Summary: A continuation of the study of the seven churches of Revelation. Though Philadelphia wasn't perfect they were a good church and Christ commended them appropriately and the same is true for us all and with it comes great blessings and favor!
Opportunity Opens: The Church of Philadelphia
Introduction: One of the most clever Volkswagen ads shows an impeccable little car-- with a flat tire. And the caption reads, “Nobody's Perfect.”
Some make the mistake of thinking Philadelphia was a perfect church. No. If they were perfect they would be in Heaven, like a ripe apple, they would be ready for Christ to pluck them from the earth and put them in heaven's basket. But they were not perfect, because no one is perfect. If you came today, looking for the perfect church, you will be disappointed. But I feel just as confident in saying the same thing about any church in the world, because there is no such thing as a 'perfect church', because the church is made of people and since there is no perfect people, there can be no perfect church. We are imperfect people serving a perfect God. If you are looking for faults you will find it, that's like looking for a grain of sand on the beach, it is easy to do that! There is always something to find fault with.
Having said that, there are good churches. I believe we have a good church for the same reason that Christ felt Philadelphia was a good church, so good in fact that Christ did not say any thing bad about them, I'm sure he could have, I'm sure like some people he could have combed over every nook and cranny and found something to complain of, but as love covers a multitude of sins, there was nothing significant to rebuke. You hear me say sometimes that 'we are all a work in progress.' Indeed, as long as there are no glaring wrongs, and everyone is striving in repentance, progressing in grace, and growing in faith and acting out of love, I believe the Lord is pleased with us.
Jesus introduces himself to the church in verse 7 saying “To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write” John is just the messenger here, Christ is the author. He is like the stenographer in the courtroom, writing down what is being said. Those who complain of their ministers being too harsh must understand that as long as He sticks to the word of God, he is nothing more than a messenger. You don't thank the mailman when you receive thoughtful birthday cards from your family. You don't get mad at the mailman if you receive a summons, or jury duty in the mail. He is just doing his job, delivering the mail.
And in this letter Jesus tells John to write v.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.”
Christ is Holy and true and He has authority over his churches. He has the key to open doors and to shut them. The key of David seems to refer to Isaiah 22:22 where the key to the house of David was given to Eliakim who then had access to all the wealth of the king. Christ holds the keys of death and Hades but he also hold the key of David, the key to spiritual treasures!!
When I was younger and we would leave youth group on Wednesday night, many of the teenagers along with the youth leader, had permission to go to the gym in Porum and play basketball and we were all ready to go too and wondered what was taking so long and someone said they had to locate the guy who had the key. We may have permission to enter heaven but we must petition the one who holds the key. Christ gives us permission to come but there is only one way we can come and that is through him.
He shuts the door on foolish virgins who sleep away their day of grace and opens them to the obedient and faithful.
Transition: I would like to share with you four things I found that Christ rewards Philadelphia with.
Perseverance is rewarded with opportunity (v.8)
“I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.”
There are two words that are consistent with every church. Jesus says “I know”. In every letter to every church we see the omniscience of God, in those two words. He knows everything. He sees everything. If we try to hide, he sees us. How funny that Adam and Eve tried to hide themselves behind fig leaves, as if God couldn't see through it. He sees those things were are most ashamed of. He also knows the good that you yourself can not see. He knows your problems. He knows your tendencies. He knows your strengths. He knows your weaknesses. He knows. Five of the seven churches he says the same four words: “I know your deeds”. To Pergamum he said “I know where you live” and to Smyrna he said “I know your afflictions” He knows where you live and he knows the pain you are going through. He knows the hand you've been dealt. He knows if you have much or if you have nothing, He knows if you are old or young, capable or not capable. He knows when things are hard and He knows when they are easy. In His omniscient mind, He tells the Philadelphia church that He 'knows their deeds' and while they may not have been perfect, their spiritual growth was pleasing to the Lord.