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A Message to Philadelphia

philadel.jpg“7 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; 8 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. [1]

The book of Revelation is a book of the future. Seals and vials and every conceivable human calamity rock the pages of this book. It is in the book of Revelation that we see the rise of the Antichrist, the false prophet and the beast. It is in the book of Revelation that we learn of the mark of the beast, 666, of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse who come riding with death, famine, disease and destruction. In fact, it is what we read in the book of Revelation that scared many of you to start taking the Bible seriously. Who can read the following description from Revelation 6 and not be a little nervous?

“And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; 13 And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figsc, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. 14 And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. 15 And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; 16 And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: 17 For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?”


If the reports of the cataclysmic events strike fear into our hearts, then we ought to pay closer attention to the way the book begins.

“12 And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; 13 And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. 14 His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; 15 And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. 16 And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength. 17 And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: 18  I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death. 19 Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter; [3]

Philadelphia was the sixth of the seven churches of Asia Minor singled out in this prophecy. It was the only church that had no condemning message or no call to repentance.

First, the writer says, “I know thy works.”

Nothing you do in life escapes the knowledge of God. If anyone has a self-esteem problem, they need to know that God thinks you’re important enough to examine everything you do.

One of the most ridiculous theories of the origins of the world holds that God might have created the universe and the world to begin with, but then went off and forgot about it or left it…kind of like a divine case of Alzheimers disease. I think if God was smart enough and big enough to get it going in the first place, he is probably smart enough to keep it going! He knows you…your downsittings and your uprisings (as the Psalmist David put it). You are important to God!

Second, he says “I have set before thee an open door and no man can shut it.”

The God who concerns himself with you, who knows all about you, is going to take care of you. He cares about what is going to happen to you.

This church had a vision of the future. This church wanted revival. This church wanted to see souls saved. This church wanted to make a difference in the world. This church had the heartbeat of God in all their endeavors.

Therefore, it is as if God is saying to them, I know what you are praying about and I am going to see to it that your prayers are answered.

Listen, if you are praying about the right things, you can have confidence that God is going to answer your prayers. Pray with faith. Pray with assurance. The door looks closed…maybe even locked, but keep praying.

Maybe there isn’t even a door to your vision. There may not even be a window. You can’t get there from here. This is how big God is: He will set up a door between you and your future. Every carpenter knows that you can’t set up a door until you’ve made an opening for it. Believe that God has created an opening and has already set up a door so that when you get there, it will open up for you.

Not only that, but doors are meant to be shut, and even locked. The door that God has set up for you isn’t shut. The bible says that it is open. If it is open, it must be unlocked.

Not only that, but God has done something else. He has built a door that is stuck in the open position and no man can shut it. I think that means that people are trying to close your door. They don’t want you to enter into your vision. But, they can push all they want. God says it’s open and it’s going to stay open.

There are three reasons why God told Philadelphia that he knew their works and he had set before them an open door.

“For thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.”

You have a little strength.

You may not look very strong.

You may have fought some battles and have been wounded and fatigued.

I’m not going to lie to you and say that you are as powerful as the day you were founded.

But I will say this. I know your works. I know that you have a vision to get to places you haven’t been.

It seems as though you have been walking in quicksand, or that a huge resisting wind has kept you from doing what was in your heart to do.

But no one had better make the mistake in saying that it’s over for you.

I see something stirring in you. I see a vision that will not die. I see some former glory in you that is rising to the top.

You have a little strength. You have some power left in you. There is some dynamite in your heart.

You have enough power to preach.

You have enough power to live righteously.

You have enough power to pray.

You have enough power to win the lost.

You have enough power to hold high the banner.

I have been preaching and teaching about soulwinning. Soulwinners are not passive. Soulwinners are not carefree. Soulwinners are not weak. Soulwinners attack the harvest with aggression and conviction.

