A Letter to Open Doors

Date Preached: September 20, 2020
From the Series: Letters From Jesus
Topics: exposition
Scripture: Revelation 3:7-13
Notes: Download PDF
Speaker: Gary Combs

Summary

Where are the “closed doors” in your life? Do you often say to yourself, “Well, that door is closed to me now.” The one without much money, says, If only I had more money, then this opportunity would be open to me.” The one without an education says, “If only I had gotten a college degree, this promotion would be open to me.” The one without much talent says, “If only I could sing, play an instrument, repair automobiles, play sports…, then this door would be open to me.”

What if there was someone who had the keys to the doors that seem locked to us? What if there were someone who could open doors? In Revelation 3:7-13, Jesus told the church of Philadelphia that He had opened a door for them. We can trust Christ to open doors for us.

Transcript

Below is an automated transcript of this message

Good morning, church; it is good to see all of you here! It is good to be speaking to those of you that are watching at home online. We’re continuing our series entitled, Letters from Jesus. We’re going through, verse by verse, the first three chapters of the book of Revelation.

We’re in the letter to the church of Philadelphia this morning. Everyone wants to be this church because this is a great church. You’ll hear more about that in just a moment.

We’ve entitled this particular sermon, “A Letter To Open Doors.” I wonder today, are there places in your life where you would say, Yeah, I’ve got a closed door there. That’s an area that’s closed off to me now that will never come back. I’ll never be able to do that. That door is closed to me now.

Maybe there is someone here today who feels like they don’t have enough money. If only I had enough money, that opportunity would open up to me. I’d be able to go through that door.

Maybe you’re saying that you don’t have enough education. If only I had gotten that college degree then that promotion would be open to me.

Perhaps you’re saying, if only I had the talent to sing, to play an instrument or to play a sport. If only I had a mechanical inclination to work and fix things, maybe that opportunity that door would open up for me.

Even believers in the church will say, If only we had a bigger building. If only our worship team were better and, especially, if our pastor was better. What if we had a better pastor? Maybe we would be able to go through that door. Maybe there’ll be more open doors.

What we tend to do is we think we’re missing something and that’s the reason we don’t go. We don’t see opportunities come our way, as it seems we would desire. What if we knew someone who had the keys to every door? What if there was someone who had the authority and held the keys to open and close every door that there is on Heaven and on Earth? Is there such a person?

Well, That’s what we’ll be talking to you about this morning. There is such a person. His name is Jesus and He is the key holder. He is able to open that door in your life that He’s calling you to go through and it won’t be about how much you have. It’ll be how much you trust Him.

We are in the book of Revelation, chapter three, verses seven through 13. Jesus told John to write a letter to the church of Philadelphia that He had opened a door for them. I believe today we can trust Jesus toe open doors for us. How is this possible? As we look at the text today, I think we’ll see three words that show us how to trust Jesus to open doors for us. Are you ready? Let’s dig in.

Verse seven of chapter three. Revelation 3:7-13 (ESV) 7 “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens. 8 “‘I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. 9 Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie—behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet, and they will learn that I have loved you. 10 Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. 11 I am coming soon. Hold fast what you you have, so that no one may seize your crown. 12 The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name. 13 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ This is God’s word. Amen.

How to trust Christ to open doors:

1. Work.

I want you to take note, in verse eight, that Jesus said, “I know your works.” Do you see that? Circle the word, “works.” Jesus sees what we do, and we can learn to work with what we have and let Jesus handle the rest. We can trust Him for the rest.

Before we continue, let me remind you of the way these seven letters are laid out; the template, if you will, of how they’re organized. All of them have a kind of six-part template; they are words, beginning with a P, to help you remember them: place, person, praise, problem, prescription and promise. You’ll see these six parts in all seven letters. However, the letter to Philadelphia, like the one to Smyrna, states a problem without a correction. The problem is external. It’s this Jewish synagogue that they’re talking about here that’s a problem for them in the city of Philadelphia. And so, he doesn’t have a prescription for them to change anything. He actually says to them, keep doing what you’re doing, similar to Smyrna.

