Christians in Philadelphia (the one in Revelation 3, not Pennsylvania) faced harsh persecution. They were not given the same opportunities and rights as non-believers; yet the endured with patience. Jesus commends them for their works and He encourages them to hold fast, and that He will return soon. He also uses the imagery that there is an open door in to the Kingdom of God for all who will patiently endure, hold fast, remain faithful and press on for Him. As I read that this morning I couldn’t help but think of the doors that were shut in the face of these early Christians. Seeking work, food or any other help seems to have resulted in a door slammed in their face. However, Jesus says, “I set before you an open door”, we can be encouraged that a door opened by Jesus no one can shut:
Revelation 3:7-8 "And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: 'The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens.8 "'I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.
It is also an encouragement to all of us who have put our faith in Jesus that He is the Holy One, He is the True One. That is how He referred to Himself in verse 7, giving us further confirmation that He is God. He is the only One that is worthy of our praise and He is the only One that will have authority to Judge.
John 5:22 The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son,
In 1John, John refers to Jesus in this same way:
1John 5:20 And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.
Jesus gives understanding to all who will humble themselves to Him. We are not so brilliant that we would seek after God, we know that there is none that seek after God.
Romans 3:10-12 as it is written: "None is righteous, no, not one; 11 no one understands; no one seeks for God. 12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one."
In fact the exact opposite is true, we would instead continue in our rebellion if God had not revealed the Truth to us; just as He said to Peter:
Matthew 16:15-17 He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" 16 Simon Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." 17 And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.
It is interesting that in 1John 5 after John says, “He is the true God and eternal life”, he says:
1John 5:21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols.
God’s Word cannot make it any more clear that Jesus is the Only Way to Heaven:
John 14:6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
Yet, we continue to see a world chasing after idols and think that their ignorance or sincerity will earn them a wink, a nod, and an open door from Jesus on the Day of Judgment:
Revelation 3:9 Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie--behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet and they will learn that I have loved you.
Revelation 22:11-17 He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still." 12 And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last." 14 Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. 15 But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie. 16 "I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star." 17 And the Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.
Sin has made us unjust and filthy; our righteousness and holiness comes ONLY through the Blood of Christ that cleanses us from ALL unrighteousness when we put our faith in Him alone for salvation. It is not any works of our own, it is entirely a work of His Spirit. If you remain hard hearted and rebellious toward God, you will remain unjust and filthy in His sight and the consequences will be God’s Wrath poured out on you when you die. On the other hand, if you desire to be saved, if you are “thirsty” for righteousness and holiness; God offers Living Water freely. As Jesus said, “Come, follow Me.”
Recap Jesus messages to the churches so far
Some items done well:
-works for Him
-don’t bear those who do evil
-test those claiming to be apostles
-labor for His name sake
-do not become weary in laboring for Him
-hate the works of those practicing and teaching false religions and perverting the Gospel
-work in the face of tribulation
-work while in poverty
-do not be swayed as those around are being killed for the faith
-do not deny faith in Jesus at any cost
-Increasingly zealous for good works
-keep His Word and not deny His Name
Some items that need repentance:
-left first love
-not doing the works done at first
-allow false doctrine
-not rebuking those in the church practicing sin
-not separating themselves from false religion
-tolerating those teaching false religion, idol worship and sexual immorality
“Characteristics”, “descriptions” of Jesus:
-Holds seven stars in His right hand
-Walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands
-First and the Last
-Was dead and came to Life
-Has the sharp two-edged sword
-Has the seven spirits
-Has the seven stars
-He is Holy
-He is True
-Has the key of David
-Opens and no one shuts, shuts and no one opens