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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Michael Youssef » Michael Youssef - Lost Its Vision

Michael Youssef - Lost Its Vision

Michael Youssef - Lost Its Vision
Michael Youssef - Lost Its Vision
TOPICS: Letters from Jesus, Seven Churches of Revelation, Church, Vision

In today's letter of Jesus, the glorified, magnified Jesus in heaven, to the believers in the church of Philadelphia, it's about the open door. It's all about the open doors. So, we're looking at the glorified Jesus in heaven sending letters, seven letters to seven churches in Asia Minor through the Apostle John when he was on the island of Patmos in exile, and God gave him the Lord Jesus Christ, the glorified, resurrected Jesus, gave him letters to deliver to each one of those churches, and we've been going through that semicircle all the way from Patmos to Ephesus to Smyrna to Pergamum to Thyatira to Sardis, and today come to Philadelphia.

Of all the seven letters, and we have already seen five of those, this is the sixth, this is the most delightful letter of all of them. It's the most delightful letter. These people must have brought joy to the heart of Jesus, because in this letter to the church of Philadelphia, and that's not Pennsylvania, this is the church Philadelphia in Asia Minor, there is not a single sin in which he chastising them for. You don't find a compromise to point out to. You do not find false teaching that he's warning them against. There is no false teachers that they need to purge from their midst, as we've seen in the other churches in the other locations.

If you notice, of all the seven churches, I must confess to you that's the church I wanna belong to, but then I would ruin it for them, I really would. Beloved, listen to me, as long as a church is made up of people, there is no such thing as a perfect church any more than there is a perfect marriage. When people tell me, "Oh, that's a marriage made in heaven," I said, "Yes, so is thunder and lightning". There is no such a thing as perfect church. To be sure, there is such a thing as a faithful church and there is unfaithful church. There is such a thing as a biblically sound church and biblically unsound church. There's such a thing as Christ-centered church and there is a man-centered church. There is such a thing as God-honoring church or God-dishonoring church. That is there, but no such thing as a perfect church.

So, now let me ask you to turn with me in your Bibles to Revelation chapter 3, beginning at verse 7. I want to tell you just a few important things about the city of Philadelphia in Asia Minor, the city of brotherly love. Philadelphia was the crossroad of the region. In fact, it was called the gateway to the east, and so east and west meet in that town. It was a city that had many temples and was founded in BC 189, 189 BC by King Attalus. King Attalus succeeded his older brother, King Eumenes of Pergamum. Out of deep love for his older brother, he loved his older brother whom he succeeded to the throne, King Attalus named the city "Philadelphia," or brotherly love. It was a city that stood as a memorial for the love that the two brothers had for one another. But beyond all of that, it's because Philadelphia was strategically located, strategically placed as the gateway between the east and the west.

The Greeks used it as a springboard. They used it, being a gateway and being the way to the east, the Greeks used it to take and propagate the Greek culture, the Greek language, the Greek philosophy to the rest of the world. And so, the glorified Jesus, as we have been seeing in every one of those letters, what he does, he takes a cultural characteristic of the city, something about that city that that city is renowned for, and he takes that, and he applies it to the church. Sometimes these characteristics are terrible, so he warns them against it. Sometimes the characteristic is good; he tells them to use it. And so, our precious Lord in all seriousness looks at the city, the city of Philadelphia, and he says, "You are known, your city is renowned for being a gateway to the east".

And so, he takes this and he says to them, the glorified Jesus said to his church in Philadelphia, in effect: Your city, known for being a springboard from which you export Greek culture, Greek philosophy, and the Greek language, your city is the gateway for preaching the gospel according to the Greeks or the Greek culture and the Greek philosophy. Your city is known for being a missionary-sending city of Greek thought to the rest of the world. Now I have a far greater vision for you. I have a far greater message for you to propagate to the rest of the world. I have greater gospel than the Greek philosophy that you need to take to the ends of the world. Now I have a much more serious message for you to take and spread around the world.

Now I have a far more tangible mission for you to undertake. Now I am placing in your heart, in your midst, and as your responsibility, a message of life and death, a message that you need to take to the rest of the world. Please don't miss this. Don't miss this. Christ opening doors of opportunity that he's placing before them, it is for sharing of the gospel. And my beloved friends, right now we have unique opportunities for sharing the gospel with our neighbors, with our friends, the great news, the best news. Who does not want to know that their sins are forgiven and they've been set free from guilt and sin? Who does not want to know that when they close their eyes in death, they can be assured of eternal life in heaven? That is the good news of the gospel, and that is the message we have. And if there is a foundational verse in this letter, it's in verse 8.

