Two Doors

Read: Rev. 3:7-11; 15-21

Text: Rev 3:20 (KJV) Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

Theme: Faithfulness and dependence on God please Him, but self-reliance and concentration on worldly wealth do not.


Introduction:

We have examined the letter to the church at Ephesus. From this letter we learned the danger of allowing our love to wane... "leaving our first love."

We next examined the letters to Smyrna and Pergamos, and from them we learned the lessons Christ has for us in suffering and persecution. We were encouraged by the admonition of Christ to Smyrna to never give up, and we were warned by the rebuke of Christ to Pergamos, to not crack the door to compromise, for it can lead to much greater sin in our midst.

Last week, we studied Thyatira and Sardis. From them we will learned the importance of keeping our guard up, and avoiding wrong influence in our walk with Christ.

Today we will examine two churches which offer us a great contrast. It is difficult to imagine two more contrasting churches. Both are described in terms of a DOOR, which illustrates something about their relationship with Christ.


EXERCISE - Pass out slips of paper to everyone in class, ask to take a few minutes and write on this paper the answer(s) to these questions:

1.) What is it that receives most of my time?

2.) What is it that receives most of my interest or attention?

3.) What is it that receives most of my money?

No one else will see these slips, but keep them in mind as we progress through the lesson. The hope is that they will enable you to apply the lesson to your own life.


Philadelphia - Rev. 3:7-13

Philadelphia was about 28 miles SE of Sardis. The city was in an agricultural area near a main east-west trade route. The valley where the city was located connected the Maeander and Hermus valleys. The city was best known for its devastating earthquakes.


I. Philadelphia - The Open Door

QUESTION - As with all the letters to the churches, Christ began by identifying Himself. How did He identify Himself to Philadelphia? (What 3 descriptions?)
 
A. The speaker (3:7)
1. Holy

2. True

Rev 6:10 (KJV) And they (i.e. martyrs in heaven) cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?

3. Authoritative (key of David)

NOTE - Christ has access to everything belonging to the king.

ILLUS. Eliakim, faithful steward to Hezekiah, was given a key to the house of David, entitling him to participation in the king's presence and his wealth: Isa 22:22 (KJV) And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his (Eliakim's) shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open.

NOTE - Only Christ has the key to open and close the doors of blessing. He is in control.

B. The commendation (Rev. 3:8)
QUESTION - For what did Christ commend the church at Philadelphia?

QUESTION - For what did He rebuke it? (NOTHING)

1. Although a small church ( "a little strength" ), yet great potential.

2. Believers had remained faithful ( "hast kept my word... hast not denied" )

C. The Promise. (3:8-11)
QUESTION - What did Christ promise this church?

1. An open door (vs. 8)

QUESTION - What does an open door symbolize in scripture? (ANSWER - Opportunity for service)

Acts 14:27 (KJV) And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles.

1 Cor 16:9 (KJV) For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries.

2 Cor 2:12 (KJV) Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ's gospel, and a door was opened unto me of the Lord,

QUESTION - Why did Christ promise this little church that great opportunities lay ahead of them?

ANSWER - The believers had been faithful in little things; now Christ was giving greater opportunities. Luke 19:17 (KJV) And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities.

QUESTION - When we find ourselves faced with opportunity, what else must we be ready for?

ANSWER - Opposition.

QUOTE - "For every opportunity there are obstacles."

QUOTE - "The door of opportunity swings on the hinges of opposition."

2. All their enemies would bow and worship God at their feet. (3:9)

3. They would be exempt from the tribulation. (3:10)

4. Christ will return quickly. (3:11)

QUOTE - "During trials, the believer should remember that he has not been forgotten. Christ will return suddenly; so we must remain faithful even though it may not be easy."

D. Application
QUESTION - What open door exists for the Friendship Class? What are some of the opportunities that Christ puts before us (specifically, the Friendship Class) today?

ANSWER - Think of such things as opportunities for giving, laboring, teaching, encouraging others with our own experiences (cf. 2 Cor 1:4 (KJV) Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.)

NOTE - Remember our purpose statement as a class: To encourage one another through the study of God's Word, prayer and fellowship, that our lives might reflect the wisdom of our age and our love for Jesus Christ and His church. ("A friend loveth at all times." Proverbs 17:17)

QUESTION - Think for a minute about Christ's emphasis on His ability to open the door which no one can shut, and shut the door with no one can open. What applications should we make from this thought?

ANSWER - DOOR IS ONLY OPEN FOR A WHILE, THEN SHUT FOREVER!

Gen 6:3 (KJV) And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.

Prov 29:1 (KJV) He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.

Jer 8:20 (KJV) The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.

2 Th 2:11 (KJV) And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:

ILLUS. Parable of 10 virgins (Matthew 25:1-13)

ILLUS. My hesitancy in talking with my grandfather about the Lord, until he was dying.

