of the verse…
Here is the verse… “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 (“sup” – KJV) with him, and he with me.”
The first thing to pay attention to in interpreting Scripture is “context, context, context!” Note, first of all, that this is part of Christ’s appeal to a local church, the “church” in Laodecia, located in ancient Asia Minor, and the “Christians” within it. They exhibited “works” but they were smug and self-satisfied – they were “lukewarm, neither hot nor cold” (read it for yourself in Revelation 3:14-22) They felt comfortable in their financial success. Their self-satisfaction blinded them to their true spiritual backsliding and decline (they did not realize they were actually “wretched, pitiable, poor, blind and naked!”) They needed help to see their true spiritual condition! This local church and the believers in it desperately needed something we call “REVIVAL!” Repentance was in order! And that brings us to our verse… Revelation 3:20
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock! If anyone hears my voice and opens the door…”
The Lord desperately longed for renewed, intimate, fellowship with them! He wanted to fill their gatherings and their hearts personally with the warm, profound sense of His presence! He wanted to be present at their “love feasts” (i.e. their communion services). He wanted their gatherings to once again be marked with a wonderful sense of His glorious presence… like a delightful Thanksgiving meal when everyone is gathered together and He, the Lord, the head of the spiritual family, is among them!
Oh, I know… It’s fine to use its imagery for evangelism and an invitation – Jesus standing at the door of our hearts, knocking, is a powerful image! But I think more churches (and the professing Christians than make them up) need to respond to its original meaning and application, don’t you?