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Message to the Seven Churches

Published on:

6 May 2014

Message to the 7 ChurchesOVERVIEW

The state of mind of John is worth a serious consideration in this study because it preceded the powerful revelation to the Church. John was in the Spirit, not dreaming but was supernaturally transported out of the material world, fully awake not sleeping and was opened to a divine experience. ‘Being in the Spirit’ talked volume about the deep relationship of John with God. John was in tune to the Spirit of God and was given the privilege to behold the glory of God and receive the messages that would affect the standard of the Church of Jesus Christ through out the time length of life of humanity on earth. In the revelation, Jesus Christ declared His deity, authority and power as a way of introduction before His messages to John. John heard a voice from his back, saying: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,” and “What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.” Although in the spirit, the loud voice like a trumpet made him startle and turn around to look at the person speaking. John could not stand the awesomeness of the glory of the Son of Man, he fell at His feet as if he was dead, and the Lord reached out to him with His right hand on him, saying to him, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive for evermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.”An indication to John that He had power to execute judgment and cast the enemy to hell fire and He also had power to kill or made alive.

Perhaps we wonder and begin to ask ourselves, “What constitute a church and to whom are the revealed messages meant for?” The church is not a building. It is you and I that have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ, through His saving grace, that now possessed the mind of Christ, dwelling in His wisdom and following the path of light He had laid down in love through His blood are the Church of Jesus Christ. The church can further be further analyzed in a way that we can better understand it. Each unit of a family of believer is a church, and each church is a cell in the body of Jesus Christ that must yield to the molding and shaping in the hands of Master Jesus in order to be perfectly fit in to what He wants His church to be for His glory. Better still, it is like a block in the hand of a builder. Some blocks are rectangular in shape, some are round, some are big and yet some are small — it is the builder’s choice determines the positions the blocks fit into in a building. Some are used to build the pillar of the house; some are strategically placed in the corners of the building for a purpose – that is the visualization of the composition of what the Church of Jesus Christ is made of.

In the first place, according to the Bible scholars, “seven” is the number of completion in the Bible. The number is a complete circle or a continuous circle of situation or an event out which can many version or faction come into existence. The seven churches in Asia were the prototype of churches that are now in existence in our time, and that will also exist throughout the time of life.

The importance of the churches to Jesus Christ does not need to be overemphasized. Jesus promised that Holy Spirit will guide and reveal all things and since the day of Pentecost Holy Spirit had not failed in occupying this position in the life of believers. The Third Person of Trinity daily manifest His anointing in the life of Christian in order that they may do exploit for the glory of God. The fact that Jesus Christ has to reveal the ills of the churches is supposed to be a serious concern to all Christians. This scenario presented a relationship of a farmer and his farmland to those who have ears to hear what the Spirit is saying. Jesus Christ is a farmer who cultivated the farmland, and planted a choice seed in the farmland. On timely bases, the farmer would visit the farmland to know how the plants and crops are doing in order to know how well they are growing and determine the expected harvest. The church is the divine project of Jesus Christ on earth. He came to establish the church, His kingdom on earth. He died for the church and He is the head of the church, and all the Churches of Jesus Christ on earth are His body.

The mystery of the seven stars in the right hand of the Ancient of Days was revealed to John as the seven angels of the seven Churches and the seven golden lampstands are the seven churches. The understanding of the scripture reveals that the angels are spiritual messengers of God. And in interpreting this, the seven stars or the seven angels are the anointed ministers (servants) that God ordained to lead those seven churches in the passage. If they were angels literally as it stated in the Bible, the angels would of course responds positively according to the will of Almighty God. Angels of God cannot be subjected to the spiritual weaknesses that are associated with men.

The Seven Churches Revelation of Jesus Christ: Interpretation of the Revelation

Church of Ephesus (Loveless Church) He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lamp-stands. 2:1 I am walking among my people, patiently waiting and watching for those who in their loving kindness deserve my honor.

Church of Smyna (Persecuted Church) The First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life. Rev. 2:8 I am the first you have to take into consideration in your troubles, because I know your beginning and I hold your future. Even if in persecution you are dead, I will raise you up at last.

