24th September 2023

Christ calls individuals to respond

Passage: Revelation 3:20
Service Type:

Automatically Generated Transcript

Earlier in the week, I took a trip down to Coorong Bookshop and bought myself another theology book. But when I bought this one, I particularly had in mind the fact that I wanted to speak this morning on the verse in Revelation 3.20, a very famous verse where Jesus says, Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come on in to that one and fellowship with him and hear with me, or I'll eat with him and hear with me. This is a verse where there's a fair bit of difference of opinion as to how it should be understood, or whether you should use it in evangelism, or does it have other applications that are more important.

So buying a new theology book, I bought one which I'm sure would be, look how thick it is, would be good, and I do, but I always do, look up and see which indices they have. And this one has an index for all sorts of things, including the biblical references. There's a list from Genesis through to the end of Revelation, all the verses that are quoted in it, but as I looked on through when I got the volume home, I looked up Revelation 3.20, thinking there'd be lots of pages on that, and there wasn't, it didn't even list them in the references. However you can't have everything, there'll be lots of other good things there for me to look at later. But why I was looking at Revelation 3.20 is because in terms of the evangelicalism that my generation has come through, there, especially after World War II, there are a lot of Christians who have become Christians, dodging bullets, amazed that they're still alive, and have given their lives over to Jesus to do whatever he wanted with them.

And there was quite a rash of people going into evangelistic ministries, and one famous man who had been in World War I, and then World War II, John Ridley, my brother was named after him, this was the pastor, the minister, he's an itinerant evangelist who my dad got to do the ceremony of his dedication as a baby, not baptism, but baby dedication. And he was named Peter Ridley Gibson, because my dad's long hope was he'd have a son who'd be an evangelist like John Ridley, he was a very good one. And there are a lot of young men doing the same sort of thing, and particularly having organisations, quite a prolific number of them sprung up, open-air campaigners, you know, there's Campaigners for Christ, there's Youth for Christ, and there's all these organisations that sprung up in that period of time. And generally speaking, in the training that they gave folk to be involved with them and working with them, was one that used this verse in order to lead a person to Christ. However, the verse itself is rather interesting, because there's obviously more to it than just, here's how you become a Christian, ask Jesus into your life.

That is actually a very simplistic way of summing it up. There's a lot more to becoming a Christian than just saying a prayer, and there's many a story that's told of a mother who found her little girl, this is one such story, with a big pair of scissors, walking down the hall, and the mother said, what are you doing with those? And she says, I'm going to let Jesus into my heart. What picture did that little girl have? And those stories are told that maybe that verse is out of place being used in evangelism the way that it is. And I'm speaking on that verse because I came to Christ by recognising a need to let Jesus into my life, and I had always thought I was a Christian because of my family, and it was a startling revelation to me when a series of Gospel messages drove home to the fact that there was a response that I was being called for on hearing the Gospel. And that's one of the first things I want you to notice about this verse, is calling for a response. Behold, I stand at the door and knock, couldn't be made more plain, that Jesus doesn't barge his way into people's lives, but he knocks. Anyone who hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him and he with me. It's only recently that I realised just how that verse is set up to have, not an ambiguity, but it's set up to have two aspects of the response the Gospel calls on people to give. One response is, as it says, letting Christ become a part of your life. That's a part of what you're asked to do, right?

But then you notice that what's he knocking at the door of? And clearly from the passage in Revelation 3, it's the letter to the ladders in church that John the Apostle was led to write, explaining in the seven churches that got seven letters that these were all Jesus writing to the churches. So when he says, behold, I stand at the door and knock, it's the door of the church. And the response that's being called for is by the church, letting Jesus in on his organisation. Now there can be two reasons as to why the church needs to let Jesus in on his organisation. It's because there has come about a change between the era of the law of Moses, the era of the Old Covenant, and the era of the New Covenant, which Jesus is the champion of, often understood as Moses the champion of the Old Covenant, and Jesus equivalently being the champion of the New Covenant. And we in our morning services have been going through the Beatitudes, which is Jesus taking the role of teaching what is the essence of the New Covenant.

