Revelation Series #17
Fred R. Coulter—November 4, 1995

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This sermon is a combination of a couple of questions. I would say that down through the years, fully 50% of all the sermons or studies that I bring are a result of a question, or someone bringing it up. What was brought up was a place of safety. {Note sermon #16 of this series: A Place of Safety and the Two Witnesses}

What has happened is that we find ourselves in the unusual position where there are at least six churches that I know of that have proclaimed themselves to be the Philadelphia church, and almost every one of those who proclaim to be the Philadelphia church exhibit great behavior contrary to loving the brethren. Philadelphia means, lover of the brethren.

They state that because it says to the Church of Philadelphia that, 'You will be spared from the hour of trial which comes upon the whole world'—therefore, you're going to go to a place of safety, and if you 'stay in this particular organization,' which calls itself the Philadelphia Church of God, you're going to go to a place of safety. Even one man proclaimed that its leader was going to lead the Church into a place of safety, but he had a slight problem, years later the leader died.

So, every one of these interpretations has been wrong. It has been used improperly to leverage against the brethren, to put fear in them that if they leave a particular organization they are not going to go to a place of safety. And everyone who is not a Philadelphian is a dirty rotten Laodicean, fit for the fire. Is that true?

  • What is a Philadelphian?
  • Who is a Philadelphian?
  • How can you distinguish a Philadelphian?

I'm going to read all the way through the seven verses which apply to the Church of Philadelphia, and then we'll go back and we'll look at a couple of other things.

Revelation 3:7: "And to the angel of the Church in Philadelphia, write: "These things says the Holy One, the One Who is true; the One Who has the key of David, Who opens and no one shuts, and Who shuts and no one opens. I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, and no one has the power to shut it because you have a little strength, and have kept My Word, and have not denied My name. Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who proclaim themselves to be Jews and are not, but do lie—behold, I will cause them to come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you. Because you have kept the Word of My patience, I also will keep you from the time of temptation, which is about to come upon the whole world to try those who dwell on the earth. Behold, I am coming quickly; hold fast that which you have so that no one may take away your crown. The one who overcomes will I make a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall not go out anymore; and I will write upon him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which will come down out of heaven from My God; and I will write upon him My new name. The one who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches" (vs 7-13). This is a message to all the churches.

Let's go back and let's take the last phrase of v 8: "...and have not denied My name." This is not said of any others. We will see there is a similarity at the beginning of Pergamos. I'm going to sort of summarize this and assume, that you know these two chapters. If you lose your first love, as do the Ephesians, are you denying the name of God somewhat? Yes! The Church at Smyrna did not have a chance to do anything but to just give themselves in living martyrdom. They obviously did not have much time to study. They just stood for the Truth, and knew that Christ was Christ. They're commended because they were faithful unto death.

You come to Pergamos, and you find something here that's interesting. Revelation 2:13: "I know your works and where you dwell, where the throne of Satan is; but you are holding fast My name, and did not deny My faith, even in the days in which Antipas was My faithful witness, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells."

They held on as long as Antipas was there. Afterward they denied His name and denied His faith by doing two very profound and sinful things:

  • allowing the eating of things sacrificed to idols
  • having the doctrine of Balaam and the Nicolaitans

Those things deny the name of Christ. We know the Nicolaitans are those who set up the hierarchical structure of government against the will of God.

Then we come to the Church of Thyatira, and they have a problem with Jezebel. And they teach things to seduce the brethren to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit fornication. In this church they deny the name of God so much that He even says:

Verse 22: "Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their works. And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am He Who searches the reins and hearts; and I will give to each of you according to your works. But to you I say, and to the rest who are in Thyatira, as many as do not have this doctrine, and who have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak…" (vs. 22-24). If you go into the depths of Satan, you are surely denying the name of Christ—are you not? Yes! You'd have to agree with that.

Then when you come to the Church at Sardis, you have a church that barely has a name. It lives, but it's dead. And He says, 'You just strengthen the few things that remain and I will confess your name to My Father.' Then you come to the Church of the Laodiceans. You find that they are 'lukewarm, poor, blind, miserable and naked, even though they think they are rich and increased with goods.' Everyone wants to, when they examine this, proclaim themselves to be Philadelphians.

How do you know who a Philadelphian really is? Well, let's find out. Let's go back and study this section and add some other Scriptures to it so we know exactly who a Philadelphian is. I think you will be kind of surprised when we come to the end of it.

Revelation 3:7: "And to the angel of the Church in Philadelphia..."

  • 'philos' is a friend
  • 'phileo'—the verb—is to love as a friend

this is friendly love of

  • 'adelphos'—which is, brother,


  • 'adelphi'—which is brethren, the Church of brotherly love

"...write: 'These things says the Holy One, the One Who is true...'" (v 7).

Let's emphasize a couple of things that are very important. This means, the One Who is Holy or the Holy One. He is the One Who is Holy. Let's see something very important concerning our behavior, and what we are also to become, because He is Holy. This also reflects upon the attitude and the practices of those who are Philadelphians.

1-Peter 1:13: "For this reason, be prepared in your minds, be self-controlled, and be fully hoping in the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not conform yourselves to the former lusts, asyou did in your ignorance. But according as He Who has called you is Holy, you yourselves also be Holy in all your conduct" (vs 13-15). If the Philadelphians are looking to Christ, Who is Holy, then you're going to find that their behavior is also going to be based on the Holiness of God.

Verse 16: "For it is written, 'You be Holy because I am Holy.'" What makes us Holy? Holy means sanctified. What makes us Holy is the Holy Spirit of God. Also, we have a Holy or a heavenly calling—don't we?

We're going to see that one of the things that a Philadelphian will be doing is always looking to Christ. That's of the key paramount importance, as we're going to see.

