Amen! Hallelujah! - A study of the Book of Revelation



Lesson 4
What the Spirit Says to the Churches (Part 2)
Text: Reve...
Lesson 4—What the Spirit Says to the Churches (Part 2)


                                    SARDIS

                     ...
Lesson 4—What the Spirit Says to the Churches (Part 2)


     was found in the bed of the Pactolus River. Silver and gold ...
Lesson 4—What the Spirit Says to the Churches (Part 2)


     bottom of the Atlantic Ocean ever since. Sardis, like the Ti...
Lesson 4—What the Spirit Says to the Churches (Part 2)


                                   CHURCHES

•   Rev 1:16 WEB He ...
Lesson 4—What the Spirit Says to the Churches (Part 2)


     has faith, but has no works? Can that faith save him? And if...
Lesson 4—What the Spirit Says to the Churches (Part 2)


     angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says...
Lesson 4—What the Spirit Says to the Churches (Part 2)


         seal, "The Lord knows those who are his," and, "Let ever...
Lesson 4—What the Spirit Says to the Churches (Part 2)


                               REV 3:7-13 WEB

"To the angel of t...
Lesson 4—What the Spirit Says to the Churches (Part 2)


In 17 AD an earthquake destroyed Philadelphia. After the
•
  eart...
Lesson 4—What the Spirit Says to the Churches (Part 2)


        God!" (cf. Luke 4.33-34)

       Joh 6:67-69 NIV "You do ...
Lesson 4—What the Spirit Says to the Churches (Part 2)


What Jesus does, no man can undo.
•



       This is similar to ...
Lesson 4—What the Spirit Says to the Churches (Part 2)


     us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for ...
Lesson 4—What the Spirit Says to the Churches (Part 2)


      AS IN SMYRNA, THIS OPPOSITION HAD COME FROM THE JEWISH
    ...
Lesson 4—What the Spirit Says to the Churches (Part 2)


        power

This is consistent with his prayer for the discipl...
Lesson 4—What the Spirit Says to the Churches (Part 2)


     firmly to what you have".

       Rev 2:25 WEB Nevertheless,...
Lesson 4—What the Spirit Says to the Churches (Part 2)


    its walls unimpaired, but daily they are shaken in some way, ...
Lesson 4—What the Spirit Says to the Churches (Part 2)


        their foreheads.

              JESUS PROMISES A PART IN ...
Lesson 4—What the Spirit Says to the Churches (Part 2)


     wish you were cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and...
Lesson 4—What the Spirit Says to the Churches (Part 2)


    production of a fine quality of famous glossy black wool.
Lao...
Lesson 4—What the Spirit Says to the Churches (Part 2)


    water was curative, but because of the high mineral content, ...
Lesson 4—What the Spirit Says to the Churches (Part 2)


•   Rev 3:15-20 WEB "I know your works, that you are neither cold...
Lesson 4—What the Spirit Says to the Churches (Part 2)


•   Laodicea was a center of high finance and fashion. To say the...
Lesson 4—What the Spirit Says to the Churches (Part 2)


      Mat 24:33 WEB Even so you also, when you see all these thin...
Lesson 4—What the Spirit Says to the Churches (Part 2)


•   Jesus made the promise:

       Mat 19:28 WEB Jesus said to t...
Lesson 4—What the Spirit Says to the Churches (Part 2)


•Each  is the message of Christ and of the Holy Spirit to the
   ...
Lesson 4—What the Spirit Says to the Churches (Part 2)


He urges Christians at Sardis to remember what they had received
...
Lesson 4—What the Spirit Says to the Churches (Part 2)


     taking a strong stand against sin.
•The   standards of the w...
Lesson 4—What the Spirit Says to the Churches (Part 2)


     who commit adultery with her into great oppression, unless t...
Lesson 4—What the Spirit Says to the Churches (Part 2)


Laodicea: Rev 3:21-22 WEB I will give to him to sit down with me ...
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Transcript of "Chapter 04 what the spirit says to the churches (part2)"

