This is the sermon text for Pastor’s radio broadcast dated December 16, 2015, on Worldwide KFUO Radio AM 850 in St. Louis, Missouri (www.kfuoam.org).
Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! Amen. In the Scripture we just heard from Revelation 4, St. John writes, “After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, ‘Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this’” (Rev. 4:1, ESV). And so, with these wonderful words of invitation, the Lord Jesus ushers the aging apostle into the heavenly throne room, and John enjoys this privileged perspective for the rest of his Revelation.
What John beholds “in the Spirit” (4:2) is marvelous and astounding! He sees God the Father, the one who “dwells in unapproachable light” (1 Tim. 6:16), in all of his glory—with the appearance of precious stones, an emerald rainbow, flashes of lightning, and a sea of glass. But unlike most Old Testament theophanies, or visions of God, where the Lord’s appearance and holiness instill fear, here in Revelation 4, John has no cause for terror, but only marvel, because the perfect love of Jesus Christ drives out all fear (cp. 1 John 4:18).
Before the incarnation, no one could see God’s face and live (Ex. 33:20). Yet ever since the incarnation, when “the Word became flesh” we see that “his glory” is “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). Only by the grace of God dare anyone stand in the presence of God. Grace and glory come together in Jesus Christ so that, in Jesus, God’s glorious presence comes as a blessing and not as a terrible threat.
For this reason, our focus returns to the open door in verse 1: “After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven!” (4:1a). This open door is the gateway for John’s entry into heaven. It also reminds me of Jesus’ mention of doors earlier in Revelation 3 and John 10. For example, in his letter to the angel of the Church of Philadelphia, Jesus says, “I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut…” (Rev. 3:7). Jesus set an open door before the Philadelphians, before John, and also before us!
The open door in heaven points to an even greater Door: the Lord Jesus Christ himself. In John 10, Jesus says, “I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved…” (John 10:9). This verse attests that the only way to gain entrance into heaven is through faith in Jesus Christ, the true Door. The door to heaven is open because God is more interested in letting people into heaven than keeping them out.
Despite criticism by unbelievers that Christianity is closed-minded and our conception of God is capricious and arbitrary, the reality of God’s grace is very different than what our critics could ever conceive. There is a strange paradox of Christianity that our salvation is both inclusive and exclusive. Salvation in Jesus Christ is inclusive because God “desires all people to be saved” (1 Tim. 2:4). And yet salvation in Jesus Christ is also exclusive because of Jesus’ exclusive claim to be “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). No one comes to the Father except through him. “There is salvation in no one else…” (Acts 4:12).
Truly, Jesus Christ is the only Door into heaven. The Good News—at least for now—is that the door is still open (Rev. 4:1). There is still time to repent of our sins, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and be saved! As we know from Jesus’ parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins, the Day will come when our bridegroom arrives and the door is shut (Matt. 25:10).
But not yet! Right now there is still time! “Behold, I stand at the door and knock,” Jesus says. “If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” (Rev. 3:20). The door of heaven is open to you through Jesus’ Word of invitation. He welcomes you by the Good News of his great love and forgiveness and gains entry for you by his blood shed on the cross. Until the Last Day of Christ’s return, or the day you die—whichever comes first—the Door remains open to all who receive him and believe in his name. May we all enter into heaven through the open Door of Christ. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of + the Holy Spirit. Amen.