Aug 19-25-07 7 Churches


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In 2007 the congregation read through "The Message" New Testament by Eugene Peterson. This lesson is taken from the assigned reading from August 19-25.

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Aug 19-25-07 7 Churches

  1. 1. Revelation 1:4 MSG I, John, am writing this to the seven churches in Asia province: All the best to you from
  2. 2. THE GOD WHO IS, THE GOD WHO WAS, AND THE GOD ABOUT TO ARRIVE, and from the Seven Spirits assembled before his throne,
  3. 3. The term "Asia" did not mean in the first century what it does now, but only the Roman province called Asia, of which Ephesus was the capital.
  4. 5. All the seven churches are in that province. It is supposed that SEVEN, the perfect and sacred number, were chosen, because the seven
  5. 6. were to symbolize the whole Church of Christ. There were in the province of Asia more than seven churches at this time,
  6. 7. as we know, Colosse, Miletus ( Act 20:17 ) and Hierapolis ( Col 4:13 ) being named in the New Testament. (Peoples New Testament)
  7. 8. Revelation 1:10 MSG It was Sunday and I was in the Spirit, praying. I heard a loud voice behind me, trumpet-clear and piercing:
  8. 9. 11 "Write what you see into a book. Send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea."
  9. 10. 12 I turned and saw the voice. I saw a gold menorah with seven branches, 13 And in the center, the Son of Man, in a robe and gold breastplate,
  10. 11. 14 hair a blizzard of white, Eyes pouring fire-blaze, 15 both feet furnace-fired bronze, His voice a cataract,
  11. 12. 16 right hand holding the Seven Stars, His mouth a sharp-biting sword, his face a perigee sun.
  12. 13. 17 I saw this and fainted dead at his feet. His right hand pulled me upright, his voice reassured me: "Don't fear: I am First, I am Last,
  13. 14. 18 I'm Alive. I died, but I came to life, and my life is now forever. See these keys in my hand? They open and lock Death's doors, they open and lock Hell's gates.
  14. 15. 19 Now write down everything you see: things that are, things about to be.
  15. 16. 20 The Seven Stars you saw in my right hand and the seven-branched gold menorah--do you want to know what's behind them?
  16. 17. The Seven Stars are the Angels of the seven churches; the menorah's seven branches are the seven churches."
  17. 18. EPHESUS. From the various mention of this church in the Acts and the Epistles, it is evident that its decline was gradual.
  18. 19. The mark discerned by Christ was that it had left its first love. The loss of the true spring and power of devotedness and service characterizes
  19. 20. the first declension in the church: no one may have observed it but the Lord, yet it is spoken of as a fall , and repentance is called for,
  20. 21. or its candlestick would be removed from its place. Historically it represents the church after the departure of the wise master-builder. (Concise Bible Dictionary )
  21. 22. Revelation 2:1 MSG Write this to Ephesus, to the Angel of the church. The One with Seven Stars in his right-fist grip, striding through the golden seven-lights' circle, speaks:
  22. 23. 2 "I see what you've done, your hard, hard work, your refusal to quit. The manner of life of the church. There was much to commend. (Peoples New Testament)
  23. 24. I know you can't stomach evil, that you weed out apostolic pretenders. False teachers, who made false claims.
  24. 25. Every age of revolution throws up such false teachers. We often find traces of them in the epistles. 1 John 4 shows how to test them.
  25. 26. The Ephesian church had put them to the test and rejected them. 3 I know your persistence, your courage in my cause, that you never wear out.
  26. 27. Though called to bear afflictions for Christ they had not wearied. (Peoples New Testament)
  27. 28. 4 "But you walked away from your first love--why? What's going on with you, anyway? 5 Do you have any idea how far you've fallen? A Lucifer fall!
  28. 29. Note what this exhortation includes: 1. They had been at a height of excellence. 2. They had fallen from that height; 3. there had been a spiritual declension.
  29. 30. "Turn back! Recover your dear early love. No time to waste, for I'm well on my way to removing your light from the golden circle.