Church of Pergamus (Compromising Church) He who has the sharp two-edged sword. Rev. 2:12 I am the word of God.” The word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged swords, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)

Church of Thyatira (Corrupt Church) The Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet like fine brass. Rev. 2:18 With my all seeing eyes, I see the hidden corruptible life you live and my precise judgment is imminently coming upon you if you do not repent.

Church of Sardis (Dead Church) He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars. Rev. 3:1 Seven is symbol of perfection. I possess all ability to bring you to the state of perfection. Although you are dead spiritually, If you can repent, I will revive you, renew your spirit and honor you.

Church of Philadelphia (Faithful Church) He who is holy, He who is true, He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens. Rev. 3:7 In my holiness will I deal in kindness with you for your faithfulness. In me you will succeed like David the king. You will break forth as light and no one can hinder your brightness, and I will shut the door of your sorrow and no one can reverse it.

Church of Laodiceans (Lukewarm Church) The Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the Creation of God. Rev. 3:14 I am God of Truth, I am the Faithful and True Witness, I will bear witness to your unfaithful record on earth if you do not repent. “For there are three that bear witness in heaven, the Father, the Word and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” (I John 5:7)

THE CHURCH OF EPHESUS-THE LOVELESS CHURCH

Ephesus was an ancient city of Greek Asia Minor and it is a present-day western Turkey. Four great trade roads went through Ephesus and therefore it became known as the gate way to Asia. The idol temple of Ephesus was dedicated to god Artemis, a Greek god. During the time of Roman Empire, god of Diana was being worship on the temple. The temple was one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Saint Paul visited the city of Ephesus on his missionary journeys.

Out of this intense environment of idolatry God brought the message of salvation and hope of eternal life to people and the word had root in their heart. The people received the word of God and altar of righteousness was established in their hearts. The Church of Ephesus became a force to recon with, even before the Ancient of Days as one of the seven golden lampstands before the presence of Alpha and Omega.

The message of Jesus Christ to the angel (the minister, pastor or the shepherd) of Church in Ephesus, through the revelation of John was not totally a message of discouragement. In fact Jesus Christ commended the church,

“I know your works, your labor, your patience and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars. And you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for my name’s sake and have not become weary. Nevertheless, I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place – unless you repent. But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise. Revelation 2:2-7

The first word that readily comes to mind after meditating on the message to this church is ‘perfection.’ In our imperfect world if some could score 90 percent and above in the assessment of life, we can conclude that the person had excelled. But the standard of heaven is perfection – to be exactly like the perfect God. The glorious intention of Our Lord Jesus Christ is to present His church as a spotless bride. The brethren in Ephesus were not spiritual fools that worship human beings, the brethren in Ephesus Church discerned the spirit of their leaders and ensured that they were living according to what they preached; they did not follow the leadership of the false teachers. Although the godly attributes of Ephesus could be intimidating and enviable to many church today, it is suppose to be a challenge to all the Churches of Jesus Christ that if the labor, patience, perseverance and zealousness in good doing of this church is not enough, whoever is thinking that his good works alone can take him or her to heaven should begin to think twice.

Another commendable practice of the Ephesus brethren was that they hated the deeds of Nicolaitans. The name Nicolas means “one who conquers the people.” One can reflect that the deed of the Nicolatians will infer that the category of the people conquers righteousness and subject them to unrighteousness as only available ways of life. The Nicolatians include the pseudo-believer that pretend to be Christian but involve in immorality and varied wickedness that perverted the church of Jesus Christ with sensual temptations. The theme of their life-style is, ‘it doesn’t matter’ because of self-indulgence pleasure-seeking life they live, thereby disregarding the law of God. Their teaching perverts the grace and replaced liberty for license. The Church in Ephesus hated this habit because it was against the law of God.

The major error of this church was that they had forsaken their first love. This is a food for thought. What is the ‘first love’ in the content of this passage? The first love is the passionate love we all have for Jesus Christ when we first came to His saving knowledge as our Savior. The love that took Him to the Cross of Calvary to die in our stead so that we can live for ever is the first love for all Christian. The love emanated from deep and sincere heart of appreciation of the sacrificial deliverance of our soul from the clutches of Satan. The love that brought the Creator from His Throne in heaven to the creatures on earth in order to feel the helplessness of the sinful world so that the Heavenly Father may provide a lasting solution to our sinful problems by making one-time sacrifice of His precious blood so that we can become acceptable to the God the Father.

