(14th article on the Seven Churches of Asia Minor)
FALSE REPUTATION. Back then as now, people fake their credentials in order to fool the gullible.
I’ve known of people to create Christian testimonies and pass themselves off as having had a sordid past. Why? To manufacture empathy, perhaps, or to impress the more timid souls in church who would never venture to live such a ragged, rugged life.
There were a lot of impostors in these seven churches. Consider…
In the church at Ephesus, they had people who called themselves apostles and they were not. (Revelation 2:2). Who were they fooling? They were trying to fool the membership of the church. God’s people are known to give great honors and generous gifts to those they esteem highly. These impostors wanted the reward they were not entitled to.
In Smyrna, they had people who called themselves Jews and were not, but were actually a synagogue of Satan. (2:9). (Who would know this better than the Lord of Heaven and earth, who knows the secrets of everyone’s hearts!) Who were they fooling? Themselves and no one else.
Thyatira had a woman whom Jesus calls a Jezebel. She called herself a prophetess, but was a deceiver. (2:20) Who was she deceiving? Perhaps herself, but clearly a good number of people who were in big trouble if they did not wake up and repent.
The Sardis church had a reputation that they were alive, but they were dead. (3:1) Who were they fooling? The chamber of commerce, probably.
The Philadelphia church was acquainted with those who called themselves Jews but were lying. (3:9). They were fooling no one, and Jesus would make sure they got their comeuppance.
And the Laodicean church took the cake! That church thought of itself as rich and in need of nothing. They did not know they were wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked. Who were they fooling? Only themselves.
Ten Messages to The Seven Churches…
- To the church at Ephesus–and to us: (Revelation 2:1-7)I It’s good to have a passion for doctrine and to oppose heresy, but if you are doing it without love, forget it.
- To the church at Smyrna–and to us. (Revelation 2:8-11) It’s important to know the reward for faithfulness is not promised in this life. Persecution may come to the best of us.
- To the church at Pergamum–and to us. (Revelation 2:12-17) Tolerance is good, as a rule. But you must stand up against false teachers and deal with them.
- To the church at Thyatira–and to us. (Revelation 2:18-29). God knows your faithfulness–your deeds, love, faith, service, perseverance, and that you’re doing better now than at first. But do not overlook the troublemaker in your midst.
- To the church at Sardis–and to us. (Revelation 3:1-6). A good reputation is to be desired. But do not let it lull you to sleep. Complacency has no place in the Lord’s family.
- To the church at Philadelphia–and to us. (Revelation 3:7-13). If God opens a door, don’t look at the problems because no problem is big enough to close this door. But if God shuts the door, quit pushing and move on.
- To the church at Laodicea–and to us. (Revelation 14-22). Lukewarmness in your service for the Lord insults Him. Do not tolerate that in yourself. Get hot or get out.
- The Lord is always speaking to His people and His churches. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says”– Revelation 2:7,11,17,29 3:6,13,22.
- When God speaks to His churches, He uses humans to deliver the message. John spoke from Patmos (Revelation 1). Peter from Joppa (Acts 10). Paul freom pretty much everywhere. And Jeremiah from Jerusalem to Babylon (see chapter 29)
- Jesus’ last word to His church was ‘Repent.’ To five of the seven churches, this was His message. (Some think of the Great Commission of Matthew 28:18-20 as His last word to the church, but not so. Vance Havner had a terrific sermon titled “Jesus’ last word to the church.”
AFTER YOU PREACH/TEACH THROUGH THE SEVEN CHURCHES OF ASIA MINOR, YOU MIGHT WANT TO CONSIDER A SERIES ON ‘THE SEVEN CHURCHES OF CORINTH!’ CONSIDER FOR INSTANCE….
- The splintered church. I Corinthians 1:10ff.
- The carnal church. I Corinthians 3:1ff.
- The puffed-up church. I Corinthians 4:18.
- The sex-crazed church. I Corinthians 5:1ff.
- The lawsuit-happy church. I Corinthians 6:1ff.
- The idolatrous church. I Corinthians 10:14ff.
- The braggadocios (but oh, so humble) church. I Corinthians 12, 14.