7. Philadelphia -- The Faithful ChurchRelated Media
Editor's Note: a lightly edited transcription of the attached audio file will be found at the end of this originally written daily study guide. Appreciation for this transcription work goes to Marilyn Fine.
Philadelphia was located on a hillside about 30 miles southeast of Sardis. It was founded by the king of Pergamum around 190 B.C. The town received its name from his nickname, Philadelphus or brother lover. This king had a special devotion to his brother, Eumenes II. The city stood in a wine-producing area and was the so-called gateway to central Asia Minor. The modern name of this town is Alasehir. Because it experienced earthquakes from time to time, more of the population than normal chose to live outside the city walls.1
If I could choose one church to be a part of out of these seven churches, it would be the church at Philadelphia. My prayer is that we would be a “Philadelphia” church in today’s times.
DAY 1: THE OVERVIEW AND DESCRIPTION OF CHRIST
I. Looking to God’s Word
Read Revelation 3:7-13
1. As you read this letter, what stands out to you about this church? What is your overall impression?
2. In the previous five letters, the description of Jesus had come from the vision recorded in 1:12-18. However, in this letter, the description is not drawn from that earlier vision. It has distinct Old Testament features. How is Jesus described in verse 7?
3. “The key of David” seems to refer to Isaiah 22:20-23, where the key of the house of David was given to Eliakim, who then had access to all the wealth of the king.2 So what is Jesus implying in Revelation 3:7 when He says He “has the key of David”? (See also Hebrews 3:5-6.)
4. Jesus is also described as He “who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens.” How do Isaiah 43:13 and 46:9-11 clarify the meaning of this description?
II. Looking Upward
5. Jesus is described as holy and true. How would you define these attributes and why are they often paired together?
6. Which of His attributes in verse 7 most encourages your heart today and why?
III. Looking Deeper
How did Isaiah respond to God’s holiness in Isaiah 6:1-8?
IV. Looking Reflectively
“The deepest thought a person can ever have is his conception of God’s character.”3
How do you view God’s character? What difference does it make in your life?
Meditate on 1 Peter 1:15-16: “…but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in your behavior; because it is written, ‘YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY’” (NASB).
How are you doing in the area of “personal holiness”? How do you respond to God’s holiness?
DAY 2: THE COMMENDATION
I. Looking to God’s Word
Read Revelation 3:8-10
1. What four things does Jesus commend this church for?
2. Why would having “a little power (strength)” be a positive and not a negative? What might He be implying here? (See also 2 Corinthians 12:9-10.)
3. What are the circumstances within which they had to persevere?
4. How is this church similar to the church at Smyrna in Rev. 2:8-11?
II. Looking Upward
5. The church at Philadelphia was commended for its obedience. Can you obey Christ without loving Him? (See also John 14:23-24) Explain your answer.
6. What are some circumstances in your life today in which you must persevere? How does this passage encourage you to press on?
III. Looking Deeper
Read Hebrews 12:1-4
What are some principles from this passage that can spur you on to persevere in the midst of difficult or trying circumstances?
IV. Looking Reflectively
Numbers and personal strength are not what matter in the scheme of accomplishing God’s work. He is sufficient to accomplish His purpose.
Spend some time being honest with God about your life circumstances and how you are dealing with situations that are overwhelming or trying.
Entrust your life to Jesus Christ. Ask Him to strengthen you and to work in and through you as He chooses to accomplish His purpose.
DAY 3: THE PROMISES
I. Looking to God’s Word
Read Revelation 3:8-10
1. What had God done for this church because of their faithfulness (v. 8)?
2. According to 1 Cor. 16:9; 2 Cor. 2:12; and Col. 4:3, what is one possible meaning of the phrase, “I have put before you an open door which no one can shut”? What would be another possible meaning according to Acts 14:27?
3. Because of their faithfulness and obedience, what did Jesus promise this church?
4. In verse 10, why would the “hour of testing” (NASB) or “trial” (NIV) be referring to the Great Tribulation and not just an isolated, temporary period of testing?
