THE CHURCH HELL CANNOT HANDLE
Intro: Before the Lord Jesus went to the cross, He
made a statement concerning the church. The church
Jesus described often has little resemblance to many of
the churches found in the world today. Look at
Matthew 16:18. Jesus said, "And I say also unto
thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will
build my church; and the gates of hell shall not
prevail against it." In this passage, Jesus tells us a
little about the character of the church He is going to
build. First, He says that the church is to be built upon
Himself. Jesus Himself is the foundation os the church.
His death, shed blood and resurrection form the
foundation upon which the church stands. Then, Jesus
says His church is to be a militant church. He says that
"the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." Gates
are not offense weapons, but they are defensive in
nature. The church Jesus described was not a body of
weak, oppressed people who were sitting around in fear
waiting on the next attack of the devil. That does
describe a lot of churches and a lot of Christians.
Instead, the church Jesus pictures is one that is on the
move. They are active in the Lord's work and they are
charging the very strongholds of Hell itself. They do not
operate on fear, but on faith. Literally, the church Jesus
came to found is a church that Hell cannot handle!
In our text today we have read our Lord's letter to
the church in Philadelphia. This church has been
described in various ways over the years. Many have
called it a weak little church. I just want to call your
attention to the fact that of all the seven letters to the
seven churches, this is the only church that did not
receive a rebuke of any kind. When Jesus wrote to this
church, everything He has to say to them was positive.
With that in mind, notice that in this letter, Jesus, not
the church is the primary focus. This tells us what we
already know in our hearts. If Jesus is kept at the
center of who we are and what we do, He will be
glorified and we will grow as a result. If we make much
of Him as a church, He will make much of us!
This morning, I would like for us to spend a little time
with the Lord's letter to Philadelphia. In His words to
this church, we see a clear picture of the kind of church
Hell cannot handle. If we are going to pick any church
as our pattern, let this be the one we choose!
I want to draw our attention to a word that is used
three times in this passage. It is the word "behold" and
it is used in verses 8, 9, and 11. By using this word,
Jesus is calling this church to make some observations.
He is telling them to "LOOK!" There are some
observations that the Lord wants the church at
Philadelphia to consider.
These are observations that I would like for Gilead
Baptist Church to make as well. I think we all want to
be a church that Hell cannot handle. These verse tell
us how to be that kind of church. Let's make these
observations together this morning.
I. V. 7-8 CONSIDER OUR OPPORTUNITIES
(Ill. The first "behold" is given to draw their attention
to certain opportunities the Lord has made available
to this church. By the way, these same opportunities
are available to every church that will walk in His
A. V. 7-8a The Character Of Our Master - Jesus
comes to this church and He reveals Himself as
One in control of everything. He reminds them
that He is to be the focus of their faith and the
hub around which the wheel of their service
1. His Personality - He is Holy and He is True!
There is no sin and there is no deception in
our Lord. He is all He claims to be and His
motives are always pure. Jesus Christ is the
2. His Power - Jesus is described as holding
the "key of David". This is a reference to
Isa. 22:20-22 where a faithful man named
Eliakim was named the steward of King
Hezekiah. He was given the "key of David."
This referred to the fact that Eliakim had
access to all the riches that belonged to the
This Old Testament passage is an
illustration of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the
faithful administrator of the riches of the
Kingdom of His Father. This reminds us that
He has he power to meet the needs of His
church as He leads them through the ministry
He has given them. He will be faithful to
provide all they need to do the jobs He calls
Since He has the keys, He is has the
power to open and close doors as He sees
fit. The bottom line of all this is that Jesus is
in control of the church. He is in charge of
seeing that her needs are met and He is in
charge of the direction her ministry takes.
Jesus is to be enthroned as, and recognized
as, the head of the church! (Ill. Col. 1:18;
3. His Perception - He tells them in verse 8
that He "knows their works." That is, He
knows everything that they are doing, how
they are doing it and what their motives are
for doing it. He knows when they use the
open doors He has set before them and He
knows when they keep pushing on the doors
He has closed before them. He knows all
there is to know about us.
B. V. 8b The Call Of Our Mission - Jesus now
moves to tell them that He has given them an
open door of opportunity to minister in their
world. The Lord called them to represent His
name in that day and He went out before them
and paved the way for their success.
