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To the Church in Philadelphia

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
November 12, 2020 7:00 am

To the Church in Philadelphia

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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November 12, 2020 7:00 am

How do you define success as a Christian? What measuring stick do you use? Do you listen to what a person says, watch what a person does, probe what a person thinks and feels? Listen next time as Dr. Boice examines the sixth letter in Revelation, to the church in Philadelphia. There he finds not one but two ways that Jesus defines the successful Christian life.

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Welcome to the Bible study our reviewing Internet ministry of confessing Evangelicals featuring the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce for more information please contact us by calling toll-free one 804 88 18 and now the alliance is pleased to present the Bible study our preparing you to think and act biblically want to begin by asking a question or a member question I have is this how do you measure success as a Christian investment firm Morgan Stanley, whether measure success. One investor at a time, dawdling their clients measure success by the size of their portfolios measure success by the size of their bank accounts of the size of their house or by what they paid for the car and some people measure success by whether they're popular or not by their position in the company by a power they're able to exercise but that's not what I'm asking him asking how do you measure success as a Christian all those other things take their measurements from what the world thinks of officer what we think of ourselves. But if you're going to measure success as a Christian. Obviously, it has to be in terms of what Jesus thinks of you. And when we begin to think of things that why am this letter to the church at Philadelphia we find a very important answer because Jesus had no criticisms of this church. All he had was praised for the church. I would think that if Jesus has no criticisms of you and all he has for you is praise when obviously you succeeded as a Christian.

What is he say that the churchyard is a very simple that's in verse eight kept my word, and you have not denied my name is pretty simple. Of course, the only real measure of success in the Christian life church in Philadelphia wasn't famous.

It wasn't large access in the course of the letter. I have only a very little bit of strength but because it had kept Christ's word and had not denied his name Jesus has nothing critical to say about the church all he has his price was for thinking a little bit about this church. Philadelphia wasn't a very large city. As a matter fact it was the smallest of the seven cities of Asia minor that were talking about. It wasn't even old, founded by a king named adolescence the second of the second century before Christ was the king of Lydia, and it'd been named for him. Adolescence have a nickname that was given to his name was Philadelphia loss because Philadelphia means brotherly love and he had a special love and attachment for his brother illuminates the defendant when he got into trouble and so they set of adolescents is real name was Philadelphia awesomely named this town Philadelphia after him was most easterly cities was about 30 miles southeast of Sardis was about hundred miles from Smyrna. Smyrna was the last for the healthcare was to the east.

It was located on an important road in the valley at the border of three countries factors important BC on Lydia and Phrygia made an important gateway to the East as a matter of fact when Xerxes was coming west in order to try and conquer Europe, which he failed in doing because the Greeks defeated them.

As you know, he stopped at Philadelphia on his way. It was an essential link between two continents and therefore it was a center for trade of the several other things that are important about it.

In view of the letter. For one thing it was founded as a Greek city with the purpose of spreading the Greek language and culture throughout these pagan regions, pagans, at least in terms of Greek ways of thinking, it succeeded in that very well. William Ramsey, a great scholar and traveler says that Greek could become a language, even of the countryside by A.D. 19 the Libyan language being almost forgot Philadelphia was so important in that respect was called the Little Athens was really a missionary city. That's important because the church in Philadelphia was like that.

It was a small Christian missionary enclave in the midst of a vast surrounding pagan culture. Many churches are like that today. Areas of the world, perhaps in the United States of America to true mission churches are small missionary enclaves in the midst of a vast surrounding pagan culture. The other interesting thing about Philadelphia is that it was the sitting on the edge of the valley where the soil was volcanic made a prosperous because it was good soil for growing grapes making wine. But the area was troubled by earthquakes and tumors after that earthquake that I mentioned before the earthquake of a B-17 that destroyed Sardis and destroyed Philadelphia. The tremors continued in that area. So much so that many of the people were afraid to go back into the city and they stayed outside of it.

Reason that might be important is because one of the things Jesus says in the context of this letter. Having a promise of one who was faithful to him, and endures to the end that he will be given an entrance to God city and Jesus says never again will he leave it will have to leave it. Of course, because the city of God will be secure, I want to look at the letter Jesus begins by describing himself. He does that in the characteristic fashion for each of the cities.

Here he describes himself in two ways.

First he calls himself a holy and true, what throughout the Bible and certainly in Revelation, holy is an attribute of God.

