A Lesson From Seven Churches
Ref: Revelation 2:21- 3:22
Jesus reveals to the Apostle John messages to seven local churches in Asia Minor of that time. All seven were in close proximity to each other. Each is also representative of a particular age in church history. Jesus takes these churches existing at that time and compares their condition spiritually to seven church epochs yet to appear in church history. The Lord is, by way of these seven church conditions, writing through the Apostle John, church history for the future.
Jesus tells John that He is about to receive "things which are, and the things which shall take place after these things." The things "which are" are the then present condition of each of the churches. The things described are the actual spiritual conditions in each individual church in general, and specifically the condition of specific individuals within the congregation.
What Jesus tells John concerning each church corresponds to "things which shall take place" within the epoch that church corresponds to in the future. Although each church epoch has it own condition for that individual church, these conditions remain like a book or a scroll that has been opened and remains open down through all church history.
As it unfolds, it remains an ongoing condition, in varying degrees down through all church history. The things which "shall take place after" include the information concerning the existing seven churches sequentially, but beginning in Revelation 4 and following, are many things to "take place" down through history up to the beginning of the catastrophic events of the lasts days, beginning in Revelation 5 when Christ begins to open the scroll with seven seals.
It is striking how closely the description by Jesus of the church of Laodecia resembles what the Apostle Paul says concerning the last days (1 Thessalonians 5:1-3; 2:1-10; 2 Timothy 3:1-7; 1 Timothy 4:1-3). Christ's corrections involved philosophies of the world blended into true Christian worship and conduct, strange ideas of individuals promoting personal agendas ranging from liberalism to legalism, complacency, and social gospel. The observations about the Ephesian church sets the stage for the root problems of the other five (excluding Philadelphia). They had lost their "first love". Reference to love in the last two letters as well as the one to Ephesus, reveal that the real problem with the churches other than Philadelphia, is simply one word - the loss of love. 1 Corinthians 14:1 (AMP);
All the conditions described by Jesus are indicative of the conditions which can occur in the life of each individual Christian who has lived down through the church ages, and including each of us as Christian in our modern world. We would do well to take heed personally every word that Jesus speaks to these churches.
Although all the churches except one were tolerating conditions unacceptable to Jesus, His love for all of them is evident in the manner in which He speaks to two of them. He emphasizes His love for the Philadelphians with whom He was well pleased. But He also expressed His love for all churches by the manner in which He speaks to Laodecia. He brackets all seven churches with His love by expressing His love for the best - and the worst (Revelation 3:9,19). He still loved all of them, although most had lost the love of Christ in many ways - especially their love for Him. If Christ had been their first love, their conduct would have been according to Him, and their problems avoided.
All seven letters contain correction and encouragement for the churches during the events to occur all the way through each epoch, up to the times existing at Christ's return. (2 Timothy 3:10 (AMP) Again, the greatest of the lessons of the seven churches is love (1 Corinthians 13:13). The consequences, if love is lost. And the consequences, if love is never lost. Love from a Christ led heart will would have fulfilled all Christ's requirements (Colossians 3:14; Mark 13:33-37).
By the time of the end of God's dealings with mankind, the love for Christ by most will have grown cold.
Is Christ your first love?
"And the love of the great body of people will grow cold because of the multiplied lawlessness and iniquity, But he who endures to the end will be saved. And this good news of the kingdom (the Gospel) will be preached throughout the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then will come the end." - Matthew 24:12-14 (AMP)