The Seven letters to Seven Churches. Covers the four levels of application of these letters from Jesus; historical, admonitory to churches, admonitory to individuals, and prophetic. Also includes insights gained by the author’s visits to the actual location of these seven churches. Part 2 of 2.
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Tonight, we’re going to talk about the second half of our study in Revelation 2 & 3 called the Seven Letters to Seven Churches. Last week we began in chapter 2 and we covered down through the first three letters, and I’ve got so many notes in my Bible I can’t tell which verse it was, but I think it was 18. I think we’re starting this time on verse 18 of chapter 2. That’s right.
We made the point that the seven letters are written to seven churches that actually existed in 95 A.D. when the Book of Revelation was written, dictated to John by the Lord Himself, and that these seven letters can be taken at four levels of application. First of all, they were written to actual churches; and so, there’s what we call a local application. Each of the letters was written to an actual congregation that existed at the time.
A second thing is that you can also take these, as admonitory to all the churches, because each of the letters contains an admonition from the Lord for all the churches to read and understand and put to use, apply if you will, the information He’s giving there.
A third, the letters can all be taken personally, each of us personally, individually, can receive a message from each of these letters because there’s a part of our faith that is being addressed in each letter.
And fourth, taken in the order in which they were given, these four letters are a chronicle of Church history. So they started with the first letter, to Ephesus and that was the 1st century Church. The second letter to Smyrna was the 2nd and 3rd century Church and the letter to Pergamum got us into the 4th century, and that’s where we stopped last time.
We’re going to look at primarily, the prophetic application of these tonight, but we’ll have some chance to give you some of the other information that’s about them, as well.
We also made the point last time that these seven letters are parallel seven letters that Paul wrote to churches and they also parallel the seven Kingdom Parables that Jesus gave to the Church in Matthew 13.
And as we went through this, we discovered that the first letter to the Church at Ephesus, obviously its parallel in the Pauline epistles is Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, and the parable of the Kingdom Parables was the Sower and the Seed—the first one.
The second letter, the one to Smyrna, was paralleled by Paul’s letter to the Philippians; it talked about joy through a period of suffering. The Kingdom Parable was the Parable of the Tares and the Wheat.
The third letter, to the Church in Pergamos; the parallel in Paul’s letter is the letter to the Corinthians, and the Kingdom Parable was the Parable of the Mustard Seed.
Now each of these seven letters will have a parallel in one of Paul’s letters and it will have a parallel in one of the Kingdom Parables. We got into that in some detail last time. If you missed last week’s (or last month’s) study and you want to get caught up on it, or if you just have forgotten some of what we talked about last time, I brought a copy of the study on a master disc and Kim will be able to make some copies—or somebody will sometime soon, and we can get you those copies. So, you’ll be able to get a CD of the study.
Now, we said that each of the letters has seven components—seven parts. There’s a Title; in each one of them the Lord addresses Himself with a different title in each letter and the title is indicative of what He has on His mind for that particular church. Most of the letters have a Commendation; we’re going to look at some tonight that don’t get commended for anything. But most of the letters have a commendation. All but one of the letters has a criticism. They all are given an admonition, a call, a challenge and then a promise. So those are the seven parts, if you’re a person that likes to outline things. Seven parts: a Title, a Commendation, a Criticism, an Admonition, a Call, a Challenge, and a Promise to individuals.
In the four letters we’re going to talk about tonight, the Challenge and the Promise are inverted. In the first three letters, there was no view of the future. And as we finished up our session last time, we talked about the fact that those first three churches are all gone now. There’s no church in Ephesus, there’s no church in Smyrna, there’s no church in Pergamos. They’re all gone.
The third letter, the letter to the Church of Pergamos, we talked about the special meaning of the word Pergamos, it means mixed marriage. And it chronicles the time when, instead of the Church going into the world like it was supposed to, the world really came into the Church and there was a marriage there between pagan systems of the day and Christianity. This began with Constantine and was completed through the next few decades until finally, the Church became first of all, one of the accepted religions officially in the Roman Empire (which means the persecution stopped) and finally, by the end of the 4th century rather (the 300’s) Christianity was the official religion of the Roman Empire. And so, there was an integration there.
We spent a little bit of time talking about the fact that all of the—well not all but most of the traditions that have come into the Church—traditions surrounding Christmas and Easter and other important holidays, actually have their roots in the pagan world, not in Christianity. And so, that’s due to that marriage.
As we were finishing up last time, we spoke about the fact that this marriage produced four offspring, and each of those four offspring is referenced in one of the four letters that we’re going to talk about tonight.
The letter to Thyatira, which really speaks to the Holy Roman Empire, which became the Catholic Church as you know.
The letter to Sardis speaks to the Church of the Reformation which became the mainline denominations of today.
The Church at Philadelphia speaks to the Evangelical Church.
And the Church in Laodicea speaks to the Apostate Church, the New Age Church, if you will.
All four of those churches are alive and well on Planet Earth today; we have a Catholic church, we have a Protestant church, we have an Evangelical church, and we have a New Age church. They’re all the children of that mixed marriage and are all here today, and starting in the letter to Thyatira, we’re going to see that each of the letters has the future in view. Whereas the first three letters talked only about the past, these last four letters talk about the future and what will the future bring for each of these four groups.
And so, if you’re out of a Catholic background you’ll find something in the letter to Thyatira to offend you. If you’re out of a Protestant background you’ll find something in the letter to Sardis to offend you, and we’ll try to offend everybody before we’re done. If we leave anybody out just let me know and I’ll come up with something. [laughing] But the Lord has some interesting things to say about these four, what I call the four children of the mixed marriage, these four components of Christianity that are alive and well today.
And so, let’s start now with the letter to the Church in Thyatira. And, as I say, this is a letter that is composed to an actual church. The little town of Thyatira is a modern town called Akhisar and it’s in Turkey and as I told you last time, I visited all these seven sites and looked for each of these churches. Of course, most of the New Testament (I don’t know if you knew this or not) but most of the New Testament was written either to Turkish people or written from Turkey. And so, all the, you know the Galatians—that was in Turkey. Ephesus is in Turkey. About ninety-percent of the New Testament either came from or was written to people in the area that we now call Turkey. And so, it was quite an important area in the early days of Christianity. Of course, now Turkey is about ninety-percent Muslim, and so there have been some big changes there.
