A STUDY IN REVELATION Chapters 1-4
In my fervour for the Word, I have been led to compile this. …. I pray that it may mean something to you.
Lest I be accused (as I have been so many times already) of writing "without love", let me say at the outset, that my understanding of the Gospel is that Grace, Mercy and Love abounds - this is a fundamental and non-negotiable principle of Christianity - however, when we talk about the end-times, Grace has most certainly left the throne and God's Justice in Judgement has taken it's place.
There are several reasons for the study of the Book of Revelation:
It is the only book in the Bible that promises a specific blessing to the one that reads it, and to them that hear and keep the things that are written therein. There is of course a blessing in the reading of any portion of God's Word, but here is promised a special blessing (1:3).
This book is of special significance today as we are nearing the end of this dispensation. The coming of the Lord draweth nigh. We are looking for His coming daily.
The outstanding events of the near future, especially of Daniel's seventieth prophetic week, cannot be properly understood without a knowledge of the Book of Revelation.
Satan is very anxious to keep us away from this book because it reveals his utter defeat and doom by the Son of God.
As we study these chapters, we find that certain truths are peculiar to this book:
It is the only distinctive prophetic portion in the New Testament.
The four Gospels are primarily history, the Epistles are doctrine and Revelation is prophecy. The word "revelation" means, "the act of revealing, discovering, or disclosing to others, what was before unknown to them."
It is a book of endings. It speaks of the history of the church and it’s end, of the church's pilgrimage, of Gentile dominion, of Babylon the Great, of Satan's misrule, of war, of Jewish persecution, and of sin, tears, sorrow and death.
In the Epistles grace is prominent, grace is reigning. In Revelation grace has left the throne and justice has ascended and taken its place.
(Read Rev 1:1-3) We have two striking phrases in the first and third verses: "Things which must shortly come to pass" and "the time is at hand." As we view the world scene it may seem at times as if we live in a Godless society, but we as Christians must always remember that everything is in the hands of God and under His absolute control. He is Sovereign, Lord and Master. At present, wickedness and Satan seem to be in control and in some measure they are. But the time is coming when all wicked men, principles and influences will be cast down, and Jesus Christ shall reign supreme. v8: “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.”
We read in chapter 1:11 that our Lord is speaking to seven churches: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. The messages to these churches apply not only to the local churches of the day, but were prophetically significant, representing the Church from the time of its institution in the Acts of the Apostles right up to the time of Christ's return from Heaven.
The number seven signifies perfection, fullness and completeness. It is mentioned in this book several times: seven seals, seven trumpets, seven vials, seven spirits of God, and others. Here we find the all-seeing Christ standing in the midst of these churches: "In the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man" (1:13).
Furthermore, you will notice the solemn appeal at the end of each message to the churches: "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches." This leads us to believe that these messages are personal for our hearts today and we should be willing to hear what the Spirit wants to teach us through His Word.
As we go through the 7 churches, notice that the names of them correspond to the historical period which each represents.
1. EPHESUS (Rev. 2:1-7) – Represents the church during the Apostolic Age. (Ad 30-100)
In Acts Ch 19, we read that the church at Ephesus had a great beginning and it was here that the believers became separated from their connection with Judaism (Acts 19:8-10). But now the Lord looks down upon this church and reveals what He sees.
First, He has much to commend in this church. "I know thy works." They were a working church and our Lord delights when His people work for His glory. "And thy labour." This is energetic work. Then He mentions their
patience twice: in connection, first, with their service; and second, with their suffering. They went on despite difficult circumstances. So often today, God's children become discouraged and give up. My own experience has been that when we feel like giving up in the flesh that is just the time to keep trusting and waiting for the Lord to deliver us.
"And how thou canst not bear them which are evil." This church had a high and holy standard of living and only those whose lives counted for Christ were permitted to take active leadership. Today, we have lost those divine standards, so that church clergy, Sunday school teachers, choir members, and church workers can live perverted, evil lives and still be active in the church which is supposed to represent the Lord. Tolerance of evil within the church is rife in today’s society.
PERVERTING SCRIPTURE - throwing the Bible out the window!