II. Looking Upward
5. What “open doors” has God put before you?
Have you made the most of the opportunities He has opened up for you or have you ignored them? How have you used your gifts and talents wisely for His glory?
Are we as a church making the most of the open opportunities God has given to us for ministry? If not, what do we need to do?
6. What do you learn about God’s character from His promises here?
III. Looking Deeper
Jesus promised that some of the very Jews who were persecuting the Christians would come and bow down at their feet and know that God had loved them. The following Old Testament passages describe the future day when unbelieving Gentiles will bow down to the believing remnant of Israel. What imagery do these passages give concerning bowing at someone’s feet and the implications of it?
IV. Looking Reflectively
Being faithful to the Savior is worth it. The end results far outweigh the present discomforts and challenges.
Meditate on 2 Corinthians 4:17 – “For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison…”
Are you focused on the momentary, light afflictions or the eternal glory to come?
DAY 4: THE EXHORTATION
I. Looking to God’s Word
Read Revelation 3:11
1. In verse 11, He states that He is coming quickly. How does this “coming” differ from the “comings” He refers to in the previous letters (Revelation 2:5, 16; 3:3)?
2. What insight does this give concerning this church?
3. Jesus exhorts them to “hold fast what you have, so no one will take your crown” (NASB). He is not referring to salvation here, but to rewards (1 Corinthians 9:24). According to the parable in Luke 19:12-24, what is one possible meaning and cause of someone “taking your crown”?
4. It could also refer to rewards lost because of negative influences that can hinder us in the race of life. What are some negative influences that could cause you to lose your “crown”? (If you need help thinking of things, you might want to look at Matthew 13:22 and 1 John 2:15-16.)
II. Looking Upward
5. He instructed the churches at Thyatira and Philadelphia to “hold fast.” What makes it difficult for you to “hold fast”?
6. Are you in danger of “losing your crown” because of any of the reasons mentioned above?
III. Looking Deeper
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 speaks of the time when Jesus will return. What instructions does Paul give concerning how we are to live until then?
How does this passage encourage you in light of the end times?
IV. Looking Reflectively
Because He is coming quickly, make the most of every opportunity.
“Above all, we must be faithful to Him and see the opportunities, not the obstacles. If we miss our opportunities, we lose our rewards (crowns), and this means being ashamed before Him when He comes.”4
Meditate on 1 John 2:28.
Will you stand with confidence or shrink away in shame at His coming?
DAY 5: THE PROMISES FOR THE OVERCOMER
I. Looking to God’s Word
Read Revelation 3:12-13
1. What does Jesus promise to the one who overcomes?
Note: His promise to make them “a pillar in the temple” of God is a promise that believers will be honored in the New Jerusalem, referring to the custom of honoring a magistrate by placing a pillar, in his name, in one of the temples in Philadelphia.5
2. When you think of a “pillar,” what words come to mind? Why would this symbolism be especially meaningful to a city that was subject to destructive earthquakes?
3. What does the promise that “he will not go out from it anymore” imply for the believer?
4. What three names does Jesus promise to write on the overcomer? What does having the three names “engraved” on us imply?
Note: We all have questions about the new heaven and earth and the New Jerusalem. To be honest, we can speculate, but we just don’t totally understand everything at this point. Don’t spend a lot of time trying to figure out the future that awaits the believer. Just know that it will be worth it.
II. Looking Upward
5. According to Galatians 2:9, who had the reputation of being “pillars”? ”His pillars are faithful people who bear His name for His glory.”6 In what ways are you bearing His name for His glory?
6. Do you know without a doubt that you have eternal security with Christ in heaven? What do you base it on? If you are not sure, feel free to talk to your small group leader or come find me. If you do have assurance, spend some time thanking God for all He has done for you.
III. Looking Deeper
Read Revelation 21:1-7, 22-27
How does this passage describe the new heaven and earth and the New Jerusalem?
What can we look forward to as believers?
