“The Faithful Church” – Revelation 3:7-13
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Do we want to be like the "dead church," Sardis?
Or, like the "faithful church," Philadelphia?
What's the difference between the two?
- Sardis was large and strong.
- Philadelphia was small and weak.
But beyond that, faith was the real difference.
The "open door" for evangelism and ministry was open to both. (Vs. 8)
Then He said to His disciples, "The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest."
Christ is "the Lord of the harvest."
He has given this command to all His disciples.
Those who love Him obey. (Jn. 14:15)
Philadelphia did, Sardis did not!
Sardis deceived themselves into thinking they were alive by their own "works," works not done in the power of the Holy Spirit. (Vs. 3:1)
But Philadelphia, though not large or strong, obeyed the Lord's commands through their faith.
They "kept" God's "word" and "denied not" His “Name."(Vs. 8)
Christ had not a single complaint for His church in Philadelphia.
It is not the size or strength of a church that determines its service, but faith in the call and command of Christ.
Christ's commandments are His enablement’s, if He calls, He also equips.
God is not limited by our weakness or resources.
Faith in Him is our greatest strength.
"My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness."
(2 Cor. 12:9)
"And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write,"
* There are no other New Testament records of the Philadelphian church.
* Located in an area of major earthquakes. (Destroyed in 17 BC, the residents lived in tents outside the city until it was rebuilt.)
* Its major commerce was vineyards and wineries.
* The city was named for King Attalus II because of his love for his brother Eumenes, "City of Brotherly Love."
* The Greeks coined the term "barbarians" here because the local dialect sounded to them like, "bar, bar."
Christ's Calling Card
'"These things says He who is holy, He who is true, 'He who has the key of David, He who opens..."
"...He who is holy..."
* "Holy" - Set apart, from everything else, nothing can compare to Him.
* This is His declaration of deity, both in the Old Testament as God; (Job 6:10, Ps. 22:3, 71:22, Isa. 43:15)
And one cried to another and said: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!"
And the New Testament as Christ; (Mk. 1:24, Lk. 1:35, 4:34)
"Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
As Christians, we are to be set apart from the world, and set apart for God.
...but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, "Be holy, for I am holy."
(1 Pet. 1:15-16)
The church of Christ never reaches the world by becoming like the world.
"...He who is true..."
* Christ is the One who is true - genuine, the essence of deity.
* He is the original, not a copy; the authentic God, not one made with man's hands. (Ps. 115:3-8)
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?"
Because He is "holy," He must judge sin, and because He is "true," He must avenge His people who are persecuted and slain for "His Name."
"...He who has the key of David..."
* Christ references Isaiah 22:20-23 where Eliakim was given the keys to the "house of David," a picture of authority and treasure.
* The Lord Jesus speaks of His position of all authority and the treasury of heaven. (Matt. 28:18)
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.
He has the authority to open the door to heaven for all who believe in Him, and shut the door to those who won't.
"I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name."
"...I have set before you an open door..."
* An "open door" is the opportunity for ministry.
* Paul wrote to the Corinthian's that he would have to stay longer in Ephesus because:
"...a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries."
(1 Cor. 16:9)
Christ is the "Lord of the harvest" (Matt. 9:38) and the Head of the church, He determines where and when His "laborers" will serve. (Matt. 9:37)
Are we willing to serve in the field He has placed us?
1 Corinthians 15:58
In the dark?
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
Remember, faith is always demonstrated by obedience.
"...you have a little strength..."
* Philadelphia had faith and power in abundance, even though they were small and weak in the world's eyes.
"...you have...kept My Word and have not denied My Name..."
* To keep Christ's "Word" is to obey.
* To not deny Christ's "Name" is to profess, and live as if He is the Lord of your life, and Savior of your soul.
For He said:
"If you love Me, keep My commandments."
"But why do you call Me 'Lord, Lord,' and not do the things which I say? "
There is none, along with the church of Smyrna.
Both were faithful, persecuted churches.
Faith is grown from persecution.
"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."
"...the synagogue of Satan..."
* "Synagogue" - Congregation, in this passage they were literal Jews, but not the "true Israel." (Rom. 2:17-29)
* They were also in service to the wicked one.
* The Jews attacked them with false accusations, Satan's standard operating procedure. (Rev. 12:10)
The Philadelphians had an "open door" to share the light of Christ.
