A City Set On a Hill
Surviving the Seventieth Week by Reforming Fundamentalism and Establishing Cities of Refuge
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Chapter 7
Holding Fast What We Have

Copyright 2010 by Raul E. Lopez, MD, MDiv

The church at Philadelphia was characterized as having "a little strength" (Revelation 3:8) which allowed it to successfully carry out its responsibilities. The term "a little strength" does not mean that the church was weak, for if that had been the case the Lord could very simply have phrased it "for thou art weak." Rather this church even though it was small, had unusual strength for its size. The Lord told the church at Sardis, in the preceding letter, to strengthen the things which remained. This shows that Christ does not want a weak church, but, rather, a strong church. In the same way that Christ told the disciples that faith as small as a mustard seed could move a mountain, so too, only a little strength is necessary to receive the special promises mentioned in this passage. When the Lord used Gideon to fight the Midianites he used a very small army, but selected those that were best qualified to accomplish the task. It is this small but strong church which receives a special promise of protection during "the hour of the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth." (Revelation 3:10). If we want to survive the seventieth week we need to cultivate the strengths which characterized the church of Philadelphia.

The word translated strength in both the letter to Philadelphia and to Sardis is ‘dunamis.' It forms the root of words like ‘dynamo' and ‘dynamite' and it is best translated power. The Bible makes it clear that the source of spiritual power is the Holy Spirit. Christ said "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you:" (Acts 1:8). The appeal of the Charismatic churches lies in their claim to have access to the power of the Holy Spirit. Many Protestant churches, similar to the church at Sardis, are dead, not having the power of the Holy Spirit. This power comes only from a genuine filling of the Spirit. Fundamentalist have strived to characterize their life and worship with those things that lead to Holy Spirit filling. Their greatest strength is the Holy Spirit filling which results from this life and worship. It is this aspect which most distinguishes fundamentalists from other groups and where it is most worthy of imitation. Therefore, we will look more carefully at these strengths of fundamentalism in order to insure the preservation of these strengths by that movement and their emulation by others. Jesus Christ told the church of Philadelphia "Behold, I come quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown" (Revelation 3:11 nkjv).

Little is said in the New Testament about how to be filled with the Spirit. The only passage which seems to clearly describe the means or conditions for Holy Spirit filling is found in the fifth chapter of Paul's epistle to the Ephesians.

18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; 19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; 20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; 21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

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