The Faithful Church: The Reward of Faith
Study Posted on November 8, 2023
Focus Scripture: Revelation 3:7-13
Key Verse: Revelation 3:7-8
Table of Contents
Watch & Listen
Over the last few studies, we have seen a church that began taking steps into compromising in their faith (Pergamos), a church that had corruptethe d its faith (Thyatira), and a church that had gone dead in its works (Sardis). Our study this week takes us away from those churches to the church in Philadelphia, which is not to be confused with Philadelphia here in America. The church in Philadelphia, along with the church in Smyrna, received nothing but praise from Christ.
He Who Has the Key
We will see this praise from Christ begin in the first couple of verses of our study this week. In the opening of the letter to the church in Philadelphia, we see that the message is being sent to the angel (messenger) of the church in Philadelphia.
Jesus refers to Himself in this greeting as “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 (Rev. 3:7).’” That’s certainly some kind of greeting, isn’t it? As Jesus once said to the disciples, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me (John 14:6).”
Jesus spoke about being the way, the truth, and the life in response to a question that Thomas asked when Jesus had spoken to the disciples about going away to prepare a place for the believer in His Father’s house. When speaking about the kingdom of heaven, in Matthew 16:19, Jesus said that He will give the keys of the kingdom of heaven to those of faith.
In this greeting, I want you to understand that Jesus was speaking from the place of sovereign authority as He is above all things; we have seen Jesus speaking from this place of authority in His greetings to the other churches. Specifically, in our study last week, we saw Jesus speaking with authority over the divine truth. When He spoke to the church in Thyatira, Jesus spoke from the place of being the final judge.
I want the sovereign place of authority of Christ to be known before we jump further into Jesus’ message to this church so that we can understand the place from where this praise for the church in Philadelphia is coming from. The praise that the church in Philadelphia received was high praise from the sovereign one. Praise from the Lord is the praise you ought to live for rather than being like those that live to seek praise from mankind.
High Praise From Christ
Jesus commends the church, stating that He knew their works. Of their works, we will see that those of this church kept Jesus’ word and did not deny His name (Rev. 3:8). So, those who were of this church were obedient in their faith in Christ, and this is not something that we should take lightly.
Throughout the month of October, I preached about knowing who we are as a child of God. There is great significance in knowing who you are as a child of God because there is power in being a child of God. That being said, there are many people that know they are a child of God but they struggle with living true to their identity as a child of God.
There are many believers that act out of character when it comes to being a child of God. We live in a world of sin where we are surrounded by sin and the temptation to sin. No matter how strong willed some of us are, none of us are perfect as we still fall into temptation and sin.
Now, our faith is truly revealed by how we respond when we do fall into temptation. How should we respond when we sin? The obedient believer, after falling into temptation, will seek forgiveness. Sadly, there are some who compromise to the way of the world and indulge in sin rather than live true to who they are supposed to be.
Rather than living according to the flesh and its lusts, we are to be led by the Spirit. In his letter to the Galatians, Paul spoke about being led by the Spirit and walking in the Spirit so that we do not fulfill the lust of the flesh (Gal. 5:16-26). Paul concluded that when we are obedient and walk in the Spirit, we are able to produce the fruit of the Spirit through our works.
Paul’s teachings were Jesus’ teachings as Jesus shared the same lesson with the disciples. Jesus said to the disciples that He is the true vine, and the Father is the vinedresser (John 15:1). “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He (the Father) takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He (the Father) prunes, that it may bear more fruit (John 15:2).”
Now, not all branches in Jesus bear fruit. Of those branches that do not bear fruit, Jesus said that the Father, the vinedresser, takes those branches away. Branches being taken away, we should also note, does not mean that those believers will lose their salvation (1 Cor. 3:14-15). As we have seen, salvation cannot be lost as all believers are sealed through their faith by the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13).
So, what was the point of this lesson taught by Christ? The Lord desires for believers to bear fruit and He inspects every branch (every believer) to see if we are bearing fruit. For every church that we have studied about through Revelation 2-3, Jesus was looking to see the fruit that they were bearing. Just consider how often Jesus said to these churches, “I know your works” – He had inspected them and had a field report on them.
Jesus concluded that if we abide in Him and His word abides in us, then we will ask what desire and it will be given so that the Father will be glorified in us bearing much fruit in the world (John 15:7-8). So, what would keep one from bearing the fruit of the Spirit? Disobedience; not abiding by the word of God and not walking in the Spirit.
Let us remember, not walking in the Spirit was the cause for the church in Sardis to be dead and have works that were not perfect (Rev. 3:2). Those who were of the church in Philadelphia were the complete opposite to those who were in Sardis. Those who were of the church in Philadelphia were led by the Spirit and produced fruit that was holy and righteous.
The Reward of a Faithful Church
Now, let us not make lightly of this praise that those who were of the church in Philadelphia received from Christ. Jesus praises this church for persevering (Rev. 3:10).
You see, those who were of this church faced the same tribulation as those in Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, and Sardis had faced. Those of this church did not give in to bitterness like those who were of Ephesus; they labored for the Lord with compassion in their hearts. Because they were obedient, they did not compromise in their faith but withstood and turned away those of false doctrines.
The church in Philadelphia sets the example for today’s church to follow when it comes to persevering, overcoming, all that we face in the world we live in today. You and I, the collective Church, regardless of denomination, should live true to the word of God. When we live true to the word of God and overcome the temptation of the world, great is our reward. Jesus said that when the world reviles, persecutes, and speaks evil against us because of our faith, we should rejoice because great is our reward in heaven (Matt. 5:11-12).
