29 January 2008

The seven churches--part 6: Philadelphia, the faithful church

Revelation 3:7-13

7 And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write,

"These things says He who is holy, He who is true, He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens:

8 'I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name. 9 Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie—indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you. 10 Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. 11 Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. 12 He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. 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 I will write on him My new name. 13 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'"

Of all the descriptors we have for our Lord Jesus Christ, let us look at the two He applies to Himself here: holy and true. He is Holy. He is sanctified by God to be Savior of the nations. Thus the Psalmist wrote of the scene in Heaven when Jesus returned, victorious over the grave--Lift up your heads, O you gates! And be lifted up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O you gates! Lift up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, He is the King of glory. Selah (Psalm 24:7-10). Jesus, the King of Glory--He is Holy, He is LORD. After all, did not the prophet Isaiah record these words of the LORD our God--"I am the LORD, that is My name; and My glory I will not give to another..." (Isaiah 42:8).

Jesus is True. Not only does He represent all that is true, He IS all that is true. For He Himself is Truth! John 14:6--"I AM the Way, the Truth, and the Life..." Consider also these words from the pen of the apostle whom Jesus loved: John 1:1--In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and God was the Word. And what did Jesus say of this Word? As He prayed the night before His death? John 17:17--"Thy Word is truth." And should we not appreciate this name of our Lord above most any other? For it is because of this name that we can know that we can believe every promise He has given us. For all the promises of God in him are yes, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us. (2nd Corinthians 1:20).

Now, before we begin looking at the church itself, what exactly is the "Key of David" (Besides a TV program where Gerald Flurry promotes his own brand of Armstrongism)? This is a reference to Isaiah 22:22. What was David's job as a boy? He was a shepherd. Who is the Good Shepherd? But, Jesus is also the Door of the sheep. And here we see that Jesus--being the Door, and the only way into the kingdom--also holds the key for that Door. Key--not keys. There is but one key, and that is in the hands of our Savior and Lord. It is the key into the house of David, the kingdom ruled over by Christ, the only one we can go through, the only one who can open the way for us. Jesus holds the keys. He opens. He sets the opening before us, and no man can shut it. In other words, if He opens it, He will keep it open until we are safely inside. For He is the Good Shepherd, and will not suffer any of His sheep to be left outside.

Now, notice the threefold obedience of this church: they have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name. Is it necessary to be so spiritual that you do not struggle? Does one need to be so strong in their faith that no trials ever come their way? No, for those who will be most blessed in the kingdom will be those who have gone through the storms of life and have come out--not unscathed, but rather with the scars and wounds of one who has fought valiantly in the battles of life. And, in the end, when they they leave this world and pass into the presence of the Lord, because they clung to the Cross with their last shred of strength, they shall share in the rewards of the good soldiers of Jesus Christ (2nd Timothy 2:3).

They have kept My command to persevere. Kept. "To attend to carefully, take care of; to guard." How many who claim to be shepherds of Christ's flock do not "attend His commands carefully"? And how many more do not "guard" it? How can we say we love Him when we won't attend His words carefully, and guard them against attacks from the Evil One? We are called--even commanded--to be ready to defend His word, and to contend ("to struggle in opposition; to use earnest efforts to obtain, or to defend and preserve; to dispute earnestly; to strive in debate; to reprove sharply; to chide; to strive to convince and reclaim") for that faith. For if you do not think enough of the word of God to defend its honor and truth, then how can you call yourself a child of God? And if we give in, and compromise because we don't want to step on anybody's toes, then how can we say we have persevered?

These Philadelphians and have not denied My name. Does one need to say "I don't know the Man" to be considered guilty of denying Him? No. All one has to do is say, "I believe Jesus is my Savior. But..." Then add some other heretical doctrine or belief, and you have, effectively, denied Christ. For if you say "Jesus is my Savior, but I think Muslims are saved too," then you have called Jesus a liar. And if you are calling Jesus a liar--and do not be fooled, Jesus is not a liar--then you know someone who is not Christ, and thus you deny Him.

Because they have persevered and kept His word and have not added or taken away from Him, He will make those who say they know Him (but do not) worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you. Not that Christ will cause those in unbelief to pay these people the honor that is reserved for God alone, but it seems as though Jesus is saying that when the synagogue of Satan sees that He loves these believers, then those which say they are Jews and are not will want to run to the front of the church and fall on their faces and beg God for forgiveness and for this church to teach them the truth.

Then look at this promise in verse 12. He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God. What more promise does one need than this? To be one who upholds the house of God! So many preach about having material abundance in this life. Let it go, do not hold fast to this world! Have you not read what the man who recorded these words of our Lord said in another place? On the other hand, how great an honor is this! To be the pillar and ground of truth (1st Timothy 3:15)! To proclaim, as did the Psalmist, a day in Your courts is better than a thousand. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness (Psalm 84:10).

Not only will we be given so great an honor as that, but look at the three new names we will have graven upon us: The name of My God, the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem...and My new name. To have God’s name written upon us. How does one describe such a thing as this! How many men have tried to put this into words. How many have tried to write of this marvelous glory! Consider the transformation that occurred when Simon finally embraced the name of Cephas, and what a wonderful change was wrought! Now, this was only a change in his earthly character. We will have a name written upon us that will transform us from earthly into heavenly!

We will also have written upon us the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem. Just as many once said, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ (1st Corinthians 1:12), there are many that say, "I am of America" or "I am of Italy" or "I am of England." But in that day, we shall all be not only of one nation, but all of one city. For even nations are divided into states, and states into cities. But once the end of the age comes, there shall be nothing but one city. And we shall be sealed as its sole inhabitants for all eternity.

And Jesus shall write My new name upon us. Paul tells us in his letter to the Philippians that God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name (Philippians 2:9). This shall be the name we will have graven upon us. the name above every other name. Jesus will say, "You are mine. You belong to Me. And you will dwell with Me forever."

What profit is this world? What good are the things contained in this planet? They are rubbish, they will pass away, they will be dissolved, they will be forgotten. But to those who are faithful—who have a little faith, keep His word and do not deny His name—we will have the three names which are more glorious than we could ever imagine graven upon us, sealing us for all eternity to the LORD our God!

He who has an ear, let him hear!

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