Hebrews 3:1: "Because of this, Holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling..." We're also partakers of the heavenly gift—are we not?

Hebrews 6:4: "For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and who personally obtained the heavenly gift, and became partakers of the Holy Spirit, and who have tasted the good Word of God, and the powers of the world to come" (vs 4-5).

Hebrews 3:1: "…partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of the faith we profess—Jesus Christ." They will always be looking to that.

What is a Philadelphian going to be doing? Looking to Christ! What are they going to be adding on to or building upon? We're going to see it is Christ, and we're going to see how this ties in together with some of the aspects there in Rev. 3, in relationship to the Philadelphians.

1-Corinthians 3:11: "For no one is able to lay any other foundation besides that which has been laid, which is Jesus Christ." The Philadelphian

  • is always going to be looking to Christ
  • is going to be building on Christ
  • will have Christ in them

Verse 12: "Now, if anyone builds upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones…" What is the final temple of God going to be built out of? Spirit!Gold and silver and precious stone! {read Rev. 21 & 22}.

There are those who are building with wood, hay, and stubble, and that looks very nice on the outside but it's not very good when it comes fire time.

Verse 13[transcriber's correction]: "The work of each one shall be manifested; for the day of trial will declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire..." We're seeing that's exactly what is happening right now. And the Apostle Peter said, 'Think it not strange concerning the fiery trial that is coming upon you, as any strange thing.' They're going to happen. We're going to go through it. We've all kind of gone through our own trial by fire, but we can all be trusting in the Word of God. That's not the first, and that's not the last.

"...and the fire shall prove what kind of work each one's is. If the work that anyone has built endures, he shall receive a reward. If the work of anyone is burned up, he shall suffer loss..." (vs 13-15). We have the warning to the Philadelphians, 'Be careful that no one take your crown.'

"...but he himself shall be saved, yet, as through fire. Don't you understand that you are God's temple, and that the Spirit of God is dwelling in you?" (vs 13-16). The temple of God is emphasized there in the section concerning the Philadelphian.

Let's go to Romans 12, and we'll see something else which is going to be one of the identifying signs of a Philadelphian. And we're going to find in the final analysis a Philadelphian is undoubtedly not going to go around saying, 'Behold, I'm a Philadelphian.' You can almost be guaranteed anyone who says that is not, almost a sure guarantee.

Romans 12:1: "I exhort you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, Holy and well pleasing to God, which is your spiritual service. Do not conform yourselves to this world..." (vs 1-2). That's one thing that the Philadelphians are not, they are not conformed to this world. And yet, we know that one of the problems within the Church has been trying to seek conformity to the world in the way of accreditation and other things.

"...but be transformed by the renewing of your mind… [we'll see how that is going to be renewed] …in order that you may prove what is well pleasing and good, and the perfect will of God" (vs 2).

  • we have the Holiness
  • we have the Word
  • we have the Truth
  • we have endurance

Christ emphasizes that He is Holy, and He wants us also to be Holy.

Ephesians 1:4: "According as He has personally chosen us for Himself before the foundation of the world in order that we might be Holy and blameless before Him in love." That's exactly what the Philadelphians are—are they not? Is there one thing to blame that they are accosted for, or corrected for? No, not one thing! There are only two churches of the seven that are given in Rev. 2 & 3 that are not corrected for something:

  • Smyrna, which is martyred
  • Philadelphia, which is spared

Very interesting combination—isn't it? "...that we might be Holy and blameless before Him in love." And we are going to see that love is going to play a very important part in understanding who a Philadelphian is.

Now let's look at the situation concerning where Jesus said He was the true One. Let's keep in mind something that's very important: As we learned in the series in the Epistles of John, no lie can come from the Truth. We also know that it's impossible for God to lie. When Jesus speaks it is always the truth, whether it be one word or whether it be many words.

John 14:6: "Jesus said to him, 'I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life..." No Truth concerning salvation can come from any other but Jesus Christ. That should tell you some of the problems that have cropped up. Many of those who still say that they are Philadelphians are not when you begin examining that.

Then He also says: " one comes to the Father except through Me" (v 6). The Father is the One Who has to do it.

John 17:17: "Sanctify them... [make them Holy; so, this refers back to Holy] …in Your Truth..." Wherever you find Holy or Holiness, you're going to have Truth, you're going to have truthfulness.

"...Your Word is the Truth. Even as You did send Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself..." (vs 17-19). That is, take back His Holiness that He had given up.

" that they also may be sanctified in Your Truth. I do not pray for these only, but also for those who shall believe in Me through their word" (vs 19-20). So, a Philadelphian is also going to be:

  • teaching Christ, Who is true
  • preachingthe Word, which is true
  • always looking to Christ

Verse 21: "That they all may be one, even as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, in order that the world may believe that You did send Me." Being the bride of Christ we're going to be one with Christ—are we not? Certainly we are!

Let's see how this is emphasized and made even clearer, and how this applies to those who are Philadelphians indeed. This is all a part of patiently keeping the Word of God.
Here is something we should all know, 1-John 3:18: "My little children, we should not love in word, nor with our tongues; rather, we should lovein deed and in Truth." There again, that comes right back to what a Philadelphian would be doing. If you're loving one another, is that not love of the brethren? Yes it is!

Verse 19: "And in this waywe know... [by having this kind of love] ...that we are of the Truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him." That's something that we need to understand. We assure our hearts because it talks about the Philadelphian has a little bit of strength, not going to make it on his own; knows that; understands that.

Verse 20: "That if our hearts condemn us..."—which happens when we sin, or we have sin that we need to get rid of, our heart condemns us—it does, and we feel miserable and rotten and down.

But always remember this: "...God is greater than our hearts, and knows all things. Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, then we have confidence toward God" (vs 20-21).

This is where we need to come. When we unburden our sins, when we turn them over to God, then we have confidence because it's been blotted out and covered with the blood of Christ through the grace of God. Then we have confidence toward God. What happens when that really occurs? This will occur many times in our lives! We have more confidence in Christ. That's what we need to have, more confidence and faith in Christ.

When we have this confidence, v 22: "And whatever we may ask we receive from Him because we keep His commandments and practice those things that are pleasing in His sight." A Philadelphian will be doing those things that are pleasing in His sight. Obviously they are, because He does not correct them for anything. There's a difference between just keeping commandments and doing the things that are pleasing to God. There's even a way to keep the commandments of God, which you can keep in the letter but are not pleasing to God. To do those things that are pleasing to God goes above and beyond just commandment-keeping! It goes with the whole attitude!

Verse 23: "And this is His commandment: that we believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and thatwe love one another, exactly as He gave commandment to us." There it is right there. If you're going to be a Philadelphian you're going to love one another, as He commanded. That's a pretty powerful commandment.

Verse 24: "And the one who keeps His commandments is dwelling in Him, and He in him; and by this we know… [a Philadelphian will know, but. they're not going to run around and brag about it] ...that He is dwelling in us by the Spirit which He has given to us."

  • Jesus Christ is the Holy One
  • He is the true One
  • He is the One Who is going to lead us

Now let's go back to Revelation 3:7 and look at this, again: "…These things says the Holy One, the One Who is true; the One Who has the key of David..." What is the Key of David? {note two sermons on the Key of David.} The key of Davidis not what He gave to the Church when He spoke to Peter and said, 'Unto you I give the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven.' That is giving the understanding of the plan of God. Also, He is transferring the lawgiving, because there would be a lawgiver until Shiloh came. When Christ came He was Shiloh. We look to the Church and Christ and His Word for the lawgiving—do we not? Yes!

Did not Jesus bring the Law spiritually in Matt.5, 6, & 7? Yes! We do not look to a Jewish leader as a lawgiver; that was fulfilled in Christ. So it's not that. The key of David is really the attitude—the heart and mind—that David had in being tender-hearted toward God and being willing and instant to repent (Psa. 51).

Now let's come to the section concerning open, "...Who opens and no one shuts, and Who shuts and no one opens" (v 7). Let's look at something concerning this just a little bit differently than we've looked at before.

We may also cover some of the Scriptures that show that opening may be opening a door to preach the Gospel, but that may or may not be the application here, as we understand it. Here's something that really is profound when you understand this.

Psalm 118:19: "Open to me the gates of righteousness...." Not just an opportunity to preach, necessarily. And we will see what else that He is opening.

"...I will go through them, and I will praise the LORD. This is the gate of the LORD; the righteous shall enter through it. I will praise You, for You have answered me and have become my salvation" (vs 19-21).

Notice how this blends right in with Christ, v 22: "The Stone which the builders rejected has become the Head Stone of the corner." It blends, again, right into Christ. If He's going to open the gates of righteousness, Christ is the One Who is doing this.

Verse 23: "This is the LORD'S doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day, which the LORD has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it" (vs 23-24). So, let's have the gates of righteousness open to us.
Here's part of the key of David, and here's how we seek this, Psalm 119:10: "With all my heart I have sought You..." Will not a Philadelphian be wholehearted toward God in seeking? Yes!

"...O let me not wander from Your commandments" (v 10). What did Jesus say? You have kept the Word of My patience!

Verse 11: "Your Word I have laid up in my heart..." Yes, written in the heart and in the mind. Sanctified with the Word of God.

" that I might not sin against You. Blessed are You, O LORD; teach me Your statutes. With my lips I have declared all the judgments of Your mouth. I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies as much as in all riches. I will meditate upon Your precepts and have respect to Your ways. I will delight myself in Your statutes; I will not forget Your Word" (vs 11-16).

Notice how all of this follows along with what it's told of a Philadelphian, v 17: "Deal bountifully with Your servant, that I may live, and keep Your Word…. [to practice it] …Open my eyes so that I may behold wondrous things out of Your Law" (vs 17-18)—or out of Your Word.

God is the One Who has to do the opening, the opening that is given by the key of David, which Christ holds. He did not give those to Peter. He said, 'I have the key of David.' He said to Peter and the disciples, 'Behold, I give you the keys of the kingdom.' Different altogether. So, He's opening something; opening our eyes to see, "…that I may behold wondrous things out of Your Law." That's really something—isn't it?

Let's see more about this opening and what it may do, and what it should be doing, Isaiah 26:1: "In that day this song shall be sung in the land of Judah: 'We have a strong city...'" What is going to be one of the names given to those of Philadelphia? The name of the city of My God, which is New Jerusalem!

"'...He sets up salvation as our walls and banks. Open the gates, so that the righteous nation shall enter in, one that is faithfully keeping Truth….'" (vs 1-2). My! Does that not fit the Philadelphians right to a tee? Absolutely!

Verse 3: "You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You; because he trusts in You. Trust in the LORD forever; for God the LORD is the everlasting Rock" (vs 3-4). He opens the gates for us.

Psalm 40, I think, this is a very good Psalm, which helps us understand about the opening of the mind and the heart. I think we can safely conclude that one thing that Christ will do is open your heart and your mind to understand His Word and His love. Those who are true Philadelphians will receive that blessing. Other people may not see it, or know it, or understand it. Those who receive it are not going to be bragging, because they know that they have nothing that they haven't received! This is a wonderful Psalm! This is really tremendous! It talks about David and his problems, and blends in and out between Christ and David, and the feelings of Christ and David, and so forth.

Psalm 40:1: "I waited patiently for the LORD, and He inclined unto me and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a Rock, and established my steps. And He has put a new song in my mouth, even praise to our God; many shall see and fear, and shall trust in the LORD. Blessed is the man who makes the LORD his trust and does not respect the proud, nor those who turn aside to lies" (vs 1-4).

