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Sermons from Grace Union Church

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Philadelphia

Philadelphia was located on a hillside about 30 miles southeast of Sardis. It was founded by the king of Pergamum around 190 B.C. The town received its name from his nickname, Philadelphus or brotherly love. This king had a special devotion to his brother, Eumenes II. The city stood in a wine-producing area and was the so-called gateway to central Asia Minor. The modern name of this town is Alasehir. Because it experienced earthquakes from time to time, more of the population than normal chose to live outside the city walls. "Never again will he leave it," says Jesus. This promise of Jesus to never go out again is a reference to the experience of these Philadelphians who had frequently to flee the city because of the earthquake tremors that came. When you labor for me, says Jesus, you will reach a place where you will not have to go out ever again. It is a picture of security, permanence and strength. This is the promise to those who overcome. To those who are faithful. The faithful are also said to have a crown which can be lost if they waver.

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Sardis

The church at Sardis was described as being “dead” It appeared to be alive – had “a reputation of being alive” – looked spiritually vibrant on the outside – but was spiritually lifeless. The church was Christian in name only. This recalls Christ’s scathing rebuke of the Pharisees who “look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean”. While most in the church at Sardis were in a dead spiritual state, “a few people” were faithful to Christ, and had “not soiled their clothes” They were promised that they would be taken on a walk in Christ, and to be dressed in white.

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Thyatira

Thyatira is an interesting letter because it is written to very unimportant city. It was like a giant Truck Stop Gas Station in the middle of nowhere. Because it was an outpost it had a great deal of trade and industry. The letter to Thyatira is the longest of the seven, containing more detail of the Thyatirans good and bad characteristics. Though their works increase and they display love, service, faith and patience, they also allow "Jezebel" and her teachings among them. This mixture of good and evil displeases our Savior, who seeks their wholehearted devotion. Yet to those who repent, He promises eternal life and positions of rulership in His Kingdom.

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Pergamum

The church at Pergamum had a major problem with compromise, and compromise with the culture is often the result when we lose a reverence and respect for the Lord. The sword is a vivid reminder that our Lord has passed along His expectations that all people must follow, especially those people that seek to represent Him in His church. God rewards faithfulness much better than this world rewards compromise.

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Smyrna

We will struggle to have peace when circumstances stink if we think it is our job to bring justice. God didn't ask them to OVERCOME he asked them to be FAITHFUL until HE overcame. Circumstances could only test them for a limited time, but their reward would be unending and decisive. In the end the church would be the last man standing. 300 years after this letter was written the ROMAN EMPIRE CRUMBLED and fell. Many of the 160,000 Christians living in Turkey today live in Izmir (modern day Smyrna). Many of these Christians can trace an UNBROKEN LINEAGE all the way back to the Church of Smyrna that this letter went out to. Their enemies are NO MORE, and the church still stands there more numerous and powerful than ever.

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