Friend, He has done the same for us! This
church was not founded by the Lord without
reason! He allowed this church to be born for a
purpose and that purpose has not changed nor
has it been fully realized. God has given Gilead
Baptist Church an open door of opportunity in
this world and our duty is to find out what it is
and go through it by faith.
(Ill. The Lord Jesus is in control of all the doors
of our life. Notice how He moved in the life of
Paul - Acts 16:6-10. All the doors of God are a
blessing! There are times when He opens wide
the doors and there is no doubt about His will
and leadership. There are other times when we
see doors slammed shut before us. When that
happens, we often become confused and try to
push that door open ourselves. We need to
understand the truth that when the Lord closes a
door in our lives, He is actively involved in what
we are doing and He is merely going to lead us
in another direction where He has opened a door
for us! It would do us well if we learned to praise
God for both the open doors and the closed
C. V. 8c The Consistency Of Our Ministry -
Another opportunity these people possessed
was the consistency with which they carried out
their ministry. Two thoughts are mentioned here.
1. Our Weakness - these people are described
as possessing a little strength. Remember
what Jesus said to the church in Sardis?
They had the reputation of being strong, but
He said they were dead, 3:1. The church in
Laodicea thought they were powerful and
needed nothing! Yet, Jesus told them that
they made Him sick, 3:16. Yet, this church,
which was probably small in size and poor in
the financial realm is described as having "a
little strength." While this church was weak
in the eyes of men, and in their own eyes as
well, their weakness was, in fact, their
greatest strength! Jesus tells us that our
weakness forces us into a place of greater
dependance upon Him and the result is
Heaven's power loving in and through us, 2
2. Our Willingness - As Jesus continues to
speak to this church, He addresses two
characteristics they possessed that made
them strong in the midst of their weakness.
A. They Kept His Word - The word "kept"
means "to take care of, to observe." In
other words, this church honored the
Word of God. They gave it a high place
in their church and in their lives. When
the Bible spoke, the listened and obeyed
(Ill. Friends, the Bible is the Word of God!
This blessed old Book in under attack in
our day and many have left the Word of
God behind. However, for a church to be
strong in the Lord, the Bible must be that
church's marching orders. A people who
want to be blessed will be a people who
will honor the word of God when it is read
and preached to them. How are we doing
when it comes to keeping His Word?")
B. They Kept His Name - They were not
ashamed to be identified with the name of
Jesus. They were not ashamed to exalt
Him and allow Him to be the focus of their
worship and their lives.
(Ill. As long as Jesus Christ is the center
of the church, her work, her worship and
all she does, that church will be blessed.
We are living in a day when many are
turning away from the name of Jesus. I
just want to remind you that He is the
reason we are here today! He is why
those who are saved will not go to Hell.
He is the purpose of our being here
today. May He always be the focus!
JESUS! Let that name ever be raised
high in this place! If we will make much of
Him, He will make much of us! If we
make much of Him, He will draw all men
unto Himself, John 12:32. Remember
what Jesus said about the church in
Matthew 18:20, "For where two or three
are gathered together in my name,
there am I in the midst of them." Notice
where Jesus was when two or three were
gathered together! He was "in the
midst!" Is that where Jesus is this
I. Consider Our Opportunities
II. V. 9-10 CONSIDER OUR OPPOSITION
(Ill. Why the church possesses many opportunities,
they also must facet he fact that not everyone is on
their side! There are enemies to there work. They
are dealt with in this passage.)
A. V. 9 Our Master's Promise - Their enemies
were Jewish people who refused to receive
Jesus as the Messiah. These "Jews" opposed
the work of the early Christians and persecuted
them to the death. Of course, the real enemy
was not the Jew, it was the Devil, Eph. 6:12.
However, the Lord promises them that their
enemies will one day bow in submission to Christ
while the exalted church looks on in glorious
worship. The promise is that they will be safely
protected from their enemies and they will enjoy
the final victory.
(Ill. This church has enemies! That may be hard
to believe, but it is true! There are those who
said we would never make it. Yet, last week
marked our 13th year as a church! Glory to God!
There are those who still fight against what the
Lord is doing here, but I want you to know that
this church is not going down! We are partakers
of the Lord's victory and one day we will join our
Savior in His glory and we will see the enemies
of our Savior bow at His nail-pierced feet and
proclaim Him Lord!
Since this is true, I call on this church today
to remain faithful to the task! Stay the course!
