THE SEVEN CHURCHES IN REVELATION REPRESENT
Preaching by Pastor Neo Doce
Scripture: Revelation 2 and 3
The Book of Revelation addresses seven letters to seven churches in Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey) (Revelation 2-3). Each letter, as proclaimed by Jesus and recorded by John the Apostle, declares the triumphs and failings of the recipient churches and warns each congregation to repent. The advice in these letters is prophetic, forewarning present-day Christian communities of the snares that can lure us away from our faith.
1. Ephesus – The Church that Has Abandoned Its Love for Christ and His Teachings(Revelation 2:1-7)
Ephesus was the prominent commercial and cultural centre of Asia. Christ’s letter to the Ephesian church praises the congregation for its “deeds…hard work…and perseverance,” and for its rejection of false apostles (Revelation 2:2-3).
Despite its hard work and doctrinal integrity, Christ faults the community for having “forsaken the love [they] had at first” (Revelation 2:4). This “forsaken love” can mean that the Ephesians had become less devoted to Christ or that the work they did was no longer motivated by love for one another. The letter to the Ephesian church does offer the community hope if they repent and rekindle their love for Christian living (Revelation 2:5-7).
Smyrna was home to a large Jewish community hostile to Christians. The Bible notes that slanderous accusations by Jews against Christians had led to Christian persecution by Roman authorities (Acts 14:2, 19: Acts 17:13).
Christ’s revelation to Smyrna commends the community for its material poverty but spiritual wealth and acknowledges its wrongful persecution (Revelation 2:9). Christ does not reprimand this church but warns of impending imprisonment for some of its members, urging them to remain faithful “even to the point of death” and remember the promise of their “victor’s crown” (Revelation 2:10).
The city of Pergamum was renowned for its pagan practices. The letter to the church there lauds the congregation for upholding its faith despite the city’s pervasive pagan influences (Revelation 2:13). The letter then addresses the church’s sin by denouncing some of its members for following false teachings that brought about religious and moral compromise (Revelation 2:14-15).
The Lord calls on the community to repent or risk the judgment that will emanate from the “sword of [His] mouth” (Revelation 2:16). Those who repent will be given the “hidden manna” that is the grain of Heaven (Psalm 78:24), and a “white stone” or clean slate with a new identity in Christ (Revelation 2:17).
4. Thyatira – The Church that Follows False Prophets (Revelation 2:18-29)
Thyatira was a wealthy commercial city. Jesus’ letter to Thyatira praises the church for having grown in faith and service (Revelation 2:19). The church’s downfall was its devotion to a false prophet that led some members to commit idolatry and immorality (Revelation 2:20). Although the false prophet remained unrepentant, Jesus affirms that the congregation can still repent by turning away from the prophet’s ways (Revelation 2:21-22).
The Lord reminds us in this revelation that He will repay each of us according to our deeds (Revelation 2:23). The payment for sin is death. Those who persevere in faith, however, will receive a share of Christ’s messianic authority over all nations and triumph over death (Revelation 2:26-28).
5. Sardis – The Church that is Spiritually Dead (Revelation 3:1-6)
Sardis was a city that had endured two surprise attacks despite its fortifications. Our Lord faults the church in Sardis for maintaining an outward appearance of being “alive,” while actually being spiritually dead (Revelation 3:1). Alluding to the city’s history of prior surprise attacks, Jesus warns the congregation to “wake up” and repent, lest he “come like a thief” to bestow His judgment (Revelation 3:2-3).
Those in Sardis who heed Christ’s warning will be “dressed in white,” a symbol of purity and victory, and will be acknowledged in Heaven’s Book of Life (Revelation 3:5).
6. Philadelphia – The Church that Patiently Endured Despite Weaknesses (Revelation 3:7-13)
Philadelphia was home to a synagogue community hostile to Christians. Christ praises the Philadelphians for remaining faithful in the face of trials despite their limited strength (Rev. 3:8).
Jesus does not reproach this congregation but condemns its persecutors. (Revelation 3:9). Christ promises that if Philadelphia’s congregants remain faithful to Him, He will protect them from the “hour of trial” and make them pillars in God’s heavenly temple (Revelation 3:10-12).
