Friday, February 24, 2012

Revelation Bible Study - Lesson 14 - Revelation 3:14-16

To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God's creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm — neither hot nor cold — I am about to spit you out of my mouth. (NIV)

Laodiceans – Description of Jesus

The Amen


How does Jesus’ description of Himself being the Amen reveal who He is?



This word means firmness, dependability, certainty, and truth. When a congregation used it in the Old Testament, it meant that what was said to them was true and became binding on them. When Jesus used it, it meant that what He was about to say was binding on Himself and the hearers and that it was reliable and true. When He said these to the church in Laodicea, it let them know that without a doubt, His warnings will be enforced and that His promises to those who receive Him are just as sure.
What should it mean when we respond to prayer or God’s Word with amen?

When you cross the Jordan, these shall stand on Mount Gerizim to bless the people: Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Joseph, and Benjamin. For the curse, these shall stand on Mount Ebal: Reuben, Gad, Asher, Zebulun, Dan, and Naphtali. The Levites shall then answer and say to all the men of Israel with a loud voice, “Cursed is the man who makes an idol or a molten image, an abomination to the Lord, the work of the hands of the craftsman, and sets it up in secret.” And all the people shall answer and say, “Amen.” (Deut 27:12-15 NASU) 
These verses are followed by eleven more curses. When “amen” is used in these verses, it is the same as a vow. It is solemn before the Lord and He expects us to follow through when we say amen in the same way as He expected the nation of Israel to live by their statements of amen.
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel for ever and ever. And all the people said, Amen, and praised the Lord. (1 Chron 16:36 KJV)
This psalm recorded in first Chronicles starts in verse 7 and recounts God’s awesome provision for the nation of Israel when the ark was brought back to Jerusalem. It is not a light thing to say amen to a prayer or at the end of a song. It shows our complete agreement to it. In a church that sings a song and always ends with amen, how many people actually agree with the words of the song? Today we take this much too lightly at the end of our prayers. It has become the announcement of the end of the prayer instead of our wholehearted commitment to what was sung or said.
For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us. Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. (2 Cor 1:20-22 NKJV)
It is through Jesus that we are even able to say amen and when we do, we are acknowledging His seal of ownership on us as well as the promises that He has given us.

Faithful and True Witness


What are the marks of a faithful and true witness? Since Jesus declares that He is this kind of witness, we need to look to Him as the example. List examples from Jesus’ life that describe How Jesus is a faithful and true witness.


But Jesus replied, “We must go on to other towns as well, and I will preach to them, too. That is why I came.” (Mark 1:38-39 NLT)
Jesus went to the people. It isn’t easy and we need to be sustained by His Word to be a witness. The truth is that unless we meet people we will not be effective in wining them to Christ.
So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you;” (John 6:53 RSV)
Jesus didn’t make it easy for people to believe. Many times we are more interested in making a convert than a disciple, so we try to make it easy for them to “accept” Jesus without knowing the commitment that they need to make.
He doesn’t hold back the truth. “Woe unto you …” (Luke 11:42, 43, 44, 47, 52) Jesus confronts evil without excuse. He even told the Pharisees that they were of their father the devil (John 8:42). We also need to be tough on sin when it is encountered. There is no room for waffling. If a person is not convicted of their sin, they won’t recognize their need for a Savior.
Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour. (John 4:6 KJV)
Jesus didn’t let personal comfort deter the message. When a woman approached the well, Jesus engaged her in a conversation that eventually led to her faith in Him. Sometimes, when we feel least like it, He uses us the most.
“He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father's who sent Me.” (John 14:24 NASB)
Jesus didn’t alter the message. We need to be confident that the gospel message is from God as given to us in the Bible. Jesus was confident that the Father had provided Him with the words to speak. He could confidently say that He is the only way to the Father. Today, many people who want to witness are confronted with people who say there are many ways to God. They fail to witness to this because they are not confident that this is the truth from God.
And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. (Matt 7:28-29 KJV)
Jesus knew what He was talking about. While we depend on the Holy Spirit to give us the right words, He can use us much more effectively when we know the Word. We are instructed by 1 Peter 4:11 to speak as ones speaking the very words of God. We can’t do that unless we know the Word.
Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing him, he fell at his feet and implored him earnestly, saying, "My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live." And he went with him. (Mark 5:22-24 ESV)
Jesus was willing to go out of His way to meet a need. We also need to be able to go out of our way to meet a need, which many times will open a door.
Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? “Father, save me from this hour”? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name! (John 12:27-28 NIV)
Jesus always sought the glory of the Father. We need to glorify the Father when we witness rather than doing it to be a “good Christian” or to impress others with our skills.
 And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed. (Mark 1:35 KJV)
Jesus was constantly in prayer. If we are lacking in prayer, we will probably lack in every other attribute of a faithful witness.
Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. (Matt 23:37 NASU)
Jesus had compassion for the lost. Do we have such a passion to see people come to Christ that we would even desire to see those who persecute or abuse us be gathered to us and have fellowship together?
Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done. (Luke 22:42 NKJV)
Jesus had a desire to do the Father’s will. We often have to make a choice to deny ourselves and follow His will. That is often contrary to every natural inclination such as self-preservation or simply taking the easy way.
Then, going over to the people who sold doves, he told them, "Get these things out of here. Stop turning my Father's house into a marketplace!" (John 2:16-17 NLT)
Jesus had a consuming desire for the things of God. We should want purity in our worship of God, unstained by worldly methods and goals.
Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicode'mus, a ruler of the Jews. (John 3:1 RSV)
The Samaritan woman said to him, "How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samar'ia?" For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans. (John 4:9 RSV)
Jesus didn’t let outward appearances distract Him We should never exclude the opportunity to witness to someone because of their ethnic, economic, religious, or any other background traits.
But Jesus was saying, "Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing." And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves. (Luke 23:34 NASB)
Jesus had a forgiving attitude. We need to be able to forgive offenses against us, especially when it has been a result of our trying to reach others.
For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and  to give his life as a ransom for  many. (Mark 10:45 ESV)
Jesus had a servant attitude. We need to have a very basic attitude to serve others rather than ourselves first.

