The idea of three paths or doors to choose, is not a new concept. From poetry to game shows, there are stories, questions and analogies that stem from this concept. When Jesus gave the vision to John that led to the writing of Revelation, He used the churches in three different cities to depict these three distinct choices; Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.
The first church is Sardis. Here is a group of people that heard and took hold of the message of Christ, but really don’t have any evidence of real belief. To the outside world they may appear as Christians, but God knows the truth. “You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead.” (Rev 3:1b) To this group, God issues a warning, “Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you.” (v 3) This is representative of many churches in America today. They say they have heard the word, they claim to know Jesus… but their works show otherwise. Jesus is telling them through John that they can still wake up and repent before it is too late. However even in these churches there are some “people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy.” (v 4)
The third church mentioned represents perhaps the largest group in America today. This is the church that tried to drive down the middle. Out of fear of rocking the boat, they refuse to hold too strong a stance on any issue to remain open for all. “So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” (v 16). If you stand for nothing, you will fall for anything. This group will bend with the worldly culture in an effort to remain relevant. But they will bend so much that they no longer stand for the ultimate truth for which Christ calls us too. Even to this group, Christ is giving a chance. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” (v 20)
The second church mentioned however (Philadelphia) has a different response from God. This church has remained faithful no matter what. “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.” (v 8) This is the church that takes the ‘road less traveled’. This is the group has remained so faithful throughout the tough times on earth that God gives them an extra promise. “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.” (v 10) They will be spared the tribulation to come.
So what does it take to be considered with the church of Philadelphia? Keep His word, given to us through Paul who said, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Rom 12:2) As our world gets bent more and more to the will of the enemy, you must not conform. Instead be transformed by the Word of Christ.
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