There aren’t many truths that can change your life forever. In Jesus’ simple introduction to the church at Philadelphia we read four truths for a forever-changed life. These are the four truths that Philadelphia built their church and their lives on, and they were never the same.
Welcome to our seventh class of 20, going through the 404 verses of the book of Revelation, 22 chapters and the most complete overview of all the other truths in the Bible. What we’re looking at today, as you see on the slide in front of you, and then the next one is what I call. Simple Spiritual Health. If you want to hear how I know normally say this one when I’m meeting alone with someone I say, I’d like to talk to you about: what normal Christian life looks like.
Not normal like what Americans are today, but what the normal, simple; first century Christian lived like. The ones we read about, they had the simplicity of spiritual health because they believed and did and followed basically what the Lord said. He said, I came always to do the will of my Father, to please my Father.
So just doing what pleases God, is what is the normal setting? What we would call, if we reset our phone, to factory settings the way that Apple designed it. If you have that or Android, whatever you have. If you want to get it back running, you just reset it to how it was supposed to be, should have been. That’s what this lesson is about and where we are is right here.
- We’ve gone through Ephesus, the church that was distracted.
- Smyrna, the church that was suffering.
- Then we saw the three churches that were going to suffer loss.
- Now we’re in the sixth church and this is the church we should pay most attention to for this reason: They had that simple spiritual health and they just did what pleased the Lord.
As we read the verses today, Jesus found nothing to condemn in their lives. Simple spiritual health. There aren’t many truths that can change your life forever. Jesus’ simple introduction to the church at Philadelphia gives us four simple truths of the forever changed life.
- Jesus emphasizes that these people were not perfect.
- They were not supernatural, extraordinary believers.
- In fact, we don’t know a single person from this church.
Except for the fact, of all the churches they were the only church that Jesus said, well done you’re right on target; you’re doing exactly what I left you to do. These four truths that Philadelphia built their church and their lives on caused them to never be the same.
Jesus offers to all believers, a healthy life, a life that is abundant. Remember John 10. I’m coming so you might have life and life more abundant. Overflowing.
- A life that’s abundant.
- Hope filled.
- And overflowing as a purpose filled life of faithfulness.
Do you see why this church had such an impact on the world? They we’re just living models of what Jesus wanted?
Chapter 3, look in your Bibles, of the book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ. I’m going to just read these words, we’re going to emphasize nearly every one of them in just a moment, but starting in chapter 3and verse 7
“and to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, ‘these things says He who is Holy, He who is true, “He who has the key of David, He who opens a no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens”: I know your works. See I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name. Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie – indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I’ve loved you. Because you have kept my commandment to persevere, I will also keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world to test those who dwell on the Earth. Behold, I’m coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of Heaven from my God. And I will write on him My new name, he that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
Father in Heaven, I pray that I would hear, we would hear, each one of us under the sound of your word today, would hear what you are saying to your churches. Not only to the people of Philadelphia 2000 years ago, but to us; exactly today, the simple, healthy, normal life of what a believer is supposed to be. The factory settings, what you designed us to be. Challenge and stir us to be that today. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.
The healthy life that Jesus offers, back to that slide you see on your screen, is just an abundant, confident, joyful, guilt-free, peaceful, hope filled, overflowing, purpose filled life of faithfulness. That’s what Jesus wants us to have. He wants us to be normal, not extraordinary. Normal. That’s the message Revelation 1 to 22, as you see in the next slide, is: How To Be Living For God In A Dangerous World.
Remember all of these churches were in that area that you see on the map. This is the heart of the Roman empire. This is the most tempting place to live. It’d be like living in Times Square. Living in a tent on Times Square, with all those flashing New York City billboards, entire sides of buildings, playing movies, and all the other interesting parts of Time Square life. Can you imagine living in a tent there and trying to live a normal Christian life? That’s what it was like for these seven cities. They were in the Times Square of the Roman empire.
So basically the Lord said, I want you to have spiritual health in a world that’s hostile to it.
Now several important parts. Look back at what we read. I read them all continuously, but it says this, right to them:
Verse 7. “I know your works.” Now look at this. “I’ve set before you an open door[…] for you have a little strength.”
