Revelation 3: 7-13
It is my desire, dear brethren, to say a few words about how the Lord Jesus recognises and values faithfulness among His own. I read this letter in Revelation because it stresses this and also because our beloved brother, whom we will bury, spoke so often about this letter. If I think back on the many conversations I had with him and also in our meetings, I cannot think of any other scripture that he stressed so much as this one, and my dear local brethren can confirm this.
Now, we see in this letter how the Lord Jesus speaks to the assemblies; in the preceding letters in this chapter and in chapter 2, there are certain restrictions towards the assemblies. The Lord is at a distance; He cannot express Himself freely; He has to bring certain negative things to light: but not here in Philadelphia. The Lord can, as it were, open His heart and He can speak to these believers in Philadelphia about the things that are in His heart. He had given them “an opened door”, and it says “thou hast a little power, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name”. Without any doubt, this is what our brother was characterised by, and I would like to put it before us all that we also might be characterised by these things. The Lord Jesus is so worthy of it. He longs to have a sphere among His own where He can make His love known, where He can speak about His things. I think you will have noticed that the Lord in this letter says a lot about “my”. The Lord can make things clear to them because they are in full sympathy with Him.
It is also remarkable that the Lord presents Himself in a totally different light compared to the other assemblies. If you read the other letters, you see that the Lord generally presents Himself in the same light as He revealed Himself to John in chapter 1, but in Philadelphia it is in a new light. He is “the holy, the true”; He is the One “that has the key of David”. Beloved, if we are in this light and if we have these desires, we will receive insights from the Lord Himself, things that might not be known in Christendom in general, but where the Lord can be free to express His things and be with His own. How wonderful it is that the Lord says, “I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an opened door, which no one can shut”. Maybe those works were hidden to others, but the Lord knew them. Ministry even might not be obvious in an outward sense, but many can say that they received blessing from its effects.
We have sung of the coming of the Lord Jesus and our desire for it, and it is especially in this letter that we are directed towards the coming of our Lord Jesus. It says in verse 11, “I come quickly”. What a prospect it is to live in the expectation of His coming.
But then He also says, “hold fast what thou hast”. Beloved brethren, if we have received anything from the Lord, let us hold fast to it! Without any doubt we can say that the Lord has given us very much, but I am sure there is also a responsibility to hold it fast. This condition here in Philadelphia is so delicate. On the one hand there is the lack of life in Sardis; on the other hand the pretensions of Laodicea, and the dangers are very great. May we be marked by something that marks these believers in Philadelphia. What a promise they get, the promise that the Lord will preserve them “out of the hour of trial”! How much Philadelphia means to the Lord Jesus! It is like Rebecca who comforted Isaac after the death of his mother (Gen 24: 67); it is like the family in Bethany where they prepared a supper for the Lord (John 12: 2); it is like the brethren who dwell together in unity in Psalm 133; it is like the valiant men of David who broke through the ranks of the Philistines and took water from the well in Bethlehem, 1 Chron 11: 18. That is what the Lord desires and what He wants to be seen in this day. Let us not claim anything for ourselves but let us seek that these things may be seen in our personal lives and in our localities!
May the Lord bless His word!
6th March 2015
(At the meeting for the burial of Peter van den Berg)