Smyrna and Philadelphia had only commendations from Jesus.
Both, though severely persecuted, persevered, and God blessed.
To little Philadelphia He said:
“I have placed before you an open door which no man can shut.”
When Maryam Rostampour and Marziyeh Amiridadeh were put in prison in Iran for their Christian faith, God gave them strength to endure their suffering and opened a door with the other prisoners that no man could shut. Iran had been trying to silence them, but instead, God broadened their influence. As Tim Keller says, “God only gives Satan enough rope to hang himself.”
The phrase “Opened a Door,” as Dr. Campbell explains, refers to the liberty to bear witness for Christ.
Christians who suffer well have an impact, I believe, even when their suffering is not a result of persecution.
My own husband, as a freshman medical student, nearly died of infection around the lining of his heart. We were not believers at the time. (I was more concerned about getting home for Christmas until they told me my husband probably would not live.) Steve was put in intensive care with two other men who were close to death. On one side of Steve was an unbeliever who was loudly cursing God. On the other side was a young man, who was radiant with his love for Christ and praising God. Though that young man’s body perished, God kept his spirit strong, and Steve never forgot him. Ten months later, when my sister visited to tell us about her new relationship with Jesus, Steve hung on her every word. Shortly after, we both put our trust in Christ. God had opened a door no man could shut.
When we suffer well, trusting God, in trials or persecution, God may open a door. But it is vital we respond as God tells us to respond. When persecuted, especially, it is easy to become angry and even hateful, which works right into our real enemy’s hands. We are often considered bigots even by those who claim to be Christians because we hold to God’s view of marriage. And I know this is all soft persecution compared to what is happening in so many countries where martyrdom has increased dramatically.
How we need to take Jesus’ words to heart:
On Tuesday, please prepare your hearts with this:
And this is the last of the 4 minute messages from the Vancouver church — please listen:
Nearly every week the way we interpret Revelation comes back to which view of Revelation we take, and often the view Dr. Campbell is taking is quite different than the futuristic view which believes Revelation is about the very end times and takes pictures and numbers literally more than symbolically.
I have appreciated those, like Sharon, who see merit in the futuristic view, but still, are open to study other views. I don’t want you to miss what she shared as her evidence for the futurist view, for it does show how challenging these passages are and why there are godly believers who hold different views.
I responded to Sharon last week, but I wanted to be sure you saw her thoughtful views, so am posting them here.
These are scriptures I was taught in regards to the teaching of the rapture.
John 14:1-3. “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me.” There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. And you know the way to where I am going.”
This passage doesn’t describe Christ coming to earth with His saints to establish His kingdom (Rev. 19:11-15) but taking believers from earth to live in heaven. There is no judgement of the unsaved described here. He’s coming to gather His own who are alive and raising bodies of those who have died as described in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 1 Corinthians 15:51-54. According to 1Thessalonians 4:16 The Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. This is not a trumpet of judgement but rather like a trumpet in Exodus 19:16-19 which called the people out of the camp to meet God. In verse 17, Those that are alive will be “caught up” together with the raised bodies in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and will always be with the Lord. The word “caught up” (harpzo) means to seize, carry off by force.to snatch out or away. It’s the same word used in Acts 8:39 when Philip was snatched away by the Spirit of the Lord. Also in 2 Corinthians 12:2 when Paul was caught up to the 3rd heaven. In 1 Corinthians 15:51 & 52 it says “we shall not all sleep but we’ll be changed in a moment, in a twinkling of an eye (indicating how quickly it will happen) at the last trumpet.” This refers to the Thessalonians passage as it continues on to say, “for the trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised incorruptible and we shall be changed. I’ll leave verses 53 & 54 for you to read.
Please know that this is a non-essential issue in regards to our salvation.
We will be looking at the “snatching away” when we get to Revelation 11, and perhaps before, and I’ll share the idealist view. A friend of mine asked me this week: “Have you come out of the closet as an amillenial?” I told her I had but I reserve my right to change my opinion in the air.” (Not original with me!)
Sunday: Getting Started
- What stands out to you from the above and why?
- Read aloud to yourself Revelation 3:7-13 and share anything that jumps out at you and why.
Monday: Responding Well to Persecution
3. Read Revelation 3:7-13 and answer:
A. To whom is the letter addressed?
B. How is Jesus described and how might this be especially relevant to Philadelphia?
C. For what are they commended?
D. There is no rebuke. What is the only other church that receives no rebuke? What else did they have in common?
E. List the promises they are given.
4. How have you responded to persecution — soft or hard? Be as honest as possible!
5. How should we respond to persecution according to the following:
A. Matthew 5:10-12.
B. 1 Peter 3:13-17.
6. Pray in confession, repentance, or petition as His Spirit leads you.
Tuesday: O Come Thou Key of David Come
So many great hymns come from Isaiah 9 — prepare your heart with Handel’s from the introduction.
We also love the haunting lyrics of O Come O Come Emmanuel! This stanza is so relevant to our passage today. Sing it if you can to prepare your heart.
