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Repentance From Dead Works (27)


After weeks of studying the Lords comments about the church in Sardis, we shall now turn to His comments about the sixth of the seven churches in the book of Revelationthe church in Philadelphia. But before we do so in a moment, let us be reminded of the promises that the Lord Jesus made to all those who repent of their dead works, from our last broadcastthey shall be clothed in white; their names will not be deleted from the book of life; and, the Lord will announce to God, the Father, and the angels in heaven, that they are those who have overcome, and deserving of honour!

Revelation 3:7-13 (that is our scripture text for today); And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name. Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee. Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

The church in Philadelphia opens us into a world of understanding of the ways and work of God that may not have been known to us before now. Besides the introduction of Himself specific to His assessment of the church, as was the case in His assessment of the other churches, in which the Lord tells the church in Philadelphia that He, being the One Who opens a door and no man can shut, and Who shuts a door and no man can open; He has opened a door unto them, which no man can shut!

We shall spend some time in this broadcast, looking at the issue of open doors, as it holds the key to our understanding what the Lord was saying to the church in Philadelphia, and by extension, the church of God in this present Age. Before looking at what an open door means, let us note that the Lord did not say that He will open a door; but that He had already opened the door, and that no man can shut it. By this statement, the Lord was encouraging the church to enter through the door which He had already opened unto them. The question then is, What door?

A door is an access way into a place or into something which is not open to everybody. A door can be opened to some people and shut to others. A door is therefore, a means of restricting access into a place. An open door then, is the opening of a restricted access way or the granting of entry into a restricted place. Our next question then is, What does such an open door lead to? We shall now turn to instances of open doors in the New Testament to answer this question.
1. In 1 Corinthians 16:9, Paul, the apostle, told of a great door that was opened unto him, and for that reason, he was staying longer than expected in Ephesus. In this instance, the open door was an unusual access to ministry among the Jews in Ephesus, as recorded in Acts 18:19-21: And he [Paul] came to Ephesus, and left them [Priscilla and Aquila] there: but he himself entered into the synagogue, and reasoned with the Jews. When they desired him to tarry longer time with them, he consented not; But bade them farewell, saying, I must by all means keep this feast that cometh in Jerusalem: but I will return again unto you, if God will. And he sailed from Ephesus. It was unusual in Pauls ministry to enter into a synagogue of the Jews, and come out unsullied. Usually, by the time he would have been coming out of the synagogue, he would either have done so in continuous contention that Jesus is the Author of eternal salvation (which He is), or, he would have had to be thrown out by an angry mob, wanting to stone him to death! But here, the Jews were eager to hear him speak, and wanted him to stay longer, but Paul had to leave, though, with a promise to return. And, in Acts 19:1-20, the bible records the return of Paul to Ephesus, and this time, he spent all of two years engaging in ministry to both the Jews, and the Gentiles, which included: leading some disciples of John the Baptist to receive the salvation of Christ, and the baptism of the Holy Spirit; disputing and persuading the Jews about the things of the kingdom of God over the space of three months; continuing therefrom in the school of Tyrannus, when he was no longer welcome in the synagogue of the Jews; spreading the word of God from Ephesus as the epicentre into the region of Asia Minor; performing special miracles, in which handkerchiefs or aprons were taken from Paul for healing of the sick, curing diseases, and dislodging evil spiritsa particular incident was documented in which a demon possessed man thoroughly beat up seven brothers who were trying to exorcize the demon using the name of Jesus; a name they had no authority to use. This incident led to the fear of God in the region, the salvation of souls, and the burning of mystical books.
2. In 2 Corinthians 2:12, Paul wrote, Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ's gospel, and a door was opened unto me of the Lord. The reference to open door here was in respect of access into the hearts of men, thus enabling Paul to preach the gospel to the people in Troas without hindrance, and with the impact of salvation.
3. In Colossians 4:3-4, Paul asked the church in Colossae to pray that, God would open a door of utterance unto him, to declare the mystery of Christ, in such a way that all to whom he spoke will believe and receive Christ into their lives. Here, the open door Paul was referring to was enablement from God to preach and teach the gospel, as it should be preached and taughtwith impact in the hearts and lives of the hearers. The same meaning is conveyed in Ephesians 6:18-20, where again, Paul asks the church in Ephesus to pray for him that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. The word mystery deserves some elaboration at this point. A mystery is not some mystical knowledge; but the knowledge which was hidden from men at one time, but which has now been made known to men. Such a revelation from God can be very difficult to express if a person has not received grace from God to do so; hence, Pauls request! Many Christians have not been able to express the mystery of the gospel, largely because they have refused the training and preparation for ministry by God; for which no quantum of prayer is a substitute. And, to circumvent God (which is by itself a strange proposition), such untamed and untamable Christians have resorted to all kinds of tricks and antiques, which have nothing to do with God and which definitely does not glorify God. You see, when a person is not given access into the mystery of the gospel of Christ, he will wrongly and incorrectly interpret the word of God, thereby leading people to hell! It is important to note that Gods training and preparations are not necessarily attending a bible school; rather, it is the day-to-day discipline of the believer in Christ by God, so that he can subordinate himself to God in humility and holiness!
4. Finally, in Matthew 16:19, the Lord said to Peter specifically, and to as many as He would grant that grace thereafter, that to these, He would give the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And in Acts Chapters 2 and 10, we see that in the course of Peters ministry, he was the agency for opening of the doorway of salvation to the Jews, and also to the Gentiles, respectively. Also, in Acts Chapter 8, Philip opened the gospel to Samaria, and to an Ethiopian eunuch, and they in turn were open to receiving the salvation of Christ. So, the keys of the kingdom of heaven is for opening the door for the salvation of souls!