The Ruler of God’s Creation

The NASU translates this phrase as, “the Beginning of the creation of God.” Most others, use a slight variation. The NIV that is quoted above is the only major translation that uses Ruler.
What does this phrase mean? Does it imply that Jesus is a created being and that the NIV is inaccurate by stating He is the ruler of God’s creation?


 I had some trouble labeling Jesus the Beginning of the creation of God. So I looked up the word in the Greek. The word is arche.
Arche (ar-khay’); (properly abstract) a commencement, or (concretely) chief (in various applications of order, time, place, or rank).[1]
It appears that Taylor also had a problem with the KJV translation when he paraphrased the Living Bible. He worded it as the “primeval source of God’s creation.” Therefore I feel free to expound on this.
The word arche is also used in Rev 22:13.
 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. (NIV)
All the translations agree with the translation to say that Jesus is the Beginning. We understand that this verse and others like it signify that Jesus is eternal. The use of arche here and in Revelation 3:14 is a title rather than an object. I believe a better translation would be something like this, “the one who started the creation of God.”
What other verses can you use to show Jesus’ eternal nature?


In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. (John 1:1-2 KJV)
Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. (John 8:58 KJV)
Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. (Heb 13:8 KJV)
If Jesus were the first thing God created, it would fuel fire to those cults who claim that Jesus is not God but a created being. The NIV captured the correct idea, which does not conflict with other Scripture and agrees with the following verses.
The men were amazed, and said, "What kind of a man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?" (Matt 8:27 NASU)
And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. (Heb 1:3a NASU)
All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. (John 1:3 NASU)
All these verses show that Jesus created all things and He continues to rule over creation.
Perhaps the church at Laodicea needed to understand His authority so that they would realize He has the right to do what He says He will do to them.

Commendation


Is it true that we should always find something positive to say about others to encourage them?

“Hey guys, I know that you are neither hot nor cold and you have done a really great job at being lukewarm. Because you’ve been able to achieve such a consistent level of nothingness, you should really be proud of yourselves.” Oops! Jesus doesn’t find any reason to commend them. So much for outcome based education. There are times to encourage others positively, but there are also times silence needs to be maintained.

Rebuke

Neither Hot nor Cold


How would you define a person who is hot and one who is cold? How would this relate to drinking water or food?



Let’s assume that a hot person is one who is “on fire” for the Lord, someone who is active and has a zeal for the things of God. They recognize their dependence upon God for all things. These are the people the Lord can use. He would rather have them hot. The cold person is like the woman caught in adultery. She knew that she was a sinner and could recognize her need. The Holy Spirit can convict people like that and that is the only reason He would rather have them cold.
I’ve heard that the drinking water in Laodicea was lukewarm because it passed through some volcanic rock. Others say that it was a result of a long aqueduct in the hot sun. Thinking about lukewarm drinking water brings to mind a great place to grow bacteria, algae, and all sorts of other stuff that would not only make the water taste bad, but make it dangerous. If the water had been kept cold, the germs wouldn’t get a chance to grow. If it were kept hot, they would be killed. In this world, when we allow ourselves or our churches to adapt to the surrounding temperature of the world, we become germ ridden and dangerous. The germs let sin run unabated and the danger is that members will think they are saved when they aren’t. No wonder Jesus will spit out a lukewarm church.

Hot

 

Read Deut 6:4-9. How does the Lord want us to demonstrate that we are “hot?”


Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deut 6:4-9 NKJV)
We hear or get the impression (especially from the media) that a socially acceptable amount of religion in each person’s life is OK. Anything above that is fanaticism. However, what is acceptable has never been defined, which leaves the doors wide open to calling people fanatical or even dangerous. But the Lord Himself has already told us what He wants of us. Note the word “one:
Echad (ekh-awd’); a numeral from ‘achad; properly, united, i.e. one; or (as an ordinal) first:[2]
From this definition, we commonly and rightly draw on the fact that God is one, especially a triune God that is united as one. It also reveals that He is the first, meaning that He should be first in our lives. Riches, security, or anything else should not take over His place as our Lord. The love that we have for Him has to consume us completely. It must occupy all of our mind and emotions with all the power that is within us. To demonstrate this, it is to be so evident to our children that they have no doubt as to what motivates us. When we are at home or driving along in our cars, the topics of conversation should be laced with the Word of the Lord. This is His instruction on how we are to view and act toward all things. All the work of our hands should bring glory to Him. Our houses should show forth to each person entering it that the people who live there put the Lord first. Have you ever visited someone and looked around to try to find some evidence that he or she is a Christian? It is very humbling to have some objective self-evaluation and see just how far from hot we are.
Read Jer 29:12-13. What is the mark of a “hot” person?

Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. (Jer 29:12-13 NKJV)
These verses were written to those who would be taken captive into Babylon (sin). They needed to wake up and see that it was their sinfulness that put them there. Once they recognized their sinfulness, as Daniel did, it would only be through prayer that God will listen and act. However, their prayers must be earnest, i.e. with all their heart. Earnest prayer is a part of being hot. People who have it all together and imagine themselves as secure (like the Laodiceans) do not look for the One who can guide them and change their lives. They don’t want their lives changed.
Read Joel 2:12-13a. What is the intensity with which we should repent in order to be “hot?”


That is why the Lord says, "Turn to me now, while there is time. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Don't tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead." (Joel 2:12-13a NLT)
There is nothing lukewarm about the way the Lord describes how we are to repent or pray for the sins of others. We need to allow ourselves to be willing to weep and mourn before the Lord. This is part of loving Him with all our soul. We can be completely open and bare before him. It is not weakness to weep, as the world would say. It is the sincere declaration of our heart before an eternal and almighty God who understands and is pleased by our complete and total subjection to Him, as demonstrated by our willingness to do that which others would declare as showing weakness. He can use our weakness and our tears in our prayers to do wonders, move mountains, and turn stone hearts into hearts of living flesh. These are hearts that can be moved and used by Him. We then need to pray also for ourselves because His answer sometimes requires us to act as unselfishly as we pray; to endure oppression on behalf of others is intercession.
Read Phil 1:27-29. What might cause someone to stop being “hot?”

 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you stand firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear omen to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake. (Phil 1:27-29 RSV)
One thought about being hot is being willing to stand up for what is correct about the gospel. The gospel of the wealthy and secure is a socially acceptable gospel. It is one that only talks about feeding the poor and solving mankind’s ill by changing the environment. It speaks nothing about the need for sinners to repent, because they themselves have not repented. They do not see the depraved condition of anyone outside of Christ as causing the problem. Instead, they believe the problem is outside of themselves, in their environment. These “gospel” preachers do not suffer opposition from the world since they are not a threat to real change at the heart level.
What is the source of the power than can make us “hot?”


And for this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.
 (Col 1:29 NASB)
Of course we know that it is only by Jesus’ power that we can be hot. We also shouldn’t be getting hot for anything that doesn’t glorify Him. We also can’t work hotness up in ourselves. We can only depend on Him and the energy that He has given. But we must also be aware of it and not turn it off. We must not quench the Holy Spirit in our lives either. Pour water on the fire and soon we will become lukewarm.

Lukewarm

 

Now therefore hear this, you lover of pleasures, who sit securely, who say in your heart, "I am, and there is no one besides me; I shall not sit as a widow or know the loss of children": (Isa 47:8 ESV)
What is most likely the biggest reason people become lukewarm?

This whole chapter in Isaiah is amazing; it is a prophecy against Babylon, but the thoughts apply specifically to everyone who is living in a secure atmosphere and thinks that there is nothing that can happen to them. Loss of children in that culture was the loss of future security. Becoming a widow was loss of provision. Our security and provision are in Jesus alone. When we look to anything else it will eventually be removed. God does this for the believer and unbeliever alike. What is the chief sin here? Is it not self-reliance? The Laodiceans say that they are rich and need nothing. The Babylonians thought that there was no other country as mighty and powerful as theirs. God has proved both wrong. At the end of Isa 48, we see signs of a decadent, dying culture, which turned to horoscopes, sorceries, and mediums. This is also a sign of our times and the general lukewarmness of the U. S.
Does any modern nation have the ability to claim God’s favor based on its religious heritage? What verses would you use to support your answer?


