Seven Churches

14 Oct

 

These seven messages written for specific congregations in the early Christian Church are prophecies of what God’s people would face during the following centuries of history. Each message to the churches includes an address, commendation, reproof, and promise.

Ephesus:

The Apostolic Church, AD 31-100. Ephesus means desirable. It was located on the Aegean Sea, had a beautiful harbor and was situated on the main highway for the region. It also held one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the temple to Diana (Artemis), pagan goddess of fertility.

Prophetically, Ephesus represents the early Christian church, the time period from the formation of the church in AD 31 to about AD 100 when all the firsthand witnesses to Christ’s life and work had passed on. The period of the Apostolic Church was nearly over when Revelation was written.

Commendation: The Apostolic Church was a pure church that would not tolerate heresy. Its labors had brought the Gospel to the then-known world

Reproof: Sadly, the early Christian church lost its ardent first love and excitement for Jesus. He was calling them back to that first-love experience, to repentance and reformation. Without a burning love for Christ in our hearts our religion is useless.

The Nicolaitanes claimed to be Christian but taught that obedience to God’s law was unnecessary. The Bible teaches that the saved shows evidence of salvation by living a changed life in harmony with God’s law and character. 1 John 5:3.

Promise: Through Jesus, all may be overcomers and have eternal life. Christ’s power in the life provides victory over sin and gives us holiness of character

 

 

Smyrna:

The Persecuted Church, Early 100s-Early 300s. Smyrna was located on the Aegean Sea about 40 miles north of Ephesus. It was an important center of trade with a good harbor. Its name means sweet smelling.

Prophetically, Smyrna stretches from the early 100s to the early 300s. Throughout this time the church experienced tremendous growth while enduring severe persecution. This period effectively ended in AD 313 with the Edict of Milan when the Roman Emperor Constantine proclaimed religious toleration throughout the empire

Commendation: They are known for good works, poverty and tribulation. During these two centuries the pagan Roman Empire periodically tried to destroy the Christian church. The worst persecution was during a span of ten years (AD 303-313) under the Roman emperor, Diocletian, indicated in verse 10 as “tribulation ten days.”

Reproof: There is no reproof for those in Smyrna. Jesus knew their works of faith under trial.

Promise: “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” “He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.” These Christians would rather die than deny their Lord Jesus. The second death is described in Revelation 20:11-15.

Pergamos:

The Church of Compromise, Early 300s-Mid 500s. Pergamos means height or elevation. It was located on a high mountain. The capital of the Roman province of Asia, it was a sophisticated city, a famous cultural center with a tremendous library and several pagan temples.

Prophetically, Pergamos represents the period from the early 300s to the mid-500s when the last major obstacle hindering the power of the Bishop of the Roman Catholic Church in Rome was removed. It was during this time that the church became strongly linked with the state. The bishop of Rome was made head of all the churches. The pomp, splendor, corruption and absolute authority wielded by the pope’s “seat” during this period could rightly be called “Satan’s seat.”

Commendation: During this time the Christian Church which had held fast to the truth in the midst of persecution began to compromise its principles because of its worldly success, the praise of men and its newfound political power. Yet there were many who held fast to their faith and opposed this corruption of Christianity.

Reproof: In the Old Testament “Balaam” sought to destroy Israel by tempting them to join the Moabites in fornication and idol worship. Numbers 22-25. Here Satan sought to destroy the Church by inducing its leaders to mingle paganism with Christianity and to use the state to enforce those compromises. By doing so, the Church committed spiritual “fornication.” Ezekiel 23:3.

As the centuries progressed and the church did not repent, the Lord sent reformers with cutting Bible truths—the two-edged sword (Hosea 6:5) that exposed the false teachings and errors being taught in the fallen church

Promise: In ancient times, a white stone was used in court to symbolize innocence and purity while a black one symbolized guilt. Jesus promised that the overcomers, those who are faithful to Him, will never be condemned but will instead be given a white stone inscribed with a new name, a pure name that signifies their close personal relationship with Him. Romans 8:1.

