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Revelation 3: 7-13:  AUDIO-VIDEO  “The Letter to the Church at Philadelphia”

 

Much of Society’s Perception that Christians are Not Loving Derives from How We Interact with Those Who Do Not Love Us.  In John 15 Jesus tells that the “World” will Always Hate Christians Because We Do Not Belong to the World. However, He instructs Christians in the Sermon on the Mount to “Love Your Enemies, do Good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back.”  

 

Nothing is More “Countercultural” than Jesus’ Command to Love Those Who Hate You.  In Our Flesh That Kind of Love Does Not Come Naturally…It Can Only Come Through the Holy Spirit Moving In Your Life.   

 

In our Study of the Church of Philadelphia we are going see a “Church that Loved People” while in the Midst of Great Adversity, Test and Trials! However, today the Christians in America are Surrounded by a Different Set of Dangers and Tests to Our Faith.  

 

The Church in America is Much like the 3rd Soil in the Parable of the Sower and 4 Soils…Matt 13:7 “Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants.   Matt 13: 22  The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful.

 

I Believe that Entanglement with the World is Probably the Most Dangerous TEST Christians Can Face Because THEY DO NOT KNOW that They’re Relationship with Christ is Under Attack…This We Will See Clearly Next Week as we Look at the Final Church Laodicea!

 

The Message to the Church at Philadelphia is One of the Most Interesting of All the Messages to the 7 Churches.  This Church was Faithful to Christ and to the Word…The message is Almost Entirely of Praise!

 

The city of Philadelphia is known today as Alasehir It is located in Lydia about 28 miles Southeast of Sardis.  It was named after “King Attalus Philadelphia” the King of Pergamos who built the city.

  • Philadelphia means “Brotherly Love” and the same word is found six times in the New Testament: 
  • We find it here being used of the city bearing its name.  Philadelphia was almost destroyed several times by earthquakes.  Principle crop was grapes.Dionysus was the chief object of pagan worship.
  • A Nominal Christian testimony existed in the city until about the end of WWI 

 

As I study Christ’s message to the Church of Philadelphia, I’m Encouraged about what God has Provided for Any Church to have a Dynamic Ministry!   You may be thinking…I know what it takes to have a Dynamic Church…It takes an Exceptional Worship team (We’ve got one of those…But that’s Not it). It takes a Great Location! (Well we don’t the Best One…But that’s Not it Either!)   Today, I hope You Will be as Encouraged as I am about having a Dynamic Church…So let’s get Started!

 

Revelation 3: 7-13: “To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write:  These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. 8 I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. 9 I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. 10 Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.  11 I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. 12 The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will they leave it. I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on them my new name. 13 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

 

Verse 7: “Christ is Described as the One who is Holy and True”

  • I Peter 1: 15 “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do.”

Christ is Truth and Christ is Holy:  John 14:6 “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

  • Only Christ is Truth…Anything that is Not consistent with Christ is Error and False Doctrine!
  • This aspect of Christ makes a great truth, “Right Doctrine & Right Living Go Together!” Christ “Stands Alone” Midst a World that is False and Perverted. Those who Stand for Christ will Very Often Also Stand Alone!

 

Christ says, He holds the key of David and what He opens no one can shut, and what He shuts no one can open…These words were spoken in Isaiah 22:17 speaking of Eliakim, “I will place on his shoulder the key to the house of David. What he opens, no one can shut, and what he shut’s, no one can open.”

  • Christ is a “type” of Eliakim…Eliakim had the keys to all the treasures of the King and when he opened the door it was open and when he closed the door it was shut!
  • Christ has the Keys to Truth and Holiness!  {Also to Opportunity, Service and Testimony}
  • Even in the midst of heathendom Christ assures the church of Philadelphia that He has the Power to “open and close” according to His Sovereign Will.
  • God is Sovereign!   He Can Not be Opposed…He Governs Every Event On Earth.  He will open some doors; he will close other doors…No Human Power can Contravene what God Determines. 

 

Now he tells the Church, beginning in Verse 8, How He will Use this Power to Open and Shut.

  • “I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no man can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.”

 

To a church like the church at Philadelphia the Lord says He Will Open Doors of Ministry and Service, and No One can Shut Them. 

  • The Apostle Paul On his second missionary journey used this analogy about himself.  He tried to go into the province of Asia to preach the gospel but was forbidden by the Holy Spirit; it was a Shut Door.   Then Paul tried to go into Bithynia, on the southern shore of the Black Sea, but was not allowed of the Lord — Another Shut Door.  But when he came to Troas he had a vision of a man from Macedonia, and he learned that the Lord had Opened a Door for Him into Europe. 
  • Paul’s Commitment to Enter that Open Door has Changed the History of the Whole Western world, Affecting All of Civilization Since that Time. 
  • It was a door of tremendous significance which the Lord had opened for Paul. 
  • In 1st Cor. 16:9, he says of Ephesus, the capital of Asia, “A great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me,”
  • So the door which had been closed to him…Was opened to him later by the Lord.