Underline it in your own Bible. "Behold, I have set before you an open door". Beloved, you know and I know that God always provides opportunities for us to share our faith. God always opens doors that no one can shut. God always provides us with people who have open hearts and open eyes to hear the good news of the gospel, but the question is, listen to me, the question is, do we have the spiritual eyes to see it? Do we have the spiritual sensitivity to recognize it? Do we have the courage to seize the opportunity? Are we willing to walk through these open doors that God has opened before us? Oh, to be sure, the believers in Philadelphia, they were facing many obstacles. They were facing many difficulties. They were facing opposition. They probably had their own weaknesses to contend with. They probably had lots of handicap. They probably have lots of excuses as to why they cannot take advantage of these open doors. Here's a fact: these doors of opportunities will not remain open forever. They will not remain open forever.

Every time I'm expressing an opinion, I let you know ahead of time that it's only an opinion. I will never put my own thoughts or my own ideas or my own opinion on par with "thus says the Lord". When I expound the Word of God, I'll tell you I'm expounding the Word of God, but when I'm expressing an opinion, I only tell you ahead of time so you know, and my beloved friends, in the west, we have a very narrow opportunity to share Christ, to proclaim the truth, to speak openly, to exercise our freedom. These opportunities are disappearing by the minute. We are losing our freedom to proclaim Christ so fast that now it could be just months, not years, before we lose it altogether. It might not be long before, when sharing Christ with your coworker or on your campus will be outlawed altogether, when your witness will cause you to be arrested. I don't believe that we are too far from this unless God intervenes.

Why do you think we're praying for God to intervene? Please, please, please do not think that I'm exaggerating; I really am not. I, for one, already made my calculations. I'm prepared for whatever comes, but why wait? Now is the time. This is the time. This is the time when we need to boldly and lovingly and thoughtfully proclaim Christ. This could not be pleasing to the Lord. The time is now. The opportunity is now. The open door is here. Soon your witness will be outlawed. Soon your freedom will be curtailed. Soon the door will be closed. The door of opportunity will be shut.

Question: Why are these doors that are open now for possibly the last time? Because Jesus is the only one who has the master key. That's why he has the keys of David. He has the master key. He is the one who opened the door for these opportunities, and what does that mean? That when we soon lose our freedom, when we soon lose our religious liberty, when we soon lose the chance to proclaim the gospel, it will be because Jesus shut that door, not the politicians on the right or the left, and not the government, not even those who are God haters, not the militant groups. No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, they are mere instruments in God's hands.

Why would God shut those doors? I want to tell you why. Listen to me very carefully. What I'm giving you is from the Word of God. Because God has infinite patience with his unfaithful, slothful children, but that patience is limited. It will soon come to an end, as if God is saying, "You did not want to go to church? I will shut the churches with a virus. You don't want to witness? I will make it impossible and illegal to witness. You don't want to intercede and pray and walk through the doors that I have opened? I will shut those doors". In other words, God gives us more of what we want. You read it in the Scripture, in the first pages in the first plagues in Egypt with Moses who goes to Pharaoh, back and forth and back and forth, and in the beginning it says Pharaoh hardened his heart, and it kept saying Pharaoh hardened his heart, and then a little while later, it says God hardened Pharaoh's heart.

What is happening? God is saying, "Pharaoh, you hardened your heart; I'll give you more of what you want". Jesus is the one who has all authority. How much of the authority? "Therefore, go". That's what he said before he departed. He said, "All authority in heaven and on earth is mine; go". I remember clearly after September 11, the President of the United States said we need to take the fight to the enemies; why? Because he understood that to have victory, you cannot only be on the defensive. You cannot only be on the defensive, you have to go on the offensive. Beloved, it is the same in the spiritual warfare. It's the same in the spiritual with those heavenly beings. The Bible said our fight is not with flesh and blood, it's not with people, but it is with principalities and power.

So many Christians are sitting on their blessed assurances and saying, "I'm under attack of Satan. I'm under attack of Satan". Let me tell you something. If you're not under attack of Satan, you're not doing anything worthwhile. While in reality, we don't just sit there and say Satan is attacking us. We need to storm Satan's stronghold. We need to invade Satan's territory. We need to go on the offensive and do it in the name of him who said, "All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me. And therefore, I can invade Satan's territory, I can rescue the perishing". We can heal the wounded. We can bind the broken hearts, and yes, we can set the captives free in Jesus's name, in Jesus's name, in Jesus's name.

