THE REVELATION OF CHRIST
Lesson Number 8
THE MESSAGE TO PHILADELPHIA
"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; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name. 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. 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. Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. And 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. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." (Rev 3:7-13, NKJV)
As we near conclusion of the personal word to the "seven churches which are in Asia," several things are becoming clearer. First, the Lord Jesus has a preeminent interest in the condition of His churches. Before He begins to open the future, He speaks to them of their situation, exhorting them to actions appropriate for those who have been "washed from their sins," and constituted "kings and priests unto God" (1:5-6). There is a good reason for our Lord's approach. A weak and debilitated church will not profit from "the Revelation." If the church has left its "first love" like Ephesus, it will not be able to receive the Master's word. If it is under severe persecution like Smyrna, it must be encouraged and strengthened in order to take hold of the Word with hope. A church that has become sloppy in the doctrine it holds, like Pergamum, must have its spirit sharpened, else "the Revelation" will only be a theological novelty. When a church becomes tolerant of the dissemination of reprehensible doctrines, like Thyatira, allowing false teachers to propagate, and its members to hold, teachings Jesus hates, its ears have become "dull." It must be awakened to the nature of life in Christ, else they will despise "the Revelation." If a church has become so meshed with the world that it is dead to God, though retaining a name of being vibrant, like Sardis, that condition must be corrected before it can profit from the word of the Lord--now, or in the world to come. Now we will see that a church fighting the good fight of faith, like Philadelphia, must be strengthened by Divine commitment to be ready for what is to come.
The opening of the future is of no value unless the churches are spiritually alert, walking in the Spirit, and living by faith. Jesus does not first divulge the future, then exhort the churches to get ready for it. He first addresses the churches, judging their deficiencies, and commending their virtues, in order to increase His fellowship with them. That is the Divine manner! We have been "called into the fellowship" of God's "Son, Jesus Christ our Lord" (1 Cor 1:9). If that fellowship is weakened, or even ruptured, a condition exists that cannot possibly be productive. It makes little difference what apparently marvelous works have been done, or what impact has been registered upon the religious or non-religious communities. If the churches are not walking in the light of Christ's countenance, they are wandering on the precipice of eternal ruin.
Here, in Asia, was a cluster of churches a "brotherhood," so to speak. They all had a good start, and were all recognized by heaven. But all were not recognized in the same manner, nor were all loved, as they say, "unconditionally." Ephesus was threatened with removal (2:5). Smyrna was assured their tribulation would be brief (2:10). Pergamum was told Jesus was about to come and fight against them (2:16). Thyatira was told Jesus was about to kill some of its members with death (2:22-23). Sardis was warned Jesus was about to come on them like a thief, and they would not know the hour (3:3). Now Jesus is going to tell Philadelphia of an unprecedented opportunity He is going to open to them (3:8).
Anyone imagining that Jesus treats all of the churches the same, needs to sit at His feet and learn. There is a Kingdom standard by which all churches are measured. It is NOT the standard of a purported pattern or governmental structure. It is not the size of the congregation, or the aggression with which it has entered into missions. A good name, as fine as that may be, is not the standard by which the churches are measured. Nor, indeed, are they evaluated upon the basis of their community outreach, and their role in meeting the needs of those about them. Their relationship to Christ Jesus is the point! Their fellowship with both the Father and the Son is the issue! Whether or not they are standing within the circumference of hearing is critical. A church that does not have "the mind of Christ,"is not enjoying the "communion of the Holy Spirit," and is out of touch with the Lord, is a blotch on the canvas of Divine intent. There is no place in the heavenly kingdom for such churches.
That is precisely why Jesus aggressively speaks to them. He seeks to correct their waywardness and strengthen their virtues. He speaks to bring them close to Himself, where they will be protected from the fiery trials He foretells. He calls them close to His bosom, where they can quickly hear and respond to gracious words. The Lord Jesus is bringing His churches away from the realm of danger, and into the spiritual safety zone of heavenly places. It will do not good to hear about a fierce enemy of the church if we insist on dwelling in spiritually far-off places. But, if our lives are consciously and joyously "hid with Christ in God" (Col 3:3), we will emerge from every trial, and stand at last in the presence of the Lord with exceeding joy.
Now, Jesus speaks to a commendable church. As you might expect, He speaks in a special way, giving special promises, and granting special assurances. We will find that those who maintain their faith are always commended by Jesus. It will also be confirmed that Jesus will grant unusual opportunities to work with Him to those who take advantage of the "things that accompany salvation" (Heb 6:9). Faithfulness is always rewarded! It is never vain to serve the Lord with zeal.
WHO IS SPEAKING
"He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens, says this" (Verse 7). Here again is an aspect of the glorified Christ that is not directly mentioned in the account of John's initial vision of Him (1:12-16). His holiness is depicted by His "head and hair" which were "white as wool," and His feet which were as like "fine brass." His truthfulness is seen in the "golden band" around His waist, His eyes, which were "like a flame of fire," and the "sharp two-edged sword" that came from His mouth. Jesus speaks to the churches in His glorified capacity. They are to hear Him as the glorified, exalted, and reigning Christ. No longer may they know Him "according to the flesh" (2 Cor 5:16). Later, those who were martyred for their faith cried out to the glorified Lord, "O Lord, holy and true . . . " (6:10). In keeping with His exaltation, the people of God are always to consider Jesus from a spiritually elevated point of view. He is not to be beheld as our peer, but as our Savior. The purpose of God is not to further identify Him with men, but to conform men to the image of His Son. The church will not be helped on its way by a mundane view of Jesus.
