Wednesday, June 17, 2020

How Do You Measure Up as a Believer in Christ?

We all want to be like the Church of Philadelphia. We are people who are designed to hear things, like bumps in the night or a car driving down the street. We hear it even though we are not listening for it. God is announcing to us in those words, "he who has an ear, let him hear" that they are simply not words, but a question to us, "Are you listening?" Are you listening to what God is saying to you about your life?

Jesus is writing to the Church of Philadelphia, in a letter that applies not only to the seven real churches of that day in Asia Minor, but also to where we stand in our lives as Christian believers. It is interesting to note that Jesus' final words are not found in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, but in the Book of Revelation, where He writes seven letters to the churches in that region, just east of the Mediterranean Sea, in what is now modern day Turkey. Even though there were many more churches in that region at that time, but it is an elongated area that makes up the region of the churches that occupied that territory with seven very specific personalities. Just like there are pastors in leadership at the church, they had their own personalities and their own problems. They had challenges, specific locations, that had characteristics that through a chronological folding of time, you can see the progression of the church from its establishments to modern day.

Revelation 3:7-13 ~ "To the angel of the Church in Philadelphia write: These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars - I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth. I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. Him, who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."

Proverbs 25:25 ~ "Like cold water to a weary soul is good news from a distant land."

This letter to the Church of Philadelphia was the best letter written to the seven churches. Why? First of all there is no correction given by Jesus. There is no rebuke, only praise. Was it a flawless church? No, there is no such thing as a flawless church, because the moment we step in the door, we are flawed. But when God, the Father, looks at you who believe in Jesus Christ, is our Lord and Savior, God puts on glasses as it were and sees you dipped in the blood of Jesus. God takes our life, completely immerses us in the blood of Christ, and when we come up, all He sees is Jesus, not on what we do, but what He has done.

It's a letter of praise to this church. Imagine what your position is in Christ, if you are like this church. It determines what kind of Christian you are. Each of these letters applies to some aspect in your life of where you are at as a Christian. People attend various churches not because their is division among the groups, but it is because each church serves up a different flavor in the way they teach the Word of God that appeals to each person, kind of like your preference for In and Out Burgers over McDonald's burgers. One is not greater than the other, because Jesus loves them all.

John, the apostle, the postmaster of Patmos, brings us this letter addressed to the church of Philadelphia. Remember Jesus is still speaking to all of us through these letters we read. He is speaking right now by the power of the Holy Spirit. Whenever the Bible is taught, the Holy Spirit moves in our lives. This is the letter any pastor at church would love to receive from Jesus Christ, because, if the Bible teaches that Jesus Christ is the chief Shepherd of His church, and if it is also true that the church is made up of believers around the world through faith in Jesus Christ, then it is also true, that Jesus must still be speaking to His churches, His pastors and to all of us!

Hebrews 1:1-2 ~ "In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, who he appointed here of all things, and through whom he made the universe."

Hebrews 13:8 ~ "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today and forever."

The city went by the name, Philadelphia. Today it is a Muslim city, Alasawart. It is what is left of the Roman Empire and is a small city under Muslim control. Politically by the city was named Philadelphia, which we know what it means, brotherly love, based on the same city we have in our country today. It was founded by Attalus Philadelphus and was commissioned as the "City of vision or the Mission City of the Empire. That mission given to it by Rome was to spread the Greek language and the Roman influence toward the east. Philadelphia became Rome's cultural mission outpost to the world on behalf of Caesar. Philadelphia as a city existed longer than any of the seven churches.  So Rome nicknamed it the "missionary city." It was an outreach by which Rome pumped money into it to spread the Roman influence of paganism to the world.

The physical church at Philadelphia was the typological forerunner to church chronologically, that brings us out to the 19th century, into what is known as the "revived church age."This the period when the church on the heels of the Reformation period moved out into the world with a great missionary movement. From the 14th to the 18th century, there was a turning back to the Bible, a teaching of the world through Europe and early America. From the 19th century until now, there has been the greatest global effort to communicate the gospel - The Revived Church or Missionary Age Church. Remember when we were in school, most of us hated history, but now as Christians, we love it! When a movement takes back the Bible, it can only hold some much and then it has to put that to work. Did you know that Billy Graham in one night reached 2.3 billion people? It has never happened before in human history.

And right now there are billions of people around the world, with the opportunity to hear the gospel message through modern technology, Sir Isaac Newton, Keplar, all Christian men who loved God, international churches, and personal missionary efforts. Look at the number of Bible Studies or messages from pastors that are being broadcasted quite literally all over the world, for people to hear the message in their own language and know Jesus. In the wake of the great missionary movement, hospitals, schools, universities, human rights and scientific breakthroughs, have accelerated in a way never before known to mankind. All of this is important background information for where we are headed in this portion of our study. Now you can see how all of this applies to our study into the Church of Philadelphia.

The Church of Philadelphia is a church that every single pastor would pray to receive from Jesus and something we need to make sure our life mirrors in every way as a Christian. Can you apply your personal life to this? How do you measure up? If you want to know the truth about someone, ask those that live with them. Are you excited about God's Bible? About knowing Him? About His return? You just might be a Philadelphian believer if you can answer yes to all of these questions.

What kind of church are you, when Jesus calls you to follow Him.

Revelation 3:7-8 ~ " To the angel of the Church in Philadelphia write: These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name."

When Jesus calls you to follow Him, He calls us to be His example, His witness.

Revelation 3:7a ~ "To the angel of the Church in Philadelphia write: These are the words of him who is holy and true," 

The structure of this is comforting. Here is our challenge. He calls us to be His example and His witness. This is not contrary to the other letters, it's not a rebuke but an encouragement. He is saying because I am Holy and I am true, and so are you. He wasn't calling them out in any way. Jesus says, He who is holy and He is true. We are blessed by Him by being guilty through association.

Leviticus 20:7 ~ "Consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am the LORD your God."

1 Peter 1:15-16 ~ "But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy."

How do you hear that? Do you hear a judgmental God or a loving God? When you begin to study the Bible you have to realize that it is by our faith in Him, that we can become holy like Him. He has commissioned us to be holy and true and not be defiled by the things of this world.

We should try and live our life in the witness of what this church has been called and commissioned by Jesus to do. Our number one goal in life is to be like a Philadelphian church. Sold out body, mind and spirit to Jesus. We will pick this up tomorrow. Hope you will join me!

No comments: