This week marks the end of an in-depth look at the seven churches in Revelation. After extensive study over many years, I’m ever amazed at the amount left to learn. That’s the beauty of Scripture, we never fully arrive; and the wisdom of God, who gives us morsels of truth to digest one piece at a time.
An important lesson throughout scripture, is no matter how well we know it, left unapplied, there’s no real gain. And what a shame. Because in this world of confusion and darkness, scripture offers stability and power to those who acknowledge its worth.
The book of Revelation is the endcap of an amazing story. It’s the story of Creation throughout history, with all its ups and downs, where Christ is woven into every book. But it’s not just a story of the past, it’s a story of what’s to come. And both inform us on current events. Revelation accentuates this process of past, present and future, as it beautifully wraps up the Genesis story, giving new life to all its promises.
How fitting that Revelation begins with letters to seven churches. Since the message of the Bible is the gospel of Jesus Christ, and His chosen avenue to share the gospel is through the Church. This apocalyptic book records the history of the early church, established after the death of Christ. But it also offers a prophetic view of the deterioration of the church down through the ages.
These letters, written to the first century church, have meaning for us today. They serve as a threefold warning: to us in our personal faith, to the local church congregation, and to the global Christian church. Just as the Bible marks the past, present and future, so Revelation gives an account, well rounded in its approach.
The letters to the seven churches in Western Asia Minor
Intended for all to read:
To heed the warnings
Note the solutions
The church of Ephesus: (Modern Day, Selcuk) lost their first love – their initial devotion to Christ and each other had diminished.
The church of Smyrna: (Modern Day, Izmir) told not to fear suffering – they lived with persecution unto death for believing in the one true God and not denouncing Christ.
The church of Pergamum: (Modern Day, Bergama) false teaching (Balaam and Nicolaitans), corrupt teachers, doctrinal compromise, worldliness.
The church of Thyatira: (Modern Day, Akhisar) guilty of moral decay within the church, sexual immorality, tolerating a Jezebel type.
The church of Sardis: (Modern Day, Sart) spiritually dead church, orthodoxy without life, impressive outward appearance, inward Pharisee type that Jesus called “whitewashed sepulchers” meaning decorated tombs.
The church of Philadelphia: (Modern Day, Alashehir) has little strength, but has an open door to the Kingdom and to ministry opportunities.
The church of Laodicea: (Modern Day, near Denizli) in Roman times, the wealthiest city of Phrygia, boasts of banking establishments, renowned medical school, doctors, and more. But like the lukewarm water of Laodicea, the church was neither hot to offer healing, nor cold to offer refreshment. Completely bankrupt in spirit, this church filled with non-believers in Christ, to them Jesus says He will vomit them out of His mouth.
As we think about society today
Rich in outward appearance and bankrupt in spiritual insight. With a declining moral compass, violent, disturbed, corrupt, and power hungry, it sums up the biblical definition of worldliness. Sadly, over the ages much of the world’s standards have crept into the church.
Nevertheless, we have a patient God who always provides a solution for those who have ears to hear. Read the first three chapters of Revelation and see how it speaks to you. Will you have ears to hear what the Spirit says to the churches? To us?
“Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.” Revelation 2:7