Summary: The greatest thing that God gives to His church is a vision, an open door, an opportunity to be a church to change the world.
THE CHURCH OF THE OPEN DOOR
“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, ‘These things says He who is holy, He who is true, “He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens”: “I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name. “Indeed I will make [those] of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie -- indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you. “Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown” (Rev. 3:7-11, NKJV).
The church at Philadelphia was a church of awesome opportunity. Jesus comes to them and unveils to them a vision of what they could do. This church:
· Could influence people to enter an open door and worship the Lord, i.e., a revival church.
· Could influence people to know that God loves them, i.e., an influential church.
· Is a church where people recognize that the name of God is there, i.e., the presence of God is there.
The greatest thing that God gives to His church is a vision, i.e., an open door. The Philadelphia church is similar to the Thomas Road Baptist Church, in that God is giving us an opportunity to be that church to change the world. Therefore, like the Philadelphia church, we have a great vision of an open door. Those things about our vision:
· Our vision comes from God, i.e., we didn’t work the vision up. I believe God’s vision has become our vision.
· A vision of reaching those of the “synagogue of Satan” so they come and worship God. This is a vision of influencing those in a liberal church, a heretical church, a cult, a false religion, and the secular-humanist.
· It is a vision of continual revival because God’s presence is there (remember I said that revival is when God pours His presence out on His people).
Philadelphia is the church of the open door. The greatest thing about the Philadelphia church is its great opportunity. There have been many American churches that have had greater opportunities than us. Think of churches:
· In great metropolitan areas, but we’re in small Lynchburg.
· Filled with wealthy people, but we’re a church of average wage earners.
· With the support of denominations and other large mega ministries, but for years no one supported or recognized TRBC.
· Located in an area of influence, i.e., Washington, DC and politics; New York and media; Los Angeles and movies; or Nashville and music.
Thomas Road is a very unusual church because it is in a very unusual place. It’s a place that no one would select to build a great church, but God has done it. Therefore I say, God’s vision must become our vision, because God saw us long before we saw Him. And God saw what we could do long before we saw any “open door” of opportunity.
Why people can’t see open doors?
· Other churches have disappointed them.
· Parents or friends have disappointed them.
· Crises have hurt their families.
· Unfaithful preachers.
· The people refused to stop Satan by intercessory prayer and overcoming faith, so they gave in to sin and became spiritually blinded.
· Just living a normal American life and forgetting God.
As we read the passage today, there are several things we need to see in the Philadelphia church that apply to Thomas Road Baptist Church:
· Only God can open a door that no man can shut. We have the opportunity to change the world, only God can give us that opportunity.
· Only God can shut a door that no man can open. I think of the shut doors in my life. I didn’t go to Moody Memorial Church. I didn’t go on the road as an evangelist.
· I believe God has left me in Lynchburg for a divine purpose.
Notice the phrase, “I know your works.” The Philadelphia church came under the scrutiny of Jesus Christ, just as Thomas Road Baptist Church must come under His scrutiny. No one knows us like Jesus Christ. Only the head of the church, Jesus, can inspect every part of Thomas Road Baptist Church and correctly know our conditions.
· Jesus sees the internal life of TRBC.