He Who Is Holy
Notice, Jesus does not say He is true, then holy. He is holy, then true. The truth of Christ may only be comprehended within the context of His holiness. Jesus WAS dead (1:18), but He IS holy! God affirmed this quality to Israel, saying "I am holy" (Lev 11:44-45). Peter adduces this to be an appointed incentive for us being holy (1 Pet 1:16). This is the trait ascribed to the Lord seated upon His throne. "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come" (Rev 3:7; 4:8). The six-winged seraphim of Isaiah's vision also cried out "holy, holy, holy" (Isa 6:3), as they encircled the heavenly throne. This Divine quality is so prominent that the tabernacle, where service to God was rendered, was divided into two dedicated sections. They were called "the HOLY place," and "the most HOLY place" (Ex 26:33-34).With rare insight for his times, David confessed, "But You are holy, Enthroned in the praises of Israel" (Psa 22:3, NKJV).
The Lord Jesus, from the day of His entrance into this world until now, has been noted for being "holy." Even in the womb of Mary, He was known as "that Holy One who is to be born" (Lk 1:35). The demons recognized Him, confessing Him to be "the Holy One" (Mark 1:24). On the day of Pentecost, Peter declared Jesus to be God's "Holy One" (Acts 2:28). He later declared Him again to be "the Holy One" (Acts 3:15). The early church, persuaded of His nature, prayed to God concerning "thy Holy Child Jesus" (Acts 4:27,30). No one has ever seen Jesus insightfully without being impressed with His holiness. It is a quality that becomes evident to all perceiving His Person. What is the meaning of "holy," and why is such an emphasis placed upon this Divine attribute? Holiness is like a multifaceted jewel.
Morally--Morally, it means free from any and all contamination pure. There never has been, is not now, nor will there ever be, any deviation from uprightness in the Lord Jesus. While we have been "made partakers of His holiness" (Heb 6:4), Jesus has always been holy. He "did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth" (1 Pet 2:22). Although "tempted in all points" as we are, He was, in every sense of the word, "without sin" (Heb 4:15). How marvelously His moral purity is proclaimed in Hebrews 7:26. "For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens." He Who is holy speaks to the church in Philadelphia. What He has to say to them is associated with that spotlessness, and is to be comprehended as apart from sin.
Christ's holiness is considered within the context of His redemptive work. He is "holy" after having passed through a defiled world, been assaulted by a corrupt enemy, and been "tempted in all points like as we are" (Heb 4:15). In view of this circumstance, He is able to make us holy, even though we have no holiness of our own. This is involved in the expression, "But by His (God's) doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption" (1 Cor 1:30).
Purpose--From the standpoint of purpose, HOLY means sanctified, or set apart for Divine service dedicated. In redemption, Jesus Christ has been Divinely appointed to effect the salvation of all who believe. He is "THE Christ," anointed by God as the exclusive Captain of our salvation" (Heb 2:10). His holiness and truthfulness are directly related to the fulfillment of God's purpose, as revealed in our salvation. This means that holiness and truth are brought within our reach in Christ Jesus. These are indispensable resources for recovery and stability in the faith--and they are available in abundance in the Lord Jesus Christ. When He examines the churches, He is functioning in His appointed role, for He Who saves is also He Who judges. His assessment of the churches will be precise, and with a keen interest in keeping them in the heart of God's will. Jesus is "holy and true!"
What remarkable attributes! Both are absolute and eternal. Everything the Lord Jesus says and does is holy and truthful, because He is holy and true. His word can never be questioned, nor can His actions. His government is meticulously righteous, and strictly adheres to the "eternal purpose" of God. This is particularly important to grasp in a day when professed believers question His government, and some even declare they are "angry" with the Lord. Such foolhardy expressions must be repented of. They are evidences of unbelief, and contradict what the Lord has said about Himself. Regardless of the circumstances in which individuals or churches find themselves, they must subordinate the flesh and confess "Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments" (Rev 16:7). Even the souls of those who were slain for their testimony cried out, " . . . O Lord, holy and true . . . " They did not question why they died at the hand of their enemies, but when their lives would be avenged (Rev 6:9-11).
The church in Philadelphia had been opposed, and unjustly so but the Lord was still "holy and true!" They had confronted members of "the synagogue of Satan," and yet the Lord, Who governs all things, remained "holy and true." Jesus does not call them to ponder the wickedness of their adversaries, but the holiness and truthfulness of their Lord.
He Who Has the Key of David
" . . . who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens, says this." Here, Jesus refers to one of the most precise messianic prophecies of Scripture. Though veiled at the time it was written, its meaning has been opened up in the Person of Christ. A brief consideration of that prophecy will assist us in seeing the power of the message to the church in Philadelphia.
"Then it will come about in that day, That I will summon My servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, and I will clothe him with your tunic, And tie your sash securely about him, I will entrust him with your authority, And he will become a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. Then I will set the key of the house of David on his shoulder, When he opens no one will shut, When he shuts no one will open. And I will drive him like a peg in a firm place, And he will become a throne of glory to his father's house. So they will hang on him all the glory of his father's house, offspring and issue, all the least of vessels, from bowls to all the jars. In that day," declares the LORD of hosts, "the peg driven in a firm place will give way; it will even break off and fall, and the load hanging on it will be cut off, for the LORD has spoken" (Isa 22:20-25).
Here, God divulged the nature of His great salvation, to be accomplished between seven and eight centuries after Isaiah's prophecy. The Messiah would be invested with total authority; i.e., "I will entrust him with your authority." Everything pertaining to the eternal purpose of God would be placed into His hands. The authority would be His. Like a Father, He would care for and feed those under Him; i.e., "He will become a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah." He would also be given power to open opportunities and to close them--a decision that would not be able to be effectively opposed; i.e., "Then I will set the key of the house of David on his shoulder, When he opens no one will shut, When he shuts no one will open." The coming Savior would be established in the Presence of the Lord, invested with all the glory God; i.e., "And he will become a throne of glory to his father's house. So they will hang on him all the glory of his father's house." He would take the full responsibility for all that offended the Father, absorbing the shock of Divine judgment for those things. The Messiah would, for a season, be "cut off" out of the holy place. At that time, the offences laid upon Him would be removed from the presence of the Lord; i.e., "In that day," declares the LORD of hosts, "the peg driven in a firm place will give way; it will even break off and fall, and the load hanging on it will be cut off, for the LORD has spoken."
