“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.”
These words of comfort are glad to be received by such a one as Philadelphia. Being weak in the faith, keeping the words of Jesus and all that He stands for can seem like an impossible feat. The calling to a life of holiness seems to fall flat amid painful struggling against sin, only to find greater depths of wretchedness that needs to be dealt with. The calling to truth can at times seem overshadowed by a world of lies and treachery, both within the faith and without. The grace of God is a welcome retreat from the failings of the flesh—a grace that Jesus gives at His discretion according to the sovereign will of the Father.
He knows their works. Contrast this with “depart from me, you who work iniquity. I never knew you.” Philadelphia will not hear those words. Despite their weakness—and indeed because of it—they have learned by the grace of God to trust in Jesus Christ alone. They cannot trust in their own “holiness.” They embrace the wise words, “lean not on your own understanding” as they realize that truth can be elusive, and the wisdom of fools is not far from their own heart at times. They cannot by any means be worthy enough for the Kingdom of God, yet they strive in faith, trusting in the work of the cross and the sanctification of the Spirit as promised.
They do not hide their little strength from Jesus, but rather, they run to Him because of it as they confess their sin openly, with great sorrow of heart, and with faith—sometimes great faith and sometimes little faith—hoping for the redemption of their soul and evidence of their salvation through a life that more resembles their Lord, Jesus.
Jesus has set before them an open door. The grace of God through Jesus Christ that makes one welcome residents of the Kingdom of Heaven is given to them, even if they do not presently see this as they would like. Just as all wait to see Jesus reign in this present world, so do they wait in faith patiently trusting in this promise. The door is already open. It must yet be fulfilled that they should walk through it. As Paul the apostle wrote, “this mortal must put on immortality.” That which is sown in corruption will be raised in newness of life, and this promise of God will one day be fulfilled—and their little strength will not prevent it because this is the work of Jesus in them.
Few pains are like that of a Christian who fears their weakness—who worries that they have disappointed Jesus and will fail to inherit the Kingdom of God. No. They have kept His words. They have not denied His name. By seeking Jesus earnestly as one who has a “poor and contrite spirit,” they have kept the faith. Their works are that of a broken heart, praise, thanksgiving, trust, and a desire to see the Kingdom of God furthered in this present world, and none of that as perfectly as they would have it. One day they will hear, “well done, thou good and faithful servant,” to which they respond, “I am an unprofitable servant. I did that which was my duty to do.”
Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.
There is no glory from men for the unholy Christian, the wretched sinner, and the one who does not claim to know all the hidden truths of God and of the Christian faith. There is no acceptance by those who esteem themselves to be higher than others, to have all doctrine neatly pinned down, and a life of riches, popularity, and gain in this present world. Those of the Synagogue of Satan welcome their own with open arms, though they often carry a knife hidden behind their back.
There are many who claim to be Jews—there are many who claim that God is their Father—but they are not truly redeemed from the snares of their real father, the devil and Satan. They continue in his works without real repentance and contrition of heart, all the while condemning and accusing the children of God. Such treatment can be enough to make little-strength Philadelphia’s heart faint. Yet, there is reassurance from Jesus. He knows of the Synagogue of Satan, and He will cause them to know that Jesus has loved those who they have accused and cast far away from their holier-than-thou assemblies.
As it is written near the close of Isaiah, “your brethren that hated you, that cast you out for my name’s sake said, ‘let the Lord be glorified!’ Yet He shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed.” Those who overcome will sit with Jesus in His throne, and as all confess that Jesus is Lord and bow before Him, so will they bow before those who are with Him.
Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.
There are numerous scriptures detailing the awe-inspiring patience of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord. In keeping the ideas within these scriptures, the heart is kept from the hour of temptation—the hour in which man denies the patience of God and is fully given to the darkness of this world, even the Prince of Darkness himself. Scriptural ideas pertaining the patience of Jesus include:
1 Peter 1-2: Our faith is tried as we endure many temptations, but if we patiently continue in well-doing, then we will receive the reward of our faith which is a crown of life. In our patience, we should remember the example of Jesus—He who patiently suffered the wrongs of evil men without being overcome by evil Himself but remained blameless in word and in deed.
