LESSONS FROM THE SEVEN CHURCHES —
THE CHURCH AT PHILADELPHIA
The seven churches of Asia, with their problems, sins, shortcomings, (and some good things), are case studies in the problems churches have. It is good for us to see how the Godhead look at the churches, and how Jesus emphasized what must be done to come back to where they need to be. These are lessons for churches today that often lose focus on our mission, and on our Lord and his commands. We must study these things to learn, to repent and to be where we need to be in the eyes of the Lord.
The church at Philadelphia is one of the churches that seems to be where they needed to be in the eyes of Jesus.
Notice (as in the other churches) how Jesus describes himself to the church there. First, He has the key of David. We know that he is a descendant of David and would sit on the throne of David (2 Samuel 7). In 2 Samuel 7:12-17 we see these points and promises God makes to David:
1. God would establish the kingdom for one of David’s descendants.
2. The future ruler would build a house (the church) in God’s name (of course we think of Solomon, but Jesus builds a house that will last forever).
3. The throne would endure forever.
4. The son was in a relationship with God and He would be corrected with discipline and divine judgment (think the cross).
5. The covenant faithfulness of God would not depart.
6. The house of David, the throne of David, and the kingdom would last forever.
Jesus did not set on David’s actual throne, but on the throne of the Father who gave this to him. Jesus, who has the key of David (representing a symbol of authority) has all final authority (Matthew 28:18) that no one can question. (Isaiah 22:22 references a key on the shoulder of the House of David).
Hence, because of His authority, Jesus opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens. He has the keys to the kingdom of heaven, and only opens to those worthy enough to enter by their obedience to the gospel.
He knows their works — we have seen this in every congregation of the Lord in Revelation 2-3, and it is a constant reminder that he knows our works at South Cobb as well.
He sets before them an open door, and no one can shut it! Is this an open door of opportunity? What doors of opportunity do we see open – further, are we walking through those doors and taking advantages of opportunities to teach others? To be a better Christian? To grow in our knowledge of him and his will?
They have a little strength, (that beats no strength at all) but is it also an encouragement to them to grow stronger and more robust in the Lord. What about our strength in the Lord? Are we weak, or strong? The church at South Cobb only as strong as its weakest member? Do we all need to be challenged to grow more and more, and exercise ourselves to godliness (1 Timothy 4:7).
They have kept his word. Strength comes from knowing and obeying the word of God and exercising ourselves to godly living!
They have not denied his name. It is relatively easy to deny his name when the world attacks us! STAY FAITHFUL TO THE NAME by which we were called!
There was a synagogue of Satan. Jewish leaders in that city may have stood against the church. They are “Jews” yet were not the chosen people. The chosen people then and now are followers of Christ. Hence, these that may have persecuted the saints, will come and worship (bow down before) your feet.
They kept the command to persevere – to hang in there. Sometimes that is all we as Christians can do — persevere. As a result, Jesus would keep them from the hour of trial that would come upon the world. (in the context of this passage it would have reference to the destruction of Jerusalem). Sometimes we go through trials to strengthen our faith; sometimes a lack of trials means we become weaker in the faith. We need faith building trials.
We need to hold fast what we have lest one should take the crown. Being faithful in a faithless world is hard. Being faithful when Satan attacks us is a struggle. Being faithful around our enemies shows that our loyalty is to Jesus first, and such is as it should be.
Finally, consider that the “over comers”. . .
- 1.Will become pillars in the temple of God. They will hold up the truth; and they will stand firm against assaults of the world. We need more pillars in the temple of the Lord.
- 2.They shall go out no more – no more in the world to live, but stays in the Temple with the Lord of all.
- 3.Will have written on them the name of God and the city of God – the New Jerusalem – that comes down from heaven from my God. They will thus be with the Lord forever, identified by the name of the Lord written on them. They are God’s people! They are identified as such by him! He owns them and loves them for their faithfulness to Him amid a sinful world.
Listen to what the Spirit says to the churches. How do we stand before God?