Open Hearts, Open Doors and Open Mouths


Paul was never satisfied with the conversion of the lost. As soon as they turned to Christ he began to teach them the glorious truths which the ascended Lord had revealed to him from heaven. Nor did he cease to pray that their hearts might be opened to receive these truths. Several of his prayers are recorded for us in his epistles. In the first chapter of Ephesians we find him praying:

“That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him:

“The eyes of your understanding [Lit., “your heart”] being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,

“And what is the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe…” (Eph. 1:17-19).

Should not we, who know Christ as Savior and Lord, begin our Christian lives here? Should we not pray earnestly that God will indeed open “the eyes of our hearts,” so that not only with the mind, but with the heart we may rejoice in “the hope of His calling” (See II Tim. 1:9), “the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints” (See Eph. 5:25-27) and “the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe” (See Eph. 1:19-21)?


But seeing and rejoicing in these truths is only the beginning. If our lives have been enriched by “the knowledge of the mystery” how we should yearn to impart these riches to those about us!

Even while in prison at Rome, Paul proclaimed his God-given message to all with whom he came into contact, but he longed for still greater opportunity, requesting his fellow-saints to pray:

“…that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which also I am in bonds” (Col. 4:3).

Is it not quite possible, even probable, that we who know the truth of the mystery often fail to witness to others about it because we have first of all failed to pray to God to open doors, to give us appropriate opportunities to witness to our friends?

In one sense such opportunities are constantly confronting us if we are but aware of them. In this sense God says to us, as to the Philadelphian church of the Revelation: “Behold, I have set before thee an open door” (Rev. 3:8); it is your unfaithfulness if you do not enter it; if you fail to take advantage of the opportunity.


But we need even more than open doors, or opportunities to make the blessed message known. We need open mouths; we need boldness.

It is amazing that even the great Apostle Paul needed help in this too, for contrary to popular opinion, he was by nature timid and retiring. He reminds the Corinthians how he first appeared among them “in weakness, and in fear and in much trembling” (I Cor. 2:3). And these were not mere words written for effect, for Luke, his companion, relates how the fearful apostle needed special encouragement from the Lord during his Corinthian ministry:

“Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace;

“For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee, for I have much people in this city” (Acts 18:9,10).

It is not strange, then, to find the apostle asking the saints to pray….

“…for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel,

“For which I am an ambassador in bonds, that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak” (Eph. 6:19,20).

How our adversary, the devil, would close our mouths and keep us from proclaiming “the preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery!” How he would fill us with fear, or seek to convince us that it pleases God more if we are modest and retiring!

The fact is that where personal matters are concerned we should be meek, gladly bearing insult and abuse for Christ’s sake. But where the proclamation of His truth is concerned we “ought to speak boldly” as the above passage indicates.

May God convict us of whatever keeps us from opening our mouths boldly to proclaim the mystery, whether is be indifference or fear. May it be our constant, earnest prayer “that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.”

The Pastor’s Perils

God has given an important, responsible position to every Bible  teaching pastor.  According to Ephesians 4:11-12, the gift of pastor (pastor teacher) is one of those given “…for the perfecting of the saints, for the working of the ministry, for the edifying of the Body of Christ….”  Because of this, it is evident that Satan will seek to hinder or destroy a successful ministry any way he can.

There are many areas where Satan can set a snare or pitfall for a pastor.  We list some of the more obvious ones using the alliterative “P”: Popularity, Prestige, Pay, and Passion.


Popularity is usually gained by pleasing man, and that is natural for most of us.  But the desire to please can lead a pastor to avoid preaching anything that may offend, even though it may be sound doctrine.  It is convenient for him to avoid controversial issues, especially if he knows that the congregation may not accept his teaching.  Paul anticipated this in writing to Timothy.  He admonished, “…reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (II Tim. 4:2).

Paul set the example as he reproved the Galatian believers for their departure from the gospel of grace (Gal. 1:6-9).  In verse 10 of the same passage, Paul says “…do I seek to please men, or God? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.”