That's why the Truth and Holiness is emphasized. What has happened to some of the Churches of God? They have listened to lies and incorporated them! Some of the very ones that profess they're Philadelphians.

Verse 5: "O LORD my God, many things You have done, Your wonderful works and Your thoughts which are toward us; there is none to compare unto You; if I could declare and speak of them, they would be more than can be told. Sacrifice and offering You did not desire; My ears You have opened..." (vs 5-6). So part of it is:

  • opening the gates of righteousness
  • opening your eyes
  • opening your ears

All of that is part of the opening. And do not all of those things have to do with conversion, and growing in grace and knowledge, and staying close to God? Absolutely! Yes they do!

"...burnt offering and sin offering You have not required. Then I said, 'Lo, I come; in the scroll of the book it is written of Me; I delight to do Your will…'" (vs 6-8). Will not a Philadelphian delight to do the will of God? Sure he would!

"'...O My God; and Your Law is within My heart.'…. [Written there! You live by it!] …I have preached righteousness in the great congregation... [this is of Christ] ...lo, I have not kept back my lips, O LORD, You know. I have not hidden Your righteousness within my heart; I have declared Your faithfulness and Your salvation; I have not hidden Your loving kindness and Your Truth from the great congregation. Do not withhold Your tender mercies from me, O LORD; let Your loving kindness and Your Truth always preserve me" (vs 8-11). Now, does God give tender mercies to the Philadelphian? Yes, He does!

"...let Your loving kindness and Your Truth always preserve me... [that has got to be one of the aspects of being a Philadelphian] …for evils without number have encircled me; my iniquities have taken hold on me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of my head, and my heart fails me. Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me; O LORD, make haste to help me" (vs 11-13).

When there is sin and difficulty they turn to God. What happens when you turn to God when you have sin and difficulty? They're wiped out! They are blotted out!You look to God for strength! Here's someone who has innumerable difficulties because he has a little strength. This also is talking about Christ, because He's carrying the sins of the whole world. Think of that, too!

Verse 16: "Let all those who seek You rejoice and be glad in You, and let the one who loves Your salvation always say 'Let the LORD be magnified.'…. [Rather than, 'How great I am, and look what I've done.'] … But I am poor and needy; may the LORD think upon me; You are my Help and my Deliverer; O my God, do not delay" (vs 16-17). That's something! That's pretty profound!

Isaiah 50:5: "The Lord GOD has opened My ear, and I was not rebellious, nor turned away backwards." This is speaking of Christ. But remember: the Philadelphia Church is the one that Christ loves! 'To know that I have loved you.'

Then it talks about what Christ did, v 6: "I gave My back to the smiters, and My cheeks to them that plucked off the hair; I did not hide My face from shame and spitting, for the Lord GOD will help Me; therefore, I have not been disgraced. On account of this I have set My face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed" (vs 5-7).

The only way that you can faithfully follow God's Word is—when you come to it—just set your mind and your face like flint. That doesn't mean to be hardheaded or hardhearted to people, but that means the mental, spiritual tenacity that nothing is going to move you. And that's what a Philadelphian will do.

Let's go to Luke 24 and let's see what else is open unto us so we can understand. God is the OneWho has to do this opening! I think this is far, far more important in opening; that He has the key of David that opens. Some of these Scriptures we have gone over time and time again. But then again, we need to grow in grace and knowledge and understanding with them.

Luke 24:44: "And He said to them, 'These are the words that I spoke to you when I was yet with you, that all the things which were written concerning Me in the Law of Moses and in the Prophets and in the Psalms must be fulfilled.' Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures (vs 44-45).

That, brethren, I believe is the opening that it's talking about there in Rev. 3 concerning the key of David that opens, and no man shuts. Can anyone shut the understanding in your mind? No! No! Cannot! They can close the door of preaching—can't they? Yes, they can! {note 1-Cor. 16:9-10, about a door for preaching.} It does say that, but we'll put that in the proper perspective.

Let's look at the shut door. Let's look at the closed door, because He says, 'I open and no man shuts, and shut and no man opens.'

Matthew 13:11: "And He answered and said to them, 'Because it has been given to you to know… [which has to be given] …the mysteries [secrets] of the Kingdom of Heaven, but to them it has not been given. For whoever has understanding, to him more shall be given, and he shall have an abundance… [Isn't that what happens with a Philadelphian? Yes!] ...but whoever does not have understanding, even what he has shall be taken away from him. For this reason I speak to them in parables, because seeing, they see not; and hearing, they hear not; neither do they understand'" (vs 11-13).

So, Christ closes the door on someone's understanding—have we been seeing that that may be happening to some? Have you been having trouble trying to open that door? Christ is the only one that can open it!

Verse 14: "And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah, which says, 'In hearing you shall hear, and in no way understand; and in seeing you shall see, and in no way perceive; For the heart of this people has grown fat, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed... [it's something they do] ...lest they should see with their eyes, and should hear with their ears, and should understand with their hearts, and should be converted, and I should heal them.' But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. For truly I say to you, many prophets and righteous men have desired to see what you see, and have not seen; and to hear what you hear, and have not heard" (vs 14-17).

Yes, we can add, 'we have all the Scriptures today'—do we not? Isn't that the most important thing we need to be about understanding? Seeking that God will open our understanding to it?

  • grant us that
  • grant us the faithfulness
  • grant us the Truth
  • grant us the righteousness
  • grant us the Holiness
  • grant us His Spirit to do it

That is the greatest thing we need to be seeking for, brethren.

(go to the next track)

There comes a time when the door is closed, and Christ is the One Who closes the door.

Luke 13:23 "And one said to Him, 'Lord, are those who are being saved few?' Then He said to them, 'Strive with your whole being to enter in through the narrow gate... [That's difficult! That's hard!] ...for many, I say to you, will seek to enter in, but shall not be able. Once the Master of the house has risen up and has shut the door... [there comes a time when God shuts the door] ...and you begin to stand outside the door and knock, saying, "Lord, Lord, open to us"; then shall He answer and say to you, "I do not know you or where you are from." And you shall begin to say, "We ate and drank in Your presence, and You have taught in our streets."…. [Or 'I've been in the Church of God for 40 years!'] …And He shall say, "I tell you, I do not know you or where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of unrighteousness"'" (vs 23-27).

Now let's understand something that is as true today as it was back then, Ezekiel 3:17: "Son of man, I have made you a watchman to the house of Israel. Therefore, hear the word from My mouth... [we're going to hear the Word of God; talks about Word and Truth.] ...and give them warning from Me. When I say to the wicked, 'You shall surely die,' and you do not give him warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked one shall die in his iniquity; but I will require his blood at your hand" (vs 17-18). That's all part of what we need to do, too, brethren.

Verse 19: "Yet, if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul. And when the righteous turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die. Because you have not given him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; but his blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the righteous so that the righteous does not sin, and if he does not sin, he shall surely live because he is warned; also you have delivered your soul" (vs 19-21).

There comes a time to witness, there comes a time to warn. There comes a time to say, 'You cannot mock God and get away with it'—while you are alive, pay attention and seek God! Maybe you even have to do that for some of the people you know. You have to judge that. There comes a time when it has to be.

Verse 21: "But if you warn the righteous so that the righteous does not sin, and if he does not sin, he shall surely live because he is warned; also you have delivered your soul." Before the door gets closed on some of these people they need to know, lest they come into Luke 13:27, that they are workers of iniquity. While there is life there's still hope! Let's hope they will listen.

Now let's look at something else. Maybe this will help answer part of the paradox that we see happening. Years ago Ed Davis said, which there may be a good measure of truth to it: 'What if we were all Laodiceans all along, and what we are going through is repentance?' You have to entertain that thought as possibly true. When you consider everything around us, the society we live in and our church background, it's a possibility. There's nothing wrong with a repenting Laodicean. Absolutely nothing! God says, 'I'm rebuking you because I love you.' So, let's not exclude that either.

Revelation 3:19: "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore, be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock…." (vs 19-20). If you're standing at a door and knocking, what has happened? The door is shut!They have shut Christ out! But the Philadelphian does not do that; they yield to God.

"...If anyone hears My voice and opens the door... [that has to be done by the individual who shut the door on Christ] ...I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me" (v 20). That's a pretty profound statement when you look at all of that.

Let's look at the door. Let's understand a couple of other things concerning the door. I think we'll find this very interesting as we're going along. Again, we're talking about the door in a little bit different way than we've covered already. We've talked about the gates of righteousness, but here we're talking about the door of salvation, that Christ is the One Who opens.

John 10:1: "Truly, truly I say to you, the one who does not enter the sheepfold through the door, but climbs up some other way, that one is a thief and a robber." Today we're able to see them a little more clearly. The spots of the leopard have turned out to be the stripes or spots of a hyena.

Verse 2: "But the one who enters through the door is the shepherd [Christ] of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens..." (vs 2-3). That's interesting. Let's stop here for just a minute and let's add just a couple of things concerning the door and the doorkeeper [porter (KJV)].

There was actually a porter for the door at the temple, 1-Chronicles 9:21 "Zechariah the son of Meshelemiah was gatekeeper [porter] of the door of the tabernacle of the congregation." How important is the door of the tabernacle of the congregation?

Deuteronomy 31:14: "And the LORD said to Moses, 'Behold, your days are coming near to die. Call Joshua and present yourselves in the tabernacle of the congregation that I may command him.' And Moses and Joshua went. And they presented themselves in the tabernacle of the congregation. And the LORD appeared in the tabernacle in a pillar of a cloud. And the pillar of the cloud stood over the door of the tabernacle" (vs 14-15).

In other words, this door of the tabernacle, when the porter opens, is giving you direct entrance into God the Father. That's what it's doing in a sense. We know that when the children of Israel were led out of Egypt there was a pillar of cloud and a pillar of fire, day and night. We know when the tabernacle was set up that the cloud entered into the tabernacle and filled the tabernacle with the presence of God. We know when the temple was dedicated the cloud came from God and filled the temple, showing that God was there. He entered into the temple. Now connect that with the Philadelphians, and being part of the spiritual temple of God forever.

So, here is a door of salvation, and a door that Jesus Christ alone functions through, John 10:3: "To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out." They're following Christ. That's what a Philadelphian will always do.

Verse 4: "When he brings the sheep out, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him because they know his voice…. [this is what has happened today]: …But they will never follow a stranger for they will flee from him..." (vs 4-5). What do you do when you flee? You separate yourself; you run away from!

"...because they do not know the voice of strangers…" (v 5). Or we can say today, 'We know not the sound of these printed things that we're hearing that are so awful and damnable.' We don't follow them.

Verse 7: "Therefore, Jesus again said to them, 'Truly, truly I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters through Me, he shall be saved…" (vs 7-9). Here is the door of salvation, the gates of righteousness!

"...and shall go in and out, and shall find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal and kill and destroy. I have come so that they may have life, and may have it more abundantly" (vs 9-10).

Is not the Philadelphian, through the love of God and love of the brethren, having an abundant life, though he's not filled with physical goods? Yes!
Just as Jesus said, 'What good does it do you out to gain the whole world'—every physical thing that's in the world—'and lose your own soul?' No good at all whatsoever!

