Invite Him In--by Timothy A. Southall
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Most of us have seen a painting or illustration portraying Jesus knocking at a door. This is a representation of Revelation 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 him, and he with me." (NIV)

This is a perfect illustration of salvation and grace.

Grace is a favor granted by God through His mercy and kindness to those who accept it through faithfulness, even though none deserve it. Because we all are sinful and unable to please Him, God provided a way for us to be saved.  This is His gift to us. We do not deserve grace and can never earn or repay this favor. God came to us as His Son, Jesus Christ, in the form of a baby (Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 2:1-20). Think about it. He came into this world as we did--defenseless and naked. He came to us!

John the Baptist proclaimed the coming of the Christ (Matthew 3:1; Mark 1:4-8; Luke 3:15-18; John 1:15-18). John baptized Jesus with his baptism of repentance (Matthew 3:11-17; Mark 1:4-11; Luke 3:16, 21-23; John 1:31-34) to fulfill all righteousness (Matthew 3:15), even though Jesus was sinless (2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:15; Hebrews 7:26; 1 Peter 2:22). Jesus chose 12 disciples(Matthew 10:1-4; Mark 3:13-19; Luke 6:12-16), taught them, and then was killed by mere men who hung Him on a tree (Acts 2:22-23; Acts 5:30; Acts 10:39). Three days after His crucifixion, Jesus was resurrected and came back to His disciples (Matthew 12:40; Matthew 16:21; John 21:14; Acts 2:24; Acts 10:40; Acts 13:30). Before He left, He gave us "the great commission:"

18Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 28:18-20 NIV) (Also see Mark 16:15-21.)

Now, what does all of this have to do with knocking on a door? Jesus came to us. At the end, He will return to gather those who are His (Mark 13:26). On the day of Pentecost, He sent the Holy Spirit, our Comforter and Counselor, to reside in His followers (Acts 2:1-21). Each Christian is a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), in whom He resides (John 14:15-21, 26; John 16:7-11; Romans 8:11; Romans 5:5). By God's grace, salvation is available to everyone, even criminals, atheists . . . and me (Acts 2:36-41). None of us deserve salvation, but God gives the opportunity to all of us. Jesus, who was sinless, died on the cross so His blood would cover our sins (Romans 5:9; Ephesians 1:7; Ephesians 2:13; Colossians 1:20; Hebrews 9:12-14). He is knocking at our door, waiting to be let in. Let's walk through the illustration of Jesus knocking on the door mentioned at the beginning of this article and compare it to the plan of salvation found in the Bible.

Hearing the knock is the equivalent of hearing God's Word (John 5:24; Acts 15:7; Romans 10:17; Revelation 3:20).

Believing that Jesus is knocking is the equivalent of believing in Jesus (Mark 16:16; John 3:16-18; John 8:24; John 11:25-26; John 20:31; Acts 16:31; Romans 10:9-10; Hebrews 11:6; 1 Peter 1:8-9). Of those who hear, many never pay attention to it while others believe in Jesus, who is knocking.

Acknowledging that Jesus is the one knocking is the equivalent of confessing (Matthew 10:32; Luke 12:8; Romans 10:9-10; 2 Timothy 2:19; 1 John 1:9). Some think grace means they don't need to do anything further and say, "I believe, and that is enough." The others acknowledge Jesus' presence on the other side of the door and confess.

Turning and walking toward the door is the equivalent of repenting (Luke 13:3-5; Acts 2:38; Acts 17:30; 2 Corinthians 7:10; 2 Peter 3:9). Some look back at what they would be leaving behind, see the messy room, and say, "I can't let Him in right now; this place is a mess!" They are content to stay right where they are, refuse to change their ways, and never go to open the door. The others repent and continue to the door.

Opening the door at which Jesus is knocking is the equivalent of being baptized (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38-41; Acts 22:16; Romans 6:3-5; Galatians 3:26-27; Titus 3:5-7; 1 Peter 3:18-22). Upon reaching the door, some simply call out for Jesus to come in, but they fail to unlock the door! Those who are obedient unlock and open the door. All nine conversions in the book of Acts consist of the individuals being baptized as soon as they believed (Acts 2:14-41; Acts 8:9-12; Acts 8:26-39; Acts 9:1-19; Acts 10:44-48; Acts 16:11-15; Acts 16:16-34; Acts 18:1-8; Acts 19:1-7; Acts 22:3-16). When we are immersed in baptism, we are buried with Jesus and are raised to live a new life (resurrected) (Romans 6:1-4; Colossians 2:11-12). Unfortunately, some skip one or more of the necessary steps of hearing, believing, confessing, and repenting and open the wrong door to find that Jesus is not there. This is what occurs when one is baptized for the wrong reasons or without truly having had a change of heart (Please read about Simon the sorcerer in Acts 8:9-25).

Asking Jesus to come in and stay with us is the equivalent of standing firm in the faith until the end (Matthew 10:22; Matthew 24:13; Mark 13:13; Luke 21:19; 1 Timothy 4:16; Hebrews 10:36; James 1:12). We ask Him in to eat and stay with us. This is the Holy Spirit residing in us. He comforts, counsels, and enables us to stand firm in the Christian life until the end (John 14:15-21, 26; John 16:7-11; Romans 5:5).

God offers salvation to us even though we don't deserve it and we couldn't possibly earn it. This is His grace (2 Timothy 1:8-9). God gives every one of us an opportunity to accept His grace; many reject it.

Following God's instructions on how to accept salvation, which is a gift from Him through grace, is our act of faith:

8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- 9not by works, so that no one can boast. 10For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:8-10 NIV [emphasis added])

Without faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, we could not be justified (Acts 13:39; Romans 3:24-28; Romans 5:1-2; Romans 5:9; Romans 8:28-30; Romans 10:10; 1 Corinthians 6:11; Galatians 2:15-17; Galatians 3:24; Hebrews 11:6). The blood of Jesus Christ paid for our sins (Ephesians 1:7; Hebrews 9:12).

We cannot possibly receive the gift of salvation if we refuse to do what is necessary in order to accept it and do the good works God prepared in advance for us to do (Matthew 25:31-46; John 3:5-7; Romans 2:6-7; Ephesians 2:10; 1 John 2:29; 1 John 5:1-4). Do you want to explain to the Lord on judgment day why you didn't do as He said?

"Why do you call me, `Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?" (Luke 6:46 NIV)

Do you want your name blotted out of the Book of Life?

2"Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God. 3Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you. 4Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. 5He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels. 6He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." (Revelation 3:2-6 NIV [emphasis added])

We could never work our way into Heaven, but a surrendered heart will allow God to lead us into obedience, which is a demonstration of our love for Him (John 14:15-17; John 14:23-24; John 15:10; 1 John 3:24; 1 John 5:3-4). And by our fruits we will be known (Matthew 7:16-20; Matthew 12:33; Luke 6:44; Romans 7:4; Colossians 1:10).

If you hear Jesus knock, don't let the opportunity pass. Open the door, because only a few will make it:

"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. (Matthew 7:13-14 NIV)

Jesus instructs us to enter the small gate and warns that only a few will find it. Many will be disappointed.

Invite Him in today. Tomorrow may never come.

Copyright © 1999 Timothy A. Southall. All rights reserved.