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Sermon1 Rev3 Guide

Updated: Mar 27, 2023

Rev 3:7-13, recitation verse Rev 3:8

The praise and honor and glory be to our heavenly Father who seeks worshipers who worship with spirit and truth.

As living after the post-society, we Christians are facing various challenges both inside and outside. Not only are we in a situation where Christianity is challenged even in evangelism and we cannot express our position regarding various sins such as homosexuality, but also living in the world of abundance and convenience, we are tempted to compromise with materialism and pluralism. It seems increasingly clear that we are living in the end times that are heading towards the last days. At this time, we hope to examine how the church in Philadelphia in Revelation 3:7-13 was able to overcome the persecution and sufferings from the Jews and the Roman Empire at that time and received praise from the Lord, to learn from them.

1) Today’s text is from the book of Revelation, which is a letter sent by the Apostle John while he was in exile at the island of Patmos, receiving the revelation of the Holy Spirit and sending a letter to the seven churches in west-central Turkey. The theme of this book is to comfort the church of the Lord under the persecution of the Jews, referred to as the synagogue of Satan, and the oppression of the Roman Empire, which imposed idol worship and suppression and by relying on the power of God who is the sovereign LORD of history and Jesus Christ who has already overcome Satan and the world, to encourage the seven churches to persevere and endure to the end, to receive the reward of eternal life in the new heaven and new earth.

2) Examining each words that the Lord gave to the seven churches, we can see that the church in Ephesus was praised for its hard work, perseverance, and adherence to the truth, but was rebuked for abandoning its first love. However, the Lord exhorted them to repent and promised to give the victor the right to eat from the tree of life in the paradise of God. It is true that even if we speak in tongues and angels' language, if we have no love, we are only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. Even if we have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and even if we have a faith that can move mountains, if we have no love, we are nothing. And even if we give all we possess to the poor and give over our bodies to hardship that we may boast, but have no love, we gain nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1-3) Similarly, the churches in Pergamum and Thyatira were praised for their faith, love, and perseverance, but were rebuked for compromising the truth and tolerating the teachings of Balaam, Nicolaitans, and Jezebel. However, God exhort them to repent and have the sword of the truth and promised them that he would give them the authority to rule over the nations. Through these three churches, we learned that working hard for the Lord is important, but keeping love and truth is even more important.

3) And the church in Sardis was rebuked harshly since it seemed alive, in reality it was a dead church. But the Lord exhorted them to repent and return, chasing after those few who walked with the Lord in them. Moreover, He rebuked the church in Laodicea for their arrogance, boasting of their own wealth and knowledge, and exhorted them to repent and make the Lord their master of their hearts, following Him. Yes, pride is a deep-rooted sin in the human heart that ultimately leads to death, and we must definitely avoid it.

4) However, the Lord praised the church in Smyrna, because despite their poverty, they kept their faith by overcoming Jewish persecution and not bowing to the Roman Empire. In fact, this Smyrna church was famous for Polycarp, who said, "For eighty-six years I have served Him, and He has done me no wrong. How then can I blaspheme my King and Savior?" when he was tempted to deny the name of the Lord, and was martyred by being burned at the stake.

5) And in today's passage the church in Philadelphia was also praised, as the text said that the holy and true One who had the key of David praised that they kept their faith even with little strength so the Lord opened the door before them, and made Satan's synagogue bow at their feet to know that He loved them. And He promised to make them pillars in His temple, keeping them through the final trial. I pray that as they did, we may all keep our faith in the Lord, and receive praise from Him and the blessings promised to us.

6) Through Today’s text, we would like to receive several graces. Firstly, what does the open door in verse 8 mean, where it says "I have placed before you an open door"? Some people interpret this open door as the door of evangelism towards the cities around Philadelphia, based on Colossians 4:3, which says "pray for us that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ." Of course, this interpretation may be also possible, but at that time, the Philadelphia church suffered persecution from the Jewish community as the Jewish rabbis in Jamnia Council finally decided in AD 90 to expel all those who converted from Judaism to Christianity. In this situation, the Lord comforted the Philadelphian church by reminding them that although the door to the Jewish community was closed, the door to the kingdom of God's Son was still open to all who kept His word and did not betray His name. We are sure that this word was a great comfort to the Philadelphian church, but I believe it is also a great encouragement to all who live in the last days, full of difficult challenges, and keep their faith.