It was in the little town of Akhisar, which is where the Church of Thyatira was located, that we had our only uncomfortable time during these several—well, it took about a week to get through all seven of them. But during that week it was at where the Church at Thyatira was, where we had our only difficult time. Samantha and I were driving, just the two of us. It was what’s called an unguided tour. We had schedules, we had hotel rooms all set up for us every night. We knew where we were supposed to be. We had an itinerary, and an agenda, and all those things but we had no guide with us except for one day. We had a guide in the church at Ephesus because the ruins at Ephesus are quite substantial and it takes a lot to get through them and you need somebody who knows about it to get through them all. Other than that, it was just us driving around.
We got into this little town of Akhisar, and visiting the remnant of the church was very pleasant. There was a little area there that was fenced off and there was a little souvenir shop as there was in every one of them. And somebody, some official person there, kind of to help you. And so, this person was very helpful to us and we had a really nice time in visiting the church and then, it being almost lunch time we decided to go up the street. There were some street vendors there and there’s a really nice little sandwich that they sell over there in Turkey. It’s like a chicken barbeque sandwich that’s really tasty and we’d grown really fond of them. So, we go over to this place and have a chicken barbeque, and so we’re standing there and waiting for our sandwiches and this guy walked up to us. He looked like he was an official of some kind, and he—he wasn’t very nice. I don’t want to get into a whole big story about it, but he sort of let us know that we weren’t really welcome there. He wanted to know what we were doing and why we were there and what we were trying to do and what our purpose was and so he kind of just tried to intimidate us and make us feel uncomfortable, and he succeeded. It worked!
So, we said, well, we’ll just get our sandwiches, and we’ll get in the car and leave. We were going to try to get down to Sardis that afternoon. It’s about a half-day’s drive and so we decided just to get in our car and leave. Because we’d been treated so nicely up until then, this was our fourth day I think—we’d been treated so nicely, and this was the only unpleasant experience we had.
So, we got our sandwiches, we got in the car and we started driving out of town and Samantha took a bite out of her sandwich and said, “Wait a minute. Give me your sandwich.” And I gave it to her, and she threw them both out because there was something wrong with them. The food was bad. It tasted kind of like they hadn’t cleaned the chicken before they cooked it. So we just didn’t have any lunch that day. [laughs] So that was the only bad experience.
Now, when you get to the letter to Thyatira here, you’ll understand a little bit of that. See if you can see—because each one of these times, each one of these places we went, the Lord had something special for us, a special little message for us on each one. And the message of Thyatira turned out to be the treatment we got from that guy and the bad food we had. So, see if you can figure out what we were supposed to gain from that when I read this through with you.
Okay, so let’s go into Revelation 2:18 now:
“To the angel of the church in Thyatira write:
These are the words of the Son of God,
Now this is the Title He uses. Remember, each one has a different title ‘The Son of God’. And remember now, the letter to Thyatira, I believe, is written to the Holy Roman Empire out of which came the Catholic Church. So, why would the Lord feel it necessary to remind everybody that He is the Son of God in this particular letter?
Because in the Catholic Church He’s called someone else’s son, right? And He’s differentiating that, He’s making sure that they understand that He is the Son of God. He’s not the ‘son of Mary’. Now, Mary of course, is His mother. But His title is, Son of God, okay? He is not an equal with Mary. She is not the co-Redemptrix, I guess is what they call it. In other words, in some areas of the Catholic Church she is given equal weight with Jesus in terms of helping you get saved. She’s the one through whom you intercede when you want to talk to Him, and she has quite a prominent position there. I believe wholeheartedly that she is mortified by all this (the real Mary). And so, I think He gives that title there just so that we’ll understand whose Son He really is. He is the Son of God.
whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze.
Now here we come to the Commendation. He says:
I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first.
So there’s quite a nice compliment for them there. But now He’s got a Criticism for them in verse 20:
Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds.
Now that’s some criticism, isn’t it?
Okay, now let’s take a look here: what is this issue with Jezebel? Have you read 1 Kings lately? Do you remember that Jezebel was what we would call Lebanese, today. She was from Phoenicia, and the descendants of Phoenicia are the Lebanese of today.
And so, she came down and married King Ahab. She was an advocate of Baal worship and personally supported a whole bunch of priests and prophets who worshipped Baal. It was those priests and prophets that Elijah challenged on Mount Carmel. You remember that story, where they built the altars and they said, “Okay, you pray to your god and I’ll pray to mine and whoever answers by fire, He’ll be the real God.” Do you remember that story, Elijah on Mount Carmel? It was these prophets of Baal, four hundred of them, that Elijah challenged. They were all supported by Jezebel.
Okay, so what does this letter have to do with that? Remember King Ahab had a problem. There was a vineyard that he really had his heart set on. It adjoined his property, and he had his heart set on this vineyard. It was a very choice piece of property—very desirable. And he wanted it. The vineyard belonged to a man named Naboth. Is this story familiar to anybody? Okay, good. Because we could go back and read it, but I’d rather just summarize it if it’s familiar to you. Okay, so Naboth’s vineyard.
He goes to Naboth and he says, “Sell me your vineyard.” And Naboth says, “Well, I can’t do that because it’s against the Law.” And he’s right. The Lord gave land to each family and that family was not permitted to sell their land outside the family. If they ever did sell it; if they lost it through foreclosure or anything like that, one of their relatives had to go and buy it back, so the land would never leave the family. Each family had its own inheritance, and they were to preserve that inheritance through all time, handed down to their own sons from generation to generation. Naboth was not in the same family of Ahab so they couldn’t make the transaction.
Ahab went home, and he laid on his bed and pouted and refused his dinner. Now, this is the King of Israel, by the way. This is how he was behaving. Jezebel came in and said, “What’s the problem?”