When, therefore, the Lord Jesus speaks to the church in Philadelphia, He speaks as the Anointed One of God--the One Who is governing the world in the interest of His people. He alone is recognized by the Father as worthy of all honor. His is a righteous reign, "holy and true" in all aspects.
Now He mentions "the key of David," a term denoting His government of circumstance. He provides opportunities and removes opportunities in strict consonance with God's eternal purpose. Open doors are opportunities to be involved in that purpose. Closed doors are the removal of opportunities that are out of harmony with the Divine agenda. An example of this aspect of Christ's reign is when the Spirit did not allow Paul and his companions to go into Bithynia, but rather directed them to Macedonia (Acts 16:7-10). Jesus was using the keys!
THE CHURCH IN PHILADELPHIA
Geographically, Philadelphia was located 30 miles south-east of Sardis, on the road to Laodicea. Spiritually, it bore little or no resemblance to the churches in those cities. If there is one thing we should learn from the message to the seven churches, it is this: all churches are not alike, nor do they receive the same appraisal by Christ Jesus!
History confirms this city suffered frequently from earthquakes. Along with Sardis, it was destroyed in a catastrophic earthquake in A.D. 17. Because of the richness of the soil, however, the inhabitants rebuilt this city, refusing to leave.
Again, this is the only place in Scripture where this church is mentioned. Although men tend to evaluate churches within the context of their prominence among men, Jesus will have nothing to do with such assessments. He encourages churches that are often unknown to the world, and chides those who may be well known. Every "unknown" congregation that is holding fast the word of Jesus, and refusing to deny His name, will be comforted by this message.
"I know your deeds . . . " (Verse 8a). Once again, the Lord alerts the church to His knowledge of what they are doing (2:2,9,13,19; 3:1,8,15). The church is to function within an acute awareness of the Lord's perception of it. As His "body," the church is to "hold fast" to its "Head," never losing its sensitivity to Him. If the voice of Jesus can penetrate the hearts of those in the churches, it will awaken a spiritual sensitivity that will revolutionize their activities. Much of what is done today in name of Christ is a mere performance, lacking the spiritual awareness of the Lord, which is imperative to acceptable service.
An Open Door
"Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut . . . " (Verse 8b). What a marvelous circumstance! It reveals that Jesus is pleased with this church. The church in Philadelphia will be afforded the opportunity of working together with Him and obtaining a great reward. There can be no doubt what the open door means. It is a figure of speech used by Paul, and based upon Isaiah's revelation of the authority of the Messiah. At Ephesus "a great door and effectual was opened" to Paul (1 Cor 16:9). At Troas also "a door was opened" for him (2 Cor 2:12). He asked the Colossians to pray "that God may open unto us a door for the word to speak the mystery of Christ" (Col 4:3). In these three expressions, it is clear Paul refers to opportunities to spread the good news of the Gospel--to work in the Lord's harvest (Matt 9:38). This "open door" was a special gift and privilege vouchsafed to the church in Philadelphia. None of the other churches received such a blessing! It is as though He said, "I am opening an opportunity for you to work together with Me, and no one will be able to take the opportunity from you." Special blessings are for special servants. Those who expend meager efforts for Christ need not expect "open doors" to be set before them. The preeminent requirement for stewards is that they be "faithful" (1 Cor 4:2). Faithful stewards will find their stewardship expanded by means of open doors.
Many churches function year after year without any apparent awareness of the Lord's ability to open doors to them. They think of themselves as a society of friends rather than the body of Christ, and thus have no real Kingdom distinctions. It is imperative that we see the governmental aspect of Christ's present role. The government of God, which is over everything in heaven, earth, andg under the earth (Phil 2:10), has been placed upon Jesus (Isa 9:6-7; 22:21-22; Psa 2:6-12; 110:1-4; Jer 23:5-6; Zech 6:12-13). With faithfulness and timeliness, He is managing the affairs of the world in the interest of the salvation of God and the deliverance of His people. Involved in that government is the participation of the saints. Think of the historical incidents where godly people were used to fulfill the purpose of God. Noah was used to prepare an ark to the saving of his house (Heb 11:7), thereby preserving a remnant through which the Messiah would come. Abraham was called into the Divine purpose, to have a son through whom the Messiah would come and the world be blessed (Gen 12:1-3). Joseph was raised up to preserve a people alive during a great famine, even being placed on the throne of Egypt (Gen 50:20). Moses was chosen to lead the people of God out of bondage, deliver the Law, and provide the beginning books of Scripture (Ex 3:1-11; John 1:17). David was given opportunity to defeat a giant foe, record prophetic utterances, and be a type of King Jesus (1 Sam 17:1- 23; 2 Sam 7:27). The holy prophets were raised up to show forth the "sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow" (1 Pet 1:10-11). All of these were open doors--opportunities to come along side of the Living God, participating in the fulfillment of His purpose.
As soon as Jesus entered His ministry, He began opening doors. Calling His disciples to Him, He sent them forth to invade the kingdom of darkness, and preach the Kingdom of God (Matt 10:5-20). Later He sent out 70 to again assault Satan's domain and bring deliverance to the captives (Luke 10:1-10). Stephen and Phillip, early deacons, were used to do great works, bring people into the Kingdom, and expose the wickedness of the religious elite of the day (Acts 7-8). Paul was singled out, and given a staggering commission to preach the Gospel to the heathen nations of the world (Acts 22:21; 26:18). In the case of the book we are reviewing, John the beloved was given opportunity to see and record key events of the future (Rev 1:1-9).