7) Secondly, in verse 10, it says, "I will also keep you from the hour of trial." Some people interpret the preposition "ἐκ" in the Greek text as "from," meaning that the verse refers to the rapture of the church, i.e., the Lord will lift up faithful saints to heaven before the great tribulation so that they will not experience it. Even though, this interpretation is quite impressive and pleasing to the ear, but it seems to me that it is a completely different interpretation from the meaning of the text. Considering the verse 11 in today's text, "Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown," and the words of the Lord's prayer for His disciples in John 17:15, "My prayer is not that God take them out of the world but that God protect them from the evil one," it seems to me that we’d better to understand the preposition "ἐκ" as "through" or "amidst," the verse 10 means that the Lord promised to keep His faithful saints through the great tribulation.

8) And finally, one more thing that I want to examine is verse 8 which says, “I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.” In this verse, how could the church Philadelphia keep the Lord's word and not deny his name even with little strength? Actually their ability to hold onto their faith with little strength was actually due to their "little strength." It is sure that because they had little strength, they neither cultivate their abilities, nor did they develop any great strategies or tactics, nor they did not compromise their faith nor they did war of gamble as if a cornered mouse were fighting back for its life against a cat. That's right. Just as in the story of King Hezekiah and the Assyrian King Sennacherib in the Book of Isaiah, when King Hezekiah with little strength heard that the Assyrian King Sennacherib with strong military power would come to attack Jerusalem and went up to pray before the Lord so that the Lord had mercy on him and sent His angels to strike down the Assyrian army (Isaiah 37:8-38), the church in Philadelphia, because their strength was little, humbly knelt before God in prayer and received the Lord's mercy, and with the strength that the Lord had given them, they were able to endure persecution and suffering. Therefore, 1 Corinthians 10:13 says that “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” And in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, Paul says, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” Yes. Because they had little strength, they were able to be humble, and their humility ultimately enabled them to overcome Satan's attacks.

9) Therefore, the Greek ταπεινός (tapeinos) translated as humility in the Bible, is defined in TDNT as "recognizing one's own inability before God and relying completely on God's grace." In addition, in Matthew 18:4, the Lord said, "Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." This is because a humble person, like a child, relies entirely on God's grace without seeking anything from themselves. And also Regarding humility, Calvin said in his book ‘Institutes of the Christian Religion,’ "If you ask what is the chief precept of the Christian religion, the first, second, third and answer I will say ‘humility’." He also said, "When we realize that we are nothing and can obtain no help from ourselves, all our weapons are broken and the war comes to an end." That’s why the humility is different from the hypocrisy of the strong, who think they have virtues and strength within themselves but do not reveal their pride in front of others, and also different from the self-abasement of the weak.

10) Then how can we learn humility? Yes, in Matthew 11:29, the Lord said, "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." In the process of taking on the Lord's yoke, we can learn the Lord's humility and gentleness. Although the Lord's yoke is light and easy, there are times when it may feel difficult and heavy. At those times, we can learn humility by realizing our own inability and weakness, coming to the Lord and relying on Him, and humbling ourselves and asking for help.

11) I pray that all of us in the Lord's church may take on His yoke and learn humility and gentleness. In this era of challenge and temptation, may we persevere in faith and be praised by the Lord, and finally, may we all receive the crown of life and enjoy it in the eternal kingdom.

Key Questions as Small Group Activity

Q1 To those of us living in the land of Canaan, where everything is abundant, the persecution or suffering may sound unfamiliar. However, from an external perspective, it has become increasingly difficult to reveal the truth of Christianity to the world, and internally, the temptation to compromise with the comforts and pluralism of Canaan has grown stronger. Therefore, I hope that we can take a moment to reflect on our surroundings and our inner thoughts, to see any temptations, persecutions, and hardships we face and share them with others.

Q2 Furthermore, as today's passage states, we come to realize that the way to overcome these challenges and hardships is not through our own strength or resources, but ultimately through relying on God. However, in order to fully rely on God, we must learn humility, which can be cultivated in the process of bearing the yoke of the Lord. So, I invite you to reflect on own lives and think about what yoke of the Lord you are carrying and how you are learning humility in the process.

With love, gratitude, and blessings.

Prayer Note

( ) God ( ) !

Thanks for ( )

Praise, gratitude and glory be to You, Lord!

Today, I realized my sin (pains) that ( ),

please forgive (heal) me and help me not to ( ).

I learned that ( )

Please help me (or someone) to ( )

I pray in ( ) Jesus’ name. Amen.

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