2 Peter 3: We patiently wait on the Lord, even as others scoff at us and mock us stating that our Lord has delayed His coming. We know that the Lord will fulfill His promises, but He is patient as He gives time and space for all who belong to Him to repent. As we patiently endure ridicule, we can rejoice in knowing that the Lord is making time for our brethren to come to Him. We also know that Jesus will return and judge, and we want to be found faithful at His coming because the unrighteous cannot stand in His presence.
Romans 2: We should not despise the patience of God that leads many to repentance. We also remember that Jesus judges without respect of persons, meaning no one is too big and important get away with sin not repented of. We may need some time to repent ourselves, so we should not be so quick to see the judgment of God, nor should we be overly eager to judge one another.
Romans 5: Difficult times make us stronger and increases our patience, experience, and hope in the Lord. We remember that Jesus died for the ungodly, and we are justified by His sacrifice. We are not going to face His wrath, and as we grow in the faith, we have more confidence in our salvation as we experience the mercy and patience of the Lord first-hand.
Romans 9: Jesus endures the wicked patiently until His work is completed, and He is in control of all things. He will save all who He intends to save. Jesus is glorified in the wicked, so when we feel disheartened because of the wicked who seem to prevail, we can know that they will bring honor to God in the end and all things are coming together for our good.
James 5: Suffer affliction with patience just as the prophets suffered and as Jesus also suffered. Even now He endures much until the time of His coming is accomplished. Take comfort in His mercy and compassion for those who suffer for His sake.
We might notice recurring ideas.
Jesus died for the ungodly, and this includes us. We can have faith in His sacrifice, even as our faith is tried by a life among those who would do us harm or do harm to the Christian faith.
We endure suffering with patience, not repaying evil for evil, because we know that this is the calling we have as Christians.
We endure knowing that Jesus is no respecter of important persons, so we should not be so high and mighty in our judgements of others, but rather we should look to our own sin and be glad that Jesus gives many—including us—time to repent.
Just because we are covered by His blood does not mean we have no need to repent of the sins that we live out in this present world. However, we repent in good faith, knowing that He will save all who He intends to save—and this means allowing the wicked to continue until His time has come to return and judge the earth.
He will come and He will fulfill His promises—this is both a fearful and wonderful thing, so we should live out our days in this world in fear and in faith, seeking the grace of God and placing our trust in the sufficient sacrifice of the Son as we grow in our knowledge of Him and our ability to live in a manner that is pleasing to Him—a manner that means enduring the wicked with righteousness and with patience.
As with all of Philadelphia’s imperfections, keeping the patience of the Lord imperfectly is a difficult cross to bear. However, as the scriptures promise, when we call out to Jesus He will hear us and deliver us from all of our troubles. Especially the troubles of sinful thoughts, overwhelming emotions, and dreadful fears, even fears of denying the Lord Himself and of great failure in the faith. His grace is sufficient, even when the patience we have is weak. As the scriptures say, Christ is made strong in weakness, and as we continue, patience will have its perfect work one day.
Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.
To be a firmly-set fixture in the house of God is a glorious promise and comfort for one whose strength is little and one who seems to have no sound and sure place in this world. It is a comfort because of their own weakness—weakness that makes them feel as though they cannot help but come in and out of the presence of God time and time again, though if they could, they would never again leave or yield to sin. This is a comfort because they long for a place, and not just any place, but one that is with Jesus Himself and those who love Him in sincerity.
This is a recently-written portion of a chapter within a work-in-progress entitled, “These Things Saith He.” Progress has been slow in recent months, and because the current chapter is long and the progress is slow, I am publishing as completed. The whole chapter will again be published in its entirety once completed, Lord willing.