  1. 1. Amen! Hallelujah! - A study of the Book of Revelation Lesson 4 What the Spirit Says to the Churches (Part 2) Text: Revelation 3:1-4:11 Date: March 25, 2007 Authored By: Dale Wells Palm Desert Church of Christ
  2. 2. Lesson 4—What the Spirit Says to the Churches (Part 2) SARDIS REV 3:1-6 WEB • "And to the angel of the assembly in Sardis write: He who has the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars says these things: "I know your works, that you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and keep the things that remain, which you were about to throw away, for I have found no works of yours perfected before my God. Remember therefore how you have received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If therefore you won't watch, I will come as a thief, and you won't know what hour I will come upon you. Nevertheless you have a few names in Sardis that did not defile their garments. They will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. He who overcomes will be arrayed in white garments, and I will in no way blot his name out of the book of life, and I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the assemblies. SARDIS - THE MODERN BIN TEPE - WAS ABOUT THIRTY MILES SOUTH OF THYATIRA It was the capital of Lydia, whose last ruler was Croesus The • expression "as rich as Croesus" comes from the legendary wealth of the king who reigned from 560 to 546 BC. Cyrus the Great of Persia, invaded Lydia. Croesus consulted the • oracle of Delphi. The oracle said: "If Croesus goes to war he will destroy a great empire." So Croesus went to war with Cyrus and was defeated – he destroyed his own great empire. SARDIS WAS IN VERY EARLY TIMES AN IMPORTANT COMMERCIAL CITY Pliny says that the art of dyeing wool was invented there, and it was • known for manufacture of dyed woolen products, carpets, etc. It was also the place where the metal electrum was procured. Gold • Page 2
  3. 3. Lesson 4—What the Spirit Says to the Churches (Part 2) was found in the bed of the Pactolus River. Silver and gold coins are said to have been first minted there. The worship of the goddess Cybele was celebrated there, and the • massive ruins of her temple are still visible. SARDIS SAT 1500 FEET UP ON A LEDGE JUTTING OUT OF THE SIDE OF A MOUNTAIN It was thought to be impregnable because of its nearly vertical rock • walls. Even so, it was captured twice, by stealth. Herodotus tells of its conquest by the Persians. When Cyrus and the Persians attacked it in 549 BC, a Persian soldier observed a Sardian descending the southern winding path to retrieve his fallen helmet. Unknown to the soldier, the Persians followed his path back up to the summit and captured the whole city, taking them by surprise. FROM THE PERSIANS IT PASSED INTO THE HANDS OF ALEXANDER THE GREAT For the next three hundred years, its history is obscure. In 214 BC it • was taken and sacked by Antiochus III after a siege of two years. After reading Herodotus' account of the earlier invasion by the Persians, Antiochus' army invaded the city in the same way the Persians had. In the time of the Roman Emperor Tiberius it was desolated by an • earthquake, together with eleven or twelve other important cities of Asia, and the calamity was increased by a pestilence. SARDIS BOASTED A NECROPOLIS ("CITY OF THE DEAD") THAT WAS VISIBLE FOR 7 MILES • The name of Sardis had become synonymous with unjustified pretensions and unfulfilled promises. • Almost a century ago, a ship was launched with the promise that it was unsinkable. That ship, the Titanic, has been sitting at the Page 3
  4. 4. Lesson 4—What the Spirit Says to the Churches (Part 2) bottom of the Atlantic Ocean ever since. Sardis, like the Titanic, never lived up to its promises. THE MESSENGER • Rev 3:1b WEB He who has the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars says these things... THE "SEVEN SPIRITS OF GOD" REFERS TO THE HOLY SPIRIT Rev 1:4-5a WEB John, to the seven assemblies that are in Asia: • Grace to you and peace, from God, who is and who was and who is to come; and from the seven Spirits who are before his throne; and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. It puts the Holy Spirit on a par with God and Christ. • Rev 4:5 WEB … There were seven lamps of fire burning before his throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. Rev 5:6 WEB I saw … a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, having seven horns, and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth. THE FIGURE COMES FROM THE PROPHET ZECHARIAH Zec 4:2-10 WEB He said to me, "What do you see?" I said, "I have • seen, and, behold, a lampstand all of gold, with its bowl on the top of it, and its seven lamps thereon; there are seven pipes to each of the lamps, which are on the top of it; and two olive trees by it, one on the right side of the bowl, and the other on the left side of it." I answered and spoke to the angel who talked with me, saying, "What are these, my lord?" Then the angel who talked with me answered me, … For these seven shall rejoice … These are the eyes of Yahweh, which run back and forth through the whole earth." THE 7 STARS HAVE BEEN IDENTIFIED AS MESSENGERS OF THE 7 Page 4
  5. 5. Lesson 4—What the Spirit Says to the Churches (Part 2) CHURCHES • Rev 1:16 WEB He had seven stars in his right hand. Out of his mouth proceeded a sharp two-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining at its brightest. • Rev 1:20 WEB [T]he mystery of the seven stars which you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands. The seven stars are the angels of the seven assemblies. The seven lampstands are seven assemblies. THE MESSAGE Rev 3:1c-4 WEB "I know your works, that you have a reputation of • being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and keep the things that remain, which you were about to throw away, for I have found no works of yours perfected before my God. Remember therefore how you have received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If therefore you won't watch, I will come as a thief, and you won't know what hour I will come upon you. Nevertheless you have a few names in Sardis that did not defile their garments. They will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. THE CHURCH, LIKE THE CITY, APPEARS TO BE RESTING ON ITS REPUTATION • They appear to be alive, but Jesus says they are just as dead as the corpses inhabiting their world-famous necropolis. It's like looking at well-dressed bodies at the funeral parlor - they may look natural, but they're dead! • Jesus assures them that "I know your works", but the problem is that "I have found no works of yours perfected before my God." POPULAR DOCTRINE SAYS WORKS DON'T MATTER; THE BIBLE SAYS OTHERWISE Jam 2:14-26 WEB What good is it, my brothers, if a man says he • Page 5
