Picture of Pastor Gettys

Sermon delivered May 10, 2003 by Pastor Donald J. Gettys

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Biblical quotations are from the New International Version NIV unless otherwise noted. Divine pronouns and titles are capitalized.

Philadelphia: Keep Your Grip on Jesus

Revelation 3:17-13

Of all of the churches of Revelation, we today discussing number six. And, of all these churches, which would be the worst church? It would be Laodicea. Which church do we represent? Laodicea. You're going to hear about Laodicea the next two weeks. The reason we're going to spend two weeks on that is because that applies to us directly. Today we're going to talk about the best church: Philadelphia. It was a great church. It was the ideal church and also the youngest. It was a humble little church, a good church doing good things as they ought to be done. It was a great place. They made Jesus their focus. They concentrated on loving Jesus Christ and loving others. It was a great church. That's the kind of church you want to be a member of.

What does the name of their church mean? Philadelphia; the church of brotherly love. And what better day to speak about this than Mother's Day Sabbath? Mothers represent love, don't they. And the name of this church means, brotherly love. Now, why were they better than the other six churches? Why was Philadelphia better. I mean, you know, Jesus walked among all seven candlesticks, didn't He? So He was no closer to Philadelphia, than He was to any other church. So, why was Philadelphia better? Well, we're going to discuss a lot of this. We can say that Jesus is just as close to the McDonald Road Church as He is to any other church because Jesus walks among all the churches. So we can get just as much of Him as anybody else. Every church has an open door. But not every church enters fully into Jesus. Every church member has an open opportunity to Jesus. But not every fully enters in fully to Jesus Christ. Philadelphia responded to Jesus.

Now come to Revelation 3. I want you to notice some vital beliefs that they understood correctly. These ought to be doctrinal pillars in every church. Revelation 3:7 says, "To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These are the words of Him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open."

    They knew three things about Jesus.
  1. Jesus is Holy Fully Divine.
  2. Jesus is true, utterly right.
  3. Jesus has the Key, totally in command.

Let's look at each of these:

1. Jesus is HOLY. Godly, Divine, Sacred.

If you belong to a church that God does not condemn, then you belong to a church that admits that Jesus is holy, that He is fully God. That's a good church to be a member of. If you are a member of a church that teaches that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are all God, they're all equal, They're fully divine, then you are not to be condemned. But if not, maybe you're in the wrong church. Did you know there are churches today that teach that Jesus was the God of this world and not the others? There are churches today that teach that Jesus was not totally eternally divine, not like the Father. Is the God Man Jesus living in your heart today?

2. Jesus is TRUE.

In Jesus only is the source of all truth and knowledge. Outside of Jesus is falsehood and error. In Jesus is all truth. When you know Jesus as the truth you will instantly recognize error. Someone said that if each church member really knew Jesus and loved Him as the real thing, each pastor would be like a religious Maytag repairman sitting back with no problems to fix.

3. Jesus has the key of David, all POWER.

Jesus has Authority, like faithful Eliakim in Isaiah 22:22. Jesus is Omnipotent. He holds the power. How do we know that? Revelation says Jesus holds the key of David. I will tell you that people with keys have power. If you don't have the keys, you don't have the power. Revelation 1:18 NLT "I am the living one who died. Look, I am alive forever and ever! I hold the keys of death and the grave." Jesus is the key person.

I remember that great Michigan Campmeeting in Grand Ledge. On Sabbaths we used to have as high as 20,000 people there. I assume that Russell Parks was in charge. How do I know that? Because he used walk around with his big belt and I believe he had at least ten dozen keys all around that belt. So, I always assumed that he was in charge of those grounds. Russell was the Key man. When we heard the jingle of his keys we knew he was near by, that the person of authority was coming. Jesus is the Key Keeper. Jesus is the key to all the problems of the world. I believe we can hear the rattle of His Keys. Jesus is coming soon to unlock the gate to death and to the grave. Jesus is the key holder. Jesus determines who may enter his Father's house and who cannot.

Revelation 3:8 speaks of the door. "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."

What is the door? This is none other than the door of Salvation. Because Jesus came, He lived the perfect life that I can't, and died to pay for our sins and because He rose on the third day He actually became the door. He provided salvation. He opened the door to eternity for those of us who were lost because of Adam and Eve's sin. Jesus is the way. He opened the Door to heaven.

The Millerites came to believe that on October 22, 1844 up in Heaven, one door was closed and another was opened. They believed that on October 22, up there in heaven that probation had closed for mankind. Eventually they saw that "Jesus... shut the door of the holy place of the heavenly Sanctuary, and opened the door into the most holy." - Early Writings, 42.1 by EG White.

