Greg Laurie — Is Christ at Home in Your Heart?
We have all heard the expression that you just need to receive Jesus Christ into your life. Or sometimes as it is said you need to ask Jesus to come into your heart. Is that really biblical to say such a thing? I heard the story of a mother who was telling her little daughter that Jesus lived in her heart. So the little girl put her ear to her mom's chest. The mom said, "What are you doing"? She said, "I am listening for Jesus". The mom said, "What is he saying right now". The little girl listened a little bit more and said, "Right now I think he is making coffee". I don't know if that mom had indigestion or what.
Let me say this. It is biblical to say you should receive Christ into your life. It is biblical to say you should ask Jesus Christ to come in your heart. Why? Because Colossians 1:27 says, "This is the secret. Christ lives in you". Then we are told in John 1:12, "For as many as received him, he gave them the right to become a child of God". Jesus said in John 14:23, "If any man loves me and he will keep my word, then my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him". So indeed Christ does come to live inside us. Indeed we do receive him. God does make his home with us. But the most oft quoted verse when it comes to this topic is certainly Revelation 3:20 where Jesus says, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and sup with him," or dine with him and he with me.
Really it is interesting because contextually that statement was given to the church of Laodicea, which is also known as the lukewarm church. I think you could make a pretty good case for questioning if many of the people in this church were even believers. But to sort of the compromised person, to the lukewarm person, the person who is not as committed as they ought to be, Jesus says, "I stand at the door and I knock and if you will hear my voice and open the door I will come in". When we talk about Jesus dining with us the meaning of that is lost on our fast food culture. Because we go to the fast food place and order our food. Now they have a little timer that you can watch if your food is being made quickly enough. In-n-out they take longer. But it is worth the wait isn't it? Come on. Yeah. It is fast food still. You eat it on the run and so forth.
So this idea of dining is sort of lost in us in many ways in the 21st century. In the first century in the days of Jesus they didn't have drive through restaurants. They didn't have McDavid's or something. Falafel Bell. I don't know what. In-n-out something. Bagel. There you go. The meal was the main event of the day. There were no televisions. There were no video games or tablet devices or iPhones. You would just at the end of the day kick back. You would relax and have a long leisurely meal with your close friends and your family. It was a time to let your hair down. In my case that is singular. The idea was to enjoy fellowship one with another. When Jesus says, "If you will hear my voice and open the door, I will come and dine with you". Or king James sup with you. That is the idea. We will spend time together.
So here is my question. Do you think Jesus is comfortable hanging out with you? Are you the kind of a person that he can have a long leisurely meal with? Could he actually take some food off of your plate if he wanted to? Is that the kind of relationship you have? Or is it more formal or a bit removed? We are going to get to that in a moment.
Go down to Ephesians 3:14 Paul writes these words. "For this reason". I am back in the new king James version now. "I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that he would grant you, according to the riches in glory, to be strengthened with might through his Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith: that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height-to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge: that you may be filled with all the fullness of God". Now his benediction. "Now to him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we could ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations. Amen".
This is the second of two prayers recorded in Ephesians. The first is in Ephesians 1:18-19. In that prayer the emphasis is on enlightenment. Now Paul prays this interesting thing. That Christ would dwell in your hearts. My prayer for you is that Christ would dwell in your hearts. Wait a second? Who is he talking to here? Is he talking to nonbelievers? No. These are the believers in Ephesus. We have already discovered that they have been called, redeemed, adopted, justified, and sealed by the Holy Spirit. Why would you ask for Christ to dwell in a heart like that? Did they suddenly somehow lose their salvation between chapters 2 and 3? No.
Sometimes people think they have lost their salvation. Maybe they had one bad thought. They lost their temper. "I lost my salvation". I need to go get born again again. They come forward at an invitation. They prayer a prayer. Then something else happens the next week. I need to get born again again again and on it goes. Listen. You only need to be born again once. You don't have to be born again and again. When Christ comes into your heart and life, he comes into stay and he doesn't leave and return periodically. He stays there. That is good news. Right. Ephesians 4:30 says that we are sealed for the day of redemption. I love this promise from Jesus in John 10:28. He says, "I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish: no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all: and no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand".
So both Jesus and the Father have us firmly gripped in their hand. And you are worried about what? What if the devil grabs me? Not when the Father is holding your hand. Not when the Son of God is holding your hand. No one is going to snatch you out of their protective care. Coming back to this statement. What does Paul mean when he says that Christ may dwell in you? We have to go back to the original language for the answer. It is fascinating because the word that he uses here for dwell that Christ may dwell in you is a compound word which basically means to live in a house. But when a prefix meaning down is added the word comes to mean to settle down, to be at home in a house. He is not just saying my prayer is that Christ would come and live in your house so to speak or live in your heart. I am praying that he will come and settle down and be comfortable in your heart and life.
That is why the title of my message is, "Is Christ at home in your heart"? It is not that we just give Jesus a place. Lord here is your little spot. This little closet. That is yours. You can live there and come out on Sundays and we will talk a little and then I will put you back in the closet. The rest of this house is mine. You are our honored guest Lord. We honor you. He doesn't want to be your honored guest. He wants to be a permanent resident. News flash. He wants the title deed. News flesh. He wants the master key. He is master. He is Lord. He is the boss man. Not the honored guest.
So that is what Paul is saying. My prayer is that you will get this. That Christ will settle down and finally be at home in your heart. Do you think that is a description of your heart right now? There is a fascinating contrast back in the book of Genesis between two biblical characters that happened to be related. They were Abraham and Lot. Abraham of course we all know as the great patriarch of the Jewish people and then Lot was the nephew of Abraham. So you could say on one hand Abraham waked with God. Then you could say Lot walked with Abraham.
There are people that are very godly. They have their own relationship with the Lord. There are other people that will hang around people like that for a time and when they are around the godly man or woman they will be doing pretty well. But the moment they are away from the godly influence they are drug down immediately. They are not that godly influence somewhere else. They are the one that is influenced. Which one of those people are you? Are you an influencer? Or are you one who is weak and easily influenced by others. Abraham walked with God. Lot's life was not of that caliber.
So one day three angels came to visit Abraham. Many Bible commentators believe one of those angels was Christ himself. It may have been a Christophany. An appearance of Christ in the Old Testament. They come to Abraham the man of God who is in the middle of God's will doing God's work in God's way. Along come these three heavenly messengers. Possibly three angels. Possibly two angels and the Lord himself. They spent time with him. In contrast to Abraham Lot was living in Sodom and Gomorrah. That was the city that was known for excessive wickedness and depravity. Lot was in an ungodly place with ungodly people tolerating ungodly things. Christ comes to both of them in effect. Or at least the angels do.
Let me ask you a question. Where would you like to be when Christ returns? Worshipping the Lord in church or having a beer with the boys at the local bar? Where would you like to be? 2. They were in different positions when God came to them. Genesis 18:1 says, "Abraham was sitting at the entrance of his tent. While in contrast Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city". You see Abraham lived in tents because we are told over in Hebrews 11:10, "He looked for a city with foundations whose builder and maker was God". Abraham knew hey you know what my ultimate home is heaven. So until that day I will live in a tent.
In the same way we are in a tent. The Bible on more than one occasion calls our body a tent. Did you know that? Tents aren't meant to last forever. You can stretch them all you want and do whatever you want to your tent but it is going to wear out eventually. We are reminded of this in scripture. This body is temporary. But one day we will receive that glorified radically upgraded version of our body. One day we will be in a sinless state. One day we will be in heaven. We know as we walk through life on earth that we are sojourners. We are pilgrims. We are visitors. Our eternal home is in heaven. That doesn't mean we are disconnected and weird because I think Christians can enjoy life more than anyone because we know the God who made it. But at the same time we know that one day we will leave this world. That was Abraham. He knew that.
I find that those that think the most about the next life or the afterlife have the best version of this life. C. S. Lewis said it best, and I quote, "Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you will get neither". Does that make sense? If you aim at earth and everything is about earth, everything is about your possessions, everything is about this life now, you won't get earth and you won't get heaven. But if you aim at heaven and you seek heavenly things and you seek to honor God earth gets thrown in. You have a great life here on this earth but then one day even a greater life in heaven.
3. They reacted differently when the Lord came to them. When Abraham saw his heavenly visitors. Genesis 18:2 says, "He hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them". Lot in Genesis 19:1 just got up to meet them. When the Lord showed up with the angels at Abraham's tent and Abraham said, "We want to have a meal for you guys," they were like, "Great. Love to". He runs back to Sarah. "Sarah kill the fatted calf. Make some good food". They whip up this feast. They had a nice long time of fellowship. When the angels went to Sodom Lot said, "Why don't you come into my house and have a meal with me"? The said, "We would rather stand in the street". Wow. Talk about being blown off. Can you imagine? "Would you like to come in and have dinner. " "No. I would rather stand in the street". That is exactly what they said.
