Christianity 201

May 1, 2019

Emerging as Solid Gold

NIV.1Peter.17 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

NIV.Rev.3.14 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:

These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. 15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.”

One of the longest running sources for material we’ve used here at Christianity 201 has been John Fischer who writes at The Catch. Today’s blog post is actually by his wife Marti who has been experiencing some health challenges lately. I ask you to join with us in praying for her. (More details on the blog; click the link in this paragraph.) Otherwise click the title below to read this piece, with an introduction from John that’s not seen here.

Guaranteed Gold

by Marti Fischer

One of the more important messages for us today as believers can be found in the words of Jesus to the seven churches that take up the first few chapters of the book of Revelation. They are words of warning and instruction.

One of the churches, the one in Laodicea, Jesus describes as being “warm,” meaning comfortable — a comfortable state of mind with false securities. And Jesus warns that since these believers are neither hot nor cold, He will “spew” them out of His mouth. What a harsh description of rejection and abandonment.

Jesus goes on to explain why He says this. He is basically saying this body thinks it doesn’t need Him. They are doing just find on their own.  These people are lukewarm and very comfortable in their walk with the Lord. They have food to eat, places to stay, and clothes to wear. Life is good. And Jesus says that their thinking is a lie. He says the truth is that these people are wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked. They are people who think they are doing good in their own lives and for the Lord.  Jesus says they have it all backwards.

Jesus goes on to make a few recommendations for these Laodicean believers:  I counsel you to be gold tried in the fire.”  And then He offers them a new outfit. They will no longer be living in the shame of their nakedness … and then, He says, they will be able to see.

I thought to myself, “Hurray! At last. Jesus is encouraging prosperity thinking. I am going to be gold.  I always wanted to believe in prosperity. I love pretty things. Too bad for me — He is not talking about having the financial means to have what it takes to buy lots of gold. He is talking about gold as referenced in 1 Peter 1:7 — a faith being more precious than gold that is tried with fire. Jesus is telling us He wants to make our faith perfect – tried by the fire of trials – the faith that is far more precious than gold. For this reason, He warns us not to seek what makes us comfortable.  Rather He suggests that those He loves He corrects and causes suffering; anything to make us pursue Him and His desire to purify our faith. He will do just about anything to get us out of our comfort zone.

Jesus then tells us that He is at the door knocking (He’s been there all along), and if we open the door, he will come in and sit down to dinner with us. You might remember He did this with the disciples and at that dinner he also told the disciples that they, too, would indeed drink from His cup — the cup of suffering and death Jesus was ordained to drink from.  Soon thereafter, Jesus was begging the Father to take that very cup from Him, “but either way your will not mine be done.” This is a beautiful demonstration of Jesus relating to the most horrific moments in our lives, when we ask the Lord to remove us from a situation and deliver us from having to walk through troubles and pain, and instead, He asks to submit to His will and not the will we would prefer to hold so closely to our chest. His will is to follow Jesus Christ, which is the complete opposite of our comfort driven will.

He ends this message by delivering a promise to those in this church who “overcome” comfort to follow His will. The promise is knowing Him and believing with the kind of evidence that moves mountains in not only our lives but in the lives of many others … and there’s nothing comfortable about that.

So like the Laodiceans, Jesus wants us to wake up.  We are insisting on making ourselves comfortable and warm (the kind of warm that is like a dog peeing on your leg). We are not hot or even cold.

We have many Catch Citizens [Ed. note: readers of their blog] who are affected and suffering from very difficult circumstances that are causing their hearts to cry out to God.  They do not know why. Did they do something wrong? They are seeking His presence, wanting to receive His revelation and understand what on earth He is up to.

And for those of us Laodiceans who are stepping out of our places of comfort on a daily basis, they are asking us to pray with them as we both seek His strength, His  truth — the truth that can only be known when He opens our eyes and causes us to surrender to Him and all of His ways that our minds can’t grasp.  No longer warm, we are very hot indeed.


NIV.Rev.3.20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.

 

 

July 7, 2013

If Anyone Hears My Voice

Revelation 3 20In looking at Revelation 3:20 yesterday, we stumbled on a blog that offered insights on the passage we wanted to share here in full. We don’t normally spend two days on one verse, but I really appreciated this analysis. This is from the blog Gulf Coast Pastor and appeared in 2011 under the title Revelation 3:20 – Can We Use It In Evangelism?