He says, “I can’t get Naboth to sell me that land.”
She says, “I’ll take care of it.”
And what she did was went out and hired some people to falsely accuse Naboth. And then she had them brought in before the magistrates into court, and with a false testimony of these people she had hired, he was convicted, he was executed, and his land was confiscated by the government. Jezebel said, “Okay. There’s your vineyard. You’re the king. It’s now yours!” And so, the king got his vineyard.
Do you know the name of the process that I’ve just described? The process by which someone can be falsely accused, and their lands confiscated and given to someone else?
It’s called the process of inquisition. If you’ve heard anything about your world history, or if you remember anything about world history, you know that that is the means by which the Holy Roman Empire got a lot of its property, back in the early days. They would accuse people of different heresies, they would have them brought before the courts, they would have trumped up witnesses and testimony against them and they would sometimes, in many cases, torture them and get a false confession. They would execute the person and they would take the property. And this is how a lot of the wealth of what’s now the Catholic Church came to be.
This is the method by which a lot of this wealth was acquired, and I believe that this is what Jesus is talking about here, when He’s talking about them adhering to the teachings or the ways of this person Jezebel. I believe He is speaking into the future and condemning this method of acquiring property through inquisition, well in advance. He’s saying that people who follow this, they’re going to be punished for that, and they’re going to have a difficult problem. Here He says, “I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of their ways.”
He is talking here about what’s going to happen during the Great Tribulation. So, He’s implying that the people who are either involved in this or who are condoning it or who take part in it, have got an issue much bigger than the wrongful acquisition of land. They’ve got an issue with the King of Kings and they’re coming up on the wrong side of the ledger here.
And, He says, “I’m going to do that because I’m the One who searches hearts and minds.”
You understand, going to a church doesn’t make you saved. You understand that, right? It doesn’t matter what church it is. Going to a church doesn’t make you saved. You get saved by what’s in your heart. And there’s only one person who understands this. There’s only one person who can discern that—and that’s the Lord Himself.
And so, you cannot go to your church and purchase your salvation. But if you know your world history, you know that that happened in the past. You can’t go to your church and buy salvation for somebody else. And yet again, if you know your history you know that that happened in the past. You cannot buy forgiveness for sins. And yet, if you know your history, you know that happened in ancient times.
Only the Lord Jesus knows who’s saved and who isn’t. No man on Earth can confer that on somebody. No man on Earth can take it away from someone. Only the Lord does that. He knows the hearts and minds and He’s going to punish those who are not His, even if they may have some official position in something that they call ‘His Church’. Does that make sense to you?
Okay. So, when you get to 1 Corinthians 4 you are admonished by Paul never to judge anybody because you don’t know the attitude of their heart. You’re supposed to wait for the Lord to do that. He’s the One who it says in 1 Corinthians 4 who can expose the hidden motives of men’s hearts, right? He’s the one who does that. We’ve got enough problems worrying about our own salvation without worrying about who else is or isn’t, right? But He implies here that there are some in this system who are not saved.
Now let’s read on.
In verse 24, He now gives them the Call, if you will. He says:
Now I say to the rest of you in Thyatira, to you who do not hold to her teaching and have not learned Satan’s so-called deep secrets, ‘I will not impose any other burden on you, except to hold on to what you have until I come.’
Now, He’s talking about the Second Coming. Because He’s already been there the first time. This was written in 95 A.D. remember, and He was crucified in 32 A.D. and so this is some years after that.
To the one who is victorious and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations—that one ‘will rule them with an iron scepter and will dash them to pieces like pottery’—just as I have received authority from my Father. I will also give that one the morning star.
The morning star is His name, by the way, for Himself. He says, “I am the bright and morning star” later on in the Book of Revelation.
Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
And so, this second group, He says, starting in verse 24, “Now I say to the rest of you who do not hold to her teaching”, this second group He promises salvation. He said, “I’m not going to ask anything more from you” because, remember the Commendation they got at the first,
“I know your deeds, your love and your faith, your service and your perseverance, you’re now doing more than you did at the first.” That’s a very strong compliment and it is the result of their commitment to doing His work on Earth.
And so, for the first time here you have a split. You have some who are in the spiritual church at Thyatira who are not saved, and you have some who are. And that’s what He’s trying to say. And you know, that’s a warning to you and me.
I know some people, especially those in this particular time in our history—some people are very quick to judge others. And very quick to wonder about the spiritual condition of other people. And you wouldn’t believe some of the emails I get from people who condemn. These are supposed to be believers, who condemn other people because they think differently or because they sit in a different pew on a Sunday morning. And I want to tell you—it’s kind of dangerous to do that!
In the first place, you’re violating one of the Lord’s commands. He says, “Don’t judge anybody.” Let the Lord do that. And in the second place—we don’t know, do we? I mean, it’s perfectly all right to find fault with a system. If you see something in a religious system that’s not biblical, it’s perfectly all right to question that, to wonder about that, to call that to someone’s attention.
But when you cross the line between the system and the person, then you’ve got a problem. You see, I find that there’s a lot in the Catholic system that I have a hard time with. And yet, I know because of this and because of other things the Lord says in His Word, that to judge all the people who are in that system is wrong. Because we don’t know.
And, you see, a long time ago I came to the conclusion that the Catholic system is what I call the “plus” system. It’s “Jesus-plus-Mary”. It’s “Faith-plus-Works”, because you know, they have to believe you also have to follow and apply the sacraments, right? You have to do things in the Catholic Church to earn and keep your salvation. So, it’s Faith-plus-Works. And it’s “Scripture-plus-the Catechism”. There are things that are outside the Scriptures that are a part of the catechism that are given equal weight with Scripture. And so, I call it The Plus Religion for that. It’s Jesus plus Mary, Faith plus Works, Scripture plus Catechism.
And you see, that becomes a problem because Grace plus Work equals Work. Right? As soon as you add Work to Grace, you’ve got Work. You don’t have Grace anymore! You’ve got Work. And so, whenever you try to add to what the Lord’s done at the cross, I think you’re in big trouble because you’re saying to Him, “Lord, what You did up there was not sufficient. I’ve got to finish the job for You by the things that I can do!” And that’s dangerous, isn’t it?
