Hold Fast :: By C. Gray Adams

The book of Revelation contains specific messages to seven churches, of which all but two, the churches in Smyrna and Philadelphia, are admonished for shortcomings. An earlier article, “Help Us Lord to Overcome,”[1] deals with the overarching admonition of Jesus for the believer, no matter what type of church they find themselves in, to overcome. As noted in that article, overcoming is best achieved by complete surrender to the Lord’s will, which He reveals to us through His Word as we maintain a prayerful attitude.

This article will focus on one specific church, the church in Philadelphia, which is eerily reminiscent of the remnant church we see today. More specifically, we will look at the condition of this church and the admonition of Jesus to ‘Hold Fast’ and how the faithful remnant, found within the end-times church, should deal with the signs that herald His soon return.

The Condition

Revelation chapter three describes the condition of the church in Philadelphia in great detail:

Revelation 3:7-13

“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name. Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and 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.

“Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”[2] (emphasis mine)

At first glance, one may consider the condition of the church in Philadelphia as dire, for it has little strength. However, closer examination will demonstrate that this lack of strength is anything but a weakness. Instead, the lack of strength mentioned here is perhaps the very reason the church in Philadelphia is not reprimanded like most of the churches. To clarify, it is not the lack of strength that makes this church so special. Instead, it is what the people do when they have little strength; they remain faithful in keeping the word of the Lord, and they refuse to deny His name.

In response to the faithfulness of those whose strength has diminished, Jesus sets an open door before them that no man can shut. He also utters a most incredible promise that the faithful of every generation cling to, “Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth” (Rev 3:10). Clearly, this promise speaks of the pre-tribulation rapture of those who hold fast and the Tribulation period for those who do not.[3]

Today, many churches across the land find themselves in the same condition as the church in Philadelphia, mentioned in Revelation chapter 3, in that they have diminished in strength, particularly in numbers, as the seats of the faithful who go on to be with the Lord remain empty. This diminishment is also partly due to the next generations flocking to churches that resemble those reprimanded in Revelation 2-3.

One additional reason is the fact that some have decided it is too hard to keep the word of the Lord in a world where His Word is no longer popular. Sadly, those who succumb to the pressures of this present world will fail to ‘hold fast’ what they have and, therefore, forfeit their crown mentioned in verse eleven, “Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown” (Rev 3:11).

What does ‘Hold Fast’ mean?

Before going on, I encourage you to read Revelation chapters two and three along with the article “Help Us Lord – To Overcome.” Understanding what an overcomer is and the importance of the message of Jesus to the overcomers in each of the seven churches is crucial. After all, if one overcomes, they also ‘hold fast.’

To aid in the examination of what it means to ‘hold fast,’ I will restate the Scripture in question along with variations presented in other translations, which enable us to see more clearly the idea that we are to ‘hold fast’:

Revelation 3:11

“Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.” (Other translations read “Hold Fast what you have” (ESV, NKJV, NASB: 1995 – 1977).

To ‘hold fast’ is to endure, to persevere, or to stand firm even in the midst of great difficulty, traits commonly exhibited by the Apostles and many in the early church who, more often than not, suffered for their faithfulness to the name of Christ and their defense of the faith via sound doctrine. By way of reminder, eleven of the twelve Apostles were martyred. Early traditional sources say John was boiled in oil but was unhurt. Scripture reveals that he was exiled to the Isle of Patmos for His faithfulness (Rev 1:9).

History also proves that since the inception of the church many have suffered great affliction in order to ‘hold fast.’

Fox’s Book of Martyrs has compiled a great deal of information about our forefathers in the faith who suffered greatly in order to ‘hold fast’ and not deny the name of Jesus.[4] The faithfulness of the witnesses contained within the pages of this great book should spur us on to make full proof of our ministry as we endure afflictions while doing the work of an evangelist in order to finish well our good fight of faith as Paul did:

2 Timothy 4:6-8

“But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith [Paul Held Fast]: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” [Author’s comment in brackets]

Failure to Hold Fast – The Bittersweet Sign

Unfortunately, unlike the early church, great failure is afoot today; many churches fail miserably at the task of holding fast as the influence of the selfish populace of the world grows within their ranks. Sadly, many churches that once influenced many to turn away from their evil ways have now, because they have succumbed to the influence of the world, become havens for those who refuse to hold fast. How has this happened?