34 Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work. 35 Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. [4]

The harvest doesn’t come easily. Farmers will tell you that not all workers are the same. Some laborers glean far more than others, even though they work side by side with others through the same fields. Why? They harvest more because they attack the harvest with greater determination, vision and work than fellow workers! Some work for a living; others live to work. Some put in their time with their eye on the paycheck; others work to please their boss knowing that the paycheck will take care of itself. But our passion to reach souls must surge past selfish motives, outlast the fatigue factors and pit our will against the stubborn barriers to the harvest. Here’s what we must do:

Push back the branches that are in the way. As fruit often hides behind leaves, so souls hide behind facades of disinterest, rejection, or false argumentation. Push back the leaves and you may find a glorious harvest.

Climb a tree and get out on a limb. Sometimes the harvest requires risk. How far are you willing to go to reach someone? How much are you willing to invest to reclaim a soul for Christ?

Expect thorns and briers. Many gatherers of blackberries have pulled thorns from their flesh. They knew it would happen because blackberry bushes grow thorns. The love of the fruit made them do it. Likewise, soulwinners often feel the painful prickings of anger, resentment and pent-up bitterness. The love of souls drives them onward.

Ignore the pain . No one manhandles a sickle or scythe for very long without blisters and sore muscles. Wimps quit at the first little red mark, but the veteran laborer works through the pain. He knows that after a while it will let up. Calluses will form and muscles will become stronger. He just keeps on going.

Keep your implements in good condition. Sharpen your blades, oil your machinery, repair your broken parts and your chances of reaping a good harvest will increase. Spiritually, stay prayed up, read up, paid up and you will increase your effectiveness as a witness.

The ripened harvest is there. God put it there. Go after those souls with a greater determination and perseverance than you’ve had in the past. The field will yield her fruit to the good laborer.

You have kept my Word.

I like that. If Philadelphia was commended for keeping the word, what must have been going on in the other churches?

Keepers of the Word must have been dropping like flies.

But, Philadelphia kept the word when it wasn’t popular.

When it wasn’t easy.

When it caused you pain and embarrassment.

When they were ridiculed for doing so.

When they were called old fashioned, unreasonable, warped, brainwashed.

I like the story of Elijah and Elisha.

Elijah was getting old and needed a successor. God led him to Elisha and he cast his mantle across Elisha’s shoulders.

“20 And he left the oxen, and ran after Elijah, and said, Let me, I pray thee, kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow thee. And he said unto him, Go back again: for what have I done to thee? 21 And he returned back from him, and took a yoke of oxen, and slew them, and boiled their flesh with the instruments of the oxen, and gave unto the people, and they did eat. Then he arose, and went after Elijah, and ministered unto him.”


Evidently, Elisha vowed that he would never let Elijah get out of his sight. Even when Elijah told him to stay behind, Elisha would not hear of it.

“1 And it came to pass, when the LORD would take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal. 2 And Elijah said unto Elisha, Tarry here, I pray thee; for the LORD hath sent me to Bethel. And Elisha said unto him, As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they went down to Bethel. 3 And the sons of the prophets that were at Bethel came forth to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the LORD will take away thy master from thy head to day? And he said, Yea, I know it ; hold ye your peace. 4 And Elijah said unto him, Elisha, tarry here, I pray thee; for the LORD hath sent me to Jericho. And he said, As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they came to Jericho. 5 And the sons of the prophets that were at Jericho came to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the LORD will take away thy master from thy head to day? And he answered, Yea, I know it ; hold ye your peace. 6 And Elijah said unto him, Tarry, I pray thee, here; for the LORD hath sent me to Jordan. And he said, As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. And they two went on. [6]

You’ve heard the expression, “That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.”

We need to hold up the Bible and say, “This is my story and I’m sticking to it!”

Do not depart from the Word of God for any reason.

We have no other anchor. We have no other rock to which we can cling.

Do not depart from the mighty God in Christ, full salvation, holiness, prayer, the rapture of the church, gifts of the Spirit, miracles, healings, church attendance, tithes and offerings, soulwinning.

You need the Word of God in your life!

God’s Word is unique.

