<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="65001"%> Who is the Philadelphia Church? Holy and True, Jesus Christ, cross, Holy Ghost

Dying to self may be a simple concept, easy
to understand. The incredibly hard part
is having a sentence of death worked in us.
But the Holy Ghost is faithful to work this “operation of God” for us, if, and only if, we will allow Him to perform it. If we have faith that God's power of love is great enough to perform a death in us, as the sign of water baptism shows, then we can be free. Not until this happens, however, can we be free to move on in our journey to perfection, for spiritual perfection requires we be 'dead'. The Bible tells us in Romans that only the dead are free from sin. Without faith it is impossible to please God; because anything that is not of faith is sin and faith is demanded if spiritual perfection in Christ is to be achieved. Therefore if we want to go on unto perfection (as Hebrews 6:1-3 tells us) in our journey to bride-ship of Christ we must die in order to be free from sin, free to live in the Spirit, free to live by faith. Then we can be raised up in the likeness of Christ, to the resurrected life, having our worldly and carnal desires and aspirations converted into His spiritual will by believing and trusting in the Spirit of Christ to manufacture this in us. We can be perfect in that we are freed up to “hear the Word of God and do it”.

The Philadelphian will be
willing to pick up his cross

      Of the seven letters which Jesus dictated to the apostle John in Revelation 2 & 3 the letter to those who fellowshipped together in the Asia Minor city of Philadelphia shines above all the rest. For those early Christians Christ has nothing but love, admiration and approval because among other things they "loved the truth and did not deny his name."
Because of Jesus’ unqualified love for the Philadelphians and the brand of faith they held, it is good and reasonable for today's believer to use their faith, just as Paul urged believers to follow his example, as a mirror of their own hopes and faith. To be invited to this great kind of faith is the greatest calling and a wonderful privilege, but it costs everything, including trust and hope in our own "life". Those who seek the same approval given by the Lord and Savior to the Philadelphians will surely have "the sentence of death working in them”, the same sentence Paul declared to the Galatians which was at work constantly in him.
      "But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he yet will deliver us."
At first we are confused by Paul's claim - what sentence of death? But if we consider the full gospel as spoken by Jesus and recorded by the Epistles we can begin to understand about this "sentence of death" through the eyes of faith. Jesus said, "And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it." Matt. 10:38 & 39 Anyone who gives another interpretation to Jesus’ words, other than dying to self and the fleshly concerns that are held in common by all people, need look no further than the dozens of proclamations in the Epistles to understand that Jesus was talking about dying to "self'. Perhaps the clearest wording about the reality of believers dying to self comes from Paul again when he said, "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me."
       If the born-again Christian is to be free, that is, really free, in this life, then he must be delivered from sins, from worldly concerns, from fears, and from false hopes; he must be dead to lust, selfishness, and pride. It cannot be done through our own determination or by following a system of rules or laws, the only way to be free is to give up, to "die" to self. We must give up our ambitions and carnal aspirations, and anything else one can think of that is associated with selfishness, so we can walk in the Spirit, a realm, the only realm, in which a person can live a truly pleasing life to God. What greater example can there be than the Lord himself who literally gave up his life for us. His call to the Philadelphia Faith asks that the prospective Philadelphian "spiritually" give up his "will", and by this sentence of death, give over his life to him completely.

Death and Resurrection
symbolic of Water Baptism

           Is this not the real purpose and meaning of the ceremony of water baptism? Jesus himself had it done to him to show he was willing to die to his own will and we now show our obedience to this call by sinking in the watery grave with Jesus so that we can be raised up in his faith and life. This is an action, no – better called a declaration of faith, whereby we wish to die to self. Colossians 2.12&13 says we are, "Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses." Water baptism is a statement of an obvious fact. Death must precede a resurrection. If we are to live in the resurrected life of Christ we must first die. If we wish to do someone else’s will other than our own, we must die to our will? This cannot be a mere theoretical or theological consent, it must be done in all reality, in all actuality. Jesus said time and time again that he did not come to do his own will but his Father's which is in heaven. Dying to self is about that simple. One particular time Jesus was told that his kin were outside and wanted to see him. His direct reply to the request was, "My mother and my brethren are these which hear the word of God and do it." This is a pronouncement of absolute obedience. This is doing, not merely pronouncing some decree of untested faith.
       Dying to self should be simple to understand. But we try to side-step it by the rationale of fine religious distinction. But it cannot be dome within the confines of the Full and True Gospel of Jesus Christ as revealed in the infallible pages of the Bible. By faith we hear the Good Shepherd, and in obedience we do his will and not our own, simple as that. And that, Philadelphians and prospective Philadelphians, is the reason and way to dying-to-self.
       It is simple to understand. The incredibly hard part is having a sentence of death worked in us. But the Holy Ghost is faithful to do this “operation of God” for us, if, and only if, we will allow Him to perform it. If we have faith that God's power of love is great enough to perform a death in us, as the sign of water baptism shows, then we can be free. Not until this happens, however, can we be free to move on in our journey to perfection, for spiritual perfection requires we be 'dead'. The Bible tells us in Romans that only the dead are free from sin. Without faith it is impossible to please God; because anything that is not of faith is sin and faith is demanded if spiritual perfection in Christ is to be achieved. Therefore if we want to go on unto perfection (as Hebrews six suggests) in our journey to bride-ship of Christ we must die in order to be free from sin, free to live in the Spirit, free to live by faith. Then we can be raised up in the likeness of Christ, to the resurrected life, having our worldly and carnal desires and aspirations converted into His spiritual will by believing and trusting in the Spirit of Christ to manufacture this in us. We can be perfect in that we are freed up to “hear the word of God and do it”.




