As those claiming to be Christian fail to follow the Lord’s commands or as political regimes turn their authority against those of faith in Jesus, causing those followers to meet underground or in small house groups, we need to remember Christ’s letter to the Philadelphia Church of Revelation.
God has a word specifically to small churches and home churches. It is found in Revelation chapter three, verses 7 through 13, and is known as the letter to the Philadelphia Church.
“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, ‘These things says He who is holy, He who is true, “He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens”. I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; “ – Rev. 3:7, 8
This is part of the letters the Lord Jesus dictated to John on the Isle of Patmos. Notice in the very first of the letter the Lord emphasizes holiness and truth. These are two of the most important aspects for any church to recognize and follow. If their message does not include holiness and truth (God’s truth), they are not truly following the Lord.
The Lord then gives them an open door into the plans and purposes of God but, He makes sure they know that He alone can open such a door. Next He tells them why –
“I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name.” – Rev. 3:8
“For you have a little strength” is translated from the Greek and means ‘small of quantity: i.e. number, or amount’ and ‘power and resources arising from numbers’. In other words the Philadelphia Church was a small church, maybe even a house church. But, they kept the word of the Lord and did not deny His name. When the authorities of their day told them to stop meeting, they obeyed the word of the Lord instead.
“not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” – Heb. 10:25
Or when the authorities told them to stop singing praise to the Lord, they praised Him anyway.
“To the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent.
O LORD my God, I will give thanks to You forever.” – Ps. 32:12
“I will give You thanks in the great assembly;
I will praise You among many people.” – Ps 35:18
Indeed, the Lord promised that He would make those in authority, those being led by the devil, whether secular or religious, to come and bow down at their feet and recognize that the Lord loves them.
“Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie—indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you.” – Rev. 3:9
We must remember that everyone serves some religion, whether it is demons, false gods, or humanism, which is really serving man.
And further the Lord promises that He will keep them from the ‘hour of trial’ that is coming on the whole world.
“Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.” – Rev. 3:10
Why is the Lord promising this? Because they had kept His command to ‘persevere’. This word translated in the Greek means “a patient enduring, sustaining, perseverance”. In fact, the KJV of the Bible translates it as “word of my patience”. Some, who believe in a pre-Tribulation rapture, interpret this to mean they will be raptured before the great tribulation but, the Lord promises to ‘keep’ them from the hour of trial, not take them out of it. The word ‘keep’ in the Greek means to “guard or to keep one in the state in which he is found”. It is like God kept Noah. He didn’t take him out of the flood but, He kept him in it with an ark of safety.
The Lord is promising them Psalm 91 –
“Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked. Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.” – Psalm 91:3-11 KJV
What a glorious promise this is. Those in this church do not need to be afraid of a Covid19 plague or at the hate directed towards them. They will have angelic protection and they will certainly not face the wrath of God, which will be poured out on the wicked.
So, what does it take to be a “Philadelphia Church”? You need to live in holiness and honor the truth. You need to keep the Lord’s words and not deny His name. You can’t separate your secular or political life from your religious life. You need to persevere and in patience keep following the Lord, no matter what happens to you. You need to hold fast to the truth’s the Lord teaches, even when society does not. You need to resist any temptations to vary from the truth as the Lord speaks it so no one can take your crown of righteousness.
And most of all, you need to heed the Lord’s word – “Behold, I am coming quickly.”
The Church in Canada is facing these trials right now as their government is trying to shut them down. Some churches are bowing to the government’s wishes believing they are God’s authority but that is the same error the Jews facing the Philadelphia Church made claiming to represent God, but Jesus said they did not! Any government that has God’s authority would not willingly disobey God’s commands or force others to do so. So Canadian Christians are meeting in homes and small groups and some pastors are being arrested for being rebellious, but they are not, they are just obeying God!
These evil forces are being deployed against Christians around the world and they are beginning to also be felt in the United States – so I pray we will learn the lessons of the Philadelphia Church.