A classic example of this is at Holy Trinity Brompton, where the Anglican Church tolerates not only homosexual church members, but homosexual clergy! Turn with me to Leviticus ch18:v5 “I am the Lord your God. Keep my decrees and laws, for the man who obeys them will live by them. I am the Lord” Then v22: “Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.” Turn with me to Romans Ch 1:v25 “ They exchanged the Truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator – v26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. V27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.” To me that couldn’t be clearer – the Anglican Church says homosexuality is OK, God says it’s shameful and detestable! Who’s telling the Truth ? God or the Anglicans? Who are YOU going to believe?
Back to Rev v2 - "Thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and has found them liars."
They did not practice ministerial fellowship or promote Ecumenical Councils with those who were not true Apostles of the Lord. [ecumenism - n : the doctrine of the ecumenical movement promoting cooperation among different religious denominations; aimed at universal Christian unity.] They examined their doctrine before they joined with them to hold revival meetings. They knew nothing of the word expediency or courtesy or compromise for man's sake. They certainly did not allow preachers on the platform that denied the Lord and His Word. They found that some of the early preachers were liars because they did not preach the truth of the Bible. That’s what we are called upon to do today: to examine what someone is teaching and if it is unscriptural, to turn away from it and dissociate ourselves from it.
Revelation 2:3: "And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake, hast laboured, and hast not fainted." It is not easy to suffer for Christ and to be faithful without growing weary. These believers were in earnest for their Lord and desired to do their best for Him.
There was much blessing upon this church, but the Lord had this to say: "Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love." It is no small thing for the Lord to see our hearts growing cold and indifferent and worldly when He has bestowed such love upon us.
V8: 2. SMYRNA –
The word Smyrna means myrrh, which was one of the ingredients used for embalming the dead. This church stands for that great period of persecution during the days of the Roman Empire, up to about 315 A.D. This was the martyr period of church history. Thousands of men and women were put to death because of their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. In AD 156, we see the first of many martyrs, where the bishop of their church in Smyrna (named Polycarp) was executed for refusing to call Caesar “Lord”.
We continue v9 with "I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich)..." It is not so much our Lord looking down from Heaven upon their poverty and tribulation, but the fact that He is referring to His own experiences while here on earth. Jesus was the Man of Sorrows. He was acquainted with grief. He was
persecuted. He was poor. (2 Cor. 8:9)."For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.”
Revelation 2:9: "...and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan."
The devil worked against Christ by lining up the Jews who claimed to be followers of Moses and yet helped to persecute the church. The word Synagogue means a gathering together. The word church means the called out ones of the Lord and is made up of those who are called out of Judaism and out of the Gentile world. These early Jews tried to substitute the synagogue for the church and our Lord describes this as blasphemy.
Verse 10: "Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life."
The Lord bids them not to fear in the midst of their suffering for His sake. The ten days of tribulation mentioned here refer to the ten great persecutions under the Roman emperors: The words "faithful unto death" are found engraved in many places on the walls of the catacombs of Rome. Those who are faithful to their Lord even unto death will receive this special crown.
3. PERGAMOS - (Revelation 2:12-17)
The name Pergamos means marriage and it represents the period of church history when the church married the world, the beginning of the State Church era. When Constantine became Emperor, he professed to accept the Christian faith. However, he still kept his title Pontifex Maximus (the title the Pope uses today) which means that he considered himself to be the high priest of all the world. He ordered the heathen temples to be turned into "Christian" churches and forced all people to become "Christians"! - the early church was thus deceived. No-one can be forced to become Christian! They thought that Constantine's kingdom must be God's kingdom, which was to come upon the earth. That is why Christ said to them, "I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is." An immense altar to Zeus, the chief of the Greek mythical gods, stood on the Acropolis above Pergamos – this might be what John refers to as Satan’s seat In v13.
Satan of course is "the god of this world" (2 Cor. 4:4).
He walks up and down in the earth (Job 1:7).
He goeth about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8).
Satan's seat or throne is here upon the earth.
Many Christians mistakenly believe that the earth is God’s Kingdom – that we are here to make the earth a better place, a more peaceful place – this is just not true. Turn with me to Luke Ch12v51 - Jesus said: “Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division.” v49 “I have come to bring fire on this earth.”