  6. 6. Lesson 4—What the Spirit Says to the Churches (Part 2) has faith, but has no works? Can that faith save him? And if a brother or sister is naked and in lack of daily food, and one of you tells them, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled;" and yet you didn't give them the things the body needs, what good is it? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead in itself. Yes, a man will say, "You have faith, and I have works." Show me your faith from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith. You believe that God is one. You do well. The demons also believe, and shudder. But do you want to know, vain man, that faith apart from works is dead? Wasn't Abraham our father justified by works, in that he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? You see that faith worked with his works, and by works faith was perfected; and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him as righteousness;" and he was called the friend of God. You see then that by works, a man is justified, and not only by faith. … For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, even so faith apart from works is dead. IF THE CHURCH DOESN'T WAKE UP, JESUS WILL EXECUTE HIS OWN SNEAK ATTACK The church is in trouble, but some Christians are living up to their • calling. Jesus says they are "worthy". They "did not defile their garments," so "they will walk with me in white". The contrast between "defiled" garments and "white" garments is an • allusion that Sardians could not miss. The heart of their economy was the dyeing trade. They took white cloth and stained it with colors for commercial purposes. Likewise, some Christians had stained their garments. It was to those who had not stained their garments that Jesus promises "They will walk with me in white". THE PROMISE • Rev 3:5-6 WEB He who overcomes will be arrayed in white garments, and I will in no way blot his name out of the book of life, and I will confess his name before my Father, and before his Page 6
  7. 7. Lesson 4—What the Spirit Says to the Churches (Part 2) angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the assemblies. THE PROMISE IS THREEFOLD First, there is the promise of white garments for the overcomer. We • have already seen that the Sardians would understand this promise quite well, given their commercial dyeing trade. Second, there is the promise that the overcomer's name will be • indelibly printed in the book of life. Third, there is the promise that Jesus will acknowledge the • overcomer before God. THIS IDEA OF GOD KEEPING A BOOK OF NAMES RUNS THROUGH THE BIBLE • Old Testament references: Exo 32:32-33 WEB "… forgive their sin- and if not … blot me out of your book …" Yahweh said to Moses, "Whoever has sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book… Dan 12:1 WEB "At that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince who stands for the children of your people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone who shall be found written in the book. • New Testament references: Phi 4:3 WEB Yes, I beg you also, true yoke-fellow, help these women, for they labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life. 2Ti 2:19 WEB However God's firm foundation stands, having this Page 7
  8. 8. Lesson 4—What the Spirit Says to the Churches (Part 2) seal, "The Lord knows those who are his," and, "Let every one who names the name of the Lord depart from unrighteousness." IN REVELATION, EVERYONE WORSHIPS THE BEAST, EXCEPT FOR THOSE IN THE BOOK OF LIFE Rev 13:8 WEB All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone • whose name has not been written … in the book of life of the Lamb who has been killed. Rev 17:8 WEB The beast that you saw was, and is not; and is about • to come up out of the abyss and to go into destruction. Those … whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world will marvel when they see that the beast was, and is not, and shall be present. IN JUDGMENT, THE KEY QUESTION IS: WAS ONE'S NAME IN THE BOOK OF LIFE? Rev 20:11-15 WEB I saw a great white throne, and him who sat on • it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. … I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and they opened books. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged out of the things which were written in the books, according to their works. … They were judged, each one according to his works. … If anyone was not found written in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire. THE NEW JERUSALEM IS HOME TO THOSE WITH NAMES IN THE BOOK OF LIFE • Rev 21:27 WEB There will in no way enter into it anything profane, or one who causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb's book of life. • I certainly want my name there! Don't you? PHILADELPHIA Page 8