IV. Looking Reflectively
Be constantly reminded that this is not our home. We are just passing through. Our permanent home awaits us and it will be beyond anything we can ever imagine.
As you anticipate spending eternity in “heaven” with Jesus Christ, what excites you most and why?
Introduction to the message for Lesson Seven– Philadelphia – The Faithful Church [Begin Transcription]
A number of years ago a popular movie came out called, “Dead Poets Society.” I do not know if you saw it or not, but it was the story of a professor at an all-boys boarding school and the impact he made on a student’s life. He challenged his students to live extraordinary lives; to go beyond the status quo. The famous phrase from that movie was “carpe diem,” seize the day, or as he put it, seize the day, lads. I believe that is the message that Jesus had for this church at Philadelphia. I think it is a message that we would be well to heed today right here at our church and in our own lives. Carpe Diem, seize the day, ladies. Make the most of the opportunities that God has placed before you. It does not matter what stage of life you are in, whether you are single, married, young mom, empty nester, grandmother, or widow. He has you where you are for a reason. Will you make the most of it? Will you seize the day?
Go ahead and turn to Revelation 3. We are going to read this whole letter together at one sitting this time. I am going to begin reading at Revelation 3:7:
And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens, says this: ‘I know your deeds. Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name. ‘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. ‘Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. ‘I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown. ‘He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; 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 out of heaven from My God, and My new name. ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ (Rev. 3:7-13, NASB)
Well, I need to begin by giving a little background of the city of Philadelphia. It was located about 30 miles southeast of Sardis. We look at our map again and you see that we have come all the way almost full circle.
It was named after the man who built it. A man who was the king of Pergamum. He was Adelphus Philadelphus. As you know, the name Philadelphus or Philadelphia means brotherly love.
The city of Philadelphia was built for a special purpose. It was a border town that was situated where the borders of three countries or regions came together, Marcia, Lydia and Phrygia. It was built in that area, the border town, because it was intended to be a missionary outpost of the Greek culture and the Greek language to these other regions. They were successful in their missionary venture because by A.D. 19, the Lydians had completely forgotten their language. They were all but Greeks. They had fulfilled their missionary purpose to reach out and to spread the Greek culture.
The only major problem with this location was the area where Philadelphia was built was prone to earthquakes. They had a lot of earthquakes. It was on a geological fault line. In A.D. 17, it was destroyed by a severe earthquake which also destroyed Sardis and two other cities around there. After the city was rebuilt, some of the citizens refused to move back into the city because they were so fearful of another earthquake coming again. So, they stayed in the countryside. For those who did move back into the city, every time there was the slightest tremor they would flee the city for safety. They were so fearful of another earthquake. This was a city that did not have a great sense of security about it.
Description of Christ
As always, Jesus begins this letter in verse 7 with a description of Himself, a description that is fitting for this church. This description in verse 7 is unique. All the other descriptions are taken from the vision that we talked about in Chapter 1. But this one is not taken from that vision. It has distinct Old Testament features. He describes himself in this verse, verse 7, in four ways.
First, is “He who is holy.” This emphasizes His deity because only God is holy. So, Jesus is saying “He who is holy”; I am holy. He is saying I am God.
The second description He gives of Himself is “He who is true.” This word “true” in the Greek means authentic. It means real, genuine. He is the real deal. He is truth in a world that is filled with lies and perversions. He will never lie to you. He will never deceive you.
The third description He gives of Himself is “He who is sovereign.” He says in verse 7, “He who has the key of David.” David symbolizes the Messianic throne and a key represents authority. So, whoever has a key has control. What Jesus is saying here is that He is the holder of the key of David. He, alone, has the sovereign authority to determine who enters the Messianic kingdom and who does not. He is in control. He is sovereign.
The fourth way He describes Himself is “He who is omnipotent.” He says, “He who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens.” He is all powerful. No one can thwart what He wants to do. What He does cannot be overturned by somebody who is more powerful than He is. If He shuts the door, there is no one who is more powerful that can open it and vice-versa. He is omnipotent. So, from this verse we see that Jesus Christ is the holy, true, sovereign, omnipotent God who had no criticism, no rebuke, and no warnings of this church. What an encouragement that must have been to this church to not be criticized by God in all these attributes.
