Seven Letter to Seven Churches-Ephesus Part 2

Truth in Palmyra

Revelation 2:1-7

“Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;” Revelation 2:1

Friends, grab a cup of coffee, pull up a chair and sit a spell; we are going to be in the Seven Letters to Seven churches for a bit. I keep finding as I study for this that there is far more detail and so many rabbit trails to chase, that we may never get done. So, we are going to take things really slow. We won’t be too long on any particular section, as I know most people’s blogging attention span short, and nobody really tends to read 2000 words. I know I tend not to unless I am just totally captured; since I don’t suspect I will totally capture anybody, short and…

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The Church at Pergamos

Revelation 2:12-17

INTRODUCTION:
Pergamum was a city of compromise; the worship of anything was allowable in that city; and the Church at Pergamos had become engulfed in compromise too.
One of the gods they worshiped was Esculapius…
Writing of Esculapius, J. Vernon McGee wrote,
“Then the other outstanding temple was of the god Asklepios. Down from that great ancient world. It was the Mayo Clinic of that day. It was, first of all, a temple to Asklepios. If you are looking at the Greek god Asklepios, it is a man, but when you see the Anatolian or Oriental Asklepios, it is a serpent. There in Pergamum it was a serpent. I have pictures which I took of that great marble pillar which stands like an obelisk now but apparently was a pillar in the temple of Asklepios. The construction of the temple was unusual in that it was round. There they used every means of healing imaginable. They used both medicine and psychology – and about everything else.
Put yourself in this situation: you go down long tunnels, and above are holes that look like airholes for ventilation but are not. As you walk along these tunnels, sexy voices come down through the holes, saying to you, ‘You are going to get well. You are going to feel better. You are going to be healed.’ (Does that have a modern ring?) You go down to the hot baths where you are given a massage. There is a little theater there where they give plays of healing. If they haven’t healed you by now, as a last resort they put you in that temple at night and turn loose the nonpoisonous snakes which crawl over you. (That is known as the shock treatment in our day!) If they don’t heal you, they will drive you crazy, that’s for sure. They have a back door where they take out the dead. They don’t mention the ones they don’t heal; they speak only ot those who recover.” (From Thru The Bible pg. 908 by J. Vernon McGee).

Warren Wiersbe wrote of this also,
“The city aslso had a temple dedicated to Aesculapius, the god of healing, whose insignia was the entwined serpent on the staff.” (BE Commentary vol. 2, pg. 573).

I. THE ONE WHO HOLDS THE SHARP TWO-EDGED SWORD (v. 12).
A. The Sword is Both and Offensive and Defensive Weapon.
“And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God…” Eph. 6:17

B. The Word of God is Likened to a Two-Edged Sword.
“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Heb. 4:12

C. Jesus is the One who Has the Sharp Twoedged Sword Out of His Mouth.
“…And out of His mouth went a sharp twoedged sword…” Rev. 1:16

II. THE WORKS ARE KNOWN BY JESUS (v. 13).
A. They Dwelt in the Seat of Satan – It Was a Very Pluralistic Culture Worshiping many Deities, and Tolerant of Moral Depravity.

B. While there Was a Remnant of Faithful Believers; the Church had Given in to the Culture – They were compromising on morals, Doctrine, and the Gospel.

C. It is Known Also as the Church of Faithful Antipas Who Give His Life for the Sake of Jesus Christ and the Gospel

III. THE CHURCH HAD ALLOWED THE DOCTRINE OF BALAAM AND THE NICOLAITANS INTO THE CONGREGATION (v. 14-15).
A. The Doctine of Balaam is the Way – the Doctrine of Compromise.
1. THE WAY OF BALAAM = Ministry for pay. “Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness…” 2 Peter 2:15
2. THE ERROR OF BALAAM = To think that God would do the opposite of what He promised. “Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.” Jude 1:11
3. THE DOCTRINE OF BALAAM = Counseling others on how to curse God’s people (See Num. 25 and 31) “But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.” Rev. 2:14

B. This Church also Had Trouble with the Nicolaitans, Only Giving in to Compromise with Them.
1. To Overcome the People; to Rule, overrule, to Dominate.
2. Setting up a Heirarchy of Domination over them – even a Priesthood.
“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light…” 1 Peter 2:9

C. It Should become Quite Clear to the Church of 2018 that The Lord Hates Compromise in the area of Doctrine, the Gospel, and Morality.

IV. REPENTANCE IS NECESSARY TO AVOID THE SWORD OF HIS JUDGMENT (v. 16)
A. The Compromise Must be Dealt With Quickly, and Severely – There is no room for compromising with compromise.

