Summary: This sermon teaches the importance of remaining faithful in your service to Christ and His recognition of your faithfulness.
Several years ago I watched a news story about the Boston Marathon. In the coverage they described the race, how many ran, the winner, the time, weather conditions and observations. At the end they covered a special human interest story. The reporter told about a wheel chair victim who was the last racer to finish the race. The wheel chair racer came in hours after everyone else had finished and gone home. The news reporters explained that the man did not win the race but he was a champion because he was faithful to finish the race. As I witnessed that story I thought of a beautiful analogy. That man was a forgotten winner but the news reporter remembered him. Even so, there are many faithful believers who time will miss but Jesus will remember.
Such was the church at Philadelphia. Philadelphia was the youngest of the seven churches of Revelation. They were one of only two of the churches that Jesus had nothing negative to comment. In spite of being young, they made an impact. They were also the church that time over-looked but Jesus remembered.
This reminds me of an important principle.
• A person’s age does not hinder their life impact. Teenagers can and do have an impact. Some of our teenagers are going on a Costa Rica mission trip. Some of our teenagers are going to World Changers.
• There is another important principle in this text. A young church can have a significant impact on their society.
What was in their spiritual lives that propelled them into the winner’s circle? What qualities should grace your life if you desire to be a winner for God, even if the world overlooks your success?
Let’s learn from Philadelphia!
I. The forgotten winner keeps his/her eyes on Jesus. (vs. 7) Notice the phrases used in this text in describing Jesus.
A. He is Holy. In the Bible this phrase is used only in describing God. It describes God’s uniqueness, individuality and separateness. Everything about God is Holy. He is perfect.
• His presence is Holy.
• His temple is Holy.
• His Sabbath is Holy.
• His nation is Holy.
Even so, Jesus Christ is the only begotten, Holy Son of God.
This principle reminds us that the Holy Son of God is constant. He is perfect.
Illustration: Sometimes we are deceived into thinking that man has perfected certain things. NASA for instance, seems to have mastered space technology. However, we were painfully reminded that even NASA is human. The Challenger exploded and seven astronauts were killed.
B. He is true. This means he is genuine, authentic and real. Jesus Christ is trustworthy. He will never let us down or disappoint us. People are imperfect and flawed. They will let us down. How many of you have ever been disappointed by another person? We know the pain of seeing mankinds mistakes.
C. He is the key of David. The Bible says “What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.” Keys represent authority. (Is. 22:20-21) Sometimes we feel excluded by life’s ways. The believers in Philadelphia were excluded from the synagogue but they were included by Jesus.
Illustration: I never will forget my first visit to Sam’s. I was in seminary in New Orleans. I saw this new Sam’s store and decided I would make a visit. I left my car and walked to the entrance door, only to be told I could not enter unless I was a member. I felt violated.
It is important to keep our eyes on Jesus because He is holy, true and has all authority. When we take our eyes off of Him we will be disappointed by men, circumstances and life. In order to be a winner we must keep our eyes on Jesus.
II. In order to be a winner we must always remain faithful.
Illustration: Annie Armstrong, the lady for whom the Southern Baptist Home Mission offering is named, died in 1938. I am told they printed the words "She has done what she could" on her grave. What a marvelous testimony. That should be a desire in each of our hearts.
A. The winner is faithful in spite of short-comings. Jesus said the church at Philadelphia was faithful in spite of having "little strength"(8a). It is necessary that we remain faithful.
- In spite of health.
- In spite of the fact we may not have much support.
Illustration: I have reminded you that Fanny Crosby wrote almost 5,000 hymns in spite of being blind.
B. We should also be faithful in spite of pressure. The church at Philadelphia faced a group called "the synagogue of Satan"(8b).
III. Finally, the forgotten winner will allow God to keep the score(vs. 9, 10, 12). Sometimes we think we must get even with our enemies, those who abuse or mistreat us. John reminds his readers to allow God to keep the score.