Woe to you who are complacent in Zion, and to you who feel secure on Mount Samaria, you notable men of the foremost nation, to whom the people of Israel come! (Amos 6:1 NIV)
The Lord also told the leaders of Judah and Israel to look at other nations to see what had happened to those who followed after other gods. They were also powerful and yet fell. Are we in the United States or any affluent nation any different? Many Christians think that the United States has a corner on power and prosperity because of our Christian heritage. Israel had promises directly from God as His chosen nation. Our country doesn’t enjoy that same promise. The Church (Jesus’ body) has the promise that the gates of hell will not prevail (Matt 16:18), but not the U.S. or any other nation. This promise can be understood that hell will not withstand the attack from the Church or that hell will not overcome the Church. Either way, we must remember that Jesus gave this promise to His body, not to any specific local congregation or country. Any church could come to a point of feeling secure and comfortable. We only need to look at history for examples so that we don’t repeat the same mistakes.
If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. (2 Chron 7:14 NKJV)
Many people claim this verse to say that if Christians will pray, then the Lord will heal their nation. This promise in the Old Testament was given to the physical nation of Israel. It goes hand in glove with all the other promises and curses that were given the nation. Some claim that the Church has inherited all the promises of Israel and are now being spiritually fulfilled. If that is the case, then the land is spiritual and would not apply to the nation where the Church exists. Others say that the promises of Israel still stand. In that case, it doesn’t apply to the Church at all.
It took the whole nation of Israel to repent and pray for this promise to be fulfilled. If every Christian in the U.S. (or any other nation) would unite in the same prayer (as has been tried in the U.S.), the promise would still not be fulfilled because Christians do not comprise all the people in each country. I believe that only if an overwhelming majority of people in the nation were Christians and united in their theology as well as practice would we see the kind of healing we would like to see.
It will come about at that time That I will search Jerusalem with lamps, And I will punish the men Who are stagnant in spirit, Who say in their hearts, “The Lord will not do good or evil!” (Zeph 1:12 NASU)
Neither their silver nor their gold Will be able to deliver them On the day of the Lord's wrath; And all the earth will be devoured In the fire of His jealousy, For He will make a complete end, Indeed a terrifying one, Of all the inhabitants of the earth. (Zeph 1:18 NASU)
This prophecy is set quite appropriately in the day of the Lord when He returns. He says that those who are complacent will be punished. The church at Laodicea is complacent; they think that the Lord will do nothing, the same as many churches think today. They do not see God as One who is sovereign and directs the destinies of man. They teach that there is no concern that He might come back today. They also teach by the way they live during the week that He is only a Sunday God. The rest of the week is to be devoted to storing up riches. Yet He says that in that day their money will not be able to save them. Let’s see them jump in their SUV 4X4 and try to escape the judgment!

Cold


How would you describe the difference between a “cold” and a “lukewarm” person? Why would God rather have a person be “cold?”

But go and learn what this means: “I desire mercy and not sacrifice.” For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance. (Matt 9:13 NKJV)
God has mercy on sinners. By sinners, I mean those who know that they are without God. He is looking for those who will acknowledge God and their own sinfulness. A “cold” person is the one in church who bypasses communion because he knows he isn’t worthy to take it. The lukewarm person is the one who is unworthy but thinks because of his own goodness (brought many sacrifices – gave what he thought was a lot of money – is not as bad as others) is worthy and partakes in communion. Jesus is essentially saying that He will save the sinners because they are willing to look truthfully at themselves, while He will not save the self-righteous because they are unwilling to see their need. We should probably be spending most of our evangelism time on people who admit to their sin, rather than an inordinate amount of time on people who say that they have a form of righteousness. “Lukewarm” people could include cult members or people who really believe that they are not living a life of sin.
“Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the harlots believed him; and even when you saw it, you did not afterward repent and believe him.” (Matt 21:31-32 RSV)
I think Jesus was trying to tell us that the ones who are in blatant sin know it. They are the ones that will be touched by a revival. The inward sins of the heart can be kept secret and are therefore easier for a person to dismiss.
What hope is there that a lukewarm (self-righteous) person can be saved?



The great thing is that Jesus says “cold” people are only being saved sooner. There is always hope for any sinner to repent and come to Jesus.
I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength to do his work. He considered me trustworthy and appointed me to serve him, even though I used to blaspheme the name of Christ. In my insolence, I persecuted his people. But God had mercy on me because I did it in ignorance and unbelief. (1 Tim 1:12-13 NLT)
But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life. (1 Tim 1:16 NLT)
Paul used himself as an example of what God can do. He calls himself the worst sinner, and declares how much glory God receives when one like Paul is saved. I once heard a murderer preach and give his testimony in church. He knew he was a sinner long before he went to prison. His story was simply awesome as he revealed how God had changed his life and was now allowing him to spread the gospel. God received the glory for that change. No wonder Jesus would rather a person be cold than lukewarm.

How God Views Us


How would you describe the difference between the way God views us and the way we view ourselves?


Look at the contrast between what the people at Laodicea thought of themselves and how Jesus viewed them. He didn’t hold back any comments but let them know just what they were in His eyes.
Since I am afflicted and needy, Let the Lord be mindful of me; Thou art my help and my deliverer; Do not delay, O my God. (Ps 40:17 NASB)
David, the king of Israel, expressed just the opposite attitude of those in Laodicea. When we recognize our need and true condition, our thoughts and His are lined up together, a first step in repentance.
How precious to me are your  thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! (Ps 139:17 ESV)
If we express ourselves in this way, we will have an attitude that He can use.
As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isa 55:9 NIV)
This is still one of my favorite verses. I know and thank God that whatever I may be thinking or whatever wisdom He gives me, there will always be more. His thoughts are holy and true; ours are flawed and earthly. This helps me put my trust in Him, knowing of His perfection, knowing that He knows my true condition.
May we be faithful witness of Jesus rather than blending into the world and becoming lukewarm. May we be 100% sold out in our love of Jesus and let the world know what it means to have an acceptable amount of religion as defined by Jesus!


