Out of Context Verse – Revelation 3:20

The evangelist is standing on the platform, preparing to deliver the final blow that will draw scores to the altar in repentance. The crowd is hushed, hanging on every word.

“Jesus is standing…RIGHT NOW…and knocking on the door of your heart. He’s promised that if you’ll just ask him…JUST OPEN THE DOOR!…He’ll come into your heart. Will you open the door to your heart, tonight?”

The organist begins to play through “Just As I Am.”  And the altar is filled with those who are asking Jesus to come into their heart.

If only what the evangelist said were true.

It would be funny, if it didn’t happen so often. Someone takes a verse out of context, applies it to a completely incorrect situation, it works in the setting it’s applied, and the next thing you know everyone has completely forgotten what the verse was about in the first place.

That’s what’s happened with 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 eat with him, and he with me.

As a standalone verse, this works. The problem is, it’s taken completely out of context.  It has nothing to do with salvation. The door that Jesus is standing outside of is the door of the Church.

Read the passage for yourself.  Revelation 3:14-22. This church is going on with business as usual. They’re convinced that everything is going exceedingly well. They have all of the programs. They’re drawing large audiences. They’ve got television shows and online broadcasts and lights and fog machines and the most contemporary music led by the best worship leaders money can buy. Their pastor is even a celebrity. Things couldn’t be going better.

But there’s just one, pretty big problem: Jesus is on the outside looking in.

I wish this were the exception to the rule. I wish that these types of churches weren’t what it seems modern American evangelical Christianity has become all about. Unfortunately, the evidence is alarming.

I could cite dozens of different statistics about biblical illiteracy and divorce in the church and the complete lack of difference between those who claim to be Christians and those who don’t.

But I don’t need to do that. In your gut, you already know it.

Some of you reading this are recoiling at the thought. You’re justifying what you’ve experienced in the post-modern American, and dare I say post-Christian, Church. You’re thinking about all of the amazing good things that churches are doing. This can’t be true of YOUR church, right?

Isn’t this just what Jesus predicted we’d say?

For you say, “I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing,” not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. – Revelation 3:17

It’s really important to me that I am clear about something: I’m not calling into questions the motives of the leaders of these churches, nor those of the evangelists who use this verse out of context. I’m simply asking for a moment of reflection and intellectual honesty.

Jesus warned us that churches would exist where everything seemed to be going perfectly well except for one minor problem: He wouldn’t be a part of them.

One passage of Scripture that has always sent a chill down my spine is Matthew 7:21-23:

Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?” And then will I declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.

Maybe it’s time for the Church to open its door to Jesus again.

My passion is to see “the people in the pews” walk in real, daily, powerful relationship with Jesus. If you know of a church or congregation that may be interested in having me come speak, please send them HERE. If they invite me to speak, I’ll send you a free copy of my book Midnight Approaches: Understanding the Time and Knowing What To Do About Them as a way of expressing my thanks!

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