Let’s begin with the place, Philadelphia. Let’s look at the map. We love maps, right? Look at the map. Philadelphia is right here. Remember, Patmos is the island that John the Revelator was sent to; he’s probably in his eighties or nineties now. He’s the last living disciple. He’s been exiled to the Isle of Patmos right here because of preaching the name of Jesus. He is there, breaking rocks for the Romans, on the Isle of Patmos. On the Lord’s Day, he got a revelation from Jesus who told him to write these letters. They roll out, just as you would expect, in a geographic kind of order. They start with Ephesus, which is closest to Patmos, then Smyrna, then Pergamon, then Thyatira and here we come to Philadelphia. Philadelphia is about 25 miles from Sardis along the Hermes River Valley.

The word, Philadelphia, in Greek, means brotherly love. It was founded by King Attalus II. He was a Lydian king; he named the city after his brother, Eumenes, because he loved his brother.

The city, among all the seven churches, is the newest, the youngest city. It was built about 145 BC, and it was built as a kind of missionary city by Attalus II, who wanted to bring the Greek culture into the Lydian Valley. The Lydians spoke in their native tongue. This kind of “mission” city disseminated Greco culture and language in the eastern part of the Roman empire. By the time Paul gets there, they had already turned around completely to speaking Greek and so it was kind of a “gateway city,” if you will; a new city. The city was destroyed by an earthquake in 17 AD; it was rebuilt with the help of Tiberius Caesar, so that it gleamed with new temples, homes and architecture.

Now, by the time that John gets there, the streets are laid out like this brand new city. So, why am I bringing all this up? It’s because I want you to understand that Jesus knew this place. When He talks to it, He’s talking to a “gateway city,” between Asia Minor and Greek culture and the Roman Empire. So, it’s like an “open door city” to this new culture. It’s a missionary city, and it’s also a new city.

This is an open door to this new small church. You’ll notice that they get a new name from the new Jerusalem. These are aspects that tie it to the place. This is true in all seven letters. I find that wonderful because Jesus knows us and He knows where we are. He knows the city, as we think about the city of Philadelphia.

I visited there with my wife in 2013. It’s the least impressive of all the architectural ruins because the city is inhabited today in Turkey. It’s called Alaşehir, which in Arabic means, “city of God.” They don’t use the biblical names; they have arabic names. The city has grown up all around this one spot; they’ve got this little spot in the center of the city. If they were to dig up a foundation, they would find some ancient ruin, but they picked it up and carried it here. They just laid it on the ground in the center of the city. They laid it in this park where the old Saint John Church used to be, the Church of Saint John. A lot of churches were named the Church of Saint John in this area because of its influence here. You can see it must have been huge because of the size of the pillars here. This church was not built, obviously, in the first century. It was built in the year 600 AD. It was still an earthquake prone area which apparently destroyed it .

Here’s another view. Notice that everywhere and anywhere in the Middle East if there’s a church, there’s a mosque built nearby. It’s kind of how Burger King does its demographic study with McDonald’s; wherever there’s a McDonald’s, Burger King lets McDonald’s pay for the demographic study and Burger King builds across the street. Well, that’s what happened here in the Middle East. There’s not much to see there because of the earthquake prone area.

Why do I tell you this? Why do I show you these photos? I say it every week; these are real people in real places. This is true. These places are real. You can visit them today and see the evidence. The place is Philadelphia and it’s from the person, Jesus Christ. How do we know that? Jesus identifies Himself as the holy one , the true one. He’s the Son of God. Who else could take this claim?

And then, He gives the additional feature of giving us a piece of information from Revelation in chapter one. As He’s been doing, He applies to each church a certain aspect of the revelation of Himself that he gave to John. Here, He says, “Key of David.” He’s the holder of the key of David; you see that in verse seven.

If you go back to Revelation, chapter one, verse 18, you’ll see that He tells John, “I have the keys of death.” He says it differently here in chapter three; He’s still talking about a key or keys. What does a key represent? I think it represents ownership and authority. Here, He actually grabs ahold of something new. And so, we have to decode this now.

What have I told you about the book of Revelation? It’s the last book of the Bible, so there’s 65 books before you get here. How do you best understand the book of Revelation? By reading the first 65 books. You will find evidence; you will find the keys to decode these symbolic sayings that happened.