  9. 9. Lesson 4—What the Spirit Says to the Churches (Part 2) REV 3:7-13 WEB "To the angel of the assembly in Philadelphia write: "He who is holy, • he who is true, he who has the key of David, he who opens and no one can shut, and who shuts and no one opens, says these things: "I know your works (behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one can shut), that you have a little power, and kept my word, and didn't deny my name. Behold, I give of the synagogue of Satan, of those who say they are Jews, and they are not, but lie. Behold, I will make them to come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you. Because you kept my command to endure, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, which is to come on the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. I am coming quickly! Hold firmly that which you have, so that no one takes your crown. He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God, and he will go out from there no more. I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from my God, and my own new name. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the assemblies. PHILADELPHIA - MODERN ALASEHIR ("CITY OF ALLAH") - WAS 28 MILES SE OF SARDIS It was in the Hermus River valley on the main highway that • connected Smyrna (about 100 miles due west) to northwest Asia, Phrygia, and the east. It was also on the imperial post road from Rome via Troas, Adramyttium, Pergamum, and Sardis, on the way to the east. The adjacent region was celebrated as a wine-growing district, and • its coins bore the head of Bacchus (also known as Dionysos), the god of drink. The population included Jews, Jewish Christians, and converts from heathenism. THE WHOLE REGION WAS EARTHQUAKE PRONE Page 9
  10. 10. Lesson 4—What the Spirit Says to the Churches (Part 2) In 17 AD an earthquake destroyed Philadelphia. After the • earthquake, Tiberius paid to have the city rebuilt. As a result, the city of Philadelphia ultimately became dependent on government aid to exist. JESUS DOESN’T HAVE A SINGLE WORD OF CONDEMNATION FOR THE CHURCH They are being persecuted. The chief opposition to the church • comes from the Jews. But they are assured that God protects them and that they will ultimately be crowned. All they’ve got to do is hang on. THE MESSENGER Rev 3:7b WEB He who is holy, he who is true, he who has the key • of David, he who opens and no one can shut, and who shuts and no one opens, says these things: THERE ARE FOUR ASPECTS TO THE SELF-DESIGNATION IN THIS LETTER The first two "He who is holy, he who is true" are elsewhere used of • God Rev 4:8 WEB The four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around about and within. They have no rest day and night, saying, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come!" Rev 6:10 WEB They cried with a loud voice, saying, "How long, Master, the holy and true, until you judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?" Jesus is called "the Holy One" elsewhere. • Mar 1:23-24 WEB Immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out, saying, "Ha! What do we have to do with you, Jesus, you Nazarene? Have you come to destroy us? I know you who you are: the Holy One of Page 10
  11. 11. Lesson 4—What the Spirit Says to the Churches (Part 2) God!" (cf. Luke 4.33-34) Joh 6:67-69 NIV "You do not want to leave too, do you?" Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God." "THE TRUE ONE" IS A RECOGNIZED TITLE OF THE MESSIAH IN REVELATION • Rev 3:14 WEB "To the angel of the assembly in Laodicea write: "The Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Head of God's creation, says these things: • Rev 19:11 WEB I saw the heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and he who sat on it is called Faithful and True. In righteousness he judges and makes war. ELSEWHERE IN THE NT JESUS IS CALLED "THE TRUE" SOMETHING OR ANOTHER • Joh 1:9 WEB The true light that enlightens everyone was coming into the world. • Joh 6:32 WEB Jesus therefore said to them, "Most assuredly, I tell you, it wasn't Moses who gave you the bread out of heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread out of heaven. • Joh 15:1 WEB "I am the true vine, and my Father is the farmer. THE FIGURE OF THE "KEY OF DAVID" COMES FROM THE PROPHET ISAIAH Isa 22:20-22 WEB It shall happen in that day, that I will call my • servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah: and I will clothe him with your robe, and strengthen him with your belt, and I will commit your government into his hand; and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah. The key of the house of David will I lay on his shoulder; and he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open. Page 11
  12. 12. Lesson 4—What the Spirit Says to the Churches (Part 2) What Jesus does, no man can undo. • This is similar to what is said about God elsewhere. Job 12:14 WEB Behold, he breaks down, and it can't be built again; He imprisons a man, and there can be no release. THE MESSAGE Rev 3:8-11 WEB "I know your works (behold, I have set before you • an open door, which no one can shut), that you have a little power, and kept my word, and didn't deny my name. Behold, I give of the synagogue of Satan, of those who say they are Jews, and they are not, but lie. Behold, I will make them to come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you. Because you kept my command to endure, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, which is to come on the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. I am coming quickly! Hold firmly that which you have, so that no one takes your crown. THE METAPHOR OF THE OPEN DOOR WAS A COMMON ONE • Joh 10:7-9 WEB … "Most assuredly, I tell you, I am the sheep's door. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep didn't listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters in by me, he will be saved, and will go in and go out, and will find pasture. • Act 14:27 WEB When they had arrived, and had gathered the assembly together, they reported all the things that God had done with them, and that he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles. • 1Co 16:8-9 WEB But I will stay at Ephesus until Pentecost, for a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries. • Col 4:2-3 WEB Continue steadfastly in prayer, watching therein with thanksgiving; praying together for us also, that God may open to Page 12
