As you all know that we are doing a series on ‘The Church’. We started the series by discovering our Identity as a Church Community – We learnt that we are a Covenant people, redeemed by the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus, holy and blameless in the sight of God because of Christ, a people with a purpose to glorify God in our words, deeds and actions. And the bible says that there is absolutely nothing that can separate us from this love of Christ.
Last Sunday we stopped at the Book of Revelation chapter 2 and 3 and started looking at Christ’s letters to the 7 churches which he gave to Apostle John while he was exiled in the island of Patmos.
When we read Jesus’s comments to these churches we realize how messed up their lives were.
Jesus continues to lovingly pursue and convict us of our sins and wrong doings
But the fascinating thing is Jesus still calls them his church and addresses them as his people. It tells us that yes it possible to be a church of Jesus and yet live a completely messed up lives and one that looks hopeless.
The good news is that Jesus still continues to lovingly pursue and convict us of our sins and wrong doings. And that has been the nature of God from the beginning. We learned this about God while we did an expository preaching through the book of Nehemiah. Even though the people of God rebelled against him and abandoned him God still came to their rescue for the sake of his name.
Instead of deepening our relationship with Jesus by allowing the gospel to govern our lives we tend to lean more towards the pleasures and deceitfulness of this world.
These words of Jesus to the seven churches reminds us that he still calls us his own and lovingly pursues us and convicts us of our sins. Therefore when we hear these words of Jesus and humbly submit to them and walk in obedience to his words he promises us …
– To give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God (Rev 2:7)
– To give the crown of life (Rev 2:10) and also promises in verse 11 that he will not be hurt by the second death.
– In Rev 2:17 he promises to give some of the hidden manna
– Rev 2:26 – Authority over nations
– Rev 3:5 – Clothed with white garments and will never take away our name out of the book of life
– Rev 3:12 – Will make us a pillar in the temple of God
– Rev 3:21 – Grant us to sit with him on his throne
At the same time he also warns those who are unrepentant. He says
– Rev 2:5 – I will remove your lampstand from its place
– Rev 2:11 – I will war against you with the sword of my mouth
– Rev 2:22 – I will throw you into great tribulation and give according to your works
– Rev 3:3 – I will come like a thief against you
– Rev 3:16 – I will spit you out of my mouth
Last week we looked at 3 letters to 3 churches.
- To the church in Ephesus he says return to your first love – Love the Lord with all their heart, mind and soul.
- To the church in Smyrna he says be faithful unto death even in your sufferings and tribulations
- To the church of Pergumam he says stay away from idol worship and sexual immorality
Church in Thyatira
Today we will briefly look at the rest of the 4 churches beginning with the church of Thyatira.
Jesus begins by complimenting them from their love, faith, service and patient endurance. Everything seems perfect – Everything that was missing in the previous three churches is present here – There is love, they are faithful and have patient endurance.
But they missed one quality that the church of Ephesus exhibited – And that was testing and identifying false apostles among them.
Jesus’s charge against the church of Thyatira was that they were tolerating a woman called Jezebel, who called herself to be a prophetess but was teaching and seducing God’s servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. Jesus even gave her time to repent but she refused to repent of her sexual immorality.
Jesus warns them by saying in 2:22-23 “I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works.”
Basically, the church failed to stand against an ungodly spirit who was leading God’s people astray especially the leaders.
Yes, we are good and loving people by nature. We are even harmless as doves. But in Matthew 10:16 Jesus tells his disciples “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.”
As a church we shouldn’t lack in the ability to show courage in standing up for what is right and scriptural, we have to stand up and speak up against those who lead the people of God astray and into sin and idolatry.
In most churches there is this unsaid rule that people should keep their mouth shut and not raise fingers even if the people are led astray into sin and deceit.
I believe the Bible encourages us to speak up against false teaching but it needs to be done in an orderly manner. In fact at one occasion Apostle Paul points and corrects the hypocritical attitude of Apostle Peter in public, you can read the account in Galatians 2.
And if you fail to do so then remember Jesus will hold that up against you just as he did with the church of Thyatira.
Church in Sardis
Jesus quickly and clearly condemns the lifeless state of the Sardian church: “I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead” (Revelation 3:2).
This church may have had a good reputation, but they were spiritually lifeless. In other words, the church was filled with unsaved people going through the motions of religion.
It is one thing to know the truth of the gospel and profess it with our mouth but living it out in our daily lives is something that we should desire and pursue.
After hearing about the church of Sardis the question I want us to ask ourselves today is
As a Christian..
– Are we truly enjoying the fullness of joy that comes from knowing Jesus or is it just a superficial thing that we experience only on a Sunday morning?
– Do we experience the peace of God in our heart when we think about the promise of the glorious gospel even in times of struggles and sufferings?
– Do we hide ourselves behind a happy and cheerful face for the sake of good reputation and not willing to admit that our actual life is dead and lifeless?
If our answer to any of these question is ‘yes’ then Jesus calls us to repent of our sin: “Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God. Remember, therefore, what you received and heard; obey it, and repent” (Revelation 3:2-3a).
To “wake up” means to start paying attention to your need of salvation, to stop being careless about your heart’s condition before God.
Church of Philadelphia
The church of Philadelphia is the only church against whom Jesus did not have anything negative to say.
Jesus affirms the church’s positive actions: “I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name” (Revelation 3:8).
The church of Philadelphia was weak in some respects, yet they had remained faithful in the face of trial. Because of this, the Lord promises them an “open door” of blessing.
Jesus’ letter then condemns the enemies of the Philadelphian believers: “I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you” (Revelation 3:9).
Those who persecuted the believers (the persecutors were religious hypocrites in this case) would one day realize Christ loves His children. The church of Philadelphia would be victorious over its enemies.
Church of Laodicea
In contrast to the other six churches, the Laodicean church has nothing to commend it. Jesus begins the message with condemnation: “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked” (Revelation 3:15-17).
They claimed to be rich, blessed and self-sufficient. Perhaps they were rich in material things. But, spiritually, the Laodiceans were in a wretched, pitiful condition, made all the worse in that they could not see their need. This was a church filled with self-deceived hypocrites.
Jesus calls the Laodicean church to repent of its sin: “I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see” (Revelation 3:18). Their material wealth had no eternal benefit, so Jesus commands them to come to Him for true, spiritual riches (see Isaiah 55:1-2). Only Christ can supply an everlasting inheritance, clothe us in righteousness, and heal our spiritual blindness.
Jesus then notes His concern for His church in Laodicea: “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:19-20). His rebuke is not born of animosity but of love. “The Lord disciplines those he loves” (Hebrews 12:6).
The church is nominally Christian, but Christ Himself has been locked out. Rather than turn His back on them, He knocks, seeking someone to acknowledge the church’s need and open the door. If they would repent, Jesus would come in and take His rightful place in the church.