Jack Graham - Where Love Lives
We're in a series called SEVEN, taking a look at what Jesus said to the churches in the second and third chapters of the book of Revelation, so you can begin finding Revelation chapter 3. And the church that we have under the glass today where Jesus is evaluating this church, it is the sixth church of the seven, and it is one of only two among the seven that Jesus has no word of correction. No word of condemnation at all. As a matter of fact, this is a church that is in the eyes of Christ considered, well good, well done in His presence. That's the kind of church you want to be. It's the church at Philadelphia. It was in a city named Philadelphia, of course. The first city Philadelphia was not in Pennsylvania; it was in Asia Minor and it means, of course, brotherly love, the city of brotherly love.
So we're calling this message "Where Love Lives". Interestingly enough Philadelphia was at a kind of gateway to the East. And the Greco-Roman world moved through the openness of this particular city, though it was relatively small among the ancient cities of the past, yet it was open and they moved Greco-Roman society and culture through their city. It was a kind of missionary church for the Greek culture. But when you see what God was doing in that place, He was opening a door to the Gospel. And Jesus said this little church that was planted there, probably by the Apostle Paul on his third missionary journey when he came to Ephesus. This church was most likely planted at that time. And this little small and struggling church in the midst of this massive anti-Christian culture all around them, the church became a model for the missionary church. This is a model church. Well, let's see what Jesus said about it, beginning in verse 7 of chapter 3: "And to the angel (that is the minister or the pastor) of the church in Philadelphia write".
Can you imagine this letter is about to be read to the church at Philadelphia. They're on the edge of their seats. This is a word from Jesus. God speaks. Speak Lord. And here's what He said: "'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. 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. Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan'". These were religious people who were anti-Christ and anti-Christian in that era, and therefore, Jesus said they are the synagogue of Satan: "'who say that they are Jews and are not, (That is they're just Jews in name; they're not spiritual Jews) but they lie, and behold, I will make them come (Your enemies are going to come) and bow down before your feet, and they will learn that I have loved you.'"
And here's the source of the great love of this church. The love of Christ is being poured out upon this people. "I have loved you". And that's written in the language of the New Testament which means it's permanent love, "I have loved you, I am loving you, I will love you". "'Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth'". This is a reference to the Great Tribulation that is yet to come upon the earth, though the church in that era was facing persecution and great tribulation at the hands of the Caesars and many would die in martyrdom. They would certainly be tried in that era, but Jesus is looking beyond and speaking to His churches in the future, and there is yet to come a Great Tribulation, a terrible trial upon the earth. It's described in the book of Revelation chapter 6 through chapter 19, and this is when hell's fury is poured out upon the earth, judgment is poured out upon the earth, God's judgment, and the prophecy is that those who know and love Christ will not experience that great trial.
That's why I believe the Rapture, the Bible teaches that the Rapture of the Church, when the Church is taken away, it will come before the Great Tribulation. And I see this, verse 10, as a promise to that effect; we will exit. You say, "Well, is that the chicken's way out"? Let me tell you something: before the devil gets rid, through with this old world, everybody's going to be looking for the exit strategy. Jesus said I've got an exit strategy for my people and I'm going to come and take you out. That's described in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, "That the dead in Christ shall rise first, and then we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so will we ever be with the Lord".
That's the Rapture of the Church. And so verse 10 is a reference to that in my view. But is also a promise to the Christians living in that era and they, oh, by the way, will participate in the Rapture because they will be among the dead in Christ who have been with the Lord, but their bodies are going to be resurrected in the presence of the Lord with those of us who will be raptured. I'm sort of like the old preacher who said, "I'm not looking for the undertaker; I'm looking for the Upper Taker"! And so Jesus said here, "I am coming quickly. I'm coming soon"! And so every Christian should live with the expectation and the anticipation that today could be the day, today could be the hour, this very moment.
So there's a sense here I want you to pick up of urgency and emergency in the midst of these days when we only have so much time, and God is going to keep the door open just so long that we must make sure that we are experiencing God's presence and God's power and going in His name as long the door is open. Because there's coming a time when there will be a door opened up in heaven and we'll be with Him but the door will be closed on earth. It will be something like in the day of Noah when the boat was built and people were given all kinds of opportunities to repent and to turn from their wickedness. The good ship Grace was built so that everyone could get on it, but there came a day when God shut the door. God shut the door we're told and then the floods came and the judgment came.
There's going to be a day when God shuts the door and the judgment will come. That's what He's talking about there. So He said: "'Hold fast to what you have so that no one may seize your crown, so that you don't lose your reward. Not your salvation but that you would not lose your reward'". Believers will be rewarded when we are taken into His presence. But then to the victors, verse 12: "'To the one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, and the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'" So here's a church Jesus says, "Look at Me, I am the One who is holy and who is true". Holy and true, that is a declaration of His deity. When Jesus says, "I am holy". Only God is holy. Revelation 4:8, "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty"!