Dear brothers and sisters, the essence of this exposition on open doors is so that we can gain proper perspective and debunk current predominant teaching on the subject, where the meaning is wrongly ascribed to the obtaining of personal desires like; cars, jobs, houses, contracts, marriage, children, and so on. As used by the Lord in His message of assessment to the church in Philadelphia, and as it is generally used in the New Testament, an open door is the grace given to certain individuals, who are first and foremost born again, and whose desire is to expand the kingdom of God. Thus, open doors refer to access to an individual or a church, to enable them do the good work of ministry in a manner that brings glory to God as they impact lives on earth with the gospel. Open doors also refer to the knowledge that had been hidden about Christ in the Ages past, but which is now available to all and sundry, to receive and be saved. Open doors have to do with bringing men and women into the saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, principally, through the agency of the word of God. This meaning holds the key to the Lords assessment of the church in Philadelphia, and of the churches in the world today. So, when the Lord said to the church in Philadelphia, I have set before thee an open door, He was saying to them that He had given them access into the hearts of men, and the grace to declare the truth about Christ, which had before now been hidden to mankind, but which He is now making known to them, so that they can go and bring in men and women into the kingdom of God with this revealed truth; which is, the gospel.
The reason for giving the church in Philadelphia this open door will be the subject of our next broadcast, but at this time, let us briefly declare to you, the mystery of Christ. Seeing the whole world wallowing helplessly in sin, God sent His only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to come and pay the penalty for sin, by dying on the cross at Calvary. So, through Jesus death, God can now forgive and receive all those who accept and believe that Jesus death was payment for the penalty for their own sins. Anyone who believes that Jesus died to take away their own sins, such a person will be forgiven and delivered from the consequence of his past sins; he will be given the grace not to sin again henceforth; and, he will be saved from Gods judgment which has been upon all the inhabitants of the earththe sentence of which is eternity in hell! This, in a nutshell, is the gospel. No wonder, all those who heard this message were filled with joy; even though they were persecuted, and were in poverty. Unfortunately, a gospel of prosperity from the devil is now being preached by people to whom the door of ministry has not been opened. Friend, the truth about the gospel is that it is the message of Gods rescue plan to a helpless and dying world. Will you accept Gods lifeline and live eternally in heaven? Or are you just interested in acquiring things here on earth? Do you know of anyone who took his possessions with him after death? Do you know of anyone who flew in his private jet into heaven? Do not be deceived, salvation is not about wealth or acquisitions; it is about saving your soul from the judgment of God! Come to Jesus now, and be saved!

Let us pray!