A REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST– Empty Trash Cans
• Revelation 2:8-11, 3:7-13
You can tell a lot about a person by looking in their trash cans. Within trash cans you can find the left-overs from days gone by. You will find things that were once useful and are now broken, things that were valued but have since lost their importance and usefulness to the owner. And within our trashcans we will also throw things we are trying to hide and keep others from knowing about.
Over the next several weeks we are going to continue to look at The State of the Church as revealed through the seven churches in Revelation, and we are going to do it by taking a look inside their trash cans. As we see what they have thrown away we can also examine the contents of our ‘spiritual garbage cans’ to see if we too are guilty of the same thing. Christ knows His church and knows what we have thrown away and discarded.
WHAT IS THE VALUE FOR CHURCHES TODAY?
1. The letters to the seven churches each contain a revelation of Jesus Christ. Above all the church today needs a fresh revelation of Who Jesus Christ is. Without a revelation of Christ today we cannot be the church! We must come to know Jesus better, and through these seven letters Christ is revealed to us.
2. Within these letters we learn what Jesus loves and values within His church. If we are going to be a church that makes Jesus smile, then we need to know what he expects of the church and do it.
3. We also find out what is not pleasing to the Lord. These letters contain words of rebuke for sin within the church as well as the consequences and judgment that is the result of their sin.
4. Because we see both what pleases the Lord and what He does not want within His church we are given a biblical standard by which we as individuals and the church can judge ourselves and one another.
5. A call to repentance is given by the Lord to His church, a call of repentance that the church must hear today if we are going to receive a fresh revelation of Jesus Christ. For each church Jesus makes a promise to those who will stand firm and overcome. Christ has the blessing of reward for each church that will repent and remain faithful to His word.
6. These letters will show us how Satan will attack the church both from within the walls of the church and from outside the church. We need to be on guard and take our stand against the enemy, for we know that Christ has overcome Satan and has empowered and equipped us to likewise be more than conquers.
WHAT DO THESE LETTERS TEACH US ABOUT HOW THE CHURCH CAN RECEIVE A FRESH REVELATION OF WHO JESUS CHRIST IS?
1. We must be willing to heed Christ’s call to repent. If there is garbage filling our ‘spiritual trash cans,’ if there is sin within the church then we are cut off from fellowship with Christ. When we repent we are then able to again enjoy an unbroken relationship with Christ so that we might know Him better.
2. We must be willing to “Hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” God will speak to our church; the Lord will direct us and make Himself known to us, but we must have an ear to hear; that means more than just listening. It means we listen and obey!
WHAT ARE THE KEYS TO UNLOCKING THE MESSAGE TO THE CHURCHES OF REVELATION?
1. Jesus reveals Himself to each church in a unique way. We need to understand how Christ makes Himself know to the church and how it applies to the message given to the church.
2. What is the condition of the church? First, we need to notice what Jesus puts his stamp of approval on, to see how the church is commended by Jesus. We need to learn to put into practice those things that Jesus approves of. Second, the spiritual health of each church cannot be known unless we also look in their trash cans. What do we find there that Jesus wants changed in the life of the church? What is the Lord’s rebuke for each church? We need to pay attention to not only what each church is doing right, but also what Jesus disapproves of within that church. What might Jesus hold against us? How have we compromised as a church and not done what is pleasing to the Lord?
3. Finally we need to learn from the judgment pronounced against each church together with the promise Christ makes for those who overcome. Will we receive the judgment of Christ or the reward for obedience?
The churches of Smyrna and Philadelphia
As we come to look at the trash cans of these two churches today we discover an amazing thing—THEIR TRASH CANS ARE EMPTY. They are not trying to hide any sin from God, nor have they discarded anything of their faith in Christ. Of all the seven churches these are the only two which Jesus has no rebuke. That means the odds are not in our favor that Jesus will find our trash cans empty; over 70% or almost 3 of 4 churches had something within their ‘spiritual trash cans’—these are the only two with no sin to hide and nothing of their faith carelessly thrown away.
