Jesus was speaking to the church in the city of Philadelphia and He said to them in Rev. 3:8, "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." Jesus told the believers that He had set before them an open door. There are a couple of different things that an open door refers to from a spiritual standpoint in the Bible. In this context it refers to an opportunity to do a work for God.
Itís important to recognize the opportunities that you have because of the fleeting nature of opportunities. In order to serve God and do something that truly glorifies His name, you must serve God on His terms. You must go His way, and you must go through the doors that He opens. If you do not go through the doors once God has opened them for you, He may shut the doors and if He does, no effort on your part will ever open them again. God might give you another chance, but the doors will only open if God opens them.
When God opens the doors, no man can shut them. This is encouraging news, because if you attempt to serve God you will have obstacles and opposition. But you need not fear the opposition, because no matter how powerful they are, they will in no way be able to shut the doors that God has opened to you. Ignore them the best that you can and keep doing the things that God has given you the opportunity to do, because the doors are going to stay open as long as God chooses to keep them open.
The believers in Philadelphia were using the opportunities that God had given them, and Jesus commended them for three things. First Jesus said that they had a "little strength." Jesus was not talking about physical strength; He was talking about spiritual strength. One of the great problems in the world is how weak people are. Human beings are too often weak in the face of temptation or weak in the face of the obstacles that come their way. But a Christian does not have to be plagued by such weakness because we have the power of God to rely upon. The apostle Paul said in Phil. 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
The believers in Philadelphia had also kept the word of God. The Bible is the Word of God, and therefore the Bible is the most important book in the world. There will always be many attacks against the word of God. Humanism, theological liberalism, false teachers, worldliness, and many more things have all tried to make their attacks on the word of God. A believer who can go many years through this life and in spite of the attacks can still keep the word of God, has done a great thing and won a mighty victory, and such an accomplishment does not go unnoticed by the Judge of the whole earth.
The believers in Philadelphia had also not denied His name. Isnít it strange that the name of Jesus causes such controversy still? The name of Jesus is a wonderful name with a great message of salvation and good news to the world that comes with it. Jesus healed the sick, brought those who sat in darkness into the light by teaching them the truth from God, and then gave His life to die for the sins of the world. What an amazing spirit of generosity and love and self-sacrifice! How is it possible that His name would be despised by the world? But such is the case. In this age there will always be forces who oppose the name of Christ, and it will be common knowledge that if you use the name of Christ with reverence or respect you expose yourself to possible persecutions. In spite of this, the believers in Philadelphia did not deny His name.
If you believe in Jesus and use His name with respect and reverence, then you are simply telling the truth. You are being honest about who you are and what you believe. There are those who are not honest about what they believe, but God knows who they are. There are those who claim to be spiritual and who claim to be worshippers of God, but who are not. They can be found in every religion in the world, including Christianity. They are attempting to use religion for their own selfish purposes. Jesus met these kinds of people in the form of the scribes and Pharisees when He was on the earth. And Jesus said about them here in Rev 3:9, "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."
Jesus said that these people who lie about their religious beliefs are really of the synagogue of Satan. The word ďsatanĒ means adversary. Because of the gradual degeneration of religious organizations and because of the basic deceitful nature of human beings, there will always be a few inside of religious organizations who are not true worshippers of God. Instead of doing the work of God, they will oppose the work of God. But their pride and their deceit will be revealed one day, and the teachings of Jesus will prove to be true once and for all: "the meek shall inherit the earth."
Itís important to notice the last phrase of Rev. 3:9 where Jesus said about His believers, "I have loved them." Everyone in the world needs to be loved, and there is no greater love than the love of God. You have not known love the way you can know it until you have experienced Godís love. "God is love." "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son." Jesus is speaking to the believers in the city of Philadelphia. Because there is also a city called Philadelphia in the United States, most of us know that Philadelphia means brotherly love. Unfortunately, there is not much brotherly love in the city of brotherly love. Neither is there enough love in the world. Instead of love, there is too often hatred and jealousy and prejudice in the world. If more people came to know the love of God through Christ, they would learn how to love their neighbor also. No one can say that they love God and love not their neighbor to whom God has given life.
Jesus loved the believers in Philadelphia, and He loves all believers. If you understand and trust the love that the great eternal God has for you, the possibilities are endless as to the benefit it will bring you. Your faith will immediately be strengthened because you will know that the all-powerful God who loves you will only permit things to happen to you for a good reason. You will be comforted and at peace, because you will know that the God who loves you can never condemn you. You will have more patience because you will be less likely to want things your own way and more likely to be able to wait upon God, knowing that He will act in your favor in His better time and His better way because He loves you.