This is where every Christian on the surface of the earth begins the glorious journey to eternity. We cannot afford to forget our beginning because an adage says, “The river that forgets it source will dry up.” To be a Christian is to love the Lord Jesus Christ. “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him… Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My words and My Father will love him and We will come to him and make Our home with him. (John 14:21,23 NKJV) “If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed.” (I Corinthians 16:22) The first passage above is self-explanatory but the second passage is saying in effect that anyone do does not love our Lord Jesus Christ is more or less devoted to destruction.

The passion and fervor for Christ among the Ephesus brethren had become cold, mechanically orthodox. Perhaps they were in the class of church that device their activities in the church according to a mindset of methods instead of the doctrinal standards of Jesus Christ that we refer to as His commandments. The commandment of Jesus Christ does not conform to the worldly ways of life. But because of His love in the hearts of the elects of old, they dwelt in the commandments of Jesus Christ, and it was well with them. And since it is the same road of Christianity the elects of the Lord have trodden, it therefore becomes the righteous thing to dwell in His love and keep His commandment.

Look intently to your Church today and sincerely consider if your church fall into the category of the Church of Ephesus. If this is the case I jointly commend you the way our Lord Jesus commended you in the vision of John because you can proudly beat your chest that you are in the right path. Nevertheless, do not rest your oars, you still have much to accomplish. If your love for the Lord has waxed cold, go back to the beginning where you have started and fervently demonstrate the love of Christ in your Christian life. Continue to live by example and become light in the darkness of the world around you. Remember that the goal is perfection because the Lord Jesus Christ wants to present you as a spotless bride to His Father as a fruit of His redemptive blood He shed on the Cross.

CHURCH OF SMYRNA – THE PERSECUTED CHURCH

Smyrna means ‘myrrh,’ an important substance used for perfume. The ancient city of Smyrna is called the crown of Asia. It was the most beautiful city in Asia Minor. It is known as Izmir, in Turkey in the modern history.

And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write, “These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life: “I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich) and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.” (Revelation 2:8:11)

The message to this church is noteworthy. This was the only church that the Ancient of Days has no record of sinfulness against and at the same time, there was no record of commendation. The main message for this church was the message of encouragement. This was not an indication that there was no good works manifesting in the church, but clearly, it was a pointer that more of good works should continue among this church.

The indisputable understanding in the message of Jesus Christ to the Church in Smyrna was the fact that the Lord was aware of their troubles. The message began with, “I know your works, tribulation and poverty…” It is interesting to know that Jesus Christ was aware of all the situations that are going on in the life of His children. This is area many people misses in their Christian life journey. Christianity is never about bread and butter. It is a wrong notion to think that when one comes to the Lord, everything will become rosy. Of course, there are dramatic changes and specifically, things are rosy but not necessarily in the physical but undoubtedly, things are rosy in the spirit. For the first time in your life, you are on the righteous path with God. There could be moment of discomfort, the road may be rough, but Jesus Christ did not promise any of us a rosy avenue to success in our Christian life journey. He assured us of His continuous presence in our situation and told us that He has overcome the world. “ … In this world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheers; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Many have concluded that if you are a Christian and you are poor in the material things of the world, that may be God is not answering your prayer. Unfortunately, the definition of riches to man is different from the point of view of God’s definition of riches. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9) It can only take Heavenly God to behold riches in the life of His children that are dwelling in tribulations and poverty. The world around you may see poverty and tribulation but your Creator is beholding riches around you. Which report will you believe? Of course, it is the report of the Lord. This is the reason why we should take the encouragement to this Church seriously. In the same vein, we must encourage ourselves in the Lord if our personal Christian life is similar to that of the Church of Smyrna.