We don't have much time left. The enemies of the cross are constantly plotting. The enemies of the cross are constantly planning. The enemies of the cross are constantly strategizing. The enemies of the cross are deceiving so many unfaithful, weak Christians, and we have precious little time left to sit back and do nothing. Instead, instead, we're fighting with each other over some silly things, silly things. Families are divided, churches are divided. And Satan is loving it. He's loving it. He's laughing in his sleeves. The door will be shut. The opportunity will disappear. The favor we have now will be no more. But I need to hasten and say to the faithful, obedient, conquering believer who will walk through these open doors, the resurrected Jesus, the glorified Jesus, the mighty Jesus gives a threefold promise, threefold promise.

I want you to look with me in the Scripture. The church in Philadelphia had three major obstacles. Don't miss that. Don't miss that. You see, those things are not wasted on Jesus. He names the three major obstacles, and then he immediately gives them a threefold promise. First of all, they had little strength of their own. They were timid. They were reluctant. They were fearful. And secondly, the religious fanatics, the religious zealots were persecuting them and they're turning to the enemies, to the authorities. And thirdly, they have a huge threat hanging over their head: this huge tribulation is coming. Persecution is coming, and that is why our resurrected, glorified Jesus gave them threefold promises to match every one of those three challenges.

Only if they walk through the open doors, only if they shake off the reluctance and go forward in obedience, only then, only then he will bless these faithful believers. Before I get to the threefold promise, I want to point something to you. Those of you who have it in your Bible, you can underline it. Every one of those threefold promises, "I will, I will, I will". You notice that? Say those with me. "I will vindicate you. I will protect you. I will keep you in the hollows of my hand. I will ensure very heaven itself for you". Look at verse 10 with me. "Because you have kept my word, I will keep you". "Because you have kept my word, I will keep you".

You have Jesus's own word on it. "Because you proclaimed my word, I will put a hedge of protection around you from enemy's attack". And secondly, he said, "I will make these faithful, obedient believers, who conquer in my name, to be pillars in God's temple". Why did he say that? Philadelphia was filled with temples, filled with temples, and they know what these temples will look like. They all have pillars inside of those temples, because these pillars spell out stability. These pillars spell out permanence. These pillars spell out immovability. These pillars spell out honor that can only come from God. See, pagan temples, when they build these pillars, they carve them in such a way as to honor a particular deity, a particular deity, one of the gods, and Jesus is saying to the faithful, obedient, conquering believers that they will have an eternal honor, not just a temporary one, but that's not all.

Thirdly, to the faithful, conquering, obedient believers, will not only live in safety, security, inner peace and contentment, not only here but also all the way in heaven, but ultimately Christ will give that person a new name. He's gonna give that faithful person a new identity. Why is he saying this? Because you see, the city of Philadelphia changed names about two or three times. Every time there's a new emperor in Rome and they wanna ingratiate themselves to the new emperor, they change the name of their city to honor the emperor, and here Christ is saying that he will shower them with a new name which is filled with his favor and great honor.

I wanna conclude by telling you a true story. Many years ago, I read... it took place in the early 20th century. There was a dear lady named Lynn who dreamed of taking a train ride to see the countryside. She'd never been on a train. Remember, those were the days when trains were not as prevalent as they are now. And one day, she had the chance to fulfill her dream, and so she went on the train, and when she got to her seat, she got busy arranging and rearranging her luggage. And then she took some time to try to adjust the shades just to get them right. Then she got into an argument with the conductor. And by the time she sat down to enjoy the ride, her station was called. Her station was called and she had to get off.

Let me appeal to you, do not get too bogged down and preoccupied with superficialities of life. The time is short. Don't get too preoccupied with the fleeting and the temporary. Trust God. He will do far more greater than you can imagine if you put your trust in him. Give him room to work. Don't get too preoccupied with silly things that divide us and make Satan rejoice. Soon, the train of life reaches its destination, and regret washes over you regarding wasted opportunity. Don't let that happen, I plead with you. Come to the Lord now. Seize the opportunity now. Go through the open doors now. Experience his victory now, now. The Bible often says now is the hour, now is the time. Don't put it off.
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