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

Some say this verse should never be used to lead someone to the Lord because it was written to a church, not to lost people. Some go so far as to ridicule the ignorance of anyone who would use it in evangelism.

In contrast, many, many Baptist and Christian preachers of the Gospel have preached this verse to not only the saved, but also to the lost. Many a lost soul has been won to the Lord through this passage of Scripture.

It is granted that the verse is primarily written to the church at Laodicea. It is also granted that this verse alone does not present the gospel or the plan of salvation in its totality. (You could even argue that about John 3:16; after all it says nothing about the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.)

The plan of salvation includes our sin and separation from God, God’s holiness, His love, Jesus’ death on the cross for our sins, His blood being shed for us, and his literal resurrection from the dead. We are to ask forgiveness for our sins. We are to believe and accept Jesus as our Lord (Boss, Master) and Savior. (1 Corinthians 15:1-4; Romans 3:23; 6:23; 5:8; 10:9-10, 13; John 1:12; 3:16; 5:24)

But when the full plan of salvation is presented, Revelation 3:20 is valid to use in explaining the biblical concept of accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

I and many before me believe Revelation 3:20 is valid to use in evangelism because:

1. We can go too far in saying this verse is not for you. All of the Bible is written as God’s love letter to mankind.

I know you can also go too far the other way; but here I do not think that is the case. For example, Romans is addressed to the saints (Romans 1:7-8). Does anyone argue that because of this the Roman Road verses cannot be used for evangelism? If they so argue, they are wrong.

2. Jesus’ words in Revelation 3:20 are valid for a saved person. They are also valid for a lost person.

3. Jesus’ words in Revelation 3:20 illustrate Jesus’ attitude toward a lost person and what the person must do to be saved. This can be shown from many Bible passages.

Does a lost person have to do something to be saved? Yes. Jesus wholly accomplished the work of salvation. But a man must respond, must believe, must call on the name of the Lord, must reach out and receive the gift of God. (John 1:12; Romans 10:9-10, 13; John 3:16; Acts 16:30-31; etc.) In other words, a man must open the door of his heart and invite Jesus in.

A number of verses reveal that when we are saved Jesus comes to live in our hearts. Other verses refer to the Holy Spirit living within us.  Ephesians 3:17; Colossians 1:27; 2 Corinthians 1:22; Galatians 4:6; 2 Peter 1:19; John 7:38; etc. (also, our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit).

4. Revelation 3:20 is given to whoever will take it. Notice Jesus’ use of the word, “anyone.” That includes the saved and the lost, all the world.

5. Just as today, the church at Laodicea would have included unsaved visitors and unsaved members (Jesus even had an unsaved disciple!)*; especially a lukewarm church like Laodicea.

Jesus would certainly have known this and included them in His invitation. Just as pastors today include the saved and the lost in the public invitation they give in their church.

If Revelation 3:20 cannot be used for the lost because it was given to a church, then it would be invalid for pastors today to give a salvation invitation in church. After all, if they are in church, they surely must all be saved!

6. It could even be argued that Jesus knocking at the door and us inviting Him in is more valid for a lost person that for a saved person.

A person is welcome to disagree and use their own verses in evangelism. But those who use this verse in evangelism are not doing so out of ignorance.

David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, October 4, AD 2011.

*  Of course, every member of a Baptist church should be a believer.  The requirements to be a member of a Baptist church are usually two:  You have personally received Christ as your Savior, and you have subsequently been Scripturally baptized (Beleiver’s Baptism by Immersion).  But we all know there are those who have made an outward profession of faith without meaning it in their hearts.

Saved By The Sinner’s Prayer
The Roman Road of Salvation
Unlimited Atonement, Jesus Died For All

July 6, 2013

Knockin’ On The Door of Your Heart

Revelation 3 20Revelation 3:20 — “Behold I stand at the door and knock…” — is a well-known verse that is often used in evangelistic presentations to urge the hearer to respond to God. While there’s nothing wrong with this interpretation and usage, it doesn’t exactly fit the context.  But we’ll deal with that more tomorrow…

The context of course is the 7th of the seven letters that begin the book of Revelation, this one to the church at Laodicia, “…the last and worst of all the seven Asian churches, the reverse of the church of Philadelphia; for, as there was nothing reproved in that, here is nothing commended…” (Matthew Henry)

We’ve written about the earlier verses in this section that inspired the Brian Doerksen song, Light the Fire Again; shown here:

(NIV) Rev 3:17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.

