Friday, June 26, 2020

Are You Ready for the Rapture of the Church?

In light of the events happening around the globe like never before, we have to ask the question, how close are we to watching the end time events line up for the possible rapture of the church? That should cause most people to fear what is lining up to happen, while we as believers in Christ, rejoice that once again the Bible is clearly outlining the seasons and times we see coming to light, in reference to Bible prophecy being fulfulled. Trust me, you don't want to be left behind.

God makes sure in the previous chapters in the Book of Revelation, that our hearts are in the right place, when we took an in-depth look at the seven churches written to in letters from Jesus. Which church are you most like in your current spiritual life? Who are you as a Christian? You've been invited by Jesus to get your heart ready for what starts right now in the Book of Revelation 4. All these previous chapters up to this point has simply been an introduction as we discovered who Jesus is, who the church is and needs to be before we really dig into the meat of this powerful book. This is where we get into the actual study of the book of Revelation. The best commentary we could ever have on the Bible is the Bible! Let the Bible interpret the Bible! It is easy to get swayed by people, we hear biases from people. We need to test everything against the word of God. You will never go astray when we do that.

In Revelation, chapter 4, we see John being transported somewhere. John is no longer talking about the things he has seen in the past, he has now been removed and sees heaven in the first three verses of Chapter 4. So you have to ask yourself, John, who is a member of the body of Christ, the church, is now come up here is now viewing everything that happens from heaven what is happening on earth. Who is John? Where is he? What is he seeing? These are the questions we will look at. From this point on, the church on earth is no longer talked about. It is gone. In fact, the next time we meet the church isn't until Revelation 19, where she is with Jesus, in heaven, getting ready to return with Him. The thing most people are searching for in life, is hope. Jesus is Your hope! You can't read the Bible without the star of the Bible, and that is Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 15:50-53 is a great commentary on the Bible. It is a great commentary on what we will be studying today.  " I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery. We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed - in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable, must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality." 

He's telling us that something has to change before we get into heaven. The apostle Paul is telling us that a change must happen. As we look at the Book of Revelation, we already know 5 key points from what we have studied.

1. That all those that read this book and hear this book will be blessed.
2. That when something is symbolic or typological, it tells us.
3. That Jesus Christ is revealed as Creator God of all things. (Chapter 1)
4. That Jesus has written seven (far reaching) letters to His churches.  (Chapters 2-3)
5. That there is a divine outline that interprets this book (Revelation 1:17-19)

Revelation 1:17-19 ~ "When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said; "Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades. Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later."

"Write what you have seen," that is Chapter 1 of the Book of Revelation.
"what is now," that is Chapters 2-3 in relations to the letters to the seven churches.
"and what will take place later." that is Chapters 4-22.

The Book of Revelation is divided up into three distinct divisions. The first part, "the things which you have seen," Chapter 1. The second part, " what is now," Chapters 2-3 in the letters from Jesus to the seven churches and finally, the third part, "what will take place later." This includes from the beginning of Chapter 4, all the way to Chapter 22.

Revelation 4:1-3 ~ " After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I head first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, "Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this." At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was the throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian. A rainbow, resembling an emerald, encircled the throne."

There is an undeniable transition that takes place here in Revelation 4 beginning in verse 1. The question you have to ask yourself is this undeniable transition that takes place here has happened already in verse 1 that has gone on from the closing verse of Chapter 3 to the beginning verse of Chapter 4?

Chapter 4:1 is a clear indication of the rapture of the church. It happens between the earthly events of Chapters 2-3 and the heavenly vantage point from Chapter 4 onward to the end of the book. There is an undeniable transition that has taken point.

It will be at the moment of the rapture.

Revelation 4:1 ~ "After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I head first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, "Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this."

Here you cannot escape the fact that from Revelation 3:22 to Revelation 4:1, something radical and drastic has occurred. The scene has taken a dramatic shift, from the earthly situation of the church to it's new heavenly position. Special consideration of Chapter 4 to the end of the book, from here on out, you no longer hear about, nor see anything of, the church on earth in any form. The apostle John's vantage point is now in heaven looking down to earth, and the cataclysmic events of the Tribulation Period. It's not until Chapter 19 that we hear from or see the church again, and it's in heaven with Jesus Christ.

The $64,000.00 question is this....How did the church get from earth to heaven in just one chapter?

The answer is priceless, by the rapture of the church! The church is now in heaven.

We now come to those things that take place after the church has been removed from the earth via the rapture of the believers. The timing will be of God.

Revelation 4:1 ~ "After this I looked," 

"After this?"  After what ? After the things of the church are done on earth.  You can't get away from the fact that something radical has happened. When the church age is complete. When will Jesus come again? When He comes again! Seven times to the seven churches the Bible says, "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." But the church is gone after Revelation 4:1.

Revelation 13:9 ~ "If anyone has an ear, let him hear." There is no church, only individuals. It's (the church) never again spoken to or referenced except in heaven. So how did they get there? People now come to Jesus independently, there is a body of believers but there is no longer any church. These are the Tribulation saints.

If timing is everything, then understand this, the church is gone from the earth, gone from the Book of Revelation until Chapter 19, contrary to the teachings of Mormon, the Seventh Day Adventists and the Roman Catholic Church. You can't find any other proof of the church in Scripture after this moment, unless you do damage to the Scriptures, which cults are famous for. Their very background of the churches mentioned here shows that they believe the church has to endure this all the way to the end. They do damage to other portions of scriptures when they take away the security we have in the Lord.

At the moment of the rapture, the place will be with God. That's the wonderful thing about the rapture is it takes us to the glory of the Lord.

Revelation 4:1 ~ "After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I head first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, "Come up here,"

The very next event that pertains to the church in a global sense is the opening of a door in heaven. There is an invitation, to "Come up!" with a strong military command and the Holy Spirit will obey that command. It is not an option to decline. The rapture of the church.

Revelation 2:5 ~ "Behold, I will come to you quickly." That is urgent!

Revelation 2:16 ~ "Behold, I will come to you quickly." That is urgent too!

Revelation 3:3 ~ "Behold if you do not watch, I will come to you as a thief." That is serious.

Revelation 3:11 ~ "Behold I am coming quickly." That is even more urgent.

Revelation 3:20 ~ "Behold, I stand at the door and knock." That is intense!

Jesus is warning and warning for us to pay attention and take heed. There is an urgency in each of these progressions of these verses. There is going to be one amazing worship service when we get to heaven. There will be horns, shouting, praising, throwing down of crowns.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Are We Living in the Last Days?

Some people are intimated by the study into the Book of Revelation, but it is the only book in the Bible that promises to bless those that read its Word and that hear what it says. That is why we are taking our time to go through this book of 22 chapters slowly. Give us ears to hear what the Spirit would say to us.

The Book of Revelation highlights the fact that Jesus is coming again. There is a line being drawn in people's heart and when people hear that Jesus is coming soon, they get nervous. Perhaps they don't understand what it means and they know nothing about who He is. The Bible says that Jesus is coming back.

Acts 1:10-11 ~ They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. "Men of Galilee," they said,"why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back the same way you have seen him go into heaven."