All of these are accounts of Jesus using the keys of Kingdom authority. They were open doors, into which the humblest of men entered, shaking the powers of darkness, liberating those who were long bound by sin, and strengthening the souls of those who embraced the Son of God by faith. Open doors! Every church can experience open doors if they will "cleave unto the Lord with purpose of heart" (Acts 11:23)! I recall with joy the experience our congregation in Indiana had in this regard. Though unrecognized in official religious circles, the Lord Jesus opened doors of remarkable effectiveness to us. Both the Banner of Truth (edited by my father, Fred O. Blakely) and The Word of Truth (edited by myself) were birthed in our assembly. They were distributed to thousands on a global scale, working staggering effects for God--and they continue to this day. Jesus opened a door for radio ministry to us. The Word of Truth radio broadcast was national in scope, a fifteen minute broadcast of powerful preaching. Later, a one-hour call-in program, The Word of Truth Radio Forum, was instituted for the Chicago area. I was given an opportunity to hold two crusades in India in 1980 and 1985. The first was attended by 12,000 people, and the second by 19,000--each attending four sessions a day. A tract ministry was also opened to us, with millions of tracts being distributed throughout the world. In addition, a video ministry was opened to us at Good News Productions, where I recorded five series of lessons consisting of a total of 65 « hour tapes. These are just a few of the doors opened to us. They involved no other religious institution. We did not launch any aggressive campaign to discover these opportunities. They were simply opened to us by the King.
Jesus affirms He will open a door to the church in Philadelphia. He does not identify what the opportunity will be, and it is not necessary that we know. Because of their faithfulness, they would be given the privilege of more extensive involvement with Jesus. The promise is recorded to alert us to this Kingdom manner! It is important to note that Jesus NEVER commended or condemned a church because of its size. It is what they DID that was the issue! With the church at Philadelphia, their spiritual posture afforded them additional opportunities to invest in eternity. A congregation wholly submitted to the Lord will be used by Him. They will have doors opened to them that would otherwise be impossible. O, how this aspect of spiritual life needs to be more fully known!
You Have A Little Power (Strength)
" . . . because you have a little power . . . " (Verse 8c). Jesus tells this church why a door will be opened to them. It is not because they are large. It is not because they have made a name for themselves, or achieved great things, as defined by men. Rather, it was because they kept His Word and did not deny His name, even when their strength was small! To put it another way, Because you have but a little power, and have made good use of it, I will open an opportunity to you that no one will be able to take from you. While I have no desire to major on this, it should be apparent to all that this contradicts an institutional emphasis which constrains people to despise smallness and little strength. But there has been more wrought for God with little, than there ever has with much!! A rod in Moses' hand, a jawbone in Samson's hand, and a sling in David's hand, did more than massive armies with impressive arsenals!
Jesus is not speaking of spiritual strength, but of strength, or ability, from the earthly perspective. They had nothing, from an earthly point of view, to recommend them for an "open door." Like the Apostles, they were "weak" while others, like Sardis, appeared strong (1 Cor 4:10; 2 Cor 13:9). Like saints before them, they had been made strong "out of weakness" (Heb 11:34). They could say with Paul, "We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed" (2 Cor 4:8-9). Like the churches of Macedonia, the church in Philadelphia functioned "beyond their ability" (2 Cor 8:3). Like Paul, when they were weak, then they were strong (2 Cor 12:10).
In all probability, this was not a large congregation. Its smallness, despised by the world, did not deter it from having an "open door" placed before it by Jesus the King! All through Divine history, this has been the manner of the Kingdom. The Law was not given to Egypt or to Babylon, but to Israel, who "were the least of all peoples" (Deut 7:7). And when our blessed Lord chose men to be Apostles, He did not go to the Sanhedrin, Pharisees, Sadducees, or Lawyers. Those classes would have been considered strong by the worldly mind-set! Instead, He went to the weak fisherman (Matt 4:18-22), tax collectors (Matt 9:9), and even a Canaanite (Mark 3:19)! We must not allow Babylonish religion to cause us to look with contempt upon smallness, lack of reputation, or the absence of worldly credentials. God has NEVER made selections on this basis, and the tendency to do so now does not come from Him!
You Have Kept My Word and Not Denied My Name
" . . . and have kept My word, and have not denied My name . . . " (Verse 8d). In a heathen culture, where following Christ was not in vogue in any sense of the word, the church in Philadelphia maintained its hold on Christ's word. They did not allow the recollection of Divine utterance to be displaced by worldly considerations. This is equivalent to keeping the "affection" set on "things above, and not on things on the earth" (Col 3:1-2). Although highly unusual in the Western church, this is a Kingdom trait that is an absolute requirement for Divine acceptance. Salvation depends upon hearing Christ's word and believing on the God it affirms: "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life" (John 5:24). However, salvation is not only initiated by means of Christ's Word, it is also maintained through that means. "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:31-32).
The position of Christ's Word in the Divine economy is made clear in Scripture. He is God's exclusive Spokesman in these last days. "God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son" (Heb 1:1). God has nothing to say to us that does not come through Christ Jesus! What the Son has said sheds light on all revelation before Him. All inspired utterances after Him have been given by His authority and commission. Christ's words, as "spirit and life" (John 6:63), bring the Divine perspective within our grasp. That is why, when He sent out the Apostles, He said, "However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you" (John 16:13-15). Again He said, "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you" (John 14:26).