Because, He says you are to believe that He did the whole job. When He hung there at the cross, His very last words were what? IT IS FINISHED. He meant that! He meant that. The work of salvation where you’re concerned, was finished. There’s no more to do, there’s no more that can be done, there’s no more that has to be done. You believe that that death at the cross saved you, you’ve done everything you can to earn your salvation. Faith is the only thing you can do that’s not credited to you as work. Add anything to that—anything at all, and now you’ve got Work. It’s very clear in Scripture; it’s ‘by grace you are saved through faith’. And even the faith is not from you. It’s faith that the Lord gave you. ‘Not by works, so that no man can boast.’ You cannot say, when you get face to face with the Lord that you did anything to earn your position with Him. As soon as you try to do that, you’ll find that you do have no position with Him, because that disqualifies you.
So, in the Catholic system we have things that are not Scriptural, that go beyond the requirements of Scripture. But don’t let that cause you to judge the people. You don’t know what’s in their hearts.
And, if the Lord Himself can commend them this way by what great things they’ve done and what faith they’ve experienced, and the work that they’ve put forth because of that, if He can look at them this way and commend them for it and if He can promise them that they’re going to rule and reign with Him and that they’re going to receive Him as a reward, then as far as I’m concerned that settles it. We have no more business in any kind of critical manner. System—yes; people—no. Are you with me on this?
Now the parable from the Kingdom Parables that goes along with this is the Parable of the Leaven. Where the woman takes three measures of meal and she mixes leaven into it. All He says in Matthew 13 in the parable, He says, “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a woman who mixes leaven in three measures of meal.” You and I don’t understand that. We don’t see that, because we don’t know what’s going on here because we don’t have a Jewish background.
Right from the time of Abraham, three measures of meal was called the Fellowship Offering. It started when Abraham was sitting in his tent one day, outside his tent one day at the oaks at Mamre, and he got three visitors. And it turns out, one of them was the Lord and two angels. And they were on their way down to Sodom and Gomorrah to see if things were as bad as they’d heard down there, and to exact whatever penalty or judgment had to be exacted.
And Abraham said, “Lord, wait! Wait here. Don’t go! Come here and sit down, refresh yourselves,” and he sent Sarah in to make some bread. Now how many of you have ever made bread? Do you just make a loaf of bread while somebody is sitting there waiting? Not unless they’ve got a long time to wait, right? Even if you have a bread maker, you’ve got a couple of hours’ job on your hands.
Suffice it to say, Sarah didn’t have any such modern convenience. If she was going to make bread, she would have to make it from scratch. And if there was any leaven in it, it would have taken hours and hours and hours, and you can’t expect somebody to wait for a meal like that. And so, what did they do? They made unleavened bread. And so, Sarah made for the Lord unleavened bread. And since that time in Middle Eastern culture—both Arab and Jewish culture, by the way—the Fellowship Offering has been unleavened bread, bread without yeast, because that bakes up pretty quickly.
And so, when Jesus said, “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a woman who takes three measures of meal and mixes leaven,” they immediately, all being Jewish, would have said, “Hey, wait a minute! That’s wrong! That’s not supposed to happen!” And that was His point.
You see, leaven, used through the Scripture in a hypothetical sense as a symbol of something else, leaven is always used to symbolize sin. What Jesus was saying in that parable is, that in the Kingdom (Phase 1 of the Kingdom here on Earth, what we call the Church) in the Kingdom, there would be sin in the fellowship.
Now, does that shock you, that Jesus knew in advance and actually said that there would be sin in the Church? We take that for granted, don’t we? Because we’re part of the Church, and we’re all sinners. And if the church didn’t let any sinners in, there wouldn’t be anybody in the Church, right?
You understand, don’t you, that we’re no different than the rest of the world. We’re just forgiven! That’s all! That’s right! We’re not better. We don’t behave any better. In fact, if you’ve ever been through a church fight, you understand we behave a lot worse! [laughing] We’re sinners. And, you know what? We’re not sinners because we sin; we sin because we’re sinners. You see the difference? Sinning is not what makes us sinners—we are sinners by nature. It’s our nature to be a sinner. Sinning is natural to us; it’s our natural way. And all Jesus was saying in this parable is, the Church will be made up of sinners. And it is beyond me why Christian theologians cannot grasp that, why they won’t admit that. You’ll see the darnedest kinds of interpretations made of that parable. But all He was trying to say is, ‘the Kingdom of Heaven is like a woman who mixes leaven into three measures of meal.’ She puts sin into the fellowship.
And this is the Jezebel, this is the Jezebel spirit that works in Christianity. It permits people in power (at least back in those days) to do these kinds of things such as falsely accusing someone and having them executed on false pretenses and then stealing their land, all in the Name of the Lord. It’s a terrible thing to do.
Now the letter From Paul that goes along with this parable—or this letter, rather, is the letter to the Galatians and I’m going to read you one little verse and you’ll see what I mean. The letter to the Galatians matches up with the letter to Thyatira and listen to Galatians 3, first couple of verses.
You foolish Galatians!
Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?
See, that’s the ‘Faith-plus’, right? That’s the ‘Scripture-plus’. He’s saying to them, “You’ve gotten your salvation by grace. What are you doing now trying to earn it? You already have it! Don’t you know that by trying to earn it you are, in effect, giving it back?”
And you see how that matches up with the letter to Thyatira, where they are going beyond Scripture, saying, ‘This is not enough. You have to do this, and this and this as well to achieve and maintain your salvation.’
The church in Thyatira is still alive today, isn’t it? It’s still here on Earth today. And these things are still going on today. There are plenty of (quote) ‘Christian denominations’ who do add to the simple fact of Scripture—‘It is by grace you are saved through faith.’ And we all know places, we all know people who go to these different organizations (these different churches) where they’re required to do things beyond what the Bible says, to either get or to maintain their salvation.