Again Jesus Christ revealed to the church the activities of the blasphemous people in the church – people that claimed to be Jews but are actually the synagogue of Satan. The relevance of being Jews in this content is that Jews at that time were regarded as the apple of God’s eyes for the fact that they were descendants of Abraham. In the same manner, many people professed to be Christian, they only have form of Christianity but they denied the power of Christianity, in actual facts, they are agents of Satan. The scripture did not leave us in ignorance about this, it says, “Wherefore by their fruits we shall know them.” (Matthew 7:20) “Beware of the false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. You shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or fig of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. (Matthew 7:15-17) Therefore be prepared for the activities of the bad eggs in the church. Do not allow them to influence you, be ready to stand your ground in righteousness and defend the faith.

Amidst poverty and tribulation of the Church of Smyrna, who can expect the satanic attack upon this Church? The scripture is warning that, “Do not be ignorant, the trial of enemy will surely come but it will be for a short period.” Therefore be faithful to the point of death. The history have it that in the Church of Smyrna, fifty years after the death of John, Polycarp, the pastor of the church, was burned alive in persecution at the age of 86 for refusing to worship Caesar during the reign Roman empire. Also it was stated that a large Jewish community in the city was hostile to the early church..

Perhaps the situation of your church is similar to the Church of Smyrna, I want to assure you that our Lord Jesus Christ is aware of your situation. He is aware of your efforts and the problems you are facing. He is warning you that there is tendency of temptation in your trial moments. He is alerting you to prepare for the attack of the archenemy of the church. He is encouraging you that you should not give up having known that the trial period will be for a moment. He is promising you that certainly you will overcome the situation if you can keep the faith.

THE CHURCH OF PERGAMOS – THE COMPROMISING CHURCH

Pergamos was the capital of the Roman Province of Asia Minor for 250 years. Pergamos is now known as Bergama in the modern day history. Pergamos literarily means ‘citadel.’ The city was a stronghold or fortified place, perhaps for being a religious center for the pagan cults of Athena, Asklepios, Dionysius (or Bacchus the god of drunkenness) and Zeus.

And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write, ‘These things says He who has the sharp two-edged sword: “I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. And you hold fast to My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days in which Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. But I have a few things against you, because you have those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality. Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, an on the stone, a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it. (Revelation 2:12-17)

It may seem to be an embarrassing question if you are asked, “Do you know where your church is established upon? No doubt it may be a difficult question for anyone to respond to. But the Ancient of Days knew better in the revelation He gave to John. It is scary to learn in the message to the Church of Pergamos that it was established in the dwelling place of Satan. Many of us are just operating like a blind folded individuals in the church that we thought we are worshipping God in truth and in Spirit. But in reality, which is only opened to spiritual eyes of Almighty God, devastating war is going on in the church. The was is not necessarily between brethren and brethren, it is not a war of flesh and blood, it is a war of powers and principalities, the rulers of darkness and the spiritual wickedness in the high places. These evil forces are waging war against the innocent and carefree children of God because of the stand of righteousness they have taken.

Wherever the children of God are gathering for Bible Study, or to praise and worship God Almighty, or to seek the face of God in prayer and to encourage each other with the word of admonition, might have previously been the altar of Satan. Generation go and generation come, only God Almighty was at the beginning and He alone knows what the future is holding for mankind and all the forces that co-exist in the spiritual with human being. Do you think that the perverted enemy that had been unseated from its altar will allow things to lie low and continue unchallenged like that? Absolutely not! He will like to stage a fight back against the force of righteousness. The resultant of their fight-backs is the problems that those churches in this category are encountering all over the world.

The agent of Satan had infiltrated many churches today. The agents are normal human beings with a specific mission to destroy the church of Jesus Christ. They may pretend to be strong Christians. They may even be among the high ranking leaders in the church. Sad enough, some of these evil agents may not know that they have been initiated to perpetrate evil activities in the church. No matter how careful they have hidden their evil operation, due to the nature of the evil they are perpetrating; their evil fruit will point them out.