The Bible says that Jesus is coming again. It depends on where you are with God how you respond when you hear that. Some will be excited and some are fearful.

Titus 2:13 ~ " While we wait for the blessed hope - the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ."

Reasons for Jesus' return. Why would Jesus come back?

1. Political Reasons. God establishes the nations and powers. He established kings and removes kings. God is in every election. He gives them leaders based on what is needed. God is moving nations to a point of time when Jesus will return. Does that mean that God is overseeing the United States, no, everything is moving to an appointed time when Jesus will return. There is no Messiah on earth right now. There is no person sitting in an office of human government, that is going to solve the world's ills. Don't look to a man or woman to do that. Should we vote? Yes! God somehow uses our interaction with society and brings about change. That's like saying, "Can I eat?" Of course you can eat, but if you sit there with your hands full you will starve to death. You got to get up and go to the refrigerator or drive thru, but you got to eat. You have to do it. God is in control, no doubt about it. But regarding politics,

Matthew 24:3 ~ " As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, "Tell us,"they said, "when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?"

These are pertaining to end time events because the disciples understood that He was coming back even before He ever left.

Matthew 24:4-7 ~ "Jesus answered, "Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors or wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. "

Politic against politic, governmental powers against governmental powers. God presides over the nations and right before He comes back, there will be an alignment of nations that God has allowed to come together. From the book of Daniel, the book of Revelation, from the Book of Zechariah, we know that there will be a unified Europe. What do we have today since 1991? A unified Europe. We now have seen them move to a single economy or a single currency. We've seen them taking down the walls, we know have the United States of Europe, which is why they so affectionately call themselves the US of E. I don't know if you are aware of that. They are trying to mimic quite frankly what God has done here in the United States of America.

The Bible tells us that from that unification of Europe, that there will be a great political leader that will arise, we know him as the antichrist. We may not know his name but we have all see the bumper stickers that read 666 with a line through it, that is the mark of the beast or the coming address of the Antichrist. The word Antichrist, doesn't mean that he is coming with horns on his head, and he keeps trying to put a hat on so you don't see it. He wears a red suit and his tail keeps sticking out. That's not what this means. He will come like a human, like a man in the place of Christ, meaning to solve the worlds' ills to solve the world's problems. The Bible says he will arise out of Europe, he will be an impostor Christ. The Bible says he will reign over the Ancient Roman Empire. Here we see Europe unifying and we see God governing over the political powers.

These are the names of some political powers that must be in existence in the last days, Libya, the Old Testament mentions a nation in North Africa named Libya, is there a Libya on the globe today? Yes! What about Ethiopia? Yes! What about Saudi Arabia? Yes! What about Iran and Iraq? Yes! Here's the best part of it all, what about Israel? One of,  if not the oldest nation is God's establishment of Israel. But under it's captivity it dissolved as a nation. Then after 200 years on May 14, 1948, in one day, the world under the leadership of the United States of America, acknowledged the existence of Israel, and declared it to be a nation in one day. Guess what, the Bible says in the last days, before the end, Israel will be established as a nation in one day! So when you put Jeremiah and Zechariah together and when you put the Old Testament passages together, there God says in the Bible, I will bring my nation together, as Ezekiel says, the graves will open up and they will come from all the nations of the world to Israel and they will be re-established. And the Bible says it will happen in one day. May 14, 1948, the first time in human history a nation was born a second time. It's name is Israel. God's country! Why do you think it's in the news all the time for? It's God's country. It's His place. He loves it!

Nations, we know from indication of political events from around the world, that the Lord's coming is near. And if His second coming is near, how much closer is the rapture of the church at any time.

2. Societal Events Globally. The social trends and ills of society throughout the world. You want to know what they have in common? I'll give you a few,

A. General Lawlessness is invading nations. Jesus said in Matthew 24, that "the love of many will grow cold." People not loving one another. People not caring. Because the love will grow cold, lawlessness will abound. Another words, the crime rates will rise, as we get near the end, because people won't care about other people. That woman up in Seattle up in the rain, swerved in the rain, her car seen by other motorists, went over the side of the freeway, and into the trees. She was found nearly a week later. Surviving still trapped in her car. Nobody stopped to see if she was okay, nobody backed up or called 911, to say "a car just went over the side." I bet this was what people were thinking, giving them the benefit of the doubt." Someone else will call 911." She was there on the side of the road. The woman you saw in Texas on the news, who hit the man walking across the street, with her car, impaled him in the windshield of her car. He only had two broken legs. She drove home, open her electric garage door, and closed the door while the man was still in the windshield of her car, with two broken legs and they had a conversation with each other. She left him there for 3 or 4 days and he was not discovered until she bragged about what happened at a party while she was drunk. He died. She was arrested and convicted for manslaughter and premeditated murder. He had two broken legs and she let him die, based on the extent of his injuries and exposure in her garage.

Jesus said, in the last days there will be such a low esteem for human life that men will kill other men, because lawlessness will abound. Isn't that where we are living? It's an amazing age, general lawlessness, people disobeying laws and rules and enjoying it.

B. Racial Divisions. What this mean when Jesus says in Matthew 24 where it says "for nation will rise against nation?" The word in Greek is "ethnos." So ethnos will rise against ethnos." Ethic groups will fight ethnic groups. It's going to increase. That's sad news isn't it? Have you noticed that everything is ethnicity now? Ethic based. We all bleed the same color. You want to do away with racial divisions, and that isn't going to happen until Christ comes back, but you want to know how to do away with racial divisions? Preach the gospel!!! You want to save the nation billions of dollars with all these stupid programs, preach the gospel and get man's heart changed!

Nobody is black or white or red or yellow. There is no color when Jesus sits on the throne. When the gospel is embraced and received, we don't see people with skins of a different color, because we are all one with Jesus Christ. But what do you hear every day? It's a racial issue. There should never be racial divisions in church. Racism is Satanic, it is a wedge. Jesus Christ is Jewish. How does that sit with you? My boss is a Jewish carpenter. He came to the earth as a Jew because they are the most stubborn and stiff-necked. He picked them because they couldn't save themselves!

C. An Increase in Aberrant Sexual Behavior.  Aberrant meaning strange flesh. The Bible says there will be a violation of natural laws of nature and men will lust sexually after other men. God says that anyone that practices that sexual lifestyle will not inherit the kingdom of God. Why? Because it is against the law of nature. Evolutionists? Think about this. Forget about Christianity. Forget about religion. Aberrant human sexuality on the evolutionary plane, just think of evolution alone, destroys the species. Forget God. Forget that God is. If a woman cohabitats with a woman it breeds death and no more propagation of the race. If evolution were true, than every evolutionist would be out there writing against the destruction of the race. It destroys. Everyone can figure it out. The Bible says in the last days there will be an increase in aberrant sexual behavior and if we look around at TV, movies and music, we see evidence of this everywhere, and we are just suppose to take it and think, "Well that is just the way it's supposed to be." Jesus warned that these days were coming. He said it would be just like the days of Sodom and Gomorrah.

To God sin is sin. God died on the cross for all sin. Whatever it might be. That is what the Bible teaches.