This is an Old Testament reference that we see in Isaiah 20; listen to this, this is the prophet Isaiah talking about the key of David. He says, Isaiah 22:22 (ESV) “And I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David. He shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open.” This is fulfilled in the Messiah, the Christ Jesus; He is the one. Noone else can carry this key but Jesus, It’s the key of the Messiah. The key of David. The One who has the right to sit on David’s throne. The One who has the right to say, I’m the king of kings and the Lord of Lords. He’s the key holder.

What door do you think is closed in your life? It’s not closed to him. He has the keys. He has the keys to every door.

He says in Matthew, Chapter 28, verse 18, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go…” He’s got the keys. He can open any door. You don’t have the keys. But if you know Him, He has the keys. And so, that’s who is writing to the church at Philadelphia. He’s the key holder. He’s the son of God.

Jesus praises them. Remember. I told you that He has really no correction for them, but He is full of praise for them. In verse eight, He says, “I know your works.” The word, “know,” here could have been translated, “I see”. I see what you’re doing. Not everybody sees what you’re doing, but I see what you’re doing, church. He gives a three part commendation, a three part praise.

The first commendation is odd; He says, “I know that you have but little power.” That seems like an odd bit of praise to me. I don’t want to be told I’m little. He is praising them because they are little. It seems odd, doesn’t it? You are little; you’re a cute little church. You got a little bit of power. He’s praising them for that. Why is that a praise? Because in this context, it’s a praise. Listen to the three-part praise; He says. “I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.” Look, you’re not a big church. You’re not a wealthy church. You’re not an overly talented church. You’re just a little mission church in a new city, a new little church in a new city. But, you’re getting it done, and because of that, I’m going to open the door for you because you’re faithful.

You see, Jesus doesn’t really care about the size of your ability. He only cares about your availability. He wants to know if your “yes” is on the table. Will you use what I’ve given you? Like He said to Moses, “who gave man his mouth,” when Moses said, “I’m not a good public speaker.” I made your mouth. Come on, I’m calling you. He will supply your needs. It’s okay that you only have a little power. That’s the perfect place to start, is admitting you only have a little power. You have Jesus and He’s got the keys to the kingdom. He’s got the keys to every door. Paul writes in the book of Philippians, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” We could say it like this, I can go through every door that Jesus opens for me.

And so, Jesus praises them with this three part praise. Pastor C. H. Spurgeon wrote like this, he says, “The Philadelphianchurch was not great, but it was good; it was not powerful, but it was faithful… Every band of believers has some strength: weak as we are in ourselves, the very fact of our possessing faith proves that we have a portion of strength. Still that strength is a matter of degrees; and certain churches have a little strength… The Lord does not blame us for having little strength, but for having little love, little faith, little zeal, little consecration.”

As Jesus blamed these previous churches for those very things, He makes no blame on this church. You have a little power. I kind of like that because that gives me room to work in my life and to admit, I need you. Jesus, I need You to be the door opener. This passage is worded in an interesting fashion. He says, “I know your works,” and then He doesn’t tell us what they are. He interrupts this by saying , “Behold, I’ve set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut.” It refers back to the fact that He has the key of David, but now He’s applying it. The fact that it’s nested inside the praise seems to connect with the fact that you work with what you have and you are faithful to His word and in His name. It is intimately connected to whether or not He is opening doors for you.

You might think there are people trying to close doors for you, like the synagogue of Satan over there that’s trying to shut you down. But they can’t shut you down. No one can close the door that Jesus opens. You might be little, but He is going to open doors for you. This is what He seems to be saying. Who needs to hear that today? You might be little, but if you’ll be loyal, He can open doors for you.

Now what are these doors? A door is a symbol . I feel like if you give me a door knob, I can open the door. He’s not talking about a literal door. He’s talking about opportunities. Well, what kind of opportunities? I think there are ministry opportunities.

Can I give you three quick verses? Remember what I told you, to go to other parts of the scripture to understand scripture and let scripture explain itself. Look at Acts 14:27 (ESV) “… they declared all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles.”acts. So he opens the door of people’s hearts and opens the door to people’s minds so that when you share the gospel, they can hear it.

