Thursday, December 21, 2017

Revelation 3:7-13 Philadelphia: Loved and Favored by God



KEY TEXT: Revelation 3:7-13 "And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: 'The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens. I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.  Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie—behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet and they will learn that I have loved you.  Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth.  I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown.  The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, 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 from my God out of heaven, and my own new name.  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.' 

KEY THOT: This is the second church (the other is Smyrna) to receive no condemnation, only commendation. Why? Because of their works: "I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name" (3:8). Faith apart from works is dead. Faith is an attitude, but works are fruits of that attitude. Faith is subjective but works are objective and visible to all: "In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 5:16). So, the risen Christ commended the church in Philadelphia because of their good works: for they have "kept (τηρεο, tereo: obey) my word and have not denied my name" (v.8).

The promise to this church is that they would have authority over Satan and his false believers and would experience divine favour and love (v.9). Obedience is the only way we can experience God's favour and love: "Whoever has my commandments and keeps [τηρεο] them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him." (John 14:21-22). It's only when we are sincerely seeking to obey Christ's commands as contained in the Gospels that we will experience divine favour and love. Notice that even the Prodigal Son in Jesus' parable could only experience the father's embrace and the restoration of his authority and privileges after he made a decision to leave his life of sin and return to the Father's house. 

As long as we opt for sin, we are out of the Father's favour and love: "Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. I am coming soon" (v.10-11). The promise of protection from the coming tribulation is conditional on keeping God's word. There is no other way to read this verse. The tribulation that will soon (quickly) engulf the whole world will take place just before Jesus' coming. 

Psalm 91 will become true for those who draw near to God in the coming days of trials and troubles: 
  • He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, "My refuge and my fortress,my God, in whom I trust." For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his pinions,and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand,but it will not come near you. You will only look with your eyes and see the recompense of the wicked. Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place—the Most High, who is my refuge—no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and the adder; the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot. "Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;I will protect him, because he knows my name. When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation." 
Abba-Father, You have promised protection to those who demonstrated love for You by keeping Your commands. Thank You for Your loving protection and provision. Amen.

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