Well, this city was successful in its missionary endeavor to spread the Greek culture and the Greek language. Now, Jesus had opened new doors of opportunity. They were a church that seized the day. They were a church that made the most of the opportunities that God gave them. That is my prayer for us: that we would seize the day.
Seize the Day
1. Seize the Day by Focusing on Opportunities Instead of Obstacles
As we look as this letter to the church at Philadelphia, I would like to offer three suggestions for how to do that. The first thing, seize the day, by focusing on opportunities instead of obstacles. Let’s look first at what He has to say about the opportunities. In verse 8, He says,
I have put before you an open door which no one can shut. (NASB)
A great opportunity: I will tell you that there are differing views on what this open door is. Some believe that this open door is referring to an opportunity for service and ministry. But, He is saying I have opened a door for you for great ministry, a way you can serve through ministry. Others view this as He is saying that it is a clear entrance into Heaven— that He has opened the door to salvation and that they have clear entrance into the Kingdom. No one can stop them from going. Their salvation and eternal security is guaranteed. Another view is that this open door is the opportunity to share Christ, to share the gospel.
To be honest, I believe all three are true, but in the context of this letter, I believe He is referring really to the first and the third in that He is saying I have given you a great opportunity for ministry. I have given you a great opportunity to share the gospel. So, now what will they do? It appears that this church made the most of the opportunities and that they were pleasing to God. They seized the day. They did not squander the opportunity that God gave them. They focused on the opportunity instead of the obstacles.
A. Obstacle of Powerlessness
Well, let us look at the obstacles. He mentions two potential obstacles for this church. The first one is the obstacle of powerlessness. In verse 8 He says,
Because you have a little power. (NASB)
Well, again, there are different interpretations to what that means, that little power. Some take this to mean that there is only a few in number. They are a small church. There is not many of them. So, they do not have power in numbers. Others see this as meaning that they did not have a lot of strength and that they are weak on their own. Regardless of which is right here—and they both may be right—it is a good place to be when we realize that we are powerless and weak.
“Well, maybe we do not have the numbers” and “it seems like the past is overwhelming,” yet God has asked us to be or do something. We may feel like we cannot do it. However, in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, we are told that when we are weak, He is strong. We see His power work through us in our weakness. The best place to be is when we feel like we cannot do it. When we say, “God, I cannot do this, it is too hard, it is too much, I do not have the adequacy, I do not have the strength,” He loves that because He can say, “you know what, you are right. You cannot, but I can. So, let me do it.” Because, you see, when we are powerless, when we are weak, we do not get in His way. We tend to get in His way when we have our strengths and we think, “God, I have this under control. Let me handle this. I am good at this.” I think we do more damage sometimes in those times that in our weakness.
B. Obstacle of Persecution
Well, the second obstacle they were facing is the obstacle of persecution. In verse 9, He talks about the synagogue of Satan and the Jews that were giving them some problems. It was similar to the situation in Smyrna. There was a synagogue of Jews, who said they were Jews, but they, most likely, were not. They were probably attacking the Christians in the same way that the Jews in Smyrna were attacking the Christians by slandering them and blasphemy.
Persecution in stout opposition from others can very quickly make you lose heart in the midst of great opportunities. Any time you are doing the work of the Lord, you are going to face opposition. You are going to face battles. It is inevitable because we have an enemy who does not want you to succeed in doing the work of the Lord. He will bring opposition.
You know, this Christmas dinner coming up is a great opportunity for us. It is a great opportunity to reach outside of our church to invite neighbors, friends, and family—people who do not know the Lord personally. It is a great evening for us to come together and to celebrate the meaning of Christmas, the birth of our Savior. It is an opportunity.
Last year it became very apparent as we were signing up for the Christmas dinner that this room was not big enough to let us expand. If we wanted to stay with just the same numbers, yes. But, if we wanted to reach out to Memphis, to other people, we had to do something. The Women’s leadership team, the pastoral staff made a decision to move the dinner, to seize the day.
