Real People in a Real Place

"To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, ‘These things says He who is holy, He who is true.' "
-Revelation 3:7a, emphasis added

Jesus wrote to the church at Philadelphia-a real place, with real people, experiencing real problems-to whom He offered real answers. Revelation 3:7 is the seventh time that the word "Philadelphia" is used in the New Testament. Philadelphia literally means "brotherly love." Hebrews 13:1 says, Let brotherly love [Philadelphia] continue. What a name! What a church that must have been back in the first century! And we are to be the same kind of church today-a church for God's glory!

Philadelphia was located thirty miles southeast of Sardis, on the road to Laodicea. The most striking historical note about the city was the very frequent tremors and earthquakes that were characteristic of its area. It had been destroyed by quakes several times. Fissures, ground cracks, volcanic activity in thermal pools, hot mud, and regular tremors were common. In fact, at times (sometimes even weekly) the Philadelphians would have to grab their tents and go live outside of the city to be safe from shocks, aftershocks, and bigger quakes.

The frequent tremors and quakes in Philadelphia help us to better understand Christ's words in Revelation 3:12: "He who overcomes, I will make him a [stable] pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more." The saints at Philadelphia had seen everything dear to them devastated many times, but they had enduring safety in following Christ. For Jesus gave them a precious promise: "Live out My love in you, and someday you'll be safe with Me forever!"

The people of the assembly at Philadelphia realized, like those souls on Flight 961, that "the plane was about to crash"-the plane of this world, that is. Later on we will see just how bad the crash is going to be; but for now, we need to understand that at the end of the world one out of every two people will die a gruesome, unnatural death. There is no doubt about it: the world is headed for a devastating and deadly crash.

Before you are taken out of this world, you have the privilege of going up and down the aisles of this life to tell those who are afraid and lost how to find a permanent place of safety in Christ, our refuge. Are you willing to do that for them? For Jesus?

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