There is no need to be in doubt. There is a way you can tell whether you are in the Philadelphian or Laodicean condition. Check yourself by the FRUITS!
DID YOU realize that there are members of God's true Church, today, who are Philadelphia era Christians in name only? Ministers in the field report, and visiting program meetings discuss, a growing problem of LETHARGY. Where do YOU stand? You need to KNOW what kind of Christian you are — in God's sight! God promises His Philadelphia Church protection in the time of great trial which is coming (Rev. 3:10). Will YOU qualify to receive that protection? Or will you wake up — too late — to discover you have been in a lukewarm spiritual condition? Will you have to endure the Great Tribulation in order to build the character needed to serve in God's Kingdom, and inherit eternal life?
No Question More Important
Jesus Christ said, "Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them" (Mat. 7:20). It's as simple as that! You can tell by your fruits whether or not YOU are in God's Philadelphia Church! The way to tell that this Work, with Headquarters in Pasadena, California, is the Philadelphia era of God's Church is to look at the fruits. It is by the description that Jesus Christ gave in Revelation 3 that we can be sure that this great Work of God, which is proclaiming the good news of Christ's Kingdom to this end-time society is in truth the Philadelphia era of God's Church. Any church is the sum-total of its membership. If the individuals are lethargic and lazy, the whole church will be that way. If the individuals making up the church are lacking in love then the whole church will be cold. The point is this: Since the Philadelphia Church is made up of many members which are described in Revelation 3 then the individual member of that church will have the same description! You probably never thought of it that way. You can see that this is God's Philadelphia Church because of the description. Most of the people in the Church also fit this description. But some do not. What about you? Does Revelation 3:7-13 describe you also? In order to find out if this description fits you let's examine very carefully and minutely the description of the Church. Only in this way can we come to know whether or not we are really part of this church.
What Does Philadelphia Mean?
God names things what they are. And, He has named this the Philadelphia Church. Philadelphia is a Greek-derived name which comes from two Greek words : philos, and adelphos. Philos means loving or dear and adelphos means brother. When put together these two words literally mean brother-loving. Have you ever noticed how much love there is in God's Church? Have you noticed how friendly God's people are, and how much they enjoy being together on the Sabbath, or any other time? As has been said many times, God's people are about the "hand-shakingest" people there are. This is just one indication of how God's people love to be together. There is a bond of true love and fellowship in this church that exists nowhere else on earth. But there are some people among us who do not share this love and companionship. They enjoy other people's company more than God's people! When they come to church they like to come at the last minute and leave just as soon as it's over. They don't like to fellowship with God's people; they have their own interests; THEY ARE NOT BROTHER-LOVING. How about you? Jesus gave 12 descriptive points and promised about the Philadelphia Church in Revelation. Let's examine them one by one. Apply the description to yourself. See if the description fits you.
Are You Going Through Your "Open Door?"
The first thing that Jesus said about this church is that it has works (verse 8). These could also be called "fruits." Jesus knows what our fruits and works are. He knows how to describe us individually and collectively. And, the first work that He mentions relates to an "open door" which He has set before us. God has given this end-time Church the powerful instrument of radio and the printing press to proclaim the soon-coming Kingdom of God to the whole world. The Church is going through that open door! The Church is fulfilling the command of Jesus Christ: "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen" (Mat. 28:19-20). Put this on a personal, individual level. If the Philadelphia Church is fulfilling this commission, then all those who are truly a part of this Church are also doing their own important part in carrying out this same Work. Each person has an important function in this Work just as I Cor. 12 plainly shows. We cannot all do the broadcasting. We cannot all write magazine articles or booklets. But each has his own essential part! What are some of the "works" that the individual can do in order to do his part! How can the individual go through this open door of evangelism? Each person has equal opportunity to pray fervently each day for this Work. After all, we all have 24 hours a day. We all have equal opportunity of paying a tenth of our income to support this Work. In tithes, no one gives more than any other person! But God has instructed us to also give offerings. The tithe is required. Offerings are required, but the amount of offering is left up to the individual. The amount of offerings is an indication of how vitally interested we are in God's Work. Another way that we can help in God's Work is fasting, so that we might grow closer to God and overcome our human nature. Our continual concern and interest in this Work — the measure of zeal that we have towards God's Work — our dedication to God's Work — shows how much a part we have in spreading the gospel to the world. "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Mat. 6:21). How much are you preparing for greater service in this Work, as well as for the rulership that God has promised in the World Tomorrow? How humble and meek are you? These fruits set us apart from the church of Laodicea — or lack of them could show that we are a part of it. One of the outstanding fruits of this end-time work is that it has been increasing approximately 30 percent a year in almost every phase of operation. The church of Philadelphia is growing in grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ, it is also growing in size and in influence. Are yon growing 30 percent a year? God has given each one of us o w "open door" to do His end-time Work. If we are not doing that work, we are not a part of the Philadelphia Church.