God appeared to Moses at the burning bush to reveal himself way back there in the early chapters of the book of Exodus. He told him to take off his sandal sandals because ways in which he is standing is holy ground. Later on Leviticus books of Moses, was led by God to write God told his people be holy because I am holy verse impressed itself upon Peter because Peter picked it up and quotes it in his first letter in chapter 1 Isaiah had his great vision of the Seraphim surrounded God in heaven. The seraphim were singing, holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, the whole earth is full of his glory very next chapter of Revelation, which were coming very shortly we find the angels around the throne, singing, holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty was and is and is become so throughout the Bible. Holy is an attribute of God, the preeminent outstanding attribute of God here at the beginning of the letter. When Jesus calls himself a holy one on the effect of that is to say that he is God is fully divine. We also calls himself true true is a translation of the Greek word LIC loss has a special connotation, it doesn't just mean true, as opposed to being false.

And certainly it isn't bad but it means true in the sense of it being the full or true expression of something else which is only in anticipation of our type of the shadow of that which is real.

That's the way Jesus uses it again and again in John's Gospel because himself a true brand true blindness month at the other kind of bread or other kind of vibe and he is the bread satisfies all the other bread sort of typical of him. He is the true vine that alone is nourishment. The grapes he calls himself a true one. Here he is the authentic one is another sense in which that word true is years in the comes from the Hebrew the Hebrew IDI has to do more or less. Would being faithful or trustworthy word actually is main and it occurs in Psalm 146 verse six describes God as the one who remains faithful forever. The true one forever is our closest equivalent to that would be to say God is the one who keeps faith can trust him. This word recalls the promises made to Israel throughout the Old Testament with the thought that all of those promises are to be fulfilled or to be trapped in the Messiah who will one day, Jesus is the true, the genuine Messiah little later on in the letter. He's in a talk about Jews who claim to be Jews are not bets that same kind of idea. He claims to be the Messiah and he is the second thing he says about himself is that he holds the key of David is not a direct reference to something that was described in the vision of Jesus. The John saw in chapter 1, almost every other case. What Jesus says of himself at the beginning of the letters goes back to that vision present.

Perhaps a reminder of something in verse 18 of chapter 1 Jesus that I hold the keys of death and Hades with similar but what he says here that he holds that David is actually a quotation from a verse in Isaiah Isaiah 2222. That phrase occurs because the key to the house of David is assigned to a man named Ellie Ockham became the chief steward of the house of Hezekiah. Here's the text I will place on his shoulder.

The key to the house of David. What he opens no one can shot a what he shuts no one can open is very evident that that's what John is quoting only I can replace demanding shape and I was an unfaithful Stewart. The fact that Ellie Ockham was given the key to the house of David meant that he controlled access to the king would be like a person in Washington who controls the daily schedule of the President of the United States.

He puts it on the schedule. The person gets him and he doesn't he doesn't get in well, that's the idea. Jesus is the one that controls access to the father. He opens the door he opens the door. No one can shut it really closes the door. No one can open it. This is a theme that ties us a letter together in one way or another you find it for different times. First of all, Jesus is opened the door to God's kingdom. To the faithful in Philadelphia because there say people like you may set an open door of opportunity before them early to make the pillars in the Temple of God which he has opened and then finally they'll never have to leave God's city and this is accomplished because Jesus is the faithful steward.

He's faithful and true one worth pointing out here as John stopped us his commentary on these letters that the key is given to Jesus Christ, not Peter great deal of interest in that because of the claim of the Roman Catholic Church through its priesthood of all through his magisterium to open and close entrance to salvation. The people by excluding them from the visible fellowship of the people of God.

John Stott points out, rightly, Peter was given the keys and the use them and use them to open the door and opened the door at Pentecost of the juicy opened the door to the Samaritans when he when John led to go up there and by the laying on of hands art the blessing of the Holy Spirit. These people want to use the key. The third time he was in the household of Cornelius Romans anteriorly open the door. The gospel of the lambs of Peter use them well now.

The keys are in the hands of Jesus Christ and Jesus says what I have open. No man can shot what I shot no man can open an isolated, he builds on mattress events in verse seven, but in verse eight, he adds this say I have placed before you an open door that no one can shot I could meet a couple things that could mean that he has opened the door of salvation opened the door into the kingdom of heaven to them, which of course he has most of the commentators, many of them at least think that that meaning is required by the context of the letter also mean that is opened the door of opportunity for the board of witness lists missionary church in this missionary city. I would take it that way or for no other reason, because that's the way the image of the door as you so often throughout the rest of the New Testament. Paul wrote to the Corinthians. He set a great door for he factual work is been open to me and when he went to Truax as he said the Lord opened the door for me.