Also in Matt 10:34 Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth. I did not come to send peace, but a sword.
Then Christ told them that He held against them the fact that they followed the doctrine of Balaam. This doctrine of Balaam, the false prophet in v14, refers back to his work among the children of Israel as recorded in Numbers chapters 22-25. Balaam sought to curse God's people on behalf of Balak, King of Moab. We read in Numbers 25:1-9 that God sent judgment upon the children of Israel because they committed "whoredom with the daughters of Moab" according to Balaam’s counsel (See Numbers 31:16). This union between Moab and Israel was Balaam's plan to break the testimony of Israel. This is exactly what took place in Pergamos where the church and the world united. This is the doctrine of Balaam, which is not pleasing to the Lord.
Israel's power was effective as long as they remained separated from the other heathen nations. Now through the doctrine of Balaam, Israel lost that power – through false doctrine. The Church of Pergamos likewise lost herpower through fellowship and compromise with the world. Again we are seeing God’s wrath against the followers of false doctrine.
God speaks clearly concerning worldliness in 1 John 2:15-17: "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever."
In Revelation 2:6 and 2:15 our Lord mentions the doctrine of the Nicolaitans. The word means victorious people and it refers to the rise of the clergy system, which sets itself apart to rule the people. In Ephesus they hated the deeds of the Nicolaitans. Here at Pergamos they have developed the doctrine of the Nicolaitans.
There are many today, which think of the church only as a denomination or a sect or as a building. But the Bible teaches that there is one true church and it is not limited to any group, nationality, tribe, or colour. The one true Church is called "the body of Christ" (1 Cor. 12:27, Col. 1:24), and it is composed of all who are born again by the Spirit of God. Through the Holy Spirit we are "all baptized into one body" (1 Cor. 12:13), to form the one true Church. But the Bible also speaks of local churches: the church in Corinth, and Ephesus, and Colosse, and John here in Revelation mentions seven other churches. However, there is a difference between A CHURCH and THE ONE TRUE CHURCH. These local churches were so called because in them were represented some of the members of the one TRUE CHURCH. This raises a very personal question. Do we belong to A CHURCH or do we belong to THE ONE TRUE CHURCH?
We have just seen how a church can bring upon itself the Wrath of God by preaching the traditions of men, thus corrupting the Word of God.
Does our church preach false doctrine? This is critically important, because our answer might determine our eternal destiny. You can join A CHURCH but you must enter the TRUE CHURCH by the work of the Holy Spirit. You can build a church building by laying one dead stone upon another, but the TRUE CHURCH is made up of living stones, of believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, of born again people who have been washed in the precious blood of the Lamb.
In Acts 17v11: “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the Word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, to see whether those things are so.” Therefore, don’t plainly accept what is going on around you – we are called to:
1. Try them...I John 4:1, "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but trv the spirits, whether they be of God; because many false prophets are gone out into the world."
2. Mark them...Romans 16:17, "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them."
3. Rebuke them...Titus 1.13, "This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith."
4. Have no fellowship. ..Ephesians 5:11, "And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.”
5. Withdraw thyself...II Thessalonians 3:6, "Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which ye received of us." (See also I Timothy 6:3-5).
6. Turn away from them...11 Timothy 3:5, "...Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away."
7. Receive them not...II John 10-11, "If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed; For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds. " To our day false teachings are fostered by misplaced hospitality.
8. Have no company with him. . 11 Thessalonians 3:14, "And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. "
9. Reject them...Titus 3:10, "A man that is an heretic after the first and second admonition, reject."
10. Be ye separate...II Corinthians 6:17, "Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you."
If we are being taught, or are part of, a false doctrine, then we don’t have an excuse come Judgement Day…
Continuing our study of the churches in Revelation we now come to Thyatira in Revelation 2:18-29. This church refers to the church in the Dark Ages, specifically the Roman Catholic Church. The name Thyatira means continual sacrifice which has significant prophetic reference to the continued sacrifice of the Mass of the Catholic church as against the finished, completed Crucifixion of Christ.