There is judgement in verse 16:

 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.

And also in verse 19:

 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent.

And yet then in verse 20, there is the offer of grace, but not only grace, but the intimacy of a shared meal; one of the highest forms of community among friends in an eastern culture:

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.

And then a promise of greater reward in verse 21:

To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne.

The blog Brandon Devotional gets at the heart of where the dinner with the Lord might take place:

The hospitality of a host towards their guests in the past showed a lot more reverence than it frequently does today. In fact, guests were treated as royalty in accordance with the host’s means. By honoring He who dines with us, and developing a relationship, in faith, with Him, then He is not only invited to our table, but we are invited to His! How much more are the Lord’s means than that of man, and if Christ treats His guests as royalty, the meal He serves to His friends will be immeasurable by anything the world has to offer.

The blogger at Father I Love You finds a parallel between Revelation 3:20 and Jesus’ meeting with Zacchaeus.

He looked up to Zacchaeus and hurried him to come down as He wanted to stay in his house. This is a reward Jesus gave to Zacchaeus for the effort that was taken. No one in the crowd got this reward. Zacchaeus hurried down and welcomed Him. Here is were Zacchaeus opened the door of his heart on hearing Jesus voice.

There is a beautiful commentary on this verse at the blog of the Deaf Church in New Orleans, titled The Curse of Moderate Christianity:

Sometime we argue about whether or not to use Revelation 3:20 when we lead people to Christ. I think it is a beautiful picture of Christ coming again and again to the human heart. He comes, he knocks, he calls for us, and then he waits for our response. Many of you have seen the famous painting by Holman Hunt in which Christ stands at the door of an English cottage. All seems normal until you realize that there is no doorknob on the outside.

The door must be opened from within.

So it is for all of us all the time. Christ comes to us again and again and says, “I want to spend time with you.“ He calls to us. Then he waits for our response.

For those who open the door, Christ comes in and makes himself at home. I find great hope here for every Christian who feels far from the Lord. In a sense this final invitation speaks to all seven of the churches of Revelation 2-3, and thus it speaks to all Christians, everywhere, all the time.

Christ still stands at the door and knocks.
He waits for you to come and open the door.

But one blogger violently disagrees with the idea of using this verse in evangelism.  At the blog Daniel’s Place:

It can be seen immediately that there is a problem with applying this verse to the context of salvation and the Gospel call, not the least is which the contexts are different. The biblical context is towards people in the Visible Church as opposed to unbelievers, corporate as opposed to individual, and the call is to return back to their professed faith as opposed to calling unbelievers to repentance and faith. Such a major difference immediately invalidates such an application as committing a case of eisegesis. And pragmatism is no substitute for fidelity to the Word of God. There is no mitigating factor for misquoting the verse even if it somehow works, as if we have the power to convert anyone in the first place.

In fact, dare I say it, but that the application of this verse to evangelism actually demeans Christ. It reduces our sovereign Lord to be the helpless and often rejected beggar always so “meekly” knocking on everyone’s doors, and most of them will reject Him anyway. It dethrones God and elevates Man, as if Man is the center of all things. Such an Arminian methodology compromises the person of Christ and the Godhead, and therefore dishonors the Lord we claim to worship.

Personally, I think to say this “dishonors the Lord” is to miss the Bible’s larger picture of the character of God, and the way in which the Holy Spirit works.  (Compare with tomorrow’s post on this same verse.)

Finally, as this verse plays into the debate between Calvinism and Arminianism; the writer at Doctrinal Matters takes the opposite view to the above writer  in a post tiled Revelation 3:20 versus Calvinism

Here is how Revelation 3:20 actually reads (Jesus is speaking) – “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him ….”

Here is Calvinism’s version of Revelation 3:20 – “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock it down: only the elect will be allowed to hear my voice, and they will do nothing, as I will already have come in to them previously …”

Certainly even the strongest Calvinist would have to admit that the church at Laodicea has free will in this particular matter.