'BEHOLD, I STAND AT THE DOOR AND KNOCK'- Revelation 3:20
A specific message to a local church, not to a dead world
'Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me,' Rev ill 20. Few texts have had more falsehoods lavished out upon them thus than this has; for there are many who will stand up and say, that by this text is meant, that Christ by his ministers, his word, his gospel, his institutions of truth, his general providence, and by many particular events and circumstances, stands knocking at the door of every man's heart for salvation entrance. And Dr. S ... s once stood up in the pulpit at Bethel Chapel, Somers Town, and from this text said, that 'Jesus Christ set upon his throne, as it were, with his eyes suffused in tears, because sinners will not open to him, and come to him.' What potent thing must those preachers think man really to be? and what sort of weakling must those men take the Almighty Lord of the whole earth to be? I cannot for myself account for such an abuse of the sacred text, truth, and common sense, in the Lord's name, except that such men never did know the truth by the Holy Spirit, and that God has given them up as to their own sweetest taste of a lying spirit.
The words of our text are used by the Lord in his address to the Laodicean church, and to the minister of that church, verse 14; and to the church only they belong; for they no more belong to the world at large, than the world at large is the church of Christ under the very circumstances this church, from the 14th verse to the end of the chapter, is described to be in. Nor do these words belong 'or apply even to the church or churches of Christ, but under the circumstances and in the state this church is described to have been in; and therefore no such words are used in the respective addresses to the other churches, although their several states are described and their faults pointed out; because none of the other churches were in the state this was in; as being 'neither hot nor cold, but lukewarm,' in regard to the revealed truth, order, and ordinances of the Lord; while they were, on the other hand, religiously proud in a vain and false confidence, abounding in everything but the spirit, life, truth, order, and activity of true godliness, saying, 'I am rich, and increased in goods, and have need of nothing;' while, as to spirituality and all that pertained to the true figure, life and character of a church of Christ, they were 'wretched, poor, blind and naked,' and did not know it, verse 17; and of course did not believe it, but would count that man their enemy who would venture to tell them it was so with them. And they were like a people with their doors shut, and going to bed, very easy and quiet, as though there was every thing to glory in, with nothing to lament, and nothing to reprove. And to rouse them and convince them of the truth of their condition, the Lord charged them with being in the above state; threatening also to spew them out of his mouth,' that is, un-church them as a body, and take the truth and ordinances of his mouth from them, saying, 'As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten, be zealous therefore and repent,' verse 19; adding, 'Behold I stand at the door and knock;' with, 'He that hath an ear to hear, let him hear what the Spirit saith,' not unto the world, but 'unto the churches,' verse 22; ' and if any man hear my voice, and open the door,' as not altogether in the state of the body, 'I will come in to him, and sup with him, and he with me.' I will not bring the same afflictions, and rebukes, and chastenings upon him, that I will upon the body in the above state. 'He that hath an ear to hear, let him hear what the Spirit saith into the churches.'
The above religious pride and vain-glory, as rich, and increased in goods of almost every professional kind, together with the absence of the truth, and the true spirit of the gospel of the grace of God, appears to me to be the state of the professing church in this land in the present day, to an awful degree; and though I may be counted an enemy for saying it. 'This is a lamentation, and shall be for a lamentation,' Ezek xix 14. 'But God himself is Judge,' 'and the day shall declare it,' 1 Cor ill 13.