Summary: A series of messages from Jesus to the 7 churches in Revelation.
March 25, 2012
The Church at Philadelphia
Have you ever tried to pull open a door which was supposed to be pushed open? Or you’ve tried to push a door open which was supposed to be pulled? Normally when that happens you kind of walk into the door and its embarrassing. Or maybe you’ve been walking out of a building or store and the window was so clear that you walked right into it. It happens, just do a google search about people walking into doors, and you’ll spend a few minutes laughing at someone else’s misfortune.
We are now looking at the 6th of the 7 churches in Revelation 2-3. Today we’re looking at the church in Philadelphia. Just as an FYI, we know this city to be called the city of brotherly love. Why?
Because Philadelphia is made up of 2 Greek words – PHILOS meaning “loving” and ADELPHOS meaning “brother.” Combine them and you get the city of brotherly love. There’s your Greek lesson of the month.
This week and next week, we’re going to talk a little about doors opening, closing, being shut and being knocked on.
Philadelphia was about 35 miles southeast of Sardis; and was founded about 150 years before Jesus. The city was famous for its wines and hot springs. The purpose for the city was to spread the Greek culture, language and manner of life to the east. So, in a sense it was a missionary city. This is why the city was known as the “Gateway to the East.” The one problem was the fast that Philadelphia was located near a fault line, and earthquakes were a reality and a constant threat.
Out of the 7 letters only the letters to the church in Sardis and this one, to the church in Philadelphia contained no points of condemnation. Let’s see what we can learn from this church.
Beginning in verse 7 of Revelation 3, Jesus said, 7 These are the words of Him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What He opens no one can shut, and what He shuts no one can open.
What a great image of Jesus. He gives a quick description which could easily be the source of a number of messages, Jesus is holy and true!! Yup, that’s right! Jesus is holy, which literally means He is “set apart” in the fact that He is different. And He’s different because He was the only one who was sinless and pure, the One who could forgive us of our sinfulness.
And Jesus is true, which literally means He is real and genuine. Its deeper meaning is He is who He says He is, He is Lord. So with that in mind, Jesus says He has the keys to the house. It’s like He is the guard of the door. He’s only going to open it and keep it open when He needs to; and He will shut it and keep it shut when He needs to.
In life, so many times we make comments like, “I’m praying God opens a door for me — — or “if God closes a door, He’ll open another one for me.”
We make those comments, and at times we wonder, so, how do I know if that door is really being opened by God or being closed by God.
And there are many different ways to answer that question. Maybe the easiest, or simplest answer is, “You won’t know until you go through the door.” It’s been my experience that sometimes the door is obvious and we just walk right through. Sometimes we run towards it, and sometimes away from it. And sometimes we need a little shove. Now, let me be very clear here . . . if the message is something which is obviously against God’s word, then you know that door was not opened by God. So, we have to use wisdom before we walk through the open door.
The same is true about closed doors. We can easily use the closed door as an excuse about not making an effort. We can say, “well the door is closed” so I’ll just give up. Maybe God was wanting to see how much you wanted something, to see where your committment to something was.
The open door is usually a door which is slightly open. We still have to summon up the courage and faith to go through the door and see what’s on the other side. Remembering and trusting that God will never abandon us.
Jesus himself has all authority to open doors for His people. It’s His job to open the doors. He’s very good at it, and he doesn’t need our help. Our job is to go through the doors He opens, one step at a time, one foot in front of the other, going wherever He may lead us. One door may open, and then it may close. That’s okay. Another door may open. That’s okay too. We may have to sit still for a while waiting for a door to open. That’s also okay.