“0 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.”
Charles H. Spurgeon, Sermon on Revelation 3:20
(July 26, 1874, delivered at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington)
‘Behold,’ saith he, ‘I stand at the door and knock.’ I have known this text preached upon to sinners numbers of times as though Christ knocked at their door and they had to open it, and so on. The preacher has never managed to keep to free grace for this reason, that the text was not meant to be so used, and if men will ride a text the wrong way, it will not go. This text belongs to the church of God, not to the unconverted. It is addressed to the Laodicean church.
There is Christ outside the church, driven there by her unkindness, but he has not gone far away, he loves his church too much to leave her altogether, he longs to come back, and therefore he waits at the doorpost. He knows that the church will never be restored till he comes back, and he desires to bless her, and so he stands waiting, knocking and knocking, again and again; he does not merely knock once, but he stands knocking by earnest sermons, by providences, by impressions upon the conscience, by the quickenings of his Holy Spirit; and while he knocks he speaks, he uses all means to awaken his church.
Most condescendingly and graciously does he do this, for having threatened to spue her out of his mouth, he might have said, ‘I will get me gone; and I will never come back again to thee,’ that would have been natural and just; but how gracious he is when, having expressed his disgust he says, ‘Disgusted as I am with your condition, I do not wish to leave you; I have taken my presence from you, but I love you, and therefore I knock at your door, and wish to be received into your heart.
I will not force myself upon you, I want you voluntarily to open the door to me.’ Christ’s presence in a church is always a very tender thing. He never is there against the will of the church, it cannot be, for he lives in his people’s wills and hearts, and ‘worketh in them to will and to do of his own good pleasure.’
He does not break bolt and bar and come in as he often does into a sinner’s heart, carrying the soul by storm, because the man is dead in sin, and Christ must do it all, or the sinner will perish; but he is here speaking to living men and women, who ought also to be loving men and women, and he says, ‘I wish to be among you, open the door to me.’ We ought to open the door at once, and say, ‘Come in, good Lord, we grieve to think we should ever have put thee outside that door at all.’
And then see what promises he gives. He says he will come and sup with us. Now, in the East, the supper was the best meal of the day, it was the same as our dinner; so that we may say that Christ will come and dine with us. He will give us a rich feast, for he himself is the daintiest and most plenteous of all feasts for perishing souls. He will come and sup with us, that is, we shall be the host and entertain him: but then he adds, ‘and he with me,’ that is, he will be the host and guest by turns.
We will give him of our best, but poor fare is that, too poor for him, and yet he will partake of it. Then he shall be host, and we will be guest, and oh, how we will feast on what he gives! Christ comes, and brings the supper with him, and all we do is to find the room. The Master says to us, ‘Where is the guest chamber?’ and then he makes ready and spreads his royal table.
Now, if these be the terms on which we are to have a feast together, we will most willingly fling open the doors of our hearts and say, ‘Come in, good Lord.’ He says to you, ‘Children, have you any meat?’ and if you are obliged to say, ‘No, Lord,’ he will come in unto you none the less readily, for there are the fish, the net is ready to break, it is so full, and here are more upon the coals ready. I warrant you, if we sup with him, we shall be lukewarm no longer. The men who live where Jesus is soon feel their hearts burning.
It is said of a piece of scented clay by the old Persian moralist that the clay was taken up and questioned. ‘How camest thou to smell so sweetly, being nothing but common clay?’ and it replied, ‘I laid for many a year in the sweet society of a rose, until at last I drank in its perfume’; and we may say to every warm-hearted Christian, ‘How camest thou so warm?’ and his answer will be, ‘My heart bubbleth up with a good matter, for I speak of the things which I have made touching the King. I have been with Jesus, and I have learned of him.’
Now, brethren and sisters, what can I say to move you to take this last medicine? I can only say, take it, not only because of the good it will do you, but because of the sweetness of it. I have heard say of some persons that they were pledged not to take wine except as a medicine, but then they were very pleased when they were ill: and so if this be the medicine, ‘I will come and sup with him, and he with me,’ we may willingly confess our need of so delicious a remedy. Need I press it on you? May I not rather urge each brother as soon as he gets home today to see whether he cannot enter into fellowship with Jesus? and may the Spirit of God help him!
This is my closing word, there is something for us to do in this matter. We must examine ourselves, and we must confess the fault if we have declined in grace. An then we must not talk about setting the church right, we must pray for grace each one for himself, for the text does not say, ‘If the church will open the door,’ but ‘If any man hear my voice and open the door.’ It must be done by individuals: the church will only get right by each man getting right. Oh, that we might get back into an earnest zeal for our Lord’s love and service, and we shall only do so by listening to his rebukes, and then falling into his arms, clasping him once again, and saying, ‘My Lord and my God.’
That healed Thomas, did it not? Putting his fingers into the print of the nails, putting his hand into the side, that cured him. Poor, unbelieving, staggering Thomas only had to do that and he became one of the strongest of believers, and said, ‘My Lord and my God.’ You will love your Lord till your soul is as coals of juniper if you will daily commune with him. Come close to him, and once getting close to him, never go away from him anymore.
The Lord bless you, dear brethren, the Lord bless you in this.
Charles H. Spurgeon