Greeting: Grace is yours through Jesus Christ, who says, “Blessed are they who hear the Word of God and obey it.”
Text: 7) To the angel of the church in
Introduction: Let’s say that you have won a contest that allows you to have 30 minutes in a department store to fill as many shopping carts with as much merchandise as you can. How would you prepare for this accumulation of free item? Would you scope out the store in advance to see how things were arranged and where the most valuable items were kept? Would you be taking the size of items in relation to their value into account? Would you be targeting some things that you really could use? Would you make sure that you were in good shape and well rested for the big event? For an opportunity like this, I am fairly sure that you and I would do all of these things.
In our message for today, Jesus Christ speaks to us about the opportunity to help ourselves to some of His wonderful blessings, absolutely free gifts of His amazing grace. We can learn some valuable things about receiving these gifts from Christ’s letter to the lavishly blessed congregation in
The city of
The Lord Jesus introduces Himself to the believers in
In His letter to this church, the Lord commends its members. They have been faithful. They have kept His Word and they have not denied His name – even though they had “little strength.” They have been humbly reliant upon God. They have patiently endured the abuse of unbelieving Jewish persecutors. Jesus is pleased with their loyalty.
As in the case of the church in Smyrna, the Lord has no words of rebuke for this faithful church. He offers only encouragement. He urges them to remain faithful and to hold on to their Lord and to the crown of life and the victory that He has won for them. They have spiritual treasures to guard. He calls on them to protect their faith by continuing to strengthen it through their regular use of God’s Word. By doing this they will make sure that no one takes their crown of eternal life and heavenly victory.
Then the Lord unfolds a number of blessings for these faithful followers of God’s Word to claim and enjoy:
- He begins with this announcement: “See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut.” Jesus uses the imagery of an open door to refer to the free and open access He gives to God and His great blessings. Jesus opens the spiritual door which allows people to enter God’s gracious favor, to claim His promises and to enjoy His protection and provision for all their needs now and always. The open door also gives Christians the opportunities to help others enter God’s kingdom of grace and life. Those who hold to God’s true Word find an unlocked door that allows people to find and enjoy God’s grace and mercy in Christ. They exit from the spiritual prison of doom and death and enter into God’s freedom and joy. They have opportunities for spiritual growth and joy that no one can close off.
- The Lord Jesus also promises a wonderful vindication of their faith in Him. He says: “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.” Jesus tells the Philadelphian believers that the Jews who followed Satan and opposed and persecuted them will one day acknowledge the grand truth that it is the Christians who were correct in their faith and it is Christians who are truly God’s loved and chosen people. In this promise, Jesus may also be indicating that some of the Jews will themselves be brought to saving faith in Him through the Gospel the Christians share. Christ’s words remind us not to give up in our witnessing efforts with people who, at first, respond negatively to His Word.
- In His next promise, Jesus offers God’s gift of strength for a time of trial. He says: “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.” The Lord assures His believing people that He will protect them and strengthen them as they face fierce tests and trials. He will preserve them through the great tribulation they would face so that their faith would not fail.
- Then, Jesus proceeds to promise: “Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of My God. Never again will he leave it.” Pillars play an important role in a building. A pillar in God’s temple is a picture of beauty, strength, permanency with the vital function of providing support. By promising His persevering believers that they will be pillars in God’s temple, Jesus is letting them know that they will have an important place in heaven. They will be beautiful and glorious, majestic and strong, with interesting and meaningful things to do – and He assures them that they will forever enjoy this experience.
- Jesus also promises: 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. Jesus speaks of recording His new name, God’s name of the city of
These are the blessings Christ gives His faithful followers. He spares them His rebuke. He promises them endless treasures. With these words, our Lord and Savior also calls us to be faithful to Him, to live in His Word and to hold firmly to it. Our God promises us that He will fill our lives with His blessings – blessings that are precious to us and blessings that are reserved for us. His promises make our hearts certain of our great future and expectant for it. When it comes to the reception of His great blessings, our Lord urges us to find the largest cart or container that we can find and fill it full of His choice blessings.
A Christian once commented: “If God wants to bless someone, nothing will stop Him.” That’s very true. God does want to bless someone. He wants to bless you and me and all who have ears to hear what the Spirit says to the churches. Today He says: “Receive My gracious gifts.” Amen.