The Catholics don’t have a lock on this; this is not an exclusive thing with them. There are lots of other places that do it as well. But, He says, “To those who just have accepted the simple fact of Scripture,” to those, He said, “I won’t ask any more of you.”
Do you know when Martin Luther wrote his Ninety-Five Theses and nailed them up to the door of the church at Wittenberg and began the revolt, if you will, against the Catholic church that became the Protestant Reformation—do you know what the three rallying cries of the Protestant Reformation were? “Sola” (I’m going to give you this in Latin, because that’s the way he wrote it), “Sola gratia” (sola means only). Sola gratia—only by grace. Sola fides—only through faith. Sola scriptura—only the Word of God. And that was supposed to be the hallmark of the Protestant Reformation.
Sola gratia—only by grace. Sola fide—only through faith. Sola scriptura—only the Word of God
It was a straightforward and clear departure from this ‘Plus’ religion that everybody belonged to. And so, from that came the Protestant Reformation and that turns out to be the group that Jesus is writing to now in the next letter, the letter to Sardis.
By the way, Thyatira, the word Thyatira means continual sacrifice. Have you ever wondered why you go into a Catholic church and you see a crucifix on the wall? You come into a Protestant church and see an empty cross. Why?
He’s risen. He’s not on the cross anymore, He finished that. He came down from the cross. He went into the grave and three days later, arose from the dead and He ascended into Heaven to sit at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.
The reason the Protestant cross is empty is because the work was finished. The word Thyatira interestingly means continual sacrifice. Because, in the Catholic church, He’s still on the cross, you see.
All right let’s go to the next letter and now we’re going to start Chapter 3 here. The next letter to the Church in Sardis. And if you think we were rough on the Catholics, wait until you see what we do to the Protestants. [laughs]
“To the angel of the church in Sardis write:
These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars.
Now, what are the seven spirits of God? It’s an Old Testament idiom for the Holy Spirit. The ‘seven-fold spirit of God’; you’ll find it in Isaiah 11. The seven-fold spirit of God is the Old Testament way of talking about the Holy Spirit. And, earlier in the book he said the seven spirits are part of the seven churches and the seven stars are the angels, if you will, of the seven churches. So that’s His title. These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars.
Now look what happens next. He says:
I know your deeds;
Usually when He says this, a compliment follows—but not for this church. To the church at Sardis He says:
I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God.
There is no Commendation for the church in Sardis, nothing good to say about it. If He came to your church and said, “You appear to be alive, but I know that you’re all dead,” would that make you feel bad? And of course He’s using the title here of the seven-fold Spirit of God which means spiritually dead. And what you have today in the Protestant church, the mainline (I’m talking about the mainline denominational church here now) what you have in the mainline denominations is an exodus of people, right? You’ve got people leaving that church. It’s been going on that way since the early seventies; people leaving to join evangelical and Pentecostal and charismatic churches where there is some spiritual life to get away from what they see as spiritual death where they are. And so no Compliment to the church in Sardis, only a Criticism.
And then a warning: “Wake up!” He says; this is the Admonition:
Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God.
Then He says:
Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent.
Have they heard the Gospel? You bet they have. He’s saying to them now, “Why don’t you obey it?”
But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.
Now, I want you to understand this: people who criticize the study of prophecy, usually fall back on a verse like this where it says we are not to know the day nor the hour. They criticize people who study prophecy by saying, “Look, the Lord told you you’re not going to know the day or the hour. Why are you sitting there trying to figure everything out? You’ve been told you’re not supposed to know.”
But what is He really saying here to the church in Sardis? He says, “Wake up! Obey the Gospel and repent. If you don’t wake up, I’ll come like a thief and you won’t know what time I will come to you.” In other words if they stayed dead they’re not going to know when He’s coming. Now does that sound like, “Nobody will know”? It only sounds like those who are dead, spiritually dead, won’t know.
You know, the Bible can’t contradict itself. It’s all the word of God and if it’s true in one place it has to be true in another place. And so, how about when Jesus told the Pharisees, He says, “You guys, you say, ‘Red sky at night’ and you know it’ll be a good day in the morning. And you say, ‘Red sky in the morning’ and you know there’s going to be a storm.” He’s saying, “How is it that you can read the signs of the weather, but you cannot read the signs of the times?”
He was criticizing them for not knowing what was going on spiritually. The only people who should be caught by surprise when the Lord comes back are the people who are spiritually dead.
Paul said in his letter to the Thessalonians, “Just when the world is saying ‘Peace and safety’ destruction will come on them suddenly.” He says, “But you, you are not in darkness that this day should surprise you like a thief.” He’s saying the Church should have the light, the light of knowledge and understanding, to know what’s going on spiritually. Now it doesn’t mean that we will know the day and the hour of His return. There are some very good reasons why we won’t know that, but we should not be surprised by it. We should not be caught unawares, we should not be caught sleeping, we should not be caught off guard. We should be expecting Him.
When He says to His believers, His followers in the Gospels, He says, “Watch and wait. Watch and wait.” If you look at those words, if I can use this kind of analogy, if you want to take a bus ride somewhere you go down to the bus stop. While you’re at the bus stop, you watch and wait. Now, you went to the bus stop because you wanted to go somewhere. Did you go about the time you expected the bus to come?
And so, as you are watching for the bus, aren’t you expecting it to arrive soon? And as you are waiting for it, aren’t you believing it will soon be there and you’ll get on? That’s how you watch and wait. You watch expecting Him to come and you wait, knowing He is due. That’s what watch and wait means.
The people who tell you that prophecy is not important are telling you to disregard forty-percent of the Bible. The biggest component of the entire Bible, Old and New together, the biggest component, is prophecy. There’s more prophecy written about the time in which you and I live, than everything else in Scripture. The people who tell you to disregard that, are telling you to disregard the most important message of Scripture.
There’s one more little thing in this letter to Sardis. What does He say? He says, “You will not know at what time I will come to you.” Is the Lord supposed to come to the Church? Or is He supposed to come for the Church? Interesting, huh? He’s telling these people at Sardis, “You are not going to know what time I’m coming to you.”
