Summary: The Letter to the Philedelphians - Looking at the opportunities God gives us
The Revelation to Philadelphia -.
A little trivia quiz this evening - you may want to take out a piece of paper to write the answer down
How many doors are in this sanctuary?
Don’t turn around and count – just take a guess, and write it down
How many doors are in this sanctuary?
Second, how many doors are in this entire church?
Put a number down
Okay, now exchange your papers with a neighbor
Just kidding – you can mark your own
How many doors in this sanctuary? _______
Now how did you know that? Well, people who are bored with the sermons – I’m told - will count just about anything - how many doors, how many chairs, how many lights, how many squares – you name it!
That’s easy. Second question - how many doors are in this entire church building? _________ – did anybody get that? That was worth coming for this evening for, wasn’t it?
Did you know that a lot of doors are mentioned in Scripture as well?
Both in the Old and the New Testament, the Bible talks about a number of doors, often with very different meanings. For instance, in Revelation 3:20, Jesus says: (Revelation 3:20) Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. This is the door of intimacy with Christ - We usually apply this passage in an evangelistic sense, and yet it was written to a church of believers. It illustrates for us the willingness of Jesus to pursue believers who have grown cold in their relationship with him. The imagery is of Jesus knocking at the door of a church, and waiting for the church to re-open that door so that a vital relationship can be re-established
Another type of door mentioned in scripture is the door of salvation For instance, in John 10:29, Jesus said: (John 10:9) I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. Jesus was teaching the remarkable truth that he is the only way to salvation. Inside that door or gate, there is safety and everything we need.
There’s a third type of door mentioned in scripture – the door of opportunity. For instance, Paul says in Colossians 4:3: “and pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains”. It’s mentioned a number of times in scripture, and it refers to the way that God gives wonderful opportunities to preach the gospel, and also how he prepares willing ears to listen and eager hearts to receive it Throughout history, people have found that God has a unique way of providing opportunities for fruitful service, and hearts ready to accept the gospel.
This morning we’re looking at the sixth of seven churches in the book of Revelation. This church is located in Philadelphia – obviously, not the one in Pennsylvania, USA. This one was in Asia.
Philadephia – The City
Philadelphia was a city strategically located on the road from Rome to the east, and was a strong fortress city. It was a city of major influence in the area and was located on the edge of a great volcanic plain which was fertile as a result and perfect for grape growing. It was the centre of worship of the greek god Dionysius, the god of wine – no surprise really. It’s proximity to active volcanoes was a constant threat and the people in the most part lived outside of the city due to the threat from falling buildings within the city walls.
Philadelphia, however, was more than just a gateway to the east or a fertile valley, it was also an “open door of opportunity – spiritually speaking.
If we read Christ’s letter, you’ll see what I mean. Read Rev 3:7-13.
In Philadelphia, there was a small bunch of Christians who were faithful to the task. They were neither large in number, powerful or influential, but they were significant to Christ, who takes the time to write them a letter.
Christ - the Writer
In this Letter, like those we’ve studied before, Christ introduces himself in terms which are relevant to the audience. Here Christ says three things about himself – He says he is holy, true and he holds a key which he uses.
1) He says he is holy – morally perfect and without flaw or blemish. Holiness is an important attribute of God
2) He is true - the one behind everything, the one who is wholly trustworthy and reliable.
3) He holds the Key of David. Now this is an interesting description which refers back to Is 22:20f. In Chapter 22, Isaiah condemns the city of Jerusalem. They had just been delivered from their enemies camped outside their city, but they showed no gratitude for their divine rescue. The charge lain before them is that they were self-sufficient, - trusting in their weapons, their efforts in strengthening the city walls and their stores of water. He then turns his attention to an individual – Shebna, the chief steward of Jerusalem, who was guilty of a similar sin as the city itself. He was guilty of seeing himself as indispensible, a “Mighty Man” in verse 17. He apparently paraded through the streets in a mighty chariot and prepared for himself a splendid grave. As a result of his unfaithful service, he is replaced by Eliakim. Now the significance of the image is that the chief steward of the city held the key of David – this was the master key to not only the city but also to the palace. He was second only to the king and controlled who could come and who could go – who had access to the king and who didn’t. He was the one who opened the doors and shut other doors. Listen as I read it from Isaiah …