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A Missionary Church / Soul Winning Church

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PHILADELPHIA: 

A Missionary Church or a Soul winning Church

Revelation 3:7-13

Introduction:

Of all churches, this my pick to join.

No complaint; all commendations – (positives)

Some background:

·         Philadelphia approx. 125 miles from coast,

·         30 miles SE/Sardis.

·         “Brotherly love.” (2 Greek words)

Today–Alasehir a great city  

·         NT times, youngest of 7 cities.

·         It was a city of major influence in the area and was located on the edge of a great volcanic plain which was fertile as a result and perfect for grape growing.

·         Thriving city – main industry is “wine making”

·         Called, “The gateway to the East.”

·         Located where great roads, west–east, north–south converged.

·         Philadelphia was a city strategically located on the road from Rome to the east, and was a strong fortress city.

·         Philadelphia, however, was more than just a gateway to the east or a fertile valley, it was also an “open door of opportunity – spiritually speaking.

The MISSIONARY CITY–

·         Founded to spread Greek culture, language to east.

·         Built on edge of volcanoes.

·         AD 17, destroyed by earthquake.

·         People constantly moving in, out.

·         Many heathen temples.

NOTE:

·         When person served well, city erect pillar, inscribe name.

·         Last stronghold/Christianity.

·         Held on till 13th century.

·         Where Christians, Muslims fought during Crusades.

·         Today–remains of Byzantine church, believed some Christians there.

Church there, greatest of 7.

·         Located in strategic place.

·         Opportunity to get gospel to people never heard.

·         Perhaps heard of letters.

Today, Philadelphian churches are those have heart for lost world. Evangelism, missions, Local, global missions.

Are we a Philadelphian church?

ARE YOU A PHILADELPHIAN CHRISTIAN?

I.    The CHARACTER of Christ. V.7.

     

A.       His ATTRIBUTES.

·         In this Letter, like those we’ve studied before,  Christ introduces himself in terms which are relevant to the audience.

·         Here Christ says three things about himself – He says he is holy, true and he holds a key which he uses.

1)   He says he is holy – morally perfect and without flaw or blemish.

      Holiness is an important attribute of God

2)   He is true - the one behind everything, the one who is wholly

      trustworthy and reliable.

3)   “hath key/David.”

·         OT Background,

·         He holds the Key of David.

Now this is an interesting description which refers back to Is 22:20f.

In Chapter 22, Isaiah condemns the city of Jerusalem.

·         They had just been delivered from their enemies camped outside their city, but they showed no gratitude for their divine rescue.

·         The charge lain before them is that they were self sufficient, - trusting in their weapons, their efforts in strengthening the city walls and their stores of water.

·         He then turns his attention to an individual – Shebna, the chief steward of Jerusalem, who was guilty of a similar sin as the city itself.

·         He was guilty of seeing himself as indispensible, a “Mighty Man” in verse 17.

·         He apparently paraded through the streets in a mighty chariot and prepared for himself a splendid grave.

·         As a result of his unfaithful service, he is replaced by Eliakim.

Now the significance of the image is that the chief steward of the

city held the key of David – this was the master key to not only the

city but also to the palace.

He was second only to the king and controlled who could come

And who could go – who had access to the king and who didn’t.

He was the one who opened the doors and shut other doors.

Listen as I read it from Isaiah … Vs 20 - 23

In Revelation, we see this image continuing in vs. 7

·         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.

·         Christ is here claiming to be the new Eliakim – the one who holds the palace key, not an earthly door, though, it was heaven’s door.

·         Christ opens and closes the doors which allow people to enter the kingdom he is in control of the opportunities which we have and no opportunity is not appointed by him.

NOTE:

·         Door/salvation wide open today.

·         John 10:9.

·         One day, be shut.

Illus.    Ark, “and the Lord shut him in” (Gen. 7:16).

Illus.    Parable of wise, foolish virgins. “and the door was shut”

            (Matthew 25:10).

Here, keys refer to SERVICE as in I Cor. 16:9. as Paul is writing

about his ministry “ I will stay in Ephesus – until Pentecost – because

a wide door of effective ministry has been opened for me – yet many

oppose me.”

C.       His ACTIVITY. “opens, shuts.”

·         Jesus is opening,

·         Closing doors of opportunity for churches,

·         Christians.

NOTE:

·         His job to open door;

·         Ours, to enter.

II.  The Church’s Condition

Philadelphia was a blessed city.

·         They were living in the land of opportunity, but why were they so blessed.

·         The answer is found in verse 8.

A.  Christ is giving reasons for the opportunities that are before

      the Philadelphians and I see here 3 reasons:

1)   Weakness –

·         This was a small church with seemingly no prestige.

·         It regularly got beaten up by the local Jews who had condemned them.

·         But because it was weak, they relied upon God.

·         They knew who’s work it was and didn’t try to usurp his authority.

·         It’s a lesson for all of us fiercely independent people isn’t it?

2)   Word – People of the Word!

·         They were consumed by the word,

·         They were devoted to the word,

·         They were satisfied by the word

·         They were thriving on the word.

·         They kept God’s Word, which meant that they knew God’s Word and we could likely conclude that they therefore spent time studying God’s Word.

Are we people of the Word?

·         Are we consumed by the Word?

·         Are we devoted to the Word?

·         Are we satisfied by the Word?

·         Are we thriving on the Word?

3)   Wavering – Not.

·         Here was a church who no matter what they were faced with, refused to give up on their faith.

·         The ridicule, the peer pressure, the opposition or even the possible persecution they faced could not make them waver.