B. Repentance is the Key – a Turning From Sin Back to Christ Jesus, and Faithfulness to Him.

C. The Call is to the Compromising Reprobates Within the Church.
“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” 2 Cor. 6:17-18

V. THE REWARD FOR THOSE WHO WILL OVERCOME (v. 17).
A. A Call to Pergamos and All the Churches to Hear.

B. A Hidden Manna – Heavenly Food that is Only Available for Those Who Overcome the Sin of Compromise.

C. A White Stone – A word for assurance to the Faithful

D. A New Name – A Name which Speaks of One’s Character, Honor, and Faith.

CONCLUSION:
1. We can be certain and assured that the Lord Jesus is the One who has from His Mouth the Twoedged Sword, and that He will Judge.
2. He knows the works of the Church, every individual professing Christ; He knows the works of compromise with Satan and sin; He knows the works of the Faithful; He knows of the moral depravity around and within the Church, and will Judge it.
3. Jesus Knows of the failure to adhere to Bible, Gospel doctrine, faithfulness, and purity of life.
4. The call to all who compromise the word, the Gospel, faithfulness, and morality is to Repent.
5. The Reward for those who are faithful will be to overcome; and to receive eternal rewards of heavenly portions; have the assurance of eternity with the Lord; and receive a new name; He has already called those who believe Him “Just and Righteous” by calling us “Saints” (Rom. 1:7; 1 Cor. 1:2; 2 Cor. 1:1; Eph. 1:1; Phil. 1:1; Col. 1:2)

The Church at Smyrna

The Church at Smyrna

Text: Revelation 2:8-11
Smyrna means “Myrrh”. A frangrance for kings. One of the gifts to the baby Jesus – “gold, frankencense, and myrrh” (Matthew 2:11).

When asked by his heathen judges to recant his Christian faith, Polycarp, pastor at Smyrna replied, “Four score and six years have I served the Lord, and He never wronged me: How can I blaspheme my King and Savior?’ From John Walvoord’s THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST.

INTRODUCTION:
I. SMYRNA WAS CONSIDERED THE MOST BEAUTIFUL CITY OF ASIA.
II. IT WAS DESTROYED IN 580 B.C., AND REBUILT IN 290 B.C. – dead but alive again- AND CONTINUING ALIVE TODAY.
III. WAS A FAITHFUL ALLY OF ROME AND ONE OF THE FIRST TO INITIATE EMPEROR WORSHIP OF CAESAR UNDER; ERECTED A TEMPLE UNDER THE REIGN OF TIBERIAS.
IV. THE CHURCH AT SMYRNA WAS HEAVILY PERSECUTED, LOSING THEIR GOODS AND THEIR PROPERTIES BECAUSE THEY WOULD NOT WORSHIP CAESAR, BUT THE LORD JESUS CHRIST ALONE.

I. Jesus Identifies Himself as The Eternal One Who Has Been Dead, but is Now Alive (v. 8)
A. First and Last terms of eternity – His eternalness, beginning and end (Isaiah 44:6; 48:12)

“Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the First, and I am the Last; and beside me there is no God.” Is. 44:6
“Hearken unto Me, O Jacob and Israel, My called; I am He; I am the First, I also am the Last.” Is. 48:12

B. He died, and He lives again – never to die again (Heb. 7:23-24).

“By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament. And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death: but this Man, because He continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.” Heb. 7:22-24

II. Jesus Knows of Their Works, Their Tribulation, and Their Poverty, and Says, “But You are Rich” (v. 9).
A. Living in Smyrna, the seat of emperor worship, they lost all they had materially because of their faithfulness to the way of the Lord Jesus.
B. Some Jewish Zealots were persecuting them – were not believing even the writings of Moses.

“But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.” Rom 2:29

1. These “Jews” were not believing God.

C. Riches are more than silver, gold, trinkets, any material thing (Luke 12:15)

“And He said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” Lk. 12:15

III. Jesus Gives Words of Encouragement, and Strength to Continue in Their Labor and Tribulation (v. 10
A. Fear none of those things – the persecution, the loss of things, death…
B. There will be further tribulation, persecution, pain, and death; however continue to be faithful; even unto death.

“These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

C. The promise of the Crown of Life.

“Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love Him.” James 1:12

IV. Jesus Gives the Church at Smyrna the Promise of No Second Death (v. 11).
A. Describe the “second death” – (Rev. 20:12-15)
1. We are all born into this world spiritually dead to God – thus we must be born again.
2. There is physical death – we all experience barring a supernatural miracle.
3. There is the “second death” also called eternal death – eternal separation from all that is God; holiness, righteousness, good and right.