D. Refusal to Recognize Human History. Solomon said there is nothing left to learn under the sun. The more we learn history, if you want to have a smart future, learn history. When we study history we learn not to make certain mistakes. We live in a culture now that is redefining human history. If you look at the history books now, there are more chapters about Marilyn Monroe than there are about George Washington. How do you redefine history? Teach your child nothing about history and they will redefine it. They'll take words and put different meanings onto words. How many people in the world today literally believe, and in Europe it is a big problem, that there was ever a Holocaust? There are people who literally believe it never happened. That it's propaganda. It's true!

The Bible is absolutely true of Jesus' promises that He will come back again. God's Word will never fail us.   So when you look around at the things happening in the world today, you can't help but see these very signs that Jesus warned us about, things that have never happened in the history of the world today, and while we may not know the exact day or hour of His return, Jesus promised us that we would know the seasons based on the signs happening all around us. Much like looking at a tree and knowing it is going to bear fruit, so we can look at the things happening in the world today and see that we are on the verge of Him returning any day for His church. The question is, Are YOU ready if He came today?

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Would You Drink Lukewarm Coffee or Even Milk?

Indifference. Apathy. Lack of Zeal. Neglect. The church was known for being indifferent about the issues of the church in lieu of the world. Do the things of God's excite you or does the world? Do you spend more time reading books of the world, movies, social media than reading your Bible and talking to God? Then you are in danger of being like the church of Laodicea. Don't neglect the things of God. Our retirement program is coming.

Why did Jesus say, I am the faithful and true witness? Because the pastor at the church wasn't. How can you say you are a Christian if you don't even read the Bible and know what it says? Read about His life, you have the gospels. Don't let a cult at your door fool you. You will be susceptible to lies if you haven't read the truth of who God is! From Genesis 1 to Revelation 22. It says Jesus is the Creator of all the Universe. He is the starter and originator of God. You have a heart problem. You don't care about anything except your own life. All you care about is yourself. People just don't care. They lost their hot hearts!

As we near the end of an age, we need to reawaken ourselves back to life.

Revelation 3:15 ~" I know your deeds, that you are neither cold not hot. I wish you were either one or the other!"

Jesus exposes the source of their problem. It was heart trouble. They once had hearts that were on fire for God. They had lost what was hot.

Luke 24:32 ~ "They asked each other, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?"

If we open our Bible and ask Jesus to speak to us from the Bible and think He won't answer it? He will speak. If you open the Bible, Jesus will speak and you will never have to worry about being a Laodicean. A Christian who has grown lazy is a Christian who is no longer living for God.

Acts 18:25 ~ "He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John."

James 5:16 ~ "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective."

Pray hot. We pray because God has declared us righteous. So pray like you really mean it. It's doing things in obedience. When we are in a crisis, we pray fervently. Why don't we pray like that all the time. He wants us to grab on and not let go. 

1 Peter 4:7-8 ~ "The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins."

Hot, boiling, love for one another. We need to awaken ourselves back to life. That's done by putting faith to action, where physical meets the spiritual.

Hebrews 5:14 ~ "But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil."

You take it and you do it. That is how we grow. We put our faith into action. 

James 2:26 ~ "As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead."

Here Jesus dramatically draws their attention to a very well known problem. Your "spiritual activity" as a church is neither hot nor cold. They had a casual approach to Jesus.

Revelation 3:15 ~" I know your deeds, that you are neither cold not hot. I wish you were either one or the other!"

Laodicea was located 11 miles downstream from the city of Colossae and 6 miles downstream from the city of Hierapolis,. Colossae was well known for it's ice cold, mountain spring water, which flowed from Mount Cadmus. Many travelers would make it a point to go to the streams of Colossae to be refreshed in the cold mountain spring water. Hierapolis on the other hand, was situated above a seismic fissure where hot mineral waters flowed up and out into hot therapeutic pools for relaxing and healing. Like Colossae, travelers and vacationers would make it a point to visit these therapeutic for healing and relaxation. Laodicea was like living in two different worlds. To compromise is to live in two different worlds. A church marked by indifference, apathy, lack of zeal and neglect. They took a casual approach to their relationship with Jesus. There was nothing personal about this church. From the pastor, through the flock and out to the community there was no 'reality' to their 'confession.'

When we take a closer look at who we are, are we truly a blessing to Jesus Christ? These letters are to be read by us.

Revelation 3:16 ~ "So, because you are lukewarm - neither hot nor cold - I am about to spit you out of my mouth. "

Jesus' view of the way it is, is the way it is. Not what you say, but what I say. "Not a few of them." The church is completely poisoned. Every church has its number of lukewarmers. Laodicea attracked them. What do they look like? They look like me and you on the outside, but they have a knack for not being seen. They're rarely, if ever, involved in any church activity. They walk like us, stand like us, move like us, but accomplish nothing for God. But their energies are saved for what they want, and what they want, is what they want!

"Lord, Lord." Lukewarm Christians have grown comfortable in their place. They don't feel hot water, they don't feel cold water. Like Goldilocks, everything has to be just right.

When we take a closer look, are we someone that Jesus would want to be around? 

Revelation 3:16 ~ "So, because you are lukewarm - neither hot nor cold - I am about to spit you out of my mouth. "

From one end of the moral spectrum to the other, we need Jesus Christ. He desires to spend time with us. That is why the gospel messages is most offensive to legalists, because of who Jesus hung out with. He didn't hang out with pastors and ministers. These were the harshest words spoken by Jesus. Most Bible versions say "vomit," the Old King James Version says, "spew." In our modern culture, the word that best follows the Greek language would be "to chuck, to hurl, to barf, to puke." He was trying to provoke them to a response. It was meant to be offensive and gross.

Lukewarm water, lukewarm milk, lukewarm coffee, lukewarm cocoa, lukewarm tea.  The Laodicean Church was lukewarm living, lukewarm caring, lukewarm prayer, lukewarm loving, lukewarm worship. "Live Worship " by the Laodicean Praise Band.  What do they taste like? "They are - lukewarm" if Jesus needed a cold drink, they were too warm to be refreshing. If Jesus needed a hot drink, they were too mild to bring relief. So a lukewarm pastor breed lukewarm Christian, who together make up a lukewarm church. This made Jesus sick to His stomach. No one likes anything that is lukewarm!

Are you someone Jesus would want to hang out with or would He vomit you out of His mouth? He is warning us that our lives, our faith, our professions of faith, don't want to make Him sick. We need to be more concerned with Jesus than the world. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

The Most Dangerous Type of Church and Believer. Is This YOU?

Out of all the churches that Jesus directed letters to, the Church of Laodicea was the one you didn't want to be like. As a Christian believer, we have learned that not only are these letters written from Jesus to the seven regional churches in Asia Minor, modern day Turkey now, but also in the chronological pattern of the church age as well. The one take away for any believer in this study into the letters to the seven churches in the Book of Revelation, these letters are also relevant to us today because they point to the life we, as Christians, find ourselves at in our current walk. My hope is that you are NOT like this church.

