A woman seeking a divorce went before the judge. He asked, "On what grounds do you want a divorce?" She replied, "My husband and I own an acre and a half of ground. I'd like the divorce to cover the whole thing." The judge said, "No, you don't understand. I mean, do you have a grudge?" She said, "Yes, we have a two-car one. He keeps his car on the left, and I keep mine on the right." The judge asked, "No, what I mean is, does he ever beat you up?" The woman replied, "No, I'm up at least an hour before him every morning. Not once has he ever beat me up." The judge in desperation exclaimed, "I don't understand. What is the reason you want a divorce?" She said, "I don't understand it either. He says that I can't communicate."
Word choice is important to communication. Well-intentioned believers want to communicate the need to come to Christ and be saved. To do that, especially with children, they beg non-Christians to "invite Jesus into your heart."
There's a problem, though. That phrase isn't found in the Bible.
Only one verse could be considered to support such wording. Let's examine it in context.
Where does such a phrase originate?
Revelation 3:20, reads "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me." With that phrase in mind—"stand at the door and knock"—many picture the heart as having a door. As Jesus knocks on that door, He begs us to let Him in. So the lost are exhorted to "invite Jesus into your heart." The problem is, that verse is addressed to Christians, not non-Christians.
Consider the context. The preceding verse reads, "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten." Chasten means to train a child and is used throughout the New Testament of believers, not unbelievers. For example, the same word for chasten is used in Hebrews 12:5-6: "And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: 'My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the LORD loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives." Revelation 3:20 is also addressed to Christians and concerns their fellowship with the Lord; it's not to non-Christians concerning their salvation.
To be specific, this passage addresses the church of Laodicea, one of the seven churches of Asia mentioned in Revelation 2 and 3. The city was founded by Antiochus II and named after his wife, Laodice. With a profitable business arising from the production of wool cloth, Laodicea became wealthy. So wealthy that, when destroyed by an earthquake in A.D. 60, it was able to rebuild without outside help. That economic sufficiency lulled the church into a spiritual sleep.
Jesus Christ describes this distasteful condition as "lukewarm," neither cold nor hot toward spiritual matters. To such a church, as well as to all the churches mentioned in Revelation, Christ gives the invitation of Revelation 3:20. He represents Himself to the churches and the people within as standing outside the door awaiting an invitation to enter. He desires them to repent of their condition and make Him the center of their worship and love.
Two other things are worth noting. In Revelation 3:20, the Greek translation of in to means "toward." In figurative language, Jesus is saying to Christians that He will enter the church and come toward the believer for fellowship. Secondly, the word dine refers to the main meal of the day, to which you invited an honored guest. This would not be peanut butter and jelly sandwiches eaten hurriedly at the kitchen counter. More likely, it would be roast beef with tender carrots, potatoes, and gravy. It was the meal given over to hospitality and conversation. Had you said to my wife and me, "Come dine with us" and used this word, we would have known two things: you meant the evening meal, and you wanted to fellowship across the table. Jesus' offer, then, was one of intimate fellowship.