In Revelation 3, there is a message directed to three churches: the church in Sardis, the church in Philadelphia, and the church of the Laodiceans. For today, I want to focus on the message that was directed to the church in Philadelphia. In my key verse, we will read, “I know your works. I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name.”
Now, to me, this open door is very interesting. If I were taking a look at this scripture for the very first time, I would wonder: what is this open door? What does that door open up to? Lastly, I would wonder whether or not the open door set before the church in Philadelphia was meant only for that church or can an open door be set before anyone? If we pay close attention to this passage of scripture, we will be able to clearly see the answers to our questions.
The Open Door of God
In Revelation 3:7, the one speaking in the message that’s being directed to the church in Philadelphia is “He who is holy, He who is true,” and also “He who has the key of David.” The one that is holy, true, and has the key of David can be none other than Christ Himself.
To confirm that statement, we know that Christ is the only begotten Son of God. God the Son is holy, righteous, divine, incorruptible, and perfect (without flaw or blemish) because He is God in the flesh. To the disciples, we will remember that Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).” Jesus was born through the lineage of David which gave to Him the right to the throne as King. Today, He is sitting at the right hand of God, watching over all things as He is the sovereign (Matt. 28:18).
We will see in Revelation 3:7 that Jesus is the one that has authority over the door that was set before the church in Philadelphia. Jesus stated that only He can open and shut the door as nobody else is able to do so. So, since Jesus has authority over this door, we can now ask Him why did He set the door before the church in Philadelphia and why was it opened to them?
Accessible to all comers
In my key verse, Jesus tells us that the reason He set an open door before the church in Philadelphia was because of their works (activities of faith). What were their works? Jesus tells us that they kept His word. To keep: to retain, preserve, maintain; to stay or continue in; to be faithful to. The church in Philadelphia was a faithful church.
Even more to this point, Jesus said of their works that they had not denied His name. During that time, it was common, and even expected, for one to deny Christ; there were many professed believers in five of the seven churches in Revelation 2-3 that denied Christ. However, this church was a faithful church as it remained true (steadfast) to the name of Christ with no shame in proclaiming His name.
So, to be clear, because of their works – moving in sincere faith – Jesus set an open door before the church in Philadelphia. Now, is the open door of Christ exclusive only to those who were of the church of Philadelphia?
To answer that question, let’s take a look at what Jesus is recorded saying in Matthew 7:8. Jesus stated, “For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” So, according to His word, everyone could potentially access the door, but the door is only opened to those that knock!
Knocking on the Door of Christ
Do you want God to open up doors for you? So, if the Lord will only open doors to those that knock, that raises the question as to how one goes about knocking on God’s door?
In Matthew 7:7-8, asking, seeking, and knocking is being presented to us by Christ as three means for us to take in seeking God’s blessings, answers, help and solutions to our problems. Now, does this mean that God is withholding blessings, answers, and solutions from us? No, they are already there and available to us, however, some diligence and effort on our part is required at times for us to receive what we desire.
Asking is the easiest of those three means and most of the time will certainly suffice. However, as we have learned through our own journeys, there are times where we have to do a bit more than ask. So, we have to seek, and to seek requires us to actually put forth an effort of moving in our faith towards our blessings, answers, or solutions.
Something we have also learned on this journey is that there are often obstacles that can block our path. So, knocking on a door is indicative of a pathway appearing to be closed or shut off. However, as we know, when one knocks on the door, they are serious about getting our attention! In other words, they are serious about overcoming the blocked pathway of the door.
On this journey, there will certainly be times where we have to knock on the door of God in order to obtain our blessings, answers, or solutions. Sadly, many of us never go beyond the point of asking. In fact, many people don’t even bother with the asking part.
Sadly, so many of us are quick to give up on success and truly prospering because we feel that God isn’t answering. For one to be so quick to give up, that would suggest that they are fine with not having received a blessing, answer, or solution to a problem. Maybe the one that gives up so quickly has not reached a true level of need and so they settle for not receiving.
We should never settle for less when we know that God’s desire towards us is of peace, a future, and hope (Jer. 29:11). We know that the Lord desires to satisfy us in our hearts. I say to you today that if you truly desire to prosper – to be blessed, find answers, and solutions – you must be willing to seek the Lord in prayer and in the Word.
Beyond seeking there is knocking on the door of Christ which shows our commitment to pressing forward in faith regardless of what we may be going through. Again, Jesus said, “to him who knocks it will be opened.” So, you and I must keep on knocking on the door – pressing forward – until the pathway opens up before us. You see, the door opened up before the church in Philadelphia because they kept pressing forward where five of the other churches had stopped.
An Open Door to Life
Now, when God sets an open door before you, I want you to understand that He doesn’t open it up for you to just stand there and not enter; God expects for you to pass through the door He set open before you.
In John 10:9 Jesus said, “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved.” “If anyone enters” implies that some may choose not to enter even after Christ has opened the door to them. Let us not be one that was so committed to knock on the door only to back out and not enter the open door that Christ has set before us.
Now, you might begin to wonder, “Pastor, what is it that is on the other side of the door?” Well, Jesus tells us in John 10:9, that those who go through the door that He opens will “go out and find pasture”. So, on the other side of the open door that Christ sets before those that knock is pasture.