When, therefore, the Lord Jesus commends the church in Philadelphia for keeping His Word, He confirms they have lived in the light of what He has made known. They have kept the perspective His words provide, and not allowed the world to dominate their thinking. The matters accentuated by Christ were emphasized by them. The priorities He revealed were their priorities also! All of that is involved in keeping Christ's words.
To refuse to deny Christ's name is refusing to deny association with His Person in any sense. When the world put pressure on them to minimize their identity with Christ and emphasize their identity with the world, they refused to do so. An example of denying Christ's name is found in Peter's denial of Jesus the night of His betrayal. When confronted about his association with Jesus, He denied that he had any (Matt 26:69-74). When asked if he was with Jesus, He replied "I do not know what you are saying." When another maid challenged him by saying "This fellow also was with Jesus of Nazareth," he replied, "I do not know the Man!" When at last someone said, "Surely you also are one of them, for your speech betrays you," Peter "began to curse and swear, saying, 'I do not know the Man!'" That bitter night, over which Peter ultimately gained the victory, became the occasion when he denied Christ's name!
There were pressures brought to bear upon the church in Philadelphia also. It was an idolatrous city, given over to the propagation of the Grecian culture and language, which gave no value to Jesus. But this despised assembly refused to let go of its identity with the Son of God. It would not diminish its emphasis of the Lord's Christ, and turn its commitment elsewhere. It knew nothing of distracting fads and momentary bursts of religious novelty. That is something of what is involved in not denying Christ's name.
WHAT JESUS WILL DO
The Lord Jesus has commended these brethren for what they have done. Now He will tell them what He will do in their behalf. The Lord WILL "show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him," aggressively seeking an opportunity to do so (2 Chron 16:9). There is a Divine reciprocation that answers every conscientious Kingdom endeavor. "Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you" (James 4:8). "Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you . . . " (Psa 50:15). "Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven" (Matt 10:32). This, then, is a Divine characteristic upon which believers may rely. Now the Master specifies the marvelous things He will do for His faithful church in Philadelphia.
In Regards To Their Enemies
"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" (Verse 9). Here is one of the most arresting promises in Scripture. It is not given to a gigantic and prosperous congregation, but to one "with a little strength." It is not given to a church that has been written up in the Philadelphia Journal for its contribution to the community, but to an assembly that has kept Christ's word and has refused to deny its association with Him.
The Philadelphian assembly was opposed by other gatherings in particular aggressive Jews who continued to deny Jesus Christ. Paul well said of these people, " . . . who killed both the Lord Jesus and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they do not please God and are contrary to all men" (1 Thess 2:15). The opposition of these people had been oppressive to the brethren in Philadelphia, and thus their strength had been weakened. These enemies said they were Jews, but Jesus affirms they were not. He was not speaking of their ethnic origin, but of their spiritual condition. As it is written elsewhere, "For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God" (Rom 2:28-29). The Son of God goes even further, declaring these wicked people to be "the synagogue of Satan" a gathering through which Satan worked, and in which he was dominant. Think of it! It could be said of this opposing religious assembly, "You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do" (John 8:44). The Lord makes clear that whatever claim to godly identity was made by these people, they LIED in so designating themselves.
The Lord will not ignore the enemy! He will make them do something that will be against their will, and contrary to their preference but He will make them do it anyway! "I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee." Three things the powerful Christ will MAKE happen! He will MAKE these pretenders COME to the church in Philadelphia. He will MAKE them WORSHIP at their feet. And, He will MAKE them know He loved the church in Philadelphia! Those who are extreme in their exaltation of the free will of man do well to consider this passage! God can MAKE Nebuchadnezzar live in a field and eat grass, whether he wants to or not (Dan 4:33). He will not impose salvation on any soul, but ultimately, He will impose condemnation on all who reject the Son! In the case of the oppressors of the church in Philadelphia, He will MAKE them acknowledge what His people confessed all along identity with Himself.
The fulfillment of this promise will can in at least three different ways. First, it could be fulfilled in the conversion of their enemies. Thus, like Saul of Tarsus, they would acknowledge the validity of the faith they once opposed. Second, in their enemies seeking their aid and assistance in the time of trouble. How many times I have seen this happen, when scoffers come, pleading for prayers in the time of crisis and sorrow. Third, and most probably the primary way, they would acknowledge Christ's love of His people in the day of judgment. The day of reckoning is coming! Not only will Jesus confess all who have confessed Him, all of the enemies of His people will also acknowledge His love was set upon the very ones they hated and opposed. Like Haman had to acknowledge the preference of the king for Mordecai (Esther 6:11), so will all who have opposed the saints confess their preferred status! The Sanhedrin will have to admit Jesus loved Stephen, whom they stoned. Nero will have to bow at the feet of Paul and Peter, whom he had killed. Cain will bow at the feet of Abel, and Herod will bow at the feet of John the Baptist!
Our labor is not vain in the Lord (1 Cor 15:58)! Like the church in Philadelphia, if we hold fast to Christ's word, and refuse to deny His name in any way, our enemies will be brought to confess to the truth of our faith! They will have to admit to an assembled universe that they were wrong, and we were right in cleaving to the Lord with purpose of heart. They will have to admit Jesus loved us, and we were right in abiding in that love and refusing to leave it.
Kept From the Hour of Testing
"Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell upon the earth" (Verse 10). What is "the word of My perseverance," or "patience" (KJV)? It is the teaching that exposes us to the hostilities of the world, and requires great effort to maintain! It is the word that, when embraced, sets us against the course of this world. Because this church kept that word, refusing to let it go that temporary relief might be obtained, Christ would grant them a special blessing. He would keep them from "the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell upon the earth."
We learn first from this text that Christ's blessings are often discriminating. He does not give the same things to all people. Extraordinary effort will bring extraordinary blessing! Those who extend themselves for Christ will experience Him extending Himself for them! That may contradict some forms of theology, but it is nevertheless true. Those who walk close to Christ will receive more than those who walk at a distance.