When he went back to the church in Antioch to report on what he had done.

He said that God has opened the door of faith to the Gentiles. I think that's what's involved here. I think Jesus is saying you're a missionary church in a missionary city. I've opened the door for you where your faith: where you teach the gospel and preach my work there. People will come to faith in Jesus Christ. God is opened the door for us as well. They notice when you come into the church to the Delancey Street building. There wall outside is a plaque identifying ellipticity center building, but verse Harris, I see I've set before you an open door goes back to time in our history when we thought maybe the doors would be open they might be close to God not only kept them open Open ever since.

And we recognize that it's a door of great opportunity. He said that we still haven't exhausted the meaning of that sentence because when we read that Jesus is opened the door that no one can shot really carefully see it in the Greek verb is in the perfect tense. That means is that Jesus is opened the door once for all that stands open today because of that past act as well.

What was that past act that opened the door, answered clearly the only possible answer is that it was by his death on the cross that he's done it, people like the idea of open doors open door suggest opportunities.

Close doors are frustrating, but of all the doors that have ever been opened in history, the greatest of all the doors and been opened.

Is that door of salvation which Jesus opened by dying in our place taking our sin upon himself on the cross so we find that the Gospels are filled with invitations that are by that door. How about Jesus own words in Matthew 11 come to me all you who are weary and burdened, I will give you rest. Revelation itself ends on that note spirit and the bride say, and let him who hears say, whoever is thirsty, let them, and whoever wishes to let them calm and tasted a free gift of water of life. You can open you can enter through that door that Jesus Christ is opened as a warning that goes with that warning is this the door will not be opened forever on day is going to be shocked the day of opportunity and those who have not placed their faith in Jesus Christ will be excluded forever remember how the women in Christ's parable in Matthew 25 cried out.

Sir Sir open the door to us. Jesus responded by saying I don't know you because the door was shot.

Site is a semi-Jesus uses the gracious one Jesus who opens the door.

Yes, that's Jesus himself ascetic. Listen to his words in Luke 13 make every effort to enter through the narrow door because many I tell you, will try to enter, and they will not be able to once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door.

You will stand outside knocking and pleading. Sir open the door to us, but he will answer. I don't know you are where you come from, and you will silently night H and drink with you and and you taught in our streets but he'll reply. I don't know you or where you come from away from me, all you evildoers, and there will be weeping. There and gnashing of teeth.

When you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God. But you yourself are thrown out warning for you. Jesus is the day of opportunity great as it is open as I door may be, will not last forever, so you're going to believe on Jesus Christ and be saved. Now's the time to do it even says that explicitly in the Bible it says now is the time of God's favor. How is the day of salvation will not last forever.

I was the pattern of these letters to follow Jesus. Identification of himself with words, both of commendation and criticism. But in this case, there is no condemnation errors only praise he follows what he said now with a fourfold statement of the reward that they're going to receive if they are faithful for things. First of all, they will prevail over opposition from those who claim to be Jews so they are not sprays I referred to earlier verse nine. Jesus calls the Jews in the city. Those who are of the synagogue of Satan when he adds that they claim to be Jews so they are not, but are liars. He may mean that that Jews of Philadelphia had so compromised with the pagan customs of those around them that they no longer worthy of the name Julie shouldn't be called that. The reason I say that's a possibility is that the Talmud itself says that of these people. The weather was familiar with the comments. Some of our Jewish friends would find that in shop 147 it says that winds in the baths of Phrygia. This was the area where Philadelphia was located, have separated the 10 tribes of Israel. What they meant by that is that the Jews would gone in the fridge. He had become so much like the Gentiles, that they no longer worthy to be called Israelites may mean that the other hand, Jesus may mean the Jews of Philadelphia were doing Satan's work by persecuting the Christians. That probably is what he means. Because we remember that the Johnny rights.

