Monday, August 26, 2013

P2 Jesus wants a S.T.A.Y faithful church Rev 3:7-13

Revelation 3:9 "Behold, I will cause those of the synagogue of Satan, who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie—I will make them come and bow down at your feet, and make them know that I have loved you."

What ingredients in Revelation 3:7-13 does Jesus give for Christians to S.T.A.Y faithful?
As we noted yesterday, there are four ingredients of faithfulness found in Revelation 3:7-13 by way of the acronym "S.T.A.Y".

Strength of Jesus Christ.      Revelation 3:7-8

True power of the Gospel.    Revelation 3:9

Application of the scripture.  Revelation 3:10

Yearn to run for Jesus.        Revelation 3:11-13

We noted yesterday that faithfulness could be defined as repeated, moment by moment loyalty to Jesus Christ exercised by faith. A s.t.a.y faithful church is what Jesus is commending in this letter to Philadelphia and the trait he desires for Christians and the church today.  Lets look briefly at the first two ingredients of such faithfulness.

Strength of Jesus Christ.      Revelation 3:7-8
Jesus told his disciples in John 15:5 that He was the vine and they were the branches, and that apart from Him they could do nothing.  This truth holds firm for the church and the Christian today who aims to stay faithful.  Jesus Christ opens His address to this church by way of three sets of names that point back to the strength He has to enable every child of God.  First we note in Revelation 3:7 that He is the "Holy" or better rendered "The Holy One", a Divine title that reveals Jesus as the Almighty God. (compare Isaiah 57:15; Mark 1:24) The second way Jesus is our strength for staying faithful is in that He Himself is always faithful as demonstrated by the title "true" in Revelation 3:7.  The title "true" refers to the reality and fidelity of character that Jesus exercises when dealing with His people, a Divine title mentioned in Revelation 6:10,15:3,16:7,19:2 & 21:5.  So we see Jesus as the strength of faithfulness by the way He is Almighty, Always faithful and thirdly by what we could call simply "able", as seen in His claim to open a door that no one can shut in Revelation 2:7.

Jesus Christ as the believer's source of strength is the true fabric of being able to stay faithful.  The church at Philadelphia could not claim any credit for its testimony.  For one thing in Revelation 3:8 Jesus reasserts that He is the one that put before the church an "open door". The Apostle Paul helps us understand Jesus' meaning by using this imagery to describe how he was able to preach the gospel and win souls for Jesus. (1 Corinthians 16:9; 2 Corinthians 2:12; Colossians 4:3) Only the power and strength of Jesus Christ could fling open doors of opportunity otherwise held shut by unbelieving man.  

We secondly note too in Revelation 3:8 that Jesus said that Philadelphia was a church of "little strength".  That word translated "little" is the Greek word "micran" from whence comes our word "micro".  A "micron" is an actual unit of measurement that measures one-millionth of a meter.  To gain perspective on how small a "micron" is, it would take over 2,000 dots a micron in size to cover your average quarter.  That's the kind of strength this church has in comparison to the challenges around her.  Yet that was not a liability, but a blessing! How? Consider Paul's words in 2 Corinthians 12:9 "And He has said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.' Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me." 

So it was Christ's strength, not her size and it was Christ's strength that opened doors, not the church's ingenuity, that enabled her to stay faithful.  You and I dear friend need to remember that as we live in times of small resources and big opportunities.  Now notice a second ingredient of a s.t.a.y faithful Christian:

True power of the Gospel.    Revelation 3:9
Jesus identifies a serious threat facing Philadelphia that threatened the existence of the courageous church at Smyrna - namely a group of Jews who in reality were hostile to Jesus' claim as Lord, Messiah and Savior.  In fact Jesus called them a "synagogue of satan" in Revelation 3:9. They were professors of God with the lips, but their hearts were far from him. A Synagogue was a local worship center for the Jews that had popped up into existence in the days before Jesus' birth.  To have a synagogue of the Jews needed the presence of 100 Jewish men to be official.  Imagine at least 100 men like the fiery Apostle Paul before his conversion, launching persecutions against the Christians.  Nevertheless the Philadelphians stood their ground like the pillars standing in the midst of their earth-quake ridden city.  What drove them? The power of the Gospel. (Romans 1:16)  Jesus, who placed before them an open door of missions and undoubtedly a foretaste of His coming Kingdom, promises in Revelation 3:9 "I will make them come and bow down at your feet, and make them know that I have loved you."  Just as Jesus promised the church back then, at bare minimum we can say that the church today who remains faithful to the Gospel may in time see some of the hardest unbelievers bow the knee to faith in Christ. John Walvoord notes: Those in the church today who are experiencing such affliction and persecution may be assured that however violent the opposition and however direct the efforts to thwart and hinder the work of God, in the end there will be victory for the cause of Christ."1

More tomorrow.....

1. John Walvoord. The Revelation of Jesus Christ - A Commentary. Moody Press. 1966. Page 86