Message Begins at 28:11
The Church that Would, Could, and Stood, Through All Unlikelihood
An Exposition of Revelation #7
The Church at Philadelphia
7 “To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. 8 I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. 9 I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. 10 Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth. 11 I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. 12 The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will they leave it. I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on them my new name. 13 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
1. Courage to walk through doors Jesus cracked open and the wisdom to walk away from doors Jesus slammed shut (7-8a)
The Gateway of the East - Philadelphia was a city known as the “Gateway to the East.” Located an intersection between three ancient nations, the Greeks planted the city there to take Greek culture and Language to the rest of the world.
But the Key to City is In Different Hands – Jesus flips the script with his words; having the key means he planted the smallest church in Revelation, Philadelphia, to make the biggest changes to the culture.
(1) Small steps open tremendous opportunities;
(2) Open door is a slightly pushed open door in the Scriptures (behold I stand at the door and knock); you still have to have the courage to walk through;
(3) Don’t keep trying to pry open a door God has slammed shut
2. Hard times and hardships put them in a favorable position (8b-9).
Hard Time and Hardship One: they lived on a volcanic plain susceptible to frequent earthquakes. Other cities in Asia Minor could recover. Not Philadelphia; where residence often had to flee every time one happened.
Hard Time and Hardship Two: Jewish persecution (much like Smyrna) meant they were excluded from social circles that meant a lot to them for no other reason than they were faithful to the Lord.
(1) The test is in not how much strength you have; but whether you are successful standing in that strength;
(2) Little strength works in your favor because in your weakness you have no other choice than to depend on God’s power;
(3) The Lord’s strength is manifested in your weakness (the Thomas example).
3. Endured patiently when they felt like throwing in the towel (10)
Biblical Antonyms for Endure = to avoid; to evade; to sidestep; to fall away; to hide
Biblical Synonyms for Endure = to persevere; to be faithful
Implies = Friction of some type that threatens life or aspects of it.
Biblical Antonyms for Patience = anger, frustration, intolerance at delay
Biblical Synonyms for Patience = cool, calmness, composure
Implies = when they were tempted to throw in the towel they chose cool, calmness and composure to facing the friction that threatened them and remained faith.
Reward = Exodus experience that the unbelieving Jews around them did not: Passover
(1) how we respond to friction doesn’t go unnoticed by our Lord.
(2) Patient endurance when you feel like throwing in the towel is a great spiritual achievement in the economy of the Almighty.
4. Stood strong in the tension not by their size or by the success of their programs; but by their fidelity to the Word of God (11-13)
Pillars in City of Philadelphia – Columns of temples to gods of the Greek/Roman pantheons destroyed by earthquake of 17 AD. They rebuilt them and were destroyed again by more earthquakes.
Pillars in Church of Philadelphia – Will remain upright and permanence in a city and nation of earthquakes. It still does. That ancient church Philadelphia is one of two that still remain.
“The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our Lord remains forever” (Is 40:8)