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Bible Study: Words of encouragement from Jesus

NASHVILLE (BP) – This weekly Bible study appears in Baptist Press in a partnership with Lifeway Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Through its Leadership and Adult Publishing team, Lifeway publishes Sunday School curricula and additional resources for all age groups.

This week’s Bible study is adapted from the Bible Studies For Life curriculum.

Bible Passage: Revelation 3:7-13

Discussion Question: When has a word of encouragement been especially timely?

Food for Thought:

Several years ago, I served alongside a pastor who wrote five to 10 notes of encouragement every Monday. He sent these notes to different people in the church. At the time I didn’t really understand the importance of what he was doing. Why spend so much time doing something that seemed so tedious each week?

Looking back, that pastor knew something I hadn’t yet learned as a young pastor: encouragement goes a long way in helping people keep walking strong in their own faith. Even when we don’t know what’s going on in a person’s life, a simple word of encouragement is never out of place.

We all love words of encouragement. Even simple statements like “good job” and “keep up the good work” can really lift our spirits and motivate us to do our best. Words of encouragement keep us moving forward in the right direction. What could possibly be greater than a word of encouragement from Jesus Himself? The church at Philadelphia received just such a word that can also encourage our own walk with Christ.

Jesus’ sixth message was to the church in Philadelphia, a name that means “brotherly love.” It was the “youngest” of the seven cities in Revelation 2-3, but it was a place of rich soil and vineyards, which might explain why they worshiped Dionysus, the Greek god of wine.

To this church, Jesus identified Himself by several titles: “the Holy One, the true one, the one who has the key of David, who opens and no one will close, and who closes and no one opens” (v. 7). His reference to the key of David hearkens back to Isaiah 22:22, Isaiah’s prophecy about Eliakim.

Eliakim had been put in place as the palace secretary, and the key referred to the fact that he could literally open or close any door he wanted because of his high position in the court of David. When we read this in light of Christ we see that Jesus, who is the root and offspring of David, has absolute authority. He alone has the authority to let people into the heavenly city and before His throne. Not only does Christ have the authority to open the door, but He is the door. The salvation He made possible is the only way into the presence of God.

God’s people in Philadelphia no doubt cherished the truth that Jesus had opened the door of salvation for them and assured them of a new name and a permanent citizenship in heaven. Isn’t it good to know that we have that same opportunity? And we too must continue to hold on to the truth of the Gospel as did the Christians in Philadelphia. We are living in uncertain times, but the promises of God and the provisions from God are just as real today as they were for the church in Philadelphia.

As great as thank-you cards are in encouraging us, Jesus has given us letters in the Book of Revelation that have offered generations of Christians the encouragement to remain faithful to Him. Let us faithfully trust Him as we minister to others.

Bible Studies for Life

Bible Studies for Life connects the Bible to life for adults, students and kids. Bible Studies for Life helps individuals and groups know God’s Word through trustworthy content, creates biblical community through engaging and conversational group studies, and helps people engage the culture missionally by unpacking what the Bible says about real-life issues. More information can be found on the internet at biblestudiesforlife.com.

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  • Staff/Lifeway Christian Resources