Now, the first thing about this church is, again, they were not extraordinary. Like yesterday we looked at Samson and I said, probably Samson wasn’t some big Mr. Universe bodybuilder. He was probably very normal looking, so that the power of the Holy Spirit would just be so radically evident. That’s what it’s like in normal Christian lives.
You know what it says in 1 Corinthians?
- God hasn’t chosen the mighty.
- He hasn’t chosen the wise.
- He hasn’t chosen to rich.
- But the weak, the simple, the foolish of this world so that Christ will be exalted.
That’s what the Lord wants. Spiritual health for everyday, ordinary, normal people, just doing what pleases God. Simple, spiritual health is all the Lord wants.
How do we do that? That it’s wonderful to talk about. It’s wonderful to rattle off all those words, but how do we do it? Hebrews chapter 10. Now again, in your Bibles, if you back up. I told you that the book of the Revelation, the 404 verses don’t have any new doctrines in them. They don’t have any new, out of this world, spiritual ideas that we’ve never heard of before. The 1,189 chapters of the Bible, if you study them closely, all you’ll find is in the 22 that are in Revelation. It’s a whole bunch of reminders of repetition.
Here’s one. Hebrews chapter 10. Back up from the book of Revelation, back to the book of Hebrews, chapter 10 and verses 24 and 25.
Now in Hebrews 10:24 and 25, we have what I like to call the basics. This morning, I was, working on another class that I’m going to be teaching. It’s the 52 greatest chapters in the Bible. It’s a how to get the big picture of the Bible and study those chapters that cover every major doctrine and every attribute of God, every key theological truth we should know. As I was going through that, I was looking at this idea of basics. I counted up that I have, over the last four decades, led 500 small group Bible studies. Mostly some were with couples and a very few were with ladies that I was discipling for some key ministry position, but almost exclusively 95% or more with men. In every one of those studies, I always start out with the basics.
Hebrews 10:24 and 25, the scriptures tell us;
- every one of us who are normal,
- who are healthy,
- who know the simplicity of the scriptures should be stirring up others to love and good works.
Listen to what it says, Hebrews 10:24, “and let us consider, katanoeō” is the Greek word? Kata is – upon or downward and noeō is – in the mind. So let it be on our minds. Pushing down on our minds. Prompting us to think about this. Let us consider, in other words, every time we see people it should come to our mind, how can I do what it says in verse 24? “Consider one another in order to stir up love and good works”.
Stir up. Paroxysmos is the Greek word. Sounds like an English word, doesn’t it? A Paroxysmos. It’s like a convulsive event. It’s not passive. It’s active. It’s aggressive. I should aggressively be looking to stir up people’s lives for the Lord. Do you ever even think of that? Did you know that every time the church gathers, this is what we’re supposed to be doing? We’re supposed to be walking in and considering all the people we meet, how we could possibly get into their life enough to stir them up.
Verse 24, “for love and good works.”
That’s why verse 25,now everybody’s heard verse 25, “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together”. People always say, yeah, that’s just cause you want to make us come to church. No, it’s not because I want to make you come to church. It’s what God designed our operating system to be. We’re normal. The setting of our life is, I want to stir up everyone around me.
Let me just tell you what happened in our Bible study. One of my dearest Bible studies I’ll never forget was, starting with a group of 40 year old men who were at the top of their game. Now, how do I know that. I was standing in Starbucks one day and this man in front of me, after he ordered said to the lady, and I’ll pay for his order too. He turned around like this and said, what do you want? I’d never seen him before in my life. I said, excuse me, do I know you? He said no, but I know you. He said, what do you want?
So I ordered, and as we walked to get our drinks he said to me; Hey, would you ever consider starting a small group Bible study doing the basics with a group of seven men who are at the top of their game? I said, what do you mean? He said, every one of us are about 40 and all of us are uber successful in our industry. He said, I happened to be into a manufacturer and distributer of chemicals and he says he was at the top of his game. His company ran flawlessly. He made so much money that he had to find ways to give it away and that’s how everybody was.
The Bible study was, the most amazing group of men I ever had been with. I spent a year and a half with those men. The first month was painful because what I taught them is, we’re going to read the Bible and as we read it we’re going to first look at it as a mirror. Like we’re shaving and very closely look at ourselves. How we can let what God’s word says, change us.
