The apostle John begins describing the events of Revelation from Holy Spirit-inspired visions that he received while banished on the island of Patmos, by the Romans, for preaching the gospel.
The first vision shows Jesus as He appears today:
Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. His head and hair where white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like brass, as is refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength. Rv. 1:12 – 16. NKJV
The white hair denotes the wisdom of His Father (Dan. 7:9), the flaming eyes suggest Christ’s omniscience, the feet of brass His omnipotence, the voice of many waters represents His power and authority to speak for God (Ezek. 1:24), and the two-edged sword symbolizes the power of the word of God to seek out the truth. (Heb. 4:12)
Jesus then tells John that He has conquered death and is victorious over the devil. He also explains the symbols in John’s vision that we saw last time (Rv. 1:17 – 20.): the stars being the angels of the seven churches, and the lamp stands the churches themselves.
Next, Jesus gives John the messages for the seven churches – which ultimately are messages for church congregants everywhere, as each church is a reflection of them:
Jesus said that the first church was ritualistic – coming off as a rigid religion, rather than a place of love, where He can be found. His remedy is to return to our initial love and zeal for Him, keeping Him as our center focus. In addition, to repent of all behavior that has diminished that focus. (Rv. 2:1-5.)
It is easy to let our faith-related activities fall into thoughtless robotic habits. We need ‘daily dips’ in God’s word to remind us of the infinite love that the Father and the Son has for us.
The second church is living in material poverty. Christ acknowledges that, but He tells them that their greater rewards come from their spiritual abundance. He also recognizes their suffering from persecution by Satan-inspired detractors of the gospel in the world. Jesus tells them that if they will remain steadfast in opposition in the world’s ways, they will be rewarded with eternal life. (Rv. 2:8 – 11.)
Not everyone is blessed with material abundance. As long as your lot in life is not due to sloth, you can seek God, knowing that you’ve tried your best, and He will provide what you need. (Mt. 6:25 & 33.) Remember too that the closer you get to God, the more you’ll be attacked by the devil’s minions; but Christ has got your back. (1 Jn. 4:4)
Jesus condemns the third church for polluting their doctrine with worldly behavior and false religion – commanding them to exercise immediate repentance. (Rv. 2:12 – 16.)
The only doctrine that belongs in the church is the Bible. The emphasis on the immediacy of repentance is because you don’t want to be caught up in unrepentant sin when you die or when Jesus returns, because at that point in time, salvation is no longer available.
The fourth church is filled with love, faith and service, but has allowed a satanic false prophet into their assembly. Jesus demands immediate repentance and a full-faith return to Him and His gospel. (Rv. 2:18 – 25.)
You know when there is a fox in the henhouse. It’s when anyone is teaching anything contrary to scripture. They must be uprooted.
The fifth church had lost the presence of the Spirit because of their ho-hum approach of doing church. Jesus called it a ‘dead’ church. He speaks the remedy, which consists of repenting, returning to the Truth, and then living it out. (Rv. 3:1 – 4.)
Christ speaks only praise for the sixth church – encouraging them to continue on their faithful path, even in the face of persecution, because He will be by their side. (Rv. 3:7 – 11.)
Conversely, Jesus had nothing good to say about the seventh church. It was a place of ‘lukewarm’ parishioners with no spiritual conviction and a misplaced focus on material things. (Rv. 3:15 – 17.) Yet even with this church, Jesus offered encouragement:
“As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.” Rv. 3:18 NKJV
Jesus loves you so much. He cares so much, that if you mess up, He’s going to bust your chops to try to nudge you back onto the right path.
The bottom line with respect to these seven messages, is that Jesus is guiding us in how to build a stronger church by being stronger Christians. We do that by patiently enduring our trials as we wait for His return, using good discernment to separate ourselves from the ungodly, emulate Jesus, keep Christ as the center of all that we think or do, keep the undefiled word of God in our hearts, be zealous for God and His Son, carry the gospel to as many as we can, and repent when we slip and fall.
Our God is a forgiving God – that’s why He sent His Son.
That’s the making of a strong church…
Goodnight and God Bless.