Revelation is the same. John wrote the gospel in the gospel in John eight is a conversation between Jesus and the Jewish leaders seems to make this point they were showing their ancestry by their behavior by the things they were doing was rebuking him, they were trying to kill him. He said you're ready to kill me because you have no room for my word. I'm telling you what I've seen in my father's presence and you're doing what you heard from your father is talking about your father the devil, of course, I got the idea, even though he hadn't said that. And they reported Abraham as our father and he said if you were Abraham's children. You do the things Abraham did as it is you're trying to kill me ma'am told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham didn't do such things you're doing with your own father does. I got very angry at that point they said were not illegitimate children. The only father we have is God himself. And then Jesus love very deliberately to them. He said you belong to your father the devil you want to carry out your father's desire. He was a murderer from the beginning. That's what John has in mind as his writing in Revelation. What is suggesting is that Jews in Philadelphia were doing the same thing that they had done to Jesus in his day, and that their persecution was Satan's work is the point of is a Jesus prevail was raised from the dead, and he's now seated in heaven, every knee is going to follow him. One day, so those who are seated with him in heaven as those who persevere to the end will be. Will see these very persecutors bow and acknowledge that Jesus is King of Kings and Lord of lords, and he has loved them and set a seal upon them. Jews in that day believe that in the future day the Gentiles would bite of powder that may find many prophecies about the Old Testament, especially in Isaiah, but here you have a reversal. Jesus is saying is that the Jews will bow to those Gentiles who have accepted Jesus as their Savior clearly because they have become the true Israel by believing in the true Messiah of those who have rejected the Messiah repudiate their status as true Jews.

That's biblical teaching. Paul said to the Romans man is not a Jew is only one outwardly, or circumcision merely outward and physical know what you is one inwardly and circumcision is circumcision of the heart by the Spirit, less the first of these promises. The second is that sleigh will be kept from the hour of trial that's going to come upon the world, said in one of our introductory studies. The revelation that the troubles to come at the end of the world are also troubles that are seen throughout history in line with what John says about the Antichrist and first job you've heard that the antichrist is coming, even now there are many antichrists I were going to be studying the major portion of Revelation. Yes, things are coming at the end but also rings were going to see now how these trials could be things that are happening right now as they go through them, but I think in this particular case it's not talking about that it's really talking about end time trials. The reason I say that is for two reasons. First of trials that are spoken of here are described as trials that are going to come up on the whole world just talking about the persecution of the church trials are going to come everywhere hard times of God's judgment and secondly they will affect. It says those who live on earth and in the book of Revelation always refers unbelievers saying here is that these bad times are coming judgment will fall upon the ark. God is going to preserve the Christian's were living at that time and spite of those trials. The third thing is that the one who conquers will be made a pillar in the temple of God. Verse 12 I could be general promise.

But those who persevere will have a secure place in Christ's kingdom. Certainly it means at least that. But in the Old Testament her as a reference to two pillars of Solomon set up in the porch of the great temple that he had built at a name for them. He called the first shock he means he established and he called the second pillar Boaz which brings in him. His strength that's what John is referring to when he may well be fitting to say that for those who are faithful in the city. They have been described as having little strength they have stood firm in Christ strength. Therefore, they were to be made. Pillars of strength in his kingdom. On the fourth thing is this the victor will receive the new name of God. Name of the city of God, the new Jerusalem, and Christ's new name. It's interesting that the citizens of Philadelphia knew something about receiving a new name because when their city was destroyed destroyed by the earthquake that destroyed Philadelphia and Sardis 10 other cities were aided in the rebuilding by Tiberius Caesar who contributed money to let us also the rebuilding of Sardis and they renamed their city, neo-Caesarea, which means the new city of Caesar gratitude to later when the Emperor Vespasian 70s also help them. They renamed their city after him. I called Flavio because that was his family name Flavia later they went back to being Philadelphia but they understood what that was to receive a new name now probably that's what's being alluded to here also that believers are to be given the name of the father and son even having it written on therefore has common idea in Revelation going to, later on in the book Revelation 14 one and I looked at Mary for me was the Lamb standing on Mount Zion with him 144,000 who had his name and his father's name written on therefore had in chapter 7 the same name, is referred to as a seal and it comes again in Revelation 22, four were those who had the name of God written on their foreheads are permitted to see God having the name of the father and of the son written on the floor had his way of saying that there identified with God.

