Summary: In Revelations 2 and 3 seven churches are listed. These traits are found today in all churches. What church best describes you as a Christian?
Today I dip my toe into the Book of Revelation. Notice I am not plunging in. The Book of Revelation is the only book that begins with a blessing and ends with a curse. “God blesses the one who reads the words of this prophecy to the church, and he blesses all who listen to its message and obey what it says, for the time is near.” (Rev 1:3)
“And I solemnly declare to everyone who hears the words of prophecy written in this book: If anyone adds anything to what is written here, God will add to that person the plagues described in this book. And if anyone removes any of the words from this book of prophecy, God will remove that person’s share in the tree of life and in the holy city that are described in this book.” (Rev 22:18-19)
We should understand how urgent this message is to the church and how delicately it should be handled. I assure you I take this charge very serious and I pray you will also. We must tread these prophetic waters lightly. So let us begin with a prayer for understanding.
I want to discuss the seven churches found in the opening chapters of Revelation. These were seven actual churches that existed at the time Revelation was written. Therefore, it is safe to assume that these letters were addressed to these particular churches. Some scholars also think they reflect the seven different ages the church has gone through from the time of the Apostles, to the dark ages, until finally the end time church. However, I believe that it also paints a picture of the church today.
When addressing the seven churches Jesus has a five-fold format. He reveals himself. He encourages the church. He points out their shortcomings. He pleads for them to repent. He reveals his blessing or his cursing against them. This format holds true to five of the seven churches but two churches we will discover have no shortcomings or need to repent.
Before we begin to develop our seven characteristics of today’s church let us discover how He reveals himself. He does so in Revelation chapters 2 and 3.
He says walks among his church. The word “church” comes from the Greek word “Ekklesia” meaning “called out one’s”. Jesus “called out the one’s He wanted to go with him.” (Mark 3:13) We have been “called out of the darkness into the light”. (1 Peter 2:9)
Jesus walks with us in every aspect of our life through the presence of the Holy Spirit. He proclaims his mastery over us by reminding us that, through his resurrection, He is the beginning and the end of all things. He proclaims the ability of his word to wound and to heal. His eyes are like flames of fire revealing every hidden thing in our lives and his feet like bronze treading where He wishes to go. We cannot hide from him or escape from him. He is the absolute perfection of God, equal to him in every way. He is the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the new birth.
Now that He has revealed himself let us discover the seven traits of our modern day Christians.
1) Are you the “Ephesus” Christian?
“I know all the things you do. I have seen your hard work and your patient endurance. I know you don’t tolerate evil people. You have examined the claims of those who say they are apostles but are not. You have discovered they are liars. You have patiently suffered for me without quitting. But this is in your favor: You hate the evil deeds of the Nicolaitans, just as I do.” (Rev 2:2, 6)
We work hard in serving the Lord. We patiently endure while waiting on his return. We have no tolerance for evil people. We recognize false teaching and are not easily persuaded. We do not give up when we are discouraged. We pay heed to Paul’s advice,
“I know that false teachers, like vicious wolves, will come in among you after I leave, not sparing the flock. Even some men from your own group will rise up and distort the truth in order to draw a following.” (Acts 20:29-30)
When exposed to the doctrine of living however you desire without fear of any judgment we rejected it. We reject the teaching that it does not matter what we do with our body as long as our spirit is saved. We understand that you can in fact walk away, by your own choosing, from Jesus and lose your salvation. “For it is impossible to bring back to repentance those who were once enlightened—those who have experienced the good things of heaven and shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the power of the age to come— and who then turn away from God. It is impossible to bring such people back to repentance; by rejecting the Son of God, they themselves are nailing him to the cross once again and holding him up to public shame.” (Hebrews 6:4-6) Jesus should be pleased with our performance.