Philadelphia

This post is a hard one for me to write. It’s good for me to though. It’s good for me to be honest, to declare my struggles, and to share the things learned along the way. If I don’t, then what am I doing here in the first place? Is this always comfortable for me? No. I think though, we Christians often get so caught up in trying to be Christianly that we stop looking at ourselves honestly, and instead, we deceive ourselves and others into thinking we are righteous. I’ve done it. So, that being said, I want to write some about the church of Philadelphia, my struggles with it, and what good might have come from this experience.

I’m of course referring to the church of Philadelphia in Revelation 3.

And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;

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.

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.

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.

11 Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.

12 Him that overcometh 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 cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.

Overcoming Vanities

First, let’s get the hard part out of the way. Why the struggle for me? Well, that’s multi-faceted. It started with a scripture song I heard for Revelation chapters 2-3. The first time I heard it, when it got to the part about Philadelphia, I got chills down my spine. I was born in Philadelphia, and that led to this train of thought about those circumstances. I also remembered being taught about how Smyrna and Philadelphia were the only 2 churches written about that did not have their candlestick “removed out of it’s place.” So, Even though right off I thought I was being vain in my thoughts, I still reasoned that this was a church to pay attention to. What were the good traits? What was the lesson to take away from this?

So, I tried to push the ridiculous notions aside and just focus on what I should learn. What stood out for me was patience. I’m not patient. Patience is one of the things I most covet in terms of righteousness, so that got me right off the bat. It helped soften the vain thoughts too because I was in no way patient.

It’s really hard to explain how vain thoughts can get hold of you. For me it was like this nagging thought that I hated but just could not get to go away. I reasoned with myself that this is a good thing. It is good to be exercised in resisting vain thoughts, especially if we happen to be around when the false prophet is doing his thing. I remembered reading someplace about how he used flattery to deceive, so this exercise can only be good for me.

It might have been, but there are not words to describe the mental suffering I went through over the past few years. It sounds totally nuts. Maybe it is, but I think I’m over it! I’ve been praying about it for a long time, and I heard something recently that was like the hammer that broke that final chain for me.

It was something to the affect of how we can be within any of the rebuked churches, and if we do well, we have not defiled our garments. We can also be within the two approved churches and not do well and have our names scrubbed out of the book of life. Instead of worrying over which church we belong to, it is better to rejoice in our name being written in the book of life! Amen!

I write this because I’ve come across others who also struggle with vain thoughts, even those pertaining to these churches. So, if you happen to be reading this, I hope this will help you. You are not alone. There are others like you who are bombarded with these things, and it is good for you to struggle. It is good to resist vanities. Just don’t be overcome by them.

Lessons from the Church of Philadelphia

That all being said, what can we learn from Philadelphia? Hopefully my focus on this and desire to understand has been profitable in this way at least. I want to share my thoughts about the lesson we can learn from Philadelphia.

And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;

When I think about this verse, I think about characteristics of God. His holiness, the fact that Jesus is Truth, and the absolute sovereignty of God. He is perfectly in control of our salvation. Only God can call us to the truth of Jesus Christ, and only He can prepare our hearts to receive Jesus. No one can stop our salvation. No one can shut Jesus out of our hearts, because he is the key! I don’t really know what the key of David means. Interestingly enough I never looked into that.

I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it:

I love and sometimes fear the fact that nothing is hidden from God. He knows our deeds. He knows us inside and out, and there is nothing we do or think that is hidden from God. Again I like this image that God opens and shuts doors, not man. If we are to walk a path, we will. He will make us do it, and there is nothing anyone can do about it.

for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.

The word strength here is translated from dunamis. It can mean strength or power. I like that. I want the power to live according to the righteous ways of God. When I first started seeking the Lord earnestly, I felt so weak and out of control of my life. The idea of strength was so awesome to me. It still is, and I love knowing that my strength is not what is required. It is the strength of the Lord working in me!

Keeping the Lord’s word and not denying His name. This means so much to me. I could write a lot on this alone, but for time’s sake, I won’t right now. Maybe another time. Generally speaking, this means to hold reverence for Jesus. Not just the name, but who the Word is, what he stands for, what he teaches, what he promises. Not watering down his message to be pleasing. Not making doctrinal sacrifices. Not accepting others paths to God as acceptable.

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.

The synagogue of Satan that says they are Jews but lie. Boy could I go into a lot of detail here. I’ve made it a point to refrain from these kinds of things, but I will say this. Being a Christian is not being one outwardly, but inwardly. Like when Paul taught that a Jew was not one who was circumcised outwardly, but one who was circumcised in heart. We have to keep all that Jesus stands for and take it to heart. It has to really matter to us. We have to be fruitful in it.

