Revelations is a book of the Bible that used to strike fear in me whenever I would read it. Of course, I was either not Christian or knew that I was not right with GOD at the time. Now, it fills me with excitement with what is to come, waiting for Christ to return.
In the book, Jesus speaks about seven churches that were physically in existence during that time: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. Although Jesus’ words were specifically for them, I believe that we can learn something from them. In a sense, these churches represent individual Christians, and it is beneficial for us to take note of their obedience and disobedience as well as how their actions pertain to our walk with Christ right now.
Ephesus/A Backsliding Christian (Rev2:1-7)
Jesus acknowledges their hard work and perseverance. They did not tolerate wicked men who claimed to be apostles but clearly were not, they also hated the Nicolaitans as Jesus did. However, their problem was that they had forsaken their first love.
Were you once on fire for Christ, but are now becoming indifferent? Have you lost your zeal for Him?
Jesus’ command to the church was to remember, repent, and return to their previous works. If they fail to do this, they will have their lampstand removed. Heeding His command came with the promise of eating from the tree of life.
Smyrna/A Steadfast Christian (Rev2:8-11)
This church withstood poverty and affliction without turning from GOD. They were slandered by people who claimed to be Jews, but Jesus labelled as the ‘synagogue of Satan.’ They suffered greatly for their faith, and Jesus was pleased with them.
You may be persecuted and poor, but you have remained faithful and resolute.
Jesus asked them to be faithful to the point of death because they would be rewarded with the crown of life and will not be hurt by the second death.
Pergamum/A Licentious Christian (2:12-17)
The good thing was that they held true to Jesus’ Name even after one of their members were put to death, however, they were not without their issues. The church was in a city where Satan thrived, with some bowing to the teaching of Balaam, eating food sacrificed to idols and given over to sexual immorality. Some people in the church even held to the teachings of the Nicolaitans!
Are you permissive in your faith? Are you sheltering false preachers, refusing to step away from them? Are you following false doctrines?
Jesus told them to repent, or they would face war from the sword of His mouth. Obedience to Him came with the promise of being given hidden manna and a white inscribed stone.
Thyatira/A Lax, Pagan-like Christian (2:18-29)
This church was known for their love, faith, service and perseverance. Their problem was their tolerance of the false prophetess, Jezebel, who had misled some into eating food sacrificed to idols and sexual immorality.
You are likely an idolatrous individual, worshipping ideas and paying honour to things that are not of GOD. You have allowed yourself to be seduced into corrupt beliefs (e.g. health, wealth, and prosperity gospel) and pagan rituals (e.g. Halloween, etc.).
Their command was to reject false teachings and hold fast to Jesus. Failure would lead to tribulation and death, obedience would give them authority over the nations as well as the morning star.
Sardis/A ‘Dead’ Christian (3:1-6)
Some people of the church were found “worthy” of Christ, but as a whole, they had the reputation of being a spiritually dead church. Their deeds done for the kingdom of GOD were not complete as they had no spiritual growth to propel them forwards.
Are you a Christian in name only? Without results and spiritless?
Their command was to wake up, strengthen their faith, and repent. Disobedience would bring them opposition from Jesus, who will come like a thief. Obedience would give them the promise of walking with Jesus, be clothed in white, and have their names in the book of life, as well as be confessed by Jesus before the Father and the angels.
Philadelphia/A Favoured Christian (3:7-13)
This church could be on their last breath, but they would still endure whatever was happening to them, keeping Jesus’ Word and not denying His Name. Jesus gave them the promise that those who claimed to bee Jews would be forced to bow down and acknowledge Jesus’ love for them. As they endure patiently, they would be kept from the “hour of trial.”
You are an exemplary Christian, faithful to GOD’S Word and filled with His love.
Jesus asked them to hold fast, and that they would be kept from the hour of trial and made a pillar in the temple of GOD, and have the name of GOD, New Jerusalem, and Jesus written on them.
Laodicea/ A Lukewarm Christian (3:14-22)
They had good deeds, but they were about to be ‘spewed out of Jesus’ mouth’ because of their lukewarm faith. These were the ‘rich’ folk, the ones that didn’t think that they needed anything from Jesus. Oh, but how mistaken they were.
Are you a self-indulgent Christian? Ostentatious? Full of worldly pride?
Jesus told them to buy spiritual gold and salve to become spiritually rich, clothed and seeing, and then they will eat with Him and sit with Him on His throne.
We must be truthful and examine ourselves, making sure that our lives reflect GOD’S Word. Some people prefer to mock this truth, thinking that it is not real or nothing contained in Revelations is likely to come to pass anytime soon, but why worry about the time? Why not just be ready for Jesus’ second coming? You do not know if you will live to see the next day, therefore it is only wise to remain prepared, to be faithful with what GOD has deposited in you. Come out from the world, you must know that it will pass away and be no more. Why not live in preparation and anticipation of the new Earth and Jerusalem? Look at your life here on earth as a ‘job’, where you preach GOD’S Word to the Lost even at the expense of your life, knowing that you will never face the second death. Not everyone will face a physical death, but if we say we are His, then we shall all suffer because He suffered. The world does not like us, but that shouldn’t concern us. If they do not like us, then it only means that we are doing something right!
I pray that we may all be found faithful when the time comes and that every person that reads this is aware of Christ’s love and sacrifice for them. Amen.