 

The Late Vance Havner said, God opens doors for ministry and ministers today. “I would like to bear witness that I have proved this Philadelphian promise of the open door through years of ministry and it has never failed. Promotion does not come from the south, east, or west, but from God; and if we commit our way unto Him and trust Him, He will bring it to pass… God’s Man is Not Dependent on Religious Talent Scouts Nor is His Ministry in the Hand of Ecclesiastical Officials. His Headquarters is Heaven and His Itinerary is Made up by the Lord of the Open Door.” 

 

The words, “I know that you have little strength,” in the NIV is not exactly what the Greek text says. The ASV is More Correct in its Translation here…There is No word in Greek for “I know”. What it literally says is, “…because you have a Little “Power” and have Kept My Word and have Not Denied My Name.” 

 

The church is being given the reasons why the Lord opened a door for them. What the text actually says is, “I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut because you have a little power and have kept my word and not denied my name.”

 

BIG TRUTH: This teaches us something very important…An Open Door is Given when a Church Fulfills the Conditions that will Allow it to Move Through that Door once it has Been Opened!

  • Chief among those conditions is…It has discovered the power of the Holy Spirit.
  • It is spiritual power the Lord is talking about. It is not so much strength as it is power.  Power Obtained by Faith.

When We “Expect” God to Act…Then…God the Holy Spirit Moves and We Sense that God Will Do Something! There are only 2 Persons mentioned by Christ that had Great Faith that Moved Him…

  • Matthew 8 “The Faith of the Centurion” and Matthew 15 “The Faith of the Canaanite woman”  I Can’t…But I Have Faith that God Can!

 

POINT: YOUR FAITH MOVES GOD TO ACTION!

 

KEY: It is NOT Your Ability…Your Knowledge or Your Perspiration…It is Your Faith that Moves God’s Heart…And Causes Him to Open the Door for Ministry!

  • Eph 2:10 The Apostle Paul says, “We are His Workmanship” [Also Translated “masterpiece”] Created in Christ Jesus unto Good Works.”    

 

WE HAVE BEEN CREATED TO DO GOOD WORKS!

  • When You Accepted Christ into Your Life…God Empowered You to Do Good Works!   Deeds of Help, Mercy, Kindness, Witness, Love, Comfort, Counsel and Strength. 

 

Here’s the Cool part: “which God has Prepared Beforehand for Us to Walk in them.” 

  • When you are confronted with a need it may appear rather insignificant at first. Perhaps it is a neighbor with a heavy heart; perhaps it is a family member who has what may appear to be a fairly minor problem. 

 

BUT…When You Respond to that, However, it Becomes an Open Door! And Ministry will Grow Out of it which will Challenge, Encourage and Bless You as You Continue On. 

 

HAVNER: “It is not a matter of great strength, not great ability but great dependability. Samson had great ability but poor dependability. A Little Strength Faithfully Used, means More than Much Strength Flashily and Fitfully Used.”

 

Notice that the Lord says to this church at Philadelphia, “You have a little power.”  This Statement Stresses the Fact that Most, If Not All, Churches Hardly Realize the Potential They Have for Ministry. 

  • Each one of you, who know Christ, has been given spiritual gifts and has been commissioned by Christ to use those gifts to bless people and meet their needs. 

 

Imagine, What Vast Potential Resides in a Single Congregation!  If Everyone would Exercise the Spiritual Gifts that have been Given Them to Accomplish Ministry!

  • That is why the Lord says of this church at Philadelphia, “You have some power, but not much.” He is hoping they will Increase that Potential for Ministry!

 

Barnhouse “The church of Philadelphia is commended for keeping the Word of the Lord and not denying His Name. Success in Christian work is not to be measured by any other standard of achievement. It is Not rise in ecclesiastical position. It is Not the number of new buildings which have been built through a man’s ministry. It is Not the crowds that flock to listen to any human voice. All of these things are frequently used as yardsticks of success, but they are earthly and not heavenly measures.”

 

We need to Remember that the Presence of the Spirit is Promised to each Church Without any Condition Whatsoever.   When We Receive Christ the Spirit Comes to Live Within Our Hearts and Resides There.

  • But the Power of the Spirit is Given Only to Churches that Learn to Keep His Word and to Not Deny His Name! 

 

Two things are Central in the Ministry of Every Church.  First, there is His Word…God Always Plants His Word at the Heart of His Church.   A Church Not in the Word…Will Be Ineffective in Ministry!

 

Secondly, We Must Preach it, Teach it, Study it, and Truly Know it.  It is not just for the leadership of the Church…But Everybody in the Church is to Know God’s Word…We Must Soak Ourselves in the Word!

 

Verses 9-10 Give Us “A Commendation of Promise and Victory!” In verse 8 Christ said, “I Know Your Deeds/Works!”   He saw their “Faithfulness” even in the Midst of a Heathen Environment.

