Summary: This is an introductory message in a series on the seven churches of Revelation.
THE LORD IN THE MIDST OF HIS CHURCH
TEXT: Revelation 1:9-20
Revelation 1:9-20 KJV I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.  I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet,  Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.  And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks;  And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.  His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire;  And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.  And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.  And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:  I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.  Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter;  The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.
I. INTRODUCTION—THE CHURCH IN THIS WORLD
-Increasingly we find ourselves faced with the question: What is the church going to be in the world?
-It is crucial for all who are in the church to first of all understand their identity; aliens in a hostile land. It would appear from the way the horizon of the future that the American church is due for some pressure-filled days ahead. Therefore, who you are as a saint, a child of God, a believer will have to be firmly settled in your heart.
1 Peter 2:11 KJV Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;
Hebrews 11:16 KJV But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.
Hebrews 13:13-14 KJV Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.  For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.
-Because we have enjoyed such great religious liberties for more than 240 years, the church is basically unprepared for the pressure that will soon be exerted on the church.
-The first century church was familiar with all of this. The early Christians were hated and despised as a religious sect all throughout the Roman Empire. There were various motivations behind the hatred:
• Politically—Despised because the Romans viewed them as disloyal because they refused to acknowledge Caesar as a divine authority.
• Religiously—Accused as being atheists because they did not worship the vast array of Roman gods and because they worshipped an invisible God, not an idol.
• Socially—They were from the lower classes of society (1 Cor. 1:26) and loathed by the Roman aristocracy.
• Economically—They were seen as a threat by the pagan priests, craftsmen, and merchants who profited from the idol worship.
-They were surrounded by dark paganism, uninhibited immorality, withering slavery, and oppressive dictators. The Christians were enemies of the world. Because they were enemies of the world, this led to martyrdom for many of them.
• Stephen—Stoned to death.
• James—Killed with the sword. He was led to the place of execution with his executioner observing it all. When he saw the courage of James, he cried out for a pardon for him to the authorities. It was denied. The executioner affirmed his faith in Jesus Christ and was beheaded beside James.
• Philip—Scourged, thrown into prison and then crucified.
• Matthew—Martyred in Ethiopia.
• James the Less—At age 94 was stoned and beaten by the Jews and then beheaded. Then his head was crushed with a club.