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Summary: Of all 7 churches of Asia Minor, here’s the one we want to emulate -- Philadelphia: 1. Highly commended 2. Deeply challenged 3. Greatly compensated - Link inc. to formatted text, audio/video, PowerPoint.

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READING SOMEONE ELSE’S MAIL

PHILADELPHIA, the Commended Church

Revelation 3:7-13

http://gbcdecatur.org/sermons/Philadelphia.html

Yazoo, MS…in the 1930’s…the Great Depression. People didn’t have extra money / children especially had no extra money for candy / people would go to general store and get a big jar of molasses, go home and make their own candy / it was kept in big wooden barrel in middle of store / people filled their jars there…

6 year old boy got a sweet tooth / slipped finger into the barrel, then into his mouth / owner scolded him: ‘that’s unsanitary’ / kid was embarrassed, left / few days later his tongue guided him there again / did same again…was caught again / this time man took him by arm and escorted him out firmly…spanked him / you’d think he’d learn his lesson, but 10 days later he did it again, but before he could get it to his mouth, owner caught him red handed / he picked him up, turned him upside-down and, yes, dipped him in head first / last thing you could hear as he was lowered was a prayer, “Lord, give me a tongue equal to this opportunity!”

Ladies and Gentlemen, GBC has been granted an incredible opportunity to impact this area and the world for Jesus Christ…we need to pray now that we will be equal to the opportunity.

Now, anytime God gives a great opportunity, there will be obstacles set by Satan. Anytime God tries to bless, the devil tries to blast! Such is the case w/ the church at Philadelphia, seen on the map here.

3 things about the church at Philadelphia:

1. Highly commended

2. Deeply challenged

3. Greatly compensated

Let’s just look at #1 this morning, and then 2 & 3 tonite.

1. Highly commended church

We’ve seen a lot of criticism from our Lord in the first 5 letters. But you’ll notice that to the church at Philadelphia, there’s not one negative word…not a hint of rebuke.

Of all these 7 churches, this is the one we want to be at GBC! If you’ve been here for this series, you’ll remember that each of these 7 churches represents a type of church. All 7 were real in John’s day, and all were at different levels spiritually. They represent 7 periods of church history, from the time of Christ, to these last days we now live in. The Philadelphia period was a time of the greatest revival the world has ever known, and took place from approximately 1700-1900 A.D. But you could place its existence between A.D. 33 and The Rapture! For Jesus has always had true followers in every age. They may have been few in number in the dark ages…Thyatira…but there’s never been less than today, in the Laodicean church age, the last days of this age of grace!

The goal is to be a present day Philadelphia church...to bring that spirit of the past to the present. Of all these 7 churches, this is the one we want to emulate! This is the church we want to be like. The Lord says to them, you’re doing a great job, keep up the good work.

Let’s look first of all at the One Who commends them:

Notice how the Lord introduces Himself to this church:

7 “holy…true” Why say this? Probably because the city in which this church was located, Philadelphia, was filled w/ heathenism and paganism. There were pagan temples on every corner / so many heathen shrines that Philadelphia was nicknamed “little Athens”.

For example, one of the richest industries there was the wine industry. The fertile land made them the center of a vast vineyard district, and the wine industry thrived there. For this reason, the Greek god Bacchus, the god of wine, had many followers in this city. His image was stamped on their coins!

Jesus Christ says to this church, “these things saith He that is holy…” which is tantamount to saying, “I am God.” And He is! The only real and living God…the God of all gods!”

Then Jesus goes a step further and says, “I am He that is true”. That could be translated, “He that is genuine…He that is original!” The Greek gods had been manufactured, and there were hundreds of them, but only Jesus Christ could rightfully claim to be the one and only true God. He’s the only 1 to claim to be God, and then prove it by conquering death.

He that is Holy, He that is True, and…

…He that hath the key of David…openeth / shutteth

What is He talking about here?

Background is found is Is. 22, speaking of a man named Eliakim, the treasurer of David:

22And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open.

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