The church of Philadelphia is traditional known as the evangelical congregation. Prior to the gospel coming to the area, the city was the center of “evangelizing” the known world in the Greek culture. It is here that the Lord Jesus Christ introduces Himself as “He that opens and no man can shut; and shuts and no man can open.” (Revelation 3:7) Jesus Christ is the God of the open door.
Paul and Barnabas after one of their missionary journeys spoke about how God had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles (Acts 14:27). We read about how that “great and effectual door” was opened up to Paul in Ephesus (1 Corinthians 16:9), notwithstanding the opposition against the gospel of Jesus Christ. In Troas, a door was opened to Paul to preach Christ’s gospel (2 Corinthians 2:12). In each and every one of these instances mentioned, those doors of evangelism were opened by The Lord Himself.
Herein is a divine mystery to me. The Great Commission is the command to preach the gospel to every creature in every nation (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15), yet, the Spirit of God forbid Paul to go to Asia (Acts 16:6). But, the very letter that we are studying this morning is written to a city in Asia that had been evangelized! Answer to the mystery? A closed door for one man or ministry may be an open door for another man or ministry. God providentially selects His people to minister the gospel where He purposes. Pure evangelism is never the vote of a missionary board. It is not a matter of “picking and choosing” where to go. The specifics of evangelism are discovered when we spend time before the Lord and minister unto Him (Acts 13:1-5).
Again, we see that it is God who chooses the men who are called to minister and where they are to go (Acts 16:9,10). However, Jesus is also the One who closes the doors that He has not designed for us to enter. The key to being used by the Lord in personal evangelism is revealed to us by Peter, who tells us to have consecrated hearts unto the Lord and be ready to answer any person who may ask us about the hope we have in Jesus (1 Peter 3:15).
What a privilege God has given unto us to preach Christ as Lord to this lost world that God loves (John 3:14-17). We are not responsible for results; we are only called to be faithful to do what God calls us to do individually and as a community of believers. Remember, the fields are white and ready to harvest (John 4:35) and the Lord is looking for people to labor in His fields (Matthew 9:37,38) May we individually and congregationally go and grow together for the glory of God!