When Jesus spoke to the church at Laodicea in Revelation 3:14-22, he highlighted the ‘lukewarmness’ of their response to His word. The church there wan’t suffering from persecution or false teaching, but they were mediocre in their walk with Him. Using images that could be found all over this city, including items that the city was famous for, this letter to the church from Jesus was intended to prod and stir these believers into action. Mediocrity is never enough. Hearing his word and obeying is what counts!
In the message to the sixth of the seven churches, we find Jesus speaking in Revelation 3:7-13 to the church in Philadelphia. It is a relatively short letter, much like the letter to the church at Smyrna, that speaks only encouraging words to the church. Apparently the church at Philadelphia was ‘weak’ but this would be no hindrance to their witness – for Jesus himself had set before them an ‘open door’ and promised success with His Word and the promise of their eternal security. This creates both an assurance and a challenge. Will we press on to the end and be faithful with the gospel?
You have to wonder what the church in Sardis thought when they received their letter from the Lord Jesus in Revelation 3:1-6 and read that his estimation of them was that they were ‘dead’. The church at Sardis may well have had the appearance of being alive. Activity. Preaching. Worship. Giving. Outward signs of life…without inward reality! It is clear then that Jesus’ message to this church was written then to bring them back to life and to re-awaken them to repentance, without which the church will never see the blessing of the Lord.
Of all the seven cities listed in this part of Revelation, Thyatira was by far the least important. It was neither a major religious centre nor a regional political capital. It was simply a busy, minor Macedonia trading colony notable, if it was notable for anything at all, for the number of trade guilds that provided the structure for civic society and business life in the city of Thyatira. And yet of all the seven letters, this letter to the believers in Thyatira in Revelation 2:18-29 is the longest and the most involved and perhaps the most urgent.
When Jesus spoke to the 7 churches of Asia Minor, he did so to bring forth spiritual life and vitality. This is seen clearly in the message he spoke to the church at Pergamum in Revelation 2:12-17 where the church was in danger of compromising with the world – especially due to their toleration of false teachers. Sadly, church history revelas that whenever the church has played around with the truth, Jesus has come against His Church – not to bless it and make it comfortable, but to bring it back the the ‘straight and narrow’ paths of the Lord.
When Jesus sent His message to the church at Smyrna through John in Revelation 2:8-11, and called them to perservere in their time of suffering for the gospel, He did not forget that they had already suffered much in the way of persecution. However, He did urge them to ‘keep on, keeping on’ in the midst of their trials. Perhaps the believers in Smyrna might have hoped that He would end their trials. Not this time. He called them to endure, but also gave them many promises that would help them do as He bid.
The Lord Jesus gave John seven messages to deliver to the seven churches of the region, and the first of the seven churches mentioned is the one in the city of Ephesus. What Jesus had to say to them was clear in Revelation 2:1-7. There was much to commend the church at Ephesus – they were hard working, dligient and orthodox – but there was one thing that caused Jesus much concern. They had lost their first love. But Jesus not only pointed this out, He also told them the steps needed to bring about the needed renewal.
When John turned to see the voice that was speaking to him in Revelation 1:1-20, he saw the Lord Jesus Christ in all His glory and fell at His feet as ‘though dead’. While the vision John had was of significance, of even more signficiance was what he heard Jesus say. In this second message on Revelation 1:1-20, we find out what Jesus thinks of His church and why he wrote the seven letters that appear in Revelation 2-3.
The book of Revelation is probably the most misunderstood book in the Bible. Admittedly, there are a few good reasons for that, but Revelation 1-3 could not be clearer. They are a message from Jesus to seven churches of the first century. In this first message on Revelation 1:1-20 which forms something of an introduction to chapters 2-3, it is vitally important to note what the book is about and also who it is that John saw in his vision.
There are some things that are just easy to do, and being confused about Jesus is one of them! In this message Steve Blyth takes us through some of the imagery found in Revelation 1:1-20 and points us to who Jesus is according to the Scriptures.