Then the second thing we’re going to do is, we’re going to look at how we can stir up that truth after it’s engaged in our life into the other men in the Bible study. The first four weeks we did this it was painful, because you know why? Most of us know verses to say,
- Oh my kids ought to hear that,
- my wife ought to hear that,
- my husband ought to here that one,
- Oh, my students need to hear that,
- my parents need to know that,
- but very rarely do we start looking at ourselves.
Why? Well the end of … look at what verse 25 says in Hebrews 10 and “exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”
What’s the day? It’s the day I’m going to stand in front of Jesus Christ and I’m going to present to Him my whole life like a package. He’s going to take my life, put it into a fire, and wait on the other side to see what doesn’t burn up; what’s left. That’s the essence of my life on that day, that counts forever.
- So how do we get there?
- What are the basics?
- When we are to stir people up?
- When you stir up people, what is normalcy?
- What is pleasing God?
- What is simple spiritual health?
- What does it look like?
Just four items.
- Number one, time listening to God by feeding on His word. That’s what scripture reading is. When I read the Bible, I listen to God. How much do you listen to God? Let me ask you, how much do you listen to anything? Some people listen to music, all their waking hours. In fact, as a pastor who visited people in their homes, I found that most homes had either a television playing all the time in the background or some kind of music playing all the time in the background. It was never quiet. They couldn’t stand anything quiet. Nothing wrong with music, nothing wrong with the television, but what are you listening to? Do you spend time listening to God? That’s a basic. That’s scripture reading. It takes 72 hours to hear everything God has to say. Have you ever heard everything God has to say. You say 72 hours. Yeah. That’s for a sixth grader. I would assume most of you are above six graders. For an average sixth grader it only takes 72 hours to read the Bible out loud. The first basic, time listened to God by feeding on his word.
- Number two, time applying God’s word to my life. That’s scripture memory and meditation. That’s the essence of how we change. That’s the essence of how we have spiritual victory in our lives. So basics are: being in the word, so in the word – that’s reading it and have the word in us- that’s memorizing and meditating on it. Those first two take time. Scheduled time. Disciplined time. It’s very important that we make those choices.
- Number three is, time talking to God. That’s speaking truth to God. Prayer is not me manufacturing a whole list of things I need, it’s me having a conversation with God about the truth that I’ve been in the word and the word in me prompts. I start speaking to Him about it. What I start saying is God, I want to see your truth. I want to see your power unleashed to me. I want to see Christ living in me. I want, as we saw yesterday in yesterday’s class, I want the justifying death of Christ to become the sanctifying life of Christ through me.
Do you know what happened to the early church? People would look at them and say, wow, they’ve been with Jesus. In fact, the first nickname of the early believers were in Antioch. You can look this up in Acts chapter 11, they were called Christians. Now that’s very common today. It started an Antioch. Do you know why it was mockery? They said: Oh, they’re a little Christs. That’s what Christians is. It’s a diminution. It’s a tag. Slang. It’s was a racial slur back then. Oh, they’re little Christs. They could tell that they’d listened to God so much, they’re in the word, that the word was in them, and they were speaking the truth to God.
- Number four, time talking to others about God’s plan of salvation. That’s witnessing and soul winning. That’s the outflow of the word. The word that I’m in, the word that gets into me, the word that flows from me upward to God, flows outward to the world. That’s what witnessing is. I just testify it’s true. People are talking and moaning about stuff that they have going on their life. Say, Hey, I understand that. I understand what it’s like to feel guilty. I understand what it’s like to be paralyzed by fear. I understand what it’s like to be totally enslaved by lust. That’s what Christ delivered me from. Now, I’m not perfect. Remember these people in Philadelphia, we’re not perfect. They were just faithful, obedient to the truth.
So basically, the way we do the basics is we ask people when we see them, we say; Hey, what are you eating? What are you reading and feeding your soul upon from God’s word?
I started way back in 1978 as a youth pastor 1978. Most of you weren’t even alive in 1978. I was a youth pastor down in South Carolina. I had 100 students in my youth group and I made a deal with them that whenever I saw them in this little small area where we lived, a small town. That I would walk up to them and I would ask them, where are you eating in God’s word? Tell me one thing that you’re learning from God’s word.
