Rev. 3:20- "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come into him and dine with him, and he with Me." (NKJV)
This often quoted verse has been the basis for many a preacher or evangelist to exhort the lost to make Jesus Lord of their lives. Many have used this verse to point out that Jesus will not force Himself into our lives; it is we who decide to follow Him. We open the door of our own hearts and only then does He enter in. (There is a famous painting depicting this verse; Jesus is knocking on the door, but there is no knob on the outside for Him to open the door. The only knob is on the inside where only the occupant can use it to open the door.) And then we have fellowship with our Lord as pictured in terms of "I will come into him and dine with him, and he with Me."
While the Lord may work through such a use of His Word to bring sinners to repentance, we must remember that this verse was originally addressed to believers, those who already had made Jesus Lord of their lives. This message was written to the Church of Laodicea. This Church had become prosperous and its members had forgotten their need of God and who they were apart from Him. A preacher or evangelist could legitimately use this verse in revival services, hoping that individual believers who have grown cold would repent and experience a personal revival.
Yet there is one more thing that needs to be pointed out about this verse. It was not originally addressed to individuals, but to the whole Church of Laodicea. It was read publicly in the entire assembly so the Church could repent and be revived as a whole. We speak of revival as an event where the Holy Spirit sweeps through the land cleansing sin from hearts and restoring fellowship between believers and God. Yet there is a order of revival found in this verse and in the whole of Scripture. First God rebukes and chastens and then repentance takes place. God reveals to us our current state; we are wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked. Once we understand and repent, then we receive from God that which molds us into a new state, collectively we are molded into the people God wants us to be. (See Rev. 3:14-19.) Yes, there is a place for individual revival; thank God for that! However, ultimately God wants us to repent as a whole. Then the Church will truly be the Church Triumphant. Then the Church will fulfill the Biblical requirements for revival ( IIChron. 7:14). Only when the Church repents as a whole will the Church as a whole experience the fellowship the Lord desires to have with His Church.