17. HE KEEPS KNOCKING
The Greek word in Revelation 3:20 which is translated to "stand", literally translated, means that the Lord remains standing and knocking. He never ceases to knock.
If you are ten years old, and you have not yet opened your heart to the Lord, it means that He has been standing at the door of your heart, knocking, for ten years, or for twenty or for fifty, depending on your age at this moment.
It is tempting to assume that the Lord will not knock forever. There are even parts of Scripture that seem to suggest that the Lord might withdraw from us at some stage. In Hosea 4:17, for example, we read: "Ephraim is joined to idols; leave him alone!" It does seem as though the Lord has abandoned them. But a little further, we read: "How can I give you up, Ephraim! How can I hand you over, Israel? How can I treat you like Admah? How can I make you like Zeboiim? My heart is changed within me; all my compassion is aroused." (Hos 11:8)
I know what you might say now: "If that is the case, I am not coming to repentance now. I will wait until the last moment. Just before I die, I will open my heart to the Lord so that He can enter"; you may, if you want to. Even if you have made a mess of your life, the Lord will not reject you at the last moment. He did not reject the criminal on the cross, and He will not do it to you. The convict had made a mess of his life. Even on the cross, he joined the other convict in insulting Jesus. (Matt 27:44) But then he was stricken with remorse, rebuked his fellow convict and told Jesus: "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." (Luke 23:42) And Jesus immediately responded by saying: "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise." (Luke 23:43)
Therefore, if you do not open your heart for the Lord Jesus to enter today, He will still be there tomorrow and the next day, still knocking, until you open for Him. He will never stop knocking.
But, if I were you, I would not postpone until later, because you do not know if there will be a 'later' for you. The Bible warns us that we might be dead before tomorrow. (Cp. Jas 4:13-17)
One evening, while I was still a minister in Krugersdorp, a deacon and I were making house calls. We had barely arrived at the home of the Van der Berg family when Mr van der Berg asked: "Pastor Willie, can one be certain of one's salvation?" I explained the way of salvation to them as best I could. They understood everything I said, and decided to dedicate themselves to the Lord that very same evening. When we left, I urged them again: "You must dedicate yourselves to the Lord tonight, because no one knows if tomorrow will ever come."
Early the next morning the deacon called me and said: "Come quickly, Mr van der Berg has died." It was one of the most difficult fifteen minutes of my life on the way to the van der Berg home. I reproached myself: "Why did I leave the van der Berg home the previous evening without making sure that they had come to repentance? What if they did not do it?"
When I arrived at the van der Berg's home, I did not even bother to greet Mrs van der Berg, but immediately asked: "Did you do what you had undertaken to do last night?" When she answered affirmatively, I asked her to what had happened.
She told me that they had both accepted the Lord Jesus as their Saviour, immediately after our departure. Her husband had then left the house to make some adjustments to his car, but had returned after a short while, complaining of a severe pain in his head. She sent him to fetch a glass of water while she looked for the pain pills. When he failed to return from the kitchen, she went to investigate and found him there, lying on his back. When the doctor arrived, he determined that a blood-clot had caused Mr van der Berg's death, almost instantly. He had died barely twenty minutes after accepting the Lord Jesus as his Saviour.
It was my privilege, to assure his family and friends at the funeral that he had been saved in time. But what would I have told them, if the van der Berg's had decided to postpone their reconciliation with Jesus until later that evening? Where would he then have spent eternity?
It is possible that the Lord would have saved him in any event, for God has on occasion accepted the willingness as the actual deed. We read, for example, that by faith, Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice (Heb 11:17, 18), although we know that Isaac was not actually sacrificed. (Gen 22:12) In this case, God accepted the willingness of Abraham as if he had done the deed. It was probably because God knew that Abraham had submitted himself wholeheartedly to the will of God. But how would we have known whether Mr van der Berg had decided to accept the Lord as his Saviour with his whole heart later? Only God would have known. God alone knows the hearts of all people (1 Kings 8:39), we can only hope that he had been saved, nothing more. It is foolish to wait before committing ourselves as death sometimes comes unexpectedly (Cp. Luke 13:4); we cannot afford to gamble with our eternal destination.
Further, if we let the opportunities pass that God provides for us to be saved, we might later find that we are no longer interested in eternal life. We learn from Ecclesiastes 12:1: "Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, 'I find no pleasure in them." Of course, God will never stop knocking, but we may no longer be interested in salvation.
Remember, that the warnings and blessings of God, announced in Scripture, were always given conditionally. Scripture says: "If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned. And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted, and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it." (Jer 18:7-10)
Please do not despise the riches of God's kindness, tolerance and patience, because you do not realise that God, in His mercy, wants to bring you to repentance. (Cp. Rom 2:4) It is written: "God 'will give to each person according to what he has done.' To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger." (Rom 2:7,8)