We interrupted our normal programming yesterday to bring you that important announcement in anticipation of Jesus’ return. It’s coming. On one hand, we should mourn the increasing sin in the world. On the other, we should rejoice at our redemption and the hope that one day soon to see Jesus face-to-face.
Today, we are back to our discussion of the churches of Revelation. I recently read a new book by John MacArthur entitled, “Christ’s Call to Reform the Church – Timeless Demands from The Lord to His People” that covered this very topic. Let me see if I can give you a summary. Remember, this describes different churches, but they have valuable lessons in each for all churches today and for us as individual members of the body of Christ. The labels are MacArthur’s.
Ephesus – The Loveless Church. Ephesus was commended by Jesus for their work, endurance, and intolerance for false teachers. However, he warned them to repent because they had forgotten their first love – Jesus. We spoke of this last week. Indeed, Jesus did remove his lampstand from Ephesus.
Smyrna – The Persecuted Church. This church was praised and did not receive any chastisement. It was encouraged by the crown of life in the face of certain persecution that would come.
Pergamum – The Compromising Church. This church, overall, holds fast to the true gospel; however, Jesus warns that some in their midst are false teachers and encourage sin. Jesus warns them to repent lest he come with the sword of his mouth in war. Sin is beginning to develop strongholds.
Thyatira – The Corrupt Church. Jesus has harsh warnings to the church. He warned that they tolerate false teaching and are lured away in sin. These specific people he will “throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works.” Furthermore, he will “strike her children dead.” She, of course, is Jezebel. However, certain individuals who do not hold to this teaching are encouraged to hold fast “until I come.” Sin is firmly entrenched.
Sardis – The Dead Church. Jesus warns them to wake up because their work is not complete. They look alive, but they are dead. Some people can be revived. Some will walk with Jesus “in white.” Others won’t.
Philadelphia – The Faithful Church. This church received high praise and encouragement that they will be spared “the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world.”
Laodicea – The Lukewarm Church. This is the apostate church. This church has it all figured out except they are dead wrong. Jesus will spit the entire church out. Think about that language! However, there are some in the midst that Jesus loves. These he will “reprove and discipline.” He warns these to “be zealous and repent.” This church IS sin.
I have been in many churches. I can see similarities to the churches of Revelation. I suppose we all would like to think our own church is like Philadelphia except I don’t know as very many can say we have kept Jesus’ word with patient endurance. I have seen many bible-believing churches who have lost their spark, like Ephesus or Sardis, and no longer have the desire to share the astounding news of Jesus. Personally, I don’t think we have any persecuted churches in the US, like Smyrna. I have seen good churches open the door to false teaching, like Pergamum, and others who have allowed lots of it, like Thyatira. This is what I warn about in my posts. We tolerate sin and do not conquer it. We are scared to death to preach openly, and fully, about the dangers of homosexuality and gender confusion. Why? Because we are afraid our collection baskets will dry up. In short, our buildings and pastoral staff are our gods, and we cannot afford to lose them. Finally, there are churches who have simply gone over to the dark, like Laodicea. The Episcopal church and its kissing cousin, the ELCA, come to mind. Other denominations, too.
True, even the worst churches can have a few believers, but those are warned to repent. This is no enviable position – to be a believer in a church that embraces sin. To see an entire denomination, succumb to sin is horrifying to those inside who maintain the faith. Yet, it happens. Do we think for a minute that it can’t happen to any church? Do we dare, even for a moment, to let our guard down?
While we don’t have persecution in the US right now, that day is coming. Soon. If we heed Jesus’ warning to stay alert and awake, we can prepare for that day. Do you suppose persecution will bother Laodicea? Probably not because they already are those who persecute. Pergamum and Thyatira will find it very, very difficult to keep from falling completely. Ephesus and Sardis will have a hard time. Only Smyrna will shine. Finally, Philadelphia will see Jesus make those in the synagogue of Satan bow at their feet. He will spare Philadelphia from persecution.
So, if you would pick any church to belong, which would it be? If you don’t like what you see in yours, rattle the cage – hard! Make a noise! Heed the warning of Jesus and repent! Get others to join you! Throw out the bums who won’t repent with you!
Radical? You tell me.
John 14:15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
2 Corinthians 6:1-2 Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For he says, “In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.
Hebrews 4:7 again he appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”
Psalm 118:22-24 The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
What do you say?
Father, stir your church. Embolden them to cast all their fears aside and make the difficult choices. Let them remember that you desire to separate the goats from the sheep. Amen.
Copyright © 2019 Scott Powers