Jesus had nothing but commendation and encouragement for the church at Philadelphia. The city that was known for its aggressive efforts to Hellenize the known world spawned a church that was committed to evangelize that same world with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus told that church that even though their strength (numbers and power) was small, they had kept his word, they refused to deny his name, and they had remained faithful, loyal, constant, and steadfast.
As a result of their faithfulness, Jesus promised the church at Philadelphia they would have an open door or opportunity to spread the gospel that no one could shut, they would see the hearts of their enemies turn toward them, they would be kept from the tribulation to come, they would receive a crown, they would be made stable and permanent, they would have security, they would enjoy heavenly citizenship, and they would ultimately receive and share in the authority and power of his name.
We too can be like the highly regarded church at Philadelphia but we must be mindful of the threats to our faithfulness looming in our world today. The spirit of carnality seeks to ensnare the believer through the lusts of the flesh, indulgence, amusement, sloth, and entertainment. The spirit of deception seeks to trick the believer through lying spirits, bad company, and subtle misdirection. The spirit of offense is a liar and thief that seeks to engender strife so that believers will be separated from their faith community, spiritual leaders, and their destiny. The spirit of weariness seeks to wear the believer down with the cares and responsibilities of life until they faint and give up. The spirit of oppression seeks to assert cultural, religious, academic, and institutional pressure until the believer craters under the weight of it all.
Every believer can remain faithful in these crazy times by applying the wisdom from Hebrews chapter 12. First, we can remain faithful by considering the cloud of witnesses that have already made it and are no doubt cheering for us to make it as well. Second, we can remain faithful by considering the weights and sins in our lives and making the conscience decision to remove them. Third, we can remain faithful by considering and committing to our part of the race or open door of opportunity to spread the gospel. Finally, we can remain faithful by considering how Jesus made it despite all the spiritual assaults and attacks he experienced. He made it by looking past the challenges and circumstances to the joy that is to come. The Scripture says, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame…” (Hebrews 12:2). We can be faithful because he was and is faithful.