Thyatira:

Church of the dark or Middle Ages, Mid 500s-Early 1500s. Thyatira means “odor of affliction.” The city was inland on the river Lycus at a fork where two branches of the river came together, and was famous for its bright purple dye (A color known today as Turkish Red), which was the color used for royalty. It was here that Lydia bought her dyes. Acts 16:11-15.

Prophetically, Thyatira represents the period dominated by the Roman Catholic Church from the mid-500s to the early 1500s. During this time the Catholic (meaning main or universal) Church system accepted so many pagan practices that the truths of God’s Word were forgotten. The Bible was banned, and all who refused to acknowledge the supremacy of the Papal Church were persecuted. Many faithful Christians were put to death as “heretics,” causing great numbers of God’s people to flee into the wilderness. This was the darkest period yet for God’s people, as the corrupted church enforced its domination and tried to destroy the faithful remnant.

Commendation: This church is praised for its works, charity, service and faith.

Reproof: Jezebel was a heathen princess that Ahab, king of Israel, married. She spread the most vile idol worship throughout Israel and slew God’s prophets. 1 Kings 16:29-22:24. Similarly, the church of the Dark Ages adopted many pagan beliefs and practices and murdered those who dared to oppose her authority.

Promise: Even during the periods of darkest apostasy God has always had His faithful few. There were many Christians during the Dark Ages, like the Waldenses hidden in the mountains of northern Italy, who suffered torture and death rather than compromise the truth. To those who do not partake in apostasy Christ says, “Hold fast,” “I will put upon you none other burden.” Many of the devoted Christians in Thyatira understood only a limited amount of truth, yet Christ promised to give them Himself, forever, and make them co-rulers if they would life up to all the light they had been given. God only judges us by what we know or have the opportunity to know. Acts 17:30.

 

Sardis:

Church of the Reformation Period, Early 1500s-Mid 1700s. Sardis means “that which remains.” The city was situated 1000 feet up on the side of a mountain and was thought to be impregnable. However, the city did fall to enemies twice during its history both times the enemy sneaked in and opened the gates while the people of Sardis slept.

Prophetically, Sardis is the time of the Protestant Reformation from the early 1500s to the late 1700s. During the initial brilliance of the Reformation, many errors of the Dark Ages were exposed. Many old truths were rediscovered, such as: salvation by faith in Jesus, the Bible as the only rule of faith and doctrine and Christ as the only Mediator between God and man. However, in spite of the heroic contributions of the individual Protestant leaders like Martin Luther, John Calvin and Roger Williams, the impetus for reform did not last. As the fervent pioneers of each reform movement passed from the scene, the movement would lose its fervor and become spiritually cold and weak. Protestant Europe in the mid-1700s has become comfortable with formal religion, devoid of spirituality.

Reproof: “Name that thou livest, and art dead.” The Church claimed to be spiritually alive and reformed but was dead. The Lord intended that the Reformation would continue until the pure Gospel was restored, but the followers of the reformers refused to advance beyond the truths which their leaders had discovered. John 12:35-36; Hebrews 5:12-6:2.

Commendations: There were many in the Sardis period who were eager for Biblical truth and were eager for a vibrant experience with Christ.

Promise: The overcomers are promised “white raiment,” which is Christ’s righteousness. Being clothed with “white raiment” is a symbol of exchanging sin for righteousness. Zechariah 3:4-5. The way to become an overcomer is to remain faithful and continue to grow in Christ

Philadelphia: The Church of the Great Second Advent Awakening, Mid 1700s-Mid 1800s. Philadelphia means “brotherly love.” Due north of Antioch, this inland city was built by a Greek king in memory of his brother. The city was prone to earthquakes, and had to be periodically restored and rebuilt.

