SUNDAY MAY 3 2020
I would suggest the following songs to sing. For those with access they can be played from You Tube.
How Great is our God – Chris Tomlin
In Christ Alone – Celtic Worship – Steph Macleod
Because He Lives – Linng Mission (or one of your favourite singers)
Whom Shall I Fear – Chris Tomlin.
Also, at the end of this message is a short communion. I suggest we join in this together, at distance, at 11:00 am.
Churches of Philadelphia and Laodicea. Revelation 3:7-22
In this final presentation of Christ’s epistles to the seven churches of Revelation I will combine churches six and seven. Not that these two demonstrate similar conditions, quite the contrary. These two are at opposite ends of the spectrum. Philadelphia has only a good report with no condemnations from Christ, whereas, Laodicea has only condemnations without any good attributes mentioned.
As a means of a quick summary of our study to date let’s remember the structure of the book of Revelation . Revelation 1:19 gives the outline of the entire book. John was to divide his writing into three categories. “Write the things which thou has seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter.” John, guided by the Holy Spirit wrote the things which he saw, chapter 1, the vision of the resurrected glorified Christ, followed by the things which are, according to the present in which John lived, the real churches of chapters two and three of Revelation, then the things which shall be hereafter, beginning with chapters 4 of Revelation.
Chapters two and three represent “the things which are” the churches. These two chapters summarize “the things which are,” even though these churches also have a prophetic significance that will stretch through the entirety of the Church Age.
The third category which John was to write concerns “the things which shall be hereafter. The Greek that is here translated in English as “hereafter” comprises the two Greek words, “meta, tauta.” These are the very same two Greek words translated in English as “after this” in verse one of chapter four of Revelation. So, it seems obvious that “the things which shall be hereafter” begin at verse one of Chapter four. The remainder of Revelation from chapter four onward is prophetic and futuristic from John’s point of view.
Further, we saw how the body of each of the seven letters follow a fairly consistent pattern.
Each church is introduced by name, followed by Christ identifying Himself by a name chosen from chapter one. Commendations are stated followed by condemnations. Next, Christ gives His remedies for any shortfalls. Then there are promises to the overcomers, followed by the concluding phrase, “Let him who has an ear hear what the Spirit says unto the churches.”
As with the previous five churches, Christ chooses to introduce Himself to the church at Philadelphia with a name taken from chapter one of Revelation. To the church at Philadelphia He reveals Himself as, “He that is holy, He that is true, He that has the key of David, He that opens, and no man shuts; and shuts, and no man opens.”
He encourages His followers by saying, “I know thy works.”
For those doing well this is encouraging.
You will notice here upon close inspection that there are only commendations for Philadelphia, there are no condemnations!
He tells them He knows they have little strength and that they have “kept my word;” that they have “not denied my name.” More on this in a moment.
He suggest that there is persecution in the form of “those of the synagogue of Satan who say they are Jews but are not.”
This is similar to Christ’s condemnation mentioned in Rev. 2:9 where He also refers by saying, “I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.”
This type of blasphemy takes many disguises. It is prevalent in church hierarchy everywhere. In John’s day, the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the High Priests, claimed to be children of Abraham but Jesus retorted that their father was the Devil!
As we know every true Apostle with the exception of John, suffered cruel death by not denying His Name. In a prophetic sense, things for the true church are going to get harder and harder as opposition to our Messiah becomes more and more extreme.
Jesus says, that these false religious leaders are liars, and that soon He will require them to bow down and worship Him at our feet, and that by this they will know that Jesus loves us!
Christ commends this church and its followers for “Keeping the word of His patience.” Patience is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. Believers of the church of Philadelphia are seen as “walking in the Spirit.” Not depending upon their own strength but totally dependent upon His’.
There is a very unique promise given here. In the opening verse of this epistle to the church at Philadelphia, Christ mentions that He has the “Key of David, He opens what no man can shut and shuts what no man can open.” And again in verse eight He adds, “I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it.” This ‘key of David’ is referred to in Is. 22:22. It reads as follows:
“And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open.”
This is a Messianic reference. God, the Father, will lay upon Jesus the Son, this key of David. I will be discussing much more on this subject in a week or two. Today, may it suffice as a reference from the Prophets to the mysterious and awesome grace of our Father and of His Son on our behalf. Let’s us focus for the moment on the reality of this ‘open door.’