So Jesus is claiming His crown, His deity. We see Him as an ascended and exalted Lord. He is walking in the midst of His churches, but He is sovereign over all! He is faithful and true; He is holy and true! That means God has never broken a single promise that he has made to any of His children. He is holy which means totally separate, and yet He is true to His promises in that He has loved us and brought us into His eternal family. This means that there's no problem that we face in life, as Christians were facing struggles (There was opposition even among the religious leaders of that time, the opposition from without; there was corruption in the churches within. We've seen some of that with the other churches), but that Jesus is bigger and greater than any obstacle that we face. He said, "I am sovereign over all of this"! And He said, "I am the Keeper of the keys. I have been given the key of David".
Now that is a reference to Isaiah chapter 22, verse 22, that tells us of a man by the name of Eliakim who was a steward of King David. King David, of course, the greatest king of his time was ruler over all of Israel and, therefore, the treasure house of David possessed all of the bounty, all of the gold, all of the silver; it was the royal treasury of the king. Eliakim as a steward was given this key. It was the master key of the kingdom. And so when Jesus says, "I am the keeper of the key; I hold the keys," He means that I have all authority over all the royal treasures of God, the royal treasures of the kingdom of God. "They belong to Me"! He is holy, He is true, He is the keeper of the keys. And, children, that means that He has provided for our every need out of the royal treasure of David. This is a messianic prophecy fulfilled in the person of Christ.
And there is no provision that is not available to us for Philippians 4:19 says that "My God shall supply all of your needs according to the riches in glory in Jesus Christ". That's what this is talking about. That Jesus has all the riches in glory, the wealth of the kingdom of God and He says to His own, "This is yours. I am the keeper of the keys". And I unlock doors that are locked and I lock doors that are unlocked. He says, "I have the keys to the kingdom and open doors that no man can shut, and doors that no one can open". It's amazing, isn't it, how Jesus opens doors? This church was, they had no reference in terms of strength or ability or resources, but Jesus said, "I am all you need, and if you have Me, you have everything that you need. And here are the doors and the keys to the kingdom".
This means that Jesus is exalted above all. Jesus exalted! It means that Jesus is the center of His church! This is the prayer, this should be the pursuit of all of us: "Lord, be the center of my life. Lord, be the center of my family. Lord, be the center, Jesus, of my business. Lord, be the center of my future". Jesus at the center! And as long as we keep our eyes focused on Jesus who is the Keeper of the keys and He provides everything that we need, then regardless of the circumstances that we face, we're going to discover that He is enough and more than enough. And listen, it is the size of your God that will determine the significance of your life.
They were dedicated to the Son of God. He said, "You have been faithful to Me. I'm going to open doors that are going to blow your mind"! People, we must keep going. We can't stop because there will be a time when God may shut the door and it'll be over! So until Jesus comes may we be dedicated to the Son of God. May we be motivated by the Word of God. He said, "You have kept My word". Look, we don't debate the authority of Scripture at Prestonwood. This is God's infallible, inerrant word. We don't sit around and have discussions as to whether or not the Bible is the Word of God. We settled that question a long time ago. So that's why here at Prestonwood it's about Jesus, the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus. It's the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible, the Bible! We preach the Bible, teach the Bible, obey the Bible, want to live the Bible, and want to tell people what the Bible says, because the Bible points people to Jesus.
They were dedicated to God's Son and filled with God's Word and He says, "You have a little strength". You see it there? He said, "You have a little strength". That's a good thing, because they weren't dependent upon their resources or their massive buildings, or their finances. They didn't have any of that at Philadelphia. But Jesus said, "You're a church that pleases me very, very much. You have a little strength. Your members are not listed in Who's Who. You're not the city fathers at Philadelphia. You have a little strength but I've set before you an open door". They were diminutive but dynamic. They were small and struggling, but significant in the eyes of Jesus. We just got back from, some of us in our men's ministry, I went with our guys down to the Dominican Republic. One of the things that fires me up so much about Prestonwood is just so many of us get to go to the world.
God's opening doors for us to go to the world to preach the Gospel. Major cities in this country where we're planting churches and around the world we're working at extremely important places around the world. But I spoke to a group of pastors and O. S. Hawkins, my buddy, we had a little pastor's conference and there were about two hundred or so pastors there. And I'm looking at them and I'm thinking, "What on earth can I say from a big American church? How can I connect here"? Because these churches are in villages and there's poverty. They have no resources. But they have a great heart for the Lord and a great heart to learn. And I took a passage and spoke to them and taught them from Zechariah 4:6 which says "'Not by might, not by power, but by My Spirit,' says the Lord". And I pointed out to them this passage which says this Philadelphian church, they didn't have much but they had a whole lot of love. Jesus said, "I have loved you". And they were filled with love.
