THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT
Program Air Date - 11-26-06
LESSON TITLE: "THE SEVEN CHURCHES OF ASIA: THE CHURCH AT PHILADELPHIA"
In 1 John 1:4, we read, "And these things we write to you that your joy may be full." Wow, isn't this an encouraging verse, for here we learn that our God has revealed Himself to us that we might be a happy people!
Welcome to our program this morning. It is great to have you with us for the Living Word. Thank you for choosing to be with us for this time of offering to God. !
As always, it will be our privilege today to sing songs of praise to our God and to study from His perfect Word! I hope each of us will do our part to make this time together acceptable in His sight. Now, let's begin our thoughts of the day with a prayer.
This morning we want to begin with a song which reminds us of our responsibilities as workers for Christ. However, it also encourages us to know that we can accomplish and do the things God has asked of us. Won't you join in with the congregation at this time as we sing together, "His Yoke Is Easy!"
(SONG # 1)
Let's turn our attention again to the thought of happiness! Are we a happy people as Children of God? Do we find true joy in the care, blessing and promises of our God? Well, some might question our happiness, but Why? If you look around the religious world today, at those who profess to be Christians, many of them do not have smiles on their faces. Is it any wonder why many don't want to know Christ. Is there any doubt why so many are turned away by our lack of ability to show forth Christ in everything we do.
If you think about it, we have so much to be happy about and to live for as those in Christ. That's why the word joy is mentioned over 150 times in the Bible. In Galatians 5:22, Paul even mentioned joy as one of the fruits of the spirit. Also, notice what Paul told Philemon in chapter 1, and verse 7, of the book which is called by that name. There he said, "For we have great joy and consolation in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed by you, brother." You see we have joy for many reasons as followers of God. However, at the end of the day, we find joy through God, our brethren and our own blessing and accomplishments.
Another joy which Jude mentions in his book focuses directly on a privilege we will share as the faithful, hear that verse with me. There we read, "Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, (Jude 1:24)." Oh the joy to be presented by Jesus before the throne of God. But better yet, think of the privilege we have as God's followers to stand justified before our loving God and Creator. As the old song says, "what joy twill be, what joy twill be."
Finally, may we never forget this wondrous and great promise which brings so much joy into our lives as Christians. We do have the hope and promise of Eternal Life! Our God has offered us something beyond this life. Something which will last an eternity. Are you read to do what it takes to have such joy today, but not only today, but for ever more? Are you following God's Will? Are you obedient to His precepts? So that in the end you may have the greatest joy which is only found through God.
Our topic today will again focus on "The Seven Churches Of Asia!" Our specific study of the day will deal with, "The Church At Philadelphia." So stay with us this morning and in a few minutes I will return and lead us in our thoughts of the Day. Now it's time to join in our second hymn of the day, the name of the song, "His Grace Reaches Me."
(SONG # 2)
Speaker: Ray Sullins
In Revelation chapter 3 and verse 7 we read, "And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write." Once again we read here from the book of God, the inspired writings of John as he was told the Will of the Father through Jesus Christ, also given through the angel to John that John might write these things and that John might record them for the benefit of the churches of Asia, as well as for our benefit today as an inspired writing. And so the church that we consider today is the church at Philadelphia. Now what's interesting as we begin to look at the churches and we know certainly that according to the title of our series, "The Seven Churches," there are primarily seven churches that we have been discussing and only have one more to go, Laodocea, after Philadelphia.
But in our discussion, what is really interesting is that out of all of the churches, there are problems except in two churches. Now if you look at the situation, two out of seven, that tells you that five of the churches, most that we've already discussed, had problems, had issues, had works that were improper and unacceptable to God. However, there were two churches that were striving their best to do what God had said.
One of those which we already discussed, that was the church back in Revelation chapter 2 and verse 8, the church at Smyrna, a church that was heavily persecuted that went through a lot of difficulties and problems and really had a lot of temptations before it but yet it was willing to suffer and it was willing to suffer for Jesus because it knew that it would receive the reward if found faithful unto death (Revelation 2:10).
Well the other church that was able to be commended by God, but yet there was nothing negative said or that which they needed to repent of, was the church here at Philadelphia.
