The letter to the church in Philadelphia found in Revelation
3:7-13 is of vital importance today. In
it, Jesus talks about a group of Christians whose faithfulness to Him was
exacting a debilitating toll. He
acknowledged they had “but little power” as a result of standing against what He
called “the synagogue of Satan.”
Faithfulness to the Word of God was the issue as Jesus notes that
despite their apparent lack of success in diminishing the rising influence of
their detractors “you have kept my word and not denied my name.”
Obviously, those yielded to evil have despised righteousness
and holiness since sin came into the world.
The real tragedy, however, is that there has always been a campaign
against purity of heart and faithfulness to God by those who should know
better. Scripture uses a lot of
metaphors for this group: synagogue of Satan, enemies of the Cross, Babylon the
great, etc. They wave the flag of faith
while undermining and opposing the Word that faith is based upon. For instance, they so undermined the ministry
of the Apostle Paul in Galatia that he had to ask the church “having begun by
the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:3) and “Who
hindered you from obeying the truth?” (Galatians 5:7). The entire book of Hebrews is written to
people who were being hammered daily that Jesus, while admittedly was a great
man, was just one in a long line of important people God called (that’s why the
book of Hebrews attests from beginning to end Jesus’ superiority to all others). James laments about those who live
spiritually undisciplined lives (James 3). Peter says “Forsaking the right way, they have
gone astray” (2 Peter 2:15) while John warns that not everyone speaking
soothing religious words is to be trusted (1 John 4:1-6) and Jude admonished
the faithful “to contend for the faith…for certain people have crept in
unnoticed…who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality” (Jude 3-4).
Essentially, faithful Christians who embrace Scripture as
the Word of the Living God face a two front war. On the one front are those who hate God and
want to outlaw any and all expressions of belief and faith from sight. On the other front are those wear the
Christian moniker but trivialize holiness and minimize obedience. They define love as some kind of universal
acceptance of everything and everyone (with the exception of those who are
committed to holiness and truth).
It is draining in every respect to continue with “patient
endurance” and to keep His Word while “holding fast” in matters of faith
against the louder voice and superior numbers of those who are committed to
justifying their sin(s). The word of
grace Jesus gives to all who exhaustively keep His word, refuse to deny Him,
and hold fast to their convictions is that all those mock, curse, denigrate,
and abuse us “will learn that I have loved you” (Revelation 3:9).
Can there be a better promise than that? The God haters who called us idiots and fools
for believing in Him will learn not only that He lives but that He loves
us! The counterfeit churchgoers who said
that what the Bible clearly identifies as sin really isn’t and God hates anyone
who doesn’t accept everyone else’s behavior will learn that God loved us
despite their claim to the contrary.
The battle isn’t going to get any easier. The anti-God crowd is getting bolder about
spewing their hatred of God and brasher in attempting to criminalize outward
displays of Christianity. The counterfeit
Christians are making inroads into the leadership of various Christian denominations
spreading the leaven of tolerance at the expense of holiness. Those of us who are holding the line are
getting fewer and have “but little power.”
But the ones who faithfully keep His word and patiently endure are
called “the one who conquers” (Revelation 3:12). Keep the faith. Stand for righteousness. Contend for the faith. “[A]nd they will learn
that I have loved you.” Praise God.
Ray Rooney, Jr.