I’ll never forget the day I saw one from my youth group, on the sidewalk walking toward me and I walk constantly toward them. All of a sudden they went that way on a diagonal sidewalk going off. They just went as fast as they could, away from me. I thought, huh. I think I know why. Well about, just before supper that day, I was back walking and I saw that person walking directly toward me. I just smiled and said hi. They stood there all expected and waited. I said, what’s up? He said, aren’t you going to ask me? I said, ask you what? You see when they had seen me coming earlier in the day ,they had not yet spent time eating the word of God. So they left, they didn’t want me to ask them. They didn’t want, most of us don’t want, to fail. We don’t want to be seen not as best as we could be. So just my presence reminded them they needed to eat. They went and ate and they couldn’t wait to share it. Did you know, that’s the blessing. That’s what stirring people up in the basics is all about.
What are you eating? What are you reading from the Bible and feeding your soul upon from God’s word? If you remember what they say the next time you see them, if they say the same thing. You say, that’s what you told me last time. When they go you remembered! That’s an even greater reason for them to be in the word every day.
Chewing, number two. That’s this word in us. That’s memorizing and meditating in front of God’s word. Now, something to think about, I tag right here Jeremiah 15:16. You know what that verse says? That’s a good one to chew on. That “Thy words were found in, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart, For I am called by thy name.” That’s what happens when the word gets in us.
Breathing. What are you praying and beseeching God for? Are you speaking the truth of the scriptures inside and to the one that loves us and bought us?
Going, who are you seeking and sharing the gospel with?
Now, let’s go back to Revelation. Look at chapter 3, verse 7.
So on the screen, “to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, these things says”, now, look at this listing, “He who is Holy, He who is true, He who has the key of David, He who opens a d no onen shuts […] and no one opens”. What’s that?
All the other letters to these other churches is like a cut and paste job. Do you ever do cut and paste documents, where you don’t have time so you just move stuff around? That’s what these letters are like. It’s basically, Jesus does a cut and paste introduction from chapter 1. Not to the Philadelphians. He reaches back into the Old Testament, into the treasure house and starts pulling out truths that are life changing.
They weren’t giving anything extra, by the way. Jesus says to them, look at verse 8, “I know your works”. Do you know what that makes me think about, this was an amazing church.
- Jesus said you don’t have anything extra.
- You just are doing, the simple, old facts.
- You’re living out the basic Christian life.
- They had the same epistles.
- They had the same Gospels.
- They had the same word of God, that every other church had. T
- hey faced the same temptations and struggles and pressures.
- Jesus said, I know your works.
Now look at verse 8. “You have a little strength, have kept my word”. That’s the Christian life.
When I am weak, what that’s when God through Jesus Christ is strong in my life, in my weakness. He’s my strength. I know “you have a little strength”, he said, “have kept my word, and have not denied my name”. Keep reading “because you have kept my commands”.
See that on the slide. Again, that’s Jesus quoting. A normal Christian does what John 14:21 says “he, that has my word and keeps them, it is he that loves me. And he that loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”
Now keep going. Verse 11, “behold, I’m coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.”
Did you know, Paul worried about being disqualified? Paul worried about being disqualified. The word he uses in 1 Corinthians 9 is, he wanted to stay in his lane. What is my lane? It’s what God has called me to do to please Him. It’s just normal, simple, spiritual life staying in my lane. Some people step out of their lane. They say, oh the word of God, that’s for everybody else but not for me. It’s this idea of excusing ourselves. Saying that I don’t have to follow it. That’s called hypocrisy. Saying one thing, doing another.
But what’s this? “I will make him”, verse 12, “a pillar in the temple of My God”.
One of the things, if you knew the geography of Philadelphia,
- it was in a fault. A volcanic rift area with hot springs and a lot of seismic activity.
- That seismic activity caused a lot of tectonic movement, which caused what we would call earthquakes.
- Basically, Philadelphia was this town that had many tremors and a lot of buildings over the centuries had fallen down.
- The people learn when the buildings start tottering, run outside so you don’t get caught.
Jesus says, “I’m going to make you a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go out no more.” If you live in an earthquake zone, when we lived in California we learned either get under something to protect you like a doorway, or better yet get out of the house. If you can get out.
- These people had always run and he says, you’re not going to go out anymore.
