If Jesus wrote a letter to our church, what would he say? There were seven churches in Asia Minor that received a letter written by the hand of the apostle John (in Jesus’ words) in Revelation 2-3. One particular church was in the city of Philadelphia, which was victim to many earthquakes. In AD 17, the city was wiped out, so Jesus reminds them of who He is, encourages them with four promises, and gives them a command.
In Rev. 3:7-13, Jesus describes Himself in several terms: the “holy one,” meaning He is set apart from creation and is God; the “true one,” meaning He is not the counterfeit Messiah and He is faithful or reliable; and He has “the keys of David,” referring to Isaiah 22, meaning He controls access to eternity and no one goes into eternity without getting through Jesus.
After establishing Who He is, Jesus gives four promises to those believers who were holding fast to the faith:
Promise #1: Jesus keeps the door open to eternity (vs. 8). He says, “I have set before you an open door which no one can shut.” This means He is holding the door to eternity open for believers. He goes on to say in verse 8, “I know you have but little power.”
Application: You might feel weak and powerless. Perhaps you look in the mirror and don’t see a pillar of faith. You might even feel ostracized because of your commitment to Christ. If that’s you, take courage that the one who controls access to Heaven is your Savior. Don’t give up. Hold fast knowing that Jesus keeps the door open to eternity.
Promise #2: Jesus will vindicate us and deal with our opponents (vs. 9). Jesus promises that He will protect the Philadelphians, and they could entrust vengeance for their opponents to Him. He says, “I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars, I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you.”
Application: Perhaps you have felt the sting of others who make your life miserable because of your biblical stance. Jesus will handle it. You don’t have to get even or fight fire with fire. You are on the right side of history. He might even draw those same opponents to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ because of your faithful witness.
Promise #3: Jesus will keep us from the hour of trial (vs. 10). Jesus will protect the Philadelphians from impending judgment. What’s the basis for Jesus’ protection? Their faithfulness. “Since you have kept my command, to endure patiently, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.” This hour of trial is called the Tribulation (read about it in Revelation chapters 6-16).
Application: If you are a believer in Jesus, the contents of the book of Revelation do not need to scare you. But if you have never trusted in Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, look to Jesus. He died as your substitute Savior. Trust Him and believe in Him today. Don’t wait.
Promise #4: Jesus will permanently place us in God’s presence (vs. 12). He says, “The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God.” The temple has always been the symbol of God’s presence with His people, and Jesus says He will make the one who holds fast a pillar in it.
Application: You might be feeling defeated; you look in the mirror and see someone who has failed over and over and over. But thankfully we are not called to live the Christian life in our own strength; God has given us his Holy Spirit to guide us. We are more than conquerors, and it’s because of Jesus we can hold fast in our faith. Take comfort in knowing that Jesus will permanently place us in God’s presence. The best thing about Heaven is not seeing family members or living in a perfect environment. It’s being where God is forever.
It’s more important than ever to hold fast to our faith. Christians are becoming less and less culturally acceptable. We are called “homophobic,” for believing God has designed sex for a man and woman within the covenant of marriage. We are called “sexist” for believing God has given specific responsibilities within the home and church. We are called “anti-intellectual” for believing God created the heavens and the earth. We are called “intolerant” for proclaiming Jesus is the only way to God. We are called “pushy” for encouraging people to repent of their sins and believe Jesus is God. We are called “foolish” for serving and obeying a God we can’t see.
The temptation to give up and blend in is great. Satan doesn’t push us to make a grand renouncement of our faith; he is content with us just making small concessions. He wants to neglect God’s Word or clam up when religion is mentioned at work so we won’t rock the boat. He wants us to pour our time into our hobbies, recreation, and leisure rather than devote our time to love and good works. And before we know it, our grip on our faith is loosened so much that when the slightest breath of persecution comes, we give up on it.
But God isn’t telling you to try harder. He tells us and the Philadelphian church to behold Jesus, who is infinitely worthy of our trust and obedience. He has given great and precious promises to us. When we’re tempted to give up and abandon our faith, we can hold fast to Jesus and His promises.
The best thing about Heaven is not seeing family members or living in a perfect environment. It’s being in the presence of God forever.
When we’re tempted to give up and abandon our faith, we can hold fast to Jesus and His promises.
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