“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;” Revelation 3:7. Jesus was speaking to one specific church, the church of Philadelphia. Yet today every Christian congregation believes their church is representative of this one church which Jesus had nothing but praise for.
First of all we know that Jesus was not at all unhappy with the church of Philadelphia (meaning brotherly love). They had persevered in times which were extremely difficult. They kept the faith, they did not waver on the Gospel, and they would not deny the name of Jesus Christ. Honestly, how many Christian churches fall into that category today?
“...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.” Revelation 3:8. Out of the seven churches addressed in the book of Revelation, by none other than Jesus Christ Himself, the church of Philadelphia is one of two churches which Jesus didn’t admonish to repent. And this particular church (the Church of Philadelphia) will not go through the horrible events of the Great Tribulation. “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.” Revelation 3:10.
Jesus titles Himself as Holy and True, having the key of David and having power over opening and closing. Jesus’ proclamation as being Holy and True declares His authority as God Almighty with power only He has to open and close doors, doors only He can open and close. Jesus references opening doors twice in the above verses while addressing the Church at Philadelphia, thus we can conclude from these references that there are two separate meanings being addressed. The first “open door” I believe refers to evangelism because, speaking of the Church at Philadelphia, they had the strength of Jesus and had kept His word which means they didn’t shirk their responsibility to preach the Gospel. In the following verses Paul plainly uses the open door idea. “For a great door and effectual [opportunity for spreading the Gospel] is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries.” 1 Corinthians 16: 9. “Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ's gospel, and a door was opened unto me of the Lord” 2 Corinthians 2:12. We also see it in Colossians “Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds:” Colossians 4:3. Evangelism is a door that God opens and it is commanded of all His followers that we recognize and walk through that door.
The second open door is the door that is open to Heaven. There are two Greek words we are concerned with: “Thyra”, meaning door or gate, and “Anoigō” which means open and refers to the door of Heaven as it is the same word used in the following verse, “And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.” John 1:51. Seeing Heaven’s door open will be the ultimate view by the Church as we are being Raptured. At some point after the Rapture, the door that leads to Heaven will be shut, forever.
Evangelism, for now, is a constant open door with proactive participants going about our Father’s business daily; that open door has remained so for the last 2,000 years. Even during the Great Tribulation there will be a tremendous amount of evangelism going on.
The other door, the door that leads to Heaven, is also currently open. As Stephen was being stoned to death he said: But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God. And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. Acts 7:55-56. At some point though, Jesus will shut that door and no man will be able to open it. There’s a picture type of this same shutting of doors in the Old Testament. “In the selfsame day entered Noah, and Shem, and Ham, and Japheth, the sons of Noah, and Noah's wife, and the three wives of his sons with them, into the ark; …And they that went in, went in male and female of all flesh, as God had commanded him: and the LORD shut him in.” Genesis 7:13 & 16. God shut the door to the ark and no man was able to open it. What I’m trying to say is that there is only so much time left before the doors are closed and, as we all know, time always runs out. Someday time will run out for entering Heaven. Time is one enemy that all Christ rejecters will soon come to despise.
How many churches today are involved in evangelism? What I mean by evangelism is, do Christian churches today seek people to come to church or do they send people who attend their church out to spread the truth of the Gospel of Christ? Jesus taught His disciples many things and gave them a simple commandment that He fully expected them to follow. As He was winding up His earthly ministry, He admonished His disciples to go into all the world and teach others what He had taught them. “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” Matthew 28:18-20.
That same commandment remains our marching orders today. Jesus was quite specific, when He says “Go ye”. What did He mean when He said “Go ye”? Did He mean go ye to that big white building every Sunday morning and sit in a pew for an hour and by doing so you’ll be fulfilling His Great Commission? No, He commands His own to be much more involved in spreading His good news than that. No matter how late the hour it’s never too late to witness to someone who is lost. Traversing the world in an attempt to evangelize is admirable and certainly is adhering to Christ’s command to spread His Gospel throughout the world, but you and I can find many lost folks right in our own communities who still need to hear the Gospel of truth. Why not start there? By the way “Ye” means “You”.
Then Jesus gave His disciples a final promise, a most important promise as they/we are to be about His business. “...lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” (v.20). I’m not sure everyone involved in ministry fully understands this promise. No matter who we are, no matter what Christian ministry we’re involved in, whether it is evangelism, preaching, street witnessing, or writing commentaries for the internet, His promise is clear. Jesus is with us and will remain with us during every aspect of that ministry.
Let’s take a deeper look at His promise. Presence, power, peace, and love are four distinct attributes associated with Jesus’ promise of always being with us whether we’re involved in witnessing or whether we’re being persecuted.
What could be more reassuring for a believer in Christ as we access the most powerful of powers in the universe? Jesus is handing His powers to us along with His Gospel to teach others, how can we fail? This is the open door He speaks about. If God Almighty tells you He’s opened a door for you to go out and evangelize the world or your next door neighbor, are you going to refuse?
This is why the church of Philadelphia was so wonderfully singled out by the Creator of the universe; it was because of their devotion to Him and to evangelism. If a church body truly believes they are a branch of the Philadelphian church then that entire body must be involved in spreading the Gospel of Christ, and just like that early church they must never deny His name.
The Apostle John wrote seven letters to seven Churches as Jesus directed – the letter to the Church of Philadelphia and six more. The Church at Smyrna was singled out as the persecuted church. They, along with the Church of Philadelphia, received no rebuke from Jesus. But the other five churches had some major problems which Jesus addresses and He admonishes them to repent of their ways. One had lost their first love and the others were basically in the “falling away from the faith” mode. Speaking metaphorically of the Church of Philadelphia, it’s the only Church today which is moving in the right direction. Look for a church that relies on Jesus’ strength and power, and one that never denies His name and voila you have a branch of the Church at Philadelphia.
Evangelism is the key. We, as believers in Christ, are all evangelists in some form or fashion. We may not be in the category of a Franklin Graham or a Greg Laurie, and we don’t need to be. But we are all members of the body of Christ which means we are all on the same team, and being on the same team means we should all be on the same page of the play book.
Jesus is so distressed over the wayward and apostate church of the last days that He begins to plead with them on a personal level. The next verse is so touching, so to the point and it’s directed to anyone who will open their ears and hear, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” Revelation 3:20. In other words, in the last days, and referring to the apostate Church, Jesus is not in that Church; He’s standing and knocking on the door of the heart of each individual waiting to be invited in.
We can see two distinct camps appearing in the last days. Clearly there are people who profess to follow Jesus Christ dwelling in each camp. Camp number one is the church of Philadelphia, and camp number two contains those of the last days apostate church. The two doors Jesus speaks about (evangelism and Heaven) are both currently open, so ask yourself if you have walked through the door He’s opened by following His command to spread the Gospel? Or have you staked claim to camp number two and you’re now just sitting back enjoying your riches and your perceived salvation, unconcerned with the rest of the world’s lost and perishing people.
Jesus says to be either hot or cold is a good thing. Hot and on fire for the Lord, cold and in love with the Lord displaying a refreshing and sustainable help to others, but to be lukewarm, is to be dead. No one wants to be found lingering in the dead apostate camp, or do they?
God bless you all,
96 County Road 5480 Salem, MO 6560
All scripture is from the KJV