First, it lives. “For the word of God is living…” (Hebrews 4:12 NIV). The life of God’s Word brings a singular dynamic to the world unmatched by any other literature. No Plato classic, no Clancy or Grisham thriller, no Catton history or even any Shakespearean drama, despite their considerable wit and brilliance, dispenses life to its readers. The Word does exactly that. It breathes, moves and inspires. It interacts with our thinking, both consciously and sub-consciously, and creates a new person within us. Its energy puts it on par with the very presence of Jesus, as we see in 1 John 1:1. “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life.”

Next, the Word is powerful, or active. (Hebrews 4:12 NIV). Many speak, but none speaks words with innate creative power. When God speaks, his Word becomes a viable force, fully capable of performing its purpose. He does more than suggest, hint or muse. “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11). The next time you read the Word of God or hear it preached or taught, be careful. The Word makes things happen.

The Word discriminates. Hebrews says it is “sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” The Word of God operates with a razor’s edge on the reader’s soul, cutting away fat and fraud and exposing the hidden things of the heart. This makes lots of people nervous, even angry. But remember, while one edge cuts clean going away, the other cuts just as clean coming back, judging both the audience and the speaker alike. Long before psychology, psychiatry or any of the mind arts ever existed, the incisive Word penetrated the heart of man.

Most importantly, the Word of God is truth. “Thy Word is truth.” (John 17:17). Vast, organized bodies of opinion float around out in academia, each one claiming or implying that it represents truth. It would totally exhaust our time, money and labor to fully investigate the plank and platform of their every claim. Forget it. Only one concept is worthy of our invested efforts: “Thy Word is truth.” All else is futile.

A sister of Jack Leaman came back to God after Fifty Years! She had a church to come back to!

You have not denied my Name!

There are some people who say we make too much of the name of Jesus.

The truth is that we don’t make enough of his name.

This summer, a Hindu priest from Reno, Nevada gave the opening prayer before the U. S. House of Representatives. Some people stood up and protested the prayer out loud so that everyone could hear. We have now reached a place in this nation where a belief in God, some kind of God, or Gods, is acceptable.

Last year, a chaplain had to fight for the privilege of praying in the name of Jesus.

There is power in the name of Jesus.

Acts 2:38

Sin Remitting Power. Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

G3686 , G2424

Acts 3:6

Healing Power. Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.

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Acts 4:10

Resurrection Power. Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.

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Acts 4:18

Social Power. And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus .

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Acts 5:40

Martyrdom Power. And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus , and let them go.

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Acts 8:12

Decision-making Power. But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God , and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.

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Acts 9:27

Preaching Power. But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus .

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Acts 16:18

Delivering Power. And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.

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Phil 2:10

All Power. That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;

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This is the message to the church at Philadelphia.

Keep your power.

Keep God’s Word.

Keep the Name.

The things you keep will be an arsenal to you.

[1] The Holy Bible : King James Version. 1995 (electronic ed. of the 1769 edition of the 1611 Authorized Version.) (Re 3:7). Bellingham WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

c untimely figs: or, green figs

[2] The Holy Bible : King James Version. 1995 (electronic ed. of the 1769 edition of the 1611 Authorized Version.) (Re 6:12). Bellingham WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

A Greek word occurs that is not directly translated in the King James Version.
Greek Strongs: 2532

[3] The Holy Bible : King James Version. 1995 (electronic ed. of the 1769 edition of the 1611 Authorized Version.) (Re 1:12). Bellingham WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[4] The Holy Bible : King James Version. 1995 (electronic ed. of the 1769 edition of the 1611 Authorized Version.) (Jn 4:34). Bellingham WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[5] The Holy Bible : King James Version. 1995 (electronic ed. of the 1769 edition of the 1611 Authorized Version.) (1 Ki 19:20). Bellingham WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[6] The Holy Bible : King James Version. 1995 (electronic ed. of the 1769 edition of the 1611 Authorized Version.) (2 Ki 2:1). Bellingham WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

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