Do You Have Little Strength?
The second point mentioned in Revelation 3 is that this church has "little strength." Compare this with the Laodicean Church, who say, "I am rich and increased with goods and have need of nothing." (Rev. 3:17.) We live in a very weak and degenerate age, and yet few people are aware of this weakness. When we compare our accomplishments with the exploits of men in ancient times, we see how puny we really are. We do not have national leaders with wisdom like Solomon today. Where are the men with the faith of Abraham, the organizational leadership and meekness of Moses, the steadfastness of Noah? Certainly we have "little strength," compared to such people. The apostle Paul wrote that there are not many wise, mighty, or strong that are called in this age (I Cor. 1:26-31). Have you ever heard Mr. Armstrong or the other ministers mention how much they lack, and how much they continually must call out to God for strength? They recognize how little strength the people carrying on this Work actually have. Consider how few we are in number, how poor we are, how lacking we arc in knowledge, wisdom, faith, love, and every other way. This church realizes that of itself it can do nothing! Jesus said that He could do nothing, it was the Father that worked through Him. If Christ could do nothing, certainly we can do less than nothing by ourselves. Do you realize how weak, helpless, lacking, and in need of help you are? Or, do you feel you already have wisdom, you are strong spiritually, that you are not weak like some of the other people you see? If so, you are not in God's Philadelphia Church! Yes, God's people in the Philadelphia Church are weak, they know it, and they are constantly forced to cry out to God for help, to do the great Work that He has called them individually and collectively to do. The third point that Jesus gave concerning this church is that it has kept His Word (verse 8 ). What does it mean to keep Christ's Words? It means to do what He has commanded, in preaching and publishing the gospel to the whole world. It means to FAITHFULLY preach and obey His Word — His TRUTH. It means to live by every one of His words. He said that if we love Him, (that is if we are brother-loving) we will keep His words (John 14:23). He is the Spokesman or Word who inspired the whole Bible, so it also means to obey the whole Bible. Our standard of conduct is to live by all of His words — to obey Him. On the personal or individual level it means that we air searching and seeking to know God's will by reading His Word daily and making it a very part of our being. How can we obey His words if we do not know what they are? Next, Jesus said that this Church has not denied His name! (Verse 8.) The name of a person represents, or is the person. If we deny the name of Jesus Christ then we deny Him. How do we deny Him? By verbally saying "I deny Christ"? No! It means much more than that. Jesus inspired the apostle Paul to say "They profess that they know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate" (Titus 1:16). We deny Jesus Christ if we have the wrong kind of works or deeds. We can also deny Him by not being obedient to Him. He has authority in every aspect of our lives. He rules us through His Word and through His Church (Ephesians 4:11). If we are not obedient to those He sets over us in authority in His Church, if we do not obey His Word, He is not our Lord and Master. One of Jesus' names is Lord which means boss, one having complete authority over us.
What Is Patience?
The fifth point is that true Philadelphians have "kept the word of My patience" (verse 10). All of the promises of God are to the overcomer who endures to the end. What we are today does not prove what we shall be tomorrow. We may be winning the race today and lose it tomorrow. It is the one who continues in patience and who is steadfast even in tribulation who will receive the reward. Jesus said "in your patience possess ye your souls" (Luke 21:19). Jesus Christ says that this Church is patient, and that it endures all these trials and tribulations until the very end. Are you personally being patient in the time of adversity, sickness, and trials? Or do you give up when times get difficult? If you are a "quitter" you may not be a part of the Philadelphia Church. The sixth point that Jesus mentioned concerning this Church is the promise of protection. Before Jesus Christ returns to this earth, He will reward the Philadelphia Church by keeping it from the great time of trouble that is going to come upon the whole earth. "Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth" (Rev. 3:10). Other prophecies show that perhaps 90 percent of the people of Israel are going to be destroyed in the terrible war and holocaust that is shortly ahead. The people of the Laodicean Church will be tortured and martyred by fiendish men during the tribulation. What a great and precious and comforting promise this is, that Jesus will keep the Philadelphia Church from this great time of trouble!
Jesus Is Coming Quickly!