I’m looking at a brother in the house right now who is on one of those social media apps that I’m on called, “Next Door.” He’s putting on “Next Door,” stuff about his small group and so forth. He had a great conversation with somebody this week and found out that that individual is already in a small group. I commend my brother; he’s sowing the gospel. He’s sewing opportunities out there,

We don’t know if the door is open or not, but that’s not our job. Our job is not to be key holders; Jesus is the key holder. Our job is to knock on doors, give the gospel and sew the seed. He may open it up and, sometimes, he opens up the door of faith.

1 Corinthians 16:8-10 (ESV) 8 “But I will stay in Ephesus until Pentecost, 9 for a wide door for effective work has opened to me…” This is Paul speaking. When it’s working, keep working, He is going to stay here. He stayed in Ephesus, as far as we can tell from the gospel, from the New Testament from the Book of Acts, longer than any other place. He ministered there for at least three years. Why? Because it was working. The door was wide open .

And then we see in Colossians, this is Paul again, Colossians 4:3 (ESV) “At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison.” Friends, listen to me; I’m in prison, I’m going to be praying for a different door to be opened.

I don’t know about you, but I might be praying, Lord, could you open the prison door. That’s probably what I’d be praying. But Paul prayed differently. I’m trying to grow; pray for me. I want to grow like Paul, who asked the Lord to open the door of the hearts of the guards and of his fellow prisoners. Since he was in prison, he wanted to share the gospel with them. I’m growing; I hope you are, too. We all need to wear a T-shirt that says, “Under construction,” right?

When Jesus says “open door,” I think He’s talking about ministry opportunities. I think He’s saying to the church of Philadelphia, and, therefore, He’s saying to this church, if you will use what you have worked with, what you have, not with what you don’t have, just use what you have, I’ll open doors for this church. I’ll open doors for these individuals. Get busy working with what God’s already given you.

Can I give you a few more examples? Remember Gideon? He thought he was a little guy. And then God called him to lead the army against the Midianites. Judges 6:14-16 (NLT) 14 “Then the Lord turned to him and said, “Go with the strength you have, and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!” 15 “But Lord,” Gideon replied, “how can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest in the whole tribe of Manasseh, and I am the least in my entire family!” 16 The Lord said to him, “I will be with you…” The Lord turned to him and said, “Go with the strength you have.” That’s the key right there. You’ve got enough strength right now. I’m little Lord. Have you seen how little I am? I’m not just little, I’m the littlest. The Lord said to him, “I will be with you.” He’s the biggest; He’s the greatest. He’s the king of Kings and the Lord of Lords. He has the key of David. He can open any door. It doesn’t matter how little you are. In fact, He loves it when you admit that you’re little and that you need help. He says, Go with the strength I have given you. “Go with the strength you have.” Stop making excuses. You have a little power. Use it.

He turned to the exiles that came back from exile in Babylon. They were rebuilding the temple in the book of Haggai. They were looking at what they were building and said that this was not as good as Solomon’s Temple. It’s little; we feel little . And He said, Haggai 2:4-5 (ESV) 4 “… Be strong, all you people of the land, declares the Lord. Work, for I am with you, declares the Lord of hosts, 5 according to the covenant that I made with you when you came out of Egypt. My Spirit remains in your midst. Fear not.” He says, Be strong. Do the work. Do not fear. That’s better than a Nike commercial. Be strong. Do the work. Do not fear. We are little; it’s all right. Be strong. Do the work. Don’t be afraid. Just do it. Jesus said it long before Nike did.

Remember what He told Moses? He told Moses, “who made your mouth?” In Exodus, chapter four, when he was calling Moses to be the deliverer, Moses said, I’m not a good public speaker. I don’t even know your name. They won’t listen to me. He had a bunch of excuses. Finally, God says to him, “what’s that in your hand?” Moses replies, “a shepherd’s staff.” God says, “ use that.”

What’s in your hand? Go in the strength you already have. Go to work. It’s hard for God to drive a parked car. You’re sitting there asking God, to tell you where to go in your driveway. Get going. It’s hard to drive a parked car. Get going and then say, Do I turn here or do I turn there? What do I do? Use what you have. Get going, get started, get moving.

