Bible Study

THE CHURCH OF THE OPEN DOOR Revelation 3:7-13

·         Philadelphia was the youngest and smallest of all the cities addressed in these letters.

·         The city was located in a narrow pass between two mountain ranges.  It stood as a literal doorway between Asia Minor and Asia.

·         Because of its strategic location, it was used as a military buffer city.  Enemy armies passing through the narrow pass could be delayed by a small force at Philadelphia.

·         The city was named for King Attalus II, the king of Pergamum.  He was renowned for his love of his brother Eumenes, and he came to be called “Philadelphos”.  The word means “one who loves his brother”.  Thus, Philadelphia became known as “The city of brotherly love”.

·         Philadelphia was built on a geological fault.  As a result, the city was plagued by frequent earthquakes and tremors.  The citizens were often forced to flee the city to avoid being injured or killed by falling buildings.

·         Philadelphia was also the home of numerous temples to the gods and goddesses of ancient Greece.

·         Philadelphia was the last of the seven cities to lose its Christian testimony.  There was a thriving Christian community there as late as 1,000 AD, when the city was captured by the Muslim armies of the Middle East.

   It is to the church in Philadelphia that He has no words of complaint.  He comes to them with words of praise and words of promise.  

These letters can be viewed from three different perspectives.

1.)  Practically – These letters were written to real churches functioning in that day. 

2.)  Prophetically – Each church represents a different period of church history from Pentecost to the Rapture.  This particular church represents the period between 1,700 AD to present time.  During this period, the true Christian churches, though weak numerically and financially, began the modern missions movement.  This was also the period that saw the “Great Awakenings” and revivals in America and Britain. 

3.) Personally – These churches have something to say to every individual believer and to every church in existence.

 

  I.  v. 7-8a    THE CHURCH AND HER MASTER

A.  The Master’s Attributes – Jesus comes to this church and He identifies Himself in two powerful ways.

1.  He Comes As The Sinless One – The word “holy” tells us that Jesus is sinless and pure. 

·         That is the Bible’s testimony to Jesus, 1 Pet. 2:22; Heb. 7:25;

·         That is Hell’s testimony to Jesus, Mark 1:24. 

·         That is Heaven’s testimony to Jesus, Luke 1:35. 

·         That was Jesus’ testimony to Himself, “Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me?” John 8:46. (His question will never be answered!)

      Jesus is speaking to a church that is striving to be holy in the midst of a corrupt and sinful world.  He comes to say to them: “It is possible to live for God!  I am holy, and I can help you be holy too.

  2.  He Comes As The Sincere One – The word “true” here means “that which is genuine”.  We know that His Word is true, now He tells His people that He is the real Savior; He is the only genuine Lord.

            These early believers were surrounded daily by that which was false.  False gods and false worship abounded in that day.  Jesus just wants them to know that He is the real deal.  They are not wasting their time serving Him.  They did not make a mistake when they turned their back on their idols and pagan gods.  When they came to Jesus Christ, they came to the only Savior, Acts 4:12; John 14:6.

 We live in an age when many things are mere imitations.  We have sugar substitutes, salt substitutes and meat substitutes. We have faux fur and fake leather.  We have rent-a-dates, virtual reality and surrogate mothers.  We are surrounded by that which is fake and pretend.  It is a comfort to be reminded that at least one thing is real!  Jesus is the real deal!  Jesus is not a substitute for anything!  

B.  The Master’s Authority – Jesus identifies Himself as the One Who is in control!  He has the keys and He opens and closes the doors.

1.  He Carries The Keys – Jesus says that He has “the key of David”.  Look at Isa. 22:20-25.  This passage speaks of a man named Eliakim.  This is an Old Testament prophecy that the glory of God; the power of God; the authority of God will rest on his shoulders. Then, we are told that he will be set as a nail in a sure place and that he will be cut off after a while.  This ancient prophecy is a picture of the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.

      God placed on His Son His kingdom and His government, Isa. 9:6.  He set Him “as a nail in a sure place”.  But, after a time, He was cut off.  This is a clear picture of the cross of our Lord.  We are told that He will have the “Key of David”.  What does this mean?

            Well, what are keys for?  Keys grant you authority, access and availability.  Jesus comes to this ancient church and says “I have the keys!”  He is telling us today that He “has the keys”.  What kind of keys does Jesus have?

a. He Has The Keys Of Sleep – Rev. 1:18.  Jesus alone is the Master of death.  You can’t even die until He opens the door! You can’t stay dead if you know Him, John 11:25-26.

b. He Has The Keys Of Suffering – Rev. 1:18 – Only He can open Heaven and shut Hell.  Jesus is the Key to Heaven!

c.  He Has The Keys Of Salvation – John 4:12; John 14:6; John 10:9.  Only He can open the door into eternal life for those who will come to Him. 

d.  He Has The Keys Of Service – 1 Cor. 16:9 – He decides when we serve, where we serve and how long we serve.

e.  He Has The Keys Of Safety – Col. 3:3 – No one can touch those who are locked away within Jesus Christ.

2.  He Controls The Doors – Jesus is in the business of opening and closing doors in the lives of His people.  We see this truth at work in the life of the Apostle Paul, Acts 16:6-10. 

            When God opens a door of opportunity in your life; run through it as fast as you can.  It may be a once in a life time opportunity.  How tragic it would be to get to Heaven and see what we could have done if only we would have trusted the Lord and stepped through the open door He gave us.

