Pul­pit Notes

The Church of Philadel­phia: Then and Now

The Covington News - - Religion -

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

Colos­sians 1:13-20

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


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