Here’s the security “I’ll write on him the name of My God and the city of My God”. Jesus gives Philadelphia some very unique promises in verse 12. He says,
- I’ll make you pillars that will never fall,
- never fail, never crack, like everything around you did.
- Everything was breaking up and crumbling, not your life.
- Jesus promised them permanence. Rest.
It says that the wicked are like the restless sea. God says the work of righteousness is peace and quietness and assurance. Wow. This is the most amazing letter of all the seven.
- There are more promises to the people of Philadelphia,
- there are more blessings,
- they’re more insights about Christ than any other letter.
Everybody builds their life on something. You can build your life on these simple, spiritual truths Jesus communicated to this group.
Here’s what I call them. The four truths of a forever changed life. Jesus lists the four of them right in front of us in this letter here. In this incredible letter to Philadelphia, Jesus reintroduces himself. He doesn’t say, Hey, hi, I’m Jesus. Instead what He says is there are just four things I want you to know.
- I’m Holy.
- I’m true.
- I have the key of David.
- I open no one shuts; and shut no one can open.
Those are the four truths.
That slide shows you, that’s actually all this left to Philadelphia today. That’s the archeological ruins. There’s a little park there. A little place you can walk up to a of visitor center. That’s all that’s there but what they lived started with truth one. Their city didn’t last forever an earthquake destroyed it. Their lives did. Number one, truth one. What is the first truth of a simple, spiritual, healthy, life that pleases God. That’s normal. That follows the basics.
Number one, He who is holy. The first thing Jesus calls Himself is holy. And Jesus wanted them to know that He was holy.
Holy, now we’ve heard of the Holy Land. It reminds me of something. Remember Bonnie and I go there, try and go there, at least once every year and lead a study tour there. The last time or a couple of times ago when we were there, we were down in the old city of Jerusalem and the souk and the spice market. I saw zaatar. Now I love zaatar. It’s a hyssop, it’s a biblical plant and they make a dip for you to eat with bread and olive oil. So I went and bought a little plastic tub, like from a delicatessen where you just get a quarter pound of this or that here in the States. I got one of those little plastic tubs of hyssop. I didn’t think anything of it. I put it in my backpack and then, when we got the hotel I put it into my suitcase. The problem is finding I travel so much, that that’s my Holy Land suitcase. I took all the clothes out and washed them, Bonnie washed them, put them back in but I never took out the zaatar. When it came time for our last Holy Land trip, I pulled that suitcase, my Holy Land suitcase, out from under the bed, unzipped it, opened it up and I was looking at my clothes and I said, Oh! There’s my zaatar. Do you know what was in my zaatar? The complete life cycle of a moth. Some moth had flown through that souk and had laid eggs in the zaatar, which was in an open burlap bag being sold in the souk. When that man scooped it up and put it in a little plastic tub and put the lid on, he sealed in there those little eggs and those little eggs turned into little larva’s and those little larva’s ate some of the zaatar and grew into cocoons. Then they hatched into a little moth and the moth tried vainly to fly out of that little zaatar can. I had egg shells. I had a cocoon. I had a dead moth. And what I really had, unholy is zaatar.
Do you know what holy means? Holy means that it is clean, preserved, and no impurity. Wow. Jesus said, I am Jesus who is holy. If you want to dwell with me, you have to let me make your life holy. Let me ask you, is that something you’re speaking truth to God about?
- The basic’s is saying God, I want to be as holy as it’s possible in this area to be.
- I want my hands, my eyes, my ears, my life, my body all set apart for you. That’s all.
- Holiness is not talking some way or never smiling.
- It’s being set apart for a specific purpose and when it’s the purposes of Christ, it’s holiness.
Do you have holiness in your life? Jesus said, I am holy. These people had chosen to be holy like their savior. Jesus told the Philadelphians; I’m the only source of unpolluted, unfallen, uncorrupted, unblighted existence. Do you want to be like my little tub of zaatar and have corruption growing inside? Or do you want to be holding follow after holiness?
Hebrews 12 says, without which no one will see the Father. Jesus said, I commend you. You picked it up. I’m holy and you want me to make you holy. Do you want Jesus to make you holy? He is holy, do you want to be holy?
Number two, this is the only attribute of God that gets the ultimate emphasis. In 1 Peter 1, it says, “but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all of your conduct, because it is written, be holy for I am holy.”
