2012年12月16日星期日

The Philadelphia Church

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What would it have been to live in the town name Philadelphia?

The Faithful Church

7 “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write,

‘These things says He who is holy, He who is true, “He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens 8 “I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it for you have a little strength, have kept "My word, and have not denied My name". 9 Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie—indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you. 10 Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. 11 Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. 12 He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name. 13 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

What would it have been to live in the town name Philadelphia? Like so many towns of our days, Philadelphia has many places to worship, although pagan origin.  In my town, there are 5 distinct churches: Rome Catholic, Anglican, Salvation Army, United Church, Pentecostal Church, and the Seven Days Adventist. I do not imply that these churches are pagan origin, only that they are far from following the early church format.

The Church in Philadelphia has a very different kind of worshippers. It was a home-based get-together church. It was founded as Jesus instructed as described in Matthew 18:20, where God considered two or more gathered in his name, Jesus would be among them. It therefore represented an assembly – a congregation. The worship experience would have been more likely as camaraderie. A friendship and fellowship would have developed among believers. As it were with the Christians from Jerusalem, the Philadelphia Christians shared a common observance; the breaking of bread as commanded by Jesus at His last Passover supper with His disciples, Luke 22:19, Acts 2:42. There was no specific day appointed for the get-together, it was more likely cobble together with one point of interest, Jesus - the new life. A true love, as commanded by Jesus was built upon.  They shared the truth and lived by it. They were a light and a salt within the city of Philadelphia. I do not comprehend why many bible scholars view the church as evangelical as define as commanded in Mark 16:15, "And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature." The Church of Philadelphia was local. My personal perspective is that they reflected evangelical characteristic by spreading the gospel as a testimony of the joy and blessing received by God. Loving one another was their strongest testimony to which they belong. John 13:35 "By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." Can our traditional church do that? Hmm ... makes you think doesn't it? As the old saying goes: love starts at home. I encourage you to read my commentary title, "Spirit of Cain: Is alive and doing well even within the churches."

What make the Philadelphia Church so different from all other six churches depicted by Jesus? Let us break down the description as Jesus view the church.

What are it characteristics?

·        It has little strength, The Philadelphia Church bore a resemblance to Paul’s dilemma in his walk with the Lord:  "And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness,”" 2 Corinthians 12:9.  "For though He was crucified in weakness, yet He lives by the power of God. For we also are weak in Him, but we shall live with Him by the power of God toward you," 2 Corinthians 13:4. Is everything going your way or is it going God's way? If nothing seems to work out in your life, it is probably going God's way, especially if you are a son of God.

·        It followed Jesus' teaching, (kept My word) One verse come into my mind, "Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching," 2 Timothy 4:2. Although the church did not have the scripture as we have today in the Bible, they remind each other of Paul's teaching. They probably had personal notes that they took while Paul visits them and shared with each other. They received the gift of the present of God's Spirit, which help them to remember, John 16:13.

·        It is not afraid to speak Jesus name (not denied My name) They did not denied His deity which is Jesus Son of God, the One that God sent, the Redeemer, the Messiah, who is now Lord, King, and High Priest.  "If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us, "2 Timothy 2:12. That doesn't mean that we are cast out and thrown into hell. It means that we fall into another church category; we lose our status to reign in the temple... "If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself, "2 Timothy 2:13.

·        It had persevered in applying Jesus teaching (kept My command to persevere) "If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love, "John 15:10. "This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you," John 15:12. "By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another,” John 13:35. I personally have a difficult time with this one. In our days, the churches are divided over the interpretation of His teaching and service format. Please read my commentary titled: "Christianity is like the menu of an Ice Cream Parlour". I pray for unity in the Body of Christ. I only want to share the truth and develop a fellowship in a homegrown base setting as it was in the early church.

What are the Church of Philadelphia assignments?

·       Preach the kingdom of God - Jesus opens the doors of opportunities (v. 7-8), He said to them, “Go everywhere in the world. Tell the Good News to everyone - the gospel of Christ resurrected," Mark 16:15. According to scholars, the Philadelphia church was renown for their openness to share and proclaims the message of Jesus the redeemer. What does it mean to believe in Jesus Christ? It mean, "that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved," Romans 10:9. It is about Christ resurrected. It is about believing that He rose from the dead. When you believe in that, you are redeemed, which mean that you are saved and are now part of His Heavenly family. It mean that one day you also will rise from the dead, 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 1 Corinthians 15:52.

·       It had obstacles, and interferences. Intrusion of false teachers infiltrated the church. They call themselves Jews but they were not Jews. They were of those who have been deceived by Satan lies. Titus 1:16 "They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work." However, because of the church perseverance many of the so-called Jews have recognized the true teaching of Christ and repented. They have accepted Jesus. This is a sign of Jesus’ love among the church.  The parable of the Tare and the Wheat comes to mind. This is one of the two reasons why we are to leave the tare alone: to keep away from offending some of the wheat to avoid fall-out and to save some of the tare by persevering in the truth and applied love.

Note: Each one of us comes from the synagogue of Satan. We were once children of disobedience. We have since heard the gospel and accepted it. We are now to continuously search for the remaining Satan's lies that we have yet not recognized in our lives. They are principalities of the power of the air. "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places," Ephesians 6:12.

Ephesians 3:8-13, in Paul's letter to the Ephesians, Paul shows some of the Philadelphia Church characteristics that he experienced.

"v.8 To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; 10 to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, 11 according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him. 13 Therefore I ask that you do not lose heart at my tribulations for you, which is your glory."

Wherever Paul went - Jews authorities in the Book of Moses came visited those places and influenced the new believers to observe the Jewish festivals and laws. v9 "Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie—indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you." Remember the parable of the new wine in the old wineskins, Matt 9:17, Mark 2:22, Luke 5:37-38. The Book to the Hebrews was written to give an understanding to a new believer, Jesus special covenant with the Church.

The Philadelphia church is encouraged to continue in the truth... by continually seeking the scriptures, testing all things. That is what followers of Jesus teach.

Special promises to the Church of Philadelphia. 

o      Jesus will take the church out of harms way. This event is call the Rapture

o      Will receive a crown of victory, 1 Cor 9:25 a prize that will last forever.

o      Will be in the present of God forever, in the Temple, government headquarter, will be top CEO, to be a pillar is a symbol of strength in the truth.

o      Will receive the new name of God - a name that describes His personal attribute, and the name of the city where God dwell, the New Jerusalem, coming down from heaven, which is not man made.

o      Will also receive Jesus new name. This is my personal view, I believe that the new name will reflect Jesus introduction of Himself in this letter to the Philadelphian's Christians, "These things says He who is holy, He who is true, He who has the key of David.

Conclusion: In this bible study, we examined the qualities and attributes that made the Philadelphia Church distinct from all other churches. If you consider being part of this church with the expectation to be raptured away... think again. I do believe that once saved always save. So the questions are, Are you saved? Are you a Tare or Wheat? Are you of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews yet are not, in other words saying you are Christian yet do not truly believe? Do you truly, without doubts believe in Christ’s’ resurrection? Is Jesus your Lord? If so, share your blessed hope, because that is the Philadelphian Church feat.

Interested related article title, "The Little Church that Tried" by Ray Stedman at this web site: http://www.raystedman.org/new-testament/revelation/the-little-church-that-tried. 

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