Every week, on Monday, we will have a blog for you with resources for diving deeper into the sermon.
This week was the last week of the In the End series for a while. Pastor Andrew discussed the letter to the church in Philadelphia, and it is interesting because Philadelphia is one of the only churches that Jesus doesn’t say anything bad about. Here was pastor Andrew’s main point: Endurance proves salvation in us and produces salvation in others. Our perseverance in the faith isn’t just for our own sakes but also creates ministry opportunities with others.
In verses 7, the key of David and the open door refer to both salvation and an opportunity for the mission to advance through the church. In other places in the New Testament (e.g. 1 Cor. 16:9), an “open door” is a reference to God’s giving his servants effectiveness in their preaching and discipling. When looking at verses 9-10 and the persecution and ridicule that Philadelphia faced, we can be tempted to say that it looks as if there was a closed door for them, but effective ministry often comes through suffering. We judge doors for ministry by comfort; Jesus judges doors for ministry by effectiveness. Doors for ministry are not always flashy. Jesus does not grant them just because of a church’s size. Doors for ministry aren’t always comfortable—especially here in Philadelphia, since the open door set before them is enduring through persecution.
In verse 9 Jesus says that those who are persecuting the church and saying that the church in Philadelphia is not a part of the people of God will see Philadelphia’s endurance and that Jesus has truly loved them. Many of these persecutors are going to come to faith because of it. In the same way, endurance in us will produce endurance in others.
In verse 11, Jesus tells them to hold fast so no one will steal their crown. It’s the message of the whole series: endurance doesn’t save people, but saved people endure. It is those who endure, the “Conquerors”, who will be given entrance into heaven to enjoy God forever.
In bringing what we’ve discussed together, there are two ways to apply this text: We can 1) endure as a witness to others and 2) endure to lay hold of eternal life.
- Endure as a witness to others. Tim Keller says it this way: “the way you handle ‘closed doors’ will open doors for others.” All throughout the Bible and church history, this has been true. God uses the suffering of his servants to bring others to faith. But how do we know this to be true? The endurance of Jesus on the cross opened the door of salvation to us. It’s hard to view suffering as an open door for ministry until we realize that Jesus suffered in crucifixion to bring us salvation.
- Endure to lay hold of eternal life. Where in our faith are we allowing the world to gain victory? Let’s endure in the faith, knowing that the eternal life that lies ahead is worth it.
-Alex Nolette (Equip Coordinator/Community Groups)