  30. 31. How signally this has been fulfilled in the case of Ephesus is seen in the fact that not one vestige of the church remains, and of the city itself naught but mouldering ruins.
  31. 32. What concerns us, however, is that this warning is addressed to every church which has lost its first love .
  32. 33. Unless it repents, and does its first works, its candlestick will finally be removed from its place. (Peoples New Testament)
  33. 34. 6 "You do have this to your credit: You hate the Nicolaitan business. I hate it, too. There is another ground of commendation.
  34. 35. They hate the Nicolaitan business . Opinions are not agreed concerning this sect,
  35. 36. but it is probable that the followers of a Nicolaus are meant who taught that Christian liberty meant license to commit sensual sins. (Peoples New Testament)
  36. 37. 7 "Are your ears awake? Listen. The call to solemn attention found at the close of each epistle. (Peoples New Testament)
  37. 38. Listen to the Wind Words, the Spirit blowing through the churches. I'm about to call each conqueror to dinner.
  38. 39. The Christian life is a battle and must also be a victory. I'm spreading a banquet of Tree-of-Life fruit, a supper plucked from God's orchard."
  39. 40. The symbol of eternal life. The tree is seen in Eden, here, and in the New Jerusalem. (Peoples New Testament)
  40. 41. God's orchard, Paradise of God, Since the tree of life is found in both, Paradise and the New Jerusalem must mean the same. (Peoples New Testament)
  41. 42. SMYRNA. Nothing is said here in the way of disapproval; the church is in a time of persecution , and is encouraged by Christ in the midst of it.
  42. 43. Persecution may be used to make manifest what is real, and to draw the soul nearer to the Lord.
  43. 44. The saints are exhorted to be faithful unto death , and Christ would give them the crown of life.
  44. 45. Historically this church represents the period of persecution that set in under Nero. The ‘ten days’ of verse 10 may represent ten different persecutions,
  45. 46. or refer to ten years’ duration of persecution under Diocletian. In any case it gives the idea of limitation. (Concise Bible Dictionary)
  46. 47. 8a Write this to Smyrna, … 9 "I can see your pain and poverty--constant pain, dire poverty--but I also see your wealth.
  47. 48. And I hear the lie in the claims of those who pretend to be good Jews, who in fact belong to Satan's crowd.
  48. 49. 10 "Fear nothing in the things you're about to suffer- The church shall suffer, but it need not fear for the reasons about to be given. (Peoples New Testament)
  49. 50. -but stay on guard! Fear nothing! The Devil is about to throw you in jail for a time of testing--ten days.
  50. 51. It won't last forever. "Don't quit, even if it costs you your life. Stay there believing. I have a Life-Crown sized and ready for you.
  51. 52. 11 "Are your ears awake? Listen. Listen to the Wind Words, the Spirit blowing through the churches. Christ-conquerors are safe from Devil-death."
  52. 53. Those who win the victory shall live forever. To die the second death is to be sent from the judgment throne into hell. (Peoples New Testament)
  53. 54. PERGAMOS. We have here very distinct indications of the toleration of evil—first in the allowing those that held the teaching of Balaam,
  54. 55. which led to corrupt commerce with the world, and then that there were also those that held the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, hateful to Christ.
  55. 56. Historically this church probably represents the period when Christianity was adopted by the world power ("where Satan’s seat is"),
  56. 57. which led to thousands becoming nominally Christians, and to the incorporation of heathen elements and institutions into the professing church.
  57. 58. Satan had altered his tactics, and the dangers were peculiar, but the Lord looked for overcomers. (Concise Bible Dictionary)
  58. 59. 12a Write this to Pergamum, … 13 "I see where you live, right under the shadow of Satan's throne.
  59. 60. But you continue boldly in my Name; you never once denied my Name, even when the pressure was worst,
  60. 61. Honor and trust in the name of Christ. Still continued firm in the profession of Christ though persecuted. (Peoples New Testament)
  61. 62. when they martyred Antipas, my witness who stayed faithful to me on Satan's turf.