This is the only attribute of God that gets a threefold kind of ultimate emphasis. God has never described in the Bible as love, love, love. Good, good, good. Anything, anything, anything. Except holy, holy, holy. He’s the only source of holiness.
The second introduction of Jesus Christ in verse 7, the second half of it, He who is true. One thing that Jesus said. After His holiness, His just righteousness, His true nature is next. Holiness follows up with truth. A holy person
- speaks the truth.
- Lives the truth.
- Speaks the truth.
- The word of God is truth in us.
- When we’re in the word, His word gets in us.
- We speak the truth in the inward part and truth flows out of us.
There’s an interesting book that was written a few decades back, about the day America told the truth. It said that the whole country would fall apart because we’re so used to not telling the truth. We tell people what they want to hear. We report what they want us to report. We behave the way we want, but not the truth. Jesus is the truth. It says in Revelation 15, we’ll cover that in a few classes, they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God and the song of the Lamb. “Saying great and marvelous are your works, Lord, God Almighty, just and true are your ways.”
And then in Revelation, 19:2, “true and righteous are His judgments.”
- He is true.
- He who is holy cannot lie.
- Who is uncorrupted cannot fail.
- He is the only source of unblighted existence,
- which is connected to absolute truth.
- That’s why the scriptures say that word is truth.
- That’s what makes us bold and confident.
The work of righteousness is peace and the effects of righteousness is quietness and assurance, Isaiah tells us. That’s what truth does to us.
Basically, Jesus is saying, I speak the truth. I’m the last word on everything in today’s world. There’s always someone higher. You don’t like what you’re hearing on the phone, you say, I want to go up the food chain. I want to know your manager. If you don’t like what they say on the aisle, you go to the service desk. If you don’t like what they say there, you go to the manager. If the manager doesn’t say what you say, you put something or you tweet something to their account to get their attention. There’s always a higher authority to go to, not with Jesus.
He’s the final word. He is the truth. He’s the last word. If you want to hear an absolutely life changing truth, Psalm 19, has it. You know what it is, Bonnie and I just taught this a few months ago. We were speaking, invited as spiritual mental health care providers. We spoke to over 700 medical professionals, doctors. What I said to them is, I admire what you do. You can prescribe amazing drugs that can transform the bodies and help heal the bodies of people that you minister to. But there’s only one thing that can affect their minds for good and for health. The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the nonmaterial part of us, our minds, our emotions, our thoughts, our feelings, our memories. God can transform us. In a world of uncertainty, Jesus introduces Himself as the one who is true. The final word on everything. The ultimate authority.
Philadelphians in the first century, their lives were uncertain.
- They face persecution.
- They can lose their jobs.
- There were lurking disasters, like those earthquakes.
- There were constant unknowns.
- Endless potential dangers,
But why were they healthy? Because their life was built on truth. They had a foundation that never moved. That didn’t shift. That was true because He is holy.
Truth number three, look at the third section of verse 7. It says He who holds the key of David.
Now, let me ask you if you remember in the first class, I said that your assignment was to thoughtfully read these first three chapters, read them. Every word of them. When you read that word, did you know what the key of David was? Did you check what the key of David was? Or are you a typical, well adjusted American reader? You know what we are taught in America, the essence of life is progress. We just want to get somewhere. We don’t even know where we’re going, but we want to get there. Even in our reading that shows up. You come across the word in the Bible, you don’t know what it means, you just keep reading. It’s to check off the box, I read it.
What is the key of David? Real quickly. It’s listed here in Isaiah 22:22. Now that’s an easy reference to remember. To find the key of David, you go to Isaiah 22 and you meet a man named Shebna. Who introduces himself as a steward of the King of Judah. Everyone that got that letter 2,600 years ago knew what a steward was. We don’t. We think it’s someone that works in a cabin on a cruise boat or on an airplane.
What’s a steward?
- The Bible says a steward, the King’s steward, was the person who served the King by dispensing his wealth. That’s what the one who has the key of David was described as, the steward of the King of Israel who dispensed all the wealth that the King of Israel had. So the King was uber wealthy, but he had someone that would dispense payments for labor, for goods, for whatever was needed. That person was his steward.