What is the highest thing that Jesus can give to any church? A door that isn't closed! An open door! Historically the sixth church represents God's kingdom of grace between the years from the 1750's to the mid 1840's. The door was opened to great missionary activity with John and Charles Wesley, Jonathan Edwards, Robert Moffat, David Livingstone, etc., who began to fulfill Rev. 14:6-7 preaching the everlasting gospel to the world at the great second-advent awakening. And they started to preach the gospel to every nation and kingdom.

Do we have an open door here at McDonald Road? I think we do. Every church does. We don't have some big metropolitan city here at McDonald Road, but we do have an open door. Our members are just average people, we have average jobs, but we, like the church of Philadelphia the church of brotherly love, we have an open door to missionary activity. We have, I think, in this church like they, an extra amount of love in this church. Have you detected that? We ought to have love. When you enter the doors of that lobby you ought to be greeted. If you aren't, you ought to stand there and greet somebody. Let's be warm and friendly. We need to have love for Jesus and love for each other and love for our community. And I think we do have that here at McDonald Road.

We have a lot of opportunities. We have helped build 4 churches India and several countries south of us that now seat about 1200 each Sabbath. There may be a thousand people in church because of our labors just in that respect. We have built this new Children's wing and I hope you will take time to walk through that wing. There's a lot of good things are happening. Go, check it out. By the way, the doors are all open because there aren't any doors yet. We minister over the World Web and Dean Saunders told me that we have an average of 10,000 visits every day. (Of those visits about 900 to 1000 are in our sermons.) We are helping to finish God's work in the world. Your personal door might be your teenager. You don't have to go clear over to India. Your door might be that unbaptized husband or wife of yours. It might be your neighbor. Opportunities are God's open doors. Pray that each door that God opens you will have the courage and the commitment and the strength and the willingness to quickly walk through its opening.

Every door either lets you in or out. When we enter here it is to help feed or be fed spiritual food. When we Exit through the doors of the church it is to go out to serve the world.

Let's go to Revelation 3:8. "... I know you have little strength." Does the McDonald Road Church have little strength? We don't have much. We honestly don't. We don't have much. The church of little strength. Is weakness good? Well, it can be. We had a homemade jar of jelly in our refrigerator when our kids were little. My little girl got it out to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. "Well, it's time to eat. Yes, you can make up one." She went and got all the materials together. She couldn't get the jelly jar open. So she said, "Daddy, can you help me?" And her eyes gleamed as I opened that jar for her. She was so proud of me. When did she seek help? Only when she was convinced of her inability. Everyone of us spiritually needs to reach that point.

A Christian who knows their own weakness is more apt to turn to Jesus. The church of Philadelphia knew that they had but little strength but they knew that God had super strength. Their weakness made them more dependant on God. We weak Christians aren't required to open big heavy doors, but to enter a door that Jesus has opened, a door that we could not open, the door of salvation.

Also in verse 8 it also says, "...you have kept My word." That's something else good about that church. To keep it you have to know it, don't you. So, here's a church that knew the Scripture. They knew the Bible. You need to be a member of a church who preaches the Bible. I think in the church of Philadelphia the Bible preached from their pulpit. That's the way it ought to be in every true church. If you belong to a church that preaches a social gospel, or entertains, you may need to switch churches. Obviously the church of Philadelphia loved and read God's word. You need to know the Bible.

Now, let's go to Revelation 3:9. "I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars--I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you."

Synagogue of Satan: A group of liars that hound God's people. The criticizers of the Saints. Apparently the Christians were barred from the synagogue. And, it's just as well to be barred from a place that's called the synagogue of Satan. But Jesus opened another door, and that door is also provided for us. Jesus' door is permanently open for all. Nobody can lock it up because Jesus holds the keys. Nobody can claim the door is too heavy for them to enter because Jesus has already opened it on the cross. Acts 4:12 says that Jesus is the only way. Salvation is found in no one else, for there is not other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved. There is only salvation through Jesus Christ.

Verse 9 also says, "...I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you." They were a loving church, weren't they. God loved them and they obviously loved God. They were the church of brotherly love.

