He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.
If you have an ear (I think that is all of us), then there is a message for you and me in all of the seven churches of Revelation 2. For these messages to be effective in our Jesus Journey, we should understand it is not for those who are unbelievers for it is to “the churches.” This is the body of people who made a commitment to Jesus and started their own Jesus Journey. But, as many of us have experienced, the journey is not always smooth. We make mistakes, we sin, we get side-tracked.
Do you think Jesus is interested in making our experience with Him the absolute best it can be? Is it critical if we limp along in our experience? What happens if we are not victorious and the sinful man in us dominates our spiritual walk?
Are there things in our life that we are doing that tarnishes our witness for Him? Are we willing to let Jesus tell us where we fall short and then to follow His council? If we are one of those followers who is content with our weekly attendance of church for a spiritual boost and we don’t have a desire to grow in our daily experience, then these messages will be boring and not applicable.
A friend of mine once told me that “going to church doesn’t make you a Christian even as going to a garage does not make you a mechanic.”
If I feel I am “rich and have need of nothing,” then my time is better spent enjoying my reward on earth for the short time assigned to me. But if I feel that soft knocking of Jesus at the door of the heart’s door, then I will see and feel the message Jesus has for me and all of us who profess the name of Jesus and call ourselves Christian. Are you ready? Let’s HEAR and DO what the Spirit has to say to the churches so that we might be Overcomers together in Christ.
Hear, Do, and Overcome
Last time, we saw clearly that Revelation is a revealing of Jesus. If we fail to see Jesus in its pages, we have missed the whole point of this book and even the Bible itself.
In Chapter 2, the theme continues. The message that John was instructed to write to the 7 literal churches was not just for them. This truth is revealed to us in the opening verse (See above). Everyone (anyone with an ear) is to hear. Of course, hearing is only part of the message. To hear and not to react is a worthless exercise:
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.
James 1: 22-25
Did you notice that to hear only and not do the word creates self-deception. We worry about others being deceived, but we can deceive ourselves if we are not doing (obeying) what we hear. In fact, if we fail to “do” or obey, our walk in the light is hindered and we will understand less and less of God’s word.
Then Jesus said to them, “A little while longer the light is with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you; he who walks in darkness does not know where he is going.
How can anyone say that obedience is not what is expected of those who would claim to be followers of Jesus? How can “overcoming” not be the expectation in a life in Christ?
Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.
Four Points to Seven Churches
As we read the messages to the churches, we see a pattern in the approach of Jesus:
1.) God’s recognition of their accomplishments or their character.
2.) God pointing out something lacking in their experience.
3.) Council for their shortfall/sin and an encouragement.
4.) The reward for overcoming.
Study this chart. Perhaps you will see yourself in one of the churches.
|Church Name||Description of Jesus||Compliment||Jesus’ Observation and Council||Outcome if council not followed||Reward for overcoming|
|Ephesus||Holds 7 stars in right hand and walks among the candlesticks||Works, labor, patience, can’t bear those who are evil. Tested false apostles. Persevered, patience, labored and not weary.||Left First love. Remember where fell from. Repent and return to your first love.||Lampstand removed from its place.||I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.”’|
|Smyrna||First and The Last. Was dead and came to life.||Works, tribulation, poverty, blasphemy of those pretending to be Jews||Do not fear suffering. You will be tested in prison. It will last for 10 days. Be faithful even unto death||None given!||Crown of Life|
|Pergamos||Has the sharp two-edged sword||Works. Even dwelling were Satan’s throne is. Despite this, they hold fast to His name and don’t deny His faith.||Some hold to the doctrine of Balaam. He taught Balak to put a stumbling block before God’s people so that they disobeyed God and became sexually immoral and disregarding God’s instructions. Some hold to the doctrine of the Nicolaitans. Repent!||Come to you quickly and fight against them with the sword of His mouth||Give some of the hidden manna to eat. A white stone with a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.|
|Thyatira||Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire and feet like fine brass.||Works, love, service, faith, and patience. Last works are more than the first!||Allow Jezebel to teach and seduce. Commit sexual immorality eat things sacrified to idols. He gave her time to repent and did not! Repent and hold fast what you have till He comes||Cast into a sickbed, Great tribulation . Will kill her children with death.||Give to each one of you according to your works. Power over the nations. The gift of the morning star.|
