Summary: Here was a cutting edge church! They were the original Bb4D church! Is your church a Be Before Doing church?
Philadelphia: The Church of the Open Door
The Mandate for the City 7a
Philadelphia had four directives.
First, their mission was to promote Hellenism. Their intent was to advance the culture and civilization of ancient Greece, especially in the period after Alexander the Great where it spread to other parts of the Mediterranean and Middle East and North Africa. For the church in Philadelphia was to be mission-minded. Their message was not to spread Hellenism but Christ.
Second, Philadelphia was city who cared for others. Their chief ideology was Brotherly Love. They were to exemplify their love for one another.
Then we discover the people in Philadelphia faced continuous Difficulties. There was a devastating earthquake in A. D. 17 in the surrounding area. Tremors rocked the city for years and though they were spared total devastation, they never forgot the fear of those quakes. We should also appreciate the lessons we learn through our trials in life.
And finally, when they were given aid by the emperor Tiberius, they showed their gratitude by accepting a New Name. They were called Neocaesarea or the New City of Caesar. As believers, we ought to exhibit our gratitude for God by the new name He has given us in Jesus Christ.
The Majesty of the Savior 7b
The Bible describes Jesus’ majesty in three ways.
First, He is Holy. He is separate or set apart. He is complete without any sin. He is perfect!
Then He is described as Authentic. There is no fake, fraud, or phoniness in Him. Jesus is the real deal because He is the Savior!
And then He is Sovereign. Only Jesus has the authority or key to all that goes on in heaven and earth. Because of His authority no one can shut what He opens or open what He shuts. He is the reigning Messiah and the sovereign Lord!
The Mission of the Church 8-10a
This church had one glaring weakness…they were Powerless! However, the church in Philadelphia had four strengths they received from Jesus.
They were Evangelistic! They were visionaries for Christ! They knew their purpose in serving Him. Soul-winning was a priority. Why? Because they were the church of the open door! (1 Cor 16:9; 2 Cor 2:12; Col 4:3)
They were also Obedient! Their motto was Bb4D. They wanted to be known as the church who was Being b4 Doing!
And they were found Faithful! One of God’s highest priorities for His people is faithfulness. He loves it when we stand for Him in time of trials and troubles!
But they were also very Persistent! There was a stick-to-it-ness with the Philadelphian church that was highly contagious. God desires those qualities in His body today!
The Marks of the Faithful 10b-13
There will always be bench marks for a vibrant church.
The first will be a growing Fellowship. In the midst of persecution, there will be security and strength. “The seed of the church is built on the blood of the martyrs”. Growth may not always be indicated numerically but it will always be emphasized spiritually. Trials will grow strong Christians in fellowship and follow-ship.
Second there is a confident Ownership. I belong to Christ Himself! That is a personal and powerful statement. It gives a different perspective on our current problems and ultimate destiny! There will also be a new Citizenship. This indicates stability and security in His presence. We are citizens not of this world but of His kingdom!
And finally, we have a precious Relationship. Once we enter into this relationship it never ends! And what we know now will pale in the light of who He really is. It would be nice for all of us to emulate the church in Philadelphia! They did not have any words of condemnation uttered by Jesus. As they went through the trials of life they clung tenaciously to Him. It would do well for all of us to “hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”