The worship before thy feet thing always made me uneasy. I cannot imagine this at all. It seems that Jesus who is God is the only one to be worshiped, so I’m just leaving it at that. I expect this could have to do with having a leadership role in the kingdom of heaven, and those not in authority have to obey. I can’t say much about it because I don’t know for sure.

“To know that I have loved thee.” Boy is that an attractive idea for an insecure, weak, lonely person. My name, Amanda, meaning “worthy of love” did no good for my vanity struggle. For most of my life that felt almost humorously ironic. To be loved. I want Jesus to love me, and he does. He loves all who love him and seek him with a sincere heart. That is something to be comforted in when placed in the right light, keeping reverence for God and not allowing selfish desires to be loved to cloud our vision.

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.

Ah, here it is. The verse. Keeping the word of His patience is obviously very important, because in so doing we are freed from the hour of temptation. What does it mean to keep the word of the Lord’s patience? It means to endure. It means that we hold fast to Jesus and all he stands for, we become strong though the promise of His might, and we continue in the faith. We push on in the things of God. We grow even if we are living in a world that would stifle our growth. Even if we are living during the time of greatest deception and tribulation.

That is how we will escape the hour of temptation. The time in which the chaff is separated from the wheat, the goats from the sheep, the wise virgins from the foolish, the ones who buried their talent or invested it, those who had a wedding garment or did not. By doing all of the things mentioned up to this point, we are resting on a sure foundation that will not fail. This does not mean we will be raptured away. I don’t believe in the rapture, but I do believe in the first and second resurrection. If you want to call the first resurrection the rapture, that’s fine. Just know that comes after the last trumpet sounds. After the tribulation.

I also think about my struggle with church corruption. God ordains these things. He blinds and deafens. God wants things to be like they are, and to be overly zealous about fighting what He ordains is vanity. I also notice that the synagogue of Satan will worship before the feet of Philadelphia. They will still have some kind of chance at life eternal. They might be nominal Christians. I also think of the story of David and Saul which I read not long ago. There is a lot to this patience thing.

This is another section I could write more about. Another time.

Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.

He comes quickly. I don’t know how to apply that. When we keep all these things, Jesus will certainly come quickly to our hearts, and in that way the kingdom of heaven comes to us. As far as the return of Jesus to this earth, the son of perdition has to be revealed first. That has not happened yet.

Hold fast. Hold fast to the teachings which you have been taught. Hold fast to the gospel, even if the world denies it. I believe the world does at large deny it. Even the Christian world. I’ve written about that many times before, so I won’t here. If you are a new reader and this confuses you, comment below or email me.

“That no man take thy crown.” I think of those who cast their crowns at the feet of the one who sits on the throne. Maybe we get crowns, but I like the idea of throwing them down at the feet of the Almighty! I also think about Revelation 12. The women with the crown of 12 stars. I see that as the true Jerusalem and bride of Christ, which is a counter part to the Great Whore and synagogue of Satan.

Him that overcometh 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 cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.

Again we see the idea of overcoming. We are not just to believe in Jesus, we are to suffer for his name’s sake. We might be killed, but we cannot lose the faith. But, remember, God opens and shuts doors, and He has set before us an open door that no man can shut! He will not allow those who sincerely love Him to be deceived. We will suffer, and it is good for our spiritual growth to do so. However, I believe we will be given peace.

We see that image of the city of God, which is new Jerusalem. It ties it all up nicely. If we strongly keep the name of Jesus and patiently endure, we will not be overtaken by the synagogue of Satan. We will be kept from that temptation, and though we might suffer, God will keep us and we will be among His people forever!

Wrapping This Up

It is with no small amount of shame that I confess my struggles with vanity, but I love that all things are working together for my good. My focus on the church of Philadelphia has helped me understand the importance of keeping true to Jesus and all he stands for, pushing onward and upward in the things of righteousness so I can bring forth fruit with patience, and how my salvation is in His hands and nothing will separate me from Him! Even if we struggle with shameful sins like vanities.

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Posted in Bible Studies, Christian Doctrine, Christian Faith, Christian Support, Last Days / Prophesy, My Journey / Christian Life, Spiritual Warefare
One comment on “Philadelphia
  1. Anonymous says:

    Amen!

    Liked by 1 person

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These are the things that ye shall do: Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbour; execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates: And let none of you imagine evil in your hearts against his neighbour; and love no false oath: for all these are things I hate, saith the Lord.  — Zechariah 8:16-17