Here is something else I learned while teaching from Anne Graham Lotz’ book The Vision Of His Glory that I thought was really great:
To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. 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, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth. I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
Jesus is revealed as the One “who holds the key of David. What He opens no one can shut and what He shuts, no one can open.”
Jerusalem is known as the City of David and heaven is referred to as the New Jerusalem. “The key of David” represents acceptance in and free access to heaven. And Jesus holds the key. He is the one who determines who can come into heaven and must stay out. He opens the door to those who receive Him by faith and shuts the door to those who reject Him.
In the next verse, Jesus says He knows they have little strength. They’re a little church and pagans surround them. But, He says they have kept His Word and haven’t denied His name.
The other door Jesus controls is opportunity to service for Him. Even if people haven’t done much in the past. If they have kept His Word and are loyal to it, He will open the door of opportunity to more and maybe bigger service to Him. And at that point it doesn’t matter how small or inadequate we feel. An open door of opportunity from God implies the command to walk through it. His grace is sufficient and His strength is made perfect in weakness.
He doesn’t tell us we can do something – we just have to try harder. Or that we’re perfect for the job. Instead He acknowledges that on our own, we couldn’t do His command. But, He says He’ll work through us if we just make ourself available to Him in obedience and dependence.
If we say to Him, “But I don’t have time, strength, education, money or ability, He tells us in Revelation 3:11, “hold on to what you have”. We have Him! We have His Word. We can walk through the open door, holding on to that.
God will never command us to do something He is unable or unwilling to do in us and through us. And our motivation to serve Him? Revelation 3:11 also says, “I am coming soon.” Time to serve Him on earth is short. In Revelation 3:12 Jesus promised, “Him who overcomes, I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. I will write on him the name of my God.” The pillar represents strength, the temple of God is His presence and His name written on us is His identification with us. It is a promise that our obedient, dependent service will be so rooted in His presence and His person that others will see only the strength and identification with God – not how inadequate we are.