I recently had discussions with a friend who was disappointed regarding the weekly messages given in his church. He felt these sermons were only centered in the message of evangelism and few were presented regarding discipleship. He and another member of this church began discussing starting a home church using the Philadelphia church of the Book of Revelation as a model. After hearing about this discussion, I've been studying scripture about what a faithful church should be doing regarding discipleship and here are some ideas:
The First Century Churches
Colossians 4:15 Salute the brethren that are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the church that is in their house.
Romans 16:5 ... and [salute] the church that is in their house. Salute Epaenetus my beloved, who is the first-fruits of Asia unto Christ.
The first century churches were not complicated in their makeup. One of the members would offer their house as a meeting place and those that wanted to learn more about Jesus Christ, discipleship, worship and prophecy would simply show up at an agreed upon date and time and study the Old and New Testaments. There were no mortgages to pay, no insurance, no administrative staff, no salaries to pay. They simply met to learn more about God's word and to serve our Savior, Jesus Christ.
A farmer can't plant or harvest his crops or a carpenter can't build a house unless he has the proper tools. Here are several suggestions for materials to use in meetings and Bible studies:
Here are some ideas for your first meeting:
The Philadelphia Church
including an exegesis from the Book of
Revelation, chapter three, where Christ
evaluates the works of the Philadelphia
Church. I believe that it is so
important to understand what He expects from
the members of this church.
Jesus is speaking to the pastor of the church in
Philadelphia. Christ tells him that
everything He says to him is true and that He has
control over everything and that whatever He plans
to do, He will accomplish; no one, not fallen
angels or mankind can stop Him. If Jesus
opens a door of opportunity, no one can close it
and once Jesus closes that door, no person can
Revelation 3:8 I know thy works (behold, I have set before thee a door opened, which none can shut), that thou hast a little power, and didst keep my word, and didst not deny my name.
Jesus will shortly open the door to Heaven for
the Church of Philadelphia to enter and no one can
stop their entrance into Heaven. This will be the
First Fruits Rapture and I believe that it will
take place on the day of Pentecost, after the city
of Damascus, Syria is destroyed (Isaiah 17).
In terms of today's mega churches or the TV
churches, the Philadelphia Church has little power
and little influence on mainstream
Christianity. But the believers of this
church have kept His word: these are the verses in
the Holy Bible; they have obeyed Jesus; they have
not denied the power and authority of Jesus
Christ: they have become his faithful disciples.
Revelation 3:9 Behold, I give of the synagogue of Satan, of them that say they are Jews, and they are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.
theology began in the
1800s and this church says
that God has nothing more
to do with the people of
Israel: they say that they
have taken the places of
the Jews and other
Jacob. The people in
this group are believers
in Jesus Christ but they
have believed the lie
instigated by Satan that
God has abandoned the Jews
and replaced them with the
church. However, no
one has taken the place of
the Jews. God still
loves them and He will
never abandon them.
the whole Christian church
is in Heaven, Jesus will
make the Replacement
Theology church come and
worship Him and they will
bow down before him: this
is their worship at the
feet of Jesus. Since
the Philadelphia church is
the most faithful of His
churches, they will share
the throne of Jesus and
hence the Replacement
theologists will worship
Jesus at their feet also.
Revelation 3:10 Because thou didst keep the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of trial, that [hour] which is to come upon the whole world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.
Church at Philadelphia is
the only church that Jesus
says to them: "I will
remove you from the earth
and take you to Heaven
before the Tribulation
begins. I will do
this because you have
patiently obeyed my
word. This is my
reward to you for your
left behind will be the
Jesus will save during the
Tribulation and the
first two groups of people
will be severely tested by
Antichrist during the
first half of the
the Tribulation, most of
the unfaithful Christians
will become faithful
followers of Christ.
The Jews and the saved
Gentiles will be severely
the second half of the Tribulation.
Revelation 3:11 I come quickly: hold fast that which thou hast, that no one take thy crown.
verse is a warning to
members of the Church of
Philadelphia. There will
be many temptations during
the last days of the
Church age and Jesus warns
them to keep looking up
for His return. If
they do give into
temptations, they may fall
and Jesus may not then
consider them as His most
faithful. The crown
Jesus mentions is the
Crown of Life and is only
given to Christ's most
Revelation 3:12 He that overcometh, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go out thence no more: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God, and mine own new name.
The members of the Philadelphia church that
continue to be very faithful to Jesus are
overcomers: they will avoid evil, confess
their sins to God, praise God, watch for Jesus'
return and perform good works that glorify
God. If they do these things, they receive
the name of Jesus upon their forehead. This
means that they will become the Bride of Christ;
they are the most faithful believers of the entire
Church age. They will always be in the
presence of God the Father and Jesus Christ.
3:13 He that hath an
ear, let him hear what
the Spirit saith to
To summarize: Jesus has
evaluated the works of the Church at
Philadelphia and found that they are very
faithful to Him. They have obeyed the
holy scripture and have recognized and used
the power and authority of Jesus Christ to
overcome any temptations they have faced; they
have judged their own works and have confessed
to God any sins they have committed; they have
accomplished good works that glorify God; they
have stood up to and have not given in to
persecution. They are watching and
praying for the soon return of Jesus Christ so
He can initiate the First Fruits Rapture; they
will be soon be taken through the open
door into Heaven and miss all seven
years of the Tribulation.