Prophetically, the time period covered by Philadelphia is the mid-1700s to mid-1800s. During this time there was an extensive spiritual revival in many places around the world. The evangelical awakening in England and the great awakening in America revived the established churches and led to the formation of both the Baptist and Methodist church movements. These revivals stirred the Christian world to great missionary efforts. Many mission societies were formed and sent out missionaries, such as David Livingstone, all over the world. They also formed Bible societies, worked for the abolition of slavery, and began orphanages and colleges. Important Bible truths such as the seventh-day Sabbath and the work of Jesus as our High Priest in the heavenly sanctuary were rediscovered. During this period Jesus began the last phase of His heavenly ministry; he opened the door to the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary in 1844, and the antitypical Day of Atonement began. This is the “open door” referred to in Revelation 4:1-5. A great spiritual awakening transpired as the soon return of Jesus and the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation were carefully studied and preached.

Commendation: They have “a little strength,” have kept Christ’s “word,” have “not denied my name” and have “kept the word of my “patience” (endured). Thousands were put out of their churches and ridiculed for believing the prophecies of the Bible regarding the Second Advent of Jesus. Despite this, they kept patiently waiting for Christ’s return. The coldness and persecution of the churches which had rejected the message of the Second Coming of Christ brought the believers into a close “brotherly love” with one another.

Reproof: None.

Promise: They will be kept from “the hour of temptation,” and those who overcome will be made “a pillar in the temple of my God” and have the “name of my God” and “the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem” and “my (Jesus’) new name” written on them.

As pillars they are honored for their support of Christ’s church and their salvation is guaranteed. Names indicated character and ownership, thus they are given the character of God and proclaimed as His special people, citizens of His glorious city

 

Laodicea:

The “Lukewarm” Church, Mid 1800s-Second Advent. Laodicea is comprised of two words that mean “people” and “judgement.” It was a place of commerce. The people were very rich and proud of it. They had a medical school which was famous for its warm mineral baths and its eye ointment. The merchants sold fine clothing made from soft, glossy, black wool.

Prophetically, this is the seventh and final period of Church history and stretches from the mid-1800s, when the Church began to lose its fervor, to the time of the Lord’s return. This is the period we live in today.

Commendation: None.

Reproof: Jesus wishes that the Laodiceans were either cold or hot instead of lukewarm. The cold people can be made to feel their need, the hot ones are on fire for the Lord, but the lukewarm ones congratulate themselves that they aren’t cold and don’t realize how far from the hot they have become. They don’t realize how truly destitute of spiritual riches they are; they are blind to their true spiritual condition and don’t know that they are naked, devoid of Christ’s robe of righteousness. This is the condition of God’s church today. Jesus compares them to revolting mouthful of lukewarm water

.Jesus, the source of true riches, wants His people to come to Him and exchange their unbelief and selfishness for the purified gold of faith and love. 1 Peter 1:7; Galatians 5:6. He wants us to trade our sin and our useless works for His own robe of righteousness. Revelation 19:8; Isaiah 61:10. He bids us give up our mistaken view that we are spiritually healthy graciously bestowed by the Holy Spirit, which will open our eyes to our true condition. 2 Peter 1:5-9.

Promise: Despite the fact that there is no commendation but only the sternest rebukes, this church is given the greatest promises. Christ pictures Himself knocking on our heart’s door. Whoever invites Him to come in will enjoy the closest relationship with Him, receive the power to become an overcomer and have the great honor to sit with Him on his throne. Luke 12:37; John 14:23.

In this last message to the last church Christ pleads with his people for repentance and faithfulness.

Have you given your life to Him? If not, you can do it right now by praying this simple prayer: “Dear Jesus, please forgive me of my sins. (Confess to Him the ones that you can remember.) Thank you for your life, your death and your resurrection for me. I accept you as my personal Lord and Saviour, and claim your free gift of eternal life. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.”

This was taken from the www.amazingdiscoveries.org website.

 

 

 

 

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