When He comes to people on Earth, what is He coming to do? He’s coming to judge. When He comes for the Church what is He coming to do? To take us away, to protect us from the judgment. Little word, big difference. Is He coming to you? Or is He coming for you? I hope you know He’s coming for you.
And here again, He’s going to separate the people from the system, because now in verse 4 He says:
Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
Now so far in these letters He’s talked a lot about overcoming. Who are these overcomers? “To he who overcomes…” Well, the word “overcomer” is explained in 1 John and I believe it’s in chapter 5, so let’s just go and read that real fast. 1 John 5:5 says, “Who is it that overcomes the world?”
Good question, huh? “Who is it that overcomes the world?” Then he answers the question this way: “Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.”
So, if you believe that Jesus is the Son of God, you will overcome the world. Because Jesus told His followers, “In this world, you will have tribulation. But take heart, for I have overcome the world.” And here He’s saying, “To him who overcomes, he will get the reward.”
So once again, among the Protestants you have people who He was warning, “You’d better wake up or you’re going to miss everything. You’re not saved yet. If you’ll go back and read your Scriptures just like you were taught, look at them clearly, you might get saved.”
And to others He’s saying, “However, there are some of you who already are.”
Now which of us is willing to go and decide for them which group is which? Can you tell which group is saved, which group is not? You certainly can’t tell by their appearance. And sorry to say, you usually can’t tell by their behavior either. That’s why the Lord tells us not to judge. He says, “Only I can see what’s in a person’s heart.”
So, do we have problems with the Protestant denominational system? Yes, we do. There are in some of the official position papers of some of these denominations, clear doubts as to whether Jesus Christ is deity or not. Clear doubts. Officially documented. They don’t know. Some say, “He led such an exemplary life that it’s almost as if He was God Himself.” Now that’s a quote from an official position of one of the major denominations. ‘He led such an exemplary life that it’s almost as if He was deity.’
Wait a minute—almost? He claimed to be deity! And He’s supported in that by everyone of the writers of the Scriptures and supported by God Himself in that claim.
System—problems. People—be careful.
Of course, the Pauline Epistle that goes with the letter to the church in Sardis is the Book of Romans, often called the Gospel According to Paul.
The parable of the Kingdom Parables is the Treasure in the Field. You know the parable; the man found a treasure in a field, he buried it again, went away and bought the whole field just to get the treasure. He said earlier in the parable that the field represented the world. He bought the whole world. He paid for the whole world with His blood. Just to get the treasure, just to get the believers.
That’s the letter to the church in Sardis. I think we’re doing pretty good here.
Let’s go to letter number six to the church in Philadelphia.
The word Philadelphia you know from your American history means Brotherly Love. That’s why Ben Franklin named Philadelphia. And its motto is the City of Brotherly Love because that’s what the Greek word, “Philadelphia” means. Philadelphia is also a town in Turkey and there was a church there in those days. And so, the Lord wrote to this church.
This is verse 7 now:
“To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write:
These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.
I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will they leave it. I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on them my new name. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
The church in Philadelphia.
Okay, here’s the Title: These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.
Then He goes on to the Commendation: I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door and so on.
And then you’ll notice there’s no Criticism here, He has nothing bad to say about this group. He says, “You think that you’re weak but you’re really strong.”
His admonition is to “Hold on to what you have. Don’t let anybody take your crown.”
By the way, in verse 11 where it says, “I am coming soon.” That word “soon” is not “chronos”, which is the Greek word for chronologically soon, next thing to happen. It is tachos; it’s the word from which we get “tachometer”. It means, “I’m coming and when I come it will be suddenly.” So, the ‘soon’ is kind of a hard thing for us to understand because here he wrote this in 95 A.D. and said He was coming soon. And we stop and say, “Wait a minute, it’s been two thousand years. What does ‘soon’ really mean?”
Well, we find out that ‘soon’ is kind of a weak translation there. Instead, it would be more accurate to say, “When I come, I will come suddenly.” In other words, “It will be a big surprise to the world when they see Me.” And we know that’s exactly how it’s going to happen because we’ve seen that in other passages in Scripture.
Then He tells us that since we’ve kept His command to endure patiently, He will also keep us from the hour of trial that’s going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the Earth. Now that’s a promise that we’ll be taken out of the world before the Great Tribulation. The word “from” there is the Greek word “ek”. We’ve been through this before but let’s just review it a little bit.
The work ek means from or out of. It denotes completion. So, it means, I will keep you out of this altogether. You won’t see part of it, you won’t have to sit on the fringes of it, you won’t just miss the worst of it. I will keep you out of this altogether.
It goes with its companion in 1 Thessalonians 1:9 where it says, He comes to keep us from the wrath to come. And that means, in that passage the word keep means to remove us from the time, the place and any relation to the event. And so, we are to be taken from the time of the Great Tribulation, we are to be taken from the place of the Great Tribulation, we are to be taken from having anything to do with the Great Tribulation, and, here in this passage it means we are to be taken out of this all together.
If the world is really in tribulation all around you and you’re just sort of supernaturally protected from it, you still get to experience it, don’t you? He doesn’t even put us through that kind of apprehension, or that kind of difficulty. He hides us completely away during that whole period of time, so we are not involved in it at all. Now, that’s what He promised. He says since we’ve been patient (I assume that you and I belong to the same Church here, the Church of Philadelphia) He says, because we’ve been patient and we’ve endured this—how many of you have said, “How long is the Lord going to let this go on?” You know, they’ve been saying this for a hundred and some odd years now. “How long is the Lord going to let this go on?” Well, He’s going to let it go on until everyone who will, decides to give their lives to Him. He’s going to let it go on that long, until everyone who will, decides to give their life to Him. In the meanwhile, He’s going to hold the evil back.
He is not going to let it touch us. When everyone who will has decided, He will take us all away. And then He will loose the forces of evil. He will take away the restraints. 2 Thessalonians 2:6 and 7, and I believe 8 and 9, tell you about that. We went through that a few weeks ago so I won’t get more into that tonight. But that’s the idea.