What was "the hour of testing?" First, it was a time of TESTING, or TRIAL a time when the fabric of human endurance and character would be put to the test. From the standpoint of Satanic initiative, it would be "the evil day," when a barrage of distracting influences, both physical and spiritual, are hurled at the believer (Eph 6:13). Second, it is a time allowed by God when the fabric and strength of faith is tested. Our text informs us this was not, however, a provincial testing, but a global one: "that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell upon the earth."
This word contradicts great bodies of theology and it has proceeded from the mouth of the Lord Jesus. Some deny that such an "hour" is possible, while Jesus declares to the church in Philadelphia that it is coming. There is an immediate and future perspective to this word. There was something imminent from which these brethren would be delivered. Many conceive this to be the fierce persecution initiated by Trajan and continued by Adrian, his successor. It was greater and more extensive than that of Nero and Domitian. This bloody persecution began in 108 A.D., a few years after the Revelation was written. It lasted a full 30 years, and was marked by such atrocities the heart of man is scarcely capable of dwelling upon it. Pliny the Second, not a Christian himself, was so moved by the heartless slaughter of Christians, that he wrote a letter of appeal to Trajan. It fell on deaf ears. In it he certified that "many thousands were daily put to death." included in that letter were these words. "The whole account they gave of their crime or error (whichever it is to be called) amounted only to this viz.. that they were accustomed on a stated day to meet before daylight, and to repeat together a form of prayer to Christ as a God, and to bind themselves by an obligation not indeed to commit wickedness; but, on the contrary never to commit theft, robbery, or adultery, never to falsify their word, never to defraud any man: after which it was their custom to separate, and reassemble to partake in common of a harmless meal." Ignatius, great man of God, died in this persecution. His words prior to his martyrdom are noteworthy. "Now I begin to be a disciple. I care for nothing, of visible or invisible things, so that I may but win Christ. Let fire and the cross, let the companies of wild beasts, let breaking of bones and tearing of limbs, let the grinding of the whole body, and all the malice of the devil, come upon me; be it so, only may I win Christ Jesus!" And even when he was sentenced to be thrown to the beast such was the burning desire that he had to suffer, that he spake, what time he heard the lions roaring, saying. "I am the wheat of Christ: I am going to be ground with the teeth of wild beasts, that I may be found pure bread."
In my opinion, this was the immediate testing to which Jesus referred. He promises to keep this church from that time because of their faithfulness. Here is an aspect of Kingdom life that is much needed in our time. The Lord Jesus Himself taught us to pray, "And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen" (Matt 6:13). There are pressing and unusual trials most difficult to endure, and Jesus instructs us to seek deliverance from them. That deliverance is not guaranteed, and those who teach that it is, are in serious error. The church in Philadelphia would be excluded from an unusual hour of testing for two reasons. First, it had already endured severe testing, and had only a little strength left. Second, it had faithfully kept Christ;'s Word, refusing to deny His name. Those with great strength and not promised exemption from the coming trial, nor are those who have lived at a distance from Christ, not retaining His Word, or holding fast to their confession. Jesus also spoke of an hour of testing that would precede His return. The words He uses are most sobering, and help to identity our generation with that of the Philadelphian brethren. "And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men's hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of heaven will be shaken" (Luke 21:25-26). Language fails to adequately paint the dread of such a time! Those who dare to neutralize these words with fanciful explanations involving metaphors of speech and confinement to the destruction of Jerusalem do no favor for the saints, and offer them no advantage. In pour Lord's words (Matthew 24), the hour was coming "on the earth," not merely Jerusalem. The distress involved "nations," not merely Israel. Jesus spoke of international conflict, and "famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places" (Matt 24:7). A TIME OF TESTING, as it were!
Some fear going through such a time, even though we are assured by religious sophists that the church will not go through anything of this magnitude. The sophists have not spoken for Jesus! Jesus did not tell the church in Philadelphia the churches would not go through a fierce hour of testing. Rather, He told them He would keep them from going through it and He told them why! They only had a little strength, and had kept His word, refusing to deny His name! The people of God must know that Jesus will act no differently in our time. Those who are unable to endure great tests, and have kept Christ's word and their identity with Him, will not be pushed beyond their limitations. We can trust to this without wavering. Those who do go through fiery tests, like Ignatius and the millions slain in that time, will have the strength to do so. How blessed we are to have an exalted Lord Who is thoroughly capable of managing the affairs of men!
JESUS IS ON THE WAY!
"I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, in order that no one take your crown" (Verse 11). Four times in this book Jesus says, "I come quickly" (3:11; 22:7,12,20). The word "quickly" describes a circumstance that cannot be predicted, postponed, or hastened. The word means shortly, i.e. without delay, soon, or (by surprise) suddenly. The idea is, I am coming, and you do not know when! His coming could be a time of deliverance or of judgment; of blessing or of cursing but He is coming! One of the cries of the early church was "MARANTHA!" "Our Lord comes!," or "Come O Lord!" (1 Cor 16:22). O, that such a consciousness were prevalent in the Christian community today! This perspective is conspicuous because of its near-total absence in the churches! Those who do not live in the awareness of the imminent return of Christ will not be ready! We have been called to "wait for His Son from heaven" (1 Thess 1:10), and it simply is not acceptable to lack that longing and anticipation!