I bring this up because is Christ at home in your life. Would he come to you? Would he be comfortable? Would he settle down there? Would he be ill at ease sort of by things you do and decisions you make? When we talk about the heart we are talking about our life, our mind, our personality. There is a great little book out. I think it is still in print. It is called, "My heart Christ's home" by Robert Boyd Munger. He sort of paints a little picture in his book of our heart being like our home and what would happen if Jesus were to show up at our house? Think about this for a moment. You go home after church tonight and there is a knock at the door. It is kind of late. Who is knocking at our door? "Hello who is it"? "It is Jesus. I stand at the door and knock. If you will hear my voice and open the door I will come in". "I have heard that somewhere". You open the door and there stands before you Jesus Christ the Son of God. "Ok Lord come on in".
Munger sort of takes this idea of Jesus walking through his house. I quote from his book, "He entered with me and looked around at the books in my bookcase. My magazines on the table. The pictures on the walls. As I followed his gaze I became uncomfortable. Strangely enough I never felt bad about this room before. But now that he was there with me looking at these things I was embarrassed. There were some books on the shelves his eyes were too pure to look at. On the table were a few magazines a Christian has no business reading. As for the pictures on the walls the imaginations and thoughts of my mind, some of these were shameful".
Let's say Jesus was walking through your house. He is kind of checking out your library. You are looking at it with new eyes. Then he is going through your video collection checking out your DVDs. Ooh. Now he is over on your computer and he is looking at your history. He is looking at websites that you visited. Now he has your stinking phone. He is checking your emails and your texts. He is checking out everything. You are really uncomfortable. Why? Maybe there are some things you should not be doing. Here is the thing you need to know. Jesus does see all of these things. I wonder if you and I are doing something that would cause him to not be at home in your heart.
If we are, we need to make a change. Maybe there are some skeletons in our closet that he needs to deal with. This is the time to surrender every nook and cranny over to Christ. I don't even know what a nook and cranny are. I think you should surrender everything including those. He will clean your house. Know that. There is a show on TV on the food channel. Any of you watch the food channel. I like the food channel. It is not good to watch at night though, which is when we usually watch it and I get hungry. There is a show on the food channel that is called restaurant impossible. Have you ever seen that show? The host of the show is Robert Irvine. He is contacted by people who own restaurants that are failing for some reason. Their business is down and so forth. He shows up and checks out their restaurant and orders some food off of their menu. He will look at their facilities and look at how the staff interacts. Then he will come and say, "Here is what you need to do". He will get the owners and operators in there. He will talk to each staff member. Sometimes he will actually have to show them how to cook food properly and use fresh ingredients.
Then he has a team of people that will come in and refurbish a restaurant. In what seems to be a pretty short amount of time they will come in, tear everything apart, and they will bring new furniture in and new appliances and totally transform the place. Then they will have a grand opening. Then the owner they don't get to see what he is doing until it is all done. The show usually ends with a long line outside of the restaurant. The owner walks in and sees it for the first time. It is pretty cool actually. So that is what Jesus wants to do in your heart. He comes walking in. He says, "Ok. We are going to make some changes here. This is coming out. That has got to go. You have to change this area. I am going to put this". "This is a drag. I asked Christ to come into my life. He is messing everything up. It is like a construction site. It is a hardhat area. This is no fun". Just wait until he is done. Because what you are going to discover is whatever he removes from your life will be replaced by something far better. That is what we need to remember.
There may be things that he wants to change. There may be relationships that you are in right now that are dragging you down spiritually. Even worse. You might be dragging someone else down spiritually. Are you a stepping stone or a stumbling block to other Christians? There might be things you are looking at. Things you are listening to. Things you are exposing yourself to that are detrimental to your spiritual life. You are sort of like Lot living in two worlds. Too much of the world to be happy in the Lord. Too much of the Lord to be happy in the world. That is a stupid way to live your life. You want to be like Abraham where the Lord is comfortable hanging out with you and likes being with you and you like being with him. Is Christ at home in your heart? I didn't ask you if Christ lives in your heart. I asked you has he settled down and is he comfortable? Is he at home there? Because Paul says, "That is my prayer for you that Christ would finally settle down and be at home in your heart".