Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Faithful and True - Philadelphia

The church at Philadelphia is the next stop in our review of the Lord Jesus' messages to the seven churches in Revelation. Note to the unbiblically-minded -- we're not talking about Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Our Philadelphia is a bit further east, and our biblical text begins in Revelation 3:7.

The Philadelphian congregation is the second church that receives no rebuke from the Lord. Jesus begins by stating that He knows their deeds, and tells them that He has put before them an open door to the kingdom that no one can shut, because they have a little power. More than that, they have kept His Word and not denied His name (and perhaps that's why they have a little power). The Philadelphia believers persevered no matter what Satan could throw in their path.

In addition to their steadfastness, the Lord tells these faithful believers that they will be an example to the unbelieving and the persecuting, and in the end, they will have their tormentors bow before them. He will also keep them from the hour of testing that is about to come on the whole world. The Greek in this particular passage (referring to the hour of testing) can mean "keep from or keep through." As I stated earlier, I have no desire or intent with this series to get into the eschatological significance of these seven churches and Christ's messages to each one. My desire is to have us reflect on what God is telling us about how a church is conduct itself now. For the church at Philadelphia (and for all of us), the main thing to carry from this particular message is that God is faithful.

The Lord has no rebuke for the Philadelphians, but he does have a final warning. He tells them to hold fast to what they have, so that no one will take their crown. We have already seen from some of the Lord's messages to the earlier churches that not all of them held fast to what they had. Several had already drifted into apostasy. We are warned in Scripture . . . Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall (1 Corinthians 10:12). Error is not far from any of us, and we must cling all the closer to the Word of God, and reliance on the Holy Spirit, who is our seal and keeper.

In this day and age of deception, it's a warning we'd better take to heart.

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