Sun, Feb 27, 2000

The Faithful Church: Revelation 3:7-13

Ministry of Pastor Joe Guglielmo teachings through the Bible, verse by verse for a better understanding of Gods Word.

THE FAITHFUL CHURCH

REVELATION 3:7-13

Charles Swindoll, in his book, Living Above the Level of Mediocrity, said:

Legend has it that a man was lost in the desert, just dying for a drink of water. He stumbled upon an old shack - a ramshackled, windowless, roofless, weatherbeaten old shack. He looked about this place and found a little shade from the heat of the desert sun. As He glanced around he saw a pump about fifteen feet away - an old, rusty water pump. He stumbled over to it, grabbed the handle, and began to pump up and down, up and down. Nothing came out.

Disappointed, he staggered back. He noticed off to the side an old jug. He looked at it, wiped away the dirt and dust, and read a message that said, "You have to prime the pump with all the water in this jug, my friend. P.S.: Be sure you fill the jug again before you leave."

He popped the cork out of the jug and sure enough, it was almost full of water! Suddenly, he was faced with a decision. If he drank the water, he could live. Ah, but if he poured all the water in the old rusty pump, maybe it would yield fresh, cool water from down deep in the well, all the water he wanted.

He studied the possibility of both options. What should he do, pour it into the old pump and take a chance on fresh, cool water or drink what was in the old jug and ignore its message? Should he waste all the water on the hopes of those flimsy instructions written, no telling how long ago?

Reluctantly he poured all the water into the pump. Then he grabbed the handle and began to pump, squeak squeak, squeak. Still nothing came out! Squeak, squeak, squeak. A little bit began to dribble out, then a small stream, and finally it gushed! To his relief fresh, cool water poured out of the rusty pump. Eagerly, he filled the jug and drank from it. He filled it another time and once again drank its refreshing contents.

Then he filled the jug for the next traveler. He filled it to the top, popped the cork back on, and added this little note: "Believe me, it really works. You have to give it all away before you can get anything back."

- Charles R. Swindoll, Living Above the Level of Mediocrity

As we study the letter Jesus wrote to the church in Philadelphia, that is the thought. A church that did not have much strength and yet God opened doors of ministry for them like torrents of living water. They gave all they had and God multiplied it above all they could ask or think. And thus, this is known as the faithful church, as we shall see this morning. And as we have done with the previous letters, lets read through this letter that Jesus wrote to the church in Philadelphia, which was located in the Roman province of Asia, beginning in Revelation chapter 3, and verse 7. (Read Revelation 3:7-13).

And once again, as with the five previous letters we have already looked at, we are going to see 7 key principles or elements found in this letter. We will look at the DESTINATION of this letter, the TITLE or the DESCRIPTION OF JESUS, the COMMENDATION, there is noREBUKE for this church, the EXHORTATION, the WARNING, and finally the PROMISEto this church. And so, with that in mind, lets look at these verses a little closer and see what the Lord has for us this morning.

REVELATION 3

VERSE 7

The DESTINATION of this letter was Philadelphia. This church was located some 25 miles southeast of Sardis. And this city was located in a beautiful and very fertile valley. In fact this city was known for its great agricultural production with grapes toping the list. And because of their grape production, what else do you think they made? Yes, they were into wine making. And, interestingly enough, besides the many gods they worshiped in this city, they also worshiped the god Dionysos, who was the god of wine and revelry. Sounds like we have this god living in the lives of many people today!

One other thing we should note about this city is that it had many earthquakes. In fact, in 17 AD the city was destroyed by an earthquake and with the help of Tiberius, the city was rebuilt. So the land was very unstable, in fact it has been described as a "city full of earthquakes." And we will see how this relates as we close our study this morning.

Today we see this city as a Turkish town called Alasehir, with a population of around 20,000 and of that there are about 1,000 Christians and 5 Christian churches.

The name "Philadelphia" means "brotherly love" and that sums up what a spirit filled Christian is all about. He is not only in love with Jesus, but his fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord. In I John 2:9-11 we read "He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now. He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes." And as the Psalmist said in Psalm 133:1, "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwelltogether in unity!" And Jesus expounds on this in John 13:34-35 when He says "A newcommandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you alsolove one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for oneanother."

As Ironside once said, "This implies that those contemplated here, love as brethren. They are born of God, and His love is shed abroad in their hearts by the Holy Spirit given unto them, and they are characterized by love to all who are Christ’s."

Now prophetically speaking, the church of Philadelphia represents the revival of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and extends through today. It is the faithful church filled with the Agape love that only comes from Jesus. And this church was born out of the dead orthodoxy that took place during the Protestant Reformation, which was represented by the church of Sardis.

Yes, the Reformation movement was needed to bring us out of idolatry and spiritual fornication, but it did not come out far enough. In fact it became dead in its tradition and orthodoxy. It looked back at its past accomplishments instead of pushing on for Christ. They became dead through apathy and indifference. They were no longer being lead by the Spirit of God but by tradition. They had a name but no life!

