Intro: Before the Lord Jesus went to the cross, He made a statement concerning the church. The church Jesus described often has little resemblance to many of the churches found in the world today. Look at Matthew 16:18. Jesus said, "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." In this passage, Jesus tells us a little about the character of the church He is going to build. First, He says that the church is to be built upon Himself. Jesus Himself is the foundation os the church. His death, shed blood and resurrection form the foundation upon which the church stands. Then, Jesus says His church is to be a militant church. He says that "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." Gates are not offense weapons, but they are defensive in nature. The church Jesus described was not a body of weak, oppressed people who were sitting around in fear waiting on the next attack of the devil. That does describe a lot of churches and a lot of Christians. Instead, the church Jesus pictures is one that is on the move. They are active in the Lord's work and they are charging the very strongholds of Hell itself. They do not operate on fear, but on faith. Literally, the church Jesus came to found is a church that Hell cannot handle!
In our text today we have read our Lord's letter to the church in Philadelphia. This church has been described in various ways over the years. Many have called it a weak little church. I just want to call your attention to the fact that of all the seven letters to the seven churches, this is the only church that did not receive a rebuke of any kind. When Jesus wrote to this church, everything He has to say to them was positive.
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