One Sabbath a baby started to cry during church. Some "saint" turned around and glared at the mother and said, "Ma'am, your baby is disturbing our worship, please take the baby out when the baby is crying." The young mother did, and she stopped attending church. That's one way how we make backsliders. Should the mother have taken the baby to the mother's room? Yes. Should the saint have said what she did? No. Could the exasperated saint have handled things differently? I think so. Maybe you could get acquainted with one of those young mothers. And, the mother happened to be single, by the way. And I will tell you that being a single mother must be pretty hard. Get acquainted with that mother. Be friends with her and say, "You know, any time your baby is crying, give her to me and I'll take her out and hold her and walk and be with her so you can enjoy the service. That's a way to help. Maybe we need a little more tolerance. We need the brotherly love of the Philadelphian church.

Now, we're a family here and I'm going to talk kind of straight to you folks. You can take this. I don't know any name, but, another Sabbath we had a guest come to our church. The guest didn't know, but anyway, they went ahead and clapped after something. I don't know who they were, but somebody said, "We don't do that in our church." And the guest left. He was intercepted in the parking lot, and said, "I'm not coming back here." Now, we have correctly chosen to say, "Amen!" in this church instead of clapping. I prefer that. I like that. But is that the time, is that the way to educate folks? Let's suppose the guest had been you wayward son. Would you like it if someone had said that to him? And what if he walked out? Wouldn't it have been better for the guest to keep coming without a reprimand. They would soon learn how we applaud in our church, wouldn't they? They're going to learn that.

One day I was greeting folk in the lobby and I noticed a mother come in with her teenage daughter. I hadn't seen the girl in church for some time. And I thought, "Praise the Lord. Here comes a mother and her teenage daughter. This is great!" They came in and sat together in a pew. They seemed to enjoy the service. They sat very close together. It was sweet. Then someone behind them tapped them on the shoulder and said, "With you sitting so close, I can't see. Could you please move over?" Well, they moved alright. They got up and walked out. The daughter said, "I'm never coming back there." Now, this happened here several weeks ago.

Could we be a little more tolerant and loving? Is there a better way to do it? I don't know who said that. I don't care to know. But we need to be kind. Never are we as close to our eternal destiny as when we invite and welcome others to the house of God. And never are we drifting further away from it as when we drive off or exclude others from God.

Isaiah 56:7 says that the church is a ...house of prayer for all nations. That includes crying babies, I think. Let's be a church of brotherly love. Let's welcome the visitors. By the way, Who is it that invites guest into our church? They're sent here, aren't they? If God sends them here, woe to me if I don't welcome them. If you drive out the ones who God brings, are you and God on the same team?

Revelation 3:10. "Since you have kept My command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth." Jesus wants His saints to patiently endure until He comes. If they do Jesus will protect them in the hour of trial that is fast coming on the world.

Revelation 3:11. "I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown." Keep a tight grip on Jesus. If not you could lose your crown. It is very possible for you to lose your crown. Esau lost to Jacob; Reuben lost to Judah, Saul lost to David, Judas lost to Matthias.

So hold fast to Jesus. Don't give up. There is too much to lose. As the years advance and you get old don't lose your hold on Jesus.

Revelation 3:12. "Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name."

That's beautiful, isn't it. That's great!

They had a pillar in Philadelphia. Imagine this church, they experienced a tremendous earthquake there in 17 ad. It knocked all the buildings down, practically, in the whole city except one pillar was left standing. And they decided not to take it down. It stood for centuries, a lone pillar. It was like the remnant of what used to be. I will tell you that that's what the Philadelphia church represented. Jesus says, "I will make you a pilar that's going to stand." There were constant after shocks for years. These tremors made them sleep outdoors for sheer panic. What if your home needed rebuilding every few months? Were these folk downcast and ready to quit? No! They were unshakable pillars of the church. They were loving and faithful, more than any other church. They did not see the door of fear but the door of hope in Jesus. Do you live in fear? If you are in Jesus you will stand as an unmovable pillar of strength. In the last days only the remnant God's saints will stand.

Revelation 3:12. God's name will be written on us. Why would God write His name on you? Why does a cattle rancher brand that cow? Because he owns that cow. That's his property. The Name of God is a seal of ownership. Like a rancher brands his cattle, Jesus will write on us God's name. This means that we become the property of God. I can tell you that God takes good care of His property.

Revelation 3:13. "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."

I want to urge you today to enter in at Jesus' door. It is free and as wide as the sky. It will open to you eternal life. And, let's be more loving. Let's be like this great church in Philadelphia.

Next week, we're going to have Part 1 of Laodicea. I think you're going to enjoy that. "The Church of Sigmund Freud." Be sure to come.

Hymn of Praise: #421, For All the Saints
Scripture: Revelation 3:11-13
Hymn of Response: #484, I Need Thee Precious Jesus

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