If we consider together the church at Philadelphia, there are some interesting things that we learn and that we know about this town. It was a very small town, a small town and therefore no doubt a very small church in again the area of Asia or as we refer to it generally "Asia Minor". Again, this would be another difference. Why? Because a lot of the cities that we talked about such as Sardis or rather such as those before that we looked at Ephesus, some of these large cities that were hubs and sometimes even meccas in many ways for different types of occupations and work and maybe an industry and not only that but also from a religious standpoint, many temples to idols and so on and so forth. Here we have a great contrast. Very large cities and notice in those large cities what do we find? Problems, sins, and even error that needed to be repented of. But here we move out into the country a bit so to speak. We're at a small church in a small town in Philadelphia and here at this place what we find is a church that is known as faithful, not just in anyone's sight, but in the sight of God. They acknowledge this church to be faithful.
Now as we consider then this church and the things about it, we know again who was writing. In the same verse, verse 7, we learn there as it says," The one writing is He who is the Holy One and He who is True." It also goes on to say, "He who has the key of David and He who opens and no one shuts and who shuts and no one opens." I love so much the descriptive concepts of Jesus Christ, the one who the Father was revealing through. I love so much these descriptive concepts of Him because notice what it says here. The power of God. He opens, no one can shut it. He shuts, no one can open it. Certainly you and I are well aware of the many places including John 10 and verse 7 that talk about Jesus being the door that we use to get into the fold of God. That Jesus is the way. He is the truth. He is the life. So many symbolic concepts about the door in the Bible. So here again, who had the power over the door? Who is the strength of the door? God Himself. Once He opens it, it's open. Once He shuts it, it's shut. God is all powerful.
But also it talks about the key of David, the one who is completely true, the one who is completely holy. There's only one person it could be talking about, Jesus Christ. And so as we consider here, the writer, Jesus revealing the things of the Father, but yet using the hand through inspiration and the pen of John who was exiled on the Isle of Patmus, a man here who loves God, who was the chosen one and an apostle of God, and who now is thankful to be able to be involved in writing this great message to these churches of Asia, those who are faithful, those who are not faithful, those who need to keep on keeping on and those that need to repent. So John here learns a lot not only himself about these things, but is no doubt glad to be involved to pen these things that these churches might know the Will of God in connection to all things.
Notice verse 8 where it generally says that "He knows their works." He does the same here and from a positive standpoint first. He says, "See, I have set before you an open door." Again, who is the door? Jesus is usually shown as the door. But here we see a door maybe of opportunity, the same kind of door maybe from 1 Corinthians 16 as well there in verse 9 where Paul says that "a door was open to him to go to Macedonia." You see, an opportunity was opened. They had an opportunity, an opportunity as faithful, unlike many of the other churches being considered completely faithful. They were considered completely faithful and they had an opportunity to preach the gospel and to be examples for their brethren who maybe weren't doing such a great job in other places. "I know your works and see I have set before you an open door to be an example and no one can shut it. You see, you are My children. I'm going to care for you. I'm going to protect you. That door is open. I've opened it because you're faithful and no one will shut it." Why? "Because I have the power, the power to open it and no one can shut it, the power to close it and no one can open it then." You see, God is that power. He goes on to say, "For you have kept a little strength." Notice here the concept again, I think, of the size of the church, a small church, but yet a little strength. It might even make us think back to what Jesus said to His disciples about the mustard seed. They might have said, "Well, that seed is worthless, but yet it grows into something large and glorious and it produces." Well Jesus said, "Except your faith is like the mustard seed. You think you're too small, but you're great and you can accomplish a lot." He says, "I've opened the door and no one can shut it and you have a little strength. You're small, but maybe you've got big mouths. You're able to get out there and do the work and you're able to do a lot more than you realize with your faithfulness."
In fact, what are other examples that we learn? What about the widow who put in her small amount in comparison, of the treasury, of those who were putting in large amounts. You see, she did far more although she was little and had little strength and little ability, she still did even more out of her poverty. Well, that's what we find here. Out of their situation being small, little strength, they still had great power. God would open the door and hold it open that they might do what? Keep His Word. They had not defiled His name. He said, "You've been faithful. You've been faithful and you've not denied me. You've not gone against My Will and you have not defiled those things that are holy." And so therefore He says, "You have kept My Word. You have been faithful and therefore I will be there for you and I will help you and I will use you to My glory if you will allow Me to use you." So certainly the church here, the faithful church, would have no doubt grabbed hold of that and been excited that God commends them and that God says, "I want to use you further in My service," because here we find a faithful church that is willing to keep on keeping on in the things of God Almighty.