Now, when He says, “Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown,” some people improperly view the crown as their salvation, when Paul himself talked about it in a different sense. In 2 Corinthians 4 (I believe it is) he talks about athletes training for a race and he compares the athlete who has qualified for the Olympics to the believer. And he says, just as the athlete who qualified to run in the Olympics is not satisfied just to be there and run the race, neither should we who are saved be satisfied just to be saved. Every athlete running the race wants to win; that’s what his training has been all about. Qualification is just the step that gets him into the situation where he can win. Every believer who has been saved wants to go on from there to achieve something for the Lord.
Now, please understand this: we don’t want to do that in order to earn or keep what He’s given us. That came for free; that came whether we do anything or not. We want to do something for Him to express our gratitude for what He’s already given us. And in return for that, He promises crowns. Crowns have nothing to do with salvation. You can’t even qualify to get a crown until after you are already saved.
That was Paul’s point. You can’t run in the Olympics until you’ve qualified. And he says, “Those Olympic athletes, they work for years and years and years and years and devote their entire lives – every bit of energy they have to that one purpose—to get into that race and try to win it. And what do they get at the end of the race? They get a crown of ivy leaves that will soon wilt away. How much, he says, more should we be willing to take that kind of effort to win a crown that is imperishable? And what the Lord is saying here is, “Even if it seems I’m taking a long time, be patient. Your expression of gratitude will be rewarded. Don’t give up! You’ll receive your crown. You already got your salvation. You got that free. You didn’t have to do anything to earn it and you can’t do anything to keep it. But if you feel grateful for it, and you feel like doing something for Me, I’ll give you another reward on top of that, I’ll give you this crown. So hold on! Don’t lose heart!”
And again He says:
The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will they leave it. I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on them my new name.
Now, that’s pretty good! And that’s the Church in Philadelphia.
Paul’s letter, of course, is the letter to the Thessalonians. When we went through the study of the Thessalonians you could see how Paul, for the first time on the face of this Earth, for the first time, publicly disclosed the doctrine of the rapture in his letter to the Thessalonians. Never had it been spoken about before. For the first time it was disclosed on Earth in Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians. We went through that when we did that study.
The Kingdom Parable—the Pearl of Great Price. It is the story about a man who found a pearl so beautiful and so valuable that he went home and sold everything he had to raise the money to purchase it.
And here is another area that is so grossly misinterpreted. The most popular interpretation of that parable is: Therefore, you and I ought to be willing to sacrifice all of our lives to get Him. Well, guess what? You’ve already got Him; it’s not you that has to sacrifice your life to get Him, it’s He who sacrificed His life to get you—you are the Pearl of Great Price!
It is interesting that He used the analogy of the pearl; pearls were not prized by the Jews. Pearls were a specifically and uniquely Gentile affection. Oysters, you know, are not Kosher. Jews can’t eat oysters, and pearls come from oysters. And so therefore, pearls were not used in the Jewish economy at all. Gold, silver, diamonds, sure. No pearls, pearls are Gentile gems.
Isn’t it interesting how the pearl parallels you and me? Because we come from a living organism, just like the pearl. We grow through an irritation. The Church grew in the 2nd and 3rd centuries more rapidly than it ever did before because of the persecution. Today the Church is growing rapidly in many parts of the world because of the persecution. The Church isn’t growing in this country, the places where the Church is growing is in Africa, India, and China. One-hundred-seventy-five-thousand new members every day from Africa, India, and China. When the rapture comes there will be more people raptured out of China than out of the U.S. some people believe. We don’t hear about that here because it doesn’t concern the U.S.
When they count Church membership in the U.S. they usually count Catholics and Mainline Protestants, that’s about it. The rapid growth of the Church is in the Third World today where the persecution is the strongest.
Like the pearl, the Church is growing in response to an irritant. Pearls come out of the sea, you know. The sea is always used symbolically to speak of Gentiles in Scripture. Guess what happens one day when the pearl is matured? It is taken from its natural habitat, it’s removed from there, to become an object of adornment. Does that sound like the Church to you?
One day we will be taken from our natural habitat to be made an object of adornment. You see, the Church is symbolized very beautifully in the pearl. So, the Pearl of Great Price is a fitting parable to go along with this letter to the Evangelical church. That’s who the Church of Philadelphia is, the Evangelical church—and by Evangelical I mean, Evangelical, Charismatic, Pentecostal—the churches who are Spirit-filled. That Church is alive on Earth today.
All right, we’re getting down to the wire here. We’ve just got time to do this last letter, the letter to the Church in Laodicea.
The word Laodicea means rule of the people. And look at the Title the Lord uses here:
These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation.
And so, by using this title He is saying to the Church in Laodicea, “You’re not the boss of this place, I am. You may think you are—I am.”
And He says:
I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.
You see, there’s no Compliment there, is there? Only Criticism.
He said in verse 17:
You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.
These are specific shots at the Church at Laodicea because Laodicea was a very wealthy suburb. It was a rich banking center in Asia Minor in those days and the people who lived in Laodicea thought they were rich, and He said, “You think you are rich, but you are poor.” They had a thriving textile industry which was famous especially for very finely woven shiny black wool cloth that they made there. He says, “Instead of the black cloth you make, I say, ‘Come to Me and I will make you rich and you can buy white cloth.’ You can be clothed in white and cover your shameful nakedness. And I’ll give you some salve to put on your eyes so you can see.”
Laodicea was a medical center as well and they had developed a salve for certain eye diseases that took away the pain of astigmatism. You know how you focus so hard to try to see something that you get bad headaches. In Laodicea, the doctors there had developed a salve you could rub on your eyes to soothe that and it took away some of that pain. So, He is taking shots at their so-called worldly success, here.
Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent.
Now listen to verse 20:
Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.
“If anyone hears my voice,” He says, “I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice, and opens the door, I’ll come in.”
Well, where does that put Him? He’s outside; He’s talking to the Church. He’s outside, knocking on the door and nobody can hear Him. Would you like that said about your church, that the Lord is standing outside, knocking on the door? “Please, let me in,” He says. And nobody can hear Him. He says, “If any one of you hears me and opens the door, I will come in.”
