Pursuing Answers to Questions of Faith & Life

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Sermon--Revelation 3:7-13-- Philiadelphia-- Access Granted

The ending gets a little ragged b/c it represents ideas that came up on Saturday night. So I hope it makes sense.

When visitors go to the White House, they cannot just wander around, they cannot go wherever they want to--they have to stay with the tour, there is limited access to the overall building—ZERO access to the President himself. But when you go into the Kingdom of God through Jesus Christ, you are given a VIP Access Pass—no one can stop you, no one can deny you entry, no one can prevent you from going straight in to the Holy Presence of God—you don’t have to make an appointment—you don’t have to sit down and wait at the receptionists’ desk. The Door is Open to You!

This Letter is about Promised Access

Here we come to a church that had much to be commended for even in the midst of disinformation and hardship. READ vs. 7-13

Philadelphia was a city strategically located on the road from Rome to the east, and was a strong fortress city. It was a city of major influence in the area and was located on the edge of a great volcanic plain which was fertile as a result and perfect for growing grapes. It was the centre of worship of the greek god Dionysius, the god of wine – no surprise really. It’s proximity to active volcanoes was a constant threat and the people in the most part lived outside of the city due to the threat from falling buildings within the city walls.

The church in this city had little strength—not great in numbers—but they had a great faith—a faith that was continuing to overcome hardship and difficulty. And in this Church

Jesus Walks Among Us In Righteousness & Authority

Jesus is holy & true—He is sinless, set apart from you and me—He is the Truth—and as He walks among us, He will not lie—about His love for us, about what He sees in our lives that are right, about what He sees in our life that is wrong—He is Holy—He is True—

Holds the Key of David—a very Jewish reference—it comes from Isaiah 22:20—The Key of David—is the Authority of the Messiah—the Promised King of the Line of David who will Restore the Kingdom of God—bring about the Promises of the Covenant.

Jesus is the one who has the authority in the Kingdom of God. Since He has the key—there is no blessing that is unavailable, no riches that are off limits to Him—only those who call upon Him will He allow to truly enjoy the benefits of the Kingdom. No one can just waltz in and go wherever they want—they must be given and granted access to the Covenant of God through the One who Holds the Master Key. Jesus is the One who holds, the one who Wields that Authority.

He has the authority to open and close all access. He is the Way, the Truth & the Life—no one comes to the Father except through Him. The Terms of the Covenant—the Terms of Relationship with the Father are set and determined by Jesus and His Death & Resurrection.

Jesus walks among us and He is not a “Yes Man”

Many companies, many colleges will hire an Outside consultant every few years to give a fresh evaluation of the company’s effectiveness. Sometimes, the findings are not welcome—as a result those that hired the consultants question their motives, question their qualifications—the more the outside consultant challenges or questions what you do or how you do it—what they’ve actually been called in to consult on—the LESS likely they are to be well received. In many cases, consultants are brought in with the expectation of “confirmation”—no you really are doing a good job—most things are fine—all the problems are minor.

We need to remember in our walk as the Church, that Jesus is not a consultant that we bring in every so often for an outside opinion. He is not a hireling, He does not wait to be invited in

He is the Owner & Founder, He is the CEO that takes a daily/weekly walkthrough to Inspect the Effectiveness of One of His Branch Offices/Departments/Productions

His assessment is Valid. His assessment in Unbiased. His assessment is Authoritative

What He opens cannot be shut—what He shuts cannot be opened. There is no one to appeal to; no one to overrule Him, not even a majority vote—His decisions are Final.

He has the Key, the authority of David as the Messiah. The One with this Authority is also the One who invites us to pray-- LK 11:9 "So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

Jesus Walks Among us and Knows Some Want to Close Doors—vs. 9

The Jewish Community wanted to

Close the Door to the Synagogue for any Jew who Believed Jesus Was the Messiah

Close the Door to the Covenant and Blessing of God because anyone who Believed in Jesus ceased being a Jew

Close the Door to the Love of God for anyone who received baptism in Jesus’ Name

Close the Door to Family & Friendships for their betrayal

Close the Door to a Relationship with God for any Gentile—that did not have the lineage of Abraham.

