Philadelphia, the Authentic Church

Vol. 4, No. 34 – August 25, 2019,

Countdown to the end . . . Philadelphia -#20

Philadelphia, the Authentic Church

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 . . . He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.  –Revelation 3:7, 13

Philadelphia, a smaller city, also suffers from the dramatic earthquake of 17 A.D. Returning to the city, survivors live in the hills and countryside. They also live in less than adequate housing, family roots damaged, pagan cults flourishing, and trouble with the Jews.

The Jews taunt the Christians, saying Christians have no part in the Messiah and his kingdom. The letter to the Church in Philadelphia is one of encouragement and assurance.

Philadelphia is almost one giant vineyard – producing the finest wines available. It is a strong city, militarily. It is highly susceptible to earthquakes. That area of the world has large numbers of earthquakes recorded. The area of the world that has the highest number of earthquakes today is Alaska (not a fact that is well-known in our present world).

There is, however, significant encounters for the Church in Philadelphia; not unlike the troubling earthquakes. It is the opposition to the church because of her principles of standing strong with Christ.

Most are familiar with the placard of Philadelphia: City of Brotherly Love. In the Greek, the word means “lover of a brother.”

The Church of Philadelphia is unique; there is not a pronouncement of complaint drawn from Christ. Thus, the way the church is addressed is different. He does not use symbols from the vision of John, and He does not describe Himself with other titles. Christ does portray Himself straightforward as holy (one of character unflawed), true (genuine, one who is behind all that exists), and a holder of the key of David (Isaiah 22).

He opens the door of the kingdom; no one can shut out those He invites to come in; He has the power to open and shut (Isaiah 22:22).

Sometimes we come across a church or a religion that attempts to suppress the Word of God. Christ died for all; all may not come, however, it is not because there was an intent to exclude.

William Carey (1850-1890) insisted that if God intends to save the heathen out of their sin, He would do it Himself. Carey did not believe in the Lord Jesus Christ’s open door. One must go to the Scriptures to gain right understanding. Right understanding is not derived from one’s opinion, but from the truth of the Word.

Reasons for an open door:

  1. Authority – since Christ is holy and true, He tasks and expects the believer to complete His commands (e.g. Matthew 28:18-20)
  2. Position – because Christ is the keeper of the house of God, He has the power to open doors before His own (e.g. John 25-30)
  3. Activity – because Christ possesses the plan, He expects the Church to take every opportunity before it; the Church is given a portion of Christ’s power, sufficient to act in every case and cause before her (e.g. 2 Corinthians 5:17f)

The faithfulness of the believers of the Church in Philadelphia respects Christ and acknowledges His nature:

  1. The Church operates well-prepared for effective witness and testimony (truth and holiness go together; neither survive well without the other)
  2. Sound doctrine generates godly living and practice (evil practice and evil living corrupt the body – 1 Corinthians 15:33)
  3. Christ alone can open and shut doors of witness and service (no one crosses our path by accident)
  4. Christ alone has the keys of death and hell (1:18)
  5. Christ alone also has the keys to the kingdoms of the earth and heaven

Three thoughts regarding the open door:

  1. The open door of service has adversaries: Satan and other gods of the world, traps, devices, and demons
  2. The open door can have these adversaries standing in the way: worry (2 Corinthians 2:11-13), wrong attitudes, wrong practices, wrong mental concepts, wrong associations (1 Corinthians 15:33-34); in addition, greed and/or pride (James 4:6)
  3. The open door is accessible first through prayer (Colossians 4:3). The reason for this is that true prayer is non-meritorious. True prayer regarding service intends to glorify God – not to focus upon self (not my will, but Yours be done)

Doors are opened:

  1. Because the Church fulfills expectations and conditions
  2. Because the Church has little power in herself
  3. Because the Church keeps His Word
  4. Because the Church does not deny His Name

The Church in Philadelphia is a commendable church for it functioned in obedience to the Holy Spirit, the equal other Christ promised to the Church as He prepared to ascend to the Father.

Remember how you received and heard; obey it, and repent (3:3) – a pointed rendition. Urgent!

He, who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches! Revelation 2:7

Behold, Jesus is coming soon to take you home to Heaven; His words are faithful and true  Revelation 22:6

Life Application

Being acquainted with the Word of God enables us: (1) to know the character of Jesus, (2) to have fellowship with Him, and (3) to build His character into our lives. Thus, we can be a church that fulfills His expectations. How are we doing?

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Written by Dr. Larry Lightner

August 25, 2019

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