I know Jesus loves many different kinds of churches. But I discovered something while preaching in Revelation 2 & 3.
Jesus sent 7 short letters to 7 different churches. To every church He had something positive and something negative. Well, almost. One church He had nothing good to say (Laodicea). And two churches He had nothing bad to say (Smyrna & Philadelphia)
It is not that Smyrna & Philadelphia were a ‘perfect’ churches. But evidently Smyrna was so persecuted, He didn’t say anything negative. And Philadelphia was doing a great work and He overlooked any negative qualities.
In my article today, I’d like to discover what was going on so positive in the church at Philadelphia. You can read Jesus’ letter to the church at The Church at Philadelphia.
Philadelphia (Asia, not Pennsylvania) was founded & named by Attalus II, the King of Pergamum. He loved his brother, Eumenes, and gave him the title ‘Philadelphos’ (which means ‘brotherly love’; phileo=love, adelphos = brother). This became the name of the city.
Jesus identifies Himself as the one who opens and no one shuts. In the New Testament an ‘open door’ speaks of opportunity for ministry. The church took advantage of the open door of evangelism that was presented to them.
Jesus loves a soul-winning, missions-minded church.
This church was willing to go through the open doors of evangelism placed before them. However, they faced two obstacles that many of us face while reaching others for Christ:
1 – Their lack of strength. The fact that they have ‘little strength’ is itself the source of their power for they must depend totally on the Lord to .
2 – Opposition of Jews. Some people didn’t like their evangelistic outreach. Fear, unbelief, and delay have caused the church to miss many God-given opportunities. However, this church ‘kept the Word’ and pressed on. When a church begins to deal loosely with the word of Christ, it will sooner or later deny the name of Christ.
Jesus instructed this church to ‘hold fast’ or ‘hold on.’ They were to continue their outreach to others. If they were faithful, they would ‘keep their crown.’ To the other churches it is a question of gaining a crown. To Philadelphia it is a matter of losing a crown. The Lord says they already have a crown. This crown is the soul winners crown mentioned in Philippians 4:1 & 1 Thessalonians 2:19.
Jesus promised some things. 3 times the Lord says ‘I will”. (1) I will make a pillar – make him strong. (2) I will mark him – forever identified with the Lord’s infinite greatness and invincible government. (3) I will write a name. His old name was Jehovah. His present name is Jesus. His new name is unknown (1 Cor. 2:9).
This is the result of a soul-winning, missions-minded church.
Only two of the seven churches in Revelation 2-3 do not receive any condemnation: Smyrna, the persecuted church, and Philadelphia, the soul-winning church. I choose to be part of a soul-winning church.