  62. 63. Much as been to the credit of the church, but there is another side. (Peoples New Testament)
  63. 64. 14 "But why do you indulge that Balaam crowd? Don't you remember that Balaam was an enemy agent,
  64. 65. seducing Balak and sabotaging Israel's holy pilgrimage by throwing unholy parties? 15 And why do you put up with the Nicolaitans, who do the same thing?
  65. 66. 16 "Enough! Don't give in to them; I'll be with you soon. I'm fed up and about to cut them to pieces with my sword-sharp words.
  66. 67. 17 "Are your ears awake? Listen. Listen to the Wind Words, the Spirit blowing through the churches. I'll give the sacred manna to every conqueror;
  67. 68. The bread of life, the bread from heaven. The living bread is Jesus Christ. (Peoples New Testament)
  68. 69. I'll also give a clear, smooth stone inscribed with your new name, your secret new name." Among the Greeks a white stone was a symbol of acquittal,
  69. 70. as a black stone was of guilt. The white stone implies justification, innocence and victory. All conjectures concerning this new name are idle.
  70. 71. It is only given to those who have finally overcome and cannot be known to us here, but implies their new relation to God and the Lamb in their triumphant state. (Peoples New Testament)
  71. 72. THYATIRA. The evil allowed in this church was systematic and controlling, as indicated by the name of the woman, Jezebel, who called herself ‘prophetess.’
  72. 73. The result was moral fornication and idolatry; and children were begotten of the system. The attitude of the Lord is severe:
  73. 74. His "eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet like fine brass." A ‘rest,’ or remnant, in this church is recognized and addressed:
  74. 75. and the formula "he that hath an ear to hear" occurs henceforth after the promise to the overcomer, indicating that from this point
  75. 76. only those who overcome are expected to have an ear to hear what the Spirit says unto the churches. The kingdom is brought into view in the promise to the overcomer.
  76. 77. Historically Thyatira represents that phase of the church’s history in which the influence of Rome had become predominant in its tyranny, worldliness, and corruption.
  77. 78. It is not difficult to identify Jezebel with the great whore of chapters xvii. and xviii. (Concise Bible Dictionary)
  78. 79. 18 Write this to Thyatira, … 19 "I see everything you're doing for me. Impressive! The love and the faith, the service and persistence.
  79. 80. Yes, very impressive! You get better at it every day. Instead of retrograding their works grew more excellent. (Peoples New Testament)
  80. 81. 20 "But why do you let that Jezebel who calls herself a prophet mislead my dear servants into Cross-denying, self-indulging religion?
  81. 82. 21 I gave her a chance to change her ways, but she has no intention of giving up a career in the god-business.
  82. 83. 22 I'm about to lay her low, along with her partners, as they play their sex-and-religion games.
  83. 84. 23 The bastard offspring of their idol-whoring I'll kill. Then every church will know that appearances don't impress me.
  84. 85. I x-ray every motive and make sure you get what's coming to you. 24 "The rest of you Thyatirans, who have nothing to do with this outrage,
  85. 86. who scorn this playing around with the Devil that gets paraded as profundity, be assured I'll not make life any harder for you than it already is.
  86. 87. 25 Hold on to the truth you have until I get there. 26 "Here's the reward I have for every conqueror, everyone who keeps at it, refusing to give up: You'll rule the nations,
  87. 88. 27 your Shepherd-King rule as firm as an iron staff, their resistance fragile as clay pots. This was the gift my Father gave me; I pass it along to you--
  88. 89. 28 and with it, the Morning Star! 29 "Are your ears awake? Listen. Listen to the Wind Words, the Spirit blowing through the churches."
  89. 90. SARDIS. One very emphatic sentence gives the character of this church: " You have a reputation for vigor and zest, but you're dead, stone dead. "
  90. 91. It was a name that should carry life, but was in Sardis identified with spiritual death. There had been escape from the corruptions of Rome,
  91. 92. but the truth in its purifying power was lost. Yet there were a few who had not defiled their garments. The coming of the Lord ‘as a thief’
  92. 93. reminds us of the character of His coming to the world as seen in 1 Thessalonians 5:2 MSG You know as well as I that the day of the Master's coming
  93. 94. can't be posted on our calendars. He won't call ahead and make an appointment any more than a burglar would.
