It is not easy living as a Christian in the world on a normal day. It is much harder doing so in days that have quickly become anything but normal! We Christians face all of the same heightened challenges, adversities and hardships as our unsaved neighbors here in America and abroad during the current global Coronavirus pandemic. In a biblical worldview, our understanding of how and why such things are happening and intimate relationship with the Almighty God ultimately behind them are supposed to help us cope better than most.1 However, as hoarding toilet paper says much about the nation’s character, so the constant exhortation not to fear from preachers about that of Christians.
This is especially amazing to me since so many Christians profess to fearlessly believe in a sudden “rapture” that if it were to happen as imagined, would be an event so jarring to their families and others left behind in the world there would be no repentance or recovery in this Protestant version of purgatory, only fatal despair. As bad as it is at this point, we Christians are still here en masse and will be until death by whatever means or Christ’s unexpected sensory overloading appearance to deliver His persecuted remnant yet alive in a calloused, wonder weary world fully given over to evil. This is as the Bible objectively read and applied foretells (2 Thessalonians 1:3-12)!
As authentic faith in God has always been required of His righteous ones on any day to successfully resist the devil’s “fiery darts” that include fear, strength will be equally required to stand fast through all of what is coming upon the world going forward (1 Corinthians 16:13; Ephesians 6:16, NKJV).2 Human beings do not naturally possess the spiritual strength necessary to long endure and persevere through prolonged hardships, adversities, troubles and tribulations that are common to our life experience on earth much less the cataclysmic events foretold in His Word that God in His timing is bringing upon the world as the birth pains of His Kingdom.
Praise be to God He has built the availability of His strength into the human experience expressly for those in relationship with Him as redeemed sons, disciples and servants by grace through faith in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 3:14-16)! Drawing upon and living moment by moment out of the superior strength God by the Holy Spirit supplies to our spirit is our normative experience by design. We were made to be indwelt by God forever, but sin caused separation from Him (that is, spiritual death) to be mankind’s shared reality (Ephesians 2:1). Taking the initiative, God in Christ has restored His life and strength to us who believe in Him (John 10:10; Colossians 1:9-14).
The strength of God is without contest supernatural as is all of biblical Christianity and unique to Him. Out of His inexhaustible omnipotence God through Christ created and sustains the heavens and the earth for us, His eternal sons, assembled to Him and Christ as Lord--every aspiring strong man and great woman of God in His image (Isaiah 45:11-13; Colossians 1:15-23)!3 This same power as His strength is constantly renewed in us as we by faith purposely wait on the Lord for and actively seek it in times of need (Isaiah 40:27-31; 2 Corinthians 12:7-10). We are to even gain a bold faith in Christ from being repeatedly strengthened by Him (Philippians 4:13; 2 Timothy 4:16-18).
Through the supernatural strength our God supplies us then, we are more than amply equipped to please Him and do His will; to cope with the everyday trials of life and those more severe that come suddenly which at first glance seem to be overwhelming. Nevertheless, through His strength we are enabled to stand if we keep our heads and call on Him in faith; not giving into unbelief and the fear that somehow what we face is bigger than God. As it is written, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” And again, “For with God nothing will be impossible,” (Genesis 18:14a; Luke 1:37, NKJV). And since by the Word of prophecy we have known and know what God is up to and what is coming upon the world, we are all the more ready for extraordinary events that occur (Mark 13:23).
Indeed, as our Lord warned, far worse events to include the global persecution of Christians on the earth and in the heavens that have never taken place before are coming (Luke 21:7-12, 25-28). Are we already fainting in fear with this Coronavirus? As He taught in the Gospels and shows in His Revelation He recently led me to write about,4 Christ expects us to proclaim the Gospel and witness Him until He returns; persevering to the end in strength, obedience to His Word and loyalty to Him (Luke 21:13-19; Revelation 3:8, 11). Therefore, in faith and with “this treasure” of the Spirit of life and strength in us, let us like the faithful apostles and saints before and around us overcome this world and its ruler as well as ace the tests to doubt God through fear (2 Corinthians 4:6-11; 1 John 4:4).5
1 Taking Bible prophecy seriously as we ought, no Christian should be shocked at the increasingly severe events in our world. See my September 29, 2019 post, God
Almighty In A 21st Century World, under the category, Bible Prophecy.