[1] Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright (c) 1994, Biblesoft and International Bible Translators, Inc.
[2] Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright (c) 1994, Biblesoft and International Bible Translators, Inc.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Revelation Bible Study - Lesson 13 - Revelation 3:7-13

And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens, says this: “I know your deeds. Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name. Behold, I will cause those of the synagogue of Satan, who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie — I will make them come and bow down at your feet, and make them know that I have loved you. Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown. He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” NASU

Philadelphia – Description of Jesus

He Is Holy

What does it mean for Jesus to be holy? Why is this important?






To be truly holy is to be without sin. This is one area of Jesus’ life that is under attack when people do not ascribe to Him the deity that He has. If He were only human, He would have also been sinful and therefore couldn’t be described as holy.
All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. (Isa 53:6 NKJV)
And they made His grave with the wicked — But with the rich at His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was any deceit in His mouth. (Isa 53:9 NKJV)
Even before Jesus came, our sinfulness was declared and His complete innocence was contrasted to our iniquity. When this promise of the Messiah came 700 years before His birth, it was evident that He would have to be able to carry the sins of others and that He Himself would not have the burden of His own sins.
The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35 NLT)
Before His birth, the angel that talked to Mary proclaimed that she was to conceive by the power of God the Father working through the Holy Spirit. It is important to note there was no sex act involved. If that were true then Jesus would be no different from the children of the gods of Greek mythology. There were many myths regarding gods coming to earth and having sex with women. Each of these involved lust on the part of the god and therefore showed that not only were they not gods, but that their offspring were nothing special either. God did not have sex with Mary as some cults claim. If that were the case, the Bible would have stated it clearly rather than couch it in other terms. The angel reinforces the fact that the baby will be holy.
And we indeed justly; for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong. (Luke 23:41 RSV)
Even the thief on the cross knew that Jesus was holy. He recognized that he was getting the just punishment of his sins. He also recognized that Jesus had done nothing that deserved death. Since the wages of sin are death (Romans 6:23), Jesus would have been able to live forever had He not voluntarily allowed Himself to be put to death.
The next day he saw Jesus coming to him, and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29 NASB)
In the sacrificial system, the lamb had to be perfect, without blemish. Giving Jesus the title of the Lamb of God points to His perfection and holiness.
Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? ESV (John 8:46)
Jesus himself testified that He was without sin by asking the Pharisees to show where He had sinned. The response is obvious. They hurled insults at Him because they knew what He said was true and could not come up with anything to prove Him wrong. We often react like the Pharisees. When we feel threatened or jealous of someone else’s ability we resort to calling names.
2 Cor 5:21, Heb 4:15, 1 Peter 1:18-19, all reinforce what has already been said. The Bible is consistent about this from the Old Testament through the New. The gospels, epistles and all of Scripture agree that Jesus is holy.

He Is True

What does Jesus mean when He says He is true? Why is this important?




Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill?  He whose walk is blameless
and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart. (Ps 15:1-2 NIV)
Who is it that can dwell in the sanctuary of the Lord? This psalm speaks about the life we should live, but more than that, it shows that Jesus speaks the truth since He stands at the right hand of God. I selected this psalm because it says the He speaks truth from His heart. The very nature of Jesus is to speak truth. He is the Word, the Word of truth.
Make me know Your ways, O Lord; Teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; For You I wait all the day. (Ps 25:4-5 NASU)
If we want to know the truth and the ways of God our Savior, then we need to know Jesus. Since He is the truth, it stands to reason that as we get to know him better, we too, will know the truth. If He lives in us, then we become full of truth.
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. (John 1:14 KJV)
If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: (1 John 1:6 KJV)
Jesus is portrayed as full of truth. He is not just true; He is full of truth. If we are living our lives for Him then His fullness is in us and His truth should come out in the way we live and talk. If it doesn’t, then there is something seriously wrong with our walk. If we continually walk in sin, then we have evidenced in our lives that we do not walk with Jesus, who is the truth.
Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him." (John 14:6-7 NKJV)
Thomas didn’t know where Jesus was going. In response, Jesus refers to Himself as being the truth. It is very important to understand that everything He says is true. The ramification is that those who try to get to God by any other way will not make it and that’s the truth! Also, if someone knows Jesus, he or she already knows the Father. This is why it is so important to know who Jesus claimed to be. If you think that Jesus is someone other than God in the flesh, then you will also have a distorted, untruthful view of God, an eternally fatal view.
I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it! (John 14:12-14 NLT) 
The NIV says, “I tell you the truth.” The NAS says, “truly, truly” and the KJV says, “verily, verily.” The Greek word is “ameen” or amen in English. It indicates trust and affirmation when we say it at the end of a prayer. Jesus uses it in front of a statement to indicate that what He is about to say is the truth since it is coming from the One who is true. He also tells us that we will do greater things by asking Him, and He will do it. Did Jesus describe Himself as being true to the Church at Philadelphia because He wanted to encourage them in the greater works He had for them?
I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. (John 15:1 RSV)
Unless we draw our nourishment from the truth, we will wither up and die. Even when we are weak we are strong because of the truth to Whom we are attached.
Pilate therefore said to Him, "So You are a king?" Jesus answered, "You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice." Pilate said to Him, "What is truth?" (John 18:37-28 NASB)
Jesus came to testify to the truth. How would you answer Pilate as to what truths Jesus testifies?