·         Instead they were faithful to the end.

III. Opportunity and Opposition Go Hand in Hand

Sometimes when we are surrounded by what appears to be many difficulties, we may in fact be surrounded by many opportunities. Christ recognized that often opportunity and opposition go hand in hand and gave the Philadelphian church 4 specific words of comfort.

 

A.  First, he promised to humble their enemies and open their    eyes to the truth. Vs 9

·         The first opponents of the church were the hostile Jews.

·         This was the continuation of the tension we see between the early church and the Jewish community who believed that they were the people of God by birth and religious heritage.

·         God is not pleased by outward rituals, but is pleased by inward attitudes.

2)   “synagogue/Satan.”

·         Devil has his religious crowd.

·         Devil wants you to “rest comfortable”

·         Devil wants you to NOT share the life changing message of the Gospel

·         Devil wants you to NOT read or study the Word of God

·         Devil wants you to NOT earnestly pray

·         Devil wants you to NOT live an Intentional life that draws people to Jesus Christ

·         Devil wants you to NOT live a Holy life that pleasing unto the Father

·         Devil wants you to NOT live in the Spirit – he wants you to live in the FLESH

·         Devil wants you to NOT Care able others eternal destiny!

3)  YOU see we face opposition all the time – daily – hourly – by the

      minute

·         That is why the Christian life is NOT a “bed of roses”

·         That is why the Christian life is NOT a “easy street”

·         That is why the Christian life is NOT a “breeze”

·         That is why the Christian life is NOT a “pleasure trip”

·         That is why the Christian life is NOT a “free ride”

·         That is why the Christian life is NOT a “

BUT NOTICE:

B.  The second thing promised to this church was that he would

      Keep them from the hour of maximum trials. Vs 10

1) A couple of things to note here.

·         This tribulation is going to be global in nature – it is to come upon the whole world.

·         The hour of tribulation is understood to be a time of intense trouble that will fall on the world before Christ comes again.

·         It is called elsewhere in Scripture the “day of the Lord” or the “Great Tribulation.”

2)   But just how the Christians are protected from it a matter of

      debate.

·         Those who believe in a Pre-tribulation rapture, would see that this passage and others like it teach that the Christians will be taken out of the earth (raptured) before the great tribulation and so will be protected from all that it involves by their absence.

·         Others who hold to a Post tribulation rapture believe that this promise is not to remove the Christians from the earth, but to offer protection to them while on earth.

·         This verse can not prove or disprove either argument on its own and so we won’t dwell on it any more.

·         It is sufficient to say that we have a marvelous promise here – Christ will protect his own because of their obedience to him.

C.  The third promise I see here is the promise of strength and

      security. Vs 11 and 12

1)   Remember what I said about Philadelphia being in a volcanic

      area.

·         Often the only parts of the city left standing after a severe quake were the huge stone temple columns.

·         When you visit ancient ruins you will notice that often all that is left standing are the pillars.

·         In the Jerusalem temple which was destroyed in 70 A. D., there were two great pillars in front of the building, one called Jachin (which means "established, permanent"), and the other Boaz ("strength").

·         Pillars were synonymous with strength and permanence.

2)      Christ promises to set his believes up in such a secure fashion that can never be moved.

·         This promise of Jesus to never go out again is a reference to the experience of these Philadelphians who had frequently to flee the city because of the earthquake tremors that came.

·         Jesus says you will reach a place where you will not have to go out ever again.

·         It is a picture of security, permanence and strength.

3)   This is the promise to those who overcome.

·         To those who are faithful.

·         The faithful are also said to have a crown which can be lost if they waver.

·         This does not speak about salvation, but future rewards and opportunities for future service.

D.  And lastly, Christ promises a new name which is        representative of our character. Vs 12b - 13

1)   If we overcome, we will be given 3 names

The Name of God – shows we will be godly.

·         This is the purpose of the HS dwelling in our lives.

We’ll be given the Name of the city of God.

·         The last 2 chapters of Revelation speak about the New Jerusalem being like a bride being prepared for her husband, Christ.

·         This new name speaks of the loving intimacy that Christ has for his faithful.

We’ll be given a new name that no one knows.

Names in the Bible symbolize one’s character or role. Before Jesus was born in Bethlehem an angel appeared to Joseph and told him that Mary would have a son, who was to be called “Jesus." Why? "Because he will save his people from their sins," When we get to heaven, we will each have a new ministry, a new area of service and this will come with it a new name symbolic of this new ministry.

What wonderful promises,
• Our enemies will be humbled,
• We’ll be kept from tribulation
• We will be strengthened and made secure.
• We’ll be given a new name

Conclusion:

Philadelphia was a showcase for Greek culture, but it also prominently displayed the Gospel.

·         After being conquered by Rome, roads were built connecting the city to points east.

·         Philadelphia has been called the "keeper of the gateway".

·         The Philadephian church had an open door to spread far and wide the Good News of God’s grace.

God opens and closes doors for us.

·         Wherever He sends us, He is sending the Gospel.

·         Even life’s trials are opportunities for us to show our world how believers overcome all obstacles.

Alexander Graham Bell once said, "When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us."

We need to trust God’s power to intervene.

·         The key of salvation is in the hand of Christ, and the door to His Kingdom stands open today.

·         We are able to enter because at the entrance of that door there stands a Cross.

·         Our Lord’s sacrifice makes us worthy and authorizes us to enter and be healed of our sins.

·         In John 10 Jesus declares, "I am the Door." Let’s come to Him for salvation and service.

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