As we open to Revelation 2:1-7, we are reading the personal message in Christ’s last words to His Church. These verses are part of a warning about what tripped up the earliest generations of believers. Jesus wanted them, and us, to stay on the right path.
These churches were real gatherings of people 2,000 years ago. That means that Jesus saw seven different types of believers gathering at that moment in the history of His church. Have you ever thought about that?
Every believer back then was like one of these seven types of believers addressed by these seven letters we are studying. In some part of the end of the First Century AD there were Ephesian types of believers (2:1-7); Smyrna types of believers (2:8-11); Pergamos types of believers (2:12-17); Thyatira types of believers (2:18-29); Sardis types of believers (3:1-6); Philadelphia types of believers (3:7-13); and Laodicea types of believers (3:14-22).
As we open to Revelation 2:8-11 we are opening to the second of Christ’s seven personal letters to individual churches of the late First Century. We looked at them as a group, but now we are taking a look at each individual church.
As we read these words, the historical context is that the Church at Smyrna was going through the second wave of persecutions that the Early Church had to endure.
A Short History of Early Church Persecution
Someone told me this week they could save the first half hour of my messages by just “Google-ing” what I talk about, and implied they wanted me to just stick to reading the text of the Scripture. But for the rest of you that are willing, if you will bear with me, I’d like to give you a sanctified mind’s analysis of Church History: something that they could never get on Google.
As we open to Revelation 2:12-17, remember that Revelation 1-3 is all about:
Seeing Jesus Gathering with His Local Churches
Jesus wants us to know He is walking among us and watching our lives.
The simple message Jesus Christ gives us is that His Highest Priority right now is gathering with His local church. Remember where John first saw Jesus in Revelation 1:12? He was walking around His local churches (that is what v. 20 says that those lampstands represent: Christ’s local churches).
Christ’s words in Revelation 2:12-17, is addressed to the locally assembled church in the geographic place called Pergamum: a place of Satan’s seat. There we have heard Christ’s words, which contain a warning about idolatry, Satan’s plan of false worship.
From those early days after Creation, when Adam sinned and all of mankind to follow also fell into sin, God made a way for mankind to come back. The way back was to worship Him by a substitutionary, sacrificial, blood-sprinkled way.
The key to understanding all of world history since the Fall of Humanity into sin comes from God’s Word. Always remember that the only absolutely trustworthy and accurate account of the earliest days of both the Universe and the human race is found in the inspired words from God in Genesis.
As we open Revelation 1:1, stop for a moment and remember how God starts this final book. We read that:
God Wants His Servants to Understand the Future
God opens the Book of Revelation by telling us that He wrote this book “to show His servants” (Rev. 1:1) things that we need to know about the future. Only followers of God and servants of Christ have the incredible insight for living that comes from knowing for sure, what will happen in the days, months and years ahead.
As we open to Revelation 2:14-15, and see the next section of Christ’s message to the saints at Pergamum, the story behind these words actually starts way back in the book of Genesis with the life of Abraham.
Revelation 2:14-15 (NKJV) But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat thingssacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality. 15 Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.
As we open to Revelation 2:18-29, we come to the letter to the Church at Thyatira.
That term, Thyatira, is usually a bit foreign to us outside of this chapter. To get our bearings we could also say, we are opening to the geographic area that received more of the books (epistles) of the New Testament than any other geographic area of the ancient world.
Have you ever thought about where these letters we hold were first sent?
God Sent More New Testament Letters Here than Anywhere Else
Here’s the lineup if you haven’t stopped to do the math.
All of us in Christ’s Church are called from darkness to light at salvation; and we are saved from the power of Satan; and we are being transformed into saints of God. That process in called consecration. Last week as we looked at the Church at Thyatira (Revelation 2:18-29), we saw that their consecrated lives were slipping because of compromise with sin and false doctrine.
Jesus called them to repent, to have a change of mind that would lead to a change in behavior. The letter to Thyatira is a challenge from Christ for His children of faith to do what is needed: repent of compromising their lives of sanctification.
Sardis – Declared Them Dead 110911AM CLW-20 Sardis.doc Christ’s Last Word to His Church SERIES. Sardis: Where the Great Physician Felt their Pulse and Declared Them Dead Revelation 3:1-6 This morning Revelation 3 begins with the second shortest letter of Christ’s Seven, written to Sardis, hometown of Aesop’s Fables and Midas’ Touch. When […]
As we open to Revelation 3:1-6 we are opening to the worst report Christ has given to any of His churches. As we saw last time, this is the only time that Jesus declares that a local church is dead, non-responsive to His plans and non-functional for His purposes.
Look back over the text of the letter Christ wrote to them, which we read last time. In those words we find in an event from Sardis’ past, a key that unlocks the message Jesus gave to the saints that were alive in Christ, and listening.
This morning we look at what should become the model for us at Calvary. Revelation 3 introduces us to the church that pleased Jesus Christ, and thus had a His blessings poured upon all that they did for Him.
Of all the seven churches, Philadelphia, the sixth church, can be described as the Faithful Church and stands out as the model. My prayer would be that we as a church here at Calvary would be seen by our Lord as a church filled with Philadelphia-like saints, who gather and live out Christ in this faithful way.
The promises Christ gave them, the insights He shares with them, and the lessons He offers to us who listen are unparalleled in any of the other letters.
When Jesus Christ introduces Himself to those precious and faithful saints in Revelation 3:7, He makes one of the greatest promises ever made. They, like us, lived in an uncertain world, and more than to any other church, Jesus explains His power in a way we all can grasp and hold onto today.
We each need to hear and understand and hold onto by faith:
The Most Amazing Promise
In a world of uncertainties, lurking disasters, constant unknowns, and endless potential dangers-Jesus Christ told these believers so much like us: here is truth you can hold tightly.