I. How is Jesus revealed to the churches?
1. Jesus revelation of Himself to the church at Smyrna.
• Revelation 2:8 (NIV)
"To the angel of the church in Smyrna write:
These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again.
a) Jesus is the FIRST AND THE LAST.
b) Jesus wants to encourage the church at Smyrna with the knowledge that He is the eternal God and His purpose and plan for them will never fail. Therefore
• Isaiah 46:9-10 (NIV)
 Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me.  I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.
c) Jesus can be trusted to take care of the church regardless of what they face.
d) Jesus is the one who DIED AND CAME TO LIFE AGAIN!
e) The church at Smyrna was facing persecution—even to the point of death.
• John 11:25 (NIV)
Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies;
• Romans 6:5 (NIV)
If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.
f) Jesus does not want His church to fear. Nothing—not even death will be able to separate us from Him.
2. Jesus revelation of Himself to the church at Philadelphia.
• Rev. 3:7 (NIV)
To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write:
These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.
a) Jesus is HOLY AND TRUE.
b) Jesus tells the church at Philadelphia that those who have mocked them will fall at their feet to acknowledge that Christ has indeed loved them. In other words, Jesus will cause even those outside the church to recognize that they are holy—they have been set apart and loved by God.
• Hebrews 13:12 (NIV)
And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood.
• Leviticus 21:8 (NIV)
Consider them holy, because I the Lord am holy—I who make you holy.
c) Jesus HOLDS THE KEYS OF DAVID; what he opens no one can shut and what he shuts no one can open.
• Isaiah 22:22 (NIV)
I will place on his shoulder the key to the house of David; what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.
• Matthew 28:18 (NIV)
Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
d) Jesus has been given the royal authority of the king; in His hands are the keys of the kingdom, and Jesus uses these keys to open and shut doors that no one else can.
II. What does Jesus find in the trash can?
1. Jesus knows the condition of His church. He is ready to reward faithful obedience, but He is also ready to expose the sin and hypocrisy within the church.
a) For the church of Smyrna and Philadelphia, Jesus finds the trash cans empty. These are churches which have no sin to hide. No leftovers have been thrown away to show that these churches have been feasting on the food of the world—food that would pollute their soul and spirit. They have not thrown away anything of their faith which they have neglected or broken.
b) The churches of Smyrna and Philadelphia have been found faithful to obey the word of the Lord.
2. How has the church of Smyrna been faithful to Christ?
• Revelation 2:9 (NIV)
I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich! I know the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.
a) Jesus knows their AFFLICTION and suffering!
• Isaiah 53:3 (NIV)
He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
• John 16:33 (MsgB)
I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world."
b) Jesus knows their POVERTY, AND YET THEY ARE RICH!
c) This was a church that had learned the secret of giving!
• Matthew 6:19-20 (NIV)
 Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.
3. For what does Jesus commend the church of Philadelphia?
• Revelation 3:8 (NIV)
I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.
a) Jesus knows their FAITH! While they have little strength this is a church that has remained faithful to His word and not denied His name.
• Hebrews 3:14 (NIV)
We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first.
• James 2:26 (NIV)
As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.
b) Jesus knows their DEEDS!
• Ephesians 2:10 (NIV)
For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
And so we see Jesus; He is:
o The FIRST AND THE LAST
o The One who WAS DEAD BUT IS ALIVE AGAIN
o HOLY AND TRUE
o The One who HOLDS THE KEYS OF DAVID to open doors which then no one can shut and to shut doors which no one can open.
This same Jesus who has spoken to His church about their present condition also speaks to them about what is still to come.
III. What does Jesus promise to those who overcome?
1. Overcomers from the church at Smyrna.
• Revelation 2:10-11 (NIV)
 Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.
 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death.
a) Trials and persecution will continue for this church for a period of time, yet Jesus encourages them to not give up. He is the one who has overcome death hell and the grave, and He will be with His church through this time of suffering.
b) Those who overcome will not be hurt at all by the second death.
2. Overcomers from the church at Philadelphia
• Revelation 3:10-13 (NIV)
 Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth.
 I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.  Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name.  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
3) Smyrna and Philadelphia—two churches with empty trash cans. Churches that Jesus encouraged to remain faithful until the end. Churches that would receive a revelation of Jesus!
• Matthew 5:8 (NIV)
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.