  13. 13. Lesson 4—What the Spirit Says to the Churches (Part 2) us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds; WE WILL EVEN SEE THE METAPHOR OF THE DOOR IN THE BOOK OF REVELATION Rev 3:20 WEB Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone • hears my voice and opens the door, then I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with me. Rev 4:1 WEB After these things I looked and saw a door opened in • heaven, and the first voice that I heard, like a trumpet speaking with me, was one saying, "Come up here, and I will show you the things which must happen after this." THE "OPEN DOOR" HERE IS OPPORTUNITY IN THE MIDST OF OPPOSITION There is opportunity for evangelism in spite of Jewish hostility • against Christians. "You have a little power", refers to the fact that the church had little • influence in Philadelphia since Christians were likely from lower classes. 1Co 1:26 WEB For you see your calling, brothers, that not many are • wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, and not many noble; But in Philadelphia the church had remained faithful during their • crisis of trial. JESUS WANTS PEOPLE TO KEEP HIS WORD • Joh 17:6 WEB I revealed your name to the people whom you have given me out of the world. They were yours, and you have given them to me. They have kept your word. • When Jesus praises them because they "didn't deny my name", he is likely referring to some crisis when unbelievers tried to compel the Christians to deny Jesus, but they had stood true. Page 13
  14. 14. Lesson 4—What the Spirit Says to the Churches (Part 2) AS IN SMYRNA, THIS OPPOSITION HAD COME FROM THE JEWISH COMMUNITY Rev 2:9 WEB "I know your works, oppression, and your poverty (but • you are rich), and the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews, and they are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. In time the Jews will acknowledge that Christians are loved by God • Rev 3:9 WEB Behold, I give of the synagogue of Satan, of those • who say they are Jews, and they are not, but lie. Behold, I will make them to come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you. THIS IS A REMINDER OF SIMILAR PROMISES TO GOD'S PEOPLE IN THE OT Isa 45:14 WEB Thus says Yahweh: "The labor of Egypt, and the • merchandise of Ethiopia, and the Sabeans, men of stature, shall come over to you, and they shall be yours. They shall go after you. In chains they shall come over; and they shall fall down to you. They shall make supplication to you: 'Surely God is in you; and there is none else, there is no other god. Isa 60:14 WEB The sons of those who afflicted you shall come • bending to you; and all those who despised you shall bow themselves down at the soles of your feet; and they shall call you The city of Yahweh, The Zion of the Holy One of Israel. JESUS GOES ON TO GIVE ASSURANCES TO THE FAITHFUL WITHIN THE CHURCH Rev 3:10 WEB Because you kept my command to endure, I also will • keep you from the hour of testing, which is to come on the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. Since they had persevered, he promised to preserve them. This implies, not keeping them from temptation, but keeping them in it, as a result of which they will be delivered out of its Page 14
  15. 15. Lesson 4—What the Spirit Says to the Churches (Part 2) power This is consistent with his prayer for the disciples. • Joh 17:15 WEB I pray not that you would take them from the world, but that you would keep them from the evil one. HE URGES THEM TO PERSEVERE IN LIGHT OF HIS JUDGMENT & JUSTIFICATION • God's "coming" meant judgment for his enemies and justification for his people. • In the letters to the churches, his "coming" poses a threat of judgment. Rev 3:11 WEB I am coming quickly! Hold firmly that which you have, so that no one takes your crown. Rev 2:16 WEB Repent therefore, or else I am coming to you quickly, and I will make war against them with the sword of my mouth. • Later in the Revelation, the promise of reward becomes more prominent than the threat of judgment. Rev 22:7 WEB "Behold, I come quickly. Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book." Rev 22:12 WEB "Behold, I come quickly. My reward is with me, to repay to each man according to his work. Rev 22:20 WEB He who testifies these things says, "Yes, I come quickly." Amen! Yes, come, Lord Jesus. THE LORD'S COMING CAN BRING THREAT OF PUNISHMENT OR PROMISE OF REWARD • This church is encouraged with similar words as others: "Hold on Page 15
  16. 16. Lesson 4—What the Spirit Says to the Churches (Part 2) firmly to what you have". Rev 2:25 WEB Nevertheless, hold firmly that which you have, until I come. • Once saved, always saved is popular doctrine Jesus knew nothing about any such teaching. In his words to the church in Smyrna, he promised a crown for the faithful. Rev 2:10 WEB … Be faithful to death, and I will give you the crown of life. • Paul lived with the same hope. 2Ti 4:7-8 WEB I have fought the good fight. I have finished the course. I have kept the faith. From now on, there is stored up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give to me on that day; and not to me only, but also to all those who have loved his appearing. Jesus acknowledges that the Christians have a crown that he describes as "your crown". But he also recognizes that the crown can be taken away if they do not persevere. THE PROMISE • Rev 3:12-13 WEB He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God, and he will go out from there no more. I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from my God, and my own new name. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the assemblies. FIRST, JESUS PROMISES STABILITY Jesus contrasts the stability of a "pillar" in God's temple with the • instability of temples in Philadelphia, which suffered from frequent earthquakes. Strabo comments: “And Philadelphia has not even Page 16