We're in the middle of that, and I keep having reasons why to put an extra sermon in, which we're doing now. But I'm applying it to the shift between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. What exactly is the difference between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant? First I'll tell you quickly, easily, the New Covenant has Jesus in the centre of it. When he came and got around and he was displaying a new arrangement with God, his person enables. Indeed, the New Testament, which is the elaboration all about the New Covenant, makes it very clear that it is a new revelation. And it's talking about something that was a mystery hidden for all the ages past. If we listen into the Scriptures, we can hear that's what they teach through the New Covenant again and again and again and again. And what is the mystery? Well, if we look at Colossians 1.27, I think it is, we'll put that on the screen, it says, To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles, this is after the Jewish era of leadership has come and gone, but amongst the Gentiles is the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Now by the way, the word hope needs a bit of an explanation because we're very familiar with talking about things you hope for. I'm hoping to get another car because the old one's done a fair few years and I've noticed by the rev counter on it that it doesn't get the final 10,000 revs, 10,000, 1,000 revs. Somehow the thing, someone's lost a bit of its power. It still works at the lower speeds, which are good for me. But I have a hope of getting another car sooner or later, but whether it's sooner or later, who knows. But we mean the word hope to be about what you're wanting and got your fingers crossed. I hope so. But actually the meaning of it in the original settings in the Bible is more weighted towards meaning the expectation, the expectation that because of what's happened across the many years when I've had a birthday, I've developed an expectation that they're going to put on some party. I usually don't like those things too much, but sure enough, we ended up being told that we're going down to a restaurant. I knew what it was for and then all the relatives are all coming and they'll even sing a song of happy birthday to me with the other people looking on. That was very nice. Actually, it was a good meal.

I did enjoy it and came home very relaxed. I have an expectation of that happening every year. This word hope here, the hope of glory, is in the expectation of what we're going to experience in heaven. Glory is often a special word that means going to heaven. That's when we will be glorified. You might remember last week I talked about salvation as having a part that's in the past. I have been saved. Sarah has been saved by trusting Jesus, but there's also a part of salvation that's the ongoing work now. I am being saved, up and down a bit sometimes. All of you, if you're real Christians, you are being saved. The Bible tells you to sponsor that sanctification process. This is the will of God. Even your holiness, or another translation has it, even your sanctification. It says this mystery, which is Christ in you, the expectation of what will be finalised in glory. Salvation, you have been saved, you are being saved, but you will be saved. I like to point that way for eternity because Mount Gravatt's plaque for my mom and dad are at the cemetery place. It reminds me about getting to go to heaven because dad, who passed away after my mother, wanted inscribed on his plaque and gave the request to put it next to my mother's. Until we meet again, he wanted it on there. Christ in you is that which gives you the expectation of going to heaven. You're not really saved at all, let alone the process of being saved and will be saved, if you haven't got the reality of Christ in you.

It's something that we always try to teach people to check up on. The Bible says that. Test yourself to see whether you really be in the faith that was it. What it's talking about is be certain that you've got Christ. I've gotten into trouble for preaching that. On one occasion, a family got annoyed to me, and they had lawyers in the family, and they went to the pastor and said, don't ever let Jim Gibson speak again. The pastor liked my preaching. He waited six months and put me on again. Some of you original Salisburyites have heard me tell this story before, but it was when I got quite unwell with heart problems. This is about 25 years ago. I had to go for the second time I'd be preaching at that church. I had a sermon ready. I had the notes in my Bible, but I wasn't feeling the best. On the occasion, I was nervous, especially because I'd been told off by this person, a certain person for preaching the previous time, about you need to check up whether Christ is really in you. I'd been asked to come back again, and now by the pastor who was not listening to the person who said never ask him again. When I walked up to give my sermon, I had my notes, and I opened it. Because I was nervous, I opened it to the wrong spot, and I opened it to where the notes of the previous sermon was, and I gave it again. It was about the wheat and the tares, the wheat and the weeds, and now you better check up you're not a weed.