Returning to chapter three of Revelation let us notice another aspect of Christ’s peculiar promise to those who “Keep the word of my patience.” This is a patience in the face of trial and testing and requires a good deal of endurance. He promises “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.” A few points of interest. “I will keep thee from . . .” The Greek word here for ‘from’ is “ek.” This tiny word means “out of” or “away from.” It does not mean to be kept through something but rather out of. This is one of the arguments used to support the viewpoint that believers will be raptured prior to the tribulation period. This may indeed be true but we need to exercise caution. This verse does not say that believers will be removed from the tribulation nor even part of the tribulation. It states believers will be kept ‘out of’ the hour, of testing. We cannot be definitive as to how long this ‘hour’ is or what it encompasses. An hour, as used here is a certain definite length of time but this length can vary.
Continuing, Christ reminds them that He is coming ‘suddenly.’
He encourages the church of Philadelphia to “Hold fast that no man takes thy crown.” To the overcomes He promises that they will be a “pillar in the temple of my God,” and that He will write the name of His God upon them along with the name of the city of my God which is the New Jerusalem. “And I will write upon him my new name!”
The concluding phrase ends this epistle to Philadelphia, “He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says unto the churches.”
The church of Laodicea
To this church Christ introduces Himself as “The Amen, The Faithful and True witness, the beginning of the creation of God.”
“The Amen,” meaning, ‘So be it.” Or, God has the final say. Regardless of the belief system of the membership of the church of Laodicea, it is God and God alone who has the final say on how things are.
People may hold to a vast array of perverted theologies or blasphemous world views, but all will be blown away as so much chaff at His Word. This is due, in part, because He is the Faithful and True Witness. Scripture has much to say about true and faithful witnesses. More on this topic some time later. For now, let us concentrate of This One as He is pictured in Revelation 19:11. “And I [John], saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he does judge and make war.” Christ is the only faithful and true One because everything that He does He does in righteousness. Also, He is the only true witness because He was there from everlasting. In one of John’s other writings, John 1: 1-3 we read, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” He is the True witness because He was there when all was created. In fact, it was by Him, the Word, that all of creation appeared. We read in Col. 1:16-17, “For by him [Jesus], were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, of principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: and he is before all things, and by him all things consist [are held together]. He is the only True witness for He has seen it all! God addressed Job establishing that God and God alone is the True Witness. Listen to Job 38:4, “Where were you [Job], when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare, if you have understanding.”
It is most appropriate that Jesus indentifies Himself this way to this particular church, as He continues with His own self description. “I am the beginning of the creation of God;” The characteristics of this church of Laodicea are most prevalent in our world today. Most in our society and many within the walls of our church buildings, reject a special creation. This current world system follows after the religion of evolution. Their high priesthood have deceived and mislead the past several generations and the tentacles of their false teachings have wormed their way into every aspect of ‘modern’ life. But Jesus said in effect, I was there at the beginning and you were not. I know, for it was by the word of my mouth that creation began and is even now sustained.
In reading through this section of Scripture we realize that Jesus could not find one iota of conduct within this church worthy of commendation. He begins His report card by saying, “I know your works.” Our society, those of this church ilk, have tried to convince themselves that ‘God is dead,’ or ‘God is an absentee landlord,’ or God, if he exists, doesn’t see nor care what we do.’
Sorry folks, “I know your works.” He then goes on with a scathing indictment. “You are neither cold nor hot. I would wish that you were indeed cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of my mouth.” Lukewarm religious people make Jesus sick to the stomach! I often walk my dog and sometimes she has an upset tummy so she pauses to eat grass. After a moment of two she vomits. This is the picture the Holy Spirit gave us to show His regard for lukewarmness. Those who say they are believers but are so wishy-washy, so illiterate of things of scripture, so lukewarm; pulled to-and-fro by every whim of doctrine that they are only good for casting out of Christ. Eph. 4:14 states, “That we henceforth not be children tossed to-and-fro, and carried about by every whim of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lay in wait to deceive.”
A point of interest on hot and cold. In physics, something hot or cold has the opportunity for change. Energy is usually transferred from something hot to something cold. This energy change can ‘do work.’
God is able to use someone who is hot or cold because He can direct the change. But something that is lukewarm cannot perform work, in the physics world, so it is useless, unproductive. In the letter here, the lukewarm ones have no interest in ‘doing’ nor ‘working at,” what is necessary to make themselves fit for the Kingdom of God. And, as un-salty salt, they are good only to be cast out and trampled underfoot. I would much prefer to debate with someone who is cold rather than the one who is lukewarm. The cold one is primed for energy transfer, the lukewarm one is not.