Philadelphia Church members that want to become more of a disciple of Jesus have been given the Old and New Testaments to study and some of these books are easier to understand than others and some chapters in these books are very difficult to understand. However, these verses are given to us by God and therefore, we must give it our best effort to understand and obey even if they are difficult. We cannot skip verses just because we don't initially understand them; it may take much study before some verses are understood. Obeying the following scripture tells us that God will allow us to understand even the difficult verses if we ask Him for wisdom to understand them and we then earnestly study the scripture:
James 1:5-7 But if any of you lacketh wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all liberally and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing doubting: for he that doubteth is like the surge of the sea driven by the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord;
II Timothy 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
In my opinion, a complete book of the Bible should be studied in detail from the first chapter to the last and no verses should be skipped; difficult verses should cause us to research their meaning even if it takes a considerable effort. Each verse in each chapter should be read in the home church and then discussed.
A Bible study could include the following:
This could be a weekly or even daily scanning of newspapers and news websites, particularly of the middle east and Israel, for prophetic events that could be taking place. Take a few minutes during a Church meeting to discuss these events and tie these events to prophetic scripture. Several members of your Philadelphia Church could volunteer to do this research and periodically report their findings to the other members.
You will need to study the prophecy included in the Gospels, in the letters of Paul, Peter and others and the books of Revelation, Ezekiel, Daniel, Isaiah, Jeremiah and other books of the Old Testament. This could be a "background" study.
It has been my experience with the Holy Bible, is that it is not static: we should never think that we have understood every facet of the verses and do not need to study again Books of the Bible that we have studied in the past. Because of our life experiences and because of fulfilled prophecies, when we go back and read and study specific books of the Bible, we will often see other aspects of the scripture that were not obvious the first time we studied it.
When you study a specific book of the Bible, there are usually several topics that are discussed. When you are finished with a given book, you might want to discuss in-detail a specific topic within a given set of verses. Some topics you might consider include:
Jesus spent considerable time on His knees, praying to God the Father and some of His prayers are recorded in the four Gospels. We should also pray much: lifting up our needs to God, praying for the healing of our loved ones, asking God to help us overcome our faults and praying for wisdom from our Heavenly Father. We should tell God that we love Him and praise and give thanks to Him for His presence in our lives and our many blessings. Some suggestions for prayer are given: Prayer.
I have included an ability to do a keyword search of our FFruits.org website and this may help you to better understand a given verse:
How do you know if your home church is a Philadelphia Church?
If your home church is a faithful church, you will exhibit the Fruit of the Spirit. These Christ-like attributes are gifts given to you by the Holy Spirit when you repent, avoid evil, follow the scripture, produce good works, and love as Christ loved. You will demonstrate by the way you live your life that you are a disciple of Jesus Christ:
Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering (patience), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control; against such there is no law.
The fruit of the Spirit that is exhibited by a faithful believer is the result of their faithfulness, service to God and love and worship of God. These wonderful characteristics are gifts from God for their love and service to God. This fruit is a direct result of their obeying the two great love commandments:
Deuteronomy 6:4-5 Hear, O Israel: Jehovah our God is one Jehovah: and thou shalt love Jehovah thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
Leviticus 19:18 Thou shalt not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people; but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am Jehovah.
Watching for Christ's Return
The Church at Philadelphia will be escorted through the open door that is mentioned in Revelation, Chapter three before the testing of the Tribulation begins. If you are a faithful believer, you will be watching for Christ to return to take you to Heaven in the First Fruits Rapture and will daily pray the following prayer:
Watch ye therefore, and pray always that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass and to stand before the Son of man. (Luke 21:36)
My paraphrase: I pray to my Father in Heaven that I am counted worthy to escape all seven years of the Tribulation and to stand before Jesus Christ for my judgment. I continually watch and pray for the return of Jesus Christ and I pray that I am counted as a faithful member of the Church at Philadelphia.
As the signs of the end times continue to be fulfilled, it will be very important for the members of your home church to continue to meet and to discuss and live out the admonitions given to us in the Holy Bible:
Hebrews 10:23-25. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope that it waver not; for he is faithful that promised: and let us consider one another to provoke unto love and good works; not forsaking our own assembling together, as the custom of some is, but exhorting [one another]; and so much the more, as ye see the day drawing nigh.
The day drawing nigh in this verse is the First Fruits Rapture.
Praying for the soon return of Jesus Christ for the First Fruits Rapture is an activity that I enjoy doing, almost every day. I believe that a Philadelphia Church should beckon for Jesus' return from time to time. Here is my beckoning:
Our Lord Jesus, You are our Savior in Heaven and in our lives, and we earnestly beckon for You to return to Earth so that our joy in our salvation will become complete. We, Your humble servants, want You to appear so we can see Your glory. We want you to return so that You will change us from being fallen and sinful men and women to becoming completely holy and righteous. We want You to appear so that our love for You and for our fellow believers will be made complete and perfect. We want You to appear so that in seven years, evil and death will be destroyed, the Earth restored and the curse removed. We dedicate the rest of eternity to Your service and to love You and to fellowship with You. We are at peace with You and will give praise, glory, honor and devotion to You forever, Amen.