To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
This is the so-called New Age Church, the church that talks about a man named Jesus but doesn’t see any deity there, doesn’t see anyone worth worshipping. They see someone worth emulating—“He was such a great guy! We all ought to be more like Him.”
Emulating is different from worshipping. In the meanwhile, He’s standing out there knocking. “Please let Me in! This is My church, I want to come in!” Nobody hears Him.
There’s no promise of delivery here. No promise of any kind of institutional delivery. The promise is only to individuals. “If any individual in here hears My knock and opens the door, I’ll come in. It’s not too late. And if you do, if you let Me in, then I’ll take care of you. You can come and sit on My throne with Me, just like I came and sat on My Father’s throne.”
The church in Laodicea; the Emergent Church, the Seeker-Friendly Church, who’s watered things down to such an extent that you don’t ever hear the salvation story anymore. All you hear is about the social programs and how much fun it is to be there and what a great time we all have together. It’s hoped that maybe you’ll catch on some day that there’s more to it than that. But that’s up to you. He’s standing outside knocking, trying to get in. But it’s up to you if you hear Him.
Many are calling the Emergent Church Movement the birth of the Laodicean church. I believe the Laodicean church has been here all along and it’s just becoming more noticeable now, but it’s been here all along. There are lots of places where Jesus is thought to be a great guy, a great example. In some places He is the sandal-shod social worker who walked the shores of the Sea of Galilee patting little kids on the head and telling everybody to turn the other cheek. Certainly, a life worth emulating but God in the flesh? Come on, now; who knows what God is anyway? I mean, isn’t He all of us? Isn’t He in all of us? Isn’t He in everything?
The parable here from the Kingdom Parables is the Fish and the Net, the last of the parables. Where He talks about the fisherman who went out and cast his nets into the sea and he brought up the fish until his nets were full. When his nets were full, he separated the good fish from the bad fish. The good fish he brought into the storehouse and the bad fish he burned in the fire.
Paul’s letter, the letter to the Colossians. Colossae was a little city about ten miles from Laodicea. They shared lots of things, Paul’s letter to the Colossians was one of them. Colossians is called the K.I.S.S. Gospel, the simple, straightforward Gospel. That’s what the people in Laodicea needed to hear; they needed to hear a simple, straightforward presentation of the Gospel.
Seven letters to seven churches. We’ve taken them from the Apostolic church of the letter to Ephesus all the way through to the churches at the end of the age, the Catholics, the Protestants, the Evangelicals, and the Apostates. Put all together, and they tell you the history of the Church age all written in advance.
But you remember I told you that there is a personal admonition here too. You see, we’ve all got some of each church in us. We’re all a little bit legalistic, we all have these little things that we think we have to do to be right (and if others don’t do, they’re wrong). We all have parts of the Gospel that we don’t like and so we sort of ignore them. We all have the desire to go and be with the Lord—and we’ve all got one foot in the world. I swear sometimes I think the Church today says, “Come Lord Jesus, but not right now, things are going too well for me.” As if Heaven would be a downgrade—can you believe it? I mean, how good could things be going when you wouldn’t want to go to Heaven? Those who come to that conclusion don’t know anything about Heaven, do they? But, like Billy Graham once said, “Everybody wants to go to Heaven, but nobody wants to die first.” [laughs] Let’s not do that, can’t we skip that stuff? Well, the funny thing is, some of us are going to skip that stuff. Some of us are going to go straight from here to the Kingdom. That’s what the rapture is all about.
And so, this concept here of these two chapters—and believe me, we’ve spent three hours now (an hour and a half last time, and an hour and a half this time) on these two chapters and we’ve barely scratched the surface. There is so much more that we could think about and talk about. The references and things that we could do. You could turn the study of these two chapters into a lifetime study. Every time I go through it I see things that I hadn’t seen before and I learn more about it and what it teaches me most is to keep going through it. Because, if you keep seeing new things then keep going through it because when you stop seeing new things then you’re sort of done.
But the main focus of these seven letters is for the Lord to talk to His Church and say, like He said to the church in Ephesus, “Come back to your first love.”
To say, like He said to the church in Smyrna, “Even if things aren’t going well for you, hold on! Keep your joy!”
Like He said to the church in Pergamos, “Stay with Me here. Don’t be drawn into these other systems.”
Like He said to the church in Thyatira, “Don’t add anything to what I’ve said in My Word.”
To say like He said to the church in Sardis, “Get back to the basics of salvation here. You’ve heard it, you’ve read it, now obey it.”
The Gospel is simply this: that Jesus died for our sins. He was buried and He rose again on the third day as evidence that His death paid the price in full. That is all you need to know. That’s all you can know.
To say like He said to the church in Philadelphia, “Hold on! Be patient! I’m coming! Don’t lose heart!”
And to say like He said to the church in Laodicea, “If you hear me knocking, open the door. I want to come in.”
These simple lessons; we would do so well in the Church today if we just would take these seven simple points and focus on them. He would take care of everything else. We wouldn’t have any growth problems, we wouldn’t have any money problems, we wouldn’t have any building problems. If we turned the Church back over to Him, all of our problems would be over. He has told us that that’s the way He wants things. He didn’t say, “Peter, you go build My Church.” He said, “Peter, on the rock of your confession that I am the Christ, the Son of the Living God, I will build My Church.” He doesn’t need our help with that. He would be a whole lot better off without it; it would happen a lot faster.
It has always reminded me of the sign on the wall of the old mechanic’s garage.
Labor—$25 an hour
If you watch, it’s $30 an hour
If you help, it’s $50 an hour
Because he knew what problems that would cause. [laughs]
If He lets you help, if He asks you to do something—praise the Lord! You get a chance to work with Him. But He’s done the work. He’s building the Church. We just need to keep our eyes on Him. That’s the major issue here, isn’t it?
He is the author and perfecter of our faith. He is the giver of every good and perfect gift. He is faithful and will carry on to completion the good work He began in us.
Our job is to let Him do it.