My goodness, that really put the ... Anyway, I won't say any more. This is a very important point that if you're going to tell the truth, the whole truth, nothing but the truth, then you better tell people that without Christ, you're lost. I've been doing that all my Christian life, and one person to whom I did it, certainly raised in her response to me, was my future mother-in-law, Michelle's mother, and at her house, and Michelle had told me a lot about their backgrounds, so I pretty accurately knew that her mother was Catholic, but she didn't go that much. She put on a pretty good show to me that she was a church-going person, and in the hallway of her house, this is the first time I think I actually formally met her, but out of me came a Bible verse, in 1 John, he that has the Son has life. He that does not have the Son of God does not have life, and the only way you can be secure of knowing you're going to glory, which means going to heaven, is that you've got Christ in you. It is what gives you the sure expectation of glory. That's what the verse means, and that's what gives to all the evangelism that sprang out of particularly after World War II, when a lot of Christians got demobbed and joined evangelistic agencies, including John Ridley being going after World War I as well.

What gave them how to preach was this idea of Revelation 3.20, but there are some people who quite correctly understand that not everybody knows exactly when they came to Christ, particularly if you did it when you were a child, it might have been something that came upon you slowly. I know my conversion was a traumatic thing, I remember, but not everybody's is. It doesn't mean that you're not, but you are to test to see if you are. Take a check up. It doesn't mean that we all have the same experience. There's some people who have traumatic things happening, and others who have a big struggle. Well Michelle's mother was one that had a struggle, but she came to the Lord in the end, and she was glad to proclaim to everybody that it had really happened. She was one of these people that was always forthright about her views, and once she came to Jesus, she told anybody who asked, I won't repeat her language because that wasn't yet sanctified, but anyway, she was someone that had found the Lord. And I knew this morning, especially as we're having a baptism, that I needed to press home to every person who's here. Are you certain? Because being certain is what the Spirit works in you.

It is possible if you're not sure, you just need to be able to have some of that sanctification to take you to where you are sure. I'm not saying that people who are pitiful about whether it's happened or not are therefore definitely not. I'm saying the Bible asks us to test ourselves to see whether we are in the faith. And how you do that is you look for the action of Christ in your life. And when Jesus shows his hand, there's a growing assurance that you gain. It is his presence in you that makes all the difference. If we look at this particular verse, it's rather interesting of how it is set up, and it's only recently looking at it again that I've suddenly realised how enormous is this evidence. But if we put up Revelation 3 again on the screen, let me make sure your eyes have seen it. That Jesus in Revelation 3.20, there it is, is standing at the door of the church. And what had to happen was that the people who were the people of God of the Old Testament were then confronted with the fact that the church is an entity where Jesus is central. And he's asking them to check up that they've actually opened the door of the church to become a New Testament church, not just to carry on of the Jewish church.

The word Ecclesia is the Greek word that is translated to our English church, and if you get a Greek version of the Old Testament, where it would normally have the Hebrew words for congregation and things like that, the Greek word is Ecclesia. So it is a live issue as to whether or not you should call the church back then Abraham and the others. They certainly did get saved. You look up verses that talk about how many people were saved through the flood. Now there's a double use of the idea that they were saved from drowning. But they also saved by God's action to step in and create that salvation from drowning, which is a picture of what the word saved means. In the ultimate context, the salvation that the whole race of humans needs, not one exception, is salvation from the hell that they're all going toward. Every person in this world born a human being has been born, ever since Adam and Eve fell, has been born a sinner. So Paul writes, as we've got here in 1 Peter, because they formally did not obey when God's patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, it's one of the most wonderful places to preach salvation from, it's one of my favourite areas for evangelistic message, in which few, that is eight persons, were brought safely through water.

They had a water moment in the flood. And by being in the ark, they were saved. And when we baptise with water, part of the picture, the background understanding, is the picture of the salvation that God brings from what is intended by him for every person that's a part of the fallen race. Baptism which corresponds to this now saves you. So the sense of what we saw demonstrated with Sarah is a demonstration of her having been saved. She's not saved because of our little water tank. She's not saved any more than Noah and his family were saved from God's wrath alone. Well, they were saved from the wrath of the flood, but because of their faith and their trust. And baptism is a picture of getting saved by your trust. They had provided an ark. Guess what your ark looks like? I have one word wrong in the question. Anybody want to tell me what's the one word I had wrong when I said, guess what your ark looks like? Come on, John, I know you know those things, I think. What's the one word wrong in my question? Guess what your ark looks like? It's a trick question. I won't blame you if you don't guess my grammar business. Guess what your ark looks like? Is there someone here who wants to volunteer and answer? I bet there's a lot of you, but you know what is it?

