Jesus has a complaint against all seven churches in the Book of Revelation save the church in Philadelphia. This church is presented with an open door. I am not totally positive what Christ Jesus means by this open door. Presumably this refers to open access to Him that no one may interfere with. Since this church is praised by our Lord for its “patient endurance” (one might say faith) and since Christ is the ultimate source of true Life, I think that it is fair to recognize a Biblical pattern here. Namely the words of the prophet, “The righteous shall live by his faith” (Habakkuk 2:4, ESV). Take a look:
“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens.
“‘I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie—behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet, and they will learn that I have loved you. Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and 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 from my God out of heaven, and my own new name. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’
(Revelation 3:7-13 ESV, emphasis added)
This is truly significant. The Philadelphian church is not held up for its great works or its excellent church growth program. It is not praised for being the biggest or the best. It is lauded for keeping Christ’s word and refusing to deny the name of Jesus. In doing these two things, this one church fulfilled its mission and its members are promised to dwell close to God in the time to come. This tells me two things. The first is the importance in recognizing who Jesus Christ is: The Lord and Savior of the World, the Son of God, God with us. The Church cannot deny the divinity of Jesus. I shudder to think what the consequence of such a denial may be. The Second thing that this tells me is the importance of knowing what His word is. Namely, I think, Jesus is speaking of the Gospel. He really lived, really died for all of our sins, really rose from the dead, and now really lives for and in all true believers granting them eternal life. ”God so loved the world….”
What does He mean about patient endurance?
I believe that Jesus is speaking about “keeping the main thing the main thing” as the saying goes. Loving God with our entire lives and beings and loving our neighbors as ourselves.” Everything we do must be channeled though such a faith-filled life. Anything and everything else is sin (c.f. Romans 14:23). In this life, patient endurance is misunderstood. The world demands action: ”You need to follow these 12 easy steps”. The Church isn’t much better with its rows of books and seminars about supposed Biblical principles for living a Godly life. The hardest yet most important thing to do is to endure patiently. Absolutely no one understands you when you do this. It is counter intuitive to what the world and the church wants us to do. But it is exactly what God expects before all else. It’s faith in spite of all else. And it is through such enduring faith that true Godly actions proceed and that’s when the moves of the Holy Spirit are the most profound since it is proceeding from such a pure vessel and focused so clearly. As the Psalmist says, “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10, ESV)
- Jesus and The Wedding at Cana: The First Sign (christophercrandolph.wordpress.com)