Verse 11: "I am the good Shepherd. The good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. But the one who is a hireling, and who is not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep, and flees. And the wolf seizes the sheep and scatters them" (vs 11-12). What has happened because of hirelings within the Church? The sheep have been scattered! Christ will re-gather them. Trust in Him, He will do it!

Verse 13: "Now, the hireling flees because he is a hireling and has no concern for the sheep. I am the good Shepherd, and I know those who are Mine, and am known of those who are Mine. Just as the Father knows Me, I also know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep" (vs 13-15). Then He talks about bringing others into the fold, too. That's a pretty profound thing concerning the sheep!

Revelation 3:8, we have the door; it's opening and shutting, and so forth: "I know your works.... [there are going to be works] ...Behold, I have set before you an open door, and no one has the power to shut it…" and so forth. Know your works!

  • What is the greatest, greatest work that you can do?
  • What is the greatest work that Jesus said you can do?

People came and said, 'Lord, what can we do that we work the works of God?'

  • What is the greatest works?
  • To believe on Him Who has sent Him; to believe on Jesus Christ!
  • Why?
  • Because when you truly believe down to the very depths of your being, you act upon that belief!

That's why that is the greatest work. Then you can do other things after you do that. That's what's important.

John 5:17: But Jesus answered them, 'My Father is working until now, and I work.'" They couldn't understand that. He healed on the Sabbath. That was a good work.

I think it's amazing how many of these references we find in the book of John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, and the one who loved Jesus. Jesus had a work and He's going to finish it! He did finish that!

John 17:4: "I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work that You gave Me to do." Now we have a work also that we are to do.

1-Thessalonians 1:2: "We give thanks to God always concerning all of you, making mention of you in our prayers. Without fail, we remember your work of faith..." (vs 2-3). Notice how this fits in with the Philadelphian. He says, 'I know your works.' What are the works of a Philadelphian going to be? Your work of faith!

"…and your labor of love, and your endurance in the hope of our Lord Jesus Christ, before our God and Father" (v 3). All of those things are all tied in with how a Philadelphian should be conducting his or her life.

Let's see something else concerning that; and if there's any one Epistle of Paul that parallels the Philadelphian Church, it is the book of Philippians. Let's see why. This is something that's so very important for us to understand and to do here. This is one of my favorite Scriptures, also. I have quite a few that are favorites; this is one of them here; you'll hear me cross-reference this quite a few times. But you know, since love is the greatest, I don't think we can talk about it too much—can we? No! Especially living in the world that we're living in.

Philippians 2:1: "Now then, if there be any encouragement in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any deep inner affections and compassions, fulfill my joy, that you be of the same mind, having the same love, being joined together in soul, minding the one thing" (vs 1-2). This is what a Philadelphian will be striving for.

Verse 3: "Let nothing be done through contention or vainglory..." Wherever you've got all kinds of little compartmental judgments and Little Lord Fauntleroy's running around in their little offices and their vainglory, they are not Philadelphians—cannot be!

"...but in humility, each esteeming the others above himself. Let each one look not only after his own things, but let each one also consider the things of others…. [because you love the brethren] …Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus" (vs 3-5). So, we're striving for the mind of Christ, having these things written in our hearts and in our minds.

Verse 12—here's what a Philadelphian is always going to be doing: "So then, my beloved, even as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." Always, continually working out the salvation:

  • growing in grace
  • growing in knowledge
  • thinking on God
  • loving His way
  • loving the Truth
  • loving Christ
  • loving the Father

Verse 13: "For it is God Who works in you... [letting the inner workings of God in you] ...both to will... [to give you the desire] ...and to do according to His good pleasure."

If you've come to sort of a roadblock in your life, and there's something that is just holding you back, strive for this right here. Ask God to remove that. Ask God to give you the will, to give you the desire. He will do it!

Verse 14: "Do all things without complaints and disputes; so that you may be blameless and without offense, innocent children of God in the midst of a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding forth the Word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ…" (vs 14-16).

There's quite a bit in here—isn't there? It's amazing, if you just take the time to really look at things, and analyze them with the mind of Christ, with the Spirit of God and the words of God, to see what is here for us. The next thing we have:

Revelation 3:8: "...because you have a little strength, and have kept My Word…" That's pretty profound! We know that God is our strength. We know that He is the One Who gives it to us! 'Little strength' means little power.We get our power from God!

Ephesians 6:10: "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord..." You don't have to worry about having the power in doing it yourself. You be strong in the Lord. You say, 'God, help me! Inspire me! Lift me!' Christ can do that. He will!

"...and in the might of His strength. Put on the whole armor of God so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil" (vs 10-11). There are many out there. It also talks a little bit later about the synagogue of Satan, so we'll just mention that right here.

Verse 12: "Because we are not wrestling against flesh and blood, but against principalities and against powers, against the world rulers of the darkness of this age, against the spiritual power of wickednessin high places" (vs 10-12). I just suggest, watch the evening news. You'll understand that.

Let's understand that we also understand about our calling, 1-Corinthians 1:23: "But we proclaim Christ crucified.… [Isn't that something? A dead God! God died for you!] …To the Jews it is a cause of offense…" The Jews couldn't understand that; stumbling block to them. They wanted Christ to take over and rule and reign as king now. Get rid of the Romans! Get rid of all this! Save us now! No! He died first.

"...and to the Greeks it is foolishness; but to those who are called—both Jews and Greeks—Christ is God's power…" (vs 23-24). Never forget that! Since we have a little power we rely on the power of God.

"...and God's wisdom because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men" (vs 24-25). That's why God chose the foolishness of the cross. That's why He chose what people would disdain and look upon as not worthy.

Verse 26: "For you see your calling, brethren, that there are not many who are wise according to the flesh, not many who are powerful, not many who are highborn among you. Rather, God has chosen the foolish things of the world, so that He might put to shame those who are wise..." (vs 26-27).

