A Great Door

A Great Door

A Great Door is a sermon teaching us that we enter into a new year filled with untold opportunities to lead others to Christ. Trust God that He will lead you through the new year to do His work.

I Corinthians 16:8: “But I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost.”

I Corinthians 16:9: “For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries.”

I Corinthians was written by Paul from Ephesus about 53 or 54 AD, about 35 years before John wrote the Revelation. Paul wrote to the church at Corinth to address problems that were occurring there with numerous issues and complex problems within the church. The 16th chapter is the conclusion of his letter. He tells the Corinthians that he wants to come to them in-person. Paul hoped to spend the winter in Corinth and be a help to them. But before that, he wanted to stay in Ephesus for a time to spend Pentecost there.

We are standing at the end of a calendar year and the beginning of another year. There are some with us that were here at the beginning of 2020 who are not here now. We don’t know how much time we have left. We don’t know if we are going to finish in 2021. We are talking about the Lord’s return. He could return before midnight tonight.

While We Are Here

There’s a lot we don’t know. We know that while we are here, we can still make a difference and that’s important. While we are here, we can still make a difference. While we are here, we need to make a difference.

I Corinthians 16:8: “But I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost.”

Pentecost means 50 or 50th. It is celebrated on the 50th day after the beginning of Passover. It is also called the Feast of Weeks, of seven weeks and one day after Passover begins is Pentecost. It is also called the Feast of First Fruits. It celebrates the harvest, the bringing in of the sheaves as an offering to the Lord, and thanksgiving for the harvest. The first fruits that come in belong to the Lord. There’s a whole principle of first fruits and offerings to the Lord that runs throughout the scriptures. There’s a deep spiritual meaning in the first fruits.

I Corinthians 15:22: “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”

I Corinthians 15:23: “But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.”

Paul writes regarding the resurrection. This brings us back to Pentecost. Another significance of Pentecost or first fruits, besides Christ being the first of the first fruits of the resurrection, is in Acts 2 when the Holy Spirit came and indwelt believers. I believe this was the birth of the church when the Holy Spirit comes on the day of Pentecost. The church was born that day. The church will be on the Earth until the return of the Lord with what we call the Rapture.

Jesus was crucified at Passover. He was resurrected after three days. And then spent 40 days, as Luke tells us in Acts 1 “showing himself alive by many infallible proofs,” being seen by many witnesses. Then the apostles and those that were with him went into the “great 10-day prayer meeting.” After that, the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost – 50 days after Passover.

Paul wanted to remain in Ephesus until after the celebration at Pentecost. But that’s not the only reason why he wanted to stay there.

I Corinthians 16:9: “For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries.”

Opportunities to Preach

Paul saw many opportunities at Ephesus to preach the gospel and to see people come and trust Jesus as their Savior and to be saved. There were opportunities because the Lord was moving there, and Paul was seeing people there coming to the Lord, to their Savior, and to be saved. In the very beginning of I Corinthians chapter 1, Paul says, “for Christ sent me not to baptize.” Paul did baptize people. But when he was sent out to preach, his primary mission wasn’t to baptize people. God sent him not to baptize but to preach the gospel. Paul draws a line of delineation between baptism and the gospel. Baptism is not part of the gospel. Baptism is a result of the gospel with people believing on the Lord and being saved, but it is not part of the gospel.

So, God sent Paul to preach the gospel and he goes on to say “but not with the wisdom of words,” or not as an eloquent speaker. Not that Paul felt he was winning people over because he was such a captivating preacher. Paul says, “Christ sent me not to baptize but to preach the gospel, not with the wisdom of words lest the cross of Christ be made of none effect.” It was not Paul winning people over to the Lord but people were coming to the cross.

Paul was interested in people seeing the cross. He said, “for the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness. But unto us that are saved, it is the Power of God.” In verse 16 of that chapter, Paul says, “for I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes, to the Jew first and then also to the Greek. Paul’s primary purpose in life is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Sharing the Gospel

In chapter 15:3-4 Paul defined what the gospel is.

I Corinthians 15:3: “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;”

I Corinthians 15:3: “And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:”

That is the gospel. So, Paul saw opportunities to preach the gospel at Ephesus before he leaves there.