The knowledge of the Lord's coming is to provoke sanctified activity among His people. "Hold fast what you have!" If it is not possible to lose what we have, this would be a foolish word. However, this is King Jesus speaking, and He ALWAYS speaks truth in perspective of God's "eternal purpose." If His word does not blend with certain theologies, it is because they are false, and are therefore to be abandoned. To "hold fast" is to seize with a firm grip, and refuse to let go! This admonition assumes there are forces attempting to take what we have from us. Jesus does NOT say, Do not worry, what I have given to you cannot be taken from you. The things which Christ gives CANNOT be kept without the effort of the receiver. Mark it well, that effort is not sufficient of itself. It must be undergirded by Divine power. But that power will not keep within our grasp things we despise, forget, and neglect. Many a backslidden soul can testify to the truth of this.
"HOLD FAST what you have!" How often this exhortation is sounded in Scripture. "Test all things; hold fast what is good" (1 Thess 5:21). "Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus" (2 Tim 1:13). "Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end" (Heb 3:6). "Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession" (Heb 4:14). "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful" (Heb 10:23). No backward stance is permitted! Get a firm grip on the blessings you have received by grace, and do not let them go. Do not allow them to become vague in your perception, secondary in their importance, or powerless in their effect. Jesus is coming, and you must have in your possession the things He has given to you when He returns!
Jesus divulges WHY the church with a "little strength" must hold fast what they have. It is "in order that no one take your crown." Once again, some affirm that such a thing is not possible. Whom will you believe? Jesus or those who contradict Him? If it were not possible to have your crown taken from you, the Lord would never have said these words.
One of the great promises of Jesus is, "Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life" (Rev 2:10). But here Jesus speaks of having the crown taken from us. Elsewhere, Paul reminds us we are endeavoring to obtain an "incorruptible" crown (1 Cor 9:25). Paul reminded Timothy that the reception of a crown required "striving lawfully" (2 Tim 2:5). We are speaking of a "crown of righteousness" that will be given to "all they who love His appearing" (2 Tim 4:8). This is a depiction of the successful completion of our lives, and an entrance into an everlasting reign with Christ Jesus. It is a "crown of life," portraying a reign in life, that will given to all who "love Him" (James 1:12). Its eternality is shown in the description, "the crown of glory that does not fade away" (1 Pet 5:4).
How is it that anyone could take our crown from us? It is by diverting our attention to matters that do not require intimate involvement with Christ Jesus. No crown will be given to those who forsook fellowship with Christ (1 Cor 1:9), the communion of the Holy Spirit (2 Cor 13:14), and the approval of the Father (2 Cor 6:16-18) for lesser things! This cannot be overemphasized! There is an enormous amount of religion even Christian religion that does not require involvement with Deity. Such approaches provoke people to loosen their hold on eternal things. The only way to effectively avoid losing your crown, is to tenaciously hold to the things of God! Hold to them when they are not popular! Hold to them when you are derided for doing so! Hold to them when you are persecuted for doing so! Never let go of what Christ has given to you. You will be required to give it back to your Lord, together witjh an account of how you handled it! There is no way to escape this procedure.
THE GLORIOUS PROMISE
As Christ has done with all of the other churches, He now draws this congregation into deeper involvement with Himself through a promise. Remember, it is "through" the "exceeding great and precious promises" that we become "participators in the Divine nature" (2 Pet 1:4).
Only the Overcomer!
" . . . He who overcomes . . . " (Verse 12a). We must ever remember that only the overcomer will receive the promises! Those who are overcome by evil (Rom 12:21), have, by virtue of that condition, forfeited the promise! Being overcome brings us into bondage to the one, or thing, that overcame us. As it is written, "by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage" (2 Pet 2:19). The overcomer, lest we forget, is the one who is standing after the Satanic assault has ended! It is the one who holds on to what he has received, and is found with it when Jesus comes. It is the one who keeps the faith until his exit from this world.
The Promise of Solidity
" . . . I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God . . . " (Verse 12b). This has a sweet sound to those with "little strength." The world drains us of strength spiritual strength. Salvation addresses this situation by providing the "renewing of the Holy Spirit" (Tit 3:5). Even our minds can be "renewed," refurbished and strengthened (Rom 12:2). As long as you are in the world, you will require constant recourse to this renewal. The world is a robber, taking from us, and never giving to us! In this world, we will wrestle elements of uncertainty it is part and parcel of the good fight of faith. A marvelous expression of this circumstance is found in Second Corinthians. "But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in fastings; by purity, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by sincere love, by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, by honor and dishonor, by evil report and good report; as deceivers, and yet true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as chastened, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things" (6:4-10). Such afflictions attack spiritual solidity! On one occasion Paul confessed he even "despaired even of life" (2 Cor 1:8). The power of God, he confessed, was manifested in Him through pressure, perplexity, persecution, and being struck down as well as not being crushed, not in despair, not being forsaken, and not being destroyed (2 Cor 4:7-9).
But this will not be the case in the world to come! Each overcomer will be made a "pillar in the temple of" Christ's "God!" Solomon's magnificent temple had only two pillars (2 Kgs 25:16). They were even named, "Jachin" and "Boaz" (1 Kgs 7:21). The heavenly Temple, however shall have a God-glorifying multiplicity of pillars. Every overcomer will be a "pillar," noted for solidity, strength, and durability! No more vacillation, erratic experience, or moments of weakness! Hallelujah! An indication of the significance of this promise is found in God's commitment to Jeremiah. He was going to prophesy under adverse conditions but God would make him equal to the occasion. "For behold, I have made you this day A fortified city and an iron pillar, And bronze walls against the whole land; Against the kings of Judah, Against its princes, Against its priests, And against the people of the land. They will fight against you, But they shall not prevail against you. For I am with you, says the LORD, to deliver you" (Jer 1:18-19). There is a picture of solidity in the midst of fierce conflict. James, Peter, and John, you will recall, were "pillars" in the church in Jerusalem. They stood tall when the church was assaulted.