The most tragic thing about this church, Jesus is on the outside, knocking on their door. He was on the outside. It is this church in particular that winds up last, because chronologically, this is our church age, the Laodicean age of the church and one we can see evidence of all around us today. May God help us to take heed to the words Jesus directs in His letter to this church and more applicably to us, as believers.

It is a compromised, watered-down church, it does not have a passion for doctrine from the Bible. It was a pathetic and dangerous church. It has many activities it sponsored but they left Jesus out of the process. It had a cross on it but other than that, it was simply just a building. It is so much like the world you can't see any manifestation of Jesus in it. It's just the like world it is in. The teaching and worship was carnal. No one was getting saved, there is no spiritual growth or holiness there. It was not alive, it was asleep and it was without Jesus in it. How can you be a church and not have Christ in it? It was spiritually void of the Holy Spirit. They neglected their walk with God. They were a recreational church. They were more concerned with what the community thought about them. It existed under a pretense. Living out a lie. Rather than being a salty church, they were a poisonous church.

The city of Laodicea was a very prosperous and affluent church.  It was very influential in the ways of the world and the Roman Empire. But Jesus when He says He wishes that they were either hot or cold, That is interesting because the heat brought therapeutic pleasure and the cold brought refreshment. Colossee was known for cold water and Heiropolis was known for its thermal or hot waters, and between those two cities was the city of Laodicea. It is where those two water streams came together and not only created tepid water but it was poisonous water. Jesus said, He was going to vomit them out of his mouth.

Revelation 3:14-22 ~ " To the angel of the church of 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 not 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. You say, "I am rich: I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing. But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes for you to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. 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. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."

Now for the background. We study the background, because we can understand the meaning behind Jesus' letter. In this world a Christian church will be hated for two reasons, (1) their salt, or (2) because of their poison. The church at Laodicea was poisoned. Laodicea was located 40 miles southwest of Philadelphia, about a 100 miles due east of Ephesus. It was referred to as one of the "three cities," Colossae, (the book of Colossians) Hierapolis, and nestled between the two was the city of Laodicea. Founded by Antiochus II in 253 BC, it was named after his wife, Laodice. As a Roman city, Laodicea has become a very wealthy, (everytime we come to a wealthy city, we see a church falls into apathy)  and industrialized city, with banking and textiles, the highest quality of black wool in the world (its due to the mineral content of the waters there that cause the sheep's wool to turn black. There has never been such a quality of wool to this day) and medical products (a pharmaceutical masterpiece) . Earthquake? We can handle it! Everytime they had earthquakes, they didn't need any help or assistance from any of the cities or from the Roman Empire.

It's geographical location is key to understand why Jesus said what He said. It's physical location to Colossae and Hierapolis regarding the water. The hot pools of Heirapolis (think Old Faithful and even that would pale in comparison to what this city had), and the cold springs of Colossae. Keep this very solemn thought in mind, this is the only church that Jesus didn't have anything good to say about, nothing at all. As we come to the last of the letters, it is understood in the chronology of the church age, it is the Spirit of the Church of Laodicea. that will be the prevailing witness of the church at the time of Jesus Christs' return.We are living in a liberal compromising church age even today.

So what kind of church are you, as we near the end of the age. This is the whole thing behind this last letter. We need to stop playing games with God and get serious in our Christian walk.

Revelation 3:14-15 ~ " To the angel of the church of 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 not hot. I wish you were either one or the other!"

As we near the end of the age, we need to get serious about the things of God.

Revelation 3:14 ~ " To the angel of the church of Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God's creation."

We know as this letter unfolds that Laodicea had a pastor ( or angel of the church)  that was given to compromise. (1) He wouldn't take a stand for Christ. It was unpopular to do so. (2) He didn't give out the Word of God.(3) He led others down the path he had taken. They liked to keep things veiled so they could blend in. (4) Leaders are called leaders because they take people in a direction. The zeal was lost as a church! Because of this calling as a pastor or leader of a church, God has given an influence, it will either be used for His glory, or for the glory of others.

As we near the end of an age, we need to focus on what is reality.

Revelation 3:14 ~ " These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God's creation."

Because the pastor had so erred, so erred the church. Jesus tries to get the man and his ministry back online. (1) The Amen, The word "Amen" means "Let it be so, It is true." (2) The Faithful , Jesus said it because the pastor and the ministry had not been faithful. To get back into the Bible and know what it says. How can you say you're a Christian if you don't know what the Bible says.  (3)  and True Witness and (4) the "starter" of the Creation of God.

Jesus is writing a letter today to the pastors and the churches they reside over. The gold standard is to be like Jesus. The church will become like it's leader. God has created the local church and will take on the personality of the pastor. We want people to mistake our words and actions like Jesus. The Christian needs to be aware of a church that does not fill a great commission. Punching in a time card. Not simply checking off time, and fulfilling our obligation. Is your Christianity boring or complacent? That is the question you need to be asking. If it is, you can't grow in a church like that.

 We will continue working on our study into the Church of Laodicea tomorrow!

Friday, June 19, 2020

The Church is Promised NOT to Have to Go Through the Tribulation!

Replacement theology,  is when people believe that God is not going to keep His promises to Israel and the church is now the modern day Israel with the church members being the Jews. Jesus is saying in the Letter to the Church of Philadelphia, that is not what I am saying.

Jews = worshipers of God , the Jewish people are indeed God's chosen people and Israel is God's chosen place where He will dwell one day, but for now it is the promised land of the new Jerusalem and falls under the divine protection of God.

The Phildelphian people weren't PC. They weren't concerned with what the world thought of them. Jesus reminded us that the world hated Him, so they will hate His church as well. This church was also dedicated, they weren't holding to the position of what the world believed. They were dedicated as well to communicating the Word of God. They were not afraid. They were alive and doing it for God. They were fearless. Living for God.

In this study we have been asking ourselves the question as we look into the letters of each of the seven churches from the Book of Revelation, "What kind of church am I? Because each of these letters referred to a real church in the region of Asia Minor, now modern day Turkey but also refers to a stage in the life of a Christian believer. 

What kind of church are we, when the world comes against you for believing in the gospel truth.

Revelation 3:9 ~ "I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews through they are not, but are liars - I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you."

Jesus is referring to two things. (1) These were Jews that were masquerading themselves as believers in the Messiah but they crept into the churches to get people away from the grace of God and back into ritualistic law keeping. They professed to know Jesus but when they got into the church, they got into small groups or home gatherings and they began to say, "That's really cool, I just love this church but if you really want to grow deeper, you need to keep the Sabbath, (that's wrong by the way), you need to keep the Sabbath and be circumcised." Jesus delivered us from those things. The law was only to bring us to Christ says the Bible, to pointing us as an unerring law. Whenever there is not a personal relationship with Jesus, legalism will creep in.

The word "Jew" comes from Judah, and it means a "praiser of God". There are those that praise God, but they don't, they are liars, Jesus says. The word also means that there are those that will cloak themselves in legalistic ritualism and declare they are now, the new Jew! It's not Israel, it's us! It's this group of people, we are the new Jews! We are the new Israelites!