            By the same token, when He closes a door, don’t try to force it open.  You don’t want to be where God doesn’t want you to be.  The path to blessing is to be where the Lord wants us to be, when He wants us to be there.

C.  The Master’s Appraisal – As He does with the other churches, Jesus reminds them that He knows everything about them.  He sees their works and He sees the motives that drive the work.  Just a reminder, He knows us too, Heb. 4:13; Pro. 15:3!  When He looks at our lives and at Victory Baptist Church, what does Jesus see about us?

 

II.  v. 8b-11   THE CHURCH AND HER MINISTRY

Philadelphia, was a small church with tremendous potential for the glory of God.  These verses tell us something about their ministry.

A.  v. 8  Their Ministry Involved Opportunities – In His sovereignty, the Lord had given this church a powerful open door of ministry.  Jesus says, “thou hast a little strength”.  This may mean that they were small in number and lacking in political and financial influence. They were weak, but they Lord was using them in a mighty fashion.  They were weak, but they were making a tremendous impact on their city! Why?

They had kept His Word.  Even though they were weak in many ways, they were pure and strong in their doctrine.

They had not denied His Name.  They were not ashamed of Jesus or  their relationship to Him.

Because they were faithful to Him, He was blessing them!  They were preaching and exalting Jesus and the enemies of the cross were powerless to stop them. Such was the power of God in their midst!

B.  v. 9  Their Ministry Involved Opposition – The phrase “synagogue of Satan” probably refers to the local Jews who were persecuting them. 

            The phrase “which say they are Jews and are not” can be interpreted by what Paul said in Rom. 2:28-29. This church is suffering at the hands of people who claim to love God, but are lying!  They have rejected their Messiah and they are headed to Hell, Rev. 21:8.

            Jesus tells them that He is aware of their mistreatment.  But, He wants them to know that a day is coming when they will see those who oppose them bowing before them.  He is probably referring to that day when “every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Phil. 2:10-11.  One day their enemies would experience total defeat.  Whatever the Lord is speaking about here, He wants them to know that He is in control of the critics too. 

C.  v. 10  Their Ministry Involved Optimism – This is a precious promise to a suffering people.  They have endured much, but they will be spared the horrors that will come upon the entire world and those who dwell in it. Jesus promises them that their faithfulness, to Him, guarantees them deliverance from the terrible time of tribulation that is to come upon this earth.

The phrase “them that dwell upon the earth” can be literally translated “the earth dwellers”.  We will encounter this phrase several more times in Revelation.  It refers to those who are part of this world’s evil system.  It speaks of those people who do not know the Lord.  They will face the wrath of God in the tribulation, but His people will not!

      Will the church pass through the tribulation?  Absolutely not!  Jesus is coming and He is going to remove His church before God pours our His wrath upon this world, Rom. 5:9; 1 Thes. 4:16-18; 1 Cor. 15:51-52!

D.  v. 11  Their Ministry Involved Obligations – The believers in Philadelphia are told to be on the look out for two things.  First, they are to be watching for the coming of the Lord.  Second, they were to watch their walk.

            Jesus is coming and His people need to be ready to meet Him.  That means we are to live as if He might come at any minute and we are to work like our time is short.  But, as we watch and as we work, we are to be careful of how we live our lives.  We must not allow ourselves to become like the world around us.  We are to live for Jesus, love Jesus and look for Jesus; guarding everything He has given us, so that we can be confident of a reward when He comes.  We will face our Lord some day at the Judgment Seat of Christ.  That day can be a day of reward, or it can be a day of loss, which depends on how we live now, 1 Cor. 3:10-15; 2 Cor. 5:10; Rom. 14:12.

 

As, He relates to them all that He has given them and is doing for them and through them, it is possible that they didn’t even know just how much the Lord was blessing them and using them for His glory.  Here’s what Jesus saw as He looked at the ministry of the church in Philadelphia.

      I think it is very likely that we don’t know the extent of our outreach and the strength of our influence in this world.  We may never know until we get to Heaven.  But, I am confident that God is using Victory Baptist Church in ways that we cannot begin to comprehend!  He would tell us to watch, wait and work.  He would also tell us to guard what we have so that we can meet Him with joy on that day!

 

III.  v. 12     THE CHURCH AND HER MESSAGE

Jesus closes His letter to this church by giving them a message of hope for the future.  This message is just as valid for us today as it was for the people in Philadelphia.

A.  A Message Of Stability – Jesus tells these believers that He will make set them as a pillar in God’s temple and they will go out no more.  This was a message of hope to the people in Philadelphia.  With all the earthquakes the city suffered, they were used to having to evacuate their city.  Now, Jesus promises them that they will enjoy stability in His kingdom. 

B.  A Message Of Security – God says that His people will be identified with The Creator; with The City; and with The Christ –

·         God puts His name on them to establish ownership.  He has redeemed them and they are His forever! 

·         He places the name of the city on them because that is their destination.  They might be living on the earth today, but they are headed for glory. 

·         He writes a new name for Jesus on them because they are special to Him.  The name of Christ represents the fullness of His Person.  And, in Heaven, they will see Christ in all His fullness! In the Old Testament era, His name was Jehovah.  In the New Testament era His name is Jesus.  In Heaven, He will have a new name!

            The world might not see their value, but God does and He honors His faithful servants.  The people in the church of Philadelphia had no security in the city where they lived.  But, they had eternal security in their relationship with Jesus Christ and in His kingdom!.

Victory Baptist Church 01 May 2019 victorypalmetto.com