Keep His Word and Keep His Name! He has
promised to see us through. Hell will have a
hard time with us when we walk in His power!)
B. V. 10 Our Master's Protection - This great
verses reminds than that the Lord is coming
back for His people before the Great Tribulation
comes to the world. It is a promise that they will
be protected from the day of the Lord's wrath
that will fall on the lost one day!
(Ill. The Lord is planning judgment on those who
have denied His name, but He promises to
protect His children from that awful time. Thank
God, we have the promise of His coming!)
I. Consider Our Opportunities
II. Consider Our Opposition
III. V. 11-12 CONSIDER OUR OBLIGATION
(Ill. Before Jesus closes His letter to this church, He
reminds them that they have certain duties as His
children. There are three obligations that are
A. V. 11a We Are Obliged To Watch - His
reminder to them is that they are to be mindful of
His return. They are to live everyday in the light
of His soon coming. Why is this so important for
the church? The answer lies in the fact that
those who are looking for Him are always those
who are living for Him, 1 John 3:1-3. When we
are looking for Jesus to came at any moment,
we will want to live a live that is pleasing to Him.
In other words, we will not want to be found
doing things that we would be ashamed of if He
were to come.
Another aspect of looking for Him is that we
will present a good testimony to a lost world.
When we live as we should, it will tell them that
Jesus does indeed make a difference in those
He saves by His grace.
B. V. 11b We Are Obliged To Work - They are
next counseled to hold onto the things they have,
His Word and His Name. They are to continue
to walk through the doors He is opening for them
until He comes. They are to guard their rewards
so that there will be crowns to cast at His feet
one day, Rev. 4:10-11.
(Ill. Let the church take good inventory of where
we are today. We need to be sure that we
continue ion the things the Lord has called us to
until He comes for us. It is not the time to quit!
It is not the time to slow down! It is not the time
to let someone else do it. It is time to go on in
the work of the Lord. It is time to continue in the
things that have made us what we are: hard
praying, obedient faith, work, witness and love.
Let us continue to carry out until we are carried
C. V. 12 We Are Obliged To Worship - This verse
lets them know that there will be a day when
they will be rewarded for their faithfulness and
their obedience to the work of the Lord. What
He tells them is designed to strengthen them in
their resolve to continue working for Him and to
drive them to their knees in worship before Him.
When we consider what He will do for those who
honor Him, it is enough to make us worship His
1. Over What He Will Make Us - (Ill. The
ancient city of Philadelphia was filled with
many pagan temples. It was the practice in
Philadelphia for citizens who has served the
city to be honored by having a pillar with their
name engraved on it placed in one of the
pagan temples. To have your name on a
pillar was one of the greatest honors known
to people of that time.)
Jesus tells His people that they will be
honored by being made a pillar in His
Temple! This speaks of our security in Him!
Philadelphia was built on a geological fault,
and as a result, there were earthquakes that
destroyed the city. When this happened, the
pagan temples fell and had to be rebuild. In
fact, in 17 BC an earthquake destroyed
Philadelphia and many of the people refused
to move back into the city, but rather stayed
in the countryside. No such problems will
affect the Temple of God! His promise is for
Strength, Stability, Steadfastness and
Security! He is promising to establish His
people in absolute security in His presence
(Ill. Notice where the emphasis is placed in
this verse! It is not on man, but it is on the
Lord! Notice "Will I make". Jesus is the one
who will make us a pillar in the Temple of Our
God! One day, if we are saved, we are going
home, where we will spend eternity with our
2. Over How He Will Mark Us - We are told
that the Lord's people will be marked with the
name of Jehovah, the name of the new
Jerusalem and with the name of Jesus!
That is, we are marked as God's people. We
are marked as to our destination and we are
marked as to our Master! He is not ashamed
to be identified with us in this day. He has
already placed His mark on us and we are
destined for home!
(Ill. Both of these truth speak of the blessed
security enjoyed by the redeemed! Those
who are washed in the blood of Jesus are
saved, sealed and secured. We have
already been addressed and are just waiting
to be delivered to that Heavenly land. Saints,
we are going home! That is enough to make
anyone want to worship before Him!)
Conc: Do we want to be a church that Hell cannot
handle? If so, then we must stay the course for God!
We must do what we have heard this morning and
"Keep His Word and His Name." We must do what
verse 13 commands and "hear what the Spirit saith
unto the churches." Have you heard this morning?
What will you do with what you have heard?