We're going to see that happen, brethren. What do you think the world is going to do when God says to the world, 'Behold, My family'? 'Well, God, why didn't you call me? You know, I had all of these degrees, and I was.… No!Not many wise! He's chosen the weak things. You have a little strength!

"…God has chosen the weak things of the world so that He might put to shame the strong things.... [that's why we're nothing] ...And the lowborn of the world, and the despised has God chosen—even the things that are counted as nothing—in order that He might bring to nothing the things that are; so that no flesh might glory in His presence…. [we glory in God] …But you are of Him in Christ Jesus, Who was made to us wisdom from God, even righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption... [all of those tie in with what we're talking about with a Philadelphian] …so that, as it is written, 'The one who glories, let him glory in the Lord'" (vs 27-31).
Tremendous verses, brethren! Tremendous verses! {note: 2-Tim. 1:7, that God has given us the 'Spirit of power and of love and of a sound mind.'}

Let's see what else that they have done. This becomes very, very important, Revelation 3:8: "…have kept My Word, and have not denied My name." We've already covered about not denying His name. "You have kept My Word." Let's look at some of the Scriptures concerning keeping His Word.

Let's go to Mark 8:34: "And when He had called the multitude to Him with His disciples, He said to them, 'Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and let him take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life shall lose it; but whoever will lose his life for My sake and for the Gospel's, he shall save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his life? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his life? For whoever shall be ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the Holy angels.'" (vs 34-38). So, they're going to be steadfast, keeping God's Word.

After Christ says that He is the true vine and we are the branches, John 15:3: "You are already clean through the word that I have spoken to you. Dwell in Me, and I in you…. [that means to live] …As a branch cannot bear fruit of itself, but only if it remains in the vine… [live and dwell in the vine] ...neither can you bear fruit unless you are dwelling in Me. I am the vine, and you are the branches. The one who is dwelling in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; because apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not dwell in Me, he is cast out as a branch, and is dried up; and men gather them and cast them into a fire, and they are burned" (vs 3-6). And that's also going to happen.

Verse 7: "If you dwell in Me... [this is how you can faithfully keep His Word] …and My words dwell in you... [present tense, living and dwelling in you] shall ask whatever you desire, and it shall come to pass for you." So, the way you keep His Word is by having it living and dwelling within you!

1-Thessalonians 2:11. "Even as you know how we were exhorting and consoling each one of you, as a father does his own children, and earnestly testifying, that you may walk worthily of God, Who is calling you to His own kingdom and glory. Because of this, we give thanks to God without ceasing: that when you received the Word of God, which you heard from us, you did not accept it as the word of men, but even as it is in truth—the Word of God, which is also working in you who believe" (vs 11-13).

The Word of God is going to be living, dwelling, working, functioning, inspiring. When you understand that Christ is called the Word of God, and Christ is in us, then you understand how a Philadelphian is a Philadelphian.

This is pretty profound, Revelation 3:9: "Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan..." Let me just briefly describe what I believe the synagogue of Satan is. Satan is worshiped as god in this synagogue. This synagogue includes many layers of many different people and many different organizations who rule and control the world; because Satan said to Jesus that if Jesus would worship him, he would give Him the power over all the nations. This includes a vast number of people in this particular situation. Of course, the further you get from the top the less you really know, but you're still used of it and part of it.

What makes it different with the Philadelphians is that they do not try and solve this problem politically. That's where most people make their mistakes. You cannot solve it politically. The time comes that God is going to let Satan have his big end-time affair, and you aren't going to stop it. As a matter of fact, you will be fighting God if you try and stop it politically. Notice what He does:

"...who proclaim themselves to be Jews and are not, but do lie—behold, I will cause them to come and worship before your feet…" (v 9). What does this say that we're going to be? It says we're going to be as God, because the only one you're to worship is God!

"...and to know that I have loved you" (v 9). Now we're getting down into the point as to who a true Philadelphian really is.

Jeremiah 31:3 is talking about Israel, but this is applied to spiritual Israel: "The LORD has appeared to me from afar, saying, 'Yea, I have loved you with an everlasting love...'" That's the kind of love that Christ has. Do we have that kind of love back to Him? An everlasting love?

"'...therefore, with loving kindness I have drawn you. Again, I will build you, and you shall be built, O virgin of Israel...." (vs 3-4)—the Church.

I suppose if we went back and looked at all the Scriptures we've got out of John we'd be thinking that there's a connection also between Philadelphians and the Gospel of John, and the Epistles of John, and you'd be quite correct. This is quite a profound section here. This is why it's included in the Passover ceremony, because this is part of our covenant agreement with Christ that we renew at the Passover.

John 14:15 "If you love Me, keep the commandments—namely, My commandments" What does it say concerning the Philadelphian? 'You have patiently kept the Word, My Word.' Then He says He will send the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth and a Comforter.

Verse 21: "The one who has My commandments and is keeping them, that is the one who loves Me; and the one who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will manifest Myself to him." We are going to see, brethren, that the only way a Philadelphian can be a Philadelphian is if they are loving God first with all their heart, all their mind, all their soul and all their being. Then they can love the brethren. Then we don't have any axe to grind.

Verse 23. "Jesus answered and said to him, 'If anyone loves Me, he will keep My Word... [patiently have kept My Word] ...and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. The one who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word that you hear is not Mine, but the Father's, Who sent Me.'" (vs 23-24). Those are pretty powerful words. Anyone want to argue with God?

John 15:9 tells us concerning who a Philadelphian is: "As the Father has loved Me, I also have loved you..." An everlasting love, coming from the Father, exactly as the Father has loved Him.