Now, what is it that’s in the pasture? Jesus tells us in John 10:10, “I have come that they (those who enter by Christ) may have life, that they may have it more abundantly.” So, the open door that Christ sets before you is a door that leads to life. Again, let us remember that Jesus said that He is the way, the truth, and the life.
This should make you wonder whether or not you have life today or not? Well, have you knocked on the door of Christ and gone out to the pasture the door leads to? I believe that everyone, since everyone has access to this door, and therefore life, should knock on God’s door so that they may enter into life.
Being able to go through God’s doors into the pasture of life is of great value. In our recent Sunday School lessons, we have seen that Paul said that he counted all the things he had gained in the world as loss for the excellence of such knowledge of life in Christ (Phil. 3:7). If you enter the door that the Lord sets before you, you will come to the knowledge of life in Christ.
The excellence of life in Christ
In Proverbs 8, Solomon spoke of this excellence as he urged for one to move and obtain God’s excellency which is far greater than any riches.
In Proverbs 8:1-3, we will see that Solomon asked, “Does not wisdom cry out, and understanding lift up her voice? She takes her stand on the top of the high hill, beside the way, where the paths meet. She cries out by the gates, at the entry of the city, at the entrance of the doors…”
Solomon, very clearly, was speaking about wisdom but I would like to point out how we should also recognize Christ in this statement. Skipping down to Proverbs 8:22-23, we will see that wisdom, personified, states, “The Lord possessed (had) me at the beginning of His way, before His works of old. I have been established from everlasting, from the beginning, before there was ever an earth.”
What is it that John wrote in the first chapter of his gospel? Did John not write, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1:1)”? Did John not say, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14)”?
Jesus is wisdom personified. To connect Him to this proverb even more, wisdom cried out from the top of hills and by the gates at the entrance of the city: Jesus cried out from hills and mountains to multitudes that they repent from wickedness. At His crucifixion, Jesus was made to carry His cross to a place called Golgotha (Calvary), which was a hill just outside the gates of Jerusalem (John 19:17; Heb. 13:10-12).
Let us understand that life in the pasture is filled with being able to grow closer together with Christ and to know Him more intimately through fellowship with Him. To many, knowing Christ and being in fellowship with Him more intimately will not seem like much. However, Solomon saw great value in the pasture and obtaining true riches.
The value of true wisdom
In Proverbs 8:18, we will see that Solomon said that those who obtain wisdom from God will obtain both riches and honor. I believe Solomon knew a thing or two about wisdom as we know that he had received a wise and understanding heart from the Lord in order to be able to discern between good and evil— to understand justice (1 Kgs. 3:9-12). Solomon, to be clear, said that with wisdom one is able to obtain enduring (lasting) riches and righteousness.
Solomon said that wisdom’s fruit (the fruit of Christ) is better than gold – fine gold – and its revenue is better than choice silver (Prov. 8:19). Of wisdom, Solomon said that wisdom (Christ) traverses (travels) the way of righteousness and in the midst of the paths of justice so that those who love wisdom will inherit wealth and fill their treasuries (Prov. 8:20-21).
So many of us, in our dreams and aspirations, desire to find great success and happiness and there is absolutely nothing wrong with having dreams of great success and happiness. The only part where so many of us go wrong is rather than going through God’s door for great success, we turn elsewhere.
I want you to understand that there is great wealth in the pasture that God opens His doors to. Now, to be clear, the wealth that is inherited by those that go out into the pasture the open door of Christ leads to is not made up of silver nor gold; it’s not made up of Washingtons and Benjamins, nor is it made up of stocks and bonds. The wealth that those who graze in that pasture is that of the spiritual gifts that God gives.
Again, this may not sound like much to many, but Proverbs 8:34-35 states, “Blessed is the man who listens to me (Christ/wisdom), watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors. For whoever finds me finds life, and obtains favor from the Lord.”
True success is available to everyone. However, true success – God’s great blessing – can only be enjoyed by those who knock on His door. Solomon said that whoever goes into the pasture obtains God’s favor. Personally, I much rather have obtained the favor of God over anything else I might be able to obtain in life.
Again, such a thought won’t sound like much to many but with God’s favor, in my trials, tribulations, and great affliction, I was lifted up by the Lord! When it, initially, seemed impossible for me to make it, I was able to make it when Christ set forth the open door before me and I entered. You see, going out into the pasture beyond His door has given me a new life as I have slowly learned not to be so stressed and so anxious because God will provide.
With the life given to me from grazing in His pasture, I have slowly learned to be at peace. This may not seem all that valuable to you, but being at peace in my heart is far more valuable to me than any amount of wealth I could grind and hustle for.
At the start of every year, many like to say, “new year, new me.” Yet, I wonder how many of us keep passing by the door of God? So, I urge all of you today, here at the start of 2024, to recognize the door set before you that only Christ can open and knock on it. Behind those doors you will prosper and find true success through the wisdom of knowing the Lord.
I encourage you not to pass by this door for some other doors. You see, behind those doors awaits nothing but mediocrity and failure.