The activities of these agents include the doctrine of Balaam. The Doctrine of Balaam in a simple statement, “The precious people of God cannot be destroyed unless they are polluted. When they become polluted God will reject them and thereby subject them to destruction.” (Numbers Chapter 22-25) Balaam son of Beor told Balak the king of Moab, that the Israelites cannot be cursed because they are blessed of the Lord and he counseled Balak that only sin can bring destruction to them. “And Moses said to them: “Have you kept all the women alive? Look, these women caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to trespass against the Lord in the incident of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the Lord. (Numbers 31:15-16) The agents of Satan in the church of Pergamos propagate the doctrine of Balaam among the children of God to compromise their faith. They always insist that seductive appearance and behaviors of some people in the church does not matter, and the practice of sexual perversions and immorality does not affect ones faith in the Lord. They enticed people to eat the food sacrificed to idol.

Eating of the food sacrificed to idol literarily may not necessarily drag Christian to commit sin if this is considered in the Pauline’s opinion as it could be regarded as a matter of conscience since the idols are nothing as long as the act does not cause your brothers to fall. (I Corinthians 8:1-13) On the other hand Paul again expanded on the same issue with another interpretation and say, “Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demon. (I Corinthians 10:20-21) This correctly interpreted the intention of the message of Jesus Christ to the Church of Pergamos. The things offered to the idols in this regards are not the sacrificial victuals, they are the sinful ways of worldliness which is not meant for consumption of the children of God. Paul warned the Ephesus brethren:

“But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient; but rather giving of thanks. For this ye know, that no whoremonger, not unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. (Ephesians 5:3-5)

These types of sinful life are the interpretation of eating the food sacrificed to idol which do not fit the people that are identified with the name of Jesus Christ. If your church is arrayed in the robe of sinful compromises which are completely against the will of God, think twice with this message, stand out clearly and advocate for a change. Repentance was the only remedy offered in the message of Jesus to the Church of Pergamos. Repent of your sins so that you will not be subjected to the judgment sword of the mouth of Jesus Christ.

THE CHURCH OF THYATIRA – THE CORRUPT CHURCH

Thyatira was situated in a long valley, and located between Pergamos and Sardis. It has a long history of destruction and rebuilding because it has no natural defenses like mountains. The city must have been occupied by various conquerors who have taken the city into captive in so many battles it had suffered.
There is a trend in the messages to all the churches that is noteworthy. In each of the messages to the various Church, Jesus Christ, Son of God introduced Himself with a unique description that is completely different from the description of Himself to other Churches and this makes the message unique and personal to the church.

Jesus Christ revealed Himself, to the Corrupt Church of Thyatira, as the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire and His feet like fine brass. (Revelation2:18) This can be interpreted thus: With my x-ray like, all seeing eyes, I see the hidden and corruptible life you are living and my precise judgment which is imminent if you do not repent. In each of the messages to the church, He always commend the efforts of the faithful, reveals the error of the sinners and counsels them for a change with a stern warning of judgment if there is no repentance.

And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write; “These things says the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet like fine brass: I know your works, love service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first. Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman, Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent. Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds. I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He so searches the mind and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to you works. Now to you I say, and to the rest in Thyatira, as many as do not have this doctrine, who have not known the in depths of Satan, as they say, I will put on you no other burden. But hold fast what you have till I come. And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations. Revelation 2:18-26

In His message to the corrupted Church of Thyatira, He clearly diagnosed the Christian life style in the Church. He carefully recognized and commended the brethren that were doing well in the church and appraised their growth in the Lord. But He did not close His eyes and disregards the work of iniquities of others in the Church.

He highlighted that the Church allow Jezebel who called herself a prophetess to teach and seduce My servants (Jesus Christ personalized His ministers) to commit sexual immorality and eat things offer to the idols. The analysis of this statement reveals that Jezebel of old, the queen of Ahab died many years before the Christian age. However, there are still some people in the church that had characters that are in resemblance of the attitude of Jezebel. The standard of the word of God is that the type of people should not be allowed in the church of Jesus Christ. Not necessarily by excommunicating them but by raise the standard of the faithfulness of the church in order that the attitude would be so strange to the church. But the Church in Thyatira allowed Jezebel attitudes. What are the attitudes of Jezebel that worth to be done away with in the church today?

One of the prominent attitudes of Jezebel is disregarding the authority of God in the Church. “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is not authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.” (Romans 13:1-2) Because of the negative attitude of Jezebel towards the authority of God, she killed and maimed the prophets of God while at the same time proclaiming the false idolatry of Baal and raising prophets to worship Baal.