But we then see God work afresh in the hearts of believers. We see God stir the people from dead denominationalism. And this spiritual awakening, during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, began over northern Europe and the British Isles and it overflowed to America. Men like D. L. Moody in America. C. H. Spurgeon in London. William Carrey doing missionary work in India. Hudson Taylor doing missionary work in China. We see Whitefield, Wesley, Finney, Edwards, and the list can go on-and-on as the old wineskins of orthodoxy were put aside as God used new wineskins to do His work through.

Now to this church in Philadelphia, the DESCRIPTION OF JESUS is not completely taken from Revelation chapter 1 as the others were. First of all we see Jesus speaking of His holiness and truthfulness to this church. The holiness of God speaks of His complete separation from all that is sinful. And thus, to this faithful church, they had set themselves apart from the world to be used by God. The truthfulness of God is seen in His Word, and this church had a love for the Word of God because the Word of God revealed to them Jesus and guided them in all aspects of their life.

Now back in Revelation chapter 1, we are told that Jesus had the keys of Hades and death, but to this faithful church, they are told that Jesus is "He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens." This is an Old Testament illustration, and so, to understand it, we must go back to the Old Testament book of Isaiah. In Isaiah 22:20-25 we read "Then it shall be in that day, that I will call My servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah; I will clothe him with your robe and strengthen him with your belt; I will commit your responsibility into his hand. He shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. 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. I will fasten him as a peg in a secure place, and he will become a glorious throne to his father's house. They will hang on him all the glory of his father's house, the offspring and the posterity, all vessels of small quantity, from the cups to all the pitchers. ‘In that day,’ says the LORD of hosts, ‘the peg that is fastened in the secure place will be removed and be cut down and fall, and the burden that was on it will be cut off; for the LORD has spoken."

Eliakim was the steward over king Hezekiah’s household. He was able to open and shut the doors that lead into the treasures of the king. Jesus Christ, whom Eliakim was a type of, is the faithful steward of the kingdom. Jesus gives us access to the Father. And Jesus not only opens doors of ministry for us, but He also allows those into the kingdom He wants, and keeps out those who have not believed in Him. You see, the holy and true God opens the doors of both the kingdom of God and of Hades. The one who judges the spiritual life of the church also examines our own hearts!

VERSE 8

Prior to Jesus speaking of the open door which is set before them, He speaks of their works. This open door then refers to an open door of opportunity, or ministry. As Paul told the Corinthian church about what was taking place in Ephesus, he said "For a great and effectivedoor has opened to me, and there are many adversaries." I Corinthians 16:9. (Also see Acts 14:27, II Corinthians 2:12, Colossians 4:3).

God has placed this open door, which no one can shut, for each of us. All we have to do is step through it. It is not in our strength, for we only have a little, but it is God who provides the opportunities and He equips us for the work. And we must understand that as Christians we are not to go around like the "Karate Kid" kicking down doors of opportunity so that we then can step through. If God is in control, which He is, that means that God will not only open that door, but He will not close it until the work has been completed. All God is asking us to do is to be faithful stewards to what He has given to us. As Peter said "As each one has received a gift,minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God." I Peter 4:10. Again, all God is asking us to do is to step through those doors by faith, and to use the gifts that He has graciously given to each of us for His glory!

Here is the COMMENDATION that Jesus has for this church, and it is two-fold. First of all they are keeping His Word, which is definitive proof of your love for Jesus. In John 14:21 we read "He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him." This was one of the things that Jesus was looking at in this church, that they were teaching and preaching His Word faithfully. And secondly, they were devoted to the Lord, His name and all that His name represents - Lord, salvation, Messiah, and-so-on.

It is as the Psalmist said, "If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?"Psalm 11:3. Without the Word of God we would be tossed to and fro not knowing what to believe and what not to believe. But the Word of God is our foundation. It is our source of truth and exposes the many lies that are out there. Again, as the Psalmist said, "Blessed is the manwhom You instruct, O LORD, and teach out of Your law." Psalm 94:12.

Tragically today we see people and churches down playing the importance of the Word of God and even the deity of Jesus Christ, the salvation we have in Him. For example, the following churches were represented at a women’s conference that took place in Minneapolis, Minnesota back in 1993: The United Church of Christ, United Methodists, The Lutherans, The United Church of Canada, and the Presbyterians.

Listen to what they heard at this conference regarding Christ. Dr. Delores Williams, a professor at Union Theological Seminary in New York, said "I don’t think we need a theology of atonement at all. I think Jesus came for life and to show us something about life...I don’t think we need folks hanging on crosses and blood dripping and weird stuff." How sad that they would call themselves Christ followers, and this women even teaching at a seminary, and yet denying what the Scriptures say and the atoning work of Christ on the cross of Calvary for us!

The church in Philadelphia, like all the faithful churches that are in existence today, love the Word of God and they uphold the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We truly are seeing the true church separate from the false church, like oil separating from water. In fact, as you look at the final two church letters, to Philadelphia and Laodicea, they represent two streams of practice that came out of the Protestant Reformation. One was sweet and had a great love for the Word of God and a vibrant personal relationship with Jesus, the church of Philadelphia. And the other was bitter and moved away from the Word of God. They turned cold and into intellectualism, leaving no room for Jesus, the church of Laodicea. And we will see that next time as we conclude these letters.

