Letter to Philadelphia 3
'Hold on' is an instruction to people who might not hold on, or who do not realise the danger of letting go, or who might feel falsely secure in the present not understanding what the future might bring. The church of Jesus Christ is always at risk of attack from outside by persecution and from inside by false teaching, temptation and lovelessness. Mercifully the pressure is often not constant, but in the times of quiet – hold on to the Truth. And when the pressure becomes almost unbearable – hold on to Jesus. The believers in Philadelphia had been faithful but needed to stay faithful, even though they often felt weak (Revelation 3:8). They had stayed strong enough, with the Lord's help, when the unbelieving Jews made life difficult for them (Revelation 3:9).
The reward of Christ was their hope: the crown of righteousness which is reserved for God's faithful servants (2 Timothy 4:8). So they needed to hold on to the end. The proof of belonging to Christ's kingdom is that they do not abandon it (Hebrews 3:6). As Hebrews 3:14 says, "We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end." Perseverance is one of the evidences of mature faith (2 Peter 1:5-11). Such people we call 'pillars of the church' – from this verse in the Bible. Interestingly nothing much remains of ancient Philadelphia now, except a solitary pillar of a church.
The area was prone to earthquakes. Some 60 years earlier the city has been devastated by a major quake. The people knew the warning signs and would run out of the city. But Jesus promised that His people would be safe, in His heavenly city. There will be no more food shortage (Revelation 7:16), no more death or any sadness (Revelation 21:4), and no more curse over God's people (Revelation 22:3). They will not be constantly on alert to escape disaster when Jesus returns. But right now, they must hold on. In the same way that the names of notable people in the city were inscribed on public columns, Jesus would mark them with His Name, and the Heavenly City to which they belonged.
Whatever the difficulties, however weak you feel, hold onto Jesus. There is no other safe place and no other secure future. Yet the weariness of constant struggle erodes human confidence, making us easy targets for either false doctrine or attractive temptation. Yesterday's faith is not enough, we must go through many hardships (Acts 14:22). But the Lord is at our side (2 Timothy 4:17-18). If you are trusting Jesus, you are already marked out by him and belonging to Him (2 Corinthians 1:21-22). Be who you are, hold onto Jesus and let Him keep you secure.
© Dr Paul Adams