The activities of Jezebel did not stop at this in this Church; she went further by seducing the servants of God thereby leading them to fall into sin. The sin of seduction is not only limited to lead people to a sinful sexual relationship, it also include the attitude of using an attractive influence someone possesses to make others act against his own righteous intentions in accordance to the alluring party’s personal and selfish desires. In regard to this, so many good intentions that should have brought glory to God had been set aside in the church in order to follow the wrong advice of an influential person in the church.

Further, the issue of sexual immorality against the church of Thyatira is not all alone about physical sexual immorality. In some Churches today, this sin might have been their bane. A further interpretation of this sin reveals that Jesus Christ is the spiritual husband of the Church and individual brethren are betrothed to Him in that He purchased us with His blood. When a Christian engages in other spiritual relationship other than Christianity, (occultism, witchcraft, idolatry, etc) this is regarded as spiritual adultery.

God is not interested in the destruction of a sinner. Repentance was the only route of escape of judgment for this church. Perhaps you find yourself in the category of the negative attributes of the Church of Thyatira in your personal attitude and behaviors, a sincere response to the call of Jesus Christ for repentance should be considered before it is too late.

THE CHURCH OF SARDIS – THE DEAD CHURCH

Sardis was an ancient city of western Asia Minor northeast of modern-day Izmir, Turkey. It was the capital of Lydia, was the political and cultural center of Asia Minor from 650 to 550 B.C. It remained an important city during Roman and Byzantine times. Sardis city was destroyed by Tamerlane in 1402.

And to the angel of the church in Sardis write, “These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you. You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in which, for they are worthy. He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and be His angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (Revelation 3:1-6)

Jesus Christ revealed Himself to the Dead Church of Sardis as one who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars. (Rev. 3:1) Among the bible scholars, figure seven is a symbol of perfection. In analyzing this revelation, Jesus Christ is saying to this Church, “I possess all ability to bring you to the state of perfection. If you can repent, I will revive you, renew your spirit and honor you.”

Starting very well on a sound footing does not guarantee a perfect ending. The revelation to the Church of Sardis is a food for thought for all believers that profess Jesus Christ as their Savior. In the six out of the seven churches in Asia, Jesus Christ have one reason or the other to commend some of the activities of those churches. But in the Church of Sardis, there was no single reason for commendation. The clear message to this church was that it possessed a name but has been pronounced dead. Perhaps the church was reckoned to be among the faithful and righteous churches before but now, they were living under the shadow of the good name because the moral and spiritual fabric of the church had been decomposed. Jesus Christ did not mention the spiritual problems of the Church talk less of analyzing and addressing their sinful lives.

One of the major problems of the church is that there is no yardstick with which the individual activities of the member could be measured. It is possible to witness an excellent attendance in the church activities, and see beautiful faces that seems to be radiating love of Jesus Christ in the church, it is also possible for individual members to exhibit knowledge of the word and pray as if they are pastors, all these do not amount to anything if our hearts are not right with God. Man may succeed in deceiving another man, but no one can mock God. This is why God enjoined His servant, Joshua and all His children in entire world to be well verse in the word of God. “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have a good success.” (Joshua 1:8) The word of God is the scale of righteousness for the Children of God. It is the word that searches the depth of our hearts and measures all our activities and compares them with the precept of the word of God.

No activities of the Church of Jesus Christ in Sardis reflected the precepts of the word of God. It seemed that the church had forgotten their source. Typical of any river that forget its source, according to an adage, will surely dry. So also, a child that forgets the tradition of his home will be adjudged a bastard. Worldly wantonness instead of spiritual righteousness and orderliness, and self-centeredness instead of God-centeredness were the order of the day in the Church of Sardis. The Ancient of Days warned that His judgment will come upon the dead church like a thief in the night (without warning).

