Posted by: rcottrill | September 16, 2013

Let Him In

Words: Jonathan Burtch Atchinson (b. Feb. 17, 1840; d. July 15, 1882)
Music: Edwin Othello Excell (b. Dec. 13, 1851; d. June 10, 1921)

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: This invitation hymn was published in 1885. It’s two drawbacks, in my mind, are the fifteen repetitions of the phrase, “let Him in,” and the repeated leap, in the music, from A-flat to a high F. Nonetheless, it makes an urgent invitation hymn. And there’s a touching story of its effectiveness on the Cyber Hymnal.

The song is based on the gracious plea of the Saviour to the church at Laodicea, as recorded in the book of Revelation:

“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 [feast] with him, and he with Me” (Rev. 3:20).

Though the Greek word deipneo is used, which refers to feasting, the basic idea seems to be that Christ is issuing an invitation to fellowship with Him, and enjoy delightful companionship.

In the context, we see that the church at Laodicea was remarkable for its wealth in worldly terms. But in spiritual things the people were lukewarm, and they were blind to their poverty in the things that really mattered. Somewhere along the way, they have shut Christ out. He may have been mentioned in their hymns and rituals, but they had no personal relationship with Him. To them, he was a “Stranger.” The Lord calls upon them to repent, and invite Him back in where He belongs (Rev. 3:14-14).

Given the purpose in its context, some have been critical of this text being used for an invitation to salvation. Granted that isn’t its primary meaning. However, I can see a possible secondary application to an evangelistic appeal for a couple of reasons. First, because, though the passage is addressed to a church, the Lord recognizes that any repentance and change that takes place must first of all occur at the individual level. That’s why the appeal is made, “If anyone…”

Second, John speaks of salvation as “receiving” Christ, and equates that with believing in Him. The Greek words used in the following texts (two forms of the same word) mean: to claim for one’s self, to associate with as a companion. This would seem to fit the metaphor of “anyone” opening the door.

“As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (Jn. 1:12-13). Compare Colossians 2:6, “As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him.”

Several instructive, and solemn thoughts are brought out in the song. “Let Him in e’er He is gone,” for example (CH-1), and “if you wait He will depart (CH-2). As the Lord declares in Genesis, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever” (Gen. 6:3). God is gracious, but the gracious invitation to turn to Him and be saved will not be extended indefinitely. “Behold, now is the accepted time; now is the day of salvation” (II Cor. 6:2).

“He will keep you to the end” (CH-2), is a reference to the security of the one who puts his faith in Christ. He promises, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand” (Jn. 10:28). “Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” (Rom. 8:34-35).

“He will speak [declare] your sins forgiven” (CH-4) reflects a major topic of the Word of God. The word “forgiven” itself is found over a hundred times, with many other synonyms (cleansing, etc.) and images of forgiveness in addition. God says to Israel, “I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more” (Jer. 31:34). And the prophet Micah says of Him, “You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea” (Mic. 7:19). One of the evidences of Christ’s deity is that He forgave sins, while on earth (e.g. Matt 9:2). And John writes, “Your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake” (I Jn. 2:12).

“He will take you home to heav’n” (CH-4) is part of the blessed hope of all the saints. Christ has gone up to our heavenly home to prepare a place for us. He has promised: “I will come again and receive you to Myself” (Jn. 14:2-3; cf. I Thess. 4:16-18).

CH-1) There’s a Stranger at the door: let Him in;
He has been there oft before: let Him in.
Let Him in, ere He is gone;
Let Him in, the Holy One,
Jesus Christ the Father’s Son: let Him in!

CH-4) Now admit the heav’nly Guest: let Him in;
He will make for you a feast: let Him in.
He will speak your sins forgiv’n,
And when earth-ties all are riv’n,
He will take you home to heav’n: let Him in!

1) How would you explain the meaning of the phrase, “Let Him in”?

2) What invitation hymns are commonly used in your church?

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


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