Hello, beautiful people! Happy Monday! Today we will be covering Part 3 of the study #LoveLetters: From Jesus to the Seven Churches. If you have not read the Introduction and Part 1 and 2, I encourage you to begin anew by locating these posts prior to reading this one. There is great information in these posts that I wouldn’t want you to miss!
In Part 3, we are discussing letters 5-7 that Jesus addressed to the Church of Sardis, the Church of Philadelphia, and the Church of Laodicea in the Book of Revelation. Again, as you read, please note some of the things you see that describes your current relationship with Christ (if applicable) and ponder on how you may take steps to alter this upon repentance. (This post will be a little longer than the others because we are covering three letters in Part 3!)
Letter to the Church of Sardis (The Dying Church): The Church of Sardis had once been a great church, but was now a dying church; a spiritually dead, lethargic, and apathetic church. They claimed to be alive, but in reality, they were dead. Jesus had not found their works perfect before God. I wonder what happened! The culprit for their deadness was complacency in their walk with Christ, which is very similar to a falling away. If we are not consistently growing in Christ, we are in danger of drifting. This church needed a revival. But there was hope in the remnant that remains (Revelation 3:4)! Apart from the faithful few, this church would be completely dead and lifeless. Jesus says to this church: Be watchful, and strengthen the things that remain, those things that are close to dying. And then He says in verse 3: Remember how you have received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. Firm warning: Wake up! If you shall not watch, I will come upon you like a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you. Those that overcome will be found worthy and will walk with Him in white (spotless bride – Revelation 3:4).
Letter to the Church of Philadelphia (The Persevering Church): Just like the Church of Smyrna, Jesus expresses pride in this church. This is the second church that He does not reprimand or rebuke. His letter to the Church of Philadelphia begins with this introduction: “These things I say to he that is holy, he that is true, he that has the key of David, he that opens and no man shuts, and shuts and no man opens…”(Revelation 3:7). He then commends the church by saying: “I know your works: behold, I have set before you an open door, and no man can shut it: for you have little strength, and you have kept my word, and have not denied my name.” Pause. Isn’t this powerful? Isn’t this wonderful? Jesus says that He will give them an open door. Therefore, the reward for their faithfulness was that their adversaries would not prevail against them. This is a promise from Jesus for those who have little strength but have been faithful and have kept His Word with diligence and patience. To them He says again: I will set before you an open door that no man can shut…I’m amazed by these words. No man has the power to stop their eternal destiny in Christ Jesus. He goes on to say that He “will keep them from the hour of temptation” (Revelation 3:10), and exhorts them also to “…hold fast to what they currently have; and see to it that no man takes their crown..” (Revelation 3:11). I love this exhortation.
Letter to the Church of Laodicea (The Lukewarm Church): Jesus has no commendation for this church – all rebuke. This church is a wavering church; a church that cannot decide whether they want to go right or left, up or down, back or forth. This church blended right in with the world in its pursuit and priorities of comfort and pleasure. They were neither healing (hot) nor refreshing (cold). They didn’t know whether they wanted to be in or out, in friendship with the world or in friendship Christ. Jesus hates this wavering. He says that He wishes they would choose one or the other. Because there is no middle ground with Him. Either you are for Him or you are against Him. Either you are obedient to His Word and His teachings, or you aren’t. Either He is your Lord (ruler over your life) or Satan is. Either you worship the gods of the earth and say (with your mouth and/or your heart) that you have no need for God, or you count the cost of following Jesus and pick up your cross.
To remain lukewarm is to have Jesus spit you out of His mouth. The Laodicean church was rich and wealthy in everything but the Lord! In all of their success, they had become self-sufficient, and they were guilty of complacency and spiritual apathy. He reprimands this church to buy of the gold tried in fire (which is what comes with truly following Christ – 1 Peter 1:7) that they may be purified and rich in Him! He exhorts them to be found rich in spiritual treasure, that they may be clothed in white (in the garment of salvation and the Lord’s own righteousness); that they may be rid of their shame and nakedness; and so that He may anoint their eyes with eye salve so they can see (Revelation 2:18).
Jesus says to them: Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sit with him, and he with me. To him that overcomes will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in His throne (Revelation 3:20-21). He reprimanded the Church of Laodicea more harshly than any other church, but offered them His greatest promise if they would hear His voice and turn to Him.
Over the next week, take some time to reflect on the letters written to these three churches. What did the Church of Philadelphia have that the Church of Sardis and Laodicea didn’t? What are some practical steps that these two churches can take in order to improve their spiritual condition?
Jesus insisted that all of those with an ear to hear should hear the Spirit’s call to repent, the call to faith, and the call to love and live. The Holy Spirit, with all of His life-giving power, calls all to hear again the true Gospel and come from death to life. Allow these letters to examine and encourage you, as they did when first read to the seven churches.
Thank you for so much reading the third week of the study #LoveLetters: From Jesus to the Seven Churches, and stay tuned for next Monday’s study where we will conclude the study and discuss final takeaways!
With God’s Love,
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