He also encouraged those who were the odd men out in the church, who stood out in an uncommon righteousness, who have not defiled their garments, He promised them that they shall walk with Him in white for they are worthy. This is a confirmation that whatever may be the case, the righteous will be preserved. He also promised that their names will not be blot out of the Book of Life and He will confess their names before the His Father in Heaven also in the presence of the angels. Lot and his household was the only righteous man in Sodom and Gomorrah, God preserved the family before the two cities were subjected to the divine judgment.

At the peak of mercy of God, the option of salvation is made available to the dead Church of Sardis if only they can repent. “Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent.” In your sincere spiritual assessment of yourself or your Church, if you are in the category of a living but dead Church of Sardis, that only bears the name and form of a Christian Church but denied the power of Christ therein, repentance is the only option of salvation for you. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches,” was the common phrases to all the churches meaning that, those who possess spiritual sensitivity should seriously take into consideration and yield to what the Spirit of God is saying.

THE CHURCH OF PHILADELPHIA – THE FAITHFUL CHURCH

Philadelphia was one of the ancient cities of Asia Minor northeast of the Dead Sea. It was founded in the second century B.C. by Attalus II Philadelphus king of Pergamum. His unusual devotion to his brother earned the city its name, “brotherly love.” Philadelphia was the chief city of the Ammonites. It was enlarged and embellished by Ptolemy II Philadelphus and named in honor of him. In the modern day history, Amman, the capital of Jordan, is now on the site.

And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, “These things says He who is holy, He who is true, ‘He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens:’” “I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name. Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie – indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you. Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. He who overcomes; I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name. He who has an ear, let him hear what the spirit says to churches. (Revelation 3:7-13)

Jesus Christ revealed Himself to the Faithful Church of Philadelphia as one who is holy, who is true, who has key of David, who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens. The revelation can be interpreted as follows: For your faithfulness, in my holiness I will deal with you, in Me you will succeed like David the king. I will give you spiritual breakthrough that no one can hinder, and will shut the door of your sorrow that no one can reverse.

There is an important observation that worth noticed in the revelation to the Church in Philadelphia. In all the other six churches, Jesus Christ had a certain thing against them. But His revelation to Philadelphia Church pointed that our God is not a fault-seeking God. He rebukes sinfulness when His people do not measure up according to the spiritual standard expected of them, and He commends righteousness when His people had excellently held the faith and live according to the precept of the His word. Instead of rebuke, the Ancient of Days assured this church His reward simply because they kept the word of God and did not deny His name. God assured His children in the Church of Philadelphia that He had set an open door for them that no man can shut. “For a great door and effectual is opened unto me and there are many adversaries.” (I Corinthians 16:9) He also assured them that her enemies, the synagogue of Satan, will be subdued and subjected to worship before their feet so that the enemies will recognize that the church is the beloved of the Lord. This is in line with the saying of Prophet Isaiah: “Kings shall be your foster fathers, and their queens your nursing mothers; they shall bow down to you with their faces to the earth, and lick up the dust of your feet. Then you will know that I am the Lord, for they shall not be ashamed who wait for Me.” (Isaiah 49:23) The Judaism practicing Jews who are supposed to be in the forefront proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ instead allied with other spiritual pagans, to initiate rejection of Christ and persecuted the Church of Jesus Christ were described as people in the synagogue of Satan in the revelation of John.

Jesus Christ went further in this deep revelation that because this beloved church had kept the word of God with patience and perseverance, God will also keep them in the hour of temptation. “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” (James 1:12) “The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles.” (Psalm 34:17) “The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the Day of Judgment.” (II Peter 2:9)

Lastly He admonished them to hold fast to their belief, the precious possession they had so that no one take their crown. This is a remarkable advice because starting a journey well does not guarantee reaching the destination. The athletes that are running for a prize always run fervently bearing the rules of the game in mind. In the same manner, we have to run our Christian race on earth fervently in righteousness to the end bearing the law of God in our hearts so that we can receive the glorious crown at last. Your faithfulness in the course you believe will attract divine promotion. He promised that He will make you a pillar in His temple. This is indicating an unshakable, eternal, secure place in the presence of God. He also promised to write on us His new name. The name of God reflects in His awesome characters and when God imprints His holy name on us, it means that in Godly character we shall be identified with the Lord as one that belongs to Him.

