The church in Philadelphia is the church of brotherly love; in this church we love the brothers to the extent that we are laying down our life for them, even as the Lord laid down His life on our behalf (1 John 3:16).
The Lord’s supreme and unique commandment was that we love one another even as He loved us; first, we love God, and then by the love that God Himself is in us and to us, we love the brothers and sisters. In the recovered church we should not call one another, “teacher” or “father” but brother – all we are is brothers, for we share the same divine life, and God is our unique Father.
Being a brother in the Lord and meeting a brother is a deep, sweet, and wonderful matter; we are the Lord’s family, the brotherhood of the saints, which is universal, earth-wide, surpasses time, and overcomes space.
All those who have the life of God are our brothers and sisters; they may still be in denominations or even in the Catholic church, but they are our genuine brothers in the Lord. We need to love one another warmly in brotherly love; our love has to be ardent, with a lot of feeling (Rom. 12:10).
When we meet the saints and call one another, brother, this expresses the intimate relationship we have in God; we share the divine nature and we enjoy the person of God, having fellowship in the Lord and being one with Him.
According to the Apostle Peter, the climax and top virtue is brotherly love and love; godliness – the expression of God in humanity – culminates in loving the brothers and in loving all men. Therefore, we need to love one another in a tender way, filled with sympathy (1 Pet. 3:8).
The Lord’s new commandment – which is an old commandment but it is new, shining with new light and truth – is that we love one another, for by this shall all men know that we are His disciples, if we love one another (John 13:34-35).
The love we should have for one another, the brotherly love, should not be a cold, dry love, but a love with affection, a love with much emotions and feelings; this love is characterized by delight and pleasure, and it is so pleasant to be with the brothers and love one another in the Lord!
Loving the Brothers to the Extent of Laying down our Life on Behalf of the Brothers
In his gospels and epistles the apostle John shows us the way God ordained – first, by believing into Christ we are brought out of death and into life, and then, we love the Lord and we love the brothers. Loving the brothers is the proof that we have passed out of death and into life.
The most reliable way to ascertain whether someone is a son of God and a brother in the Lord is by seeing whether he loves the brothers or not. Only those who love one another are brothers; loving the brothers is a test of the genuineness of our faith.
The love we have for the brothers is not our natural love but the love of God; unless the love of God abides in us, we cannot love the brothers. We cannot say, I love God, but I don’t love this brother.
Our relationship and love for the brothers come out from our relationship with God; if we don’t love God, we don’t love the brothers, but if we love God, we will also love the brothers.
How did the Lord love us? In this we know love, that He laid down His life on our behalf (1 John 3:16). The Lord loved us to the extent that He laid down His life for us. Therefore, we need to also love the brothers to the extent that we lay down our life for them.
Loving the brothers with the love of God in us is being willing to lay ourselves aside to serve them. Loving the brothers is a willingness of denying ourselves for the perfection of others, and it implies a heart that will lay down one’s own very life for his brothers.
To love the brothers eventually calls for a great self-denial; we cannot love ourselves and the brothers, just as we can’t love our self and love the Lord. The Lord desires to recover in us a proper love first for the Lord and then for all the brothers.
We love the Lord by denying our self to follow Him and serve Him, being one with Him in what He wants to do; we love the brothers by denying our self and serving the brothers for them to grow in life and be perfected.
In the recovered church, the church in Philadelphia, we need to love the brothers to the extent that we lay down our own lives for the sake of the brothers. We shouldn’t just strive to keep the oneness of the Spirit without love, but in love we should care for one another and love one another, thus keeping the oneness of the Spirit in the uniting bond of peace.
May we be those who learn from the Lord to love the brothers to the extent of even laying down our life on behalf of them.
This may not mean that we physically die for our brothers, but we lay down our soul life, deny our preferences, and reject our desires so that we care for the brothers, love them, shepherd them, and help them grow in life and mature in the Lord.
Lord Jesus, thank You for loving us to the extent of laying down Your own life on our behalf; we want to learn from You and love the brothers to the extent of laying down our life on behalf of the brothers. Lord, work in us a willingness to lay ourselves aside to serve the brothers. Pour out Your love in us until we are willing to deny ourselves for the perfection of others. Lord, grant us to have a heart that is willing to lay down our life for the brothers, seeking that the brothers would be perfected and growth in life and not caring primarily for our own comfort, benefit, and desire.
