Revelation 3:7 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. 10 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. 11 Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. 14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; 15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. 16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. 17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. 21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. 22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
In chapters 2 and 3 Jesus tells John to write letters to 7 churches in Asia Minor. They were in different locations made up of people who had accepted Jesus as Savior, or professed to. With the epistles already being circulated and the Old Testament already in print, they were being taught in the churches. The same God, Jesus, Holy Spirit with the same way of salvation and serving God as we’re taught was being taught to them. The New Testament was being completed with the book of Revelation.
In just 70 years the churches had spread out. Jesus had special messages for these 7 churches. These are 7 conditions a church and Christians can find themselves in. When a group doesn’t follow the Bible it is no longer a church. The condition of any church is dependent upon each person’s relationship with God. We’re all responsible for our fellowship with God. I can guide you. Others can guide you. But it’s up to you what you do and you are the one responsible. At the Judgement I won’t stand and speak for this church and tell God to let you in. It’s an individual thing. Paul told the Romans that everyone will give account. In every church some were serving God and others were not. How serious are you about your relationship with God? Paul told the Corinthians that they would all stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ to give an account of what they did with this gift of salvation. We will give account BUT we are also accountable right now. Which church do you belong to? Whether or not your name is formally on the roll of this church membership is not the question. Is your name in God’s Book?
John was told how times would be in his time to the time of the coming of Jesus Christ. We’re on the other end of the church age. What was prophesied in some cases is already history. Each church represents certain times in history. When we get to the last two churches, Philadelphia and Laodicea, we see the times we’re in. We’re truly in the Laodician age, but some people are still Philadelphia. If all were the former, we’d be seeing judgment. Had there not been a faithful few in each age, there would not be a church. Smyrna and Philadelphia were the only two that weren’t told “I have somewhat against thee.” They weren’t perfect but served the Lord seriously. They endured more hardship than others.
Two of the 7 were right with the Lord at the end of the first century. Think of those odds. How many are truly ready today? In 5 churches most weren’t ready. Their character, behavior, and thinking were cold like Ephesus or just dead. Their relationship with God was a routine. God never intended his great salvation to be a ritual. He birthed us into his kingdom. If we get cold on his love, no wonder he says “I have somewhat against thee.”
In Laodicea the people were warned. Being neither cold or hot God couldn’t deal with them. They wanted to go on with their own make believe relationship. They were so confident, thought they were so good. How could they not be ready? But they weren’t. The Pharisee looked at others and said “I don’t do…” and “I don’t do…” Maybe he didn’t but he still didn’t see his real sin. He was saying “God, aren’t you glad you have me.” Lord, have mercy. See the attitudes we take. It’s not liturgy, singing perfect notes, and poise that make us right with God. It’s not what others think about us. How do things stand between each of us and God? Laodicea didn’t think they needed anything. I’ve actually had professing Christians tell me God blessed them for playing poker or the lottery because they won a few dollars. Don’t you see that the Bible warns against gambling. The devil can “bless” too. How foolish Laodicea was. They knew how to talk and act to appear to the world to be a good Christian but in the eyes of God they weren’t.
The people at Philadelphia didn’t have a lot but they made do. They were criticized because of the gospel they preached. There was great wickedness in the area, sort of the Babylon of Asia Minor. Verse 9 calls it the synagogue of Satan. America has become a synagogue of Satan. Yet a church was there who had not compromised, weakened and dried up. They still held to the way of God and tried to reach others. They were faithful. Verses 10 and 11 state Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. That’s good advice for us today.
To both he says there is an open door. In Laodicea there was a door that was locked with Jesus on the outside. They liked to talk about Jesus but he was really on the outside. Speaking into the door Jesus said Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. Jesus is the door. If you shut him out, I don’t care how much you profess it. Jesus has to be on the inside. Philadelphia saw that. Laodicea thought they would keep him out, live their own self-styled Christianity and be all right. Maybe they thought they’d call on Jesus at the end and be all right. You can die before you get to the door.
If Jesus is on the outside of your heart’s door, run to him. If you believe and trust him as those at Philadelphia did, run to him. Hold fast. Ask God for patience to stand during this hour.
You cannot belong to two churches. Make up your mind and be in Philadelphia, not Laodicea.