Wherever the Light shines, the adversary will resist. (Eph. 6:12)
"...I will come and make them worship before your feet and to know that I have loved you."
* The Lord has promised to avenge His people. This is a promise from both the Old and New Testaments.
Also the sons of those who afflicted you shall come bowing to you, and all those who despised you shall fall prostrate at the soles of your feet...
Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written,"Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord. (Rom. 12:19)
An attack on Christ's people is the same to Him as a personal attack. (Acts 9:4-5)
And the King will answer and say to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.'
"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."
"Because you have kept My command to persevere..."
* Persevere - Steadfast endurance during a time of strong resistance.
The Philadelphians had persevered and remained faithful to His "Word" and "Name."
They would not disobey the commandments of the Lord.
During the COVID-19 crisis last year, many churches closed their doors due to pressure and resistance.
But a few remained faithful, to continue in the Word, fellowship, communion and prayer (Acts 2:42) and not to forsake the gathering together, encouraging one another in love, especially as "the Day" approaches. (Heb. 10:24-25)
And will receive this promise:
"...I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world..."
* "The whole world" - The world system, as led by Satan, unbelievers, the unrepentant.
Christ promises to keep them, and us, "from the hour of trial."
Can God protect, preserve and deliver His people in the midst of trials, tribulation and persecution?
He did in the flood. (Gen. 6-9)
He did in Egypt. (Ex. 7:13-12:42)
He did in Babylon. (Dan. 3:8-30)
He has in the past. He is the unchanging God, the same today as He was yesterday, and will be in the future.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
"Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown."
* Crowns are given to believers as rewards for their faithfulness.
* There are five crowns listed in the New Testament:
- The Imperishable Crown (1 Cor. 9:25)
- The Crown of Rejoicing (1 Thess. 2:19)
- The Crown of Righteousness (2 Tim. 4:8)
- The Crown of Life (Jms. 1:12, Rev. 2:10)
- The Crown of Glory (1 Pet. 5:4)
"He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. 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 out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name."
"He who overcomes..."
* Who is victorious in this life and into the next.
* The victory is not meant to be painless or free from persecution.
Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.
(2 Tim. 3:12)
Christ is honored by our perseverance during tribulation, even to the point of death.
From heaven's perspective, it is those who resist even to martyrdom who are truly victorious, truly overcomers. (Rev. 12:11, 15:2)
Christ, Himself, overcame sin and death through His faith and death on the cross, so can we.
Those who overcome, who are faithful to the end, will inherit the kingdom, as children of God. (Rev. 2:7, 11, 26, 3:5, 12, 21, 21:17)
"I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God..."
* "Pillar" - Old Testament symbolism.
Then he set up the pillars by the vestibule of the temple; he set up the pillar on the right and called its name Jachin, and he set up the pillar on the left and called its name Boaz.
(1 Kgs. 7:21)
Jachin - He shall establish it
Boaz - In it is strength
God's pillars are not made of stone, because there is no temple in the heavenly city:
But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.
God's pillars are the faithful who bear His name for His glory (as did James, Peter, John, Barnabas and Paul - Gal. 2:9) and so many others.
Are we pillars of God?
"...and I will write on him the Name of My God..."
* This is ownership, we write our names on that which is ours. (Rev. 7:3, 9:4, 14:1, 22:4)
"...and I will write on him My new Name."
* This could be understood in two ways:
1. A name known only to Himself and as yet unrevealed:
His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. (Rev. 19:12)
2. He gives us new names, i.e.: Abram - Abraham; Simon - Peter; Levi – Matthew, to define how He remakes us. (1 Jn. 3:2-3)
"He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."'
Again, do we hear and understand what the Spirit says to us?
The church today has the potential to be like the Philadelphians.
God has set before us many "open doors" of opportunity to serve Him and others.
If He opens a door, we must go through and work in His field.
If He closes a door, we must wait on Him.
Most importantly, we must remain faithful and seize the opportunity, while overcoming obstacles placed by Satan in our path.
Always remembering, if we miss our opportunities, we can lose our crowns and be ashamed before Him.
And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.
(1 Jn. 2:28)
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Introduction Chapter thirteen continues the interlude between the sounding of the seven trumpets and the outpouring of the seven bowl judgments of God's wrath on unrepentant mankind. In chapter fourteen John's vision will show us the time of the end, where God pours...