  17. 17. Lesson 4—What the Spirit Says to the Churches (Part 2) its walls unimpaired, but daily they are shaken in some way, and gaps are made in them. But the inhabitants continue to occupy the land notwithstanding their sufferings, and to build new houses.” Dan 2:44 WEB In the days of those kings shall the God of heaven • set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed … and it shall stand forever. SECOND, JESUS PROMISES ACCESS The High Priest wore the name of Yahweh on a golden plate on his • forehead when performing his duties. Exo 28:36-38 WEB "You shall make a plate of pure gold, and • engrave on it, like the engravings of a signet, 'HOLY TO YAHWEH.' … It shall be on Aaron's forehead, and Aaron shall bear the iniquity of the holy things, which the children of Israel shall make holy in all their holy gifts; and it shall be always on his forehead, that they may be accepted before Yahweh. GOD'S PEOPLE ARE SEEN ELSEWHERE WITH GOD'S NAME ON THEIR FOREHEADS They are priests protected by & with access to God. • Rev 7:3 WEB "Don't harm the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, until we have sealed the bondservants of our God on their foreheads!" Rev 9:4 WEB They were told that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree, but only those people who don't have God's seal on their foreheads. Rev 14:1 WEB I saw, and behold, the Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with him a number, one hundred forty-four thousand, having his name, and the name of his Father, written on their foreheads. Rev 22:4 WEB They will see his face, and his name will be on Page 17
  18. 18. Lesson 4—What the Spirit Says to the Churches (Part 2) their foreheads. JESUS PROMISES A PART IN THE "NEW JERUSALEM" • Ezekiel's description of the heavenly city: Eze 48:35 WEB It shall be eighteen thousand reeds round about: and the name of the city from that day shall be, Yahweh is there. The believer whose brow is adorned with the name of Yahweh has the freedom of the heavenly city. Even on earth his citizenship is in heaven. Phi 3:20 WEB For our citizenship is in heaven, from where we also wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; • There are a number of NT references to heaven describing it as a city Rev 21:10 WEB He carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, Gal 4:26 WEB But the Jerusalem that is above is free, which is the mother of us all. Heb 12:22 WEB But you have come to Mount Zion, and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable hosts of angels LAODICEA REV 3:14-22 WEB "To the angel of the assembly in Laodicea write: "The Amen, the • Faithful and True Witness, the Head of God's creation, says these things: "I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I Page 18
  19. 19. Lesson 4—What the Spirit Says to the Churches (Part 2) wish you were cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will vomit you out of my mouth. Because you say, 'I am rich, and have gotten riches, and have need of nothing;' and don't know that you are the wretched one, miserable, poor, blind, and naked; I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, that you may become rich; and white garments, that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes, that you may see. As many as I love, I reprove and chasten. Be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, then I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with me. He who overcomes, I will give to him to sit down with me on my throne, as I also overcame, and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the assemblies." LAODICEA (ESKISEHIR) WAS 45 MILES SE OF PHILADELPHIA & 100 E OF EPHESUS • It was situated on a group of hills between two tributaries of the Lycus - the Asopus and the Caprus. • It was on the great Roman road stretching to the inland of Asia from the coast at Ephesus. This made it an important center of trade and communication. IN THE 1ST CENTURY, IT WAS ONE OF THE MOST FLOURISHING CITIES OF ASIA MINOR One of its citizens, Hiero, bequeathed all his enormous property to • the people, and adorned the city with costly gifts. The citizens developed a taste for Greek art, and were distinguished • in science and literature. It was a great banking center that was the seat of large transactions. • It was a fashion center that was known world-wide for the • Page 19
  20. 20. Lesson 4—What the Spirit Says to the Churches (Part 2) production of a fine quality of famous glossy black wool. Laodicea had a famous school of medicine and was known for an • eye ointment called "Phrygian powder," as well as ear ointments. IT WAS THE CHIEF CITY OF A ROMAN CONVENTUS OR POLITICAL DISTRICT It was the city in which the proconsul of the province held court, and • where taxes from the area towns were collected. Cicero held his court there, and wrote many of his letters there. The • conventus represented by Laodicea comprised at least 25 towns, and inscriptions refer to Laodicea as “the metropolis.” Laodicea was so wealthy that after it was destroyed by the • earthquake of 17 AD, the people refused imperial help. Unlike Philadelphia, they rebuilt entirely by themselves. EPAPHRAS WAS FROM THERE AND PAUL WROTE AT LEAST ONE LETTER TO THE CHURCH Col 4:12-16 WEB Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, • salutes you, always striving for you in his prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. For I testify about him, that he has great zeal for you, and for those in Laodicea, and for those in Hierapolis. Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas greet you. Greet the brothers who are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the assembly that is in his house. When this letter has been read among you, cause it to be read also in the assembly of the Laodiceans; and that you also read the letter from Laodicea. THE CHURCH, LIKE THE CITY, IS COCKY & SELF-ASSURED They think they’ve got everything under control. But they don’t know • they are spiritually destitute (v. 17) & they make Jesus want to throw up (v. 16). Laodicea was known for hot mineral springs which were fashioned • into spas visited by wealthy visitors from all over the world. The Page 20