1.   Apart from Him there is no salvation
2.   He is the only way.
3.   He and the Father are one.
4.   One must be born again to enter the kingdom.
5.   Anyone who believes has eternal life.
6.   Those who reject Him will spend eternity in hell.
7.   He prepares a place in heaven for us.
8.   He carries our burdens.
9.   We must deny self.

The list goes on and on, yet some scoff and ask, “What is the truth?”
In each church the description of Jesus had something to do with either the needs of the church or what was about to happen to them. It may very well be that the church at Philadelphia was walking in truth with Jesus so that they lived holy and truthful lives that were evident in their sharing the truth with others.

He Holds The Key Of David.

What does the “key of David” signify and how does Jesus use this in our lives?



Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward. (1 Sam 16:13a KJV)
Like David, Jesus was anointed by God and the Spirit of the Lord was upon Him in power. He was chosen and given the power to accomplish His calling. The church in Philadelphia had little strength, but with the power that comes from Jesus, they were given an open door of opportunity to share the gospel. When we come to Christ, we are given His Holy Spirit and have the same opportunities.
But my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee. (2 Sam 7:15 KJV)
God’s love will never be taken away from Jesus and His kingdom will be forever. In times of hardship and testing, it’s easy to think that the love of God has departed as it did from Saul. But Jesus has the key of enduring love and an enduring kingdom. We always need to remember that His love for us is steady and sure. We may be tested or even punished but His love never leaves; we will always have everlasting life.
Incline your ear and come to Me. Listen, that you may live; And I will make an everlasting covenant with you, According to the faithful mercies shown to David. (Isa 55:3 NASU)
God is willing to give this enduring love to those who incline their ear – more than just listen – and come to him. Yhe covenant will be made according to the faithful mercies He has shown David.
How did the Lord show his mercy and love to David?



One way was when David sinned and fell out of fellowship with God. The Lord was faithful to send Nathan to restore him. (2 Sam 12:1, 5, 13) David himself said that he deserved to die; yet the Lord replied through Nathan that He had taken the sin away. This also is the key of David that He has taken our sin away, and we will not die.
Because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. (Ps 16:10 NIV) 
One of the promises that was given to Jesus through David was that He would not see decay. His body would not be physically destroyed before it was raised. Since Jesus had this promise and it has already been kept, it is a key to our bodily resurrection also. In facing times of endurance and carrying the gospel to all places, this promise can bring comfort and encouragement. Even though we may die, we will be raised from the dead and will be with Him forever.

He Opens and Shuts

What are some of the things that Jesus opens for us?


Open to me the gates of righteousness: I will go into them, and I will praise the Lord: This gate of the Lord, into which the righteous shall enter. (Ps 118:19-20 KJV)
He has opened the gate of righteousness through His death on the cross. We can enter that gate only because He has given us His righteousness.
I am the door. If anyone enters by me,  he will be saved and will go in and out and  find pasture. (John 10:9 ESV)
And  I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. (John 10:16 ESV)
Since He is the door, He certainly should be the one with authority to open it or close it. He is concerned for all that He knows and belongs to Him. The door is not there just for our protection and entry to eternal life. The open door is for us to go out to find those who don’t know Him and give them the message. They will hear His voice through us and we will come together into one fold.
Now when they had come and gathered the church together, they reported all that God had done with them, and that He had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles. (Acts 14:27 NKJV)
Jesus gives us faith for salvation and to continue in His works. The open door is not just to go out and spread the gospel, but for all of our Christian life, for every aspect of it that requires faith. It is especially for faith in prayer because that is where we find out what to do and where to go after passing through the door of salvation. Jesus told the Philadelphians that they had little strength; however with the open door of faith, they would be able to accomplish a lot. Jesus told Paul in 2 Cor 12:9 that His power is made perfect in weakness. Think of what this church must have been able to do, with an open door and the perfect strength of Jesus! Paul’s attitude is a model for us and was probably the model the Philadelphians were using. When we feel least like serving or when we realize we are inadequate for the job, we need to turn to Him for strength and anointing so that He can use us. It is easy to depend upon our own intellect to memorize a gospel presentation or to learn apologetics, but without His power, all of this will not bring one person to Him.
There is a wide-open door for a great work here, although many oppose me. (1 Cor 16:9 NLT)
We need to realize that an open door to spread the gospel will also bring those who oppose us. In the case of the Church at Philadelphia, this may have been the synagogue of Satan. As I mentioned before, these were probably Jews who were betraying Christians to the Roman government in order to escape persecution themselves. Today, it could also be those in the church that claim to be Christians but are not. Those who say they are for God, but do not honor the Son. Those who think that evangelism is a dirty word and that a person’s faith is a personal matter that should not to be discussed. The end result is that even these will have to acknowledge that Jesus loves His church and that He is Lord.
And pray for us also, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison, that I may make it clear, as I ought to speak. Conduct yourselves wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer every one. (Col 4:3-6 RSV)
At the root of all open doors is the necessity of prayer. To have that open door placed before them, the Philadelphian church must have been a praying church. Of all of the prayers that the Lord must hear each minute, I doubt that He hears this one very often. The Evangelism Explosion program and other methods of sharing the Gospel (like The Way of the Master) have been answers to the same kind of prayer that Paul wanted. They place before us opportunities to share the mysteries of Christ in the clearest ways possible. These programs are wise because they show how to earn the right to proceed with the Gospel or stop when someone isn’t receptive. They can be used to make the most of every opportunity.
And in the daytime (for there shall be no night there) its gates shall never be closed; (Rev 21:25 NASB)
In eternity, the gates to the new city will never be shut. We will always have access to the Lord. Perhaps this is why one of the promises has to do with being a pillar in the temple of God.
What are some of the things that Jesus shuts?



Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, “Lord, open to us,” then he will answer you, “I do not know where you come from.” (Luke 13:24-25 ESV)
This is a message that people don’t want to hear. Jesus will shut the door of salvation at some point. It may be for most of mankind after He comes again or it may be for individuals who have tried to enter by their own righteousness instead of His.
This passage goes on to describe that those who want to enter will try to convince the Master that they should be able to enter based on their association with Him. I say association because they really didn’t know Him. They were only in the same proximity. It’s like the popular jock in high school saying that he knew the math nerd or vice versa. The only association they really had is that they ate in the same cafeteria. People who go to church but don’t know Jesus will be shocked when He closes the door and won’t let them in.
What will it be like outside the door that Jesus shuts?


There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out. (Luke 13:28 NIV)
Jesus describes hell in various ways. Here, it is weeping and gnashing of teeth. Other places He describes eternal punishment saying that their worm will not die and the fire is not quenched (Mark 9:48). The only way to be on the right side of the door that Jesus shuts is to know Him personally.

Commendation

What is the greatest complement that Jesus can give to a church or a person?


On behalf of such a man I will boast; but on my own behalf I will not boast, except in regard to my weaknesses. (2 Cor 12:5 NASU)

Jesus says that the Philadelphians have little strength. This is probably the greatest compliment that He could give them. One of the greatest apostles, Paul, boasted about his weakness. When we do things in our own strength, we get the credit. When we do them through the power of Christ, He gets the glory. Jesus knows their deeds and lack of strength, yet He places the door before them. You don’t give opportunity to those who can’t handle it. It has already been proven that they could handle it through Jesus’ power by the fact that they have not denied His name and have kept His word. Jesus rebuked some of the other churches because they hadn’t done this.
This church must have already gone through some persecution, trials, or other problems. Jesus says that they have already kept His command to endure. It is as if they are ahead of the church at Smyrna. At Smyrna, they had not yet faced troubles to be tested.

Rebuke

It should be our objective to belong to a church that is not rebuked by the Lord, as was the church in Philadelphia.
What do you think Jesus would say in rebuke, counsel, or warning to your church?


Counsel and Warning

Counsel and warning do not seem to fit this church either. They paid attention to the Word, followed Jesus’ commands, and didn’t deny Him. These are the things He told the other churches to do. They recognized their weakness and were humble before the Lord. Rather than any other counsel we can look at the contrast between what they have before them in opportunity and the position of the other churches that requires more teaching and counsel. In our lives we need to become like this church.

Promise

List the promises that Jesus gives to this church.


Kept From the Hour of Trial

By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith. (Heb 11:7 NKJV)
 For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment; and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly; and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly; and delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds) —  then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment. (2 Peter 2:4-9 NKJV)
Noah was in a very similar position as the church in Philadelphia. They were among the unrighteous but by their faith they demonstrated that the world is lost. Noah was not just one who lived his life and witnessed by demonstration. He was also a preacher. People were not only able to see his righteous life, but were told plainly why he led a life different from the rest of the world. This passage also demonstrates that Noah was brought through the trials and this was because of his faith and the preparations he did in obedience.
Lot was taken from the destruction even though he lost everything. These examples are presented as a picture of the final trials and tribulations on the earth from which some people will escape. The church at Philadelphia had been given a specific promise that they would escape.
Is this a promise that all believers can claim? Why or why not?



It isn’t clear from this passage whether or not this is a promise that all believers can claim; however we can look more closely at the examples to see if there are any clues that will help us.
We can look at Noah as a picture of the church. Noah was given a task to perform while he waited for the flood. We are given the task to prepare for the future by laying up treasures in heaven instead of on earth (Matt 6:19-21). Noah preached to the unrighteous. While we are storing up treasures, we preach to the unsaved, exposing the sin and corruption in the world. Noah saw only a few saved. We only see a remnant saved and they are the ones God has chosen to enter into His provision. God closed the door for Noah and sealed him inside the ark. When the time comes, God will close the door on the Church as we know it and rapture the Church. When the floods came Noah was above all the problems just as the raptured Church will be. Afterward, Noah was in all essence the ruler of a restored earth. So too, the Church will rule with Christ for 1,000 years after Jesus restores the earth from the ravages of the tribulation.
We must be careful not to think that the Church in general is going to escape all trials, or that individuals will escape all trials. This verse says the hour of trial. It implies a very specific time of trial that will come upon the whole earth. The trials that we see in various countries today are not yet global in scope.
Rev 6:10; 8:13; 11:10; 13:8, 24; 17:2, 8 all speak about those who live on the earth or are the inhabitants of the earth. In all of these other cases, they are not believers, but the wicked. This hour of trial that the Church will escape is an hour of vengeance that the Lord will bring upon the earth and the unbelievers who populate it at that time. The current Church will not participate in that trial.