Who and what is the Church














Just Who Is The
Philadelphia Church?

by Terry Smith

      Christ gave us an encompassing overview of the entire household of God in the second and third chapters of Revelation when he addressed seven separate letters to seven churches in ancient Turkey. This was the land where Paul and others first preached the Gospel to the Gentiles. It was a place where the Christian faith was first established and took on the forms that it would have during the entire church age. Jesus wrote to each church commending and criticizing their behavior according to their works and faith. To each He sent words of commendation, especially for good works, but to all except two of the communities, He sent harsh words of warning and rebuke, commanding their immediate repentance lest they suffer great punishment, including exclusion from the church and even loss of salvation.
      As for the churches of Smyrna and Philadelphia, however, the Lord had nothing but words of encouragement and praise. The church in Smyrna would suffer persecution but, their mission, Christ told them, was to be patient and wait until that day past. The church of Philadelphia would also be persecuted but in a different way. Their persecution would come from those who claimed to be true believers but were not. They also were required to wait, but this too would be different from Smyrna. They were to trust in the Lord and wait on His return. Christ promised to deliver them from the Great Tribulation that was to come on all the earth. Philadelphia is synonymous with trusting, waiting and being faithful. Though their strength and numbers were small they were given the greatest promise of all – God’s mercy and love, and escape from the dreadful judgments of God. The Philadelphian faith is a great faith to have and one which holds the greatest of promises from Christ to His Church. I would rather be  “living in Philadelphia” than in any other place on earth, waiting for the Lord’s return and hoping to be taken out of the judgments that are shortly to come on the whole earth. The following is The Christian Spirit’s second essay on: The Philadelphia Church: Who is she? What is her faith?
       Church history can best be plotted by an upside down bell-shaped curve. During the apostolic era the church was closest to Christ’s intent for His church. Gradually, however, it drifted into apostasy falling farther and farther away from the application of the pure gospel as presented and taught by the apostles Matthew, Luke, Paul, Peter, John, James, Mark, Jude and others. It hit rock bottom during medieval times and began to rise out of the “pit” when the reformation hit Europe in the middle of the second millennium of the church era. The final upsurge of the graph is represented by the last two letters of Revelation chapter three written to Philadelphia and the people of Laodicea.
       These two eras of church history flourish simultaneously at the end, though Laodicea will dominate Philadelphia by size and influence and is far overshadowing her at the present day. While they “live” side-by-side, they also represent the greatest contrast of all. Philadelphia has no spiritual fault to cause Jesus to rebuke her. Laodicea has nothing that pleases the Lord. The former, Christ loves dearly; the latter, Christ threatens to spew out of his mouth with disdain. Philadelphia is promised rewards and protection in the hour of judgment; Laodicea is threatened with the fullness of God's wrath. Only those Laodiceans who respond when Christ knocks on the door of their heart will be spared terrible judgment.
    In terms of worldly success, however, Philadelphia is weak and must hold fast to the little strength that it has, while Laodicea thinks itself "rich, and increased with goods, and (in) need of nothing "and does not know itself to be wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind and naked". One church can be found along the wide and well traveled roadways, the other is down a narrow one way path, found only by those heartily seeking its entrance by faith. Take a prayerful look at the wonderful promises and blessings in the letter to Philadelphia. Ask God for understanding of their application, and then come, and be encouraged to be part of this 'nowhere', 'anonymous' fellowship. I hope your faith will swell so you, too, can become, if you are not already, a living stone in this fellowship of Philadelphia, the name that literally means: brotherly love.


