Iliff and Saltillo UM
July 25, 2004
“Glimpses into Revelation: A Church on the Move
“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write...I know thy works: behold I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it.”
INTRODUCTION--The church at Philadelphia was not charged with any blame or spiritual error that needed to be corrected. There were just two of the seven churches, Smyrna and Philadelphia, that were not told to repent. The other five were told to repent or else their candlestick would be removed. The Philadelphia church was the one that really knows the favor of the Lord and the one that the Lord is blessing of all the other churches. Although it was a small church, it was known for its “brotherly love” and for its faithfulness to the word of the Lord. There were not a lot of people living inside the city because of earthquakes even though the church was located in a good geographic location. The city was founded by King Attalus II in 159-138 B.C. It was a city of brotherly love even before the Christian message came to the area.
There are some key things about this church that applies to us today.
1. A Church That is Already Moving--In spite of the small size of the church or the earthquakes in the area causing fear among the residents to even live in the city, in spite of opposition by people against the new found Christianity, this church was USING WHAT IT HAD to be a FAITHFUL and COMMITTED church. They were known as a church that was moving forward, holding on to what they already had.
Jesus said, “you’ve got a LITTLE STRENGTH but you have been faithful to my word in spite of opposition.
vs. 8 Jesus said:
I know your works
You have a little strength
You have kept my word
You have not denied my name.
And BECAUSE of this he said, “I have set before you an OPEN DOOR and no man can shut it.
One of the things that is significant here is that the person who was speaking had the AUTHORITY to do just that because in verse 7 he says, “he that has the Key of David.” Back in Isaiah 22:22 the prophet refers to the authority of Jesus:
“And 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.”
Jesus has the authority to open a door of opportunity for this little church--in spite of anything that people could say or do or any circumstances they faced.
Many times we speak of God OPENING DOORS of opportunity for us or closing doors. We might pray in this way, “Lord open a door that I might speak to this person about Jesus, or open a door that I might get this particular job, open a door that I can get into a productive ministry--Open a door--close a door. To this small church that was ALREADY alive and moving forward in ministry, Jesus spoke, “I know what you are already doing and I am going to open more doors and no matter what the obstacles no one can shut it.”
Let’s look at our own individual lives and also the life of this church--are we an active, moving church in the community--are you an alive and vibrant Christian in your daily life?
Ask God to open doors of opportunity not only for the church collectively but for you personally. He can do it, and He has the authority to do it. Begin to see the vision of what this church can be over the next few years--how can it make a greater impact on this community as well as reach out to missions around the world? How can the new youth group become a stronger group and have open doors of ministry? How can the Men of Vision sharpen their focus for a greater impact upon men in the community? How can the women’s group expand their outreach to other women?
Even though the various groups are in place and already working well--more doors of opportunity will open for all of us if we want them to. Are we ready for the opportunities or will we miss them? When new people come to our church can we show them the brotherly love of the Philadelphia church? I think we can.
What doors of opportunity would you like the Lord to open for this church? What do we need to see happen that is not happening right now? Ask the Lord to give you the vision for it. Ask Him to help you to be totally committed to making the effort or the sacrifice to see it happen. We must be alert to the open door and not allow the opportunity to pass us by.
Look back on last year. What open doors has the Lord placed before you? Were you fearful to walk through them? Did you sometimes hesitate too long until the door closed? What are doors that have closed on you? How have you reacted? Sometimes He will close a door because He has another one ready to open for us. In the Philadelphia church Jesus was going to both open doors and close doors. Let us be ready for the closed doors as well. Some examples of closed doors are jobs where your nest is getting stirred up. A feeling of dissatisfaction or restlessness. Look for closing doors but also look for the brand new doors of opportunity about ready to open up.
Paul in Acts 14:27 said God “opened doors to preach to the Gentiles.”
I Corinthians 16:9 “A great door for effective service was opened to Paul.”
II Corinthians 2:12 “How I went to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ and found that the Lord had opened a door for me.”
Colossians 4:3 says “and pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message.”
Be quick to recognize the doors of opportunity that the Lord is opening for you individually as well as in the church. Where do you fit in? Don’t be afraid to walk through a new door even though you haven’t done it before.
2. They Were Obedient to the Call--The church He blesses is not dependent on size--it is dependent on being obedient to whatever God asks you to do. It comes to the church that is already moving forward--the church that is already doing what it knows to do.
The Philadelphia church moved forward with the strength it already had. Jesus said, “I know your works.”
Begin to use what you already have. Be faithful in your church attendance. Don’t come one Sunday and skip three. Don’t make promises and keep threm for one week--if you can keep them that long. Begin to develop a lifestyle of consistency.
Enoch in the Old Testament was said to have “walked with God” That was his LIFESTYLE. The Christians at Philadelphia had this same lifestyle or they would have become discouraged and given up.
3. A Church with a Good Outcome--For these people who were faithful, who kept His Word, and did not deny his name, what was the outcome? What was the promise made to these people? There were actually several:
vs. 9 1. make enemies recognize the true gospel and some would even repent.
vs. 10 2. protection in times of trials and tribulation. (whether this is individual tests or whether this is the general tribulation to all the world)
vs. 12. 3.Make them a pillar in the temple of God and a new name (the inscribed name signifies identity and ownership)
vs. 4. a victor’s crown
Sometimes after an earthquake the only thing left standing were the pillar columns--huge stone temples. A MONUMENTAL pillar in the temple of God--not a SUPPORT pillar never to be defaced or removed as many to Roman emperors and generals have been. They could relate to this because of the earthquakes that destroyed buildings. He is saying you are going to still be standing as a Monumental Pillar in the temple of God. He’s saying “your still going to be standing after the earthquake of trials and tribulations hit--even when you feel as if everything is trying to tear you down and make you cave in--the pressures and everything are not going to overcome you.
You are going to be an OVERCOMER.
vs. 11 says, “Hold on to what you have so that no one will take your crown.”
STORY--man who had been a Christian for years and years and faithful in going to church--now quits going to church because 3 preachers lied to him. He is “letting some one ‘STEAL HIS CROWN’”--things that happen to us like this are CROWN STEALERS. DON’T LET IT HAPPEN.
STORY--When you become a preacher you reduce your chances of getting to heaven by 50%. not just what the preacher does to the congregation--what the congregation does to the preacher to discourage...
The point here is that the “PERSEVERING CHRISTIAN WINS THE PRIZE.”
CONCLUSION--A church on the Move... What is it like?
1. A church that is already alive and moving
2. a church obedient to the call
3. A church with a good outcome
How are we like the church at Philadelphia? How are we different.
vs. 13 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the spirit says to the church.
What is the Spirit saying to you now? What do you need to do about it?
Let us pray: