Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Church at Philadelphia

(Revelation 3:7-13) "And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These things saith he that is holy, that he is true, but that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it; for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.  Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.  Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I will also keep them from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.  Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.  Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out; and I will write upon the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is New Jerusalem, which cometh down out of Heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches."

Philadelphia was located 28 miles south east of Sardis on the Cogamus River.  The city was named after its founder King Attalus Philedelphos II of Pergamum.  The "city of brotherly love" was built out of affection for his brother and predecessor Ecumenes II.  Philadelphia was a city known for the spread of the Greek language and culture.  The city was regarded as a wealthy trade center; it was located on the main route between the east and west.  Philadelphia was a blessed congregation.  Even though they had little strength, they kept His word, didn't deny his name, and endured patiently. 

This church is also called the "favored church" or the "loved church", because God said that "I have loved you" and gave no reprimands whatsoever to this church.  This is the period in church history that is considered the start of the missionary movement around the world.  It was the reclaiming of the imminent return of Christ, the Pre-millennial coming of Jesus to the earth and the rapture of the church.  This church is sort of a throwback to the first two churches of Ephesus and Smyrna of the first three centuries.  Just as Sardis come out of Thyatira, so Philadelphia comes out of Sardis.  As Sardis was dead and cold and aligned with the state, this church is alive, full of love and vitality for God and for people. 

There are two factors that played a part in starting the missionary movement.  One of them was the Bible was printed in the language of the people, and made available to people to read.  Before this, there were few Bibles and the forbade the reading of it by common folk.  Because the Spirit of the Lord will make the Word of God alive, when people started reading it, they took it literally, and when it said..."Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature", that's what Christians did.  Also, because the Word of God was available, the doctrine of the imminent return of Christ for his bride (the rapture), the Second coming of Christ, the Millennial reign of Christ, and all the End times doctrines were revived.  Due to the printing press, people had a copy of the Bible they could read to learn the truths of scripture.  These teachings contributed, (as they did during the first 300 years of the church), to a consecrated, separated, and evangelistic church that reaches the whole world.  In preparation for an anticipation of the return of the Lord, this church would do what He said to do in the Great Commission, which was to "go into all the world."

In this hour in which we live, the church era we're living in presently is the Laodecian church age which we'll be discussing next Sunday.  Even though the church has become increased with goods and has need of nothing (so they think), we can still have the spirit of Philadelphia.  In the midst of the church's slumber, I believe there's a remnant today that represents the church at Philadelphia.  There are churches that are steadfast in spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ to their local communities.  There are those of us who believe Jesus is soon to return.  There are still those that haven't compromised and bowed their knee to the gods of this world.  They have been steadfast and faithful.  We must keep in mind that everything we do when it comes to the gospel we do it in the light of the soon return of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Jesus is coming.  The gospel is serious.  Time is running out.  What we need to do for the sake of the gospel we must do quickly.  Signs are ripe for the rapture to take place.  It could take place today.

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