But solidity in the presence of God is greater than solidity in this world. To stand in the midst of adversity is essential, but it is not to be compared with standing solid in the presence of the Almighty God! To be a pillar "in the temple of My God" means we will stand firm through the judgment, in our accountability, and in our coming stewardship. We will be noted for being strong and stable in the presence of God and the Lamb!
No More Departures
" . . . and he will not go out from it anymore . . " (Verse 12c). In this world, the best of blessings are often followed by the greatest of trials and the most bitter experiences. Moses talked with God face to face on Mount Sinai, but had to descend to the tumult of the foot of the mountain. Samson slew a thousand with but a jawbone of an ass, but also pushed the grinding stone at the Philistine mill, in humiliation and disgrace. Peter defended Jesus with a sword in the garden, only to deny him before some maidens. In this world, there are valleys as well as mountains, weakness as well as strength, and defeats as well as victories. In all of heaven, there will not be an apostasy like that of Judas, a denial like that of Peter, or a forsaking like that of Demas!
But there is another sense of this. Now we experientially leave the presence of the Lord, often deprived of the sweetness of Divine communion. The cry of languish evoked from the heart and mouth of the Psalmist has often been my own. "O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You In a dry and thirsty land Where there is no water. So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, To see Your power and Your glory" (Psa 63:1-2). In such times, a sense of the need of Divine fellowship grips the heart in the midst of an acute awareness of the depravity of our surroundings. A depiction of this state is expressed by David. "As the deer pants for the water brooks, So pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?" (Psa 42:1-2). A sense of desperation fastens on the soul like a leach, draining it of its vitality. The experience has provoked fasting, prayers, and even abstinence from marital intimacy amount sensitive hearts (Psa 35:13; 1 Cor 7:5). This is "going out."
But it shall not be so in the glory! There, we will "go out no more." Never again will we experience spiritual decline. No more descending into lower occupations, leaving holy realms to keep the faith in profane environments! No more diminishing glow, like that on Moses' face (2 Cor 3:13). Never again will Scripture shine with a glow of clarity, only to fade from our understanding. We will "go no more out!" What a blessed prospect, and it is for all who overcome!
A Sense of Belonging
" . . . and I will write upon 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 My new name" (Verse 12d). This is a marvelous promise of belonging of knowing we are in the right place, and of having no part of our persons that does not belong. In this world, we are "strangers and pilgrims" (1 Pet 2:11; Heb 13:14). We do not fit in. Rather than receiving us, the world "hates" us, because it can only love "its own" and we are not in that number (John 15:19). There is a sense in which this is a weight to the soul. Faith enables us to bear up under it, but it is there. Some have thrown the faith overboard in order to gain the world's acceptance. Countless people have modified their lives to accommodate the world's applause. There is undeniable temptation associated with NOT being received by the environment in which you dwell.
In the world to come, this tension will not be experienced in any form. Every aspect of our persons will fit into the eternal realm, and no part of us will be in friction with it. Jesus provides insight into this condition in this promise. By writing upon the overcomer "the name of My God," an obvious affiliation with God Himself is announced. The connection will be obvious. It will also be glorifying to God, as well as satisfying to us. No one will ask of our identity! In this world, we are often asked to "give a reason for the hope" within us. We will never be asked to do this in the coming glory. We will not only be "heirs of God" (Rom 8:17), that heirship will be apparent to both ourselves and those about us.
By writing on us "the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God" our citizenship in that realm will become apparent. Now, by faith, our citizenship is in heaven (Phil 3:20). It is not, however, readily apparent to all about us. Only fellow citizens recognize the reality. But it will not be so in heaven! We will not be misfits, like Abraham in Canaan (Heb 11:13-14), nor will we "seek a better country." We will be satisfied with the "new Jerusalem" the glorified church and it will be satisfied with us! We will read of this city later, and of John beholding it coming down out of heaven from God (Rev 21:2). Of that city it is written, she was "prepared as a bride adorned for her husband." This is the glorified church! When John was told, "Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb's wife," what He saw was this very city. Here is what the record says. "And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal" (Rev 21:9-11). This is the society of the redeemed, and it will be obvious to everyone there that the overcomer is a rightful citizen, and belongs! Hallelujah to the Lamb! Never again will we be part of something that chaffs against our natures.
Jesus will also write upon the overcome His own "new Name." This is not a name already mentioned. It is not the name "Jesus," or "Wonderful Counselor," or "Mighty God." Those are all true names, and depict aspects of His Person but they are not His "new Name." The name to which He refers has not yet been divulged. It is a name that reveals more of Him that is possible for us to now receive. Reference is made to this name in Revelation 19:12. "Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself" (verses 11-12). There is more to Jesus than we have yet seen more to be comprehended than we have yet pondered. The fulness of the Godhead dwelt in Him bodily, but it has not yet been fully discerned. The time is coming, however, when His fulness will be revealed. Scripture speaks of that time as "When the Son of Man comes in His glory," and "when He comes in His own glory" (Matt 25:31; Luke 9:26).
Let us state this glorious reality in another way. This is speaking of our complete conformity to the image of God's Son something God has predestinated (Rom 8:29). What Jesus has promised in our text will be fulfilled in these words. "When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory" (Col 3:4). "We know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is" (1 John 3:2). That is involved in what Jesus meant when He promised, " . . . and I will write upon 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 My new name."
"He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches" (Verse 13). What Jesus has said to the church is Philadelphia is for all of the churches! Every church that has stood strong, yet been viewed as weak and insignificant, needs to take heart! Every church is to hold fast what they have received. Every church is to diligently avoid any person taking its crown! Every church and every person who overcomes will be given glorious and unending solidity in the presence of God Himself. For the faithful of all ages, a promise of never again departing is given. The revealed objective of conformity to the image of Christ will be realized by all who overcome. This message is for the churches. It is also for every individual who "has an ear."