“Christ’s Call for Church Renewal”

By Rev Dr Clive Chin

To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: … 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… Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth (Rev. 3:7-10).

In the Book of Revelation, we see seven letters addressed to seven churches in Asia Minor (Rev. 2-3). Christ describes these churches as loveless, persecuted, compromising, corrupt, dead, lukewarm, and (at last) faithful. There is no perfect church, but our Lord commends the church in Philadelphia for her patient endurance. Certainly this is instructive for ORPC, as we celebrate the 163rd anniversary of our witness for Jesus Christ in Singapore and beyond. We should thank God for his faithfulness to us. More importantly, we should ask what must our church become and do to receive this commendation from the Lord, as we face uncertainties and swirling challenges around us?

Firstly, like the church in Philadelphia, we must obey God and his word. In John 14:23, Jesus defines the nature of Christian discipleship in these words, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.” Secondly, we need to depend on the power of God to sustain us. In his parable on the vine and the branches, Jesus says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Thirdly, we must endure trials patiently. That means we go through the good times and the hard times together, which is the very characteristic of spiritual strength.

Given the above, the Lord makes some astounding promises to the faithful church. Look at verse 8, “See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut.” There is double meaning here. It means, on the one hand, the church has admission to God’s Kingdom—eternal salvation and security. It also means, on the other hand, that Christ will give the church evangelistic opportunities. God will use that church as an instrument for salvation.

May we follow the example of the church in Philadelphia.