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Summary: An encouraging message of God’s open door to us of Salvation and Service.

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The message to the church at Philadelphia. Rev 3:7-13

Baptism of Nadine Lusi

Introduction

Here we are continuing our series on the messages to the churches

- this morning: Philadelphia (lovely! Hope it’s not a cheesy sermon)

o not called Philadelphia, now. Called Alasehir. Here:

o

 in fact: had a number of name changes- which is very relevant to the passage today

- Founded in about 200BC by the King and people of Pergamum

o About 150BC it was ruled, in succession, by the king’s brother (Atallus II) who named it, loyally, Philadelphia- brotherly love (joining of Philo and Adelphos)

- Founded as a gateway city to the central Plateau of Asia Minor to the west

o Gateway/highway/doorway for Greek culture & learning

 Was! Pretty soon all to the west spoke Greek

 Referred to as ‘little Athens’ because of culture, learning, temples etc

- Actually: it’s name changed again… and again

o After trouble of AD17 the emperor Tiberias helped it out substantially

o In gratitude, the residents changed the name of the city to Neocaesarea – "The New City of Caesar". Later, in gratitude to another Roman Emperor, Vespasian, the city changed its name to "Flavia". Neither of these two names really lasted and "Philadelphia" was restored.

 People knew what it meant to receive a new name!

As you know- Turkey is prone to earthquake- being at the meeting of the European and Asian plates.

- many experienced a devastating earthquake in AD17. Sardis and Philadelphia were both destroyed

o but Philadelphia had aftershocks for years

 most lived outside city walls. Traumatised!

We are some years on from then. Maybe as many as 60- but maybe this is the context into which Jesus speaks

- small city, now. Weak people. Weak church.

Listen to His words. Read Rev 3:7-13

Weakness and the word

God is so good! They feel low.. small

- but God does not bruise them. They, along with Smyrna, are the only church that he commends and does not criticise

- and He has not finished with them, yet

It says something about God’s heart fro people, doesn’t it?

- God is not prone to kicking us when we’re down

o It’s good for us to remember. As when we are down- can think ‘everyone’s out to get me. Especially God’

Nope: “I know your deeds!” “I will make these circumstances/people bow down to YOU!”. “I will keep you” “I will give you a new name” “I will make you a pillar”

- such encouragement! …

They are commended- as, though they have little strength, they have kept 2 things

- faithful to the name of Jesus (v8)

- faithful to His word.

I think this applies to us, nowadays

- live in a world where we are encouraged/enticed to see Jesus as one of many ways to God. Like then.

- but it’s not true, folks. I believe in freedom of religion, & respect, dialogue and understanding- but Jesus is unique

AC 4:12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."

- and a big challenge today is whether we follow what we think best or what God has shown us

- Illustr: unable to do it justice, here- but the ‘church’ has suffered a tragic blow these last few weeks with the issue of Jeffrey John’s appointment/retraction as a bishop.

- Would have been better NOT to appoint him

o That’s one of the key issues to me! Not single issues, causes, but what is best for the body of Christ!! Unity is SO key (to me)

- Goodness- he’s not an evil man! Been with one bloke for 27 years! There are worse sins! But in the end the issue is whether we

o Accept what God says. His word… and not get into “did God really say???!’

o Love Him and the church enough to obey what He says. Esp as priests & leaders..

- Now, many of you will be saying ‘that’s right! These liberals don’t love & accept the Bible’!! Burn em!

o Well- you are broadly wrong, there.!

o Most do. And they are not our enemies. (My brother is NOT my enemy! Jeffrey John is not my enemy.)

o But they see God’s comment on homosexual practice as the same as His comments on ‘pork’ in the OT- & that the NT law of love has overruled it

 And I just can’t agree with them. Unless I’ve got an axe to grind. Unless I’m going to try and twist and squirm out of what He says. Unless you ignore clear bits of the NT that make it clear that God STILL says ‘Uh, uh. I know better than you on this one! It IS just like every other sexual sin –but it’s practice is wrong’. ‘Trust me on this one. I AM loving…. But I DO know what’s best. I am absolute love AND absolute holiness’

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