Jesus says they are Jews, but they are not. They lie. You don't mess with that. The truth is, the world will come against you and I, if we hold to and preach the gospel truth. Very powerful words from Jesus. He says in Revelation 3:9b " I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you."  to worship us and fall down at our feet is not that they will worship us as the true believer, it means they will make confession that they were wrong and we were right. Jesus is saying that one day, He will make it where they come before Him and confess it and we will be around to see it. That their worship system was wrong, and by doing so, they will be attesting that you were right.

Jesus put this another way, "Let your works so shine before the world, that they will glorify your Father which is in heaven."

The world will come against you and I, for continuing on "with Who" you know.

Revelation 3:10a ~ "Since you have kept my command to endure patiently,"

What does it mean to persevere?  Hupomone, in the Greek,  which means to stay cheerful or hopeful, to keep enduring, a constancy, being patient at continuance (at waiting).

1. The Philadelphians cared more for what the Bible had to say, then men.
2. The Philadelphians dedicated themselves to obeying the Bible, not traditions.
3. The Philadelphians communicated their faith to others, anything but sterile!

When the world comes against you, for trusting in the blessed hope of Jesus return.

Revelation 3:10b ~ "I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is to come upon the whole world to test those who live in the earth." 

Now again - remember their "shaky" history. Earthquakes ravaged the cities Sardis, Thyatira, and Laodicea, but no city was hit by earthquakes like Philadelphia. They were built on an earthquake fault. In 17AD, the city was devastated by an earthquake, they lived in tents instead of the city so buildings could not fall upon them. It was the aftershocks that took its toil on the people. Jesus himself is saying, I will also keep you (1) from the hour of trial, (2) which shall come upon the whole world, (3) to test those who dwell upon the earth.

It's not a localized trial. This is a reference to the rapture of the church.

1 Thessalonians 1:10 ~ " and to wait for His Son from heaven, who he raised from the dead, Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath."

The wrath to come it's not hell.  The term wrath to come is referring to the Tribulation period, not hell.

1 Thessalonians 2:19 ~ "For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you?"

1 Thessalonians 3:13 ~ "May he strengthen your hearts to that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones."

Those that have died now are currently with Jesus as believers. 

1 Thessalonians 4:17 ~ "After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 

It's the rapture of the church. It is a great promise that the church will NOT go through the Tribulation period. The word here is not through. He did not say, "I will keep you through the Tribulation Period." The word in Greek is "From" you will be extracted, taken away, yanked out of the hour that will come upon the whole world. It is a very powerful world. He will take us from this hour of trial which will come upon the whole world. His church. His people. Believers in Jesus Christ.  

1 Thessalonians 5:9 ~ "For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ."

All of these five verses from 1 Thessalonians have to do with the rapture of the church. Write this down and never forget it. It's mentioned in no other gospel pertaining to the rapture. Jesus put His first mention of the rapture this way...

John 14:1-3 ~ ""Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms (that's in heaven) ; if it were not so, I would have told you (that's the truth). I am going there to prepare a place for you (where is that? Heaven). And if I go (He did) and prepare a place for you (heaven) , I will come back and take you to be with me (where is He, Heaven!) that you also may be where I am. (where is He, in heaven preparing a place!)" 

You can only have John 14:1-3 true if you have what is called a Pre-Tribulation Rapture view, all the others don't fit. You can entertain all the other views but the right view is the Pre-Tribulation Rapture view. What about Old Testament Scriptures to validate that?

Isaiah 26:20 ~ "Go, my people, enter your rooms and shut the doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until his wrath has passed by. See, the LORD is coming out of his dwelling to punish the people of the earth for their sins. "

"Come my people" in Hebrew means carried away or taken away my people. So this is not a regional issue here. This is a full blown promise of Jesus Christ. That from chapters 1-3, the church is mentioned 19 times. From chapters 4-19, there is no longer a mention of the church on earth, at all. It's not until chapter 19, when the church is seen again, but it is in heaven with Jesus, returning to earth with Him in the Second Coming. The church will NOT see the great Tribulation Period, but will be kept from it in heaven with Jesus Christ.

Finally, what kind of church are you, with all that He has give us.

Revelation 3:11-13 ~ "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 my 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."

The city of Philadelphia and the church at Philadelphia shared four interesting parallels. (1) They were both "mission minded." Information (2) They both lived under the constant threat of disaster. Earthquakes. (3) They both desired to live outside the city, than to live in it. Pilgrims. (4) Philadelphia took on a new name, Neoceserea, in honor of Caesar. Christians get a new name.

With all that He has given us, we need to be Philadelphian about our readiness.  Jesus warns us that He will come upon us quickly like an earthquake comes. You think an earthquake is quick, I am faster than that. Jesus is applicable to our daily lives. Get serious and make a commitment. Grab onto Him and don't let go. When He comes, it will happen instantly. Don't live for the world. Live for Jesus.

With all that He has given us, we need to be Philadelphian about our holiness. He who overcomes (conquers, gains control of = fear). I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go out no more. What happens to pillars when earthquakes come? They fall, pointing towards the direction of the quake. When he comes, Jesus will protect us and we will never fall down. After the earthquake in 17 A.D., many people lived in fear and would work inside the city during the day but would retreat outside the city walls and away from the pillars of the pagan temples because it was in those places that most of the people were killed.

Jesus is saying, "Dear Church of Philadelphia, don't let fears rob you anymore. I am so firm of a foundation for you, that I will make you a pillar in the Temple of Almighty God, and you will never need to run outside again anymore looking for safety. You will never flee in fear and your salvation is assured forever with Him.

With all that He has given us, we need to be Philadelphian about our future.

Revelation 3:12-13 ~ "Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my 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."

This is fantastic for history and for the future. After the great earthquake of 17 A.D., the Roman Emperor, ordered Philadelphia to be "tax free from Rome," for five years so that it could regain its footing in the empires economy. The city was so grateful for the tax break, that it declared its new name to be Neoceasera or Caesar's city. In gratitude, many people in Philadelphia tattooed Caesar's name and the cities name. Neoceasera on their bodies.

Jesus promises one more name in addition, His own name!

Revelation 3:12b-13 ~ 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."

This is Jesus' tax free ownership upon my life!

Ignatius, the bishop of Antioch, stopped in the city on his way to martyrdom (beheaded for Christianity)  in Rome (107 A.D.) He comments how the Church in Philadelphia had become a center for eschatology, the study of prophecies of Scripture, during the post-apostolic age. "Philadelphia" was a place where Christians were fearless in their worship, and aggressive in their witness for the faith, as they looked to the return of their Savior.

As a church, if we do not go through the doors Christ has opened, we will grow timid, fearful and unbelieving.

An opportunity neglected is a nail in the coffin for any church that fails to obey Jesus. As a Christian, if I do not go through the doors Christ has opened, I will grow timid, fearful and unbelieving. An opportunity neglected is the first step to backsliding as a Christian. When we study the aspects of this church, we can see that Jesus is coming soon and it gives us stability in life to know that God's Word is never broken. Jesus never addresses our failures in our life, when we ask Him into our life, hanging on to My Word, don't give up and He will keep us from the hour that will come upon the whole world to try them. He will make us a pillar in His temple and we don't have to live in fear for He will give us a new name and a new city to dwell with Him forever.

