Today, we will begin our focus on the church at Philadelphia and discover what we can gain from the study to be a lighthouse for Jesus, a church that attempts to love each other and thereby show the Lord Jesus Christ that we love Him (John 14:15).

“A new commandment I give TO YOU, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.  BY THIS ALL will know that YOU ARE MY DISCIPLES, IF you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35, emphasis added, NKJV). 

“We KNOW that we have passed from DEATH TO LIFE, because we love the brethren.  He WHO DOES NOT love his brother abides in death.  WHOEVER hates his brother is a MURDERER, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.  By this we know love, because He [Jesus] laid down His life for us.  And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (I John 3:14-16, emphasis added, NKJV). 

Let’s think about Philadelphia; it was located on a hillside about thirty miles Southeast of Sardis, the city (modern Alashehir) was founded around 190 B.C. by Attalus II, king of Pergamos.  His unusual devotion to his brother earned the city its name, “brotherly love.”

The city was an important commercial stop on a major trade route called the Imperial Post Road, a first century mail route.  Although Scripture does not mention this church elsewhere, it was probably the fruit of Paul’s extended ministry in Ephesus (Acts 19:10).

It is important to notice two words, holy…true is a common description in this book (Revelation 4:8; 6:10; 15:3; 16:7; 19:2, 11).  Christ shares the holy, sinless, pure nature of His Father (Psalm 16:10; Isaiah 6:3: 40:25; 43:15; Habakkuk 3:3; Mark 1:11, 24; John 6:69; Acts 3:14); that is, He is absolutely pure and separate from sin.  TRUE can refer both to one who speaks truth, and who is genuine or authentic as opposed to fake. Christ was Holy and True.

No doubt you have seen a church that God is blessing.

  • It is a church that focuses on Jesus Christ.  “IF THEN YOU WERE RAISED WITH CHRIST, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, SITTING AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD.  SET YOUR MIND on things above, NOT on things on the earth.  For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ WHO IS OUR LIFE appears, then you also WILL appear with Him in glory” (Colossians 3:1-4, emphasis added, NKJV).

“Do not love the world or the things in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.  And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever” (I John 2:15-17, NKJV).

  • It is a church that is alive and faithful to the Lord Jesus.
  • It is a church that makes Jesus the center of all its activities.
  • It is a church that focuses upon reaching the lost for Jesus Christ.
  • It is a church that focuses upon teaching people to love Christ and to love one another.  This was the church at Philadelphia.

NOTE:  The word Philadelphia means brother love or one who loves his brother.  

The Church of Philadelphia- they lived like Christ said to live and they carried out His mission. (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8).

“Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them.  When they saw Him, they WORSHIPED HIM; but some doubted.  And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.  GO therefore and make DISCIPLES [followers] of ALL the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to OBSERVE ALL things that I have COMMANDED YOU; and lo, I am with you ALWAYS, even to the end of the age. Amen” (Matthew 28:16-20, emphasis added, NKJV).

The Church at Philadelphia lived by Faith and Obedience.

“And He said to them ‘IT IS NOT for you to know the times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But YOU SHALL RECEIVE POWER when the Holy Spirit HAS COME upon you; and YOU SHALL BE WITNESSES TO ME IN JERUSALEM AND IN ALL JUDEA and SAMARIA, and to THE END OF THE EARTH’ ” (Acts 1:7-8, emphasis added, NKJV).

The believers at Philadelphia loved Christ; therefore, they gave their hearts and lives to Christ.  They lived like God said to live on earth, that is OBEDIENT AND HOLY lives.  Ask yourself if you are living as the following two passages direct?

“I beseech you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, HOLY, ACCEPTABLE TO GOD, which is your reasonable service.  And DO NOT be CONFORMED TO THIS WORLD, but be TRANSFORMED by the RENEWING of your MIND, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and PERFECT WILL OF GOD” (Romans 12:1-2, emphasis added, NKJV).

“Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope FULLY upon the grace that is to be brought to you AT THE REVELATION of Jesus Christ; as    OBEDIENT children, NOT conforming your selves to the FORMER LUSTS, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy you also be holy in ALL our conduct. Because it is written, ‘BE HOLY FOR I AM HOLY’ ” (I Peter 1:13-16, emphasis added, NKJV).

The church at Philadelphia was alive and faithful.  It represents all the churches down through the ages that are alive and faithful.  It shows us exactly what Christ wants a church to be.

Let’s review Micah 6:8 because it can help us understand what a church is, that is living and faithful.  Each person must not just look at the church in general but also specifically at themselves. Otherwise you might come up with a different emphasis than God’s.

“He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you.  But to do JUSTLY, to love MERCY, and to walk {live} humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8, emphasis added, NKJV).

“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the LORD. And in His law he meditates day and night.  He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper” (Psalm 1:1-3, NKJV).

NOTE:  There is no complaint or warning against this church.  Jesus Christ has only praise and exhortation for the church that is alive and faithful.

THE KEY OF DAVID.  Christ has the sovereign authority to control entrance into the kingdom of heaven Isaiah 22:22; Matthew 16:19; John 17:2-3; John 14:6. In Revelation 1:18, He is pictured holding the keys to death and hell, here, the keys to salvation and blessing.

NOTE:  CHRIST IS THE KEY

“The key of the house of David I will lay on his shoulder; So he shall open, and no one shall shut; and he shall shut, and no one shall open” (Isaiah 22:22, emphasis added, NKJV).

To Peter Jesus said, “And I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven, and whatever, you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:19, emphasis added, NKJV).

NOTE:  Only Jesus, God’s Son, could make that statement to Peter.  Why?  Because He is God’s Son, the one who has all authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18).

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE.  NO ONE comes to the Father EXCEPT through Me’ ” (John 14:6, emphasis added, NKJV).

This is so clear that it really helps us when we consider who and what Jesus actually is: He is God.

The world proclaims: “we do not know where God is.  Even if He exists, we can only seek Him the best that we can, trying to find out just where He is.  If a man is going to heaven, he is going to have to do the impossible to get there in violation of Ephesians 2:8-10.  Why?  Because one “cannot” work his way to Heaven!

“For by grace [God’s undeserved favor] you have been saved THROUGH FAITH, and that NOT OF YOURSELVES; IT IS THE GIFT OF GOD, not of works, lest anyone should boast.  For we are His workmanship, CREATED [by God] in Christ Jesus for GOOD WORKS [after salvation], which God prepared before-hand that we should walk [LIVE] in them” (Ephesians 2:8-10, emphasis added, NKJV).

The world says: every man must find and discover his OWN WAY TO HEAVEN and hope that he has found it.  If he tries hard enough, does enough good works, God must let that person into heaven.  Of course this thinking is contrary to the Word of God and how to get to heaven.  Please note the chronology of Ephesians 2:8-9, above and Jesus’ statement about how to go to Heaven.

Jesus said to him,’ I AM the WAY, the TRUTH, and the life.  No one comes to the Father EXCEPT THROUGH ME’ ” [John 14:6, emphasis added, NKJV].

“For by GRACE [God’s undeserved favor] you have been saved [will go to heaven] through FAITH [belief in Christ], and that NOT of yourselves [cannot get to heaven by your own works]; [Why? Because] it is the GIFT OF GOD, not of WORKS, lest anyone should boast [say that they got to heaven because of what they did]” (Ephesians 2:8-9, NKJV). 

Jesus said: “Enter by the NARROW gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.  Because NARROW is the gate and DIFFICULT is the way which leads to life, and there are FEW WHO FIND IT” (Matthew 7:13-14, emphasis added, NKJV).

“For God so loved the world [you] THAT He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever [possibly you] believes in Him [Jesus] should NOT PERISH but have EVERLASTING LIFE” (John 3:16, emphasis added, NKJV).                                                 

“But WITHOUT FAITH it is IMPOSSIBLE to please Him, for he who comes to God MUST BELIEVE that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6, emphasis added, NKJV).  