2 For more on standing fast in the times, read my November 25, 2018 post, Standing In The Evil Day, under the category, Encouragement.
3 I write about the aspiring strong man and great woman of God in my book, The Strong Man Of God: Back To Basics. Get a print copy or digital download of the book
at major internet booksellers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, ChristianBooks.com and Apple (digital only). You can also get a print copy in the Strong Man Store.
4 See the two-part post beginning February 16, 2020, Christ’s Message To His Faithful, under the categories, Bible Prophecy and Encouragement.
5 The Lord led me to proclaim a timely six message series, The Hour Of Testing, now available in the Strong Man Store that instructs Christians on God’s biblically taught
purposes behind why He tests His people and fully explores the prophetic implications tied to the coming hour of trial our Lord speaks of in Revelation 3:10.
If the cities or names of the seven churches of Asia addressed by the Lord Jesus Christ have any importance at all as to why He chose them, surely, the church at Philadelphia does as a name. Most commentators translate Philadelphia from the Greek as “brotherly love;” a name given to the city by an ancient king to honor his brother. Consistent with this, the Lord’s message to the church there was to His faithful Christian brothers that included those of His Jewish heritage. This is clear to see in the message that would have excited a Jewish Christian more than any Gentile given its quote of Scripture with Jewish specific application, experiences and prophetic references.
The Lord opens His message: “These things says He who is holy, He who is true....” Though all Christians would (or at least should) perk up with a message from the Lord opening like that, the Jewish Christian with joy immediately understands Him to be authenticating Himself as the promised Holy One of God, His Anointed, Son and Himself true God (Psalm 16:8-11, 20:6-9, 89:19-37; Isaiah 7:10-14, 9:6-7, 10:20, 12:4-6; Luke 1:30-35, 2:8-11; John 1:1-9, 14-18, 17:1-3)! Further, to ensure His identifying credentials were not missed, He quotes from Scripture: “He who has ‘the key of David,’ He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens,” (Isaiah 22:22; Revelation 3:7, NKJV).
In quoting from Isaiah’s passage originally spoken about the man that controlled access to king Hezekiah, the Lord instantly affirms its prophetic application to and fulfillment in Himself as the One who exclusively controls access to God His Father (John 14:6). All Christians are supposed to understand why He is the only way to God, but only Jewish saints painfully appreciate how important this is when their own heritage is attempting to block access to God through their common historical and traditional means such as worship at the Temple (destroyed by this time) and the synagogue.5 As in all of the churches, the Lord knew the individual works of those at Philadelphia.
The Lord greatly encourages the individual saints and especially His Jewish kindred of this church by setting “an open door” before them He says, “no one can shut” in applying His quote from Isaiah 22:22. He is doing this He says because they “have a little strength, have kept My Word, and have not denied My name,” (Revelation 3:8, NKJV). As I wrote earlier, historically, the wide river of the Jewish “remnant according to the election of grace” the apostle Paul wrote of (Romans 11:1-5, NKJV) narrowed to a tiny brook with very little influence in Christianity after the 1st century as the Lord here acknowledges and appears to prophetically forecast as their foreseeable future.
The historically oldest of Christians, though tiny, faithful Jewish saints were and would be dogged in displaying spiritual strength, keeping the Lord’s Word and not denying Him through the unimaginable pressure of persecution from family, community and the Gentile nations into which they were scattered with their unbelieving fellow Jews. In what should stagger no one, the Lord lets the Jews that believe in Him know, He sees and is watching them! As a result, His encouragement turns to rewards for faithfulness: future vindication and reversal in the form of former persecutors being forced in the manor of Haman of old to worship His faithful saints (Esther 3, 5:9-6:14; Revelation 3:9).
