40 blogs of Lent – Day 30
Messages to the churches – Day 24
Philadelphia – Day 2
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.
This is one of only two churches in the list of seven that is only commended by Jesus, and like the only other good church it is suffering. The church in Smyrna was suffering persecution from outside; here in the Philadelphia church the suffering came from within.
Patient endurance are the watchwords here. God loves churches which do not give in or give up even when troubled. The reason for the trouble can be internal or external, but in the vision that is Revelation Jesus commends those who endure.
How different that is to us. We do not want to belong to a suffering church like the Smyrna church. We do not want to belong to a church with internal dissent, like the church in Philadelphia. We want to belong to a safe church. God is not calling people to a safe place. Unless it is a safe place to disagree.
I belong to an unsafe denomination, the Church of England. We argue. A lot. The Church of England is part of a lager body, the Anglican Communion. Every few years they get together at a Lambeth Conference, where they argue.Even more than the CofE on its own.
Every Lambeth Conference, every General Synod, the press report that the the Anglican Communion or the CofE is about to split. They see disagreement as a sign of weakness. But God’s standards are not man’s standards.
The Anglicans put the most contentious issues at the top of the agenda, Other organisations would try to hush them up, sweep them under the carpet. These people think any dissent is a sign of weakness, but unity is not the same as uniformity. You can have unity and agree to disagree. The Anglicans are strong enough to debate the most contentious issues, and not only that, but to invite the words media to watch them do it. Transparency at work.
Holy Trinity Church, Huddersfield
This is the last part about the fund raising for the Church reordering and also about the prophesy which was brought to the church when funds started to dry up. That is also the reason why I have written about these last three churches out of order.
The first part of the prophesy was taken from the message to the church in Sardis. “I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead.”
The second part was from the message to the church in Laodicea. “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot.”
The third part (this part) is from the message to Philadelphia.
After two scathing messages (see the blogs posted on Saturday 10 March 2018 and Thursday 15th March 2018) the message went on. Repent.
Repent of not sending the 10% to charities that you pledged.
There was a promise as well, from the passage we have here: “If you repent, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut.”
The end of the story is that we set another money raising day. We sent out letters to the congregation about this, and acknowledging we had made mistakes. We pledged to pay the 10% of the money that had already been spent to the charities as a first priority and then 10% of the rest as it came in.
The result: Money was pledged not only to cover the full amount and the 10% for charity. We had plenty to spare. God is gracious to those who are faithful.
Conclusion to the Seven churches in Asia
When I started this series, back on 15 February, I said that the messages were not so much to seven individual churches as to all churches for all time, the completeness of the apocalyptic symbolism of the number seven.
There were five things that Jesus commends:
- They cannot bear those that are evil, but have tested them.
- They are suffering patiently under persecution.
- They hold fast to Jesus’s name.
- Their good works are increasing.
- They suffer patiently through internal conflict.
There are five things Jesus condemns:
- They had lost their first love.
- They tolerate false teaching.
- They tolerate sexual immorality.
- Their works are not complete
- They are relying on themselves, rather than on Jesus.
The message to the churches which have these faults is the same, repent. There is always a positive message to those who overcome, and there are those who overcome in every church.
“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.’
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.