To the churches!
Here we find in Revelation some strong language from God to His churches. I pray that we would learn from them and lean on His Word.
Read: Revelation 2-3
Let’s take time to examine the churches and what Jesus has to say to them.
1. Church in Ephesus. The church in Ephesus has several letters written towards it, and those in it. In the first couple verses dedicated to them, this is a great church. They are patient. I know that seems like a oxymoron, church people being patient. They know their doctrine. They suffer for the name of Jesus. All of these things are going well for them. Yet, Jesus says they’ve lost their love they had at first. This love can be found in Acts 18-21. How they were so passionate about the Gospel. They were passionate about obedience to Him. Now, it seems their passion is for the things they do, not the one they worship. Can we not get like that? Has it not been evident that we’ve worshipped our act of worship? In the past, people have worshipped instruments, buildings, hymnals, screens, etc. Worshipping the idea of worship. That all has been ripped away. Now many are left asking, what did I truly worship? Let us learn from this church, let us return to the love of the Lord!
2. Church in Smyrna. Jesus is telling the church in Smyrna. You are about to face great trials. Many of you will be put in prison. Some of you will die. There are those who claim to be worshippers of God, yet they actually worship the devil. Do not fear though. Your hope is not in this world. Your hope is in the crown you will receive in glory. It is not far fetched that the church is about to face great persecution. It is not far fetched that we could see days where pastors and church leaders are thrown in jail. Let us remember, our hope is in the crown to come!
3. Church in Pergamum. The letter starts off somewhat positive. You dwell in the heart of Satan’s throne. You have held fast to the name of Jesus, even in the midst of death. Yet, some of you still hold to pagan gods. They want to mix the teachings of Jesus with other religions. This is true of today. Those who want to mix, secular humanism with Christianity. Those who want to mix religion of politics with faith. These are not the same. Turn to the Word.
4. Church in Thyatira. Yet another letter that starts positive. This church though faces what I see in many churches. They have allowed cultural view of marriage, family, and sexuality become the norm. They have accepted things within the church that are not acceptable. I know that our Supreme Court just ruled in favor for LGBTQ rights. The Supreme Court does not dictate scripture. Scripture says all sexual activity outside of marriage, and marriage is a man and a woman, all of that activity is sin. Period. Just because the government allows something, does not make it good according to scripture. Before you get upset, this does not mean that we do not love those in these relationships. We do with all we are! We also share the Gospel with them. It is not my place to change hearts, that’s the Lord’s.
5. Church in Sardis. In this section of the letter, Jesus goes straight for them. It seems that they have incomplete faith. They believed the Word, yet their actions do not reflect faith. This is many in the church of America. They claim faith, yet their lives look nothing like the Word. We’ve been discussing this over the past few weeks. That it is possible to have knowledge, yet that knowledge not transform.
6. Church in Philadelphia. This church has a good report to them. In the midst of Satan, in the midst of persecution, in the midst of sin, they are remaining faithful. They have continued to walk in the name of Jesus. They have remained faithful to His Word in persecution. I pray, oh I pray, that we would remain faithful to His Word. In the midst of a pandemic, we would remain faithful. In the midst of chaos, we would remain faithful.
7. Church in Laodicea. Here we find again many in the church in America. They are Sunday only Christians. They are complacent. They are lukewarm. They are well off, so they do not depend on the Lord. They worship comfort, vacations, things, materialism, themselves. Does this not sound familiar? Jesus says to them, be zealous and repent. Be zealous, what does that mean? Zealous or zeal, is to show tremendous passion. Passion for Christ, passion for His Word, passion for His people. Does that sound like you? If not, repent! Turn from these ways, turn from these things, you are lukewarm and the Lord wants to spit you out. He is standing at the door knocking, will you not open the door and be with Him? Hear Him? Dine with Him?
I know that in these letters are some hard sayings, many to pray through. I pray that you would examine yourself. I pray that we would examine ourselves.