I grew up in a Christian world where salvation was only found through one door: praying the sinner’s prayer. At church, Bible camp, VBS, Sunday school, and in my own home, it seemed that there was one unifying message: the way to be saved from hell was to ask Jesus to come into your heart.
Where did that idea come from? There is no Bible passage that tells us to do this. There is no passage on praying the sinner’s prayer. Perhaps even more worrisome, no believers in all of the Christian Church held this practice. So where did nearly all recent American Christians get this idea?
It is probably because we have all heard evangelists quote from Revelation: “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” (Revelation 3:20). “Usually the evangelist applies this text as an appeal to unbelievers, saying: “Jesus is knocking at the door of your heart. If you open the door, then He will come in.” In the original saying, however, Jesus directed His remarks to the church. It was not an evangelistic appeal.”
But even if Revelation 3:20 wasn’t originally an evangelistic Bible verse, could we turn it into one? No, because if we make this verse about “how to get saved,” we will miss the beautiful truth God has for us! Jesus is teaching His church to listen to His Word, the Scriptures, and seek Him with all of our heart.
Christian pastor and theologian R.C. Sproul wrote, “The point is that seeking is something that unbelievers do not do on their own. The unbeliever will not seek. The unbeliever will not knock. Seeking is the business of believers. Jonathan Edwards said, ‘The seeking of the Kingdom of God is the chief business of the Christian life.’ Seeking is the result of faith, not the cause of it.”
The Christian life begins at conversion; it does not end where it begins. It grows; it moves from faith to faith, from grace to grace, from life to life. This movement of growth is prodded by continual seeking after God.
Just like we love God because He first loved us (I John 4:19), we will not seek after God until He first seeks us (John 4:23). Jesus does not stand at the door of my heart and knock, vainly hoping I will open it. Jesus is Lord of all, and even Lord of my life, whether I trust Him or not. The problem is not for Jesus; He is sovereign! The problem is for me: either I will trust Him, and own Him as Lord in glory, or I will be His subject of wrath for all eternity.
Jesus does not need to come into my heart, because He is right now sitting at the right hand of God the Father, the Almighty. There, Jesus sits because He has completely accomplished our redemption, and He is praying for each of His believers by name before the Father. Picture a military general: he is not down on the front lines, but above at HQ, where he can oversee the battalions and squadrons, directing them into the fray. Jesus is not indwelling my heart on the front lines of the spiritual battle; He is at the Father’s throne, guiding His Church toward the defeat of Satan.
Also, Jesus cannot come into my heart! In His resurrected body, Jesus cannot be at the Father’s throne, squeeze his glorified body “into my heart” (whatever that might mean), and be in your heart at the same time. He can, however, send His Spirit! Scripture teaches that it is not Jesus who lives within us, but His Spirit that indwells Christians.
Jesus stands at the door and knocks, but He is knocking for His church family to open up to seeking Him spiritually, day by day. “In your spiritual walk, are you moving from faith to faith, from grace to grace, from life to life? Are you continually seeking after God?”
photo from Ligonier