The Lord first commends the good points of this church. Verse 19: "I know thy works, and charity, and service,
and faith, and thy patience, and thy works..." During the Dark Ages it was the Roman Catholic Church that carried on the work of hospitals, schools, libraries and acts of charity.
v 20: "notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols."
Jezebel is well known in Biblical history. She was married to Ahab, a king of Israel. Her main accomplishments lay in corrupting the Jewish religion by introducing into Israel the religion of Baal. She
persecuted the true prophets of God and sought to do away with the worship of the one true God. So, with the roman hierarchy, they have led the Church of Christ away from the simplicity of the gospel. Like Jezebel, they have led the Lord's people into idolatry, and have usurped the authority of God. This church claims to be God's true representative but in reality she seduces God's servants "to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols."
Jezebel's religion started with Nimrod (see Genesis 10:9). Nimrod built the Tower of Babel, Babylon and was a tyrant that all people feared. It is said that Nimrod married his mother Semiramus and that when Nimrod died, Semiramus claimed that he had been resurrected. (see doc on christmas). She became known as the Queen of Heaven and was worshipped as such. Jezebel introduced this teaching into Judaism and the papacy has carried it over in their worship of Mary.
If you examine the beliefs of the Catholic Church, you will find that they are built upon church doctrine, canons or creeds, traditions of men, with the Bible itself taking a back seat. The Council of Trent and Vatican II formulated the Laws of being a Catholic, which stipulate to this day that:
- Catholics must accept the voice of the church as the final authority for faith and life,
- The Pope is infallible, his say is final
- The church is infallible, it’s say is final
- Interpretation of the bible is left solely in the hands of the church
- To be saved, you have to be a member of the one true church, the Catholic church
- To be saved, you have to be baptized.
- Although teaching that the Bible is the Word of God, it adds the spurious apocryphal books to the Scriptures - This amounts to adding to the Word of God,
- Although teaching that faith in Jesus Christ is necessary for salvation, actually denies the truth of the Gospel by adding sacraments, good works, confession, indulgences, prayers to dead saints and purgatory as additional requirements for forgiveness of sin and for eternal life.
This amounts to the preaching of a false Gospel, which places the Roman Catholic Church under God's curse. Gal. 1:6-10.; Deut. 4:2; Rev. 22:18, 19.
How can we conclusively say that what Catholics stand for is Heresy? This is critical! Make sure you read this carefully:
Paul's letter to the Galatians showed that Paul considered the Judaizers' teachings heresy:
He says: “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel -- which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!"
What had the Galatians done which was so awful that Paul would use such forceful language to denounce it?
Were they denying Christ? No.
Had they deserted Christianity? No.
The Galatians had been influenced by the Judaizers, who taught them that in addition to the Christianity taught by Paul, they must also observe Jewish customs and laws, among which was circumcision. Remember, there is no evidence that the Galatians denied Christ or did not confess Jesus as their Lord. They simply added to the requirements for salvation by accepting the teaching of the Judaizers that they must also obey the rules and customs of the Jewish religion. Isn't the parallel remarkably similar between the Judaizers and the Catholic Church? Like the Judaizers, the Catholic Church added rules and regulations to Christianity, which they falsely claim must be observed in order to have salvation.
How incredible is it that the signatories to the “Evangelicals and Catholics together Accord” acknowledge exactly what Paul condemned in those who had perverted the faith of the Galatians: "Evangelicals hold that the Catholic Church has gone beyond Scripture, adding teachings and practices that detract from or compromise the Gospel of God's saving grace in Christ."
Thus, by Scriptural standards, the Roman Catholic Church is a false church that can only expect God's judgment. It is not a true church that can claim God's blessing. No amount of outward change should be permitted to obscure this fact.
We are called back to the infallible, inspired Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. We have to examine our faith in the light of the Bible and where any teaching departs from Bible truth we must remain true to the authority of God's Word. We are told to "Search the scriptures" (John 5:39). It is not what the creed says or what the prayer book says or what the church says, but what the Bible says that counts. "Whatsoever the Bible says is so."
