“And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.”–-Romans 13:11 —NIV
“Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
—Revelation 2:29 NIV
As we look at these seven letters in the book of Revelation, two things that are helpful to remember. First, they are a picture of seven kinds of churches that you find in any age, at any time in history. Every church in the world today could possibly fall into one or more of these categories of churches. We may even fit into one of these ourselves. The second thing is the prophetic nature of these letters. They are a preview of the entire age of the church, falling into seven periods, from the first coming of our Lord to His second appearing.
The Book of Revelation addresses seven churches in the Roman province of Asia, which is modern-day Turkey. John’s purposes in writing are to warn the churches to remain authentic and true to their purpose.
Revelation comes from the Greek word for apocalypse and refers to an unveiling or a disclosure of something as yet unknown. John the apostle, had been exiled to the island of Patmos by the authorities for preaching the gospel in Asia. John communicated the vision he saw to each of these seven Asian churches—Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.
They each received a message directed specifically to them (see Revelation chapters 2 and 3) before John launched into his account of the future which he received in his vision from God. In the midst of the churches, Christ could see what was going on and judge them appropriately. He stands in the midst of them with eyes of fire, examining their spiritual condition. The danger to the church is that Christ will remove its testimony if they did not realign and return to God’s original purpose for His Church. —Revelation 2:5 NIV
It’s startling to note that the resurrected Christ assessed most of the Church in Asia Minor to be in decline—mere decades after His ascension. He warned the Church, saying: “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches….” —Revelation 2:7
Christ is doing this today! The Christian church has been in decline for a number of years. It doesn’t matter what men or denominations think of a church; what does Christ think of it? Only what’s done in Christ will last.
The decline of the seven churches in Asia Minor did not catch Jesus by surprise in the first century, and it won’t now. He loves us enough to expose our flaws to His light so that we can address them.
In future posts, I’ll discuss the issues prevalent in each of the seven churches and similarities to many churches today.
Father, in the name of Jesus. Thank you for Heavenly impartation. I thank you for the Holy Spirit that will minister to everyone that listens and help them to walk out all the things that you have for them. And I thank you, Lord God, that you’re going to teach them how to pray and give them wisdom and strategies, Lord, to fulfill everything that’s in your heart for their lives in Jesus name Amen.
In His Service,
- Thyatira: The Worldly Church, Author: Ray C. Stedman