“Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ. And the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip when they heard him and saw the signs that he did.” – Acts 8:5
The story of the Samaritan revival sparked by the work of Philip in Acts 8 is an evangelism primer for anyone who wants to grow in being a witness for their Lord. A second evangelism principle we discover here is: Look for open doors.
An open door is what we see happening for Philip. When we share Jesus with someone, they respond – eagerly and immediately. They’re receptive, attentive, and teachable. When Paul requested prayer for his work, he would ask for people to pray for open doors. “Pray for us that God may open to us a door for the word…that I may make it clear which is how I ought to speak.” (Colossians 4:3-4). On his missionary journeys. Paul would stay in some places longer than other. It all depended on if a door opened for him.
For example, when Paul preached in Lystra, even though he had done a great miracle there, a mob drove him out of the city, stoned him, and nearly killed him. Take a wild guess – closed door or open door? Later on though, he came to Ephesus, and reports to the Corinthian church, “I will stay in Ephesus until Pentecost, for a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.” (1 Cor.16:8-9). He ended staying there for two years, until as Luke tells us in Acts 19:10, “all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.”
When Jesus sent out his disciples on a preaching mission to let them flex their ministry muscles, he said to them that if they entered a town, but the people didn’t receive them, they were to shake the dust off their feet and leave (Matthew 10:5-15). It’s a closed door. No need to keep knocking on it when there are so many open doors to be found.
Recognizing open and closed doors is highly useful when it comes to sharing our faith with others for a couple of reasons. First, because it’s encouraging to know that there will be open doors! Too many of us have the mindset that people will be automatically turned off when we try to share our hope in Christ with them. But that isn’t true. We humans are made by God and for God (Colossians 1:16). God has placed the yearning for eternity in people’s hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Once God’s grace starts shaking the hearts and opening the blind eyes of people when we share with them, many will be drawn to our words, because it’s what they’ve been hungering and thirsting for all their lives.
This is the second thing about open and closed doors that I find useful: it guides me in my interactions with people. If the door closes, and the person is not interested in the least with what you have to say, smile, say, “Have a nice day,” and move on, no matter how rude or unreceptive they are. “The Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness.” (2 Timothy 2:24-25)
However, if the door opens, and there’s a willingness to talk, or they ask a question, then walk through the open door and see where it takes you. Your Lord just might be at work. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock,” Jesus said. “If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20)
Meditate for a moment on the truth that when we share Jesus with others, many will respond. (Think of it – you responded!) How does that change or shift the way you typically think about witnessing to others?