Jesus spoke of false doctrine and wrong practice as "the leaven of the Pharisees" (Matthew 16: 6, Luke 12:1). In biblical typology, leaven represents the sin of false doctrine. Turn with me to 1Corinthians 5:6-8 where we are told: “Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?"A little false doctrine makes our entire doctrine FALSE, and places us, according to Scripture, under threat of eternal condemnation!!
Let me put this into other words for the sake of clarity – there is NO COMPROMISE on this issue in the Word of God – Man has corrupted God’s Word over the ages into man’s comfort zone.
Verse 21: "And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not." Throughout the Dark Ages this church did not change and it remains the same even to this day.
Verse 22: "Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds." Today, the majority of churches are working for ecumenical union with the Roman Catholic Church. God says He will deal with them in judgment for fellowshipping with this wicked system. Only just the other day, did we see a picture of the Pope kissing the Qu’ran –
Verse 23: He doesn’t mince His words here – there is NO GRACE OR MERCY in: "And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works."
The next church mentioned is the church of Sardis. This is the church of the Protestant Reformation. Read Revelation 3:1-6. The name Sardis means a remnant. During the Protestant Reformation God called unto Himself a remnant, to take their stand on the authority of His Word. He comes to them having the "seven
Spirits of God" (3:1), which is a picture of the Holy Spirit's work to lead and empower their lives.
Then the scene changes: "I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead." How up-to-date the Bible is! Most of the churches today had, in times past, a rich scriptural background. In many instances they began through sacrifice and many lives were laid down for the glory of God. But now the words "thou...art dead" can be written over them.
Death is everywhere today in professing Christendom. First and foremost, there is spiritual death, because very few people can testify to a personal experience of the new birth. The great concern of mankind is to have their names on the church roll rather than in the Lamb's book of life. Church membership and being a ‘Sunday Christian’ is too often a substitute for the new birth, repentance and personal salvation.
Verse 2: "Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God." Our Lord wants us to watch over the truths of His Word- the inspiration and infallibility of the Scriptures, salvation through the shed blood of Christ, the supernatural realities of the miracles of the faith, the need for a spirit-filled separated life, and the glorious hope of Christ's soon return. These are truths that are ready to die as they are being sacrificed on the altar of the Ecumenical Church.
Verse 3: "Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore, thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee." Our Lord may come at any moment as a thief in the night. He waits for the church to repent and to return to simple faith.
Verse 4: "Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy."
Praise God for the faithful witness of men and women who stand for the Word and seek to live by it. Praise God for those who exalt Christ, who witness to others, who sacrifice for Jesus' sake, and whose lives really count for Him.
6. PHILADELPHIA –
In Revelation 3:7-13 we have set before us the church in Philadelphia. The name Philadelphia means brotherly love. This church represents the great missionary churches of the past, which have been sharing the good news of the Gospel with people in other lands.
Our Lord commends this church for her works, patience, and brotherly love. These believers were devoted to Christ. He speaks as the One who is "true" and as having "the key of David." Christ remains true no matter what the condition of the church is. The reference to the "key of David" announces His royal claims as Lord and Head of David's house which points to the establishment of His kingdom upon the earth.
In verse 8 our Lord says: "I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door." The door of missionary service is still open. We hear much talk today about closed doors, but the fact is that millions are waiting behind open doors to hear of Christ and His love. The Lord will hold His people responsible for these open doors.
Notice the Lord's promise as given in verse 10: "Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth."
Here was a little assembly who kept His Word. How our Lord loves those who love Him enough to keep His Word even in the midst of apostasy. "If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him" (John 14:23).
Revelation 3:11: "Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown." The word "quickly" denotes the fact that His return is imminent. This is truly the blessed hope for every believer and surely His coming cannot be far distant. When He comes there will be crowns for those who have been faithful.
We come now to the last church mentioned in our study of the seven churches of the book of Revelation. We have been watching the unfolding of events that have led up to this church of the last days. The church of the last days is an apostate church. Apostasy means “to abandon one’s faith; ie: To backslide”
At the beginning, in the Acts of the Apostles, the church was witnessing in the power of the Holy Spirit and exalting the living Christ. We then saw the church uniting with the world and getting a little farther away from Him. We saw the church of the papacy of the Dark Ages, and then the Reformation Church with Christ still more in the background as man took over leadership and demoted the authority of Christ and His Word. In this last church of Laodicea we find Christ on the outside - He is knocking at the door, trying to gain an entrance. Remember that this is Biblical Prophecy – this WILL happen and, in fact is what is happening in our church today.
