THE WORLD TODAY SERIES #38

Jesus’ Messages to the Churches (continued)

Returning to Jesus’ messages to the Churches, Jesus identified Himself to the Church at Pergamos as “He who has the sharp sword with two edges”; He commended the Church for holding fast in the midst of evil, not denying Jesus’ name. He was concerned with her promiscuity and heresies, which included the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, Gnosticism, and Arianism. He exhorted her to repent of her errors, warning her that if she did not, He would fight against the apostates with the sword of His mouth. To those who overcame, He promised the “hidden manna, and the white stone with a name written that would be understood only by those who received it”. His closing statement was the same as for all the Churches: “He that hath an ear, listen.” Pergamos was contemporary with the first two Churches in the first through fourth centuries A.D. She was known as the heretical Church.

The final Church covered in Revelation Chapter 2 is Thyratira. In addressing this Church, Jesus named Himself “The Son of God, who has eyes like fire and feet of bronze. He commends Thyratira for her loving charity, service, faith and patience, but expresses His concern over her promiscuity, worldliness and politicization. He exhorts Her to rid herself of the woman Jezebel and her false teachings and warns of visiting great tribulation upon those who fail to repent of those teachings; He comforts those who remain faithful with the promise that He won’t lay any further burdens on them. He promises the overcomer with power over the nations and the morning star. Thyratira predominated from the fifth through the ninth centuries, and perhaps longer than that. She is known as the post-Constantine Church, the first to gain the dubious good of legal status.

Revelation Chapter 3 addresses the remaining three Churches, of which Sardis is the first. For this Church Jesus gave His name as the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. Sardis was one of the two Churches that Jesus refused to favor with a commendation. Instead, He expressed His concern that She seemed to be alive, but actually was dead. He exhorted her to come out of her corruption and to be watchful and strengthen what remains. He promised to the overcomer white garments, His intercession on their behalf, and their place in the Book of Life. He closed with the common statement that “He that has an ear, listen.” Sardis predominated from the tenth through sixteenth centuries. This period was an evil time for the Catholic Church, with its corruption, false doctrine, idolatry, refusal to permit commoners to read Scripture, and accumulation of material wealth. It is known as the medieval Church.

To the Philadelphian Church, Jesus called Himself “He that is holy and true, that has the keys of David, that opens and no man shuts, and shuts and no man opens.” Philadelphia enjoyed a message from Him that was quite the opposite of that to Sardis, with a commendation but no concern. His commendation noted that she has kept the Word of God, not denied Jesus’ name, and will go through doors that Jesus opens. His exhortation to her actually was a benediction and a promise that she will turn people from false religions to worshiping at their feet. He reassured them that He will keep them from the hour of temptation. He further promised overcomers that they would be pillars in the temple of God, with the name of God and a new name of Jesus written on them. He concludes with the standard statement to listen. This Church predominated from the Protestant Reformation in the sixteenth century and continued into the nineteenth century. It is known as the missionary Church.

The final Church that Jesus addressed was (is) the Laodicean Church. In His message to Laodicea, Jesus called Himself “The Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God.” This unfortunate Church, like Sardis, received no commendation, but only a concern, that she was physically wealthy, but spiritually destitute, being lukewarm and indifferent toward God. Jesus’ exhortation warned of His vomiting her out of His mouth, and that she must repent or accept His chastening. He offers His presence, saying that He stands at the door and knocks; if any man opens the door, he will come in and commune with him. He promises to grant the overcomer a place beside Him in His throne. He concludes with the standard statement to listen. The Laodicean Church appears to have predominated from the mid-nineteenth century on up to the present time. It is known as the end-time apostate Church. We can see it today in its continuing takeover of the mainline Protestant Churches, with its emphasis on a social Gospel, its indifference and sometimes its actual hostility toward Scripture, and its ecumenical, completely misguided attempt to merge Christianity with other religions.

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