As a father in the faith to an emerging generation knowing the life-giving presence of Christ, let me say again today: It is time to arise and be a part of a maturing generation of overcomers for the glory of God. As I have stated, we must always be childlike in our expectations, faith, teach ability, and understanding of God’s love, but we must also desire to grow in maturity by finding God’s grace to overcome all things. We must overcome everything that resists a revelation of God’s love in our lives. We must embrace an overcoming grace of faith empowered by God’s love that eradicates all of our fears of death. We must respond to God with the transforming testimony of God’s Spirit that changes us inside and out. We must find God’s grace for life-giving connections of authority, so we too can be expressions of God’s life to the world. We must grow in an overcoming testimony of Christ’s resurrection life to be contributors to His fellowship of resurrection life in this world. We must also overcome in being a testimony of the community of God in Christ. The community of God is a place of knowing the tree of life and the justice system of His love in all things. It is a place of living to be life for others based upon a covenant of love. It is filled with mercy towards those who do not understand and a sharing of a grace of intimacy with those who do. Living in the testimony of brotherly love is part of being a member of the community of Christ.
The sixth letter of Revelation was written to the Church of Philadelphia. The letter to the Church of Philadelphia syntactically correlates to the return of Israel from exile under Ezra and Nehemiah in the church that was, Philadelphia of the first century, and the present day reality of becoming a testimony of the people of God in the earth. The word Philadelphia means brotherly love. It relates to communion and the testimony of the Spirit of Knowing (Isa. 11:2), thus the angel (sent one) of Philadelphia is the Spirit of Knowing (Zech. 4:10). This is the true witness of eternal life given as an “eternal judgment” in Christ (Heb. 6:2). That eternal judgment is eternal life for all who find themselves in Christ. It is judgment of love not for the deserving, but for everyone who boldly comes to the throne of God’s grace. It is a judgment based upon the mercy shown to all of humanity through the sacrificial death of Jesus upon our cross, and the life-transforming grace granted to each and every one of us by embracing the Spirit of God at work in our lives.
The overcoming promise of this letter is the antidote to the sixth aspect of the curse of the fall of man. The sign of eating bread by the sweat of the brow (Gen. 3:17) is taken away by a love for the Father and His family. Natural-mindedness is replaced with spiritual intimacy in Christ. Resistance to communion and community is replaced by a love that embraces transparency and vulnerability. A justice system of right and wrong is overcome by a justice system of mercy and grace in Christ. This is a living reality of those who have come to a revelation of being the people of God.
In this letter Jesus is seen as “He who is holy”, a term for God in His Temple. “He opens and no one shuts” and “shuts and no one opens”. All of this is “imagery of the synagogue and the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the temple”. Those in Philadelphia had “little strength” but had “kept His word and have not denied His name”. In Philadelphia there were those of the Synagogue of Satan, who said they were Jews just as there were conflicts in the day of Ezra and Nehemiah with false Jews (Ezra 4; Neh. 4; 6; 13). The testing of the faith of the Church was really the proving of a communion of the Spirit. Surely there are those who resist the building of the community of Christ today because of their own strongholds of thinking, seeking a justice system of judgment over one of mercy, forgiveness, empowerment, and love.
Revelation 3:7 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 and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens’: 8 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. 9 Behold, I will cause those of the synagogue of Satan, who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie—I will make them come and bow down at your feet, and make them know that I have loved you. 10 Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. 11 Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.”
The community of God is made of people who have come to know God’s mercy and grace. These are people who embrace a justice system of love above a justice system of right and wrong. True community happens when people live for the will of a heavenly Father, receive His mercy that comes by His presence, and become transformed by the grace of intimacy with Him to show His mercy to those beyond themselves. These are maturing children of God who willingly embrace the presence of His Holy Spirit and lose their own lives for the sake the generations of the family of God. When this happens, the testimony of God’s love for His people subdues their oppressors beneath their feet. The true Zion of God is then seen as Christ’s Church (Isa. 60:14; Heb. 12:22). The Spirit of Knowing proves to establish the foundation of the Church in love. Those who know the communion of the Spirit are kept from every hour of trial that would come upon the world. Their measurement of justice is one that knows God’s loves them and they too are a measurement of that love, no matter what circumstances might arise in life. Maturing sons and daughters in Christ must grow in the grace of love and become innocent to the judgmental laws outside of intimacy in Christ.
Food For Thought,
Ted J. Hanson