I Stand At the Door and Knock

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.” (Revelation 3:20)

In theory the seven churches of Asia Minor represent seven ages of the Church. These ages are as follows. The Church in Ephesus is the Apostolic Church which was the period of 33 to 100 AD. The Church of Smyrna was the Church of persecution between the years of 100 AD to 312 AD and suffered under the ten Caesars of Rome. The Church of Pergamum represented the union of the Church and state as was between 312 AD and 590 Ad. From 590 AD was the Church of the Middle Ages and is represented by the Church of Thyatira. Then came the Protestant Reformation from 1517 AD to 1750 AD and is represented by the Church of Sardis. The Church of Philadelphia is the Church of the Great Awakening, a time of revival between 1750 AD and 1925 AD. The last Church is Laodicea and is the Church of “Higher Criticism which started in 1900 AD and will last until the tribulation. I have seen these Churches fix to time periods in other ways and I must remind you that this is in theory as not all scholars agree with what I have presented or what others have. I find it interesting but have not investigated the information which fixes each Church to its time frame.

Our text today comes from our Lord’s letter to the Church at Laodicea and the verse itself is used by many evangelist. It is a beautiful picture of our Lord and Savior standing at the door to one’s heart knocking to come in. evangelist have used this verses to stir the emotion of many a soul, which is appealing and if this brings a soul to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ how can I help but praise His name. Placed in context Jesus is standing at the door to the Church and knocking to a congregation that has become unneedful to their Lord and King, Jesus the head of the Church. I see the Laodicea Church as many of our day that have become self-sufficient and no longer seek the power of Christ living through them. I find it an irony that as society has taken Jesus out of their lives so also have many Churches.

In His letter to the Laodicea Church Jesus introduces Himself with unique titles that are different from chapter one where He identifies Himself as Christ, The Faithful Witness, The First Begotten from Among the Dead, The Prince of the Kings of the Earth, Alpha and Omega, Who is, and Who was, and Who is to come, The Lord, The Almighty, Son of man, The First and the Last, and The Living. To Laodicea Jesus titles Himself the Amen which means “so be it” or true. He is the faithful and true witness and the ruler of God’s creation. These titles are absolute to Jesus the Son of God. “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this.” (Revelation 3:14)

Jesus is the faithful and true witness to the Father of all creation. There is nothing found in the life of Jesus or in what He said or did that was outside of the will of His Father our God. No matter what consequence that if cost Him Jesus was completely obedient to the Father. “For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak.” (John 12:49 This is a stark contrast to the Church at Laodicea. Their witness was not that of Jesus or the Father but of their own spiritual works done in their own weak strength.

The Church at Sardis was also complacent but they were not so spiritually arrogant as the Church of Laodicea. The Church of Laodicea was so puffed up in their own self-satisfaction that they no longer knew there need that they had to be dependent upon Jesus who is the vine that we cannot abide without. “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) This Church of Laodicea was the only one of the seven that received no commendation from Jesus. It is a tragic gathering to be in where the Lord finds nothing good to comment upon.

The Laodiceans thought of themselves in need of nothing from Christ. I am sure some of the members were materially rich while others were not. But they claimed to be a wealthy Church not in money but in spirituality. In their spiritual pride the Church had become self-satisfied with their own accomplishments which fell way short of the glory of God.

Though they believed themselves to be a Church of wealth Jesus told them they needed to acquire the true riches of life. “I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.” (Revelation 3:18) Jesus speaks to them in a metaphor of gold being refined by fire. It is Jesus, not ourselves, that refines the human soul. A pure heart is far more valuable than the purest of gold, as it is the heart that the Lord test. “The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, But the LORD tests hearts.” (Proverbs 17:3) The Church at Laodicea placed their faith in their own works and not in Jesus who works through them. Without faith it is impossible to please God. (Hebrews 11:6) What needed refining was not their self-spiritual wealth but their faith. “So that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:7)

The Church was spiritually naked as Adam and Eve after the fall in the Garden of Eden, as they had lost their spiritual pureness. Jesus told them they needed to be clothed in fine white linen. White linen was the symbol of righteousness throughout the book of Revelation. “It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.” (Revelation 19:8) The Saints of Heaven will be clothed in white fine linen as they follow their Lord, as this will be their proper apparel. “And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses.” (Revelation 19:14)