We have a good pastor partner of this church, Pastor George Mybonye, in Uganda. He works us hard when we’re there, he gets every ounce out of us. When we’re there, he says, We must move. And so, it’s become a well known saying, Pastor George, we must move. I told him, When you get to heaven, when you graduate to heaven, we’re going to have to put that on your tombstone, “We must move.”

The Church of Philadelphia was little, but it was loyal. It wasn’t a great big church. But it was a good church. It was faithful. They were working with what they had.

How to trust Christ to open doors:

2. Keep.

Look at verse eight and again in verse ten. You’ll see the word, “kept.” I’ve touched on it already a little bit, but let’s keep working on it. He said, “I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept… (circle kept) my word and have not denied my name.” This is like saying the opposite. He could have said, You’ve kept my word and you’ve kept my name.

In verse 10, He says something about it again. Circle “kept” again. “Because you have kept my word My word.” He’s commending them for the fact that they kept His word and they kept His name. And then, there’s one more. “Keep” in verse 10; I will keep because you’ve been keeping. I’m going to do some keeping, too, He says.

What does it mean to “keep” something, here in the Greek? It has the idea of to attend or to guard, to keep in the state from which you received it. In other words, God’s given you this word, don’t add to it or subtract from it. Keep it just like it is. Keep it. It also has the sense of to hold it high; to keep His name high. To keep His word high and to obey it. I will keep it. I will not deny Your name. Keep it. “Keep on keeping on” with His word in His name.

He says in verse nine, that because you’re doing this, I’m gonna do something. He starts dealing with those that are trying to close doors for them in Philadelphia. He says, 9 “Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie—behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet, and they will learn that I have loved you.”

If you read the gospel of John, chapter eight, you’ll see that Jesus, when he’s talking to the Jews, he says to them that just because they were born a Jew, it doesn’t make them a child of Abraham. Faith is what makes you a true Jew. Faith is what makes you a true child of Abraham. And then, He’s introducing to them that those who have faith in the son of God are the true children of Abraham by faith. He’s talking about this, and then, he says to them, “Before Abraham was, I am.” They get torn up about it because He’s using the name of God in what He’s talking about. (This isn’t John in the Gospel of John.) They start arguing with Him and say that our father is Abraham. He says, “Before Abraham was, I am.” Do you claim to be God? He was claiming to be God because He is God. And then he says, “your father is not Abraham, your father is Satan, the father of lies.” This is not the first time He has said this. He has said it before, back in the Gospels. He said it when He was here walking on Earth. This is not new information.

Did you know that Jesus talked like that? Read the Bible. His love is not sentimental or syrupy; it’s a strong love. It’s a truth-telling kind of love. He’s not saying that they have to stay that way. But they’ve made a choice to live a little life according to a lie; he calls them a synagogue of Satan. The only other place we see this is back when He was talking to Smyrna. Remember that Smyrna was dealing with the same problem.

Here’s what I suspect was going on. The Jews have been persecuted by the Romans, but little by little, they had figured out how to accommodate the Romans so they could have a synagogue. The reason I know that is because when we visited the ruins of Sardis, we found the first century ruins greatly preserved, wonderfully preserved of a synagogue, a first century synagogue. They had buildings; they were beginning to carve out a place, but they were still a minority. And so, here come these Christians and the Romans couldn’t tell them apart. They thought, they’re just Jews, but the Jews didn’t like it. My suspicion is that the Christians were out talking everywhere and trying to lead people to Jesus like they were supposed to do. It was creating problems, possibly for the Jews. That’s my suspicion.

The other thing is they didn’t like that they followed the Messiah. So they’re trying to close them down; they are trying to close their doors. And Jesus said, they can’t close your door. I know you’re just little and they’re big compared to you, but I’m not going to let them close you down there. They’re not even really Jews anyway and they are feeling little. But Jesus is saying, I’m gonna actually make them feel little because here’s what I’m going to make them do. Look at verse nine, “…behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet, and they will learn that I have loved you.” Now, that’s either going to happen during the first century because certain Jews at that synagogue will start coming to Jesus. I think this was a great possibility that could have been part of the open door. But, also, I think, it has an “end times” kind of meaning that there is a time coming when every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord and those who have rejected Jesus will see that He loved those who believed in Him. So I think it’s both.