That decision, as you know, was met with some opposition. “We cannot do that. Do you realize what you are going to have to do? We have always had it in this room.” Yes, I knew what it was going to be like and I knew that the day of the Christmas dinner was either going to be my last day at First Evan or it was going to be okay. I knew there were obstacles, but you know what, I believe we have a big enough God that can do anything. I think there are times that He wants us to step out of the comfort zone. That when He clearly leads us that we seize the opportunity. Even if we do not know how it is going to work out we would trust him.
I have shared this with you before if you were in the Colossians study, when you heard me read from my journal. But I will tell you that those two months, last November and December, were the lowest point in my life here at First Evan. I wanted to quit. I had a job description sitting on my desk from a church in Dallas for a women’s ministry position. I would go in every morning and I would sit and look at that job description. I would say, “God, please give me the green light. Please let me call this church.”
Taylor was in there one day and I said, “Taylor, I just want to call so badly. I just wish God would tell me yes and he said “don’t.” “Hang in there.” He did not give me the green light. I am glad he did not because I believe that God has (interrupted clapping). My heart is for this ministry. Let me say this, too. I love being at First Evan. I want to die here. I want to grow old with you. Well, I do not want to die here, but I want to grow old with you. I want this to be my last place that I go. But, I also want to see us move forward.
Get out of the status quo. Let us be willing to follow whatever opportunities that God opens up for us so that we would say, “Lord, we do not know how this is going to happen, but if You are leading us we are going to follow.” That is my heart for us that we would not be people who look at obstacles, but that we would be willing to look at opportunities. That we would be willing to live beyond the status quo; that we would be willing to make a difference for eternity. Because if you really do not want to do that, I do not need to be here. I pray that you want to do that and I think you do. It encourages me to see your hearts here.
Well, God presents opportunities and there will always be obstacles. Faith sees the opportunity and fear sees the obstacles: fear of the unknown, fear of change. “Gosh, we’ve always done it this way.” Cole talked about this on Sunday. I was sitting there Sunday thinking, Cole, you are stealing my lecture for Tuesday. We are not a church who likes change. I like the way Cole says it, I will call it renewal and not change. There is a fear of losing control. But, let me tell you, we are not in control. I am not in control of this ministry. You are not in control of what you are doing. He is in control. The minute we think we are in charge, we are in trouble. I am sorry that I got on my soapbox on that. I got a little bit…I will get back to the lecture now.
Which best describes you? Do you focus on the opportunities or do you focus on the obstacles? Is your life characterized by fear and negative thinking or is it characterized by faith and belief? Do not squander the opportunity that God places before us. When He makes a promise to them in verse 9 when He says “I will make them come and bow down at your feet” He is basically saying I will deal with those who oppose you. I will deal with those who give you a hard time. Do not worry about it. One day their enemies would acknowledge that the Christians were right and that they really were true followers of God. If we take care of the work that God has given us to do, He will take care of the battles for us. We do not have to worry about it. If we are going to seize the day, we must focus on the opportunities, not the obstacles.
2. Seize the Day by Focusing on Faithfulness Instead of Fear
Second we must seize the day by focusing on faithfulness instead of fear. He tells them at the end of Revelation 3:8,
you… have kept My word, and have not denied My name. (NASB)
He continues in Revelation 3:10,
Because you have kept the word of My perseverance. (NASB)
This church was faithful in three areas: First, they kept His word; second, they did not deny His name; third, they patiently endured. They focused on faithfulness instead of fear in the midst of trials and difficulties. They seized the day. They did not need to fear what was going on in their lives today, but they also did not need to fear what might happen in the future. He makes a promise to them in Revelation 3:10,
I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. (NASB)
This hour of testing is not referring to some local trial. It is referring to the seven years of tribulation that John would describe in chapters 6-19. There are different opinions. This verse, 3:10, is a controversial verse and has been debated by many scholars. He talks of all the different views of the Tribulation and the Rapture and the Second Coming of Christ. This phrase, “keep you firm” is what is really the heart of this controversy.