7. Laodicea – The Church with a Lukewarm Faith (Revelation 3:14-22)
Laodicea was a prosperous industrial and commercial centre. Jesus’ letter to this church wastes no time denouncing the congregation for its lukewarm faith, threatening to “spit” the congregation out of His mouth (Revelation 3:16).
Christ scolds this church for allowing its economic prosperity to cause it spiritual bankruptcy and reveals that, despite its economic wealth, only He can provide spiritual wealth (Revelation 3:17-18). Those in Laodicea’s church who open the door to Christ will share in His Heavenly banquet and have the right to sit with Him on His throne (Revelation 3:20-21).
Declaration of the JIL Church Worldwide Distinctive
The JILCW believes that the church to be raptured is a glorious church: without spot, wrinkle or blemish and is an embodiment of the following attributes:
We are a Church that consistently takes part in experiences of GOD’s love and forgiveness and is unashamed to present our love to GOD. As a Church, we seek to lead others to truly see, hear and experience GOD’s presence and to show how they, too, can be confident in discovering, responding and expressing their love to GOD.
2. Healing Church
We are a Church that testifies to the holistic healing that GOD gives to the hurt, the sick and the lost. As a Church, we recognise the power and willingness of the Great Physician to heal the physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual wounds of every man, woman and child and thus undertake to be used as both testimonies and instruments of GOD’s healing ministry.
3. Soul-Winning Church
We are a Church whose heart feels the heartbeat of GOD for the salvation of perishing souls.
As a Church, we exemplify a lifestyle of evangelism so that souls are won for the eternal Kingdom of GOD.
4. Praying Church
We are a Church whose backbone and life blood is Prayer. As a Church, together with the Body of CHRIST, we fight the good fight of faith in prayer and fasting, intercession and spiritual warfare with corresponding action.
5. Visionary Church
We are a Church with glorious prophetic destiny. As a Church, we endeavour to reach the realization of GOD’s glorious Vision through wholehearted obedience, devotion and commitment, Spirit-led and strategic planning under His Divine Enablement. As a Church, we believe we cannot do anything apart from GOD, but we can do all things through CHRIST who strengthens us.
6. Spirit-Filled Church
We are a Church whose way of life is to seek out the Spirit’s baptism as well as His anointing in everything – praying, sharing, preaching, teaching, listening, performing, writing and so forth. As a Church, we humbly submit to the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit in doing the works of GOD in the church and society.
7. Nation-Loving Church
We are a Church called to zealously love our country, believing that every nation must be under the Lordship of JESUS CHRIST. As a Church, we accept our divine mandate to love our country by influencing and transforming every pillar of society – church and family, government, business and economics, education, science and technology, media and entertainment, arts, and environment – through programs, projects and other ways and means that trumpet truth, justice and righteousness.
8. Faith-filled Church
We are a Church that puts our absolute trust in the revelation and power of the Living GOD.
As a Church, we live with absolute confidence on GOD’s sovereignty and guidance, acknowledging His power, knowledge and presence in every part of our life.
9. Prophetic Church
We are a Church who firmly believes that our GOD also reveals His Word, will and instructions through His genuine Prophet to the nation and the Body of CHRIST.
As a Church, we recognise GOD’s commands and revelations and pursue the fulfilment of His glorious plan for the Church and nation.
10. Apostolic Church
We are a Church that submits to spirit of apostolic leadership established and ordained by the Living GOD through JESUS CHRIST. As a Church, we operate and experience the blessings of the five-fold ministry gifts that empower our dynamic apostolic church gloriously reflecting the character and power of the Living GOD and effectively reaching all parts of the world through evangelism and church planting.
11. Giving Church
We are a Church that faithfully lives according to the Biblical principle teaching us that it is more blessed to give than to receive. As a Church, we seize every opportunity to selflessly and cheerfully give to His Ministry and to the people in need.
12. Serving Church
We are a Church that follows the example set by our LORD JESUS CHRIST in genuine humility and Godly servanthood. As a Church, we devise and spearhead programs and projects that enable us to passionately serve God, His Ministry, our country and the rest of the world.