And then, He says, “I will keep…” Where’s that at? Let me find that. In verse 10, “Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth.” Now, what is this first of all? Take note that it’s an hour. It’s not a time of trial, which would be an indeterminate amount of time, but an hour. So it’s a determined amount of time. So whatever this is, it’s a specific amount of time. Now I believe this to be the seven-year great tribulation. I believe that’s the reference here. Well, Gary, where do you see that? Let’s keep reading.

He says, “I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world to try…” In other words, you’re gonna be tested. People are going to be tested during this time. And it’s not just for Philadelphia, it’s for the whole world. Well, that hasn’t happened yet. That’s in the future; that’s coming. That’s the great tribulation. And He’s saying to them, to these believers in Philadelphia, you’ve been keeping my word and keeping my name. I’m going to keep you from that time. Literally, I will keep you from. In the Greek it is, “I will keep you out of.” The word, translated from the Greek, is where we get the word, “exit.” He is going to keep them out of the hour of trial. I don’t believe the church goes through the tribulation, and this is one of the verses that I base that understanding on.

Do the work, with the strength that God has given us, with the time, talent and treasure we have, do the work and then keep His word. We could get distracted and try to keep a lot of things, but He commends us if we keep His word and keep His name. That really simplifies our job, wouldn’t you agree? Keep His word and keep His name. Here’s what it says in Deuteronomy 4:2 (ESV) “You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you.” In other words, don’t add or subtract. And then, Jesus says this, John 14:23-24 (ESV) 23 “Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.” Listen. If you’re a child of God, you love His word. It’s one of the marks of a person who is a believer. You love His word. You’ll love to hear it preached. You love to read it. You love to study it. It will be like food to you. You’ll keep it, and that’s how you show that you love Him.

Peter and John were arrested for healing the crippled man on the steps, where he was asking for help. He was there at the gate called Beautiful. They healed him and he jumped up and started running through the temple during the hour of prayer in the mid afternoon, three o’clock hour of prayer. He’s jumping and praising God, and they said, Aren’t you the guy that’s been crippled since birth? He says, Yeah, but I’m not crippled anymore. Those two guys healed me. They looked at Peter and John and Peter and John said, Don’t look at us. We healed him in the name of Jesus. A great crowd gathered and it attracted the attention of the temple guards, who then got involved with the Sanhedren and the Jewish leadership. And they arrested them for causing a riot in the temple over preaching the gospel. So they were arrested and kept overnight. Then the next morning, they brought them before the court of the high priest, who said, I want you guys to stop preaching in the name of Jesus. Peter said, You decide. Should we obey you or God? And so they thought about punishing them. But a Rabbi named Gammaliel said, No, don’t do that because if it’s of God, you will never be able to stop it. If it’s not of God, it will stop on its own. So they released them. They went out and they went to one of the house churches Peter and John had there in Jerusalem that was praying for them. They knew they had been arrested. Peter and John went and told them what God had done, how they got out, how God had healed the crippled man and how the people started praising God.

This is how they prayed. Acts 4:29-31 (ESV) 29 “And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, 30 while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” 31 And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.” Here’s what they said, and here’s how they prayed. They said, You handled the doors over there, Lord. People are trying to close doors and open doors and kick doors in. You handle their threats. But as for us, allow us to speak Your word boldly and to keep Your word. When they prayed like that, Jesus looked down there and the place where they were meeting was shaken.

Church, I pray that this church will be shaken up, that we would be shaken up to keep God’s word and to keep His name high and that we would go in the strength that God has given us. Satan may try to close doors, but he has no keys. We need not concern ourselves about that. Stop beating on doors that won’t open. Maybe Jesus locked them. Go through the door He has opened and go with the strength that you have.

How to trust Christ to open doors:

3. Persevere.

Here is the third word, persevere. Look down at verse 11 and circle, “Hold fast.” We don’t use that kind of English so much these days, “to hold fast.” We say “fasten or fastener.” It comes from that. It means “to make something fasten together, to hold fast.” It’s kind of like that poster you may have seen back in the day of a little kitty cat hanging by its claws from a branch and the caption at the bottom reads, “Hang in there.” It’s like that. Hold fast, don’t let go and persevere, endure.