" in My love. If you keep My commandments, you shall live in My love just as I have kept My Father's commandments and live in His love. These things I have spoken to you, in order that My joy may dwell in you, and that your joy may be full…. [under every circumstance] …This is My commandment: that you love one another, as I have loved you…. [the true Philadelphian attitude] …No one has greater love than this: that one lay down his life for his friends…. ['phileos'—friends] …You are My friends, if you do whatever I command you" (vs 9-14).

Let's understand about the love—the brotherly love, the love of God—and how it can only come from God. We're going to see that true Philadelphians will be loving God with all their heart, mind, soul and being, and loving the brethren as themselves, just as Christ has said.

1-John 4:16. "And we have known and have believed..." 'Known' means to know, experience, and understand; 'believe' means to let it sink deep within your being.

"...the love that God has toward us. God is love, and the one who dwells in love is dwelling in God, and God in him" (vs 15-16). That's what's important. If this is missing in our lives, draw close to God. Let Him give it. I think the thing that helped me begin to understand this more than anything else was when I came to the conclusion and understood that I didn't have any of the love of God whatsoever in me, let alone love anybody else.

Verse 17: "By this spiritual indwelling, the love of God is perfected within us... [it needs to be perfected, to be grown in, to develop] that we may have confidence in the day of judgment because even as He is, so also are we in this world."

That's how Christ views us. That is His gift! That is His love! There's no fear in love. And yet, how many churches were run by fear? How many that called themselves Philadelphians said, 'If you don't stay in this church, you're going into tribulation!' Everybody's fearful, and little children have nightmares.

Verse 18: "There is no fear in the love of God; rather, perfect love casts out fear... [it is a process] ...because fear has torment. And the one who fears has not been made perfect in the love of God. We love Him because He loved us first" (vs 18-19). And never, ever, ever forget that! 'God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son...'

Here's where we need to start; this is where I started, v 20: "If anyone says, 'I love God,' and hates his brother, he is a liar.…" Put any name in there you want. Having problems at home with your wife. Having problems at home with your children. Having problems on the job with the people you work with.

"...For if he does not love his brother whom he has seen, how is he able to love God Whom he has not seen?" (v 20). A profound verse to work on your whole life, brethren.

Verse 21: "And this is the commandment that we have from Him… [this identifies a Philadelphian]: ...that the one who loves God should also love his brother." There it is right there. It's not by declaration. It's not by organization. It's by loving God, and loving the brethren in the Spirit of God!
1-John 5:1: "Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been begotten by God; and everyone who loves Him Who begat also loves him who has been begotten by Him." There again, the brotherly love that comes through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Verse 2: "By this standard we know that we love the children of God: when we love God... [must love God first] ...and keep His commandments." It's a profound and deep, spiritual and emotional experience, also; it will be. When you come to understand and let the love of God flood into your heart, into your mind, into your soul and into your being, it's going to be an overwhelming experience that will be a great turning point in conversion in your life. You can experience that, brethren. God says that it will.

Verse 3: "For this is the love of God: that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome."

One last point concerning a Philadelphian who loves the brethren. The Philadelphian will not know that he really is, because he will see himself as he is before God.

Matthew 25:34: "Then shall the King say to those at His right hand, 'Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you took Me in; I was naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.' Then shall the righteous answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, and fed You? Or thirsty, and gave You a drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and took You in? Or naked, and clothed You? And when did we see You sick, or in prison, and came to You?' And answering, the King shall say to them, 'Truly I say to you, inasmuch as you have done it to one of the least of these My brethren, you have done it to Me'" (vs 34-40).

Now let's take and apply this, not only physically, but spiritually. Let's see if we can apply this to those who are naked, and hungry, and starving spiritually to help them and feed them. Brethren, that's what a true Philadelphian is, and before God, there's no bragging, there's no boasting, and you probably don't even know that you are!

All Scriptures from The Holy Bible in Its Original Order, a Faithful Version by Fred R. Coulter

Scriptural References:

  1. Revelation 3:7-13, 8
  2. Revelation 2:13, 22-24
  3. Revelation 3:7
  4. 1 Peter 1:13-16
  5. Hebrews 3:1
  6. Hebrews 6:4-5
  7. Hebrews 3:1
  8. 1 Corinthians 3:11-16
  9. Romans 12:1-2
  10. Ephesians 1:4
  11. John 14:6
  12. John 17:17-21
  13. 1 John 3:18-24
  14. Revelation 3:7
  15. Psalm 118:19-24
  16. Psalm 119:10-18
  17. Isaiah 26:1-4
  18. Psalm 40:1-13, 16-17
  19. Isaiah 50:5-7
  20. Luke 24:44-45
  21. Matthew 13:11-17
  22. Luke 13:23-27
  23. Ezekiel 13:17-21
  24. Revelation 3:19-20
  25. John 10:1-3
  26. 1 Chronicles 9:21
  27. Deuteronomy 31:14-15
  28. John 10:3-5, 7-15
  29. Revelation 3:8
  30. John 5:17
  31. John 17:4
  32. 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3
  33. Philippians 2:1-5, 12-16
  34. Revelation 3:8
  35. Ephesians 6:10-12
  36. 1 Corinthians 1:23-31
  37. Revelation 3:8
  38. Mark 8:34-38
  39. John 15:3-7
  40. 1 Thessalonians 2:11-13
  41. Revelation3:9
  42. Jeremiah 31:3-4
  43. John 14:15, 21, 23-24
  44. John 15:9-14
  45. 1 John 4:16-21
  46. 1 John 5:1-3
  47. Matthew 25:34-40

Scriptures referenced, not quoted:

  • Revelation 21, 22
  • Matthew 5, 6, 7
  • Psalm 51
  • 1 Corinthians 16:9-10
  • 2 Timothy 1:7

Also referenced:


  • A Place of Safety
  • Key of David-I & II

Sermon Series: Epistles of John

Transcribed: 09/15/2002
Reformatted: bo—3/2014