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To the Church in Philadelphia

“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens, says this: ‘I know your deeds. Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name. ‘Behold, I will cause those of the synagogue of Satan, who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie–I will make them come and bow down at your feet, and make them know that I have loved you. ‘Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. ‘I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown. ‘He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; 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 out of heaven from My God, and My new name. ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (Revelation 3:7-13)

The meaning of the word Philadelphia is “Brotherly Love.

And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: The Church in Philadelphia represents in the chronicles of Church history the Evangelical Church which came into being during the Second Great Awakening. In our discussion last week we spoke of the Second Great Awakening in which the Spirt again came to the forefront of religious teaching. This week we are going to explore another aspect of this Second Great Awakening in which the Church of Philadelphia represents in the Evangelical Church. The Evangelicals were more Zealous or fervent in the beliefs of the Scriptures.

Centuries prior to this awakening the Biblical scholars were teaching an allegorical interpretation of the Scriptures especially in prophecy. The rank and file members of the Church were becoming energized by a literal interpretation of the Scripture. The pre-tribulation rapture and 1000 year reign of the Lord on Earth, views that were prevalent during the 1st century but abandoned with the allegorical interpretation were once again becoming more popular. A revival was born in the Church again.

Title

He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens, says this: Jesus as the Messiah holds the key to the Davidic throne and Kingdom. Jesus the Christ and He alone has the authority to grant and refuse entry into the Kingdom of God. “And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” (Matthew 28:18)

Commendation

‘I know your deeds. Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name. ‘Behold, I will cause those of the synagogue of Satan, who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie–I will make them come and bow down at your feet, and make them know that I have loved you. This is the open door that the Apostle John will enter into in Revelation Chapter 4. “After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven, and the first voice which I had heard, like the sound of a trumpet speaking with me, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things.” (Revelation 4:1) There John stands before the throne. It is here in this verse that we find an indication for the belief of a Pre-Tribulation Rapture of the Church, as John has in his vision experienced a Rapture event. Also the Church is not mentioned again on earth in the book of Revelation.

The Church in Philadelphia receives no criticism in this letter and therefore granted admission through the door which Jesus has opened. Thus, this door will be opened to those who are saved by grace through their faith. They will be seen by God the Father in the righteousness of His Son Jesus Christ. Jesus who had no sin was made sin on the believer’s behalf so that they might become the righteousness of God. “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Those who came from the synagogue of Satan were the Judaizers who said they were Jews but were not. Their belief was that before a Gentile could become a Christian he would have to become a Jew first and be obedient to the law. This is opposed to the truth that we are saved by grace through our faith in Jesus. These Judaizers will be forced in that day that the path of the Christian does not lead through Judaism but at the foot of the cross of Jesus.

In latter days some Christians have become advocates of Replacement Theology. They proclaim that the Church has replaced Israel as the chosen people of God. But this is not true to Scripture as the Christian will be adopted as God’s Chosen people with Israel. “And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.” (Romans 8:23) There is another group that claims the inheritance of Israel the Muslins. They claim that Ishmael was the first born of Abraham and the inheritance is theirs. This is not true as Ishmael was born of Hagar and not of Abraham and Sarah as God had commanded. These people will also be forced to bow down before the Church of Jesus Christ and admit the error of their ways.

Admonition

‘Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. Again we see here a promise from the Lord for a pre-tribulation rapture. The Greek translation in this passage translates to mean “out of altogether” and excludes the Church from the time, place and cause of the tribulation times. There is only one prophecy in the Scripture for a worldwide “hour of trial” for those who dwell on the earth. From Chapter four of the book of Revelation on the Church is referred to as those who dwell in Heaven.

Call

‘I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown. In this passage we see one of the few places where there is distinction between the free gift of salvation and the crowns that the Christian will be rewarded with. These are the crowns that the Christian will earn by the good works he does out of his gratitude for his free gift of salvation. One of the crowns that the Christian will receive is a reward for their longing for His return. “In the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:8) This longing for the appearance of the return of Jesus Christ describes the Church of Philadelphia perfectly.

Challenge

‘He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; 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 out of heaven from My God, and My new name. In the Apostle John’s 1st letter he asks who it is that will overcome the world and then answers the question in the same verse. “Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:5) In all seven letters to the Churches in Revelation we see that the overcomers of the world are those who have resisted the additions and the deletions that man has made to the equation of the Lord’s salvation. The overcomers are the ones who remain steadfast in the belief that they are saved by grace alone. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) The Church of Jesus Christ will live in their new home which is the New Jerusalem. No one will enter into that city unless their name is written in the Book of Life. “And nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” (Revelation 21:27)

Promise

‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” We are reminded again to stick to the basics of the gospel message. To abide in the Word of God and do not deny His name. We are to hold fast to our convictions and keep looking up. “Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41)

“Not I, but Christ” was the watchword of the Philadelphian Christians, and the same motto should be for all of Christ’s followers. Once we lay ourselves down in humility, Christ and His love can conquer through us. The Word-based unity and love-based community of the Church of Philadelphia is a shining example of what all who aspire to follow Christ should seek to acquire.

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, January 4,2015

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