In this series, those involved with CLC foreign missions profile one aspect of our overseas endeavors.
“And when they arrived, they gathered the church together and declared all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles.” (Acts 14:27 ESV) Such is Luke’s report at the conclusion of Paul and Barnabas’s evangelism trek.
What is an open door?
In Revelation 3:8 we learn that the Lord set before the church at Philadelphia an open door which no one could shut. But on Paul’s second missionary journey there was definitely a closed door in Asia Minor (Acts 16:6-7).
We today receive no direct messages from God as to a specific open or closed door. We have to go back to the Great Commission, given by our resurrected Lord to His church and repeated by the Gospel writers. It references “all the world” and “the whole creation” (Mark 16:15).
As ambassadors for Him we seek an audience for His Word. If they will not allow us to speak, or if upon hearing, they reject it, then the door would appear to be closed. But notice that we make the attempt to present the Gospel message as His emissaries.
Sometimes the door may appear to be closed, when upon closer investigation it is not. When Paul suffered persecution at Antioch in Pisidia and Iconium, culminating in his being stoned at Lystra, one would be inclined to say “Door Closed.” But it was not, and shortly thereafter Paul went right back through those same cities preaching the Word.
We do see the “door closed” demonstrated after the attempt to give the Good News by the seventy: “But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off against you; nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near.'” (Luke 10:10-11 ESV) But remember that at Antioch in Pisidia Paul and Barnabas were driven out and persecution was stirred against them. Yet even though they had shaken the dust from their feet against them, they later returned. The door had been closed, but only for a time.
How can we determine if a door is open or closed to the Word? There will be no vision of a man of Macedonia beckoning to a certain place, nor will there be a direct revelation of the Spirit to stay clear of another place. We should assume that all the world is the open door until we see, through the exercise of God-given wisdom, that the place, town, district, or nation is closed to the Word.
Not all doors are wide open. Sometimes the door is open but a bit. It is our task to see how we might go through that opening to speak His Word. Go to one side and look at the door; perhaps from that vantage point you think the door is closed. Yet from another vantage point you may see the door is open. Some may be too quick to assume that a door is closed. There is more than one way to see things. There are a variety of ways to go into all the world with His Good News. First, we must remember to look into the heart of God from Scripture: “God . . . desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:4) Secondly, we pray.