As we continue through the book, we find many more rebukes to the Galatians, albeit given with love and longsuffering.  Paul was so stern with them, it seemed he had become their enemy (Gal. 4:16), yet in every chapter he was only defending the doctrines of grace that were committed to him by the Lord Jesus.  Paul, then, is an example of one who did not seek popularity as a “manpleaser” (Eph. 6:6).


When a person is given a position of leadership, the respect and encouragement of others often leads to adoration and praise.  We tend to give undue honor and adulation, bestowing flattering titles such as “reverend” or “doctor,” making it more difficult for a pastor to realize that he is called to be merely a minister or servant.  The more gifted a pastor is with speaking ability, writing ability, or organizational ability, the more he should be lifted up with prayer, lest he be lifted up with pride.  Paul emphasized that he and Apollos were but ministers (servants) by whom the Corinthians believed (I Cor. 3:5).  Then in verse 7 he added, “So then, neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.”

All the men of God throughout Scripture have shown meekness and humility in leading God’s people.  Note Numbers 12:3: “Now the man Moses was very meek above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.”  As we read through the books Moses wrote, we find him giving God the glory, as did all the prophets in the Old Testament.  The Lord Jesus, though He was God the Son, said “…learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart” (Matt. 11:29).  In writing to a pastor, Paul said “…follow after…meekness…” (I Tim. 6:11).  To Titus (3:2) he writes that we should be “…gentle, showing all meekness to all men.”  As a pastor or minister considers such verses as these, he will resist the temptation toward pride or a superior attitude.  If he has success in his ministry, he will humbly admit it was all God’s working and God’s grace.


The Bible teaches that a pastor is generally supported by the congregation he serves (I Cor. 9:14).  Yet, in our day, we see large congregations giving such large salaries, plus benefits, that the pastor is often being paid more than the average member of his congregation.  Most pastors have families to support, homes they are buying, and many bills, so they fear losing the large salary.  When a pastor becomes dependent upon a generous salary, the Word is no longer preached with true freedom.  The danger is that a pastor becomes greatly tempted to avoid offending anyone by “preaching the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27), or standing for the truths that he knows.  When Paul wrote to young pastor Timothy in I Timothy 6:10 about the love of money being a root of all evil, he was not only warning believers in general, but he was also warning Timothy.  He didn’t want the love of money to cause Timothy to become the servant of men, rather than a servant of Christ (Gal. 1:10).

It would not be wise for any pastor to be completely dependent on support given by a church.  Having a trade or profession or being able to “work with his hands” (I Thes. 4:11) would be a great asset toward independence in his preaching.  He would be able to “reprove and exhort with sound doctrine” knowing that he could always “…provide for his own…” (I Tim. 5:8), even if he had to look for another place of service.  Paul’s solution to this was that he made the gospel free of charge and did not ask for money.  Instead he often worked as a tentmaker to supply his needs and the needs of others.  Concerning the love of money, he advised Timothy, “…O man of God, flee these things…” (I Tim. 6:11).


Although passion can have many meanings, we are referring to the kind that leads to temptation to commit sexual immorality.  How many times have we heard about an evangelical pastor getting involved with his church secretary or some other woman in the church?  Many pastors have left their wives and children, yielding to their own sinful lusts or to a direct temptation from Satan.  The result is not only a disaster for his family and the church, but also a dishonor to his Lord.

Paul’s advice to Timothy was to “Flee youthful lusts, follow after righteousness, faith, love, peace…” (II Tim. 2:22).  Temptations to immorality are always there, and the pastor as well as all of us must be strong in the Lord, “…putting on the whole armor of God, that we may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Eph. 6:10-11).

Pastors must be aware of these pitfalls and learn how to avoid them.  Those he serves should always pray for him, that these things will not hinder or destroy his ministry.  Help him in his work, encourage him, let him know you are praying for him, and remember to thank him from time to time.

Berean Searchlight – January 2001

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