Christ is the Holy One, the True One, the One who has the Key of David
To the church in Philadelphia the Lord introduces Himself in a unique way: He is the Holy One, the true One, the One who has the key of David, the One who opens and no one will shut, and shuts and no one opens (Rev. 3:7).
To the church of brotherly love, the Lord is the Holy One and the True One; by this One and with this One the recovered church can be holy, separated from the world, and true, faithful to God.
How can we as those in the church of brotherly love be faithful to the Lord and holy unto Him? It is only by Christ as the Holy One and true One, the One who works Himself into us as holiness and truthfulness to make us holy unto Him and people of reality, genuineness, and truth.
The all-inclusive Christ, as typified by Eliakim [in Isa. 22:22-24], is the One upon whose shoulder the key of (the treasury of—39:2) the house of God (typified by the house of David for the building up of the kingdom of God—2 Sam. 7:16) is set (Rev. 3:7). The church is both God’s house (1 Tim. 3:15) and God’s kingdom (Matt. 16:18-19; Rom. 14:17). The key set on Christ’s shoulder is the key for the keeping of all the treasures of the house of God, which are all the riches of Christ for our enjoyment. Christ is the One who can open and shut the door to the treasury of God’s riches, which are embodied in Him (Col. 2:9). Christ has been driven by God as a peg, or nail, into a sure place (Isa. 22:23a), which typifies the third heaven (cf. 2 Cor. 12:2b), where Christ was exalted by God after His resurrection (Acts 2:33; 5:31). Because the Father is in the third heaven (Matt. 6:9), to be exalted to the third heaven is to be exalted to God the Father (cf. Luke 15:18). Christ today is in the heavens as a peg driven into God. (The Conclusion of the New Testament, pp. 4201-4202, by Witness Lee)
To the church in recovery the Lord says that He’s the One who has the key of David: He can unlock and release all the riches of God in Christ to the church, and He is the One who can lock the door.
We as the church are both God’s house and His kingdom (1 Tim. 3:15; Matt. 16:16-18; Rom. 14:17), and to us as the church of brotherly love Christ has the key to release and unlock all the riches and treasures of God in Christ for our enjoyment (Eph. 3:8). Wow, praise the Lord!
When we have the recovery of the true brotherly love for one another, the divine riches will break out, and all the treasures of God are our portion even without claiming for them!
We are glorious inheritors of the riches of God in Christ, and Christ is the One who has the key to the treasures!
Thank You, Lord, for being the Holy One to sanctify us and make us holy, and You are the true One to make us true and faithful to God. Hallelujah, our Christ is the One who has the key of David, the key of the kingdom, and He has authority to open and shut. Lord, we love You and we love the brothers: unlock and open the door to Your treasures and riches for the church of brotherly love to enjoy all that You are! May all the treasures of the house of God which are in Christ would become our enjoyment day by day as we love God and we love the brothers!
References and Hymns on this Topic
- Inspiration: the Word of God, my enjoyment in the ministry, the message by brother Minoru C. for this week, and portions from, Collected Works of Watchman Nee, vol. 50, “Messages for Building Up New Believers (3),” pp. 840-846, as quoted in the Holy Word for Morning Revival on, Returning to the Orthodoxy of the Church (2016 fall ITERO), msg. 7 (week 7), The Church in Philadelphia.
- Hymns on this topic:
# Now in all the churches flowing, / Brotherly love. / Light and life and love bestowing, / Brotherly love. / In the oneness all believing, / Fellowship with all receiving, / Nevermore the Spirit grieving, / Brotherly love. (Hymns #1277)
# How sweet, how heav’nly is the sight, / When those who love the Lord / In one another’s peace delight, / And so fulfill His Word: / When each can feel his brother’s sigh, / And with him bear a part; / When sorrow flows from eye to eye, / And joy from heart to heart. (Hymns #857)
# Glorious things to thee are spoken, / Philadelphia, church of love. / These things saith the One who’s holy, / He who’s real speaks from above; / He that has the key of David, / Who the kingdom’s entrance won, / “I will open, no man shutteth”— / He has spoken; it is done. (Hymns #1275)
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