“And I saw a great white throne, and Him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” Rev. 20:11-15

B. The Spirit of God; if the churches have ears to hear; will overcome fear of losing, fear of death, and are given the promise of eternal life in the presence of our dear Lord.

CONCLUSION:
1. The One who is Eternal Died for Our Sins, was Buried, and He Rose Again; Because He Lives Now We too Live With Him in Glory.
2. The One who is Eternal Knows our Life Situation, Persecuted, Poverty, Power; and Stands Ready to Aid Us, and to Save Us.
3. The One who is Eternal is Our Encouragement, Our Strength, Our Hope of Eternal life, and the Crown of Life.
4. The One who is Eternal is our Only Source of Eternal Life, and Hope for Missing the Second Death.

The Church at Ephesus

Ephesus: Left Their First Love

Revelation 2:1-7
“…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.” G. Campbell Morgan
(2 Tim. 3:12)
REFERENCES – John 14:21, Genesis 2:9; 3:2-3, 22-24,

INTRODUCTION –
I. IN THIS LETTER TO EPHESUS JESUS REVEALS HIMSELF AS THE ONE WHO HOLDS THE SEVEN STARS, AND WALKS IN THE MIDST OF THE SEVEN CANDLESTICKS.
II. JESUS COMMENDS THEM FOR THEIR LABOR, SACRIFICE, AND PATIENCE.
III. ALL IS NOT WELL IN EPHESUS – THEY HAVE ABANDONED THEIR FIRST LOVE.
IV. THEY ARE IN NEED OF REMEMBERING, REPENTANCE, AND REPEATING.
V. THROUGH THEIR LOVE FOR CHRIST THEY CAN RECEIVE THE FRUIT OF THE TREE OF LIFE.

I. Jesus Reveals Himself as Holding the Stars In His Right Hand and Walking in the Midst of the Candlesticks (v. 1)
A. Scripture has previously spoken so (1:12, 13, 16, 20); but note that to Ephesus He says, “…who walks in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks”.
B. Possibly saying that He is not just some ornament in the midst of the churches.

II. Ephesus is Commended For its Works of Labor, its Sacrifices, and Their Patience (vv. 2-3).
A. They were very busy doint their works of service.
B. They were busy unto it becoming burdensome – near to fainting mentally and physically.
C. They were enduring in their labors unto the end. Warren Wiersbe said, “Just think of it: it is possible to serve, sacrifice, and suffer “For My name’s sake” and yet not really love the Lord Jesus Christ.” From BE Commentary pg. 572

III. The Condemnation of Ephesus Was That They Had Left Their First Love (v. 4; John 14:21).
A. Warren Wiersbe said, “Just think of it: it is possible to serve, sacrifice, and suffer “For My name’s sake” and yet not really love the Lord Jesus Christ.” From BE Commentary pg. 572
1. One can get so busy, and tired they neglect to feed on their source of love for the Savior – The Scriptures and prayer.
2. One can become so overcome by the glamors, and distractions of the world of the flesh that they neglect to love the good and to hate evil.
3. Evil as is defined by God and Scripture; not by the world, the flesh, and the devil.
B. The Way of Renewal for Ephesus.
1. Remember from where you came.
2. Repent.
3. Repeat those things that you did when you loved Him
C. They are commended again in verse six for their stand against the Nicolaitans.
1. Known as “Conquerors of the people” they have been seen as the beginning of a dividing of powers in the Church.
2. A heirarchy of leadership – the priest over the people – or “Priest/Pastor” over the “Laity” ie. the people.

IV. If They Will Hear They Will Overcome and be Given the Tree of Life (v. 7; Gen. 2:9; 3:2-3, 22-24).
The phrase “Tree of Life” is used 9 times in Scripture. Four of those are in Proverbs 3, 11, 13 and 15. The other 5 are used in Gen. 2 and 3; and the Rev. 2 and 22.
A. The Tree of Life is for those who will hear and overcome.
B. The way to the Tree of Life is through the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Faithful and True Witness

“And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of My mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of Me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”  Revelation 3:14-22 (KJV)

In closing the letters to the seven churches we come to the final church of Laodicea. This was a wealthy city, and thus, believed themselves to be in need of nothing. This attitude had gotten into the church, thus the need for the letter. In this letter, we will see the sovereignty of Jesus Christ and His power in working with spiritual fervor, or the lack of it, and His immediate position to those who say they have no need.

“And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God…”

Jesus reveals Himself as “The Amen”, which means “So be it”. Whatever Jesus has said, or is about to say will definitely come to pass. He is the God of truth. He is truth, fixed and sure.