No man or Church can gain the righteousness needed to enter into Heaven. The measure of righteousness is that of God’s Son Jesus Christ. “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:16) No works in the law by man can save them. “Because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.” (Romans 3:20) The only righteousness that can save us is the righteousness that we receive from Jesus. “For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven, inasmuch as we, having put it on, will not be found naked.” (2 Corinthians 5:2-3)

The Church of Laodicea was spiritually blind by their self-spiritual arrogance. Jesus told them to apply spiritual eye save so that they could see how far they had fallen from the truth. When we do not see our spiritual poverty we cannot see our need for Jesus as our Savior. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3) The Apostle Paul tells us that we are to examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith. Little holes can form in our wall of protection and give Satan a strong hold upon our lives and we must be vigilant and watch and pray. “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you–unless indeed you fail the test?” (2 Corinthians 13:5)

As a result of these problems in the Church of Laodicea the fruit of their spirits were neither hot nor cold. Because they had abandoned their Lord to follow their own way they had become rift with sucker shoots in their branches. They needed pruning by the Father but they were not seeking Him but working out their own dead works. “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.” (John 15:2)

Jesus taught that a tree is known by its fruits but the Church was lacking of the spiritual fruits. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23) Therefore, the Church was useless in its service to the Lord and He was about to spit them out of His mouth. The Church at Laodicea did not have the power of Christ and the Holy Spirit and therefore their works were empty of God’s power.

Jesus now uses a metaphor of Himself standing at the door to the Church of Laodicea, at the door to the Church that you attend. He is there knocking to be allowed in that He may sup with the congregation. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.” (Revelation 3:20) Do you hear His voice, do the Church Family members that you attend with hear, and is the door opened unto Him? I find it appalling that Jesus the head of the Church stands on the outside knocking to be let in. Those that know Jesus as their Lord and Savior know His voice and answer His call. Yet at the Church of Laodicea He stands at the door and knocks. “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” (John 10:27)

Someone standing by the door is a well-known metaphor in the Bible. Jesus used it with His disciples in expressing the urgent need for them to be spiritually alert, as He would be coming soon. “Even so, you too, when you see these things happening, recognize that He is near, right at the door.” (Mark `3:29)

In the letter of James he used it as a warning that the judge is standing at the door. “Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door.” (James 5:9) And Jesus told His disciple to be expectantly waiting for His return so that they could open the door for Him. “Be like men who are waiting for their master when he returns from the wedding feast, so that they may immediately open the door to him when he comes and knocks.” (Luke 12:36)

The image of Jesus standing at the door of the Church knocking could imply that the Church has locked Him out from their fellowship. This verse is also a verse that gives hope. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of all knowledge and Jesus may be hoping that the Church will open the door unto Him that He may come in and give them lifesaving teaching. “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, But he who hates reproof is stupid.” (Proverbs 12:1) Jesus has the power to transform a life hell bent on destruction to a life that is bound for the Promised Land. Through Jesus that Church receives eternal life. “And I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.” (John 10:28)

The Church is given two promises in this scripture. First Jesus will come in and sup with them. The Church is the bride of Christ and He is the Bridegroom. There will be a weeding feast in Heaven when Jesus presents His bride to the Father perfect and without blemish. Then there will be the wedding feast, that great meal of fellowship for all the saints. “Then he said to me, “Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.'” And he said to me, “These are true words of God.” (Revelation 19:9)

The final promise is far more glorious than the time that I sat on my father’s lap and drove his ‘55 Chevy down the road. “He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.” (Revelation 3:21) Can you even begin to imagine sitting on the throne with Jesus sharing with Him His rule and authority. The joy of that day is far beyond my comprehension. To sit with Jesus at His table in Heaven and then to sit with Him on His throne. “That you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” (Luke 22:30) If the Church would but repent and open the door that Jesus would come in to fellowship with them.

For far too many today in the Church people are seeing the world from horizon to horizon. This is their view and they see not beyond. If they would but repent and turn away from their horizontal viewpoint and look up to the heavens and gain a vertical perspective. Realize the truth that this world is not home for our home is where our Heavenly Father is. Today is the day, as it is the only day that we have. “Therefore, since it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly had good news preached to them failed to enter because of disobedience, He again fixes a certain day, “Today,” saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before, “Today if you hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts.” (Hebrews 4:6-7)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, July 19, 2016

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