Just by accepting Jesus—a believer would suffer hardship and loss and only if they renounced their belief in Jesus would those doors be opened to them again.—they taught that God would shut them out, that God didn’t love them, that they were under the same curse that Jesus experienced. They had ceased being Jews anymore by claiming this false Messiah and for accepting Gentiles into the faith.

They claim to be Jews—with a true zeal for God--but in God’s Assessment, Faith in Jesus is the Determining Factor of someone being a Member of the Chosen People of God—Faith in Jesus makes you a part of the TRUE Covenant Community—not based on Lineage, Ethnicity or anything other than FAITH--Trusting Jesus brings you Under the Blessing of God and

Paul had to address this confusion Romans 2:28-29 --A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. 29 No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man's praise is not from men, but from God.

Romans 9:6-8-- For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. 7 Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham's children. On the contrary, "It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned." 8 In other words, it is not the natural children who are God's children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham's offspring.

Some of you may be seeing some doors closed to you b/c of your faith in Christ. Some of you may have felt the sting of having doors closed, relationships ended, friendships denied or maligned. Be assured that Jesus knows all about it and He is encouraging you to stand with your faith.

In today’s world there are attempts to

Close Doors to Biblical Truth—the Bible is so old and outdated, you can’t possibly believe it anymore

Close the Doors of the Church—not to keep them out, but to keep us in and without influence--just keep your faith inside these walls and don’t bring it out—then we’ll accept you, then we’ll like you and let you

Close Doors to The Exclusivity of Jesus—it’s so arrogant of you to believe that Jesus is the only way to heaven—what about all the other beliefs out there—they are just as valid.

Close Doors to Evangelism—don’t try to tell me my beliefs are wrong

Close Doors to Public Expression of Faith—the mistaken notion that the First Amendment to the Constitution says the Gov’t has the responsibility to provide “freedom From religion” not “freedom of religion”

Close Doors to Friendship—your desire to live differently may cost you friends who want to live it up and don’t want to be reminded that there’s another way to live.

Close Doors to Business Partnerships or Jobs—such opportunities are a very real occurrence-openly in countries where Christianity is a minority, but even subtly here in America—where you’re expected to “tow the line”, be willing to fudge a little bit.

Many will try to close doors to you as a believer in Jesus Christ. But there is Promise-

Jesus Walks Among us and Holds the Door Open—vs. 8

They are commended for

Keeping His Word—meaning they were obeying and growing in their walk with Christ—they believed and tried to live out their faith and the teachings of Jesus

Not Denying His Name—even though there was great temptation and pressure to just stop talking about Jesus, to stop making decisions with your faith in mind, to just do things that the rest of the world is doing because it’s not a big deal anyway—when we compromise our faith, we are denying His name

Even with Limited Strength—

Keeping His Word and the Pressure to Deny our Faith are tiring—it wears you down. And yet Jesus commends these believers in Philadelphia. He does not focus on the nuts and bolts, the details of every little thing they do, He speaks generally of their deeds, but it is their heart, their obedience, their endurance which truly draws His attention. It’s not so much what they are doing as the faithfulness behind the deeds. They are Keeping True to the Teachings and Faith of Christ. They are Keeping True to Christ and not mixing their Christianity with other faiths, not being a Christian and a Pagan, a Christian and a Bhuddist, not a Christian and a Capitalism, Communist Christian—they were remaining true and faithful to Him.

They had little strength—few numbers, not a great amount of influence—but they were faithful in what they had been given.

And so there is an Open Door before them—a Door of Access.

Door of Salvation--door mentioned in scripture is the door of salvation For instance, in John 10:9, Jesus said: (John 10:9) I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. Jesus was teaching the remarkable truth that he is the only way to salvation. Inside that door or gate, there is safety and everything we need.

Door Into the Presence of God-- HEB 10:19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.

Door to the Gentiles—Acts 14:27-- On arriving there, they gathered the church together and reported all that God had done through them and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles”—There is a desire to Throw open the gates and let anyone who is willing to come in—not limited to a select few, not limited to a particular race or ethnic group—but open to anyone who believes.