They have become lukewarm because they say, “I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing;” Those in this world system that are rich with worldly riches see no need to call upon a God for help. Their ‘salvation’ lies in their bank balances, their large homes; their extravagant life-styles. Christ says they are deceived. That they are “wretched, and miserable, and poor and blind, and naked.” Five results of their deception. And because they are lukewarm they have no desire to change themselves! However, God in His mercy, counsels them to do the following.
- “Buy of me gold tried in the fire, that you may be rich.”
- “Buy of me white raiment, that you may be clothed so that the shame of your nakedness is covered.”
- “Anoint your eyes with eye-salve, that you may see.”
Of course, the buying here does not involved their riches. Their money is useless. The only way out of their neglected predicament is by coming to Christ. “Wretched and poor and naked I come,” as the song says. The only way to cover their nakedness is at the cross where the ‘clothing exchange’ occurs. We give over to Christ our sin nature and He exchanges it for His righteousness. We become clothed in His white raiment, the raiment of His holy righteousness. It is there that eyes are opened to see the wonders and grace and mercy of Him.
It is interesting to note that the only cure for lukewarmness is fire! “Buy of me gold tried in the fire.” The call of Isaiah is informative here. In Is. 6:5 and 7 we read, “Woe is me! For I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips . . . And the angel took a live coal in his hand and laid it upon my mouth and said, Lo, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged.” You see, the fire of God is the remedy for lukewarmness. Jesus summarizes this by saying in verse 19 of chapter 3, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” He instructs the church of Laodicea to become zealous. This word in the Greek, G2206 means, “to burn with zeal.” And it is taken from the root word, G2205 meaning, “excitement of mind, ardour in embracing and pursuing, and fervour of spirit.” The cure for lukewarmness is fire, fervour.
But, how does one light the fire again? Jesus gave the answer in this same verse – repent. It starts with repentance. Repentance is the spark that starts the fire of renewal. And once the fire catches hold all lukewarmness vanishes.
Jesus concludes His letter to this church by stating in verse 20, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”
Even though the entire church of Laodicea is languishing in its lukewarm, self-satisfied, deceived condition, yet individuals can be saved. Notice where Jesus is in relation to this church. HE IS OUTSIDE. Outside, knocking to come in! How many congregations have pushed Jesus out? How many only preach a social doctrine? How many have expelled the faithful, the holy, the Spirit lead? How many have replaced the Truth with a political correctness? All manner of perversions have taken roost. Yet still, Jesus knocks. I find it very fascinating that with the church of Philadelphia Christ had a key to open a door for the faithful, yet here with Laodicea He waits for that one who will open the door to Him!
To the overcome Christ promises that they will sit with Christ upon His throne even as He sits upon the Father’s. The overcomers will reign and rule with Christ as will all members of the body of Christ.
Let him who has an ear hear what the Spirit says unto the churches.
Father, as we take time to remember all your goodness toward us, help us in our weaknesses. There are times we have ‘little strength’ so we come to you through the name of Jesus to gain strength and courage for the day. We determine this day to keep your word. Continue to enlighten us with the wonder of your written word as we commune with the Living Word this day. Help us to never deny the name of Jesus, and may your patience be fruitful in our lives. Let us remember to pray for each other. We thank you Lord at this time for all those who stand and work in harm’s way on our behalf. Lord, bless our families, keep us united. Fill us with a spirit of forgiveness and compassion. We are grateful for this bread and this wine and for all they represent. We bow in awe this day as we reflect upon their meaning. Let us be true ambassadors of your Name, worthy to be called into the body of Christ, by the blood of the Lamb. Open that door for us that we may dwell in your presence both now, at this moment, and in that Day to come.
“And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, ‘Take eat; this is my body.’ And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink you all of it: for this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.’ And when they had sung a hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.” (Matthew 26:26-30)
Let us eat and drink together this morning thankful for a past and a future in Him.
May the Lord continue to richly bless you and to keep you safe within the fold. Until that time when we see each other again face-to-face, remember that He loves you with an everlasting love, and that He, The True and Faithful One, has promised to never leave nor forsake you. Go in peace, Amen.
As a mid-week Bible study read and consider Isaiah 1 especially verses 10-19. Blessings.