At the beginning, in our first lecture introduction, I gave you the different views of the Second Coming of Christ. The mid-Trib view—which believes that Jesus will come back and take His church away halfway through the seven year Tribulation—looks at this verse and say that Jesus is saying He will remove them from the Tribulation halfway through it. He will keep them from it, but that is halfway into the seven years.
The post-Trib view—which believes that the church will be on this earth for the entire seven years of the Tribulation and that Jesus Christ will not come back until the end of those seven years—interpret this verse to say that He will preserve the Christians through the Tribulation. He will keep them safe through those seven years. That is not true though, because we read in Revelation that these Christians were martyred. Many of them lose their lives during the Tribulation. So, that’s not true. He does not keep them safe, not all of them.
As I mentioned earlier, I hold the pre-Trib view that Jesus Christ will come at any time and He will remove His Church— the rapture of the Church. He will take us to heaven before the Tribulation begins. That is what He means then when He says, “I will keep you from this hour of testing.” You will not be here. This is one of the verses that helped me take that position. Also, I mentioned the first week that the Church is never mentioned after chapter 3 again in the book of Revelation until you get to the very last chapter. I believe it is not mentioned during all the chapters on the Tribulation because we are not going to be here during it. Again, you do not have to agree with me on this. You need to search the scriptures yourself and determine what you believe.
Regardless, this was a church that seized the day. They made the most of the opportunity because they focused on being faithful and not fear of the future. He exhorts them in Revelation 3:11,
I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown. (NASB)
“Quickly” does not necessarily mean soon. It means suddenly, at any time. I believe in the imminence of His return. I believe it could happen today and nothing else has to happen. So, what He is saying is that Christians should always be ready for His return and live our lives in light of that. Live your life in such a way that you are found faithful should He come back right now. When He returns, we are going to stand before Him and we are going to give an account for the things that we have done on this earth. He will reward us for our deeds. To lose a crown is to lose the prize of the reward for faithful service. It may be given to somebody else because we failed to hold fast. It is the picture of a competitor that receives the prize that we forfeited. We should have had it but we forfeited to another competitor because we were not faithful in what we were asked to do. Jesus did not want this church to lose their crown. Well, they seized the day by focusing on faithfulness instead of fear.
3. Seize the Day by Focusing on the Eternal Rather than the Temporal
The third suggestion is seize the day by focusing on the eternal rather than the temporal. In Revelation 3:12, He promises four eternal blessings for the overcomer or the believer. I wrote those in your outline so you would not have to write them down. I am going to go through them briefly and just give what they symbolize.
A. Pillar in God’s Temple
The first one is:
I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God. (NASB)
You will not go out from it anymore. This is a promise of eternal security. Philadelphia was constantly threatened with earthquakes, as we mentioned before. They were used to a feeling of insecurity. The only parts of the city that would be left standing after a severe quake were the huge stone columns of the temple because they were stable. They were secure. He promises to set believers in His kingdom in such a secure fashion that nothing can ever shake them. Nothing can ever force them to flee again. They are safe. They are secure for eternity in Heaven. They do not need to fear any more having to leave or run away.
B. God’s Name
The second promise He makes:
I will write on him the name of My God. (NASB)
This signifies eternal ownership by inscribing God’s name on us. He is saying we belong to Him. We are His. It is also a symbol of honor as in the ancient days when oftentimes they would write, inscribe, someone’s name on a pillar to honor him. So, it is a symbol of ownership and honor.
C. God’s City’s Name
Third, He promises:
I will write on him…the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God (NASB)
This signifies eternal citizenship in Heaven’s capital city, the new Jerusalem. We do not understand what this new Heaven and this new earth are going to look like. We can think about it. We can dream about it. We do not know. Is it going to come down out of Heaven and sit right here. We just have to wait to see. But, I want you to listen to the description of our new home, the new Jerusalem from Revelation 21 and 22. I put the words up here to help you follow.
