An Open Door

By Pastor Teck Uy

While it was not easy to live as Christians in an increasingly hostile society, the church in Philadelphia was commended for being steadfast in their faith. They stayed the course—they kept the Word and had not denied Jesus. For this reason, Jesus commended them, saying, “See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut” (Rev. 3:8). This was not door of opportunities to preach the gospel, or for any earthly endeavour. Rather, this was the door to heaven itself. Certainly, many will want to enter heaven, but not everyone will be able to. This is well-illustrated in the Parable of the Ten Virgins. After the door was shut, the five foolish virgins could do nothing to open it. Indeed, Jesus was true to his words that he “holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open” (Rev. 3:7).

This church did not boast of their strength. In fact, Jesus commended them for the fact that while they were of little strength, they kept the Word and did not deny Jesus. They were like the apostle Paul, who was fully dependent on the grace of God and said, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:9-10). The Lord did not consider this “little strength” as a weakness or a liability, but an asset of the church. He saw that their deeds were not based on their natural strengths and abilities, but on the grace of God and on the small, yet genuine, faith that they had—as small as a mustard seed. Jesus said, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you” (Matt. 17:20).

The Lord further commended the faith of this church by assuring them that even those of the synagogue of Satan would bow before them. He said, “I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you” (Rev. 3:9). But who are those in the synagogue of Satan? These are people who call themselves Jews but are not. They are liars and pretenders. According to the apostle Paul, “A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical.  No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code” (Rom. 2:28-29). At the appointed time, all of these pretenders will see the love and favour that true believers receive from the Lord. They will indeed be provoked to jealousy.

Because of the patient endurance of the church, they were also assured that even in times of trials, the Lord would keep them safe and strong. These trials would not inflict harm to the church for their destruction, but to test each one to make them even stronger. In the last days, severe difficulties will happen, but the faithful will be spared. Jesus himself said, “There will be great distress, unequalled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equalled again. If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened” (Matt. 24:21-22). In those days, Jesus himself will intervene and will not let the believers perish together with the wicked. These will come as tests to make believers stronger and faithful. We need to have the mindset of Job when facing trials. He said, “When he has tested me, I will come forth as gold” (Job 23:10).

While the Lord had set an open door before the church, he nevertheless admonished them, saying: “Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown” (Rev. 3:11). Indeed, it is by enduring in our faith that we can take hold of all the rewards that the Lord promised to us. This is evident in all the letters that the Lord had written, as he gave the assurance that those who would overcome would receive their promised reward. This church in Philadelphia was assured that those who would overcome would be made pillars in the temple of God. Just as pillars become permanent parts of a structure, overcomers will always be in the presence of God. What a glorious day that will be when we shall bear the name of our God and we shall be with him forever and ever! While the door is open, let us enter it and be saved. Once the door is closed by the Lord, no one else can open it for us. Yes, the Lord has set before an open door. Let us confidently enter it and enjoy eternal life with the Lord. Hallelujah!