Summary: the church at Philadelphia
The Church at Philadelphia: A Committed Church - Revelation 3:7-13 - 2/14/10
Turn with me this morning to the last book in the Bible, the book of Revelation, chapter 3. We want to continue on today, looking at the question, “What does God think of His church?” Here in Revelation 1, we find the disciple John, living on an island off the coast of Turkey, writing about 95 AD, some 65 years after Jesus has died and resurrected. He is given a vision of Christ, and Jesus gives John a message in chapters 2 & 3 for 7 churches in Asia Minor, the area we know today as Turkey. Jesus has words of encouragement and words of rebuke for these churches. And we want to look at these churches to see what message God might have for us as well.
First we looked at the church of Ephesus. It was a CARELESS church. This was a large church, an active, working church, a well-taught church, a weathered church, they hard faced trials -- yet it was a church that faced a rebuke. We often look at large, active churches as healthy churches, but often they are not. Jesus told the church at Ephesus they had lost their passionate love for God. And we want to make sure that we are always more concerned about who we ARE, in our hearts, than just being concerned about what we DO.
Then, we looked at the church at Smyrna. It was a CRUSHED church and a CROWNED church. They faced pressure and poverty and putdowns, but they faithfully endured, and so they received commendation from the Lord. The Lord tells them that persecution will come, but to continue to live faithfully and He would reward them greatly. We want to be faithful, even when life gets difficult.
Then we looked at the church at Pergamum. It was a COMPROMISING church. It was a city where Satan had set up camp; but the church had tolerated Satan’s presence. We want to make sure that we do not compromise and tolerate evil.
Then we looked at the church at Thyatira. It was a CORRUPT church. The people had followed a self-proclaimed prophetess who taught them to deny the truth, and the people accepted the teaching. We learn the lesson that we cannot allow ourselves to follow any false teaching that would lead us to embrace sin, but rather we need to lead holy lives, in the world, but not of the world. Instead, we live as a witness to the world.
Then we looked at the church at Sardis. It was a CRIPPLED church. This was a church that looked good from the outside, in fact it had a good reputation, but Jesus saw them as they really were, dying and almost dead.
Today we want to look at one of the best of the seven churches, the church at Philadelphia. It was a COMMITTED church. Let’s look at Christ’s message to this church in Revelation 3:1-6.
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As we think about a messenger continuing on from church to church, delivering these letters of John, he would have next traveled about 28 miles southeast of Sardis to come to the city of Philadelphia. The city was about 75 miles from the coast on a great highway linking routes to the east and west. It stood on the border of Lydia, Phrygia, and Pisidia. It was founded about 140 BC, and so was one of the youngest of the 7 cities in these two chapters.
Philadelphia was named after Attalus II, the king of Pergamum. He had a great love for his brother Eumenes, and the name Philadelphia means “brother lover” or “brotherly love.” But it is important to understand the purpose of this city. Attalus founded this city in this spot to be a missionary outpost to the uncivilized regions beyond Lydia, to show them the splendor and glory of Greece. And the city succeeded so well that by AD 19 the Lydian tongue, native to that region, had been replaced by the widespread usage of the Greek language.
God’s desire for His people has always been for us to be a witness, a city on a hill, a people uniquely loved by God. God led Abraham to the land of Israel - yes, a dry, arid land -- but a land that was at the crossroads of the world. Because God’s plan was for all nations on earth to be blessed through the Jews. And for us in the church today, we realize that God’s missionary plan remains the same. 1 Peter tells us, But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.