And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:2-4, NASB)
There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him; they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever. (Revelation 22:3-5, NASB)
I cannot wait. I cannot wait until the time when there is no crying, there is no pain, there is no hurt, there is no death, there is no saying goodbye to loved ones. This is what we have to look forward to. This is our eternal citizenship that awaits us.
D. My New Name
The fourth promise He makes from Revelation 3:12:
I will write on him…My new name. (NASB)
This new name represents the fullness of His character. We will see Him as He really is face to face. This symbolizes our eternal relationship with Him. It will be an infinite relationship in a new way because we will see Him in ways we have never been able to imagine on this earth. Focus on your eternal future, not on the temporal passing pleasures of this earth.
Well, this church represents the missionary age of church history after the Reformation. Today, Christian testimony continues in this city. It is longer called Philadelphia, though. It is known as Alaşehir. Their light still burns brightly because they seized the day. They made the most of the opportunities that God gave them. I pray that we would do the same, that we will seize the day as a church, that we will seize the day as a individuals, that we will not squander the opportunities that God gives us. If we are to seize the day, though, we need to focus on opportunities and not obstacles. We need to focus on faithfulness instead of fear, on the eternal instead of the temporal. Do you want to make an impact of eternal significance? Then, Carpe Diem, seize the day.
I want to close with a story that happened to my director when I was on staff of Campus Crusade. I was at Louisiana Tech, and Doug Rogers was my director. He shared this event with us in a prayer letter which I still have.
Doug shared how one morning in his quiet time he was praying that God would give him an opportunity that day to share Christ. He said, “You might think this prayer is strange. I am on staff with Campus Crusade. That is what we do every day. Why would I be praying for an opportunity to share Christ?” However, that day he was sitting at a conference with pastors and lay leaders. So, he was not anticipating being around any nonbelievers. But, God had laid on his heart that morning to pray for an opportunity to share Christ.
So, he went on about his day and forgot about his prayer and that thought. He was setting up at the hotel and there was a guy in the room, a young man who had just started working there. Doug had the thought that he ought to share Christ with him. Then, he thought, “umm, no, he is busy. I am pressed for time. He has got to go to work and I have to go get ready. This is not a good time.” But, then God brought back to his mind the thought, “you asked for an opportunity this morning to share Christ.” So, he thought some more, “Well, I will just leave him the four spiritual laws.” But, God would not let him get away with that, so he finally just started talking to the guy. He struck up a conversation and he ended up sharing Christ with Ray Green. He accepted Christ. He was so excited about it. They went through assurance of salvation, going through just some basic follow-up. Doug told him, “You know what, I am going to bring you a Bible in a few days. I am going to come back and I will bring you a Bible.”
A few days later he went back to the hotel and he went to the Front Desk. He said, “Is Ray Green working today?” The lady looked shocked and she said, “Well, Ray Green was killed. He had a car accident. He hit a bridge.” His face must have registered shock because she went and doubled-checked and came back and said that they buried him on Saturday.
All he could think of was, “I almost did not share. I am too busy. I might embarrass him. I might embarrass me.” I wonder how many Ray Green’s have walked by every day. This was a long time ago, but I will never forget it. I think about that situation. How many Ray Green’s do we walk by? How many opportunities do we walk by every day that God has put there and we squander them? Seize the day.
Let’s pray. Father, I think you for Your Word. This study has so convicted me. Lord, I have a long way to go to get to where You want me. I pray that for all of us in this room that we would really just give ourselves totally to you and ask You to use us and that we would be willing to let You do with us whatever You want, that we would seize the day. Lord, take our lives and use it for You. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Let us stand and worship.
1 Constable, Expository Notes on Revelation [CD-ROM], 40.
2 John F. Walvoord , “Revelation” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary, eds. John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck (Victor Books, 1983), 939.
3 Dan DeHaan, The God You Can Know , 38.
4 Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, Rev. 3:7.
5 Ryrie, Ryrie Study Bible, 2018.
6 Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, Rev 3:7.