Agonizomai: Rev 3:7-8 - Philadelphia the Obedient Church<br>God's Strength Made Pefect in Weakness

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Rev 3:7-8 - Philadelphia the Obedient Church
God's Strength Made Pefect in Weakness

Rev 3:7-8 - God's Strength Made Pefect in Weakness


Rev 3:7-8 And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens. 8 "I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name."

The "True One" here is, of course, Christ - Who is speaking to the pastor of the Philadelphian church. This must cause a conundrum for the Roman dogmatists in that the "key of David" {Isa 22:22} is to be understood as the key to the church proper. Christ holds the key and not Peter, nor his successors. He opens the kingdom for those given by the Father and He closes it to those who will not hear.
"To you (the disciples) it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that ‘seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.’" {Lu 8:10}
It is the Word that both condemns and that saves - for by it all men shall be judged - and by the hearing of it comes saving faith. This same "Word" is also, mysteriously, Christ Himself - because He will be the judge of all men and in Him alone is salvation to be found. In terms of their working and their purpose the Word written and the Living Word are the same. They speak identically. They bring an identical message. They effect one purpose, which was determined before the world began - to save God’s people from their sins.

In much the same way, John Calvin said that the Word and the Spirit are the same. The same in that they speak identically. The Word never contradicts the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit never contradicts the Word. This is how we know what manner of spirit it is with which we are dealing at any one time. It is by the Word. And apart from knowledge of God’s Word we have no way of discerning the spirits because there is no way for them to witness one to another. But it is impossible for God to contradict Himself, whether He speaks as Father, Son or Holy Spirit, since the LORD, the LORD our God is One.


The statement that Christ alone (meaning God, for they are one and the same) has the key to salvation and that people enter only when and if He opens is absolute anathema to human pride. It has been said that the doctrine of grace is admired by many who will hate you for it as soon as you make application of it. We all say we were saved by grace but few understand that salvation is by grace alone. Forgotten today are the five "solas" of the Reformation...
Sola Gratia - By grace alone
Sola Fide - Through faith alone
Solus Christus - In Christ alone
Sola Scriptura - As revealed in the Scripture alone
Soli Deo Gloria - To the glory of God alone
Salvation is of the Lord. {Jon 2:9} It is not of the Lord plus man. It is not God saving with man helping. Such thinking is not only wrong but is actual heresy. God alone saves. He does not need the cooperation of man in order to make salvation either possible or effective. He uses men to preach the gospel and to bear witness to Himself - and He brings men to do these things, and to be both grateful and willing - but (and it is the "but" upon which the "solas" hang) salvation is all of grace and is a work of God from start to finish.
But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. {Joh 1:12-13}

So it (election unto salvation) depends not upon man’s will or exertion, but upon God’s mercy. {Ro 9:16}
When people hear this truth they react in one of two ways. Either they are utterly humbled and enter into a new dimension of understanding God, and a changed relationship with Him - or they are enraged and will rail against the messenger and the message itself. People don’t mind having a God so long as it is a God that needs them - a God that has to have their help or cooperation in order to accomplish His will - or that man is not fallen at all, and has in his natural state the ability to find his own way, unaided at all. But this heresy is nowhere taught in the Bible. Pelagius was twice condemned as a heretic in the 4th/5th Centuries for advancing such humanistic notions. But it is a heresy that will not die, and it revives in various forms continually.

In this verse (verse 7) we encounter yet another affirmation of the sovereignty of God in salvation. The language is unmistakably that of sovereignty. It brings to mind other, more ancient verses that speak of similar things...
See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god beside me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand. {De 32:39}
There is finality, authority, sovereignty and ultimately an underlying reference to omnipotence in all such statements. God is the Alpha and the Omega. He is omnipotent. He is transcendent as well as immanent. He is perfectly able and perfectly justified to say, "This I do and who can question it? Who can oppose it, for who has resisted My will?"


So then, Christ is sovereign in the lives of His faithful and they are faithful because He is sovereignly in them. He has opened up a door for them to enter into His everlasting habitations that no one can shut. They are faithfully pressing in to Him, conscious of their lack of power and, thereby, reliant upon Him. When they are weak then they are strong, for God’s strength is made perfect in weakness. What they have done is to keep His Word. And what does this mean?

Well, firstly it means that they must know what it is that they are to keep. They must know what it is that God says to them - and the way to do that is to study closely what God has said. The church is the pillar and buttress of what? {1Ti 3:15} The Truth! And truth resides in information. Truth must be communicated, weighed, understood, adopted and acted upon. Truth speaks first and foremost to the mind. And once having apprehended truth about Christ and the truth in Christ, and that Christ is the Truth then the faithful follower keeps that Truth by obeying it. All the truth in the world is useless unless it is applied. And it is in the application of the Truth in our lives through faith (knowing our own dependency) that the power of God works through our weakness. If we believe God we will act upon what He says. If He is in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure then we will desire to obey Him.

The Philadelphians knew – they believed and then they acted upon that belief. Faith comes by hearing the Word, and knowing (assurance) comes by the doing of it. When a person acts upon the Word of God by the prompting of the Holy Spirit within, then His very acts are the will of God. As Oswald Chambers would say, "Then you are the will of God." When a person acts upon the Word then they understand that it is God working in them and it thrills the soul. But God will not act for you. You must step out in the knowledge and the faith you have been given by grace.

In Philadelphia there was only a small fellowship of the faithful but they were truly poor in spirit - conscious of their poverty and consequently able to see and to rely upon Christ’s riches of sufficiency. Despite persecution - despite living in the very midst of pagan culture and the hatred and opposition of the Jews.


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