In Revelation 3:14-15 we read: "And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I wouldst thou were cold or hot."
The word Laodicea means the voice of the people. It refers to the time when the voices of the people will be the deciding factor in directing the voices of the preachers. It will not be God's Voice nor the authority of the Bible that will be presented by the Ecumenical Church. The issue will be to do what the people want and to say what the people desire to hear, rather than "What saith the Lord?" "Thou art neither cold nor hot." The Laodicean church is lukewarm - a sickening condition of hot and cold. This is what is upon us today. Lukewarm Christianity. Christianity with a compromise.
And Jesus sees the church lukewarm with little conviction, few decisions, and few God-given directions. He foretold that this would be the condition of the church before He returns. It is prophecy being fulfilled in our day. For the believer it gives new confidence in the authority and reliability of God's Word. Our Lord said to the Laodicean believers: "I wouldst thou were cold or hot." It is better to be out-and-out for the world than to be lukewarm, a mere hypocrite, having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof.
Notice the spiritual condition of the professing church as described in verse 17: "Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not, that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked." This church does the saying rather than allowing God to reveal its true condition by the Word. It is spoken of as a rich church. There has never been such richness as today - cathedrals, expensive buildings, elaborate furnishings, state-of-the-art sound systems, entertainment centre’s and other devices. Feel-good Christianity. The church judges it success on its budget and building programs, not upon the souls saved and her spiritual ministry to all the world.
In contrast to what the church says, notice what Jesus says about the church: "...and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked." Imagine if we could see ourselves as God sees us! A pitiful sight!
In verse 20 Christ says: "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 sup with him, and he with me." This verse shows our Lord outside the church. It is not a text for the unsaved. It is our Lord's text to the Ecumenical Church of the last days, just before His return. Here we find the church all gathered together as one - rich in buildings and increased in goods, having need of nothing. But sadly, the church is operating without Christ's presence. What a price to pay for union - a world professing church without the presence of Christ!
Why is all this so important to us today?
We’ll look at a VERY brief summary of prophetic events that will lead to the Lord’s return:
1. The latter times - the last days of the Church Age – “the coming of the Lord draweth nigh”. This is the time that we are living in. (1 Tim 4:1-5; 2 Tim 3:1; 2 Tim 4:3-4; 2 Peter 3:3-4)
2. The 7 year tribulation period on earth (Rev 4-19); or the “70th week of Daniel” (Dan 9:24-27); or the “latter days of Israel” (Jer 30:22-24), which ends in a 3.5 year Great Tribulation.
3. The return of the Lord Jesus Christ for His bride – The rapture of the church (1 Thess. 4:13-18)
4. The return of the Lord “with power and great glory” to establish His Millennial earthly reign (Matt 24:29-30; Rev 20)
In the Scriptures relating to 1.(The latter times), the text reveals the attitudes and characteristics that will prevail in the days immediately prior to the rapture. They prophesied that the latter days will be marked by apostasy, a great falling away from the faith, seduction by false spirits, unnatural affection, treachery, sensuality and skepticism. This is the condition of the church and the world at this very moment! Never before has there been greater deception and falling away in the church as there is today – (cf: apostasy).
The believer in this Church age is never instructed to look for signs of his coming; rather we are to look for Him daily! This is the hope of every born again believer in the world today. There are NO SIGNS that must appear before the Lord can return for the church. All is ready. We had better be ready and waiting, He can come anytime -
Is your lamp filled with oil? Will you be one of those who will cry out to Him: “Lord! Lord”, when He will answer: “I never knew you”.
“Fight the good fight. Watch! Work! And Witness", says (1Tim 6:14).
Turn with me to Romans Ch13:11 “And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.” Turn to the second last verse in the Bible – “Surely I come quickly. Even so, come Lord Jesus”, come.
Amen and May God Bless You.