Christ's letter to Philadelphia

Letters from Christ  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  47:35
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Today we return to our exegetical study through the opening chapters of the book of Revelation. As a way or reminder, we are blessed, according to Chapter 1, when we read or hear the things written here. We are studying the very letters Christ wrote to His churches. He knew what was happening and what He desired for His churches.
Today, as a church that worships Jesus Christ, we need to pay attention to these chapters so that we can be the church God wants us to be.

Background

“To the Church in Philadelphia write” Revelation 3.7

Philadelphia means “Brotherly Love”
The city was founded around 190 B.C.by Attalus II, king of Pergamos. It was a gift of love for his brother.
Several times in its history the city was renamed. While it tended to go back to the name of Philadelphia, it knew what it was to get a new name, v 12. Today, Allah Shehr (city of god) is in this location.
The city was devastated by the earthquake of 17AD, and the tremors went on for years, according to Strabo. The city was rebuilt because of its importance along the Imperial Highway.
Had the nickname: little Athens because it promoted the Greek world, thoughts, unity, spirit and customs of Greece.
The church is probably a church plant from Ephesus during the days Paul pastored there. In early church history it was known as a missionary church.

Christ Revealed

Revelation 3:7 NKJV
“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, ‘These things says He who is holy, He who is true, “He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens”:
He is holy
Revelation 6:10 NKJV
And they cried with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”
This is a deliberate claim that Jesus is one with the God of the Old Testament and the God who will judge the world in chapters 4-19.
Holy and true are used to describer Christ 6 times in this book alone.
He is True
John 14:6 NKJV
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
He is the genuine thing He is trustworthy! He is reality!
Jesus is holy and true personally. He relates to His bride as such!
He is the one with the keys and authority to open ministry opportunities. v8
Isaiah 22:22 NKJV
The key of the house of David I will lay on his shoulder; So he shall open, and no one shall shut; And he shall shut, and no one shall open.
The keys are a symbol of authority and passage inside. God who opens the door and No one, person or any other created thing, can shut it.
They are the keys of the house of David, so here again we have Jesus as the Messiah of Israel!
Keys of death and hell, salvation and blessing
Christ is the key to understanding God’s plan for mankind and redemption through the ages!
Throughout the Bible, an open door is seen as an opportunity. Paul looked for an open door to know where to preach the Gospel next when He was on his missionary journey. 1 Cor 16.9, Col 4.3, 2 Cor 2.12, Acts 14.27,
He knows their works and how little they are, and that they have held to His name.
Revelation 3:8 (NKJV)
“I know your works. ... you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name.
We have seen this week after week. Because Christ is omnisceincent, He must know what is happening in the church.
He will deal with problem people. 9
Revelation 3:9 NKJV
Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie—indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you.
He loves His church! 9b
It is not our job to convince unsaved people that God loves us - He does that!
He will keep us from God’s wrath - 10
Revelation 3:10 NKJV
Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.
He will come ! 11
Revelation 3:11 (NKJV)
Behold, I am coming quickly! ...
Said to 6 of the 7 churches
This is a hopeful event! Christ will come like a thief in the night to take His church out of the way so the wrath of God can come.

How They Pleased Christ

Work despite size and wealth. - 8
Though they are are “little” they are still doing work. Christ was happy about that!
A small church is “more fit for God’s power to rest on, because they are conscious of their weaknesses.” Aquinas
Kept Command to persevere - 10
Numbers and riches do not make a church more or less committed to being what Christ wants in a bride.
Jesus says, “You have kept to me and my commands so I will keep you safe!”

How They Displeased Christ

None - If anything it is that they need to see God’s "open doors” to walk through those doors.

The Church “To Do”List

Don’t look at your “little ...” look to God’s supply.
Revelation 3:8 (NKJV)
“I know ... you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name.”
The Bible Exposition Commentary
It is not the size or strength of a church that determines its ministry, but faith in the call and command of the Lord.
2 Corinthians 12:10 (NKJV)
I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Hold Fast
The church has “kept His word.” They need to continue holding fast; keep; and endure.
John 14:23 NKJV
Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.
Let no “man take your crown”.
This is part of “holding fast.”
Notice that that it is not taking of their salvation but the reward for the work they have done post salvation. lost opportunities, closed doors, equals lost service and lost rewards.
Don’t be intimidated by Satan’s Synagogue.
Christ will bring them to their knees. It is not our job to humble them.

The Promise of Christ

There are 3 wonderful promises found in store here.
1. He will deal with the churches enemies. v9
They will not only will, but they will have those who have set themselves up as enemies bow and worship also.
Remember the story of the Philippian jailer when he converted? He too went from being in charge to serving.
2. He would keep them from Tribulation. v10
Some Bibles say trial, but all commentaries agree this is The tribulation talked about in the next few chapters.
This is a clear as any that we will not go through the tribulation period. The next phrase “to try those who dwell on earth” makes it even more clear.
Revelation: The Christian’s Ultimate Victory (Bible Passage) John MacArthur
The verb “to keep” is followed by a preposition whose normal meaning is “from” or “out of”—this phrase, “keep … from” supports the pretribulational rapture of the church
1 Thessalonians 1:10 (NKJV)
Wait for His Son from heaven, ... Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.
Romans 8:1 NKJV
There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.
3. He would honour them with stability. v12
The Bible Exposition Commentary Chapter Three: Christ and the Churches, Part 2 (Revelation 3)

The symbolism in this verse would be especially meaningful to people who lived in constant danger of earthquakes: the stability of the pillar, no need to go out or to flee, a heavenly city that nothing could destroy

In heaven, there will be no distinction between secular and sacred, so we are not talking about a literal stone building here. We are talking about an opportunity to focus totally on worship all the time forever!
The Greek is very strong: “never again at all leaving...”
Revelation 1:6 (NKJV)
He made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Conclusion: The Lord knows what is going on and where we need to be as a church.

Today we looked at a small church with limited resources. I know churches like this!
When the Turks and Mohammedanism flooded across Asia Minor and other town had fallen, Philadelphia stood. For centuries it was a free Greek Christian city amidst a pagan people, says Barclay.
We should be encouraged that Jesus knows them, loves them and has great plans for this church that He alone is making possible.
Q1. Did you spot how active Christ is in the life of this church? How do we see him active in LHBC?
Q2. How good are we at spotting the doors the Lord has opened for us?
Q3. How would we know if we are holding fast or just deceiving ourselves?
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