Jesus is the One who has, possesses and owns everything. “The earth is the LORD’S and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.” (Psalm 24:1).

Again Jesus is presenting a characteristic of Himself which the church needs. As Sovereign, He owns and possesses all things.

He reveals Himself as the very source of all creation. “…The beginning of the creation of God…” declares in fact that He is the Creator, not a created being (John 1:3; Colossians 1:16). He is the source of the needs the Laodicean people did not realize they had. Paul was familiar with Laodicea. The epistle of Colossians was sent to Laodicea for them to hear and read concerning the deity of Jesus, and other matters.

“I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.”

In these verses, we see what Jesus has to say to the congregation of Laodicea. It is not pleasant or good. He mentions no good works, no good doctrine, there is absolutely no commendation, but condemnation, with a call to “Repent” and “…Open the door…” as the only hope.

This is a church which only acted as a thermometer. It only registered the temperature around it. It was no more than a stagnant water or a dead body. Its environment was all it registered. A thermostat is used for raising or lowering the temperature. Every child of God should be like a thermostat.

When we look through Scripture we find that there are three spiritual temperatures;
1. The burning heart. This heart yearns for the Word of God and loves to hear the exposition of God’s Word. You find an example of this heart in Luke 24:32.
2. The cold heart. This heart is just not interested in spiritual things. It finds greater pleasure in the world than in God’s words. An example of this heart is found in Matthew 24:12.
3. The lukewarm heart. This is the heart who is comfortable and complacent. It is the worst condition of the three. This individual or church will not be committed to doing anything much. May or may not be a regular worshiper. We find this example in our text (v. 15). You never know where this type of people or church stands on any issue or debate.

The John MacArthur Study Bible note on verse 16 states,

“Nearby Hierapolis was famous for its hot springs, and Colosse for its cold, refreshing mountain stream. But Laodicea had dirty, tepid water that flowed for miles through an underground aqueduct. Visitors, unaccustomed to it, immediately spat it out. The church at Laodicea was neither cold, openly rejecting Christ, nor hot, filled with spiritual zeal. Instead, its members were lukewarm, hypocrites professing to know Christ, but not truly belonging to Him (cf. Matt.7:21ff).”

Jesus says of this church, “You make me sick”. They are willing to sacrifice truth for peace.

If they would have been hot Jesus would have commended them. If they would have been cold, He would have rebuked them and heated them up. As they were lukewarm, they did not even realize they had a need. Everything was going their way. They had money, notoriety, rich jewels. They had everything other people in the city had – including the presence of the absence of Jesus. They did not even know Jesus was not there.

When things are going good, and we get comfortable, let us make certain Jesus is present no matter what the cost may be. If we are comfortable we must be careful not to grow complacent to the needs we may have as well as the needs of those around us. The greatest need the world around us has is that they see Jesus Christ in those who are His – for the church to be the Church – and not living as the world.

“Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.”

The church needed to be made aware of their comfortable complacency. Because of the material riches they had been blessed with they had drifted into lukewarmness and had become a negative testimony for Christ.

Lukewarmness happens when blessings are many and the worship of Jesus slacks off. Pride and self-satisfaction is the ruin of many individuals and churches.

The city was one of vast wealth and the church has been a recipient as well. They had “Need of nothing” and were blind to their real need. They were able to handle things themselves. Their blindness kept them from seeing their nakedness, and poverty. Spiritual blindness leads to spiritual bankruptcy.

These people were clothed in the richest of garments materially, yet without the righteous garment of Jesus, they had nothing of God. They were clothed in “Fig leaves” before the eyes of God.

Blindness is sometimes caused by poor diet – malnutrition. Warren Wiersbe said…

“Diet has bearing on the condition of one’s eyes, in a spiritual sense as well as a physical one.” They had feasted heavily on material things and were fat and lazy. They had neglected the Word and worship of God in Christ and were blind as a bat without sonar, in Spirit. Poor, miserable, blind and naked.
They needed cleansing. They needed to stand for Jesus to show the world the difference one’s life has in Christ. This would lead to persecution, for the Scripture says, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12).

They needed to be clothed in the white and righteous garments of Jesus. In Jesus they would have true riches; “Gold tried in the fire” or persecution and trials of faith in Him. God, raiment, and sight that is for eternity, rather than that which the moth and rust eat away, corrupts and fails.

Laodicea was known for an eye ointment for helping sight problems. This ointment could not help them see Jesus, their true need, however. Jesus offers the ointment of the Holy Spirit who gives sight to the spiritually blind.