ILLUS. The story is told of a believer who was eating in a restaurant, when a strong feeling came over him that he should witness to the waiter. He declined, thinking to himself that it would be embarrassing. However, the feeling persisted. He finished his meal and left, but on walking home the feeling became so strong that he finally gave in and returned to the restaurant to follow the Holy Spirit's leading and speak to the waiter. He asked for the waiter, but was horrified to hear that moments after the waiter had last spoken to him, he had walked out of the restaurant and committed suicide. The door was closed.


So we learn that the church at Philadelphia remained faithful in spite of size, and in spite of opposition. Christ promised them great opportunities... an OPEN DOOR.

Now let's think about Laodicea, where a different kind of door is mentioned.

Laodicea was about 100 miles due east of Ephesus and about 10 miles west of Colosse in the fertile Lycus valley. Hierapolis (mentioned in Co. 4:13) was also in the vicinity of Laodicea.


II. Laodicea - The Closed Door

QUESTION - What was Laodicea commended for? (ANSWER - Nothing)
 
QUESTION - What was Laodicea rebuked for?
 
A. Rebuked for a lukewarm faith. (3:15-16)
QUESTION - What do you think Christ meant when He described the Laodicean's faith as lukewarm?

QUESTION - What does the word "spue" mean in verse 16? (ANSWER - vomit)

QUESTION - What does this teach us about what Christ thinks of a lukewarm faith? (ANSWER - It nauseates Him.)

QUESTION - It would seem that Christ prefers a church to be hot or cold, rather than lukewarm. Why?

QUESTION - What do you think of this quote: "The church was neither dead nor zealous - just nauseating. It made the Lord sick. Complacency is hard to battle."?

ILLUS. The Lord built His remarks around the local water conditions at Laodicea. The town had no water supply of its own. All its water was piped in from the neighboring city of Hierapolis, which was a few miles north. After the water arrived through pipes to Laodicea, it was neither hot nor cold - neither stimulating nor refreshing.

QUESTION - Are there indicators in our lives which warm us when we are lukewarm, rather than HOT or COLD?

ANSWER - Bring out such thoughts as:

1. Lack of concern for the lost (does it touch your heart?)

2. Lack of interest in the Word. (does it matter whether you read it or not?)

3. Lack of fellowship through prayer. (can you get through the day without prayer, and care?)

4. Willingness to let somebody else do it. (does it matter that others are overworked when we might be able to help?)

QUESTION - What can we do to avoid this nauseating condition in our lives?

B. Rebuked for a self-satisfied attitude. (3:17)
QUESTION - In what ways were these believers "self-satisfied?"

QUESTION - Do you believe the following quote is true: "The Laodicean believers had concentrated all their energies on accumulating material possessions at the expense of spiritual blessings. While materially well off, the church was in spiritual poverty." ?

QUESTION - What is wrong with such an attitude?

QUESTION - What did Christ suggest as a solution?

1. Recognize true wealth. (vs. 18)

QUOTE - "The believers at Laodicea were to seek spiritual riches with the SAME ENTHUSIASM as they sought material goods."

- QUESTION - Is seeking wealth condemned in scripture? (NO)

- QUOTE - "This passage does not condemn the material world. It does, however, warm believers that a love for material goods can hinder one's relationship with Christ. After all, our primary concerns are to be heavenly matters."

- QUESTION - How can we balance the issues of earthly wealth and spiritual wealth?

2. Open your eyes!

QUOTE - "The believers in this church were blind to their problem. They were so focused on this world's matters that they failed to recognize their true spiritual condition. They were quite comfortable with their physical and material situation, but they lacked the spiritual qualities expected of a church."

C. Given a wonderful opportunity (Rev. 3:20)
QUESTION - What does the word "chasten" mean? (vs. 19) (ANSWER - "child train")

QUESTION - Why did Christ say He rebukes and "child trains?" (ANSWER - He loves us.)

QUESTION - What opportunity did Christ offer this lukewarm church?

ANSWER - Open the door, and return to fellowship with Him.


Conclusion:

There could not be two churches that are more in contrast. To the one, Christ promises an open door, and to the other, He stands and knocks at the door.

I wonder, this morning, WHICH DOOR APPLIES TO YOU?

Our lesson teaches us that faithfulness and dependence on God please Him, but self-reliance and concentration on worldly wealth do not.

WHICH DOOR APPLIES TO YOU?

With every head bowed and every eye closed, I want us to think about the things we wrote on that slip of paper at the beginning of our lesson this morning:

1.) What is it that receives most of my time?

2.) What is it that receives most of my interest or attention?

3.) What is it that receives most of my money?

As you think about the answers you wrote, I want you to answer one more question:

WHICH DOOR APPLIES TO YOU?

In your life, are you concentrating on the things that are pleasing to Christ, so that He places before you a door of opportunity to serve Him?

Or, are you concentrating on material success and advancement, so that He is outside the closed door of your life, seeking entrance?

WHICH DOOR APPLIES TO YOU?

PRAY


Please direct questions, comments, and submissions to William E. Johnson
Copyright 1997 William E. Johnson.