|Sardis||Has 7 Spirits of God and 7 stars||Works that are not perfect, have a name, are alive, but dead.||Be watchful and strengthen things which remain, that are ready to die. Works are not perfect. Hold fast and repent. Few names not defiled their garments||Will come upon you as a thief||Shall walk with Me in white. Will be clothed in white garments. Will not blot out his name from the Book of Life Confess His name before My Father and before His angels.|
|Philadelphia||He who is holy and true. Has the key of David. He opens and no one shuts, shuts and no one opens.||Works. Have a little strength, have kept My word and not denied My name. Have kept His command to persevere. Will keep you from the hour of trial that comes upon the whole earth.||Hold fast to what you have that no one may take your crown.||those of the synagogue of Satan…will make them worship before your feet. To know that I have loved you. Will keep you from the hour of trial that will come upon the whole world.||Will make him a pillar in the temple of My God. Will not go out anymore. Will write on him the name of My God and the name of His city and a new name|
|Laodicea||Amen, Faithful and True Witness. Beginning of the creation of God.||Works. Rich, wealthy and have need of nothing!||Neither cold nor hot. Wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked. Buy gold refined in the fire. Buy white garments, anoint your eyes that you might see .||Will vomit out of My mouth.||Sit with Him on His throne.|
Did you see yourself in any of these message? Is your congregation like one of them or a combination? Most important, are you willing to hear and do what Jesus directs to overcome those things Jesus points out as “(He) has against you?
It is with love and compassion that Jesus clearly identifies where we are in our Jesus Journey. Just over the hilltop is the reward He brings with Him when he returns. He does not wish that any should perish, but for all to come to repentance. In fact, almost all the churches here in Revelation are instructed to repent.
Repentance is the first step. As we recognize our need of gold tried in the fire, eye salve, and white garments, we will feel the Holy Spirit encouraging us to repent and turn to Jesus. You might ask yourself, “Is repentance a one time event? Is the one that I did at the start of my journey and have never had need since then sufficient?”
Did you notice that Jesus recognizes the good before He give His council? All of them had works of some sort. The Smyrna church was being persecuted which meant they were standing fast for the sake of Jesus. There were no council for them. I want to be like them! Don’t you? But, they had tribulation and poverty. Are we willing to give up everything for Him?
Which church was in the worst condition? Is it like me? Am I the worse one on the chart? Have I left my first love, like Ephesus or perhaps my doctrine or teaching is causing the people of God to stumble like the Pergamos church? Lord, have mercy on me a sinner.
Maybe our experience is like the Laodicea church. I am neither cold or hot. Perhaps I am comfortable with my experience and lot in life. Maybe I consider myself rich and in need of nothing both physically and spiritually. I go to church each week to be seen and let everyone know how wealthy I am. Perhaps I have all that you need and have worked hard for it, but my experience is lacking in many ways.
Wherever we might find ourself in our walk with Jesus, there is forgiveness and mercy available if we repent and turn and follow him.
Do you feel your need of Jesus today? Can you hear and feel the knocking at the door of your heart? This is the urging of the Holy Spirit to ask Jesus to come into your life.
If you hear, then do what the Lord urges upon you. Repent and become an Overcomer to the glory of His name.
Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.
A final word about Repentance
I have been a follower of Jesus for almost 40 years. My journey has not been smooth. I have often seen my need of a closer walk with Jesus and felt the knocking at the door to repent and turn back to Him. Remember, the messages to the churches are not for the unbelievers, but the ones proclaiming to be followers.
“Repentance includes sorrow for sin and a turning away from it. We shall not renounce sin unless we see its sinfulness; until we turn away from it in heart, there will be no real change in the life.”
Steps to Christ, Page 23
“There are many who fail to understand the true nature of repentance. Multitudes sorrow that they have sinned and even make an outward reformation because they fear that their wrongdoing will bring suffering upon themselves. But this is not repentance in the Bible sense. They lament the suffering rather than the sin. Such was the grief of Esau when he saw that the birthright was lost to him forever.”
Steps to Christ, page 23
May our great Lord bless you until next time….Eddie