The Message to Philadelphia: The Church that is Faithful and Alive

The Message to Philadelphia: The Church that is Faithful and Alive

 

Revelation 3:7-13 (ESV) ~ “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens. “‘I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie—behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet, and they will learn that I have loved you. Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

 

The Recipients:

· The letter is addressed to the minister of the church, but the Lord expects the minister to share it with the church. The church was alive and faithful to Christ, and it was up to the minister to keep the church focused upon the mission of Christ. The minister was the God-appointed leader to keep the church alive and faithful. The church would most likely remain alive and faithful if the minister would…

o live in the Word of God.

o live on his face in prayer.

o preach and teach the Word of God.

o exhort the believers to live for Christ, to study the Word, pray, witness, and minister faithfully.

o lead the church to set up the ministries that would reach the lost, build up the believers, minister to the needy, and reach out to the world by supporting world-wide missions.

· If the minister slacked up or failed in any of these, the church would lose some of its focus upon Jesus Christ. It would no longer be as alive or faithful as it should be. But if the minister remained diligent, alive, and faithful himself, the likelihood is that the church would stay alive and faithful to Christ. This is the reason Christ addresses the letter to the minister.

 

The Speaker:

· What Jesus Christ says about Himself speaks to the heart of the church that is alive and faithful.

o Jesus Christ is holy. The word holy is a description of God Himself. Jesus Christ is claiming to have the very same nature as God the Father, to be perfectly holy even as God is perfectly holy. Remember that holiness means to be set apart and different from all other beings, completely and totally set apart. Christ is supremely holy. He reaches the summit of being different from all other beings. This means something significant for the church that is alive and faithful. It means they are worshipping and following God Himself by following Christ. By giving their hearts and lives to Christ, they are giving themselves to the sovereign Majesty and supreme Force of the universe, to the most holy God Himself. The church is, therefore, under His care and love. Christ Jesus, the Most Holy God, will look after and take care of the church if the church will just continue to be alive and faithful.

o Jesus Christ is the One who is true. The word true (alēthinos) means the true as opposed to the false, the genuine as opposed to the counterfeit, the real as opposed to the unreal. Jesus Christ is the true, genuine, and real God. He is the only living and true God. There is none other. All the other gods worshipped by men are false, counterfeit, and unreal. This, too, means a wonderful thing. God is not far off in outer space someplace, too far off to be known or reached. He is not the shadowy figure that most men imagine Him to be. God is not distant from us. He has not left us in the dark to grope and grasp and to stumble about trying to find Him. God does not hate us; He has not left us in the dark about Himself. God loves us. He has revealed Himself to us. He sent the Lord Jesus Christ to bring the truth to us. Therefore, in worshipping the Lord Jesus Christ we are worshipping the only true and living God. What the faithful church must do is continue to follow Christ, continue to make Him the focus of all that it does. When the church makes Him the center of all its ministries, activities, and meetings, then the church is following the truth—following Him who is true.

o Jesus Christ alone is the key of David, the key that “opens, and no man shuts; and shuts, and no man opens.” What is the key of David? There is an event in the Old Testament that tells us. King Hezekiah had a faithful servant who was named Eliakim. This servant was the personal secretary to king Hezekiah; he was put in complete charge of the king’s affairs. No one could gain entrance into the king’s presence without coming through Eliakim. This servant alone determined who entered the king’s court.

 

The Commendation:

· This is the picture of what a church should be, the picture of a church that is alive and faithful. The Lord Jesus Christ commends this church for three things.

o The church used the open door of evangelism and missions to reach people for Christ. The church was strategically located.

§ It was a border town that touched the borders of three other towns: Lydia, Mysia, and Phrygia. Imagine the evangelistic and mission opportunities by being surrounded with three other towns.

§ It lay on the imperial road of Rome, one of the major roads that passed from the coast and stretched right on to the east into Asia minor. Just think of the multitudes of people who passed through and visited, stayed and conducted business in the city: the businessmen, sales persons, military people, vacationers, tourists, and visiting relatives.

o The church kept Christ’s Word; that is, they were faithful to the Word of God. They obeyed the Lord Jesus Christ, kept His commandments. Very practically, this means…

§ that they studied the Word of God.

§ that they lived the Word of God.

§ that they proclaimed the Word of God to believers and unbelievers alike.

o The church confessed Christ; they did not deny the name of Christ. This means more than just witnessing for Christ. It, of course, does mean witnessing for Christ, but it means much more.

§ First, to confess Christ means that the church confesses Christ in all that it does. It means that Jesus Christ is made the focus and center…

· of all the lives of the believers.

· of all the services, meetings, ministries, programs, and activities of the church.

· To confess Christ means that one lives, moves, and has his being in Christ. It means that the church does not focus upon ritual, ceremony, programs, and activities; but the church focuses upon Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is confessed; He is made the focus, the center, the main purpose and attraction of every program and activity.

§ Second, to confess Christ also means that a person stands fast against opposition and persecution. Some in the world will always persecute true believers. They will…

· ridicule

· mock

· poke fun at

· reject

· ignore

· bypass

· curse

· imprison

· abuse

· backbite

· attack

· kill

· tempt

· take advantage of

 

The Counsel:

· Jesus Christ declares time and again that He is returning to earth. Note the word quickly. Jesus Christ is coming soon. Scripture declares this time and again.

o Philippians 4:5 (ESV) ~ Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand;

o Hebrews 10:37 (ESV) ~ For, “Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay;

o James 5:8 (ESV) ~ You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.

o Revelation 3:11 (ESV) ~ I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown.

o Revelation 22:7 (ESV) ~ “And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”

 

The Promises:

· The churches and believers who remain alive and faithful to Christ have five wonderful promises. They shall receive five glorious things.

o They will be made a pillar in the temple of God. This means that they will become a permanent part of God’s house, of the eternal worship and service of heaven. And they will be a vital part, a pillar.

o They will receive security; they will never again have to go in or out of the city in order to be safe. They will be free from this sinful and corruptible world, free to live in heaven with God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. And they shall be perfected forever and ever.

o They will receive God’s name. This is a symbol of possession and of belonging. The believer will belong to God in an absolute and perfect sense. Others can lay claim to our lives while upon this earth. They can lay claim upon our time and energy, and some can even enslave us. But not in heaven. The name of God will be written upon us, and we will be marked forever as belonging to God. We will belong to Him totally and absolutely. Neither man nor Satan will ever again be able to touch or mark us.

o They will receive the name of the city of God, the new Jerusalem. They will become the citizens of the new Jerusalem, of the capital of the new heavens and earth.

o They will receive the Lord’s new name. What will this new name be? No one knows but God Himself, and He has not yet revealed it.

 

This much we know: when Christ comes in all His majesty and glory and conquers all, we shall be marked as His servants and share in His glorious triumph. He will gain the victory for us, the victory over all enemies including the most terrible enemy of all—death and hell.
 
 
Pastor Andy Lambert

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