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7 churches, revelation 2-3

King Jesus reigns over heaven and earth. And he has an amazing master plan! He begins with a message to his Church. What was the Spirit saying to the seven churches in the first century? What he says to every generation! As you read Revelation 2-3, consider how the descriptions are like what’s happening in the church today.

There are always churches like the church of Ephesus (Rev 2:1-7). Some churches labor faithfully for the gospel, endure patiently, and do not tolerate false teaching—but they aren’t very loving. Without love, theological purity is meaningless (1 Cor 13:2). “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches”: God’s people “conquer” through truth and love.

There are always churches like the church of Smyrna (Rev 2:8-11). Some churches suffer great persecution and need strengthening words of encouragement from the One who knows all too well the pain of slander, ridicule, abuse, and death. Those in the fire of affliction have nothing but Jesus—so they have everything! “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches”: God’s people “conquer” through faithfulness not so-called “success.”

There are always churches like the church of Pergamum (Rev 2:1217). Some churches hold on to their faith in Christ amid a satanically charged atmosphere. But unfortunately, they also embrace heresies that compromise their witness. Why root out heresy? Heresy always diminishes who Christ is and what he has done. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches”: God’s people “conquer” by contending for the faith.

There are always churches like the church of Thyatira (Rev 2:1828). For some churches, diligence in ministry abounds in blessings over time. However, in the effort to love well, they end up openly supporting immoral lifestyles as well. God is love (1 John 4:16); we cannot separate his love from his holiness. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches”: God’s people “conquer” through his sanctified, transforming love.

There are always churches like the church of Sardis (Rev 3:1-6). Some churches are good at marketing themselves. They present the image of being alive, but it’s just a façade. When church activities become “showtime,” it’s time to wake up and repent of “going through the motions.” “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches”: God’s people “conquer” through meek and unpretentious ministry.

There are always churches like the church of Philadelphia (Rev 3:713). For some churches, their lack of size, resources, and money is no obstacle to accomplishing great things for God’s kingdom. They’re always looking for new opportunities to serve and Jesus keeps opening doors for them! “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches”: God’s people “conquer” through patient endurance. 

There are always churches like the church of Laodicea (Rev 3:14-22). Some churches seem so confident and prosperous—but they are clueless about their spiritual poverty. They are like lukewarm water, useless in God’s kingdom purposes. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches”: God’s people “conquer” through brokenness and humility.

The seven churches reflect the Church in every generation. King Jesus continues to stand in the midst of his people, exposing threats from within, dangers from without, and calling his people to overcome adversity, heresy, and compromise.  

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