Open doors are not the work of any human being, they are divine works. As believers we are to be open and obedient to His leading regarding them.
My recent articles have focused on the subject of open doors as they relate to ministry. Our primary sources for this study, up to this point, have been the apostle Paul’s letters. Specifically, we have looked at texts in Colossians, 1 Corinthians, and 2 Corinthians.
Today we are once again considering the subject of open doors, but we will not be looking at a text that Paul wrote. Instead, we will be looking at verses written by the apostle John in which he records the words of Jesus, when Jesus spoke to him on the island of Patmos.
In Revelation 3 Jesus gave John a message for the church in Philadelphia. Part of His message included these words “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.” (Revelation 3:7-8 NIV). What can we learn about open doors from these words of Jesus?
The first thing that we can learn is that God is the source of open doors. He is the one who makes them happen. We have seen this truth expressed before. Paul acknowledged it in two of his texts that we looked at in earlier articles in this series, namely the texts in Colossians 4 and 2 Corinthians 2. Open doors are not the work of any human being, they are divine works. As believers we are to be open and obedient to His leading regarding them.
The second truth that emerges from these verses is that the Lord doesn’t give open doors of ministry just to missionaries, to people like Paul and his coworkers. He also gives open doors to local churches, bodies of believers. Each congregation is unique due to its geographic location, the time in history in which it exists, the resources it has, and the gifting and makeup of its membership.
The Lord knows all of these details and He can open a door, or doors, to use a local church strategically to meet needs.
A third truth that we can take away from these verses is the Lord’s sovereign control over open doors. If He opens a door, no one can shut it, and if He shuts a door, no one can open it. Paul experienced the reality of both of these things.
When he was in Ephesus there were many who opposed him (1 Corinthians 16:9), however, that did not stop him or shut down the ministry. The Lord had work for Paul to do there. In Acts 16 we find Paul having the opposite experience. He tried to go into Asia and Bithynia but was not able to; he was kept from entering by the Holy Spirit. He was not able to go to places that God did not want him to go. He was shortly thereafter directed to go into Macedonia.
I hope as we conclude this short series about open doors that you, and your churches, will pray for open doors, look for them, and walk through them as the Lord prompts you to do so. These doors will lead you to profitable ministry, perhaps not easy ministry, but certainly effective labor for the Lord.
John P. Lathrop - United States
John P. Lathrop is a graduate of Western Connecticut State University, Zion Bible Institute, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary’s Center for Urban Ministerial Education (CUME). He is an ordained minister with the International Fellowship of Christian Assemblies and has twenty years of pastoral experience.