Reese Quigley, yes, at the back there? Yes, guess what, who? What your, who your ark looks like is Jesus. And when you know that there is no salvation, there's no other name given among men whereby we must be saved, or as I quoted to Michelle's mother, and I quoted a verse from 1 John, he that has the Son has life. He that does not have the Son of God does not have life, and I saw in her face that very moment that she understood that she'd had a living testimony, living with her, which was Michelle, and Michelle's conversion of her becoming a different person was speaking all the time, and I saw in her face she got the point, and although it took a few years, that led to eventually when she came to Christ, because there's no being having any hope of glory unless you have Christ in your life, and when someone becomes a Christian, though we may word it in varying different ways, believing in his name, we may word it getting born again, we may word it you receive him, which is what I often have in my sermons, to receive Christ is to welcome him in the manner that he's been sent, and John's Gospel in chapter 1 just has how he was sent, he was sent as a creator, he was sent as the owner, and he came to his own people, that is the Old Testament Ecclesia, and his own people received him not, but verse 12 says, but to as many as did receive him, he gave the authority to become the children of God, look at that, but to all who did receive him who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born not of blood, not by physical descent, nor of the will of the flesh, some decision made in a person's pressure of decision, or the will of man, a human, much the same thing, not of God, and that's chapter 1, and if you follow the Gospel of John through to chapter 3, you will see the story of Nicodemus, and Nicodemus being told that he needs to be born again, being born again is what happens when you receive Christ, when Christ comes into your life, you were born a Christian, you were into the church, as far as the timings of the Bible are concerned, the Old Testament is the era of the Old Covenant, although there is some time before that was introduced by Moses, the New Testament carries the four Gospels which tell of the time in between the Old Covenant, and when the New Covenant was able to be entered, why was there an interim period?

Jesus demonstrated what that interim period looked like by himself being on deck and visible, and there was an interim period because he had come, not only to talk about being born again, but to do what was necessary for it to be possible for you and for me, by bearing our sins on the cross, and having borne our sins and having cried out one of the last cries, he said, it is finished, and when the temple curtain that blocked people out of coming into the closeness with God, that big thick temple, God ripped it from top to bottom, a declaration of heaven, clear away, whatever stops you coming, you can come now, and you know, that's what you do when you're an evangelist, you tell people you can come now, the temple veil that blocked people out from the Holy of Holies has been ripped apart by God, and he welcomes those who come because of what Jesus did for you on the cross, that's basically what I tell people when they come to me and say about being baptised, I tell them, I want to find out whether you've understood, it's because of Jesus, and what he's done, you can, not that the baptism does it for you, it's what Jesus does for you, you just come right into God, and when Jesus was raised from the dead, having been sharing our sins, having been bearing our sins, it was a statement of heaven, that his sacrifice was sufficient, that your sins were over, you were who he was talking about to do with guilt and sin, when Jesus cried out, it is finished, I read in one commentary, the actual wording, it is finished, when you write it in Greek, it's what they used to write on someone's debt, that they were trying to pay off as much as they could, and when it was all paid off, they used to write, it is finished, tetelestai in Greek, it means it's over, it's done, it's accounted for, and Jesus said it's finished, about your sins, you can ask him to be your saviour because it's all done, and when God raised him from the dead, which God wouldn't do if he was still a sinner, bearing your sins, when God raised him from the dead, it was a heavenly stamp, that cry, it is finished, it's got a big tick from me, he's done with your sins, stop wallowing in them, and come to him, run to him, and tell him, you'll let him be your saviour, and he will come into your heart, which is why Revelation 3 talks about the fact that you've been given the authority, well the verse we got on the screen says this, the authority to become the children of God, and Revelation 3 talks about Jesus saying if any person, any individual hears my voice, he might knock at the door of the church, that he might be the mystery revealed of Christ in the church, but it's an individual who's called on to respond, if any person gets up and opens the door, I will come on in to that one and up to him and fellowship with him, using the picture of sitting down for a meal together, personal fellowship with Jesus.