Jesus’s words in verse 19 are directed to a small remnant within this church who are in Christ. They have sadly backslidden, yet Jesus warns them to repent. His chastening hand brings His children out of the lie of self-satisfaction into a satisfying fellowship with Himself.

“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”

The saddest statement of these letters, and possibly in all of Scripture is the proximity of Jesus in relation to this church.
1. He is near, but not in;
2. He is knocking at the door; the ones inside unaware of His absence;
3. He is asking to come in.

This was more a social club than a church. If the One who instituted the Church is not in the church, then, it is not the Church. It does not matter how loud a group yells they are a church. What does matter is, where Jesus is in relation to them. Likewise, it matters not how loud the individual declares He is a Christian, it does, however, matter the proximity of Jesus in relation to that individual.

For those who will open the door and let Him in there is great fellowship and feasting in His presence and glory.

“To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. 22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”

The promise to the “Overcomer” is an eternal one. To sit with Jesus on His throne (Ephesians 1:3; 2:6). He has called us to be overcomers, placed in us His Spirit who seals us to that great day. Why do we want to persist in our own way, knowing that the riches of Jesus is ours through overcoming faith in Him?

Now is the time to hear. Hear the Spirit as He directs you to Jesus. Hear Him as He rebukes you of your sin and your backslidden condition.

Many individuals and churches are in the Laodicean condition. We need not stay there. If the Laodicean church did not repent they were judged. If the Church today does not repent of its comfortable complacency judgment will come on all who do not overcome.

In conclusion, this is the only church that had no commendation said of it. It was soundly rebuked for its lukewarmness. It was a “church” which made Jesus sick. Jesus was not even present in the church. He was outside, asking to come in, but they were not listening.

Let none of us who are in the Body of Christ get to the place where we do not even notice the absence of Jesus. What do we have if Jesus is not present in our gatherings as a local congregation? We have a social gathering and some Christians who need repentance. What do we have if an individual does not have the presence of Jesus? A lost individual, or a backslidden Christian. Jesus is Lord. He establishes His Church. It is Jesus who decides who will sit with Him on His throne. He is the Sovereign King; He is the Faithful and True Witness.

Know That I Have Loved You

“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith He that is holy, He that is true, He that hath the key of David, He that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept My word, and hast not denied My name. Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee. Because thou hast kept the word of My patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, which is New Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from My God: and I will write upon him My new name. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.” Revelation 3:7-13 (KJV)

In verses 7 – 13 I want us to see Jesus revealed in His glory as sovereign, and ruling in His Church, determining when and where His Church and people are to minister and preach the gospel of grace, and the whole counsel of God.

“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;”

The city of Philadelphia is approximately 28 miles Southeast of Sardis. The name means “Love of the brethren” or “Brotherly love”.

The main religion of Philadelphia was the worship of Dyonisus. To a certain extent the city was known as “The keeper of the gateway to the plateau” W. M. Ramsay THE LETTERS OF THE SEVEN CHURCHES OF ASIA, pp. 404-405. This city was also earthquake prone and destroyed and rebuilt.

Now, we see how Jesus identified Himself to this local assembly. Holy is the first. To declare Himself as that which is holy He declares Himself as God – He is. He is holy in His character. He is holy in His judgment. He is holy in His actions, words, and purposes.

He also is identified as “He that is true”. He is not a copy, but the original. Because He is true He can be trusted with history, the present, the future of our lives. He can be trusted to bring about that which we have entrusted to His care (2 Timothy 1:12).

There is little reference back to His characteristics revealed in chapter one. In verse eighteen of chapter one Jesus describes Himself as having the “Keys of hell and of death”. The “Key of David” is a reference to Isaiah 22:22. Surely Jesus is saying that great missionary efforts can only come about because He opens the door. They cease when He closes the door, thus, He is the One who holds the key [has the authority]. From around 1700 A.D. even to the present we as the Church have enjoyed an open door of evangelism. It appears that this door will remain open for mission work until Jesus comes to take His Bride home. No man can open or shut these doors, only Jesus does. While the doors are open we must take advantage of it. Jesus could come at any moment for His Church.

“I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.”

The “I know” is nowhere near one of condemnation.

This church was weak, but possibly only in number, finances, or of little power to influence society because of sin and so called “Openmindedness” toward all religions. This weakness mentioned is not mentioned as a rebuke. It is mentioned more as a reminder of their need [our need] of His strength.

What is good about this church? They have an “Open door” for evangelism and missions. They have kept the Word – obediently. They have been faithful to His name despite the persecution they have gone through. “Open door” may also be a reference to readiness to receive the Word of God. Could be both evangelism and the Word.