There is no REBUKE for the church in Philadelphia, as you can see!

VERSES 9-10

This church faced hostile opposition from the unbelieving Jews. And that is something we need to remember. False religion has always been a formidable antagonist against the true Christian faith. As Mccarrell said: "The Philadelphia letter reminds that any true church at any time, and especially during the last days, meets satanic opposition...through imitation, religious ritualism, and hypocrisy - opposition strengthened by mixtures or worldliness and religiousness -church and state."

The EXHORTATION here is two-fold. First, God is going to protect this weak church from hostile unbelievers and as much as people may come against us for what we believe, one day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord, either willingly or by compulsion. It is as Psalm 23:5-6 tells us, "You prepare a table before me in the presence ofmy enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercyshall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever."

Secondly, in verse 10, God is going to keep us out of the trial that will come upon the earth dwellers. You see, Jesus says that will come to pass "Because you have kept My command to persevere..." which I believe is speaking of His second coming. We are waiting patiently for His return, as Paul tells us in Titus 2:13, "looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ." It is sad to see many today deny His second coming and thus they are not looking for His return. But we are patiently waiting for that day in which the Lord will return for us.

Also, we see that Jesus said "... 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." That word "from" is the Greek word EK and it means "out of." In other words, this trial that is coming upon the earth dwellers, not Christians for our citizenship is in heaven, has a definite period of time, and here it is spoken of as the "...hour of trial..." which speaks of the last 7 year period known as the tribulation period or the 70th week of Daniel. God will keep us "out of" this period of time for God does not appoint us to wrath, but to salvation! As Jesus said in Luke 21:34-36, "But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man."

VERSE 11

The WARNING is simple. Jesus tells them to "...Hold fast what you have..." or to "keep a firm grip on what you have." In other words, don’t give up. Don’t grow weary. Don’t lose heart. Continue on for He is coming back and when He does it will be sudden! Be watching. And the crown that Jesus is speaking of is the victors crown or the STEPHANOS in the Greek. This crown speaks of the crown of life and the call is not to give up on what Christ has given to you. I don’t believe you can lose your salvation because we are secure in Christ, sealed by His Spirit for the day of redemption. What I think Jesus is referring to are those who have heard the truth and have not taken a firm grip, they have not made Jesus Lord and Savior of their life. They will not receive this crown of life. And yes, it may not be easy, but don’t give up, because Jesus will reward us for our faithfulness! As Paul said in I Corinthians 15:58, "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord."

VERSE 12

Remember the city of Philadelphia was very vulnerable to earthquakes. The land was very unstable. And Jesus is PROMISING them that He would make them a pillar in the New Jerusalem. A stable, strong city, no longer would they be on shaky ground. From a little strength God will make us pillars! We see that we have security with Him, we will be with Him forever, and we will have all these names written on us, which speaks of our identity - WE BELONG TO GOD!

VERSE 13

Once again Jesus is asking you if you are listening? If you are paying attention and allowing the word of God, by the Spirit of God, to transform your life? If you refuse, you are only hurting yourself, for God is showing you what you need to do in your life.

As I bring this study to a close, let me say this. Everyone wants to be a Philadelphia church, for there is only good spoken of regarding this church by Jesus. Let me say this, I truly believe that this church, this body of believers is a Philadelphia church. Not that we are perfect, because if you are anything like me, you have a way to go. But I see this church love the Word of God and desire to apply it to their life. I see this church in love with Jesus, believing in all that His name stands for. And that is a great joy to me.

And as you look at this church, we have a little strength. We are about 50 or so adults, and yet look at how God has blessed us as we have taken steps of faith. We support many missionaries. We have sent almost 2,000 pounds of clothes to the people of the Sudan. Our outreaches in Washington Park have not only touched those that came, but it has stimulated other churches to use the park to share the love of Jesus with others. We have been called" the church that teaches the Word." What a great thing! On January 24th of this year we launched our own radio station, Calvary Satellite Network or CSN on 90.9 on your FM dial which has 24 hours a day, 7 days a week of sound biblical teaching and anointed worship and praise music.

And we can go on. Now I am not sharing these things with you to boast on what we have done, but what God has done. He has blessed us above all we can ask or think. Remember, we are a small church, not much strength, and yet look at the influence we have had so far, and God is not done, the doors of opportunity are still being opened for us and God wants us to step through.

Now don’t get stuck in remembering past accomplishments and what God has done, but live in the present with a eye to the future and sensitive to the leading of God’s Spirit. May we truly understand that it is only when we give ourselves away to the Lord and the service of others that God will give back to us abundantly. May we set our lives on fire for Christ and may that cause others to come and watch us burn. We look at the revivals of the past and see how awesome they were, and we think God can’t work that way today, like He is dead! Make no mistake about it, God is living and powerful and desires to show Himself strong through those who love Him. May we be those people that God uses! As Paul said in II Timothy 4:7, at the end of his life, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.May we run right into the arms of Jesus!

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