The church will be raptured before the Tribulation Period. The 7-year Tribulation is the wrath that will be poured down upon the whole earth.  The church has nothing to do with the God's wrath. The church does experience persecution, but that comes from man. It comes from Satan. It comes from the world. We will NEVER be beat up by God, smacked down by God, no, Jesus took our punishment on the cross, that is why Jesus says here to the Church of Philadelphia, "I will keep you from that hour", in fact, in John 14, he said remember," I will come again and take you to myself where I am you may be also."

So live for Jesus now, the Lord is coming back, you don't know when, could be today, because he is going to deliver us from the wrath that is going to come. Jesus promises that He is going to keep us "from" that hour, not through the hour, not going to bottle you up and ship you through it, I'm not going to somehow galvanize you against it, I'm not going to somehow build a bubble around that you make it through, No, He said He is going to keep us FROM it. That is an awesome promise.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Are You an Authentic Believer in Christ?

Jesus is inviting us to be an authentic church or an authentic Christian, and the world is waiting to see just what that looks like. The more you get to know Jesus, the more authentic He becomes and the more substances there is to Him. The more you know a real believer, there is an authenticity you come to respect, not become upset with. So if we want to be real witnesses, we need to be authentic. We need to be real. When we do something right, we need to give God the glory and when we do something wrong, we need to ask those around us to forgive us.

We need to be a real witness, but sometimes we blow our witness in our life and think we have disappointed God, but there is one way that God allows us to redeem that, is when we go to them and tell them we were wrong. We tell them I shouldn't have said or did that, it's not what the Bible teaches or what Jesus would want. I was wrong and I ask you to forgive me. Please don't judge Christianity based on my poor performance. It doesn't matter who you say this to, you will have gained their respect of those you offended. The only reason you won't do it is pride. It's amazing. Jesus is Holy and True and that is why we are following Him.

John 8:32 ~ "Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free."

Lets take a look at the pastor of the Church of Philadelphia. We know that he must have been a pastor that loved the Lord, because the church was grounded in the Bible. He cared for the church, who tended to it in its generalities and its specifics.

1 John 4:8 ~ "Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love."

The pastor at the Church of Philadelphia had a passion for the world, to spread the simple gospel, simply. He was the kind of pastor who had a tenacity toward his calling. He could not, would not, deny what God had done is his life, church and the world.

Jeremiah 23:4 ~ "I will place shepherds over them who will tend them, and they will no longer be afraid or terrified, no will any be missing, declares the LORD."

It is my personal opinion that if there is ever going to be any true revival today, there will be a revival of Biblical holiness and Biblical truth. God will begin that with faithful men and women of God.

When Jesus calls you to follow Him, He calls attention to His lordship, His kingdom.

Revelation 3:7 ~ "To the angel of the church of 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."

As we match this attribute of Jesus to previous scriptures, we see here a slight variation. Before you could see those comparisons in verbatim. The Book of Revelation demands us to know more of the Old Testament than any other book of the Bible.

Revelation 1:17-18 ~ "When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he place his right hand on me and said: ' Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades."

Isaiah 22:22 offers us a Messianic prophecy, ~ "I will place on his shoulder the key to the house of David; what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open."

Hebrews 3:6 ~ But Christ is faithful as a son over God's house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast."

God, the Father, is giving the keys to the heaven treasury to His Son. These are the keys of opportunity to fund a war against hell, and to wage a campaign of death.

Revelation 3:7b ~ "What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open."

These are the keys of opportunity to communicate holiness or to tell the truth. Jesus is LORD, and these open and closed doors are God-given opportunities custom made for you - it's called ministry.

Luke 6:46 ~ "Why do you call me, "Lord, Lord," and do not do what I say?"

Do you know what an oxymoron is? Like jumbo shrimp! Oxymorons don't fit. To say Lord, Lord but you don't do that things He calls us to do. We can't call Him Lord. The church at Philadelphia did what God called them to do. We need to ask our ourselves this question, are we faithful to obey when Jesus calls? Only here and in the Church of Smyrna are commendations , no judgments, no rebukes, no corrections. Just praise! They were a faithful church!

When Jesus calls you to follow Him, He calls through opportunities to obey, prepared by Him. When the church asks for opportunities to help us, it is Jesus calling you to fill those needs, if the church that is asking you is your home church. You are there to serve Jesus, get involved in prayer meetings. You will obey the Lord, you will be blessed in ways you won't believe. You might grow the church by what you are called to do. God is never at work when everything is covered and there is nothing for you to do. When an opportunity comes, Jesus is opening a door. Jesus knows what you did last summer! He knows what we have done all of our lives as a Christian, in His glory or for your glory. I know everything.

Revelation 3:8 ~ "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."

Commendation 1 of 5: "I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door," Jesus is the one who is responsible for opening and closing opportunities or doors. They could claim this if judgment came to them at that moment. He doesn't elaborate on it. What is an open door for? To go through them. You have to remember don't try to force a door that Jesus has shut. When Jesus opens a door, you better go through it. When He closes it, you better stay out. What is an open door?

1 Corinthians 16:8-9 ~ " But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me."

Whenever there is an open door, plan on being attacked. This church corporately could literally take stock of their ministry efforts and view the fruit of their labors.

2 Corinthians 2:12 ~ "Now I went to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ and found that the Lord had opened a door for me,"

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."

An opportunity to witness was commendation 2 of 5:  "that no one can shut." Revelation 3:8b.

John 10:9 ~ "I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture."

Remember the introduction to this letter? Attalus Philadelphius was the cities founder, and it was his intention to create a city that could broadcast the Greek language and Roman culture to the world. Scholars have referred to the city of Philadelphia as the Mission city or Missionary city. We need to understand it's geography. "Philadelphia the Door." Ramsey states that the physical location fully explains the words of Jesus here...Philadelphia was located at the upper end of a long valley, that makes its way to the Sea. From Philadelphia as it was situated on the Roman Imperial Highway, that great trade and travel route of the empire (aka The Post Way), you had to travel through the city of Philadelphia to reach the interior of the Asiatic peoples. It was located on a freeway, the Pony Express of that day. Any city you had to go to, you had to go through Philadelphia. You've heard of the Appian Way? It means opportunities to obey! Jesus has the keys to any door of opportunity. Wait for the opportunity to obey Christ, and when it comes around don't sit around and wonder if this is it! Go through the door! You understand that mystery that Jesus is using in this letter?

If you are a Christian, God has placed you in a sphere of opportunity to be an influence for Him in where He has placed you.

Commendation 3 of 5:

Revelation 3:8b ~ "I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name."

They had very little of their own strength. This was not an insult to the church. They were not self-reliant as a church, but rather God dependent. It means they didn't rely much on itself. When it does, it goes arrogant and becomes prideful.

2 Corinthians 12:9 ~ "But he said to me, ' My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." 

It is not the talents of the worship team or the shouts of the choir. It's not the seating or the window or the eloquence of the speaker, it is Jesus Christ opening doors. May we all be believers of little strength.

Commendation 4 of 5: "You have kept my word." - Revelation 3:8b.