It is a great blessing to have God open the doors in order that we might tell many who are condemned in and by sin of the wonderfu, marvelous grace of God.

“Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.”

The “Synagogue of Satan” can refer back to the letter to Smyrna chapter two verse nine.

Satan often uses religious people to try and stop the work of our Lord. The Jews have long worked against Christianity and the ministry of Jesus. Ever since Jesus ministry began they have sought to destroy Him. They have done so unwittingly and are the “Synagogue of Satan”. This is not an anti-semitic statement. They, as a nation, are a reprobate nation, lost and condemned until they receive Jesus as their Messiah. God is still working to bring the Jew to Himself. This work is in the person of Jesus Christ.

There are times when those who oppose the Church most vehemently will be the ones who trust the Lord best. Take, for example, the apostle Paul, who was Saul, who set out to destroy these Christ followers, and ended up one when he met the Christ face to face.

There will come a time when even the whole nation of Israel will know Jesus (Romans 11:25-26). They will recognize God’s institution of the Church as the instrument used in reaching the world for Jesus with the gospel and of glorifying God.

“Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.”

In their faithfulness to Christ and His Word they receive a promise of deliverance “From the hour of temptation…” This may very well be speaking of a specific time which has yet to take place. Of course, it had some significance for the church of Philadelphia, a promise for them to be kept from a certain “Temptation”. Keep in mind that these seven churches represent the whole Church throughout the Church age, but we could also see that each church represents separate times during this age. I have not made, nor did I intend to make, a case for each church representing a period of time during the Church age. This church of Philadelphia could be seen as the church which would see the rapture of the church.

This “Temptation” mentioned in the paragraph above could be what Jeremiah the prophet called “The time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7). A time of judgment on the Jewish nation, because of their rejection of Jesus. It would be their final judgment when the nation is brought to faith in Messiah Jesus.

There would be no purpose for the Church which has kept His Word and been faithful to go through the sorrow of trial that is meant for the purification of Israel and the judgment of unbelievers. In order for chaos to have the “Upper hand” the people who are possessed by God’s Spirit will be delivered. The Scripture says, ” God has not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:9). Something needs saying here; Paul is speaking to Christians who have already been saved from their sin. The verse would, at least to me, be quite clearly speaking of a future wrath of judgment on the world, from which the Christian Church is to be delivered.

It is fairly clear that the “Open door” age and the “Lukewarm” age overlap one another. We, today, are living in the greatest age of human history. The Lord has opened doors for gospel preaching in places all over the world, but for how long? While some are hot in evangelism and loving Jesus others are wrapped up in comfortable, dead formalism, more concerned with “Artificial unity” than true unity, pushing social programs, and political proponents, and moral laws, rather than the gospel which has the power to change hearts from immorality to moral living without a law demanding it.

“Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.”

There are a lot of Christians who are questioning the imminent return of Christ. He says here, “Behold, I come quickly…” He is not speaking of minutes or seconds. He is speaking more of suddenness. “Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.” (Luke 12:40). He is coming suddenly to take His Bride home with Him. That is called the “Rapture”. NO! The word is not mentioned in Scripture, but the principle is, “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (1 Thess 4:16-17). This is certainly speaking of a “Catching away”.

Jesus speaks also of a crown. These crowns have nothing to do with salvation. They are rewards for a life of faithfulness to our Lord. There are five crowns mentioned in God’s Word. The Crown of Life (James 1:12); The Incorruptible Crown (1 Corinthians 9:24-27); The Crown of Rejoicing (1 Thessalonians 2:19-20); The Crown of Righteousness (2 Timothy 4:5-8); and the Crown of Glory (1 Peter 5:2-4).

Jesus says, “Hold on to these rewards, don’t let anyone take them from you”. Envy or jealousy can rob us of these rewards. It is called yielding to “Peer pressure”. “Hold fast” means make them your own – protect them at all cost. No material blessing is worth your life. Eternal blessings are…

“Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.”

Sometimes in this city of earthquakes, the only thing left standing was marble pillars of the temples which had been built for varied purposes.

Since all of Heaven is the temple of God every overcomer will be identified as one who stood when everything around them fell, cracked and was destroyed.

“Go no more out” is speaking of seeking shelter outside the city when it was falling. In God’s city, the New Jerusalem, none will ever have to flee.

In this new city, the overcomers will also have a new name. In ancient cities, they often put the names of important people upon the pillars which supported a building. These overcomers will stand forever with the new name which has been given them by Jesus Himself.

