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Summary: The Church has two options: it can be proactive and walk through the doors that are opened to it or it can wait passively and watch opportunities to come and go

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AMERICAN IDOLS: LOOKING AT OURSELVES AND OUR LOYALTIES THROUGH THE EYES OF JESUS

THE FIRST SUNDAY OF THE NEW YEAR

THE IDOL OF STOICISM: PHILADELPHIA

REVELATION 3:7-13

Sermon Objective: The Church has two options: it can be proactive and walk through the doors that are opened to it or it can wait passively and watch opportunities to come and go.

SERIES INTRO

Happy New Year! How appropriate that we are looking at the church in Philadelphia today. You’ll understand that more fully a bit later.

We are nearing the end of our series called “American Idols: Looking at Ourselves and Our Loyalties Through the Eyes of Jesus”

There are two categories of idols:

{1} an image or other material object representing a deity to which religious worship is addressed.

{2} any person or thing regarded with blind admiration, adoration, or devotion.

Our concern is with the latter. There are a myriad of “things” which could be classified as an idol … they are limited only by the passions of the individual in question. But there are certain dispositions or demeanors that our culture serves and pursues as an end in themselves … they have become idolatrous.

What we discover in “The Revelation” is that they are not just limited to our culture but that others have also pursued these with blind devotion. They include:

• Superiority (pride) – The Church in Ephesus (Revelation 2:1-7) • Laissez Faire – The Church in Pergamum (Revelation 2:12-17) • Tolerance – The Church in Thyatira (Revelation 2:18-29) • Leisure – The Church in Sardis (Revelation 3:1-6) • Stoicism – The Church in Philadelphia (Revelation 3:7-13) • Independence – The Church in Laodicea (Revelation 3:14-22)

Today we will look at the church in Philadelphia and Stoicism. It is found in Rev. 3:7-13.

SERMON INTRO:

The Asian city of Philadelphia (now known as Alasehir, Turkey) has quite a history.

It was located about 25 miles southeast of Sardis. It was destroyed by an earthquake during the time of Christ and was rebuilt by Tiberius Caesar. One reason for the rebuilding was its significant location … a “door” if you please to the central regions of Asia.

You see, Philadelphia was the keeper of the gateway to Asia. It was founded in its geographical location for that reason. It was a “missionary city.” Its purpose was to consolidate and educate the central regions of Asia. Its specific mission was to bring Hellenism—or Greek culture—to the recently annexed Asian regions of Lydia and Phrygia; and it was highly successful. Before AD 19 the Lydian tongue had ceased to be spoken in Lydia, and Greek was the only language of the country.

Being a “door” to Asia brought a natural devotion and dedication to the Roman god Janus, the two-faced Roman god of doors and openings that guarded the gates since it could see both ways. It was also a very important god at the New Year since Janus could simultaneously face the year past and the year to come. For this reason the first month of the New Year was named after it … January. As I said, it is appropriate that we are looking at the city of Philadelphia on this first Lord’s Day of the New Year.

JANUS WAS BLASPHEMOUS TO CHRIST’S FOLLOWERS. IT WAS WORSHIPPED BY ROME AS THE GRAND MEDIATOR. WHATEVER IMPORTANT BUSINESS WAS IN HAND, WHATEVER DEITY WAS TO BE INVOKED, AN INVOCATION FIRST OF ALL MUST BE ADDRESSED TO JANUS, WHO WAS RECOGNIZED AS THE 'GOD OF GODS,' IN WHOSE MYSTERIOUS DIVINITY THE CHARACTERS OF FATHER AND SON WERE COMBINED, AND WITHOUT THAT NO PRAYER COULD BE HEARD--THE 'DOOR OF HEAVEN' COULD NOT BE OPENED. (The Two Babylons, Alexander Hislop)

IT IS THIS GOD THAT JESUS IS TACITLY REBUKING WHEN THE CHURCH IN PHILADELPHIA IS ADDRESSED. VERSE 7 SAYS; “To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: 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.”

Jesus is directly challenging the divinity and dignity of the local patron … the local idol. Jesus is asserting His sovereignty. You see, to this Janus – the Mediator – which was worshipped throughout the Roman empire, belonged the government of the world; and, “all power in heaven, in earth, and the sea,” according to Pagan ideas, was vested in him. In this character he was said to have the “power of turning the hinge”--of opening the doors of heaven, or of opening or shutting the gates of peace or war upon earth." (The Two Babylons, Alexander Hislop)

As is true in other messages to other churches, we see something of the character of the city found in the church. In most cases it was troubling but here … the resilient missionary spirit of the city served the church well. Let’s read the whole message to the church.

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