They belong to him and they are secure in him having the name of God city given to must also mean the same thing. It means they have a citizenship in Zion like Abraham, they look to the city that has foundations, whose builder and maker is God, and they had received the citizenship in that city. So now there secure in that they are citizens of Zion. What is Christ's new name. This is one of those many places where the book of Revelation interprets itself because if you look on the chapter 19 verse 16 you find it there. Jesus is presented as a rider on a white horse, clearly a conqueror told that on his robe and on his fly. He has his new name written, King of Kings and Lord of lords. So the point is that believers in Philadelphia have conquered by standing firm and not denying his name and I have conquered in life because of pricing for Christ and they are going to reign with him. Finally, having acknowledged the faithfulness of the small church flitted Christ's word and not denied his name. Verse eight.

Having spoken of the four great rewards because of the people's faithfulness. Jesus offers them a challenge there in verse 11.

Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown something I really did, did it historically and were given the author of the decline and fall of the Roman Empire has a fascinating paragraph. It that great historical masterpiece, which is talking about these various cities that are mentioned here in the letters of Revelation anterior subparagraph that he wrote about them talking. First of all, about the fall of emphasis and loss of emphasis. The Christians deplored the fall of the first angel. The extinction of the first candlestick of the revelations, the desolation is complete, the temple of Diana of the church of Mary will equally elude the search of the curious traveler circus from three stately theaters of Laodicea are now peopled with wolves and boxes. Sardis was reduced to a miserable village. The Gautama hammocks without arrival of the sun is invoked in the mosques, Sophia, Tyra and Pergamum and the populace notice of Smyrna is supported by the foreign trade of the Franks and the Armenians. Philadelphia alone has been saved by prophecy or courage at a distance from the sea, forgotten by the emperors encompassed on all sides by the Turks or valiant citizens defended their religion and freedom above four score years of that length capitulated with the proudest of the Ottomans among the Greek colonies churches of Asia Philadelphia alone still erect a column on the scene of ruins a pleasing example that the plans honor, and safety may sometimes be the same return of the question that I ask at the beginning. How does a Christian measure success. I gave one answer, then verse eight. You have kept my word and have not denied my name.

That's one way of answering the question, but the same answer can be given. In other words, it's what we find here it's to be still standing when the battles of life are over or when Jesus caught always remember a line from the first of many popular Rocky movies. If you say that you may remember it as well because of a promotional fluke, Rocky Balboa has come out of oblivion has been given a chance to fight the champion of the world Apollo Creed one things Rocky has a chance and he really doesn't have a chance. Although he loses the fight in the end only by a very close decision, but he takes challenge seriously and he goes in the rigorous training he gives everything he has is the fights draws near reflective mood.

He confides to his girlfriend Talia on one occasion, there is no way I can beat Apollo Creed I just want to go the distance.

The man is a just one of the last 15 rounds is not a bad approach Christians you measure success. One way is just to go the distance.

Jesus Christ is saying hold on don't give up. Don't let anyone take your crown. Remember, he says, I am coming soon new. Remember that you hang on Jesus and asking for her awake. She does want you to be a Christian start is only one star in heaven and that is Jesus Christ. What he wants you to do is persevere. Those who do persevere and endure to the end.

He promises his own new name. The name of a conqueror promises a crown crown of righteousness, glory will never tarnish and will never be smashed away. Father, we thank you that you don't ask heroics of us all you ask is for us to be faithful. It's hard enough for us to be that you promised to be with those who love you and seek your face, who understand the strength that you provide that we do it with grace to be there at the end.

Waiting faithfully holding our ground not denying your nine keeping the faith. When we die, or when Jesus comes to you and listening to the Bible study hours with the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals. The alliance exists to promote a biblical understanding and worldview. Drawing upon the insight and wisdom of reformed theologians from decades and even centuries gone by. We seek to provide Christian teaching that will equip believers to understand and meet the challenges and opportunities of our time and place. Alliance broadcasting includes the Bible study hour with Dr. James Boyce every last word with Bible teacher, Dr. Philip Reich and God's living word with pastor, the Rev. Richard Phillips and Dr. Barnhouse in the Bible featuring Donald Barnhouse. For more information on the alliance including a free introductory package for first-time callers or to make a contribution. Please call toll-free 1-800-488-1888. Again, that's 1-800-488-1888. You can also write the alliance at Box 2000, Philadelphia PA 19103 or you can visit us for Canadian gifts mail those 2237 Rouge Hills Dr., Scarborough, ON M1C 2Y9 ask for your free resource catalog featuring books, audio commentaries, booklets, videos, and a wealth of other materials from outstanding reformed teachers and theologians. Thank you again for your continued support of this

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