But His rewards do not end there. The Lord says “Because you have kept (past tense) My command to persevere, I also will keep (future tense) you from the hour of trial (testing) which shall come upon the whole world, to test those (all others) who dwell on the earth,” (Revelation 3:10, NKJV).6 I concur with all that interpret the “hour of trial” the Lord speaks of here as one and the same as “the great tribulation,” (Matthew 24:15-21, NKJV). This being so, His promise of protection cannot be “the rapture” as is taught since Christians are foretold to go through and many suffer martyrdom during it (Revelation 7:9-14).7 In context and consistency with who He is addressing, the Lord’s promise of protection is intended for Jewish Christians primarily living back in Judea at that time!8
Though the Lord’s promise of protection during the hour of trial speaks to the proven Jewish faithful believers in Israel at the time it occurs, this does not preclude Him in sovereignty extending it to select other faithful followers likewise proven throughout the earth. Together they will form the small number who are “alive and remain” at Christ’s Second Coming (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17, NKJV). For this reason, the Lord warns He is “coming quickly” and exhorts the faithful to tightly grasp what they have in strength, obedience to His Word and loyalty to Him, so, “no one may take your crown;” unmistakably asserting that even with protection, there will still be persecution pressures (Revelation 3:11, 16:15, NKJV).9 The Lord’s rewards are still not done for those that overcome.
With yet more Jewish significant implications is the Lord’s promise to make him that overcomes “a pillar in the temple” of His God adding, “and he shall go out no more.” Also, He declares, “I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem...And I will write on him My new name,” (Psalm 48:1-3, 137:4-6; Isaiah 66:5-11; Revelation 3:12, 21:1-22, NKJV). Contrary to the lying deceit of these latter days, keeping His Word as it is written remains a critical part of the faithfulness Christ rewards! Those who are not doing so, put themselves in grave peril since disobedience is nowhere rewarded in the Bible (Revelation 3:13). The risen, living Christ continues His cry among American churches, "Who is on the Lord's side?"
5 Jewish persecution had led to those that were Christians being barred from entering or cast out of the Temple in the 1st century and it will be so again briefly when it is
rebuilt (Acts 21:15-30; Revelation 11:1-2).
6 The Lord led me to proclaim a timely six message series, The Hour Of Testing, now available in the Strong Man Store that instructs Christians on God’s biblically
taught purposes behind why He tests His people and fully explores the prophetic implications tied to the coming hour of trial our Lord speaks of in this post. Listen
to the series sample.
7 Faithful to the death as those at Smyrna, having overcome they will not be touched again by death; raised as they will be to eternal life and glory by Christ at the first
resurrection (John 5:28-29; Revelation 2:11, 14:12-13, 20:4-6, 11-15)!
8 What an amazing affirming prophetic disclosure by the Lord to Jewish Christians and all the church at Philadelphia, His faithful! Dispersed to the nations, as the Old
Testament prophets and He foretold, the Jews would one day return to their land and among them would be those that are followers of Him as Messiah (Matthew 24:
15-16; Mark 13:16). This prophecy of a return to the land became reality in 1948 when Israel once again became a nation with Jews from all over the world streaming
home since. Here again is the immutability of God on display to the world before our eyes (Malachi 3:6)! During this period of the return, growth in the number of
Jewish followers of Christ--many calling themselves Messianic--in Israel (still with hostility and persecution) and around the world has exploded though, their numbers
are still relatively small compared to the larger number of all Jews and their professed Gentile Christian brethren (Psalm 118:23-24)! Thank you, my brethren, for
your millennia long perseverance under trial in obedience to your Messiah--longer than any other ethnic group and an example to all in His Body! We who love you
rejoice in His righteousness of rewarding you in every way He will! Stay faithful through all that is yet to shortly come. To learn more about them, type “Messianic
Jews” into your favorite search engine.
9 Those who doubt the Lord can protect and preserve His people during times of persecution as well as His own acts of judgment should again acquaint themselves
with His Word as it is written (Exodus 8:20-24, 10:21-23, 12:21-23; Psalm 5:11-12; Joel 3:16; Matthew 2:7-15; Acts 12:1-11 as samples)!
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