An open door before us
To those who were in this church, Jesus said that He had set an open door before them that no one could shut (Rev. 3:8). So, what was this open door?
Now, this open door could refer to a number of things. For example, in Acts 14:27, we can see that ministers of the gospel, like Paul, would speak about how the Lord had opened the door of faith, knowledge and understanding, to the Gentiles. So, we could consider that the open door that had be set before those in Philadelphia was a door to faith, knowledge, and understanding.
In both of Paul’s letters to the Corinthians, he spoke about doors being opened to him by the Lord while he was on his journeys (1 Cor. 16:9; 2 Cor. 2:12). Paul spoke of those open doors as opportunities to minister the gospel and to do good. So, it is certainly possible that the Lord had set the door of opportunity to minister before those in Philadelphia.
In John 10, Jesus said that He is the door to the sheepfold of His flock. Jesus, you will see, said, “As the good shepherd, Jesus said, “I am the door of the sheep … If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture (John 10:7, 9).” Let us remember that Jesus said that He is the way to the Father’s house and nobody can get to His Father’s house but by Him. So, the door set before those of Philadelphia could also be an open door to the kingdom of heaven.
I believe the Lord sets these same doors before all of us sincere believers. You and I should certainly be following the way of Christ in order to reach our heavenly home. When the door of knowledge and understanding presents itself to you, proceed through that door so that you can that wisdom (Prov. 1:5-7). When the door of opportunity to do good presents itself to you, as Paul said, we should do good (Gal. 6:10).
Saved from great tribulation
As shown through those believers who are of the church in Philadelphia, we will receive a reward for our faith. Jesus also said to those of the church in Philadelphia, “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).”
The thought here speaks of what the Lord said to those who were of the church in Smyrna and of what He said to the faithful believers in the church in Thyatira. Let us recall that those believers in the church in Smyrna faced much tribulation from those who were of the synagogue of Satan, which included Jews that blasphemed who they were supposed to be (Rev. 2:9). To those who were still of faith in Thyatira, the Lord promised that He would give them “power over the nations (Rev. 2:26).”
So, what we see here in the message to those of Philadelphia speaks to the reward of overcoming persecution. When we, the faithful believer, overcome our persecutors, we will one day be married to Christ as His bride (Eph. 5:25; Rev. 21:2, 9-11). As His bride, we will be with Christ during the Millennial Kingdom where we will reign with Him as shown to us in Revelation 20:1-6.
John wrote, “And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them (Rev. 20:4).” Who is the “they” that John speaks of in that verse? John tells us that it is those who have part in the first resurrection as they are blessed because the second death, the spiritual death, has no power of them (Rev. 20:6). Those who are of the first resurrection are the “saved of every age” (Old Testament believers, Church age saints, and tribulation saints).
It is during the Millennial Kingdom where the world will see faithful believers in all of our glory. Yes, they will worship (or marvel) at our glory as they will see the great reward of our faith. This promise that Jesus made to those faithful believers who were of the church in Philadelphia is a promise to all faithful believers.
Because we will be present during the Millennial Kingdom, Jesus’ next statement to the faithful believers in Philadelphia becomes most obvious. Jesus said, “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 earth (Rev. 3:10).”
The believers of this church lived as God-fearing believers. What I mean by that is that their obedience to the word of God was driven because they feared His coming; they did not want to be caught by God living disobediently. Because they were God-fearing believers, the Lord promised that they would escape “the hour of trial” – the Great Tribulation.
All believers should live as God-fearing believers. You and I know that the Lord hates wickedness and will one day cast wickedness from His presence for eternity. You and I also know that Christ is coming for His church and will call the Church out of the world (1 Thess. 4:15-17). The calling of the Church out of the world – the rapture – is what gives way to the period of Great Tribulation in the world (Matt. 24:15-27).
Scripture shows us that the suffering experienced throughout the Great Tribulation will be like none that the world has ever experienced. We know that during that time period, the man of sin will be revealed after the rapture of the church (2 Thess. 2:3). The Antichrist is going to deceive many during those days as they will worship him and fall to sin. The tribulation of that day will be so great that Jesus said, “woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days (Matt. 24:19).
Now, the one of sincere faith who lives in obedience and fear the Lord will be saved from those days. All of us believers should be living with the expectation that Christ could come at any given moment. As Jesus said to those of the church in Philadelphia, “Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown (the crown of life) (Rev. 3:11).”
A Word of Encouragement
Our study comes to a close with Jesus saying to the church in Philadelphia, “He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name (Rev. 3:12).”
This should be to you a word of hope and encouragement. To be a pillar in God’s temple speaks to being an eternal pillar. In ancient Greece, we are able to see the ruins of those ancient temples. While the physical decays and eventually is destroyed over time, what is in the Lord’s house will never decay or be destroyed (Matt. 6:19-21).
Jesus said that He will write on the believer the name of God and the name of the God’s city, the New Jerusalem. To have this name written on you is like gaining your ticket into your eternal and heavenly home. As shown in Revelation 21, New Jerusalem will be the home to the bride of Christ and you have to have a ticket to get there!
Jesus then said that He will write on us, the sincere believer, His new name. This new name is a name that His bride will know. It is a name that speaks to our intimate fellowship with the Lord. All of the rewards that are spoken of to the church in Philadelphia should serve as a word of hope and encouragement for the believer.
Our study ends with Jesus saying, once again, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches (Rev. 3:13).” You and I must be attentive to this word of hope and encouragement that was shared with those in Philadelphia. Fear the Lord and live obediently to His word and heaven will be yours.