160724 Revelation 3:7-13

Last Updated on Monday, 25 July 2016 Written by Pastor Schmidt

Sermon Text: Revelation 3:7-13
Sermon Theme: From the Savior with Love: Philadelphia

Good Morning, I would like to begin by taking just a moment to introduce myself to you. I am from the city of Philadelphia. No, I am not from the city here in your country, in the state you call Pennsylvania. Rather, the city of Philadelphia that I am from is about 75 miles or so northeast of the city of Ephesus. I serve as the pastor of the congregation in Philadelphia. Pastor Schmidt and Pastor Pagels asked me to come here today and share with you a letter that we received from the Lord of the Church. In your Bibles, it is recorded in Revelation chapter 3, verses 7-13. Through the inspired pen of his disciple John, Jesus wrote this to me, to all the members of our congregation and to all of you here today:

To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars--I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth. I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

Let me begin by assuring you that I know that I am no angel! The people in my congregation know that they are not angels. We are all sinful human beings who need forgiveness of our sins, who need a Savior, just like all of you here today. The word "angel" used here at the beginning of the letter means "messenger". When we received this letter, it was clear that the Lord of the Church wasn't referring to us as angels, but rather he was addressing me, along with all the members of our congregation.

The letter begins, "These are the words of him who is holy and true..." The one who is "holy and true" is, of course, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Jesus is the one whose birth you are remembering today during your "Christmas in July" celebration. Jesus is the one whose birth was announced by an angel of the Lord. Pastor Schmidt read for us just a moment ago how the angel proclaimed the Good News, "Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." The one who is holy and true is the God-man that the angels praised when they sang out, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

The one who is holy and true also wrote to us that he "holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut." When I first read these words of the letter, there were some in our congregation who thought the "open door" that Jesus was referring to was a reference to all the opportunities we have to share the Good News of the Gospel in our city. But, as I explained to them, it is clear from the context of the rest of the letter that what the Savior is referring to is the fact that he has opened the door to heaven for us. Because of your sins and mine, we deserve to have that door shut. We deserve to be locked out of heaven forever. However, because of the forgiveness of sins that Jesus won as your perfect substitute and mine, the door of heaven is open. You and I are able to look forward to the day when we walk through the open door and into paradise at the side of our Savior, not because of anything we have done; but, because Jesus lived, suffered, died and rose again. Our Savior is in heaven at this very moment preparing a place for you and me. And when our loving Lord says that our place is ready, he will call you and me to our eternal home.
As we read through this letter, it was so comforting for myself and our entire congregation to read that our Lord knew what was going on in our personal lives and in the life of our congregation. He wrote, "I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars--I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth. I am coming soon." Just like you here today, we too face many difficulties and hardships living in a world ruined by sin. Just like you here today, we too face the pressure from the unbelieving world to reject the true message of the Bible. Just like you here today, we too are not able to fight this fight on our own and hope to win.

But what comfort is ours knowing that we are not alone! What peace is ours knowing that the baby born in Bethlehem is our almighty, loving Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who promises that he is watching over us day after day! What joy is ours knowing that one day the King of kings and the Lord of lords will return in all his glory, to put an end to Satan and every evil once and for all!
With this comfort, this peace, this joy that only Jesus is able to provide, you and I are encouraged to "hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name." Far greater than any of the victory crowns that our athletes receive, is the crown of life won for us by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. As the Lord wrote to us that he would make each of us "a pillar in the temple of my God" we couldn't help but think of the many earthquakes that plague our city; and how often times, following one of those earthquakes, it is only the pillars of the temples that are left standing. By God's grace, we know that only because of Jesus, we will be standing in eternal victory forever in "the new Jerusalem", in heaven, as children of our heavenly Father.

One final point that I would like to make: Did you notice anything different about this letter? As I read through all seven letters to the seven different churches there was something that jumped out at me. I noticed that only the letter to our fellow believers in Smyrna and the letter written to us did not contain any words of rebuke from the Lord of the Church. We talked about this as a congregation. Together we confessed that we are far from perfect; that we are sinners deserving only of our Lord's wrath and anger. But then I opened up our hymnbook. You know it today as the book of Psalms. And I read from Psalm 103 where King David was led to write this, "Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits--who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's... The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust...from everlasting to everlasting the LORD's love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children's children."

I certainly want to thank Pastor Pagels, Pastor Schmidt and all of you here in God's house this morning for giving me this opportunity to be with you today. I have enjoyed being a part of your "Christmas in July" celebration. I am thankful that I had a chance to share this important letter with you today. As you continue to rejoice in the Good News of our Savior's birth, as you continue to give thanks for the forgiveness of all your sins that Jesus won for you, as you look forward to that day when the Lord leads you through the open door of heaven, with your eyes always lifted heavenward, watching and waiting for that day when the Lord Jesus comes again in all his glory, "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." Amen.

 

 

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