O come, Thou Key of David, come
And open wide our heavenly home
Make safe the way that leads on high
And close the path to misery
It is Jesus who opens the door that no man can shut. This refers not only to opening a door to hearts on earth but opening the door to heaven. In this passage Jesus is referred to as “the Key of David,” and in Isaiah 22, we are told that God gave Eliakim the key of David, so he is a foreshadowing of Jesus. The Bible is one great love story, as our own Laura has said. Every prophet, priest, slain lamb, suffering servant…foreshadows Jesus, the ultimate prophet, priest, slain lamb, suffering servant… I think your heart will be moved to see the parallels in Isaiah between the earthly Eliakim and our Lord Jesus.
7. Again, how is Jesus described in Revelation 3:7 and how is this relevant to the church at Philadelphia?
8. In Isaiah 22, the prophet says God is deposing Shebna and replacing him with Eliakim. What is God going to do for Eliakim according to Isaiah 22:20-23?
9. How can you see that Eliakim is a dim foreshadowing of how Christ is described in Isaiah 9:6-7? How is Christ greater?
Wednesday: Synagogue of Satan versus Temple of God
10. Read Revelation 3:8-9
A. What does verse 8 tell us that Jesus knows about this church? Based on this verse, what do you think this means and why?
B. G. K. Beales and David Campbell write: The Christian community at Philadelphia was small. In its own eyes, as well as the eyes of others, it may have seemed insignificant….Does our Christian culture place too much significance on size? What do you think?
C. How are those who claim to be Jews described in verse 9, and what will God make them do one day?
11. Read Dr. Campbell’s third paragraph under Philadelphia. What do you learn?
12. Just as there were nominal Jews (in name only) there are nominal Christians. And just as nominal Jews persecuted true Jews, nominal Christians persecute true Christians. What should be our response?
13. In Romans 9, 10, and 11 Paul has a lengthy discussion about the Jews, answering the question, “Has God forgotten them?” Though this is too much to go into, there seems to be a hope of restoration in Romans 11:11-12. Find it.
Thursday: I Will Keep You From The Hour of Trial
This is a hard passage that I pray will not divide us. Futurists would interpret this as the rapture, and Idealists would interpret this as being kept spiritually safe during tribulation, which they would see as the whole period between Christ’s ascension and return. We need to give grace here, for these are hard passages. I have come to agree with the Idealist view, but as one theologian said, “I reserve my right to change my mind in the air.”
14. Read the two paragraphs beginning with “Because of their faithfulness in tribulation” from Dr. Campbell and answer:
A. Why does he think this does not refer to a secret coming when Christ takes believers out of this world?
B. Whom does Scripture usually refer to by “those who dwell on the earth?”
15. How does it impact you to realize you will be kept spiritually in the hour of trial but not necessarily physically?
16. What are your beliefs about a secret coming of Christ for believers (the rapture) and why?
Friday: Hope and Encouragement for Those Who Persevere
17. Read Revelation 3:11-12. What are we told to do and what are we promised?
18. Read Dr. Campbell’s last paragraph and answer:
A. What comfort do you find?
B. What warning?
19. What is your take-a-way this week and why?
God will open doors no man can shut. Though I have not contributed through the week I have been very interested in the church of Philadelphia. It was small, yet faithful and patiently endured. They have not denied Jesus’ name.
In our culture there is much opposition to God’s Word, yet still open doors. My desire is to share the word of truth whenever I have an opportunity. I had an experience to be confronted by a woman who was obviously very hostile. I took the opportunity to offer her a small New Testament and she said, “I’m sorry.” Later I felt dismayed that I had not asked some questions to open the door, yet I instantly felt rejected. I confessed in my prayer that I am too timid when I think I may be rejected. The next time I was desiring to share I missed an opportunity because of my fear of being rejected. I am battling the idol of approval and feel discouraged that I do not do what I desire to do because of it.
I pray for wisdom and for boldness and for the scripture from I Peter to always be ready with an answer to anyone who asks of the hope I have and to speak with gentleness and respect.
There are so many questions this week that make me ponder and to look carefully at the scripture. One of them is the question of the Rapture. I have always believed in this theory and see scripture that indicates it, yet I respect others’ opinions and one day we will all know! The other question is that one about the Jews. No God has not forgotten them! I believe there is a hope for many to become true believers. Yes, there are so many nominal Christians. My response is that I believe every word of the Bible, though it is higher than my understanding many times. I will continue to try to be open to the Spirit to teach me.
Shirley, I enjoy when you can share because you bring an added richness. I understand your fear of being rejected for that is mine too. That is an area that we so desperately need to pray for one another…may we have boldness to proclaim the gospel! Thanks for your honesty.
Shirley — I too love your honesty. I too have an idol of approval. I think it is good you gave her a New Testament. You are so gentle.
I think what spurs me on to share is the changed lives I’ve seen — that is so exciting and makes me hungry to see more.