They had not left God's Word behind, and they didn't replaced it with something else. The Word was authoritative. They didn't leave their Bibles behind. Are you a Christian who goes through the Bible? Are you in a church that does not go through the Bible?

Commendation 5 of 5: "You have not denied My name." ` Revelation 3:8b.

They haven't tried to hide my authority and deity and they prayed in Jesus' name. The biggest opposition to praying in Jesus' name has been from other churches, not atheists. Organized religions are the greatest proponents to not praying in Jesus name so as not to offend the community. If you don't pray in Jesus name,  it will not be heard based on Jesus' Word and His teachings.

They stayed faithful to Jesus' Word, Bible doctrine and didn't deny His name. They worshiped the Jesus of the Bible. Because of that opportunities abounded!

We will finish up this study on the church of Philadelphia tomorrow! 

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!

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Can Your Name Be Blotted Out of the Book of Life?

The most profound for God is the most simple for us. We won't be declared worthy by God because of our robe. We don't get it white by washing it. It's all by faith. Do you have all your rest and all your faith on Jesus Christ? Your salvation, what makes you worthy, is your faith in Jesus, not your works.

Jesus is still writing about our life today and your life. He's still writing because you are a Christian and you are the church! Are you part of the few names Jesus mentions at the closing part of the letter to the church in Sardis? Maybe this is why this book isn't often read.

When you worshiped the pagan gods in imperial Rome and you were excepted by the priest, or priestesses of those gods. You were given a white robe as a sign that you have been accepted so you can go further into the perversion that was happening in those places of worship. Do you ever notice how people get into weird stuff, they go deeper into more weirdness? Jesus was telling them He would give them a robe of righteousness that would never be soiled.

Ephesians 2:4-9 ~ "But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions - it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast."

Saved - in the original Greek, means that it's a done deal. It's past tense. We need to move forward now. Stop wishing that one day you might feel saved. 

2 Timothy 3:14 ~ "But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you have learned it."

1 Timothy 4:16 ~ "Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers."

Acts 14:22 ~ "strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. "We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God," they said."

Did he encourage them to tithe more? To serve in children's ministry? No, to start making time to gather together as a church especially in these last days so we can encourage and strengthen one another in our faith.

Hebrews 10:25 ~ "Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another - and all the more as you see the Day approaching."

We need to make an effort to be more than Sunday Christians, not of us are that resilient to stand alone, we need to hang out with more Christians to gain strength and get strong.

When all hope seems to have slipped away, we must look to His approval. We only need to look to God, and no one else in this world for approval. Don't let the world determine your standards for living or self worth. They will always come up lacking and short.

Revelation 3:5 ~ "He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels."

2 Corinthians 9:6-7 ~ "Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give when he had decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver."

What are you now planting for spring? Nothing? You'll get nothing. A little? You'll get a little. Some? You'll get some. A lot? You'll get a lot! We all want to hears the words, "Well done, good and faithful servant, enter in." when we arrive in Heaven. Not over easy, scrambled or sunny side up!

When all hope seems to have slipped away, we must rejoice in His promises that endure.  Ever have those moments when you open your Bible, and a verse speaks to you as though God put it there for you especially? Those are apples of gold from God in your life.

Revelation 3:5-6 ~ "He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."

There was the Lydian Roll of Sardis, if you born under that Lydian Empire, your name was on that scroll. There was the Roman Registry of the Empire, and there is the Book of Life. Every human being who has ever lived, every one of you right here, reading this, from Adam and Eve to Now, you have been placed in the Book of Life. Every citizen of humanity! From Hitler to Charles Darwin. Your name is in there if you have been born in this world on earth. Every single one! Don't be confused by the Book of Life and the Lamb's Book of Life.

But there will be a "blotting out day" to come says the Bible. What keeps your name in the Book of Life, is if your name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life. If you don't know Jesus, your name will be blotted out and you will face an eternal death. Just like the Roman Empire, your citizenship will be stripped away and you will be judged. No good works will get you in the Lamb's Book of Life. ONLY believing in Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior.

All those who have been given life are recorded in the Book of Life. From the Book of Life, some names, it's not many names, that will be transferred over to the Lamb's Book of Life.

Revelation 21:27 ~ "Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful of deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life."

Revelation 20:15 ~ "If anyone's name was not found written in the Book of Life, he was thrown into the lake of fire."

Psalm 69:28 ~ "May they be blotted out of the Book of Life and not be listed with the righteous."

If you are reading this now, your name is written in the Book of Life, but if you want to get to heaven, you need your name copied over from the Book of Life to the Lamb's Book of Life. It's like saying, go to the Book of Life, highlight your name, go to Edit, then click Copy. Then go to the Lamb's Book of Life, go to Edit, then click Paste. If your name isn't copied over, it is your own doing. It will be deleted and blotted out, from the Book of Life forever. It makes you discern whether you are a Christian or not and that is the point. If you are a Christian, a true believer, than you will never be blotted out of the Lamb's Book of Life. Do you know Him as a personal Lord and Savior of your life.

In the Ancient Roman Empire, if you were tried and convicted of a "capital" offense, the judge would order your name removed from the Census or Registrar. And at that moment your citizenship was revoked, you were sold into the confines into the gladiators if you were a man and made to be part of their spectator sport, or you were then carried away to prison having no name. Please understand this, Jesus says, "I will confess his name (yours and mine) before my Father and His angels. When Jesus calls us, He calls us publicly!

Matthew 10:32-33 ~ "Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven. "

Jesus places a public call on every heart. You may have done it privately, but one day you will tell someone of your faith. That is your public call. Your confession of faith in Jesus. Hearing your name in a crowd, hearing your name in a conversation, there will come a day when you will hear your name, and I will hear my name,

Revelation 1:4b-17 ~"I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone "like a son of man." dressed in a robe reaching down the his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all of its brilliance. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he place his right hand on me and said:"Do not be afraid." 

One day, Jesus will call us by name. He knows all about us. He will forgive you of your sins, by His sacrifice on the cross. He will stand proud before His Father and claim you as one of His own. Isn't that great? 

Luke 10:20 ~ "However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven."

Hebrews 12:23 ~ "to the church of he firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect."

There is security in knowing that. Rejoice in that great news. What this must mean to us is this, the heart of the matter is this, how does a church die? When the people inside, fall asleep spiritually speaking.

Ephesians 5:14 ~ " for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: "Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you."

A sleepy pastor can kill a church, and/or sleepy Christians can kill a church! In the spiritual realm, I wonder what this church (our life) sounds like from the outside? Is there living worship spilling out on the streets? Or is there respectable, reverent silence that is interrupted by the occasional snore or twitch?

A personal passion, a personal explanation Is Your name written in the Book of Life and in the Lamb's Book of Life? Be afraid of those who can take your life and cast your life in hell. You can be in heaven based on what Jesus has done on the cross and you accept that, or you wind up in hell for what you neglected to receive into your own life. The Bible is perfectly clear, God sends no one to hell, they wind up their through their own choosing. Why would your name be blotted out? Only if you command it so.

Tomorrow we will take a look at the 6th church in the Book of Revelation!