In view of such a great and precious promise Jesus exhorts us to bold fast, so that no one will take oz*r reward. The crown of righteousness that is kept for us will go to someone else if we do not continue faithful. When we are in severe trial or sickness the time may seem long. But, the day finally comes when the trial is completely and totally removed, just as though it had never existed. When you look back it doesn't seem as if it were so long after all. That's just the way it's going to be when we receive that great reward of eternal life. The trials and tribulations of this age will then seem very small, and to have taken but a very short space of time. Almost like a dream that has gone in the night. So Jesus says, "Behold I come quickly." We think that He is slow in coming, but He promises that He will come quickly! It will not really be long. We must look forward with great hope and anticipation to that promise, realizing that it will come quickly. After all, God has called us to endure and overcome for only a few years. Many of the worthy prophets of old had to endure many times over the number of years that God has called most of us to remain faithful. Consider the hundreds of years that such men as Enoch, Noah, and Abraham remained faithful to God. Our few years are short by comparison. If you are a part of God's Church now, endure to the end, hold fast! Do not become offended at anything or let a root of bitterness come in. Do not become lukewarm and fail to fulfill any of the obligations that Jesus has placed upon you personally. If you do, you will find that someone else will take YOUR crown.
Jesus next mentions an additional reward. But this reward will come after the resurrection. He has promised us (verse 12) that we shall become a pillar in the temple that is to be built in Jerusalem. A recent article in The GOOD NEWS explained that this is speaking spiritually and symbolically about the positions of authority in the government of God, at the Headquarters of this whole world. God has called the people in the other church eras to be kings and priests over various cities, states, and nations. But He has chosen us in this Church era to have a very special part in the headquarters government. We will be with Jesus Christ at Jerusalem. This is the Church era that has experienced firsthand the modern technological advances of science and industry. We have been able to see the good and the bad results from these tremendous advances in science. The World Tomorrow is going to be a very peaceful utopia, but a truly modern world. There will be great advances in agriculture, science and industry. God is calling those who have had firsthand experience with some of the modern developments and advances of science to properly control them. We may have responsibility to control the world's international affairs and activities such as transportation, communications, education, and news. God is giving us experience in these things now so we might use this experience and knowledge in His Kingdom! What a wonderful calling this is! Are you qualifying to have a part in that government? The Philadelphia Church is! Be sure that you are! Jesus next mentioned the position of rulership again. He said that no longer will we have any possibility of being discharged from that rulership and responsibility. We shall "go no more out." We will always be in God's favor. We will be with Jesus Christ for ever and ever. We will have the name of God written upon us. God names things what they are. When He writes His name on us, that means we are then born into His very family. We will be God, just as Christ is now God. We will not have the same rank, position or authority that He has, but we will still be a part of that very divine family! The name of the city of God will also be written on us. In other words we will have the blessing of ultimately living in the very city called New Jerusalem where God the Father will dwell for ever. The twelfth point is that He will also put on us His new name. This Church is to be a part of the Bride of Christ. A bride always takes the name of her husband. When we become married to Jesus Christ we will then share His NEW name!
Will YOU Qualify?
Now you have read the twelve points showing what a true Philadelphia member of God's Church is like, will be doing, and how God Himself will reward the Philadelphia Church in the World Tomorrow. Look at your fruits! Have you been bringing forth the fruits of a zealous, inspired, dedicated Philadelphian? Is your whole life, your whole heart really behind and in this great Work of God being carried on today? Are you sacrificing so this Gospel can go out with greater power and force? Are you obeying God's Word — living by His every command? Are you yielded to His Government, His authority over your life? Are you AWARE of your own personal weakness, inability, and wretchedness? Are you constantly crying out to GOD for His help in overcoming, growing, and inspiration in serving? Are you really looking forward to the glorious blessings and rewards and responsibilities which God will prepare for those who endure to the end, faithfully serving Him? You have heard how God wants you to be. Act on these things! Don't let someone else steal your crown! Consider these things. Meditate on them. THINK about them, seriously, earnestly, and take a spiritual inventory of yourself. Examine yourself before God in prayer. You can know where you stand by the fruits being produced! If it is evident by your fruits that you ate not a part of the Philadelphia Church of God, then repent, change your ways before it is too late. Ask God to give you that love which the Philadelphia Church has, to help you do the work that He has given you to do. Keep Christ's Words. Don't deny His name, ask for His help that you might endure to the end. Remember, it is not the one who starts in the race — not just the one who is enduring at the present time that will be given the reward. It is the one who ENDURES to the very end who wins the race! Be sure that you are a Philadelphia Christian — and don't let your spiritual zeal grow lukewarm, don't let spiritual pride overthrow you, don't let vanity deceive you. Remember the warning of the apostle Paul — "Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall" (I Cor. 10:12).