February 04 2022
Today, Friday February 04
Letters to Seven Churches Revelation 2:1 "To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, 'These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands:”
If you have ever moved to a new community and had to select a new church home, you know how difficult it is to examine and evaluate a church and its ministry. Imposing buildings may house dying or dead congregations, while modest structures might belong to virile assemblies on the march for the Lord. The church we think is "rich" may turn out to be poor in God's sight (Revelation 3:17), while the "poor" church is actually rich (Revelation 2:9).
Only the Head of the church, Jesus Christ, can accurately inspect each church and know its true condition, because He sees the internals, not only the externals. “…, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works.” (Revelation 2:23b). In these special messages to the seven churches in Asia Minor, the Lord gave each assembly an "X-ray" of its condition. But He intended for all the churches to read these messages and benefit from them. Notice at the end of each letter, the plural, “churches”: “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches…” (Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22.)
But the Lord was also speaking to individuals, and this is where you and I come in. "He that hath an ear, let him hear." Churches are made up of individuals, and it is individuals who determine the spiritual life of the assembly. So, while reading these messages, we must apply them personally as we examine our own hearts.
We must keep in mind that John was a pastor at heart, seeking to encourage these churches during a difficult time of persecution. Before Christ judges the world, He must judge His own people (Ezek. 9:6; 1 Peter 4:17). A purified church need never fear the attacks of Satan or men. G. Campbell Morgan wrote, "It is a very remarkable thing, that the church of Christ persecuted has been the church of Christ pure. The church of Christ patronized has always been the church of Christ impure."
When I met with the pastors of the persecuted church in China years ago, they did not ask us to pray that the persecution from the communistic dictators would cease. They said, “Persecution is good for us! It keeps us pure! Pray for us to be faithful.”
These seven churches in Asia were specific churches in specific cities with specific characteristics! Some of those characteristics were very good but some were definitely bad! I also want to remind us that Jesus loves the local church! In Ephesians 5:25-27 we read these words: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.”
Jesus wants His church to be pure and even today He is examining our churches! He wants His church to be His witness and light to a dark and dying world! We will notice that the introduction to each of the churches includes a description of a characteristic of Christ that we see in Chapter 1. For instance in Chapter 1:12, Jesus is seen “in the midst of the seven golden lampstands…” And in verse 16, there are “seven stars in His right hand.” So this same description is given to the church of Ephesus and we are told that He is the One who is speaking to the church! How interesting is that!!!! It appears that each church needed to hear from Christ in a specific way!
It is my prayer that as we study these seven letters we will ask the Lord to speak to our own hearts and begin to pray even more specifically for the church that we attend to be all that Lord Jesus wants it to be!