You see fellowship isn't only just a corporate thing we do, we do do corporate worship and we try and work out for that to be enriched in the church, but ultimately fellowship is when Jesus comes to you, and he comes into your life, and he comes to stay, and he makes you a part of the church, and so I want to finish just now again with a verse I said to Michelle's mother from 1 John, he that has the son has life, and the one that does not have the son of God does not have life. You're not in the church without Jesus, he is the mystery of what the church is, it's Christ, and he's in the centre of the church, and where there's a church that doesn't understand this message and gets populated by people who just want to be Christianly in the general sense, or people who just want a social club, or who just want to have some democracy that they can take a part in, but have missed the point about us, your relationship to Jesus that puts you in the church, they're not in it really. You can be in Salisbury Baptist Church, but not in Jesus' church if you don't know Jesus. He that has the son has life, and he that does not have the son of God does not have life. Will you come if, generally speaking I reckon 99% of the people in our morning services already know Jesus, so I'm not expecting that there's a lot of people who don't, but just in case there's a person here who says, you've been talking on my topic, who says, that's true of me, then I'm going to invite you to find Christ this morning.

I'm going to invite you to come out in the open about your need of him. If you're not sure exactly where you're at, I'm going to invite you to come seeking, even if you are a person who just hasn't worked out whether you are or not. How I'm wanting you to respond, why I'm wanting you to respond is because this verse in Revelation 3.20 has two responses talked about. One is that the church needs to see that Jesus is the centre of it. That's why he's knocking at the door of the church, but the individuals have been given a call, a personal call. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him and fellowship with him and he with me. That's inclusive language. It means whether you're a woman or a man, Jesus speaks personally to you to give him an entrance. I'm going to ask if you don't know for sure that that's you, that as we come to our final music, we have our singing people leading us, I'm going to come and stand down the front. During the singing, you have an opportunity to come and stand next to me. I know probably that doesn't apply. I don't do this that often because I don't want people to feel we're always putting you on the spot, but this is so important. If you need to be sure that you have received Christ, to come and stand next to me. Everybody will know what you're saying is that you're settling this question. If you have other issues that God might have spoken to you on, and I have to confess that I can't make God speak on any given topic, and I often give messages aiming there, and then someone comes and says, God spoke to me there, and it's not my doing. It's what the Lord can do.

Then you can come and talk to us also. You don't have to come to the front, but I want coming to the front to mean you want to get certain that you have received Christ. Is that plain enough? If there's other issues in the fellowship time that we have, you can talk to me or other folk. There's probably here a good 20 people who'd love to talk to you on the topic of your need because we have a lot of our folk who have become clued up to the fact that folk come to our church because they're seeking God, and the way you find God is through Jesus. Often we have issues in our sanctification that we'd like help for, and we get it in the fellowship of the church, which is wonderful. It's not the higher grounds this morning, is it? But we still have people staying. I brag about our church. I tell my fellow pastors I often leave before the people because they come, and there's always someone staying for hours and hours, it seems to me. But that's good, and there are many people here who enjoy that fellowship we have after the service. So you can speak to people at that time if you wish. But if you need to check up or that you want to be certain that you've received Christ, and I'm not worried if no one comes, I don't mind, but just to give an opportunity if there's someone here, come and stand next to me as you sing the final piece of music. We'll chat afterwards. We'll sit down and have a chat.

Let's have first a moment of prayer. Heavenly Father, I thank you for this marvellous verse that's got two calls for response. One for the church to realise that they're not alone and to realise Jesus can be left outside sometimes. And two for individuals who've never really made the journey from what basically is Old Testament Christianity or Old Testament religion and not yet been born again, not yet discovered what it is to rejoice in the presence of the Saviour. If there is such a one here, would you give them the courage to come? We ask in Jesus' name. Amen.

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