“He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”

Once again a call for every individual to hear the Spirit, and what He says to the churches. Hear the call of the Holy Spirit and you hear the call of God.

In conclusion, He gives the Church an “Open Door” which He alone can open, and He alone can shut. He is the One who through the Holy Spirit makes Himself known (v. 9) in and through His Church

When Allowances for Evil are Made

And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath His eyes like unto a flame of fire, and His feet are like fine brass; I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first. Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce My servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am He which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works. But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden. But that which ye have already hold fast till I come. And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of My Father. And I will give him the morning star. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. Revelation 2:18-29

In these verses, we will see that Jesus, as the holy and righteous Judge, will not tolerate wickedness, corruption in His Church, but that He exposes and judges it, and sets apart those within the body who are not partakers of the vileness.

Jesus introduces Himself to the church of Thyatira as the Judge. He is one who exposes unrighteousness in the forms of heresy, idolatry, and all abominable acts.

This church was a corrupt church. Toleration of “Jezebel” is their chief sin. Refusing to confront and judge her themselves, Jesus would come and do so Himself.

False teachings still corrupt the church today. There is very little teaching of holiness or righteousness, but much about self-awareness and self-acceptance. There are also teachings of “Antinomianism” disguised as freedom in Christ, the priesthood of the believer, and the liberty of the Spirit. “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” from the bondage of sin. We are not at liberty to sin, but at liberty to serve and follow Jesus Christ.

There may have been some who tolerated “Jezebel” in order to practice “Church Growth”. There is a “Jezebel spirit” in that area especially. BEWARE!!!

Verse 18 begins the longest letter, and it is addressed to the church of Thyatira.

This letter opens with a word of warning to the unrepentant church member. The way in which Jesus identifies Himself is the warning. “His eyes like unto a flame of fire and His feet are like fine brass” (1:14-15). His eyes are eyes which pierces through the hardest of hearts and determines the motive and sees the sin of every heart. The feet like fine brass. His feet are pure and He is worthy to judge all who fail to give Him place – His rightful place.

Thyatira was a small city approximately 40 miles East of Pergamum. It was known as a city which manufactured purple dye. It is mentioned in the book of Acts 16:14-15. Lydia, a purple merchant, was from Thyatira and very well could have been used by God to start this church.

The people of the church for reasons yet to be mentioned have to be reminded of the deity of Jesus Christ, therefore, in this letter alone does He identify Himself as the Son of God. What tragedy when the Church loses sight of His divinity.

This is a church that is the opposite of the church of Ephesus. It appears their love for Jesus was stronger, their works were not mere religion, but done out of true love for Jesus (v. 19).

The church of Ephesus had the works but not the love, but they hated false teaching and dealt with it. The church of Thyatira had the love but tolerated false teaching and evil. Both of these are in the extreme on opposite ends. There needs to be both a love for Jesus and hatred for false teaching and evil and confronting it. This church sounds much like many churches of the 21st century. “You can love the Lord, and other gods and things; we will love you, no matter what; and there will never be any judgment against you. Let’s love and tolerate one another.”

Sin and false teaching must be dealt with.

The condemnation against Thyatira is because of tolerance of evil, deceptive teaching led by a strong, domineering woman who is “Jezebel” in character. “Jezebel” is probably a symbolic character reminding the people of the domineering, deceptive practices of the queen of Israel in 1 Kings 16 and following, who led Israel into Baal worship while pretending to hold on to the worship of YaHWeH (vv. 20 – 23).

This woman may have had a large following because of her strong leadership abilities and her loose morals. She probably was seen by some as a peacemaker, a worker for unity, especially between Christians and the government, and employers who did not want Christians who stood up for their Savior. She was corrupting the Church. This was probably the beginning of Maryolotry. Putting the virgin Mary on equal, if not a greater scale with Jesus.

Jesus gave her time to repent, but she refused. All who yielded to her teachings and practices would be cast into judgment with her. The bed that had been a bed of pleasure and peace would become a bed of pestilence. “Kill her children with death” is showing pestilence – disease, plague, drought – it would end in death.

By this judgment, all the churches will know that Jesus knows the heart, mind, and motives of His people – and of the wicked as well. When these have sown seeds of corruption what is the harvest, except corruption – destruction.

“Jezebel” would be an unredeemed person who crept in by stealth and deceit. Her only purpose is to lead astray, corrupt, and destroy. God’s purpose would be to strengthen the believers.

To those who are pure – have kept themselves from this doctrine of “Jezebel” Jesus’s promise is to put no other burden upon them (vv. 24 – 25).