Paul's words to the Corinthians will be understood by those of the Philadelphia faith. "Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong." (II Cor.12:9, 10)
        This church will not be found on any street corner, or at a bible college, it will not have a membership roll - at least not one written on this earth. This church is invisible and weak in worldly terms, a church persecuted from within the church itself and a church with no social influence. She is a church in constant peril of temptation, but in a wonderful and complete way, she is the strongest and greatest, because she is immersed in God's Word and ways. This church has had “membership” down through the church age (as the other six), but particularly now, with revival of all things for the end time, this church is coming into its fullness. 

          To hear the calling of this church demands a love for the life of faith. To respond to the call one must be delivered from fear of the unknown. The kind of faith required in this pew less church is so foreign to the faith of man, and so much God's kind of faith, that it passes all knowledge of this world. The life of the Philadelphian is not only unattainable for man by means of the flesh, but entirely incomprehensible and can only be experienced by complete trust in God's power and love. The aspiring Philadelphian learns that he must let God lead him blindfolded along never before trodden paths. As pioneers without knowledge of where to go or what to do, they must trust the Holy Ghost as their unfailing scout and protector. So is the nature of the faith God requires here. It is Abraham going to a strange land, Moses confronting the Pharaoh, David meeting Goliath on the battlefield and John the Baptist preaching repentance in the wilderness. Here by the light of the candlestick of Philadelphia a simple believer living a nondescript life can be producing the pearls of faith that please God wholly. Abiding in this place of brotherly love a person of “unimportance”, doing no traditionally accepted churchy good works can be exalting God in the highest and preparing for Christ a testimony of love that will live into eternity forever. The person in this assembly of faith will have a single eye fixed on Jesus, the hope of a new world to come, and the promises of eternity with God. Here is what the letter to Philadelphia reveals.

           The church of Philadelphia is a special church because she has the promise of the open door. The door of faith is continually open here and literally the sky is the limit. Here faith gives one the boldness to enter the heavenly throne room of God to make requests in the name of Jesus.
            The door of prophecy is open; and the pathway home is clearly marked. At the end of the path is that “Big” open door, that door that will open at a twinkling of an eye to gather the faithful sojourners into the mansions Jesus has prepared for them. The open door has endless applications to the Philadelphian; it’s all around significance is mercy with a capital 'M': the ultimate expression of open door mercy will be the Rapture. 

           Jesus pastors this church with the title "he that is holy, he that is true". Accordingly, Christ will feed his flock here with truth and holiness. To have fellowship in the spirit of Philadelphia one must accept Christ as the Way, the Truth and the Life - not just the Way and the Life. The one whom Christ has sent must be listened to daily. One will not be permitted to say outwardly, "Yes, God's ways are not man's ways", and then callously live as if God should fit into the prefab mold man has built for Him. The pursuit of money, power and worldly glory will give off a spiritual stench, as rotting flesh. In this church the walls are not of wood, or stucco, or brick; its light is not filtered by stained glass windows. The walls here are of the truth of God’s Word, the windows are the clarity of the guidance of the Holy Ghost. Words from a forked tongue or a self righteous hypocrite make a deafening noise when they echo off these walls. Workers of such things, we can have faith; will be driven out by the Spirit.

        Intimately knowing Jesus as the Holy and True One will produce holiness and righteousness in the disciple. To follow after Christ in this realm means one must not only be separated from the world, but one must be set apart to God as well. It is a thirsty life. Thirsting after his every word, on every subject, in every situation, will be a delight. Former presumptions about truth, holiness and righteousness, once thought to be solid as rock, will blow away like sand in a windstorm. The past will be dead and gone, buried with the old life. The traditions of our fathers, along with our ambitions and self images, will be shed like dead skin to be replaced by the healthy covering of salvation's wisdom. By the standards of the world (and the Laodicean Church) this spiritual clothing will look like a burden. In truth it is freedom.

       The books of Isaiah and Acts call God's blessings on the house of David "the sure mercies of David". In the letter to Philadelphia Jesus says he holds the key of David, which is the key to the blessed mercies of God. God promised that he would never forsake David and that he and his family would rule Israel forever. That is why Jesus is of the bloodline of David. Likewise, the church of Philadelphia will rule with Christ forever. Those who receive Jesus as the Truth will unlock the fullness of God's mercy, just as David did, and will be able to flourish in God's unrestricted, unrequited love. They walk in the mercies of David under the mantle of truth. Truth and mercy blended together in only the way God can do it, adds up to God's love. Thus Jesus tells the Philadelphians that he loves them and that those who have persecuted and harassed them will someday be made to bow down before them and be forced to admit that it is the Philadelphians whom Jesus loves. Often in Psalms “truth” and “mercy” appear together. In God's economy they are as inseparable as life and breath. The two appear in unison in twenty separate places in the Psalms. Psalm 117 is a simple psalm, but one of the most reassuring and profound. It praises God for his mercy and truth and therefore his love. It speaks of nothing more, and thereby makes the understated point that God is love.