- Secondly, the steward was the only person that could get you an appointment, face-to-face with the King. So I guess we’d say the steward was like their admin or their assistant or their VP of something. So the king was here. The steward was here. You want an appointment? You went to the steward, negotiate with the king and then communicated it to you. The wealth. The schedule. Wow.
- Thirdly and finally, the steward is the one who displayed the King’s power. Now, do you remember Joseph? When he was the steward of Pharaoh. He had a ring, a signet ring. When he carried that, he said, I represent Pharoh and I speak with as much power as Pharaoh. If you want to see Pharaoh, you come to me and if you want to sell something to Pharaoh, you come to me.
Do you see what a steward was?
Now, look at this. Jesus is introduced as the one that has the key of David. Unless you understand that context of scripture, which is what this course is all about, what it meant to those who heard it for the first time, that God directly communicated to. That’s the first law of textual interpretation.
When Jesus said I have the key of David, what did He mean?
- Number one, I’m the only one that can open God’s wealth to you. What’s God’s wealth? God has peace. He has quietness. He has assurance. He has contentment for us. We can have boldness. We can know that what we’re doing has purpose, meaning that will last forever. We can have joy, even when everything is going wrong. We can have peace, even when the world is like it is right now in the sheltering at home. People are going crazy and we can have peace and joy. Confidence. Jesus can open God’s wealth to us.
- Jesus is the only one that can open God’s presence to us. Remember that Moses wrote a song, you know that right? The 90th Psalm and probably the 91st they’re almost joined. They’re like a pair. Do you know what he said? He, that dwells in the presence of the most high, abides in the shadow of the almighty. What he’s saying is if you are near God, if you’re in His presence, you’re protected. You have an assurance, you have confidence, you have security, you have safety and only Jesus can open God’s wealth, God’s presence, and God’s power. Wow.
- Jesus holds the power of Almighty God. He is the final word. When He opens a door to God’s power, no one can shut it. When Jesus died on the cross, He opened the access to the presence of Jesus, the son into the father. Jesus holds the key to God’s wealth. He can distribute it anywhere, anytime to all people at the same time. Jesus, only He can open God’s wealth, God’s presence, God’s power.
One last truth. Before we go, He who opens and no one shuts. When Jesus does something, that’s it. He who opens and no one shuts and shuts and no one opens. This is saying, what Jesus does can’t be stopped, overturned, ruined, thwarted, or ended.
Remember I told you about the man who died, it was in the second class. His name was C.T. Studd. When an interesting name. I said that this man was in the heart of Africa and all those people were sitting around at his funeral. Did you know he started something over a century ago in Africa that’s going on to this day. What he started in the heart of Africa issued forth into transform lives, which issues forth into generational change in the heart of Africa. Jesus opened a door and the devil and all of his minions and all the heathen savages that surrounded C.T. Studd couldn’t close that door because when Jesus opened something, it can’t be shut.
Now the other half of that is when Jesus shuts something, it can’t be open. You know what? I can say what Paul said. He said: God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ by whom the world is crucified to me and I to the world. That’s the opening and the shutting. God can shut the door to the pleasures of Egypt for a season like Moses did. Moses lived in Egypt and didn’t succumb to the evil. That’s how you and I can live if we let Jesus be the one that opens and shuts. Opens God’s word to us and shuts the prison house of sin to us living any longer therein.
It’s very interesting, Jesus uses this term never. which means open and never close, close, and never opened. Those Nevers are all the way through His ministry. The first two times Jesus says never in His ministry, you should look in the gospel of John. He loves to use the word never. It’s an absolute term. Jesus opens the door to eternal satisfaction and to eternal life. That’s John 4:14. Let me just read these to you,
- John 4:14, “whoever drinks the water that I shall give him will never thirst.” Notice the never.
- Look at John 6:35. “I’m the bread of life. He who comes to Me will never hunger.” Wow. That’s amazing.
- John 8:12. “Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I’m the light of the world. He who follows Me shall never walk in darkness.” ” When Jesus opens the door to eternal light and life and satisfaction, no one can shut it, but you know what?
The last door is the best one in John 8:51, Jesus says four different ways the same thing.
- Number one, Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death.”
- Verse 52, the second time in the same passage, ” ‘If anyone keeps My word he shall never taste death.’ “
- Third in John 10:28, And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish;
- Fourthly John 11:26, And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.
