It is an eternal principle in Revelation 3:20 that Jesus is seeking connection with His beings created in His own image, saying, “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.”
Two things are important to recognize in the verse: Jesus says, “anyone” who “hears” His voice. Thus, it has continual application throughout the centuries.
Relate this to the statement in the parable in Matthew 22:1-14 where Jesus says, “For many are called but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14).
In the Revelation verse, a voice is not mentioned with the knocking on the door (of the heart), but one can surmise Jesus saying, “Hello, is anyone in there; is anyone home?” The point is that He is calling for a response by the individual.
In another passage, that of Jeremiah 29:13, God is saying, “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” It looks like the Scriptures, tending toward the whole counsel of God, are giving us an insight into how the Lord brings about salvation to a lost sinner.
Correspondingly, John 4:23-24 tells us, “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
He is constantly knocking on the door of a person’s heart, as the gospel is told, or the word of God is heard.
The person who is seeking – because he is troubled by a sense of guilt for being in the wrong when he knew what was right – hears the voice and opens the door for the Lord to enter.
The point is, also, that the Lord is not hard to find if a person’s heart is fully committed to the seeking. There, then, is the issue of choosing: Many doors are knocked on (called), but few open the door to become the chosen.
But why is it that way?
God does not force Himself upon anyone, but stirs the conscience in man to become so desperate in his awareness of ungodliness that he wants Jesus to come into his life. The same principle is couched in the passage at John 1:11-13 where it says, “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”
Some translations render the phrase in 1 Peter 1:2 as “elect (or chosen) according to the foreknowledge of God….” The word “foreknowledge” does not indicate an action, but only an observation by eternal foresight as to what will be happening, now seen in advance. Thus, the chosen, or the elect, are not made so by God’s foreknowledge, but by that attribute He is able to see it happen. How God chooses or elects a person for His own is then more understandable if the principle of Revelation 3:20 is considered.
When mankind fell out of favor with God in Adam’s disobedience, he gained the knowledge of good and evil, or right and wrong. That is where man’s conscience comes into play. It is God’s secret inside link to the man’s lost soul.
Remember that reference to the conscience Paul made as to the condition of man in his rebellion in the last days, in 1 Timothy 4:1-2:
“Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron….”
A conscience that is hardened toward the truth, toward God, is not receptive to the gospel, thus Jesus’ knocking on that person’s heart-door will not get a response.
Why? Because of what John 3:19 says:
“And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”
The constant keyword in the New Testament is “believe,” and it is always present or implied in verses that spell out how salvation is obtained. Note that in these verses:
John 1:12 – “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.”
John 5:24 – “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believe in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.”
Acts 16:30-31 – “And he brought them out and said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ So they said, ‘ Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.’” (Note that the disciples did not say to the jailer, “You must be chosen or elected!)
Romans 10:9-10 – “…That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved, for with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
Ephesians 2:8-9 – “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”
Notice that three words that are prominent in evangelistic messages are not mentioned in those verses—forgiveness, repentance and baptism. Why? Because forgiveness and repentance are automatic results when a person is brought by conviction to surrendering himself to Christ, and baptism is a physical action undertaken as a testimony of commitment to Christ, a confession of that new faith.
Another word only mentioned in the Ephesians passage is “gift.” Romans 6:23b tells us that eternal life is a gift of God, and 1 John 5:11-12 says, “And this is the record that God has given to us eternal life and this life is in His Son; he who has the Son has life and he who does not have the Son does not have life.” Availability of the gift is not affected by rejection of the offer, but acceptance is necessary for the gift to take effect. When Christ died on the cross, the result was the availability of forgiveness of sins for all mankind for all time. It is not effective, however, until the gift is accepted.
This brings us to another reference that must be recognized, and that is John 6:29, which says, “This is the work of God that you believe on Him whom He sent.” God’s desire that man be saved is evident in the totality of Scripture and simply stated in the message of the familiar John 3:16. Overcoming man’s rejection and rebellion is a task that takes the wisdom and grace of almighty God to accomplish. Perhaps it can be summed up in the quaint old adage, “You can take a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink—so, you salt his oats.”
Finally, a son or daughter of Adam, as all mortal beings are, can never go to heaven. Jesus said, “You must be born again,” a spiritual renewal, as Titus 3:5 tells us, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.”
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