 “O Praise the Lord, all ye nations: praise him, all ye people. For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the Lord endureth forever. Praise ye the Lord.” Psalm 117

       The oft quoted passage of I Corinthians 13, in describing love, tells us those things which are opposed to love and summarizes love by noting that it suffers long, is kind and rejoices in the truth. Truth and mercy is promised to Philadelphia.  And so, the Philadelphia church has accepted Christ the Truth and wants his mercy, and is therefore immersed in the love of Christ. In contrast the Laodicean Church has fallen for the carnally gratifying and deadly way of embracing the law. By following the law with its scriptural and not so scriptural rules and sacraments it tends to exclude itself from mercy. What seems so wonderfully pious and righteous is fatal self righteousness. If they live by the law they shall die by the law, because no person is righteous.
         Philadelphia is different. The people in this church will know the width, depth and height of God's because they will have the faith to count on God's mercy, and not their own righteousness. "Have mercy on me, help me, deliver me, work this out for me", will be the cry in her heart.

       This love of truth and mercy will make way for a quiet but bountiful faith in the believer. It will not always manifest itself flamboyantly; it may never in some people. In fact, their acts of faith may be almost undetectable. The effects of their faith and prayers may be on the heart and mind and invisible to all but God. Unlike the gifts of healings and miracles this gift of faith will often be a matter of Christ opening doors and shutting them according to an individual’s personal need. Jesus testifies to Philadelphia of his power to "openeth and no man shutteth and shutteth and no man openeth". What a wonderful, wonderful promise this is and, Oh, how the Church has missed the opportunities it offers. Jesus will open impossible doors while closing doors that could easily be open but could lead to dead-ends for the believer. The believers' part is to respond in faith and walk through those supernatural doors no matter what the appearances, while restraining themselves from forcing open those doors the Master has shut for their benefit. And do not think these shut doors pertain to only heresies or sins; they may just be a means Christ uses to direct us into the Father's perfect will. Like a shepherd guiding a flock through a mountain pass Jesus wants to use these open and shut doors to bring us home safely and to make our life in Him productive, satisfying and victorious.
         To have this merciful guidance in our lives we must be willing to do what Jesus calls the "works of God". We must believe on the one whom God has sent, namely, Jesus. "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto all good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them".(Eph.) Through these supernaturally opened doors the works of God and the faith of the believer merge into one. The believer's purpose and identity take their predestined shape and finally come into sync with God's perfect plan for their life. Then our life in Christ can truly bear fruit. But There Will Be Battles. Those called to this invisible and unimposing church will need fatherly protection and direction. This simple faith in God's guidance, and their hope in the Rapture, along with their love of the truth, will make this church a radical assemblage of faith, hated by Satan and those who love this world.

          Because of its weak station in the world and strong relationship with Christ this church will suffer persecution. Alone without religious props to hold it up, the Philadelphia church will rely on the strength of its fellowship with the Father and the Son as her sole support. For their radical faith Philadelphians will often be outcasts among the brethren. Even worse, they will have to struggle against persecution from within the Church, from those, as Jesus puts it in His letter, "who are of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews (elect), and are not, but do lie". Because they do not rely on sacraments or the law to save them or make them righteous, their salvation will be questioned. Her insistence on the truth and sound doctrine may cause her to be branded as a divider of the brethren; even accused of being hated of God. Reliance on God's mercy and faith in the Holy Spirit's ministry will make them, in the eyes of most churches, out of order and unruly. They will be slandered as rebels without true ties to the Church. Already today those who do not lean on religious crutches are considered renegades by many people in the established, orthodox Christian world.
           The Philadelphia church's hatred for the teachings of Jezebel (idolatry and seduction injected into the very marrow and fiber of the Church during the Age of Thyatira); the doctrine of Balaam (using God's Word for personal and worldly gain); and their revulsion of the Nicolaitan system (system of priesthood and dominating clergy) may drive them to the outer fringes of Christianity and into their own homes where they will worship in spirit and truth. They will be mocked; and by all appearances they will seem the farthest from Christ. Yet the day is coming when Christ will vindicate them by making those who say they are 'Jews' and are not come before them and admit that they are the ones whom Jesus has loved.
           The church of the open door enjoys many freedoms. The price she pays is temptation to cave into the world and the Laodicean way of faith and persecution from within and without. Attacks from Satan and his demon powers are subtle and clever; but sometimes not so subtle. Christ, therefore, exhorts this people to, "hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown". This is the trial of the Philadelphians. They must remain steadfast in the face of ridicule and persecution. The other churches' trials are in their need to repent of deadly spirits, heresies, or sins, but the Philadelphia church must hold on to the little strength it has, while not denying the name of Christ. Even as the hour comes when this church must stand without the camp she must stand fast in the faith God has given her.

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