John 11:26, John 10:28, John 8:51 and 52. This is the most amazing promise that Jesus said, I opened the door of endless life.
Hebrews chapter 9 puts it this way. We live after the power of an endless life. We’re not afraid of death. We’re not afraid of destruction because whoever lives and believes in me will never die. The body will, but I never will. I have a new body reserved in Heaven.
Jesus was not looking for perfection, just faithfulness. Doing the basics faithfully. What does that mean?
- They confessed and forsook their sins.
- They weren’t sinless, they just said I was wrong. I’m sorry. Forgive me, Lord.
- They were confessing and forsaking.
- They weren’t hiding their sin.
- They weren’t living in their sin.
- They were just normal, healthy, Christians pleasing God.
The healthy life that Jesus offers to believers; it’s just an abundant, confident, joyful, guilt-free life.
Now let me tell you one quick story. I’ll never forget it was Thanksgiving, I was pastoring in New England. The fax machine, I bet most of you don’t even know what that is; was a little machine that someone could electronically send you a message and it would print it out on this funny paper, is called a fax. A facsimile. It was like an early, email kind of thing. I remember I was sitting here and I heard the machine make a little squeak and a peep, and it started going and coming out. I tore it off and I looked at it.It told me the story of someone I knew. His name was Andy Meakins. He was an elder in a church in Ethiopia, in a city called Addis Ababa.
He was flying from Ethiopia to somewhere else in Africa when a Hijacker took over his flight. You can look it up online. Flight 961. On board we’re 163 passengers, 12 crew members. Among those flying on Saturday, where Mr. and Mrs. Andy Meakins. Andy was an elder at the International Evangelical Church of Addis. That large Bible believing church was pastored by a good friend of mine and so that’s why I got this fax.
In less than two hours, more than 120 of those passengers died. Among them was Andy. Let me tell you what happened. The hijackers stormed the cabin with their hatchets, that was before they had TSA and all that, broke the door down, took over, threatened the pilots, commandeered the plane to fly to a different place. The pilot finally radioed the people after this horrific time of all of them not knowing what was happening. He says, you know what, we’re running out of fuel. We’re all going to crash. There’s nothing I can do. Then the engines went out and the plane started going down.
On my little fax this is what Andy’s wife told me. She said as soon as the pilot said, we’re all going to die, the plane’s going to crash. She said, I’ll never forget the distinct snap of my husband’s seatbelt. He started, they were sitting near the back of the plane, he started going from the back and sitting on the armrests of every row all the way up the plane. He looked earnestly at each passenger and shared the gospel of Jesus Christ. As he was traveling down the aisle of the plane, he would look back at his wife and he would give her a count of how many people in their seats had cried out to Jesus Christ to forgive them of their sins before they died.
His wife said he’d made it two-thirds of the way up to the front of the plane, when the wing of the plane hit in the Indian Ocean near the Comoros Islands. Hit and started the plane spinning and it skipped and twirled. 120 people are board died. The crash, which is well-known now, you can read about it on the internet. It’s captured on the film of a Japanese honeymooning couple. They caught the descent of the 767, the tip of the wing, the flip, the crash, the disintegration, and the news reporters all talked about the crash.
But as soon, his wife said, as the captain told us we were going to crash. My husband’s seatbelt snapped. He was up and out of his chair going down the aisle row by row. He shared the gospel before the sickening screech of the twisting metal and the 110 miles per hour crash of our plane that snuffed out Andy’s Earthly pope pilgrimage. He had led 20 passengers to Christ. Andy never made it back to the safety of his seat but he took 20 souls with him to paradise.
Do you know what Jesus commended most about Philadelphia, that they were taking people with them to Heaven.
That’s what a simple, spiritually healthy person looks like. A life of doing what pleases God. A normal, simple, spiritual life with the basics in the word. The word in us, speaking the truth to God, and outflowing and sharing the word. That’s what pleases Christ. That’s the life we should seek.
Father in Heaven, I pray that we would want to be like the saints you tell us about in Philadelphia. I pray we’d be normal, healthy, pleasing God, saints, earnestly seeking the basics. I pray, we take someone with us to Heaven. In the name of Jesus we pray and all God’s people said, Amen.
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