THE CHURCH OF LAODICEANS – THE LUKEWARM CHURCH

Laodicea was an ancient city of western Asia Minor and in the present-day Western Turkey. The city was located in the Lycus River Valley in the South West area of Phyrgia. The city was built by the Seleucids in the third century B.C. Laodicea became the wealthiest city. It was a prosperous Roman market town on the trade route from the East and an early center of Christianity.

And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, “These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: I know your works that you are neither cold not hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold not hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, “I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing – and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked – I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich, and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him and he will Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with my Father on His throne. He has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. (Revelation 3:14-22)

In order to figure out the state of affairs of the Church of Laodicea, think of a Church in the heart of Hollywood, in California, the home of celebrities. The church in the midst of worldly people is like a window dressing organization. Naturally, it is inherent in man to worship God. There is no doubt that the love of God resided in the heart of the brethren in Laodician but there are other forces that were mitigating with their faith, it was the affluence living that trigger off worldliness in their life style. Who knows whether they were showing off their wealth? Perhaps the wealthy people among them had turned themselves to tin god in the church that did not allow the word of God to have a free-course in the church. When the minister preached the word of God the wealthy people among them might have developed a cold feet towards the minister and disregarded the message of the truth he brought to the church. In order that the minister may continue in the church as a minister, he has to dance to their tune. This could be the problem of the Church.

The brethren in Laodicia were blessed materially, and as a result they placed their cart before the horse. They placed their wealth before God the giver of wealth, and they pay little or no attention to the things of the Spirit. “Because you say, “I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing – and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked …” They beheld themselves as important people because of their wealth, little did they knew that they are spiritually wretched, miserable, poor and blind before God.

Jesus was revealing to this Church, that He can patiently deal with the sinful people in His mercy and deliver them from their problems, He can also deal with red hot believers, who are on fire for the Lord, who are daily striving for spiritual excellence with his faithfulness, but He has a zero tolerance for the believers who are neither cold nor hot, who are operating in a polluted combination of sinful and righteous life. Jesus Christ stated, “I could wish you are cold or hot. To the Ancient of Days, the categories of lukewarm brethren operating in this church are like spiritual irritants, He said He will spew them out of his mouth. When a man vomited, the food in his stomach are involuntarily and forcefully ejected out due to stomach upset or irritation, thereby loses its chance to nourish the body. The same way the Lord intends to eject the lukewarm people out His mouth, and rejects all their spiritual efforts that are tainted with sinfulness.

CONCLUSION

From the account of the seven churches, we can understand the common problems of the church of Jesus Christ today. One out of seven churches was exonerated and commended, one of the seven was considered dead. Out of the seven was a corrupted church, one compromised, one has departed from its first love, and lastly one was unable to find its feet because of persecution. It is interesting that the revelation of Jesus Christ through John only touched the Churches in the early Asia Minor. This is not an indication that your church is exonerated today. The Spirit of God in us searches the intent of every Christian in the Church of Jesus Christ. Taking into consideration the life you are living in and outside of your church, if the Lord would make comment about your church today, “Have you imagined what His comment will center around? Perhaps you have forgotten that the Church of Jesus Christ is not the gigantic building erected at a certain location, you and I constitute the church of Jesus Christ. And our characters and the way of our lives is similitude of state of affairs of the seven churches in Asia Minor. Each of us represents one of the seven churches. The same author of salvation that spoke to John in the Island of Patmos in a deep revelation to the Churches, the same Savior is speaking to us through the Scripture. The commendation to some of the churches is also for some of us. The encouragement the Lord offered to some in the Churches is also applicable to some of us. The chastisement to the erring ones in those churches became our own chastisement. And lastly, the warning of impending danger of the Ancient of Days should be taken seriously, and all right thinking and spiritually endowed brethren should seek the face of God in repentance. There is a clause in the revelation to all the churches that stated, “He who has an ear let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” The Spirit is speaking loud and clear, “How many of us possessed the listening ears? God does not want any of His children to drift away. The best way to avoid this is to incorporate the revelationary messages to the churches into our lives, make our minds to consider our ways in the revelations and determine to structure our lives in righteousness and holiness that the King of Glory demanded in our lives.


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