  21. 21. Lesson 4—What the Spirit Says to the Churches (Part 2) water was curative, but because of the high mineral content, it was almost impossible to stomach. Anyone who lived in Laodicea could hardly mistake the reference to their tepid water. THE MESSENGER Rev 3:14b WEB "The Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the • Head of God's creation, says …: As "the Amen", he claimed to be God's last word. • As "Faithful and True", he is leader of God's armies. • Rev 19:11 WEB I saw the heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and he who sat on it is called Faithful and True. In righteousness he judges and makes war. As "Faithful and True", he is also the word of God. • Rev 21:5 WEB … He said, "Write, for these words of God are faithful and true." Rev 22:6 WEB He said to me, "These words are faithful and true..." JESUS CALLS HIMSELF "THE HEAD OF GOD'S CREATION" Other translations say "the beginning". The idea is seen elsewhere. • Col 1:18 WEB He is the head of the body, the assembly, who is the • beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. Heb 12:1-2 WEB … let us run with patience the race that is set • before us, looking to Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. THE MESSAGE Page 21
  22. 22. Lesson 4—What the Spirit Says to the Churches (Part 2) • Rev 3:15-20 WEB "I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will vomit you out of my mouth. Because you say, 'I am rich, and have gotten riches, and have need of nothing;' and don't know that you are the wretched one, miserable, poor, blind, and naked; I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, that you may become rich; and white garments, that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes, that you may see. As many as I love, I reprove and chasten. Be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, then I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with me. JESUS MAKES REFERENCES THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN FAMILIAR TO THE LAODICEANS • They are neither hot, nor cold, but lukewarm. "Cold" denotes that there is no pretense of religion. We speak of one as "cold" (e.g. having an icy heart.) "Hot" denotes the opposite - zealous devotion. "Lukewarm" is professed religion, with no zealous devotion. There is neither open opposition nor warm-hearted love. There is only indifference. Jesus prefers opposition to indifference. • Lukewarmness would resonsate with Laodicea A six-mile-long aqueduct brought Laodicea its supply of water from the south. The water came from hot springs and was cooled to lukewarm in the aqueduct on the way. For all its wealth, the city had poor water. They knew what drinking tepid water was all about. THEN, JESUS MOVES TO MORE FIGURES THAT WERE FAMILIAR TO THE LAODICEANS Page 22
  23. 23. Lesson 4—What the Spirit Says to the Churches (Part 2) • Laodicea was a center of high finance and fashion. To say they were spiritually destitute and naked would speak volumes about their spiritual condition. One can hardly read this without thinking about the short story about "The Emperor's New Clothes". They thought they were dressed in the height of fashion, when they were, in spiritual terms, stark naked. • Laodicea housed the foremost medical school of its day, reknowned for treatment of the eyes. Calling them "blind" would speak volumes • The bankers could never miss the encouragement to buy "gold refined by fire". The clothiers could not miss the significance of buying "white garments" instead of the black wool that was the staple of their economy. The doctors could not miss the meaning of Jesus' encouragement to obtain "eye salve" so they could see. • Here was a city that seemed to have everything going for it. But the church had absolutely nothing going for it. What a tragedy! JESUS COUNSELS THEM - AND OTHERS LIKE THEM - TO MAKE NEEDED CHANGES He urges them to repent. His words are motivated by love, as were • similar words from Yahweh in the Old Testament. Pro 3:12 WEB For whom Yahweh loves, he reproves; Even as a • father reproves the son in whom he delights. Heb 12:6 WEB For whom the Lord loves, he chastens, And • scourges every son whom he receives." JESUS ADDS A PICTURE WE ARE ALL FAMILIAR WITH - KNOCKING AT THE DOOR Jesus uses the picture of the individual's response to his call, as • shown in Holman Hunt's great picture. This is a picture elsewhere of the Lord's coming. • Page 23
  24. 24. Lesson 4—What the Spirit Says to the Churches (Part 2) Mat 24:33 WEB Even so you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Jam 5:9 WEB Don't grumble, brothers, against one another, so that you won't be judged. Behold, the judge stands at the door. Jesus urges us to always be ready for his coming. • Luk 12:36 WEB Be like men watching for their lord, when he returns from the marriage feast; that, when he comes and knocks, they may immediately open to him. PEOPLE WHO ARE NOT READY MAY FIND THEMSELVES SHUT OUT Luk 13:25 WEB When once the master of the house has risen up, • and has shut the door, and you begin to stand outside, and to knock at the door, saying, 'Lord, Lord, open to us!' then he will answer and tell you, 'I don't know you or where you come from.' Mat 25:10 WEB While they went away to buy, the bridegroom came, • and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. But he offers fellowship to those who invite him in. • Joh 14:23 WEB Jesus answered him, "If a man loves me, he will keep my word. My Father will love him, and we will come to him, and make our home with him. THE PROMISE • Rev 3:21-22 WEB He who overcomes, I will give to him to sit down with me on my throne, as I also overcame, and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the assemblies." THIS PROMISE OF SITTING ON THRONES AND JUDGING IS DEVELOPED ELSEWHERE Page 24
  25. 25. Lesson 4—What the Spirit Says to the Churches (Part 2) • Jesus made the promise: Mat 19:28 WEB Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly I tell you that you who have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on the throne of his glory, you also will sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. • Paul repeated it: 1Co 6:2 WEB Don't you know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? • It is expanded later in the Book of Revelation. Rev 22:1-5 WEB He showed me a river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb … The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no night, and they need no lamp light; for the Lord God will illuminate them. They will reign forever and ever. THE PROOF OF OUR FUTURE VICTORY IS THE FACT THAT JESUS IS ALREADY VICTORIOUS Joh 16:33 WEB I have told you these things, that in me you may • have peace. In the world you have oppression; but cheer up! I have overcome the world." Heb 1:3 WEB His Son is the radiance of his glory … when he had • by himself made purification for our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; Col 3:1 WEB If then you were raised together with Christ, seek the • things that are above, where Christ is, seated on the right hand of God. SEVEN LESSONS FROM SEVEN LETTERS Page 25