In verse 11, It says, 11 “I am coming soon. Hold fast…” Well, Gary, when is He coming? Well, no man knoweth the hour the scripture says; only the Father knows. But I’ll tell you what I think; it’s close. What makes you say that? I don’t know. It just seems close to me. I don’t see any reason why He couldn’t come today. There’s no sign that needs to take place that would prevent His appearance. He says “I’m coming soon…” Finish, don’t stop and “keep on keeping on.” This is what He says. A lot of us begin well, but few finish well. He says, finished well, keep on keeping on and hold fast. He says, “Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown.” Seize means to grasp. So you keep holding on so no one comes along and grasps or gets the crown off your head that you’re going to win for finishing well.

What kind of crown is this? We’ve talked about this before; we have talked about crowns in the Bible. The Diadema and the Stephanos. I named my eldest son, Stephen; the name means “crowned one.” Stephanos refers to a victor’s crown. The Diadema is what? It’s the royal crown that kings wear. But the Stephanos is the little crown that goes around and is open in the front. Back in the day, when you went to an Olympic event. They gave you a Stephanos, a victor’s crown, for finishing the race well.

He’s basically saying, Finish well and cross the finish line. Hang on so that someone else doesn’t get your crown. What are you gonna throw at the feet of Jesus if you don’t finish? Come on; finish. Hang in there. Don’t give up.

There’s a survey out right now from Barna, where he has surveyed churches and surveyed believers who go to evangelical churches. People are saying that they’re not even sure they’re going back to church when Covid is over. Is that all it took? Was that the level of persecution it took for people to say, You know what? I’m done with being part of the family of God. My goodness, is that the depth of our faith? Is that how far we’ve believed? I don’t believe that about this church, by the way. We have shepherds in this church, shepherds of our small groups and so forth, that have checked back and forth with us to let us know where you are and how you’re doing. I know, also, that people at home have been faithful; you have your reasons that you’re still watching from home but you’re also part of a small group. We have a list of names; we know who is showing up, whether it’s on a zoom, Google meet or in person. We have a sense of where you are. We’re checking on you; we have people that are checking on you. Here’s what we’re hearing. You’re still out there, and, little by little, as you feel that that you’re able, you’re showing up in person . I don’t agree with Barna for this church. I’m concerned, though, that he’s right about the American church; we are so shallow in our commitment.

But Jesus says, Keep on to the end. Be faithful to the end. Persevere. Hold fast. Who is this one who conquers well in verse 12? “The one who conquers.” We’ve been seeing this over and over again. That’s the Greek word, where we get the word, “Nike.” It means “victor, overcomer or conqueror.” That’s what it means.. It means you have won the race. You overcame it. What does that mean? How do you do that? By faith? Well, that’s exactly how you do it. You do it by faith.

Look what it says in 1 John 5:4-5 (HCSB) 4 “… This is the victory that has conquered the world: our faith. 5 And who is the one who conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” Who is this conqueror that will receive these multiple promises at the end of this letter to the church in Philadelphia? It is the one who perseveres by faith and that “keeps on keeping on” and keeps on working in the strength that they have. That’s the victor that will win these many benefits and these many promises.

Well, what will he get? What will she get? In verse 12, it says, “The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God.” Now. I’m not sure about that one. You’re going to make me a piece of stone in a temple? Not sure about that, but I like pillows. I like to lay my head on pillows, but a pillar? Now where I come from, that’s what you call a pillow. So that’s confusing. Can I get a bigger “pillar” for my head?

Let’s look at the rest of scripture and see what a “pillar” is. Go over and look when Paul was first saved. He wanted to make sure that the gospel he had was in continuity with others. It says in Galatians 2:9 (NLT) “In fact, James, Peter, and John, who were known as pillars of the church…” Paul went to them and said this, I feel like God is calling me to preach to the Gentiles. What do you guys think? They agreed with him. The pillars of the church were the mature Christians supporting the church.

We see another scripture in 1 Peter 2:4-5 (NLT) 4 “You are coming to Christ, who is the living cornerstone of God’s temple. He was rejected by people, but he was chosen by God for great honor. 5 And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple.” Friends. We are the church. The church is not this building. We are the church . And if we will “be” the church, Christ will build the church. He wants to make you a pillar.