The believers in Philadelphia had some faithfulness to the Lord and Jesus commended them for it. He said to them in Rev. 3:10, "Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth." The word that is here translated as "temptation" can also mean a test or a trial. As we shall see starting in Revelation Chapter 4 one day there will be a great trial that will come upon the earth. It will be a time of more sorrows and difficulties than the human race has ever experienced. Jesus says in this verse that His believers will be spared from going through this great tribulation. Jesus also makes it very clear that the time of great tribulation is sent from God. We know that the purpose of God is to save every soul. But when people will have made their hearts harder and harder towards God, God will do more to try and wake them up to see their need of Him before it is eternally too late. This will be one of the reasons for the great tribulation: to wake people up to see their need for God.
After the great tribulation Jesus will come back to the earth, and so He said in Rev. 3:11, "Behold, I come quickly: hold fast that which thou hast, that no man take thy crown." Christians do not have to fear their eternal destiny. Because of the sacrificial death of Christ for them, they have a place reserved in the Kingdom of God. Their names remain written on the book of life. Christians do not have to fear the great tribulation that will come upon the earth. Because of the promises of Christ, they can be assured that they will be spared from the time of Jacob's trouble.
But Christians do have to be concerned about the possibility that they might lose their rewards or that they might fail to gain rewards when Christ returns. Jesus said to the believers, "Hold fast that which thou hast, that no man take thy crown." This life will soon be past; only what you have done for Christ will last. A crown is a symbol of power and authority. Great power and authority in the Kingdom of God will be given to the believers who have faithfully served the Lord Jesus Christ.
Other rewards and benefits that Jesus will give believers who persevere and hold on and stay faithful are referred to by Jesus in Rev. 3:12-13 where He said, "Him that overcomes will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out; and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from my God; and I will write upon him my new name. He that has an ear, let him hear what the spirit says unto the churches." Jesus told believers to look for a new Jerusalem. In no place in the New Testament are Christians told to go the old Jerusalem. The old Jerusalem is a city like other cities on the earth: a place of corruption and the struggle for power. These pilgrimages that some Christians make to the old Jerusalem are not what Jesus said to do here in the book of Revelation. He said to look for a new Jerusalem that would come out of heaven. Jesus is implying that the hopes and aspirations of His believers can never come from the kingdoms of this world or the cities that are built therein. We must always remember to look up: to look for the city whose builder and maker is God.
Starting in Rev. 3:14 Jesus told John to write to the seventh of the churches, and Jesus said, "And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, these thing says the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God." Itís important to note that to each of the churches Jesus presented Himself. He revealed certain characteristics about Himself. The message that we all need to hear most frequently is the message of Jesus. We need to hear about the character of Jesus, the teachings of Jesus, the promises of Jesus, and the love of God that is revealed in Jesus. We need to hear the old, old story of the cross and the One who died there for our sins. The purpose of every Christian sermon should be to reveal Jesus Christ. Remember that the title of this book of the Bible is the Revelation of Jesus Christ.
Jesus revealed Himself to the people in Laodicea and He said that He was the Amen, the faithful and true witness. The only way that people can understand the truth from God is to come into contact with Jesus Christ. In order to witness to he lost people of the world, we cannot speak of ourselves: we must point them to Jesus. Jesus is the faithful and true witness. Unless Jesus witnesses to the heart of an individual, no truth will be communicated. Itís amazing that God chooses to use His believers as witnesses to a lost and dying world, but thatís why we are here. We will see as we read the rest of the verses in Revelation Chapter 3 the horrible state to which the church in Laodicea had fallen in that they were no longer witnesses in any way to the lost.
Jesus said in Rev. 3:15-19, "I know thy works, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish you were cold or hot. So then because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because you say, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and know not that you are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that you may be rich; and white raiment, that you may be clothed, and that the shame of your nakedness do not appear; and anoint your eyes with eyesalve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten; be zealous therefore, and repent." The biggest problem of the people in the church of Laodicea was that they did not have a zeal to serve God. They were a part of the church, but they had no zeal.
Another problem that these people had was that they were materialistic. They thought that everything was fine between them and God because they had all of the material things that they needed. But Jesus said that in reality they were poor. Spiritual things are much more valuable than material things. Notice where these people were advised to go in order to gain the spiritual things that they needed. They were already in church, but that wasnít enough. They still needed to go to Jesus, and obtain from Jesus what can be attained no where else, not even from church.
If you go to Jesus and obtain what He alone can give you, then you will become spiritually rich. If you go to Jesus, the shame of your sins will be covered by His great forgiveness. If you go to Jesus, your eyes will be opened to see and to understand things about God and His will for you that were impossible before.
The people in the church of Laodicea did not have a zeal for God, and therefore Jesus had to warn them. God will rebuke and chasten His children if there is no other way to wake us up to our opportunities to serve Him. Because at this point in their lives they did not have a zeal to serve God, Jesus warned them that for their own good, they had better have a zeal to repent. Anyone who needs repentance whether in a church or outside of a church should consider this warning from Jesus. There is a consequence to pay for sin, and it may soon crush you like an avalanche. Change you mind about the way that you are going before it is too late. Remember the plea and the warning from Jesus, "Be zealous therefore, and repent."
Copyright; 2000 by Charles F. (Rick) Creech
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