He Is Coming Soon

Jesus promised this church that He was coming back soon. What do you need to do to get ready?

This is a promise to everyone for all time and because it is, it could also indicate that even up to the time of the rapture there will be churches like the one in Philadelphia. This is motivation for us to do as much as possible for Jesus before He returns. Think of the person who is getting ready for dinner guests. They scramble at the last minute to get everything in order before the guests arrive. “They will be here any minute,” carries with it the expectation of seeing them, but also a quick check around the house to put minor things in order. This should be our attitude whenever we remember the promise that Jesus is coming soon. Yea! He will be here any moment and we’ll be able to see Him. Hmmm, what do I need to straighten up before He gets here?

Hold On

What crown is it possible to lose and why?


I’ve already covered what some of our crowns are so I won’t go over them again. This brings up the question as to which of these crowns it is possible to lose. Certainly it is not salvation. His love and compassion never changes so we won’t lose the crown of life that goes hand in glove with the crown of salvation. That leaves the crown of joy and beauty, which can be exhibited in our lives now. Remember that those who claimed to be Jews but were not in God’s eyes were harassing the Philadelphians. There is a distinct warning that if we let the way people treat us get to us, we can lose our joy, our mouths will turn down, and we will no longer radiate the beauty of Christ.

Pillars in the Temple of My God

How do you like the idea of being a pillar in God’s temple? What comes to your mind as you think about it?

Pillars are supportive in nature. In the architecture of the Middle East, most of the buildings had flat roofs. This would require the use of many pillars in a large building. The building would then have many rooms as the pillars could easily be used to divide the interior of the building.
In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? (John 14:2 RSV)
Is it possible that as Jesus prepares a place for us that, somehow, He is planning to use us in that building?
A pillar was also used as a monument to remember something or a special occasion as in Gen 28:18 as Jacob did after seeing God in a dream. A pillar was used as a monument to someone so that the person would be remembered.
During his lifetime, Absalom had built a monument to himself in the King's Valley, for he said, "I have no son to carry on my name." He named the monument after himself, and it is known as Absalom's Monument to this day. (2 Sam 18:18 NLT)
We can see a stark contrast between Absalom and the church in Philadelphia. The contrast is between self-glorification and the glory and honor that the Lord will bestow on those who have been humble and have served Him.
What are the three names that we will have written on us and what does this signify?


To accentuate the permanency of the pillars, Jesus says that He will write three names on us. We write our name on something only when we intend to keep it. We will have God’s name, His city’s name and the new name of Jesus written on us. How much more secure could you feel?
I shall mention Rahab and Babylon among those who know Me; Behold, Philistia and Tyre with Ethiopia: “This one was born there.” (Ps 87:4 NASB)
You might also look at this as the address of where we belong. We belong in the city of the Lord, with the Father and the Son. When we build a building and pre-fabricate the parts in another location then bring them together at the building site, the place in the building it is to take is usually written on it.
The house that I am to build will be great, for our God is greater than all gods. But who is able to build him a house, since heaven, even highest heaven, cannot contain him? Who am I to build a house for him, except as a place to make offerings before him? (2 Chron 2:5-6 ESV)
Solomon knew that the temple he built could not adequately accommodate God. Jesus is speaking of God’s true temple in the New Jerusalem because it comes out of heaven from God. This temple will be fit for God because He has built it. God left the temple in the past because of the wickedness of Israel. Ezekiel has a vision of this in Eze10:1 through 11:23. Jesus says God will never again leave it. This is a great promise of security. We know that it is His temple, not built by human hands and we will be there with Him forever.

Church History - Churches Today.

The Philadelphian church is representative of the greatest missionary church period of all times. Its message is not watered down or mingled with paganism, nor is it corrupted by money as the church was during the Middle Ages. It is the time when schools were established, like Princeton, to train and send forth people to all corners of the world. This movement is still seen today, but even though there are more missionaries in the field than ever before, they are sent and supported by a minority of churches. When you are a member of a church like this, it is hard to imagine that all are not this way. There will always be some churches like this even just before the rapture occurs. He has promised that this church will disappear before the tribulation.
Jesus has revealed even more about Himself to us because of the faithfulness of this church. He has enriched His promises to everyone who overcomes. May we have the same devotion to Jesus and His truth as did the church at Philadelphia.
Even if your church doesn’t fit the description of this church, what can you do personally to be a member of the Philadelphia church?