A Warning for the Church of Philadelphia
In chapter 3 of Revelation, Jesus gives high praise to the Church of Philadelphia for studying the scripture, for having great faith in Him and love for Him, for accomplishing all of the commandments He has given them to do and for avoiding the sin that is so prevalent in the last days of the Church age. Up to this point He has zero complaints against this small group of believers.
He wants to keep it this way. Christ wants all members of the Church of Philadelphia to make sure that their faith does not fail or even stumble a little bit. He wants all of his most faithful believers to be taken in the First Fruits rapture to Heaven with Him. However, they will need to continue in the faith up to and including the very last minute of the day He returns for the First Fruits Rapture. He gives them the firm warning in Revelation 3:11:
Behold, I come quickly; hold fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. (KJV)
I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. (NIV)
Jesus is talking about the Crown of Life. This crown is required for reigning and ruling in the thousand year kingdom of Christ, known as the Kingdom of Heaven in the Scriptures. Jesus has given us commands to keep from falling, and these commands are simple to understand, but very difficult to accomplish. These commands in Revelation 3:8 and 3:10 can be summarized as follows:
Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm until the end will be saved (NIV--Matthew 24:12)
Our life as a Christian could described as something like a football game. You need to play the full 60 minutes. Each play is important! If you are on defense and you misread your assignment, it could cause the opponent to score and that one touchdown might be the difference in you winning or losing the game. If you are on offense and are thrown a pass, you need to concentrate on catching that pass, even if you know you are going to take a hard hit by a defensive player. If you catch the pass, your team can continue playing and possibly winning the game.
If you play the whole game and take on your coach's assignment with enthusiasm, you are more likely to win than to lose. I enjoy college and pro football and have seen the opponent of my favorite team win in the last few minutes of the game at more than one event. How disappointing to be ahead after 59 minutes of play and then lose the game on the last play of the game. We are on God's team, the Church of Philadelphia. We need to perform/work for God the full 60 minutes and come out victorious. We cannot let our guard fall and sin against God and be defeated by Satan.
We cannot decrease the time spent reading the Bible and serving Jesus--even for one minute. Let's live for God and watch and be ready for Christ's return! Let's even increase our love and devotion for Christ and for one another during these last few days of the Church age. Here's a scripture passage that encourages believers to remain faithful:
Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the fresh and living way that he inaugurated for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in the assurance that faith brings, because we have had our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water. And let us hold unwaveringly to the hope that we confess, for the one who made the promise is trustworthy. And let us take thought of how to spur one another on to love and good works, not abandoning our own meetings, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and even more so because you see the day drawing near. (NET--Hebrews 10:19-25)
Here's another verse to remember:
But we should not lose heart in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we do not faint (Gal 6:9).
If you slacken your watching for Jesus' return and do not continue with enthusiasm for serving Him, you could lose the high standing you now have with God, be censured at the Judgment Seat of Christ and miss out on ruling and reigning with Him in His Kingdom. You could miss out on sitting next to Jesus on His throne and miss out on being glorified by Him for all Eternity. Don't let this happen--remain faithful!