This is the third letter in which Jesus has mentioned the enemy (Satan). To Smyrna, He calls the false Jews, “The synagogue of Satan”. To Pergamos, He calls it the place “Where Satan’s seat is”, “Where Satan dwelleth”, and then of Thyatira, “Those who have not known the depths of Satan” – probably referring to indulgence to sinful idol worshipping practices which “Jezebel” practiced along with her followers. “Give in to the world. Be silent about your faith. Do not lose your job because of Jesus, just go along with the crowd”. God forbid that we give up and give in to “The depths of Satan”.

Jesus says to those who are faithful, “Hold on to that which you have.” Keep the faith. Be patient, “Until I come”. This is a promise of deliverance to the faithful.

In verses 26 – 28 Jesus mentions the overcomer. The overcomer operates by faith and keeps His works unto the end. He has no other life. He knows no other position, than the one he has in Jesus Christ.

Notice the mention of the Millenial reign of Jesus. Yes, I believe the millennial reign of Christ to be literal. There are hundreds of Old Testament passages having to do with the Kingdom of Christ on earth where the lamb will lie down with the lion and wolf, and children play over the dens of serpents. The “Overcomers” will be given a position of authority in that day. Remember! We are joint heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17) and “All things under His feet” (Ephesians 1:22). This rule will be one of shepherding people who are on earth at that time. When do you see the “Morning star”? At the beginning of a new day. A new day begins in Jesus Christ. He is the Morning Star. The “Overcomer” is one who is a possession of Jesus, and Jesus is their possession.

Verse 29 gives us the call to hear. It is the first of the seven letters that have the invitation to hear on the very end of the letter.

It is at the end of the following three letters as well. Perhaps to let all know, who are reading and hearing these words, and find themselves in a similar predicament. Jesus will be the judge of all sin and sinners who do not repent of their sin. Woe be to the one who does not hear and heed the message to the church of Thyatira.

In conclusion, wickedness abounds in this world. This is not the time for the church to be tolerating evil practices and/or false teachings. When we give allegiance to the world and “Christ” we give no allegiance to Christ.

The world around us is looking for hope and deliverance from all the things which plague our world. The Church has the answer. If we follow the world, who does the world have to follow? We are the light that shines in the darkness. Evil corrupts, but the light will overcome.

Be a source of hope to a dark world by building on the foundation principles of the Word of God and His righteousness in Jesus Christ. Let the world know there is right in the Light.
Jesus, to this very day, is the Judge of all evil and corruption and He still will not tolerate evil, especially within His Body, which is the Church.

Invited From the Door

And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; ‘These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;  I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.  So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of My mouth.  Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of Me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.  As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.  Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me.  To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne.  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”  Revelation 3:14-22 (KJV)

For more on the church of Laodicea follow this link.

-T.A.

Written Upon

And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; ‘These things saith He that is holy, He that is true, He that hath the key of David, He that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept My word, and hast not denied My name.  Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.  Because thou hast kept the word of My patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.  Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.  Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from My God: and I will write upon him My new name.  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”  Revelation 3:7-13 (KJV)

Sometimes in this city of earthquakes the only thing left standing was marble pillars of the temples which had been built for varied purposes.

When you have that “new name” you will stand more sure than those marble pillars.

-T.A.

Caught Unaware???

And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; ‘These things saith He that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.  Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.  Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee. Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white: for they are worthy.  He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before My Father, and before His angels.  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.'”  Revelation 3:1-6 (KJV)

If you would like you may click on this link and read GIVER OF THE SPIRIT.

-T.A.

Power Over Nations

And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; ‘These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and His feet are like fine brass; I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first. Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce My servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am He which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works. But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden. But that which ye have already hold fast till I come. And he that overcometh, and keepeth My works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of My Father. And I will give him the morning star. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.” Revelation 2:18-29 (KJV)

For further study and reading follow this link.

-T.A.

The Compromisers

And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; ‘These things saith He which hath the sharp sword with two edges; I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast My name, and hast not denied My faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.  But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.  So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.  Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth.  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; ‘To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.”  Revelation 2:12-17 (KJV)

You might want to follow this link and go read THE CUTTING EDGES for further study.

-T.A.

The Rich One’s

And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; ‘These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;  I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.  Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.”  Revelation 2:8-11 (KJV)

For further reading and study you may want to read THE RESURRECTED ONE

-T.A.

The Love Left

Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; ‘These things saith He that holdeth the seven stars in His right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: and hast borne, and hast patience, and for My name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.  Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.  Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.  But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.”  Revelation 2:1-7 (KJV)

For further reading and study on these verses go read The Caretaker of the Light.

-T.A.