January 9, 2022
"Walking Through the Door"
As I was sorting through my stack-of-stuff for our post-holiday preaching schedule, I came across a bunch of resources that I didn't use for our series on the Gospel of John. Specifically, John 10 details that I couldn't fit into the sermons on that particular chapter. So, leading into our series on The Revelation to John, I decided to do a little backtracking and get us situated for The Revelation to John.
Let's start with John 10:9:
I am the door. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.
This seems to be the pivotal verse in chapter 10. And as we move toward our series on The Revelation to John, this might be an important verse to keep in mind. You can only hear and joyfully receive the promises of The Revelation to John if you are confident in your salvation in Christ.
I AM THE DOOR. WHOEVER ENTERS BY ME WILL BE SAVED.
Door metaphors are used dozens upon dozens of times in the Bible. "Jesus stands at the door and knocks," is one of the first to come to mind. Perhaps you've seen the various ways this passage has been depicted in paintings over the years. Most often doors signify communication and agreement. When doors are open, there is communication with God. When doors are closed, not much communication is going on. Doors also mean transition from one place to another, as here in verse 9. Doors can also mean hope, opportunities, new beginnings, transformation, secrecy, or mystery. Talking about doors is a great bridge to our next series.
Think about all the doors, metaphorically speaking, you've faced in your life. One door leads to a happy moment or direction in your life. Another door leads to sadness or loss. One door opens to a bright new trajectory in your life while another brings a season of sorrow or confusion. Doors are funny that way. Success or failure…abundance or want…problems or opportunities.
Do you remember Monte Hall and "Let's Make a Deal," or perhaps the new
version with Wayne Brady? You could trade what you already won for something behind door #3. Or whatever door. The point being, it could be good or bad. That's the point of doors.
First, let's think together about doors in the context of our day-in-and-day- out lives.
So much of what happens in life will be determined by the doors you walk through or the doors you walk past. Sometimes you take what you think is the right door and it turns out to be a trap. Other times you think you've made a mistake and taken the wrong door, but it opens up opportunity or blessing. You never know. How can you tell the difference between the right door and the wrong door?
Here's one key principle to remember, regardless of the outcome of the door you've chosen. It's from Romans 8:28:
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
Here's what I take away from that passage. It's not that God primarily
exists to bail us out of our bad choices. It's that when we return to God after a bad decision or wrong choice, He will work to bring us to a new place. And we will know that regardless of situation or circumstance, all is well because of God's grace and mercy poured out on us in the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. When we are in Christ, nothing can defeat us…not even our bad choices.
The first door we're going to look at is the door of freedom.
I am the door. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.
That verse expresses the heart of God. It tells you all you need to know about God's desire for your life. God wants you free from sin and death. That is the trajectory of God's Word. When Jesus said he came that we might have life in all its abundance, he was talking primarily about freedom from sin and the fear of death. We spent a lot of time unpacking that truth in our series on Galatians. Christ and Christ alone is the only way to
freedom from sin and death. All other doors are dead ends or traps. There
is only one door to freedom, and his name is Jesus.
Before we delve deeper in the door to freedom, let's take a minute or two to look at the doors that lead to captivity. It may not be a literal, physical captivity, although sometimes it can be, but let's look at other kinds of captivity.
A toxic relationship can be a mental prison. Some of you have been there, and it's through the grace of God that you are freed.
Debt can be a prison. There's good debt, like the mortgage for a house you can afford. But there's also all kinds of bad debt. Do you know how to tell if it's bad debt? When as you start to clear the debt off the ledger of what you owe, the lenders or the credit card companies try to win you back like a former love. To paraphrase Michael Corleone from The Godfather: Part III, "Just when I thought I was out, they pulled me back in." That's a prison.
Addiction can be a prison. So can hurts, habits, and hang-ups, which is
why Celebrate Recovery is an important part of our church.
A person can be in a prison of guilt or shame.
The list goes on and on. These are all doors that lead away from freedom.
When Jesus talks about being a door, he is talking about being a door from someplace to someplace. Anyplace where we are that Jesus isn't is by definition a prison. It's not a good place to be. And it's not where God wants us to be. So Jesus is the door that leads us out of prison. He is our exit.
So how does God break us out of our prisons?
First, He'll shake things up. Probably not literally, but God will send some kind of earth shaking moment into your life to get your attention to get you out of your prison.
God has literally done it before, though, so don't discount any eventuality.
In Acts 16, we read:
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone's bonds were unfastened. When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God.
A lot of people getting out of a lot of prisons there.
Sometimes God has to shake the foundations to set us free. It happens when people hit rock bottom, and there's no place left to go except up. A crisis can do that. Some people learn that they only had a superficial faith because things were always smooth and comfortable in their lives and then a crisis hit and they didn't respond as a person of deep faith might respond. But here's how the good news works. It was the realization that they had an inadequate faith that drove them deeper into the arms of Jesus and to take their faith more seriously. Maybe some of you know what I'm talking about.
After shaking you loose from whatever prison you might be in, the next thing God does is He plugs you into the power of the resurrection.
When we celebrate Christmas, we look forward to Easter. As we say, Jesus was born to die. One of the gifts brought to Jesus by the Magi was a burial spice. Odd but foreshadowing gift. It points to the crucifixion and the resurrection. And that power that raised Jesus from the dead over 2,000
years ago is available to you today.
Here's how Paul put it in Ephesians 1:18-20:
…having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places…
You hear it, right? The same power that rolled away the stone on Easter morning is available to you. You cannot say you're stuck…or you're trapped in a prison cell…or there's no hope…or you'll never get over it or passed it. The door to freedom has been opened because Christ is risen.
God wants us to live a life of freedom in Christ. It's a huge deal. As Jesus said in Luke 4:18, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed." You might have gone through the
wrong door, but Jesus wants to show you the way through the right door.
Here is what Jesus promises. You might want to write this down:
IF THE SON SETS YOU FREE, YOU WILL TRULY BE FREE.
That is real freedom. You will find peace.
Make no mistake. As your relationship with God grows, the more free you're going to be. You will be less uptight over the big and the little things, because the big and the little things have no long-lasting hold on you, because in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God has already taken care of the two things…sin and death…that have any long-lasting hold on your life. In Christ, you are getting the freedom God wants for your life. As Paul said in Galatians 5:1, "For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery."
So in Christ, we are free. He is the door to freedom. But free from what? If Jesus is the way out of the prison of sin and death, what freedom is Jesus leading us to?
First, FREEDOM FROM THE PRISON OF PRETENDING.
We'll stop here and pick things back up next week with this point.