CHURCH & MINISTRY
The Seven Churches of Revelation
By Bill Brenner
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Continued from Page One
Jesus calls the Church at Sardis "dead":
I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Wake up and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God. Revelation 3:1b-2There is no indication that this church was under persecution or that she embraced false doctrine. However, they were all too content with their peaceful situation and failed to reach out to others with the gospel. If she had, there might have been more signs of hostility from the pagan world. Jesus reminded them:
Remember therefore what you have received and head and keep it, and repent. If therefore you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come upon you. Revelation 3:3I think of the phrase, "Don't make me come down there!" Here was a church of nominal Christianity with prosperity and the externals of religion, but no spiritual life or power.
Jesus did not rebuke the church at Philadelphia, a church that was under Jewish persecution. He commended them, saying, "They have kept my word" and "not denied My name." They actively confessed Christ and His gospel in the face of persecution. This church was small and poor, but they were using the keys of the kingdom.
The Church at Laodicea is the one Jesus speaks of as being "lukewarm," and the church where Jesus is said to be standing at the door and knocking. Here was a church that received no commendation, but only rebuke. Seemingly successful, they were a self-deluded church:
I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I would that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. Revelation 3:15-16This was a particularly graphic description because Laodicea did not have a suitable water supply like those nearby cities that either had hot mineral springs or cold pure waters. Instead, their water was lukewarm and said to only serve as a means of inducing vomiting. Jesus spoke to their real needs, not their perceived needs. They were spiritually naked and spiritually blind but did not know it. True Christianity is centered about the person and work of Christ. In Laodicea, the Lord was virtually excluded from their midst, and Christ asked to be brought back in:
Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will dine with him and he with Me. Revelation 3:20There are promises to the seven churches in Revelation to overcomers. The promises have to do with eternal life, escaping punishment, and ruling with Christ. Jesus commends churches for perseverance, faithfulness, and loving one another, and He hates false doctrine. The churches are warned not to tolerate false doctrine or to compromise with pagan culture. They are not to focus on self-satisfaction. What is not important is church size or church growth. This is the opposite of what the Purpose Driven Church is all about. Churches today are getting a lot of bad advice from the contemporary church. They would do well to read Revelation and measure themselves according to these passages.
Image Credit: KaCey97078; "Marquam United Methodist Church"; Creative Commons
Tags: Biblical-Truth | Church-Issues | Jesus-Christ | Sin-Evil
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