There’s a another type of door mentioned in scripture that is still about accoess

Door of Opportunity--For instance, Paul says in Colossians 4:3: “and pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains”. This is a Door where God allows us to be at Work in His Kingdom—He’s Hiring—There are Job Openings to be had—access and employment in the Kingdom. God gives wonderful opportunities to Serve and Glorify Him—opportunities to share the gospel, opportunities of prepared hearts and lives to receive the VIP Access Granted through Jesus Christ.

Throughout history, people have found that God has a unique way of providing opportunities for fruitful service, and hearts ready to accept the gospel.


He has placed an open door—one that cannot be shut--For What?

For them to come in Before the King—no one can deny them entry—no one can block their way, no one can say—“No Philadelphian Christians Allowed”

No matter what anyone else tried to say—that they were Locked Out, Cut Off, Denied—Jesus is Saying ---NO-the Way is Open for You

The Great Promise is that Jesus Walks Among us With Reward—9b-13

The promise is that they will fall down by the “making” of Christ—they will then learn and know that He has truly loved them—where the Love of God for Christians was called into doubt, He will receive you and love you and shower His blessings upon you.

There will be a Great Reversal—the believers in Philadelphia may not be strong now, there may not be very many—but they will be glorified at the Coming of Jesus.

They have Kept the Command to Endure—to hold on to what they have and so Keep the Crown of Righteous Victory that is promised.

Jesus Walks Among Us With Instructions

Hold On to What You Have—Forgiveness & Salvation in Jesus Christ, A New Hope & Future, a Community of Believers—With Total and Complete VIP Access to God and His Blessing--Hold On to it-don’t Go Back, don’t Quit, no matter the opposition, no matter the closed doors.

He will make you into a Pillar in the Temple—you are not the foundation, but upon the foundation that has already been laid. In most cases, the foundation is not a highlight—we don’t typically see the foundation. But a pillar is supposed to open up the structure—it’s supposed to make it open and visible so the beauty put into the structure can be seen.—open for worship

Pillars let you build a large open space. Allows you to build higher

But there’s even more here. Most scholars believe Revelation was written in the 90’s AD—meaning that it is about 20 years after the Temple in Jerusalem had been Destroyed—so the idea of the Temple standing is a powerful promise—but they would all have heard just how the pillars of the Temple could be removed. And it wasn’t the first time.

1 Kings 7:15, 21—“ 1KI 7:15 He cast two bronze pillars, each eighteen cubits high and twelve cubits around, by line. 16 He also made two capitals of cast bronze to set on the tops of the pillars; each capital was five cubits high.-- 21 He erected the pillars at the portico of the temple. The pillar to the south he named Jakin and the one to the north Boaz.

2 Chronicles 3:17 – He erected the pillars in the front of the temple, one to the south and one to the north. The one to the south he named Jakin and the one to the north Boaz.

Jakin means—He Establishes

Boaz—means “In Him is Strength—but it was also the name of the Kinsman Redeemer from the book of Ruth

2 Kings 25:13-- The Babylonians broke up the bronze pillars, the movable stands and the bronze Sea that were at the temple of the LORD and they carried the bronze to Babylon.

25:18-- The commander of the guard took as prisoners Seraiah the chief priest, Zephaniah the priest next in rank and the three doorkeepers.” There were supposed to be 4 who controlled access to the Temple

Jeremiah 52—destruction of the Pillars

They had read about the Temple being destroyed and the Pillars carried off. They may very well had been lamenting the loss of Herod’s Temple—so the idea of a permanent place—permanent access to God was uncertain. But that is what Jesus promises they will be.

2 Corinthians 6:16— For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people."

In describing the New Jerusalem—and the New Temple—Revelation later says:

Revelation 21:22-- I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.

21:25-- On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there.”

There will never be a time when Access to God will be closed off.

God’s Name will be written on our Heart—His Name name will be permanent—our citizenship, our membership is secure and irrevocable-

Jesus’ New Name will be written on us.

And we will never Leave the Temple—Never Leaving the Presence of God—is the hope and dream of this community—that there is no greater or better existence—no better way to spend the day than in the Presence of God surrounded by those who Praise Him. That is what Heaven will be like.

And how many of you are just counting the minutes until we get out of this building?

He is standing before us—walking among us—there are some doors that He has shut for us—but there are other doors that He is holding open—Doors of Opportunity that are before us that He wants us to walk through.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hugs from Jesus