The primary reason for this is the fact that many leaders, in order to draw men unto themselves, now wish to please the people rather than God. Churches that take surveys amongst the populace to determine what they want to see and hear in church come to mind here.[5] Simultaneously, and perhaps because of this, many churchgoers are now looking for ear-tickling messages that never offend or talk about the woes of sinful living. Incredibly, it seems as though the Apostle Paul was peering nearly two thousand years into the future when he, by unction of the Holy Spirit, uttered these words:

2 Timothy 3:1-5

“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.”

Acts 20:29-31

“For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.”

2 Timothy 4:3

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”

It is abundantly clear that we now live in the bittersweet time predicted by the Apostle Paul when many churches would depart from sound doctrine and alter ‘His word’ to fit the current narrative of the most popular movements on earth (2 Tim 4:3). Thankfully, the reason this time is not just bitter is the fact that these signs indicate we are living in the last moments before the rapture, a fact that is sweet indeed for the faithful that long for His coming.

While we can draw some comfort from knowing the rapture is near, this knowledge should also alert us to the fact that our time to evangelize is short. Indeed, it is because of this knowledge that we must double our efforts to ‘hold fast’ while we simultaneously do everything in our power to reach the lost ones within our spheres of influence.[6]

Hold Fast – Church

Church… small or great, weak or strong, hold fast. Preach and teach the unadulterated truth of the Word of God. Lift up Jesus, for He is the only way man can be set free:

John 8:31-32

“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

This often-quoted Scripture makes it clear that the truth makes us free, not fancy words, gimmicks, and light shows designed to please the selfish. Please hear this… Only the truth of Jesus sets people free. After all, Jesus said this to Thomas, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).

Before moving on, a closer look at John 8:31-32, quoted above, is worthwhile. In this passage, Jesus uses the phrase, “If ye continue in my word” to relay the same message He conveys in Revelation Chapter three, where He admonishes the church in Philadelphia to ‘hold fast.’ The idea here is we must persevere, church. We must remain faithful until the end, and it is equally important that every leader caves not to the pressures of society to water down the Word of God so the selfish can handle it. Instead, as leaders, we must continue to speak the truth in love (Eph 4:15) as we proclaim and defend the unadulterated gospel (1 Pet 3:14-17).[7] After all, this is the only way for man to be saved:

Romans 10:14-15

“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!”

Church… If we fail to hold fast, a cascade of events will not take place: The truth will not be spoken. Without hearing the truth, the lost will not believe. Lack of belief will result in the lost not calling on the name of the Lord. Without calling on the name of the Lord, the lost will not be saved. Think about it church… we are literally the last hope for the lost in a dying world to hear the gospel and thereby be saved. Therefore, “Hold Fast.”


Throughout the land, many faithful churches are beginning to resemble the church in Philadelphia in that they are of little strength. This loss of strength comes upon a church in various ways, but the root cause amongst the living is often defection by those who fail to ‘hold fast’ to the truths of Scripture. Knowing this, we could assume a negative posture, believe that all hope is lost, and close our doors; or, we can choose to look at the positive side of this and realize we have an opportunity to follow the will of the Lord and ‘hold fast’ while we do the work of an evangelist and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ to as many as we can, for as long as we can.

I leave you with the First Psalm and the lyrics of the popular song “I Shall Not Be Moved”:

Psalm 1

“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.”

I Shall Not Be Moved – Written by Mississippi John Hurt

I shall not, I shall not be moved
Oh, I shall not, I shall not be moved
Just like a tree planted by the water
I shall not be moved

I’m on my way to heaven; I shall not be moved
On my way to heaven, I shall not be moved
Just like a tree planted by the water
I shall not be moved

Oh, I shall not, I shall not be moved
I shall not, I shall not be moved
Just like a tree planted by the water
I shall not be moved

Oh preacher, I shall not be moved
Oh preacher, I shall not be moved
Just like a tree planted by the water
I shall not be moved

I’m sanctified and holy; I shall not be moved
Sanctified and holy, I shall not be moved
Just like a tree that’s planted by the water
I shall not be moved

Oh I, I shall not be moved
I shall not, I shall not be moved
Just like a tree planted by the water
I shall not be moved[8]

Website: In His Commission


[1] For greater understanding, see the article, “Help Us Lord – To Overcome.”

[2] “Unless otherwise noted, all biblical passages referenced are in the King James Version.”

[3] For greater understanding, see the article, “The Five W’s of the Rapture.”

[4] For more information, see “Fox’s Book of Martyrs.”

[5] For greater understanding, see the article, “The Rise of Many.”

[6] For greater understanding, see the article, “Watch – Warn – Win Souls.”

[7] For greater understanding, see the article, “We Must Apologize.”

[8] YouTube video of “I Shall Not Be Moved” sung by the author Mississippi John Hurt.