And these Dominican pastors, there was a lot of love, a love of Jesus, and I said, "You let the spirit of God fill your lives with love and then let God open the door". You may have just a little bit, but you'll please God. God's not interested in the size of our budgets and the size of our buildings. What God is interested in is the size of our hearts, and if we are filled with the Holy Spirit. And if we're weak, you know, we have to make sure because we have so much, we are so resourced. I mentioned to you the other day that if you make $49,000 a year, you're in the top one percent of the world's wealth population. We have so much, sometimes we can depend upon what we have rather than who He is. We rely upon our resources, our strengths, our abilities. And our abilities become liabilities if we're not trusting in the power of the Holy Spirit! God does extraordinary things through ordinary people! That way He gets all the glory!
When God does it nobody gets the credit for it but Him! We do what man can do, we'll get what man can do. But if we trust in God we'll get what only God can do. That's why we have to stay on our faces, stay on our knees before God in dependence and obedience to Him. And never pat ourselves on the back for where we because God wants to take us far more, do much more, Ephesians 3:20, "exceeding abundantly above all that we could ask or think". Let me wrap this up by saying, "Jesus said, 'I love this church'" to the Philadelphian Christian. He said, "I have loved you". And that's what He says to His church today. He said, "I love you, Church". The Church of the Lord Jesus Christ is His bride.
You know, Deb's been my bride, my sweetheart. We met 45 years ago and I love her more than I've ever loved her, and we're so blessed as a couple, and thankful. And she's my bride. We're one, we're together. And so if you said something like, "You know I like Jack Graham and I like to hear him preach, you know, I like the way his hair turned gray". Or whatever you said, you know, if you say, "I like Jack Graham but you know what? I don't like Deb Graham. Just something about her. You know I don't care for her". Count me out. Because if you don't love my bride, you don't love me! And if you are a believer and follower of Jesus, you will love what Jesus loves, and Jesus loves His Church and gave Himself for it. Jesus loves His Bride. I want you to hear Jesus saying to the church at Philadelphia, I want you to hear Him saying it to you and me, "I love you, Church. I've opened some incredible doors, opportunities. I love you".
So I can't imagine somebody being a member of this church or any other church and not loving that church. I want you to go out of here and say to yourself, if not others, I love my church. I love my church. I love what Jesus is doing in this church. "I have loved you". With that love poured out on us because we are loved, it's too good to keep; we want others to know the great love of Jesus. He said, then, "To the victors", verses 11 and 12, "I'll make you a pillar in heaven in the eternal city of God". Interesting enough, here's a fact, Philadelphia, there were many terrible earthquakes in Philadelphia back in the day, and so when Jesus said, "You're going to be a pillar that won't be shaken", that communicated with people living in an uncertain world with the ground shaking around them.
And with the world shaking around us, Jesus is saying, "You're secure in Me! You're going to be a pillar"! "To the victors, to the conquerors! You will be a pillar, strong and stable and permanent in heaven! And I'm going to write a new name and you will be in the city of Jerusalem". I don't know what your name is. Our daughter Kelly is doing some ancestral work. She's gone on ancestry.com and she's researching the Graham family and Deb's family, the Peter family on the other side, and Ingrams. And so she's doing all that. I've been a little nervous about that as to what she might find back there in our family history. And she's found some greats and not so greats. You know, one of my direct grandfathers signed the Mecklenburg signed the Declaration of Independence which was the first Declaration of Independence in the United States in Mecklenburg, South Carolina.
So you might want to stick your chest out about that. But then she found another grandfather who wrote in his will. The will's right there online. You can find this stuff. This is one of my fifth grandfathers back. He wrote in his will, he said, "And I am leaving nothing, absolutely nothing to my idiot daughter". Really great guy, huh? But you know what? I'm not counting on my ancestral name to get me to heaven. God's given me a new name. What's your name? You a banker, lawyer, butcher, bakery, candlestick maker? No, that's what you do. Maybe you wear a name of bad reputation or name of shame or name of pain or name that's got a past. Maybe your name is brokenness or your name is sinfulness. He says, to the one who trusts in Me, to the victors! I'm going to give you a new name and it's My name! There's a new name written down in glory and it's mine, it's mine. We came back into the country yesterday, one of the greatest things since sliced bread is the Global Entry Pass so you don't have to stand in long lines to get back in the country at Customs.
So I have, you know, on my passport, I got a U.S. passport and I walked right off the plane, walked up to a kiosk, slide my name in there with my photograph, and then I put my fingerprints on a scan. So they look at my picture, take a picture of you, put, you know, scan your fingerprints and it's you, and boom you're out of there! Just like that! It feels good, you know, I enjoy being in other countries, but boy, when you walk back into your country, whatever your country may be, when I came back in yesterday, I said, "Man, I'm so glad I'm a citizen of this great country". And I have the authority to walk in here. I have a Global Entry Pass, baby, to come back into this country! But you know what? We've got something better than that! We have an eternal entry pass! And the fingerprints of Jesus, the bloodstained fingerprints of Jesus have given us entrance into the eternal family of God, the New Jerusalem, the heavenly kingdom, and we are pillars planted there forever! Our names are written down in glory! Therefore we walk in victory today because the same God who opened the doors of grace is now opening the doors of glory for all of us!