Book Of Hope – Study Series Chapter – 6 – The Perfect Church

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We are into the  seventh session of our pilgrimage through the Book of Revelation.Today we  will discuss  the  message to the  church in Philadelphia.   Biblical  Philadelphia was part of  the Lydian  kingdom. It  was   located around 28 miles southeast of  Sardis in  Modern Turkey.  Nevertheless, the  message  is  relevant  to  churches  in all places across the  globe. As we  know, the Word of God  has a personal application for the  reader as well as  a universal application  for  the whole church. In the  same  way  its appeal transcends ages as well. What was  relevant for  the first  century is  relevant even today.

As usual, Jesus starts  by introducing  himself in a unique way.  He is 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’ (Rev.3:7). Absolute power and authority  is with him only. If  he decides to   do something  it will be  done and nobody  can ever prevent it.  This is the assurance  Jesus wants to  give the  church in  Philadelphia. Then Jesus  goes a  step further and states that   an open door is being  set before the  church in  Philadelphia, so that  their good works are continued unhindered. They need not bother  about   any obstacles in the way of  their  good works, because  it is  God himself  who has  set their ways safe.  We would have been  happy,  had   God kept our doors also  open in these volatile times.  If He did it for the church in Philadelphia, He can do it for us too; but before that  we should know  how the church in Philadelphia became entitled to this rare privilege. 

‘I know that you have little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name’. This is what  pleased God. They were a small church  with  little power. But they  zealously  kept  God’s word. More importantly, they never  denied the name of  Jesus.  We are  living in a time when the  dividing line  between the  Church and   secular world is getting  blurred  every  passing day.  Moral relativism has conquered the  hearts of many  believers. They  have no qualm in denying the name of Jesus  in public life. They  are afraid to openly proclaim that   Jesus is the only Saviour. They have no  problem in  exchanging the   eternal truths  with the vanities of this world. They do all these  in the guise of  adapting  the Church to the modern world. Do you think that  Jesus will place an open door before such people?

There are many  around us who claim to be  Christian, but not. In those days too, there were  persons who claimed to be Jews, but  not. Jesus promises that  he will  make such people, whom he  called as belonging to the  synagogue of Satan, come and bow down before  the true church, the small church with little power. This is the reward for  their endurance.  But this is not the only reward. Bigger things are promised.  Jesus  gives them a   great  assurance; ‘I will keep you from the  hour of trial that is coming on the whole world to test the  inhabitants of the  earth’ (Rev 3:10). We know that  difficult times are   awaiting us and  we should be  prepared to  face trials and  tribulations. Those who are  steadfast in faith and   acknowledge the  name of   Jesus Christ as Saviour,  will pass the hour of trial  under the shadow of God’s protection. 

While encouraging the  church in Philadelphia to  complete their race  with endurance  Jesus  tells them something important, that there is a chance of somebody  seizing their crown. Jesus wanted them to claim the crown, but  if somebody  performs better,  justice demands that  the crown should go to them.  This is a message  not for the  dead church, not for the   lukewarm or loveless church. This is what  Jesus wanted to tell the perfect church about  which he had nothing negative to say.  It is easier to  reach  the top than retaining  the  position for  the rest of the race. It needs perseverance, endurance and of course, grace. 

And what is the final reward awaiting the  perfect church, if they  remain steadfast till the  very end and conquer the enemies? ‘If you conquer, I will make  you a pillar in the temple of  my God; you will never go out of it, I will  write on you the name of my God,  and  the name of  the city of my God, the  new Jerusalem that comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name’ (Rev 3:12). Roof could change, but the pillar is a permanent structure.  We are to be the pillars of  God’s temple. As Paul says, the  foundation – Jesus Christ – is already  established. It will never shake. If the  foundation  is stable, the  pillars built on it  should  also be  stable. Jesus invites us to be  his co-workers in  building  his church.

But the  greatest promise is that those coming out victorious will be   marked with the   name of the true God, the  name of the new city of God, the Heavenly Jerusalem and the  new name of  Jesus himself. We are to be  identified  with  heavenly and  divine marks. We are  to be   called with a  new name,  and  to be assigned a new address!  Elsewhere in the Book of Revelation we read about an angel  ascending with the  mandate   to mark the  servants  of  God with a seal  on their foreheads. This is done to  protect them from  the great  destruction that is  destined to  befall the earth and sea. It is worth remembering here that   one of the promises Jesus gave  the church in Philadelphia was of his protection during the hour of trial  that the whole earth has to  undergo.

Let us imitate Philadelphia in love and good works. Interestingly,  Philadelphia reminds us  of the  good works of a loving  brother. This city  was established in 189 BC by King Eumenes II of Pergamum. He named the city for the love of his brother, Attalus II  who would be his successor, and whose loyalty earned him the nickname, “Philadelphos”, literally meaning “one who loves his brother”.

Let us  keep the  words of the  Lord, and  proudly  acknowledge  His name. It needs faith, hope and  love in  abundant measures. ‘And the greatest of these is love’ (1 Cori13:13) of which  Philadelphia reminds us. 

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