What opportunities do you see? What opportunities do you see as you stand on the threshold of another year? What do you think God is going to be able to do with you this year? May you think that you don’t know at this point. Even if you don’t know, you can surrender to the Lord and say, “Lord, what every you want, that’s what I want.”

Here is a simple prayer you can say, “Lord, you know what I want. But if what I want isn’t what you want, give me the grace to accept what you want.“ God does know what you want, but want what He wants. On our own, we don’t always want what He wants. Sometimes you can pray, “Thank you Lord for not giving me what I wanted.” What God wants is far better than what we want. So be surrendered, “Lord, whatever you want, give me the grace to accept what you want.”

You and I, for as long as we live will have opportunities to share the gospel with those who need to be saved. We will have opportunities to do good for other people. Isn’t that the same thing? No, you can do good to people without ever sharing the gospel. But which one should we do? We should do both. We should be sharing the gospel with people and we should be doing good for people. In this new year, we ought to do good for people but we also need to give them the gospel. We may have opportunities lying ahead of us that you and I haven’t even imagined would happen. That is extremely possible.

Ask the Lord

Be encouraged, don’t be discouraged. Be encouraged and asked the Lord to give you opportunities. If you ask the Lord to give you opportunities, He will do it. Maybe not exactly the way you think they’ll come, but they’ll come. And ask Him to help you see the opportunities as they come. Have you ever been in a situation when you say to yourself that you had a great opportunity but missed it? It happens too often. Ask the Lord to help you see opportunities. A book was written on “divine appointments,” where the Lord puts you in situations where someone needs to hear about the Lord. You didn’t arrange that meeting, God did.

Ask the Lord to give you opportunities and then ask Him to give you the wisdom to take the opportunities that do come and for you to have the wisdom to handle them in the best possible way. If you have trouble speaking to others, ask God for help.

Dr. Lee Roberson pastored a church with over 10,000 people. For four years and six months, every Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night, except for one night, they baptized new converts. Why? Because people were getting saved there all the time. Dr. Lee Roberson was a powerful preacher and spoke at this very pulpit a number of times. He would say that when he went on visitation, he’d drive around the block three or four times before working up the courage to go and talk to the people. This tells you that you can be called to preach, be someone who gives the gospel, and who gives the gospel one-on-one all the time, but you need God’s help.

Acts 4:31: “And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.”

If you like boldness, pray. If you are too timid to talk to people, pray. If you don’t know what to say, pray. Ask the Lord to help you, He’ll do it. Ask Him to give you wisdom. Then Paul added one more thing.

I Corinthians 16:9: “For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries.”

The Opposition

There is a great door, a great opportunity that lies before us in this new year. Paul says there are many adversaries, along with opportunities there will always be opposition. There are those who are enemies of the Lord. There are those who are enemies of His gospel and don’t want to hear it. Jesus talked about that.

John 15:18-24:

John 15:18: “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.”

John 15:19: “If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.”

John 15:20: “Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.”

John 15:21: “But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me.”

John 15:22: “If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin.”

John 15:23: “He that hateth me hateth my Father also.”

You cannot hate Jesus and love God. Some people think they do, but they don’t. You can’t hate Jesus and love God.

John 15:24: “If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father.”

A New Year of Opportunity

The good news is, that the future, the year ahead of us holds many opportunities for us. William Carey was a famous missionary to India many years ago. He had his hardships but he said, “The future is as bright as the promises of God.” If you believe God and believe His promises, then that is how bright your future is.

Thank God for the opportunities that lie ahead of us. Trust God for the opposition that is ahead of us. He will bring us through it. My predecessor, the preacher before me led a series of sermons about this. As he preached through the book of Ezra, he had a recurring theme, the opposition is the opportunity to overcome. Think about that: The opposition is the opportunity to overcome. What we need to do right now, this New Year’s Eve, we need to thank God that a great door and effectual is opened for us. We need to walk through that door to a whole new year of opportunity.

Get in-depth knowledge by viewing or listening to the sermon: A Great Door

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Dr. Michael L. McClure, our lead pastor, is known for his in-depth knowledge and effective teaching style of biblical truths applicable to every day living.

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