We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum. A.W. Tozer
Therefore let God-inspired Scripture decide between us; and on whichever side be found doctrines in harmony with the word of God, in favor of that side will be cast the vote of truth. --Basil of Caesarea
Once you learn to discern, there's no going back. You will begin to spot the lie everywhere it appears.

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service. 1 Timothy 1:12

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Revelation 3:20 Is NOT About Evangelism

The risen Lord says, "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."  I sometimes think that there is no single statement of Scripture which is more frequently misunderstood, and more misused and abused, than that particular statement.  It is taken almost invariably in an evangelistic sense.  Christ is depicted as standing outside the shut door of the sinner's heart, and as entreating the sinner to give Him admittance and to receive Him into his heart.  But that is a completely false interpretation of Revelation 3:20.  The letter to the Laodiceans is, of course, a letter to a church; it is "what the Spirit saith to the churches."  Its words are not addressed to unbelievers, but to those who are already Christians and within the Christian Church.  The whole of chapters 2 and 3 of the Book of Revelation, we must always remember, are addressed to Christian people, to believing people, to people who have already believed on the Lord Jesus Christ and who are joined to Him, who are in Him and He in them.  And yet the message of the knocking at a closed door is addressed to them, in particular to the Church of the Laodiceans.  They were Christian people; but they were in a bad condition, "neither hot nor cold"; they thought that they were rich and had everything, whereas in reality they were poor, and naked, and blind, and empty.  It is to such Christians that our Lord says, "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."

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The Unsearchable Riches of Christ: An Exposition of Ephesians 3, p.144-145


Ron Livesay said...

Misuse of Revelation 3:20 is the most likely source of the concept of "let Jesus come into your heart" or "invite Christ into your life." Whatever happened to "turn from your sin to Christ and trust His finished work as the basis of your salvation?"

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

That's sort of what he is saying here, that it became an evangelistic sense. He addresses that aspect even more in his quote in my previous day's post.

I agree, it is a nonsensical idea.

castiron said...

I was fortunate to have a very good pastor in my teen years, who often pointed this very misunderstanding out. I also love the book of Revelations. I truly love the first 3 chapters, there is so much there for Christians to glean from.

My mom had one of those 3-D pictures of Jesus knocking on the door, very popular in the 70's, in our living room. I'm sure she felt it meant opening our hearts to Jesus but I always saw it as a church who had closed the door to Jesus, with much sadness. Maybe that's why I'm so critical of the churches I've known these days.

David Mills said...

May I take exception to this post by asking two questions? Why do interpreters such as yourself believe that all the members of this church were converted? Is it not possible, in light of v. 17, that some of these were lost?

Glenn E. Chatfield said...


Well, there is no reason, without reading INTO the text, to suppose they weren't true believers. I know people who are real believers but are neither hot nor cold towards their faith. These can very well be people who are believers in varying degrees of maturity, with the discipline of Christ now being held over their heads.

The whole point is that this passage is NOT a passage about evangelism, as has become the popular teaching.