Summary: A very easy-to-understand teaching on Revelation 2.
In my very first position as a Senior Pastor, I quickly became aware of the major problem found in churches today. About three months into the job, I preached about the Rapture. I made sure it was not the old "hellfire & brimstone" type of message, and I even added some levity to a few parts, but after the service the team of elders quickly descended upon me and demanded an instant meeting with me.
In that meeting, they said I was not allowed to teach or preach on anything concerning the End Times because the previous pastor had done that and several children got scared.
And therein lies the two-fold problem with many churches today. First, too many preachers do not have an understanding of the End Times themselves, so they tend to preach with heavy hands rather than a teacher’s heart. I figure that since they can’t teach you why you need to be obedient, they will scare you into it. But that is directly contrary to what God wants from His leaders and for His people.
Secondly, too many people are afraid to hear the true Word of God, so they just don’t include that in their "happy" church experience. One may feel free to look at it as when we exclude just one part of God, we are actually excluding all of God.
I pray that if I were to ever wake up one morning and decide that I wanted to keep part of God’s Word away from someone for any reason, that would be the day God quits using me to serve Him. All I have to worry about is how to teach it so people will understand it rather than being afraid of it.
That being said, let’s take a look at our message today on Revelation 2.
In REVELATION 1:19, John writes,
“I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first.”
In this verse, John is talking in the present tense; the here and now. It is with this focus on what they are doing now that he goes into the 2nd chapter of this book.
Remember that he was told to write these things down and give them to the seven churches. He is now addresses the seven churches that he was an overseer of, he talks about church history. And the messages that follow have a 4-fold application.
First of all, the messages are to be applied to the local church. The letters are to be given to each church and they were to read the letters to their congregations and then all were to help the church refocus on God’s truth and not the worldly ideas mankind brings into the church.
Secondly, they needed to be addressed ecclesiastically. In other words, every person who cared about the church and how it was supposed to follow God should study the letters. Every problem and difficulty the church was having was addressed by John. By paying attention to the problem, we can fix it. By ignoring the problem, it will always stay with us.
Thirdly, the letters were to be applied by each person on an individual basis. How can we make ourselves better believers? What can we do to live a more Godly life? Are there things we must stop doing, or stop thinking, or stop believing so we can refocus ourselves back on the truth of God? Personal application is always a very hard thing to do, but a necessary thing to do.
Fourth, the letters John wrote were prophetical in nature. Not only did they apply to the churches of his time, but they apply just as much to the churches throughout all time, including today’s churches.
But notice the structure in which these letters were written. They included positive affirmation as to what they were doing right, or what they had done right. This positive affirmation serves to get them enthused about correcting their deficiencies. They also included an exhortation to correct themselves, or the instructive part of the letters. John also wrote them to include an eternal motivation, giving them the reason they needed to get back to God’s truth. And finally, they included a partial revelation as to what each church held onto that was truth.
Like those churches, we can only get a complete picture of the body of Christ by looking at us all, not just looking at our own individual selves. We are part of a picture, and not the complete picture. And so, with that thought, let us pray that we be the type of Christian and the type of church that embraces other believers and other churches for what they do, and not reject them simply because they don’t do everything the way we do them.