The Church in Philadelphia (Part 2)

The message to the Church at Philadelphia must have been a huge encouragement to the pastor and the congregation of God in that city. The Lord Jesus declares Himself the gatekeeper. We are very familiar with gates (or doors). Every house has gates and doors. The main reason for these are to keep us safe. Long past are the days when we did not need to have fencing and gates around our property and leaving doors open or unlocked. I had a Bible Study today in Benoni, then a meeting before heading home. When I arrived home I found the back door and security gate that I had locked, unlocked. Jenny had gone outside and come back in forgetting to lock the door and gate. In our area this is dangerous. One needs gates and doors, but they need to be locked at all times because danger lurks all the time … day and night. Gates have a purpose, an important purpose.

2) In this sixth letter, the Lord Jesus reminds the pastor and congregation that there is a special door of which He and He alone is the gatekeeper.

Rev 3:7 “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. 8 I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut.

(1) Jesus knows our deeds. This might seem repetitive but it is necessary to be reminded that our Lord knows and sees everything all the time. He is Omniscient. In the case of this pastor and congregation, their deeds are good.

(2) This is why Jesus placed an open door for them that no one but He is able to open and shut. The door Jesus opens is the door of heaven. This door remains open until the full complement of the elect have entered through the gate into glory.

(a) Where on the one hand Jesus opens the gate, on the other hand He is the gate.

Jn 10:7 Therefore Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. God’s flock are His sheep.

The only way into the heavenly pen is through Jesus, the Gate. There is no salvation outside of Him. Different flocks would come into the safely of a sheep pen at night. When a shepherd called his sheep in the morning, only his sheep would follow because they knew his voice and call. This is true of those serious about salvation. They hear the gospel call and respond, coming to salvation. Where the sheep would come into the safety of the pen at night and then and go out of the pen in the morning … coming and going … the believer comes into the security of the Savior’s protection and irrespective where he or she goes, they remain in the safety of the Savior’s security. They never leave the Kingdom. They don’t go in and out of the kingdom … rather, where they are, they have the Master’s protection.

(b) Once in the heavenly pen, true life is experienced. This is spiritual life which starts on earth once saved and continues through death into glory and remains forever. Life to the full refers to the assurance of salvation that produces the passion for holiness, evangelism and service. My meeting this morning was with a colleague. As we spoke about ministry I said that there is no greater “work” than gospel ministry. It might requires sacrifice, dedication and hard labor … but serving Jesus gives the greatest pleasure and satisfaction. Surely this is true of the average Christian. Loving and serving Jesus must be pleasurable, providing the greatest satisfaction in life! It’s something like this that John Piper had in mind when he spoke of Christian hedonism. Hedonism is about self-gratification … Christian hedonism is about pleasuring God by one’s love for Him and obedience to Him resulting in personal satisfaction. The big difference between Hedonism and Christian Hedonism is that the first is about self-pleasure and gratification whereas the second is about the pleasure of being able to bring pleasure and glory to God!

(3) We know Jesus says He is the door / gate. How do you find the open door / gate? The following passage refers to prayer.

Mt 7:7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”

So often people want salvation but don’t put much effort into ensuring salvation. These verses show us persistent prayer. Look at the sequence … asking, seeking and finding … then … knocking! When a lost soul really wants salvation … this is the process. Pleading the Lord of the Harvest to descend in soul saving power, transforming the mind, will and desire to want and receive the New Birth. The Lord Jesus will never turn the serious soul away! May I stop here and be provocative? Salvation and assurance are serious matters. There is no such thing as easy believism. Too many want such a Christianity where there is no real repentance and unholy living. Sorry … that sort of Christianity is not Biblical. Biblical Christianity is a Christianity where there is a want to repent and honor Jesus through the pursuit of holy living because of His meritorious work at Calvary and the benefits that accrue to the believing soul!

(4) The bliss of assurance of salvation. This pastor and congregation of this Church must have experienced the thrill of knowing they were commended by the Lord for their gospel faithfulness. The Lord Jesus assures them … What he (Jesus) opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open … See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. Jesus as the gatekeeper shuts the door of hell so that no one can escape … but the door of heaven in constantly kept open for more and more souls to enter in and be saved. Here’s the thing though … This gate will be closed one day and no one will then be able to enter. Have you entered yet? Remember the Ten Virgins, five were late and locked out of Glory.

Lord, thank You that You are my gate. Amen.

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