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Posted in: Big Faith, Growth, Overcoming

10.18.22 ( Jeff Vines )

Opened Doors, Closed Doors

(Excerpt from the Sermon)

Sermon Series: Heart Check

To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write:

These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth. I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will they leave it. I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on them my new name. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
-Revelation 3:7-13

There will be seasons and times when we will face a lot of persecution. But look what the church in Philadelphia faced. Yet they hyper endured and, as a result, God opened incredible doors for them. So, the question is how is it that you and I can stand firm when God makes no promise to us that you and I will not suffer to some degree, even economic hardship, for doing what is right? If they hyper-stood, can we not do the same? I've given you three symbols that I find in this chapter in the book of Revelation.

I think these are the keys for you and I who will endure a very difficult time. For when we'd want to look up to God and say, "God, come on. What's going on?" The symbols are a door, a key, and a pillar. Let's take a look at the first symbol, the door. Again, I don't know what you're going through right now, but I know this with certainty and this is not theory to me, this is experience. If you patiently endure whatever Christ has brought in or allowed to come into your life, I guarantee you there will be huge doors that will open on the other side. You lose a relationship, you lose a job, a career, or even a health setback. Everyone's a runner. Some people just run to God rather than away from Him. If you run to God, you'll find yourself running smack dab into a door you never thought could be opened.

He tells them in Revelation 3, verse 8, the third part of the verse, He says: I know that you have little strength. You've kept My word and have not denied My name. He says, You're weak. I know you're weak. I know you're small in number. I know you're not overly talented. However, people you never thought you could win over, you're about to win over because of your endurance. Let me tell you something that we pastors learned. That in our lives, without closed doors, you would never discover opened ones. Even pagan Greek proverbs understand this, they would say that suffering is education.

Teachers, as you stand for the cause of Christ and for truth, it may cost you, but it will open greater doors. And I am here with you because I think there will come a time where I'll be arrested for the type of sermon that I spoke last week, but I think it will open greater doors. The church prospers during persecution. Folks, this isn't just a biblical concept. It's an everyday life reality. If you go to great art galleries today, you go to the great art galleries of the world, or you listen to some of the greatest music of all time, you soon realize that closed doors have enriched the lives of people who paint them or write them. And it's given them more wisdom and compassion and made them more humane. I've often said, “How does God train a preacher... through suffering.”

He has to suffer. She has to suffer. Why? Because at that point they begin to empathize and sympathize with people who are traveling the same road.

Let's go to the second symbol, the Key. Now, the Door, to remind us, Only Christ can open and close doors. What He opens, nobody can close and what He closes, no one can open. But then there's the key, He calls it the key of David. He says, "These are the words of Him who is holy and true. Who holds the key of David? What He opens, no one can shut and what He shuts, no one can open.” Jesus tells the church in Philadelphia, while they're suffering immensely, economically, and physically, "Stay patient. You've endured and because you've endured, I'm gonna open doors you never thought possible.” So now Jesus says, “I'm the one who has the key to these doors. What I open, no one can shut. What I shut, no one can open.”

Now there are two aspects to this. I'm only gonna deal with the second because the first one takes too much time. But people in Jesus’ day lived in what they called an insula. They were little mini compounds and there was no way to have any privacy because you had the whole family and the whole community altogether. In fact, there were actually roads and streets that would pass right to the center of your insula. There'd be a walkway right through your home. So, as a result, you had to lock everything up – the kitchen, the pantry, the bedroom, the linens, the towels – because whoever had the key had the access to everything. Jesus is saying, I'm the one that has the keys to every room in the house. I have absolute power and access to every area of your life. You say, “Okay, but what does that mean?” It means that you're not in control of your life. You're not in charge of your life and you never have been. He unlocks and locks. Did you choose the economic climate into which you were born? No. Did you choose your talents, your temperament, and your family life? Whether by nature or nurture, it all came from the outside. And the sooner we realize that the more we'll be able to endure because we'll know that no doors open unless Christ Himself opens them. No doors close unless Christ closes them.

Does that mean that God holds the key to every door? If something comes into my life, does that mean that God saw it and did not stop it even if it was at a tragic event? Even if I'm struggling financially, economically? Friends, there's no other option. That's what it means to say that God is omnipotent and omniscient. We don't just say that because we want to. These are truths that are clearly communicated in scripture. He's omnipotent, He’s all-powerful; He's omniscient, He's all-knowing. All this means is that if anything comes into your life, God knew it was coming and He has the power to stop, prevent, or allow it to proceed.

Your response to this might be, "Well it's obvious that God does not love or care about me because I've had so much trouble in my life." My first response to that is to wait a minute and think. He gave you His one and only Son and secured your eternal life. So, if He never does another thing, He's done enough. But second, remember, you and I have no idea how many tragic, evil, and unfortunate events God has prevented in our lives because we'll never see those. If it's true that Satan is trying to destroy us, why hasn't he destroyed us? Is it possible that as difficult as our life has been, there are still so many other events that were perpetrated by the one who's trying to destroy us, but God raised His hand and said this far no further?

And then third, there is a pillar. First the door, then the key, and now the pillar. Now just quickly in the key aspect of things, the Christ follower says, “The Lord is my light and my salvation. What He closes, I will endure. What He opens, I will walk through”.

In the case of the Church of Philadelphia, Jesus says you're being persecuted, abused, and marginalized, but this opens doors that would otherwise remain closed. My response to Jesus would be in awe and the only word that would make it out would be, “Wow”.

They hyper-endured. They genuinely believed that closed doors led to open ones. They genuinely believed, and this is crucial, that there's a master artist, a grand designer who owns the design and knows the purpose for which the design came into being. So when suffering of any kind comes into your life, when there is a closed door, it's not random, it's not unknown, and it does not catch God by surprise. And if you begin to understand Jesus' message to the Philadelphians, you will become a rock and you will endure even when culture departs from God. Even when everything around you is falling apart. Because you continue to say to yourself "what God opens no one can shut and what God shuts no one can open" when you do that you understand that He has the rightful authority to do whatever's necessary for your life to bring those far from God near. And when you recognize that there's a promise in the midst of all that, that you will become a pillar, you will endure. What's the pillar? Chapter 3, verse 12: "The one who's victorious. I will make a pillar in the temple of my God, never again will they leave it. I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God on new Jerusalem, the new Jerusalem which is coming down out of heaven from God. And I will also write on them my new name." Now, notice quickly how we're being told that if we endure, or rather, let me back up on that, if we understand He holds the key to open and close doors, then we will become a pillar.

That means we will endure. Now, a pillar is in the temple. So it means that if you're a pillar in the temple, you never leave the presence of God. Since the temple represents the presence of God. Well, now you and I are the temples of the Holy Spirit. He's telling us that no matter what we face, whatever difficulty, whatever difficult door God opens and requires you to walk through, at the same time, you will sense this overwhelming, overpowering, prevailing presence of God. Which almost makes, in the lives of people’s testimonies, it almost makes going through the struggle worth it, because you get a special and overpowering revelation of the love, compassion, and wisdom of Christ Jesus. God grants you this revelation of Himself.

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About the Author
Pastor Jeff Vines is the Lead Pastor of ONE&ALL Church. He spent twenty years on the mission field (Zimbabwe, New Zealand) planting churches and training leaders. Jeff is the author of Dinner with SKEPTICS: Defending God in a World that Makes No Sense (2008, 2011) and Unbroken: 8 Enduring Promises God Will Keep (2012). Jeff and his wife, Robin, have been married over 30 years and enjoy life with their kids Delaney & Sian, their daughter-in-law Jessica and sweet grandchildren Ada, Owen, & Layla.

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