Now, remember, this was an earthquake prone city, and all the temples were brand new because they’ve been destroyed by earthquakes. But they still had tremors. It’s still, to this day, an earthquake prone area. What kind of pillar? Well, it says the kind of pillar that never falls down, that never leaves, that stays. This is the security of the believer. That’s the promise. That’s the first part.

At the end of verse 12, it says, “I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, And I will write on him the name of my God.” He’s gonna write the name of God on you. The high priest was given a certain kind of garment to wear. And among the parts of the garment was a turban upon his head with a gold plate inscribed into the turban that said, “Holy unto the Lord.” Literally, “Holy to Yahweh.” is the name Yahweh. The covenantal name of God was written on his turban. Jesus says, I’m going to write my name on you. Then he says, I’m going to write the name of God’s city, the new Jerusalem. I have a new city coming down from God out of heaven.

Jesus says in John, chapter 14: 1 “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so,I would have told you.” It only took Him six days to make the known universe that we see now. He’s been working on the New Jerusalem for a long time. It’s coming down out of heaven, and the only people that can enter it are the ones who have the “passport” with the name of the new Jerusalem upon them. They will have the name of the new Jerusalem on them. They can come and go. The door is open to those believers. And then He is going to put His new name on them. Did you see that? He’s not finished.

There’s a lot of names coming our way. If you look in Revelation Chapter 19 Revelation 19:11-16 (ESV) 11 “Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. 13 He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. 14 And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen,white and pure, were following him on white horses. 15 From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.” pure, were following him on white horses. 15 From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.” I’d be good with any of those names, but I kind of like the secret one.

He says, I’m going to put my name on you and no one knows it but me and you. He will make you a pillar in the church. He is going to put the name of God upon you. He is going to give you access to the new Jerusalem. If you have an American passport that allows me to go somewhere else. It has my name, it has the name that my parents gave me, Gary Wayne Combs. It has my address, Wilson, North Carolina. And it even has my passport number and my social security number. I’m trying to remember all that it has, but I know it has a passport number. In other words, it has everything I need to get in and out of this country and in and out of other countries so that I have open doors to everywhere I go.

Jesus says, I’m gonna give you the ultimate open door, and I’m gonna write my name on you so you can come into the place where God dwells forevermore. Come on , shake us up, Holy Spirit. You might feel broken. You might feel small. Jesus loves it when you come to Him that way. Work with what you have and watch Him show up and show off in your life.

It says in Galatians 6:9 (ESV) “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Never dig up in doubt what you planted in faith. Come on. He’s the key holder. He holds the keys to the door.

Next Sunday, we will be celebrating the five-year anniversary of our Rocky Mount campus. We started out in the living room. We moved to a school and we did set up and tear down. And now we’ve been renting a little building there on the roadside on 301. I bet a lot of people think that’s a little church or they might not even know we exist. Well, that’s okay . Jesus is okay with that. We’re trying to reach Eastern North Carolina, the whole state and even the whole world. We may be little, but we have a Big God. Amen. Let’s keep His word. Let’s hold His name high. Let’s hold fast. Let’s “keep on keeping on.”

Let’s pray, Lord. Thank you for your word. We love your word. Help us to be faithful. Help us to go in the strength that we have. Lord, I pray for that one now that might be watching online that might be present here this morning. And you’ve never committed your life to Jesus. Would you pray with me right now? Right where you are; maybe you’re seated here or maybe you’re at home. Pray like this, Dear Lord Jesus, I’m a sinner. I’ve been living my life my own way. But I surrender today to you, Lord Jesus, I believe that You died on the cross for my sins. I believe that they’re paid for through You. I believe You were raised from the grave and live today. Come and live in me. I want You as my Savior and Lord. Make me a child of God. Lord. I want to follow you. If you’re praying like that, believingm the Lord will save you and will make you His child and all of the promises and all of the encouragement that I’ve mentioned will be yours. He’s the one who opens doors. Friends, you’re here today, you’re watching online, and there is a door that’s closed. Maybe it’s a broken relationship. Maybe it’s some dream that God put in your heart. Come on; get to work. “Keep on keeping on.” He’s the key holder. He opens doors. Lord, we trust you now to open doors in our city and in our region, for this church and for our campus in Rocky Mount. Lord, we pray in Christ’s name, Amen.