  26. 26. Lesson 4—What the Spirit Says to the Churches (Part 2) •Each is the message of Christ and of the Holy Spirit to the messenger of a church. •Each has a special message suited to the actual condition of his congregation. •In each case the individual who overcomes has a promise of blessing. •Christ knows his people and he lays bare the strengths and weaknesses of each individual and each congregation. 1. CHRIST KNOWS EVERY CHRISTIAN Every letter emphasizes this tie. He walks among the lampstands & • knows the good & bad, strengths & weaknesses, fears & joys, triumphs & dangers of each individual Christian He knew that the Ephesian church was sliding downhill, that Antipas • of Pergamum had been killed for being faithful, that the Christians in Smyrna were materially poor, but spiritually rich. Christ knows each of us today, just as well. • This should be a comfort to us, if we are faithful; it should scare us • to death if we are not. Jesus knows you. If that thought makes you uncomfortable, maybe • there’s something about you that needs to be changed. 2. CHRIST WANTS CHURCHES TO GUARD THEIR TEACHING In five of the seven letters, Christ indicated approval or disapproval • of the teaching of the congregation. He praises Ephesus for their doctrinal purity. • He condemns Pergamum & Thyatira for allowing the teaching of • compromise. Page 26
  27. 27. Lesson 4—What the Spirit Says to the Churches (Part 2) He urges Christians at Sardis to remember what they had received • & keep it. He praises Philadelphia for keeping his word. • Since we eventually become what we are taught, we must maintain • doctrinal purity in our congregations and keep on guard against false teaching. 3. CHRIST WANTS CHRISTIANS TO GROW IN SERVICE Christ comments to five of the churches on the trend of their work. • Thyatira is doing more than it used to. • Philadelphia has an open door of opportunity. • Ephesus has left its first love & needs to repent. • Laodicea is lukewarm. • Sardis has a reputation, but they’re not living up to it. • Only working Christians please Christ. • Where, along the line from Thyatira to Sardis, do we fall? • We must bear fruit or be cut off. • Jesus is interested in whether we are stronger or weaker, doing • more or less than our past. He wants to see progress. • 4. CHRIST WANTS CHRISTIANS TO LIVE IN PURITY •Both Pergamum and Thyatira were weak in their moral stance – eating meat offered to idols & practicing & allowing fornication. •They lived where temptations were everywhere and they were not Page 27
  28. 28. Lesson 4—What the Spirit Says to the Churches (Part 2) taking a strong stand against sin. •The standards of the world must not become the standards of Christians. •We’ve got to take a stand against sin, both in our personal lives and in our communities. 5. CHRIST WANTS CHRISTIANS TO BE READY FOR PERSECUTION •Five of the seven are commended for standing firm during persecution. •Two are told things are going to get worse. •The primary purpose of Revelation was to prepare First Century Christians for persecution. •They had already suffered under Nero, but worse was coming under Domitian. •Our so-called “persecutions” are so puny: pressure, ridicule, loss of status. •Will we let these lesser dangers make us fall while early Christians were not stopped even by threats against their lives? 6. CHRIST WANTS CHRISTIANS TO KNOW THEY CAN BE LOST Ephesus: Rev 2:5 WEB Remember … and repent … or else I am • coming to you swiftly, and will move your lampstand … Smyrna: Rev 2:10 WEB … Be faithful to death, and I will give you • the crown of life. Pergamum: Rev 2:16 WEB Repent … or else I am coming to you • quickly… Thyatira: Rev 2:22 WEB … I will throw her into a bed, and those • Page 28
  29. 29. Lesson 4—What the Spirit Says to the Churches (Part 2) who commit adultery with her into great oppression, unless they repent … • Sardis: Rev 3:3 WEB Remember … and repent. If … you won't watch, I will come as a thief … • Philadelphia: Rev 3:11 WEB … Hold firmly that which you have, so no one takes your crown. • Laodicea: Rev 3:15-16 WEB "I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot … So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will vomit you out of my mouth. • The doctrine of “once saved, always saved” is not in the teaching of Revelation 2-3. 7. CHRIST WILL REWARD CHRISTIANS WHO OVERCOME Ephesus: Rev 2:7 WEB …I will give to eat of the tree of life, .. in the • Paradise of my God. Smyrna: Rev 2:11 WEB …He who overcomes won't be harmed by • the second death. Pergamum: Rev 2:17 WEB ... to him I will give of the hidden manna, • and I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name … which no one knows but he who receives it. Thyatira: Rev 2:26-29 WEB … to him I will give authority over the • nations … and I will give him the morning star ... Sardis: Rev 3:4-6 WEB …He … will be arrayed in white garments, • and I will in no way blot his name out of the book of life, and I will confess his name before my Father… Philadelphia: Rev 3:11-13 WEB …I will make him a pillar in the • temple of my God ... I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God … and my own new name... Page 29
  30. 30. Lesson 4—What the Spirit Says to the Churches (Part 2) Laodicea: Rev 3:21-22 WEB I will give to him to sit down with me on • my throne … Christ wants us to be people of hope! We can be lost if we quit • trying, but he wants us to live in confidence that we are on the pathway to heaven! Page 30

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