Monday, June 15, 2020

Do You Think You Have All The Time in the World?

We are studying more about the Church of Sardis than any of the other churches, because we really don't want to be like this church at all. It is relevant to the age in which we are living in now. This church should be the one that concerns us the most. It is the most dangerous. It is a church that Jesus is not in control of. People attend church to get the Word of God, but the Spirit of God was not welcome here nor was He the counselor of this church.

When we look at our own Christian lives, a real thorough in depth look at who you are as a believer, are you like the church of Sardis?

When Jesus is no longer the counselor, three things will happen.

1. We will run the risk of complacency. It becomes so successful it becomes apathetic. It becomes comfortable and grew complacent.  If we don't make a difference in the world, they world thinks that what they are doing is fine, why do they need Jesus. We need to be making a difference in the life of this world.

2. We will forget Jesus is the Proprietor. He bought us with His own blood. He owns you. No one else did. Jesus wasn't murdered, He willfully laid down His life just for you. Don't ever think that no one loves you, Jesus does and He is the only one that counts.

3. The church will suffer as men struggle for power. This church of Sardis had come to this place that they became dependent on themselves.

Jesus had to put up with this kind of ambition and He hadn't even died yet.

Luke 9:44-48 ~ "Listen carefully to what I am about to tell you: The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men." But they did not understand what this meant. It was hidden from them, so that they did not grasp it, and they were afraid to ask him about it. An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest. Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. Then he said to them, "Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For he who is least among you all - he is the greatest."

It is a dead dying day when a church loses sight of Jesus Christ, and begins to maneuver, scheme, and manipulate like the world. Rather than a church being humbled by what God has done and is doing, it begins to associate itself with the victories that have been gotten by God and given to us. Men become pirates to the church of Christ.

When the Holy Spirit is no longer the source of power, we touched on this before, the church begins to die. Instead of marching forward it becomes encumbered by the cares of the world. When this happens, the church will begin to look back at past victories and begin to boast about them. Jesus was here for 33 years, how long has the Holy Spirit been here? Ever since Jesus left. Why are we not consulting Him more? All we need is the Holy Spirit and the Bible. That is all we need. When we attempt to forget that, we become more like the world.

Jesus reminds them in Revelation 3:1b ~ "I know you deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead."

"You have a reputation," for being the most alive church in the city. "Now more accurately," you once had a life, but now you are dead. Jesus is saying this, " What you're doing now as a church is worse, than when you never believed in me at all."   Who in their right mind would want to attend a dead church? How do you do that?

"I don't want worship songs, unless they are sung to me."
"I don't want to carry a Bible, its just a book of old stories."
"I don't want messages that make me think, I just want to sit here in this pew."
"I don't want anyone to know me at church, I just slip in and slip out."

Mark 8:38 ~ "If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels."

Romans 1:16 ~ "I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile."

They were called "Christian," but they had no Christ.

They went by the name "Christian," but they had no life.

When the Spirit is no longer the source for power in the church, the church begins to error. When the Holy Spirit is not consulted by the leadership of the church, so the people will follow in the same path. We all fail. No one is perfect. We have all done things we are ashamed of, but have we continued in them? If you repent from them, not continuing in them, then you are a healthy believer. If you fell down, hopefully you got back up, repented and carried on. Did you know that Christians are the only ones that shoot their own wounded. That is a sign of a dying church.

Revelation 3:2 ~ "Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God."

When the church pays no attention to the Holy Spirit, the church will descend into error, it must and it will. When Jesus tells the church to be watchful, it means in the Greek, gregoreuo, which means to open your eyes and be on guard; to watch; to be vigilant for an intruder. According to Jesus, a church that is alive, is a church that is watchful for the imminent return of Jesus Christ.

Matthew 26:41 ~ "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak."

Watch against satanic attacks and strengthen the things that remain is basically what this verse translates to. In Greek, the word strengthen means, sterizo, which translates to to make a turn in a new direction; or to set a broken bone back into place; to create an opportunity to heal or rehabilitate.

Psalm 138:7 ~ "Thought I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes, with your right hand you save me."

What kind of a church of you, when the church forgets its humble beginnings.

Revelation 3:3 ~ "Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it and repent.But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you."

Do you remember how the city of Sardis was taken? If you look up the city of "Sart" today, you will still see the ruins of this city. It was conquered twice while the people were sleeping at night. They were so convinced they were invincible but they weren't. They were caught unaware and had grown apathetic. They died in their sleep. This has no reference to the rapture or the second coming, but merely judging them by their area that they are lacking in. This was how the city was captured twice like a thief, they came when they weren't looking.

Hebrews 12:5-8 ~ "And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: "My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son. Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons."

Even to a dead and dying church, Jesus is reaching out His hand to them. When we face hardships in your life, Jesus is working things out in your life. He's telling them to straighten up. When the church forgets its humble beginnings, we need to call to mind the things God has done.

Revelation 3:3 ~ "Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it and repent.But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you."

1. Remember (therefore how you have received and heard)
2. Hold Fast (to dig in, latch on, to grip, like a death grip, to hold on so tight, you will do whatever it takes to hang on.)
3. Repent (menanoeo, meaning to think straight; to think differently; change the course you are on.)

Those of you who are new to Christ, write and date things down, and watch what happens. Attend as many opportunities as possible.

To those of you, who have been with Jesus, keep writing and dating things down. Attend as many opportunities as possible.

When the church forgets its humble beginnings, its time to become vigilant again to what matters.

Revelation 3:3 ~ "Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it and repent.But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you."

According to the historical accounts of the fall of Sardis, the night the city was captured, the soldiers were asleep. A church that is alive, and a Christian who understands scripture is living and waiting, watching and laboring for Jesus' return.

You had better be ready today and everyday, but...this passage was not referring to to Jesus' return but to his coming to judge of the church of Sardis.

What kind of church are you, when all hope seems to have slipped away.

Revelation 3:4-6 ~ "Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."

When all hope seems to have slipped away, we must keep pressing forward. He is speaking to the pastor or angels of the church, the messenger. How were they worthy? Their faith in Jesus Christ, by the grace of God. If you think you have to become worthy, by doing something, you are mistaken. There is no human effort that can do that. It is through faith alone, not works.

We have to get serious about Jesus Christ in these last days. If you take a stand for Jesus, watch what happens. You will get interrupted when you try to do things like prayer, go to church, read the Bible. The phone will ring, you won't feel well, you feel sleepy. PRESS ON!!! The enemy hates your guts. He is real. 83% of people who claim that they are a Christian, don't believe in the devil or demons. Jesus tells the pastor, I got a few names in your church that are not defiled. This is a pastor's nightmare. If the rapture happens, how many people will still be in church on Sunday? Every single church will be packed the Sunday after the rapture, because they will be serious about what has happened and they have missed it. Are you one of the few? Are you watching and waiting for Jesus? Might be the perfect thing to consider if you're not walking with Him the way you should be.

We will finish this up on tomororw, but I hope you will start doing the things you should as a Christian because like the church of Sardis, you don't want to grow too comfortable thinking you have all the time in the world, and then they were attacked while they were sleeping.