 

Question We Need to Ask Ourselves:  What does Christ see in Our Church!?

 

VS 9: Christ says, Those who are of the “synagogue of “Satan” I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved youGills Exposition on this verse says, “Because of the Church’s Faithfulness, Unbelieving Jews Will Come to Christ!”

 

VS 10: Christ says, “Since you have “endured patiently” I will keep you from the trials that are to come!”

  • “Kept My Command to Endure Patiently” They Kept Gods Word and were Patient! The Supreme Compliment!  They Followed Gods Word and waited Patiently These are the Keys to Victory!

 

VS 10b “I will also Keep You from the Hour of Trial that is going to come on the whole world to Test the Inhabitants of the Earth.”

 

Observation:  The Greek Preposition (ek) is best understood as “Out of” not just from…Therefore this reads that they will be “kept Out of” the Hour of Trial…This is support that those who accept God’s Grace, Trust and Obey, [The Church] will be kept “out of” the hour of the Great Tribulation! {RAPTURED}

 

Application: Keep Our Eyes on Jesus…On Eternity and Off the Affairs of this Temporary World that so Continually Seek to Entangle Us!

 

VS 11-13: give us “An Invitation and Promised Reward!” “I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. 12 The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will they leave it. I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on them my new name. 13 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

 

VS 11: Promise of a Crown to those who hold on to what they have. In Relationship to His Word, “Hold on to what you have so that no one will take your crown.” 

 

THOT: As Hostility Increases and the World Becomes More and More Secular and Casts Aside Much of the Teachings of Christianity that it had Formerly Practiced…We Must be Careful that We do Not Give Up and Go Along with Worldly Attitudes and Worldly Pursuits. 

  • We Must Not Allow a Desire for Status, Prestige, Fame, a Beautiful Home and the things the World Lusts for, to Become Central in Our Thinking. 

 

Jesus says, “Hold On to What You Have,” Because there is Danger that Someone May Take Your Crown. (This is Not a reference to the loss of salvation). 

  • What it is Speaking of is Your Opportunity for Service in the Eternal Ages. That is the Reward which is Offered, the Opportunity for Even Greater Service.

 

VS-11 What Jesus Wants the Church of Philadelphia to do is…Behold, I am Coming Quickly! Hold Fast what You have, that No One May Take Your Crown.

 

Behold, I am coming quickly: First, the church at Philadelphia must remember that Jesus is coming quickly, and they must prepare for His coming.    Walvoord says, “The expression ‘quickly’ is to be understood as something which is sudden and unexpected, not necessarily immediate.” 

 

Hold fast what you have: The church at Philadelphia must Not Depart from its solid foundation, as described in Revelation 3:8 (I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.)

  • I have Set Before You an Open Door (Evangelistic opportunity).
  • You have a Little Strength (Reliance on God).
  • Have Kept My Word and have Not Denied My name (Faithfulness to Jesus).
  • For these Things to Continue the Church of Philadelphia and Our Churches, Must Hold Fast to What We Have.

 

That No one May Take Your Crown: If They//We Fail to Hold Fast, Our Crown Might be Given (Not Stolen) to Another.

  • This was Not a Crown of Royalty…This Was a Crown of Victory. Jesus encourages The Saints of All Time to finish their course with Victory, To Play the Second Half” just as Strongly as they “Played the First Half.”

 

Havner: “Never Forget that the Man Most Likely to Steal Your Crown is Yourself. ‘Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life’ (Proverbs 4:23). You’re in No Greater danger from anyone or anything than From Yourself. 

 

Verse 12 3-Fold Promise: The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will they leave it. I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on them my new name.  

 

“Made a Pillar in God’s Temple!”

  • The whole Heavenly city is considered a Temple…The Promise is that We Will Stand When All Else has Fallen!
  • We shall go out No more.   We are a permanent resident of Heaven…No More Trials or Temptations!

 

Three-Fold Assurance that they will be identified with God!

  1. He will Write on them the Name of God.
  2. He will Write on them the Name of the City of God.
  3. He will Write on them His New Name {Belonging to Christ}. Branded by Christ… We Can Belong to No Other! 

 

Q: In What am I putting Your Faith?   Where do I Place My Trust?  

  • Psalm 20: 7 says, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.”

 

If You want God to Move in Your Life… To Have God Work Through Your Life to Draw People to Jesus Christ…Expect That God Will Do It!  True Faith is…Not I Hope…Rather…I EXPECT GOD WILL DO IT!

  • When You Expect God to Move…Your Faith Will Open Doors that You Could Never Imagine. 

 

POINT:  YOUR FAITH MOVES GOD INTO ACTION!

May Our Desire and Our Commitment be to “Expect God to Move” throughout our Families, Friends, neighborhoods and Work Place as we “Trust that He will Draw many to Himself Because of Our Faithfulness!