The Church of Philadelphia: Then and Now
Christ dictated seven letters to seven churches of Asia Minor and the Apostle John wrote them down and sent them to the churches, as is recorded in Revelation, chapters 2 and 3. To each church, Christ had a specific message. He still does.
Jesus introduced himself to the church of Philadelphia (Rev. 3:7-13) by saying he is holy, true and is the one who holds the key of David, meaning he is the one who grants entry and access into the royal household of God, like David, who ruled over the kingdom of Israel.
Christ then told the church he had set before them an open door of opportunity that no one could shut. This must have been a great encouragement to this group of Christians, who, although they were not large in number nor a strong church, had faithfully kept God’s word and not denied his name.
Christ assured the Christians of Philadelphia that there were those who were opposing them, namely the Jews, who were “liars,” and Christ would make them to come and fall down before the Christian church and admit the love Christ had for the Gentiles, and not only for the Jews.
Not everyone in the church today is what they claim to be. There are fakes, imposters, opponents of what Christ is truly trying to accomplish for his glory. One day, every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is truly Lord. Because these Christians had been faithful, Christ told them He would keep them from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth. This undoubtedly refers to the time known as the great tribulation, which is yet in the future, but is getting very near.
This will be a time of unprecedented trials and troubles on earth, and a large part of the book of Revelation describes what will happen during those perilous and terrible years.
Christ said he was coming soon and encouraged these faithful Christians to hold on to what they had, so no one would take away their crown of victory.
Then Christ promised that for those who would overcome, he would make them a pillar in the temple of God, to where they would never have to leave that temple. He would also write on them the name of
God, the name of the city of God — the new Jerusalem, and his own new name, a symbol of ownership.
Then, in his usual style, Christ calls on those who have ears to really hear what the Spirit is saying to the church through his letter.
Today we, like the Christians in Philadelphia, have been given a wide open door of opportunity to spread the gospel of Christ and see lives changed for eternity. We too, must be faithful and hold on to what we have and not get discouraged. Jesus is coming soon. The pieces of the end-times prophetical puzzle are coming together, and the Great Tribulation will come to pass.
Take heart and be encouraged by Christ’s letter to the church of Philadelphia. The Rev. Wayne Rutherford LifePointe Church of the
Put on Your Christ Lens
Some of you are reading this only because you’ve got something on your face. Without those glasses, this would just be a blur. But whether or not you need corrective lenses to read, one thing I can safely say is that we all have needed some spiritual vision correction. And in our text from Colossians 1, we see Jesus giving that to us. So we have reason to put on this Christ lens, because Jesus changes the way things look — the way we look to God and the way he looks to us.
The text starts describing how we did look to God. Verse 13: “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness.” We were “in the dark,” clueless, helpless, hopeless. But he rescued us. He “brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves.” Now we’re in the light; God sees us much differently now. Verse 14 says how: “In him (Jesus) we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
That combination of words is pretty spectacular — redemption — the buying back, the price paid; and forgiveness, real literally, “the pushing away, leading away” of sin. That combination of words would’ve jumped out at anyone familiar with worship in Old Testament times. Those two words summed up the biggest day in the church year — our Christmas and Easter rolled into one. Those two words are what they saw visibly on that Great Day of Atonement, what they called Yom Kippur. That was the day those two goats were chosen. One was sacrificed and his blood sprinkled on the people and then also in the most Holy Place of the temple, the place where God dwelled — the place no one could enter — ever, except the high priest, and only on this one day, and only with that payment of blood. You see blood was the proof of the wage for sin paid — death. Blood pointed them forward to the blood of the lamb — Jesus, our king, whose blood would be shed to pay our redemption price once and for all.
And there was that other goat — the forgiveness picture. That goat too was brought in front of all the people. The priest placed his hands on its head and confessed the sins of the entire congregation on it. And then they watched, as that scapegoat was led out into the desert, far away, never to be seen again — carrying the sins of the people with him — gone, removed. These are the concepts that crystallize God’s viewing of us. He has put on the Christ lens and so he sees us… he sees you as his children, as perfect because all he sees is the perfection of the Son he’s looking through in place of those sins that were there. But now those sins have been led out into the wilderness when the King of Creation — our Savior, was led outside of the city to that skull-shaped hill and made to pay willingly the price, the wage for each sin of darkness.
So now, through the rose colored (stained red by the blood of the lamb) glasses, God doesn’t see the blurry lines of sins and situations we didn’t know how to handle. He doesn’t see the double vision of when we say one thing and think or do another, because he has put on the Christ lens, and we look perfect to him.
Of course that Christ lens affects the way we see God too. Look at our text and see how this Christ lens shows us the invisible God. For us here though, we’ll have to save that for another time. Just don’t forget to make sure you see everything and everyone through Christ. Thank God he does. Pastor Jonathan Scharf Abiding Grace Lutheran