Saturday, January 8, 2022

A Model of Endurance

“I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept My word and have not denied My name.”
 – Revelation 3:8

Have you ever felt shut out by the world? Maybe you've had doors slammed in your face. You've been rejected, excluded, kicked out and passed over ... because you were following Jesus Christ.

Well, it's nothing new. That's just what the Christians in the church of Philadelphia were dealing with way back in the 1st century. But they held fast, even when doors were slammed in their faces.

In the early years of Christianity, the Jews and the Romans considered Christianity to be a Jewish sect, and at first, Christians were allowed to attend local synagogues and live at peace with the Jews in town. But after Gentiles began converting to Christianity, both Jews and Romans began viewing Christianity as a dangerous new religion that was harmful to both Judaism and the Roman Empire. So, by the end of the First Century A.D., Christians were being persecuted by both Romans and Jews.

Jesus refers to this persecution in his message to the Christians in the church of Philadelphia in Revelation 3:7-13. This is one of two churches in the Book of Revelation that Jesus doesn’t rebuke at all. He tells them in verses 8 and 9: “I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept My word and have not denied My name. I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan … come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you.”

I believe these two verses paint a pretty clear picture of what the Philadelphian Christians were dealing with. In New Testament times, each Jewish synagogue would keep a membership book with the names of all the synagogue members who were in good standing. But by the middle of the first century, as some Jewish leaders began to view Christianity as a threat to Judaism, the synagogue rulers started removing the names of Jewish Christians. That certainly happened in Philadelphia. Christians’ names were removed from the synagogue’s membership book, and the synagogue door was slammed in their faces. The Christians were rejected ... excluded … kicked out and passed over. They were shut out.

So, Jesus tells the Philadelphian Christians in verse 8—and He also tells you and me today—“Christians, it doesn’t matter how many doors have been slammed in your faces. I have opened the most important doors that none of your critics can slam shut. I have opened up the door of opportunity for you to share the gospel with people who need to hear it. And I have opened the door to heaven. So, don’t you forget it!”

Some of the Philadelphian Jews seem to have been spreading the lie that God hated Christians. To which Jesus responds in verse 9, “Liar, liar, pants on fire. I am the One who is both holy and true. God the Father loves you, Christians. And I love you too. And one of these days I will make those liars fall at your feet and confess this truth themselves. You are loved by God!”

The Christians in Philadelphia had been through a lot, and they were tired. They were physically and emotionally drained. They were exhausted. But through it all they kept obeying God’s word and holding tight to their faith in Jesus Christ. In verse 10, Jesus adds another praise: “You have kept My command to endure patiently.” Just about everything in Christ’s kingdom requires patient endurance. Overcoming temptation requires patient endurance. Loving our neighbor as ourselves takes patient endurance. Maturing in our faith and bearing spiritual fruit requires patient endurance. No matter what life throws at us, we have to keep pressing forward to the finish line of our faith.

The movie, “Rocky Balboa,” has a scene that illustrates this point so well. Rocky—a native of our country’s own city of Philadelphia—is having a heart-to-heart talk with his son. He says, “It ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can GET hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward.” The Philadelphia Christians were really good at doing that. They got hit and kept moving forward. They kept Christ’s command to endure patiently.

Can you relate? Maybe you’re really tired. Maybe you’re physically and emotionally drained. Exhausted! But despite that, you keep obeying God’s word, holding tight to your faith in Jesus—and you keep moving forward. And Jesus turns to you and says, “I am so, so proud of you. And I love you.” So, don’t you forget it!

Dane Davis is the pastor of Impact Christian Church in Victorville. His new book, “Buoyed Up: Jesus’ 8 Steps to an Unsinkable Life,” is available on Amazon in paperback, e-book and audiobook. Join us at Impact for Sunday services: in person at 9 a.m., or online at 10 a.m. on Facebook Live or YouTube. For more information, visit

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