The next thing we see here is really an exertation, although it is really talking about a few negative things because there was sin and problems around them. In fact, the Bible says in the words of Jesus, "Indeed," He says, "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." "Those who think they're real Christians, those who think they're real followers, those who claim to be of Me, but yet they reject My Son," He says, "what'll do is I'll show them you, a small church with little strength but yet who is greater in My sight, a faithful church." He says, "They are like what?" The comparison that Jesus uses is "the synagogue of Satan." They're worthless. They're servants of Satan because they've rejected My Son, but you though small and little strength, though few opportunities at times though in a smaller town, you are glorious and you have might and you have power with My help and I will use you to show the world what it is to truly worship and obey My Will. You see the church there at Philadelphia had a great opportunity, a great privilege, and a great really sight before them that they might seize all those things that they said before them to accomplish many things for His sake.
Now I want you also to notice the great admonitions that would encourage them to keep on keeping on beginning there in verse 10. "Because you have kept My command and 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." When the trials come, the temptations, what does God say? He says, "I'm going to help you even more. The trials will come, the hour will come, but I'm going to pick you up. I'm going to assist you. I'm going to help you." Why? "Because you have persevered." Brethren, I want you to notice something here. Notice the faithfulness of the church, but notice here the outcome. What's in it for us the more faithful we are to God? The more God does what? Helps us. Uses us. Blesses us. Because when we are right with God, it only makes sense that He uses us more because then we are able to do what? More for Him. He says, "I'm going to use you. I'm going to bless you. You've persevered and I'm going to keep you even in the hour of problems, so therefore, He says, "be ready." Verse 11, "I'll come quickly. Hold fast what you have that no one will steal your crown." Don't be like these other churches. Don't allow Jezebel to come in or don't allow other wicked workers to come in or don't allow those who might somehow compromise. Be strong! Be bold! Be courageous and hold fast to the crown. Why? Because verse 12, "If you overcome, I will make him a pillar in the temple of God." The reward. God says, "I will lift you up. I will glorify you and you will go out no more and 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." God says, "Because of your faithfulness, because of your willingness to (do what?) hold fast, to persevere, to be those who are strong in the faith who have not denied Me, but stood up, to be those who have kept My Word although little and small and maybe not much strength in the eyes of some." He says, "I will bless you and I will set you up and I will place My name on you and you no longer will have to worry about those things because I will take you home eternally someday and you will receive the great and wondrous reward that only comes from God."
Brethren, I want you to notice that we need to open our ears as the book says, open our ears and hear what the Spirit says to the churches, not the church, not just the church there at Philadelphia, but to the churches. God's desire was that all of these churches that we've talked about, Ephesus and Sardis and Thyatira and now as we've looked at Smyrna and others, all of these churches that they would read all of these patterns and they would say, "Wow! What we need to do is like Smyrna and Philadelphia. We need to be more faithful. We need to be stronger. We need to be more consistent." Then they would see that their problems were compromising or putting aside the first love or maybe giving in to the doctrine or looking the other way when sin was happening. All these problems would now be revealed in the churches of Asia and to the churches of Asia and to all the churches of the area who would read this book. Therefore, what could they do? Learn the same way that we can learn. And what do we learn today? What we learn is that we must strive to be like the church at Philadelphia, that we must strive to be those who realize that God has opened the door for us and will hold it open and we can use our strength no matter how small we think we are to be bold and courageous, to be those who make a difference and keep the Word of God and not deny His name, but hold fast and teach and proclaim the Truth.
Are you willing to do that? Are you willing to be the type of a Christian in the church that makes a difference for your God? And again, why should we? Because the reward, the eternal reward not to mention the blessings now, the eternal reward will surely be worth it all. Will it not? We know it because here it says, "His name will be implanted on us and people will know we are children of God." Be a child of God. Be faithful and do all things according to His precious Will.
(SONG # 3 - "Let Jesus Come Into Your Heart!")
Let me thank you again for choosing to be with us today for the Living Word program. I hope and trust, that together we have all benefited from this service to our Lord. Let me also invite you to join us every Lord's Day morning at 7:30 as we give this time to our Creator.
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Oh, the great blessings of being a church before God that is striving to be faithful. May we all learn from the example of the church at Philadelphia that we might do more what is right and as well be found pleasing in His sight!