PAUSE AND THINK ABOUT WHAT CHRIST IS SAYING.

He is talking about salvation, life and your decision about how to get to heaven.  Notice that He says there are two gates, one is wide and one is narrow: important!  He is clearly saying that every man stands before the wide gate.  It is immediately before him, right in front of Him, he can’t miss it.

Think about it, IT IS THE ONLY GATE THAT FACES HIM, THE ONLY ONE HE SEES, it is right in front of him, he can’t miss it, it is so close, so that no entrance is necessary.  The broad gate is so close that all he has to do is to take a step and he has entered it.

However, Jesus issued a critical warning.

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘LORD, LORD,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.  Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’  And then I will declare to them, ‘ I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ ”  (Matthew 7:21-23, NKJV).

The narrow gate has to be searched for in order for it to be found.  (note the words “find it” Matthew 7:14).  It is narrow and facing in the opposite direction from the wide gate.  This means it…

  • is not immediately nor naturally seen,
  • can be found only if one turns [repents] to find it,
  • has to be sought, diligently sought, and
  • even when seen [or found] it is difficult to enter.

NOTICE SOME FURTHER THINGS ABOUT THE NARROW GATE.

  • The way to eternal life is very SPECIFIC and very few will choose it.  Notice what God told Jeremiah.  “Now you shall say to this people, ‘Thus says the LORD: “Behold, I set before you the way of life and the way of death’ “ (Jeremiah 21:8, emphasis added, NKJV).

This principle that God gave Jeremiah is a good illustration of the narrow and broad Gate.  You must choose either life or death.  Life only comes through the Lord Jesus Christ.

“But without FAITH it is IMPOSSIBLE to please Him, for he who comes to God [think narrow gate and or life] MUST BELIEVE that He IS, and that He is a REWARDER [THINK OF GOD’S FREE GIFT OF ETERNAL LIFE] of those that DILIGENTLY SEEK HIM {WANT God’s free gift of eternal life}” (Hebrews 11:6, emphasis added, NKJV).

“For God so love the world [you] that He gave His ONLY begotten Son, that WHOEVER BELIEVES in Him should not perish [live eternally in hell] but have everlasting life [live eternally with God]” (John 3:16; emphasis added, NKJV).

Now consider that the wide gate represents the world and it’s belief that you can follow your own way of life and work your way to heaven.  The narrow gate represents the Kingdom of Heaven.  You have a choice.  The wide gate stands open right in front of a person, nothing keeps a person from entering it.  It is as if a person naturally stands before its wide open doors.

God says that lots of people can enter and are entering the wide doors that lead to hell at any given time.  A person has plenty of company who will join you if you choose the wide open gate leading to destruction.

The wide gate appears to be the only gate to enter because…

  • there are so many people gathered around it to enter,
  • there is so much activity around it, and
  • the crowd is anxious to take their turn to enter the wide gate.

THE POINT IS THAT PEOPLE DO NOT EVEN THINK ABOUT ANOTHER GATE, MUCH LESS EVEN THINKING ABOUT ANOTHER GATE THAT IS HARD TO FIND.  ESPECIALLY ONE THAT REQUIRES A LOT OF EFFORT TO FIND AND ENTER IT.

The wide gate is broad enough to include all:  philosophies and beliefs no matter how extreme, all appetites and passions, all liberties and licenses, all sin and selfishness.  The gate is opened so wide that any or all can enter.

WARNING FROM GOD

“Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things SHALL NOT inherit the Kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21, emphasis added, KJV).                                                                    

Consider this about the narrow gate, it cannot be seen.  With that in mind consider:

  • One must turn from the wide gate, turn from following the world, the things of the world and people who follow the world’s philosophy of doing your own thing.
  • One must pull away, go in a different direction, leave the actives of the world.
  • One must search for the narrow gate diligently (Hebrews 11:6).
  • One must upon finding the narrow gate, enter it immediately.  Demonstrating your love for Christ, thanking God for His FREE GIFT OF SALVATION. Remember, it is hard to find because it is very narrow.