  94. 95. Historically Sardis presents Protestantism , after it had lost spiritual power and become worldly and political. (Concise Bible Dictionary)
  95. 96. Revelation 3:1a,f MSG Write this to Sardis, … "I see right through your work. You have a reputation for vigor and zest, but you're dead, stone dead.
  96. 97. 2 "Up on your feet! Take a deep breath! Maybe there's life in you yet. But I wouldn't know it by looking at your busywork; nothing of God's work has been completed.
  97. 98. Your condition is desperate. 3 Think of the gift you once had in your hands, the Message you heard with your ears--grasp it again and turn back to God.
  98. 99. "If you pull the covers back over your head and sleep on, oblivious to God, I'll return when you least expect it, break into your life like a thief in the night.
  99. 100. 4 "You still have a few Christians in Sardis who haven't ruined themselves wallowing in the muck of the world's ways.
  100. 101. They'll walk with me on parade! They've proved their worth! 5 "Conquerors will march in the victory parade, their names indelible in the Book of Life.
  101. 102. I'll lead them up and present them by name to my Father and his Angels. 6 "Are your ears awake? Listen.
  102. 103. PHILADELPHIA. There is nothing of evil charged to this church. Christ presents Himself as The Holy, the True… opening doors no one can lock, locking doors no one can open-
  103. 104. and He says, You don't have much strength, I know that; you used what you had to keep my Word. You didn't deny me when times were rough.
  104. 105. The Lord Himself has with them the prominent place, and the church is kept out of the hour of tribulation which is coming on the whole earth.
  105. 106. The historical development of the church may be said to close with Thyatira; and Philadelphia represents in the latter times of the church’s history on earth
  106. 107. faithfulness to the Lord Himself , on the part of those who are seeking to stand morally in the truth of the church. (Concise Bible Dictionary)
  107. 108. 7 Write this to Philadelphia... 8 "I see what you've done. Now see what I've done. I've opened a door before you that no one can slam shut….
  108. 109. You don't have much strength, I know that; you used what you had to keep my Word. You didn't deny me when times were rough.
  109. 110. 9 "And watch as I take those who call themselves true believers but are nothing of the kind, pretenders whose true membership is in the club of Satan-
  110. 111. -watch as I strip off their pretensions and they're forced to acknowledge it's you that I've loved.
  111. 112. 10 "Because you kept my Word in passionate patience, I'll keep you safe in the time of testing that will be here soon, and all over the earth,
  112. 113. every man, woman, and child put to the test. 11 "I'm on my way; I'll be there soon. Keep a tight grip on what you have so no one distracts you and steals your crown.
  113. 114. 12 "I'll make each conqueror a pillar in the sanctuary of my God, a permanent position of honor. Then I'll write names on you, the pillars:
  114. 115. the Name of my God, the Name of God's City--the new Jerusalem coming down out of Heaven--and my new Name.
  115. 116. LAODICEA. This church is characterized, not by any definite evil either of doctrine or practice, but by pride of acquirement and by self-sufficiency,
  116. 117. accompanied with indifference to Christ. While boasting itself in being rich and in need of nothing, it was wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.
  117. 118. Man in his self-satisfaction is the main feature, and Christ is not appreciated. It represents the arrogance of rationalism
  118. 119. and higher criticism in the latter days of the church on earth: Christ is outside but still appealing, knocking for admission to the individual heart. (Concise Bible Dictionary)
  119. 120. 14 Write to Laodicea,… 15 "I know you inside and out, and find little to my liking. You're not cold, you're not hot--far better to be either cold or hot!
  120. 121. 16 You're stale. You're stagnant. You make me want to vomit. 17 You brag, 'I'm rich, I've got it made, I need nothing from anyone,'
  121. 122. oblivious that in fact you're a pitiful, blind beggar, threadbare and homeless. 18 "Here's what I want you to do: Buy your gold from me,
  122. 123. gold that's been through the refiner's fire. Then you'll be rich. Buy your clothes from me, clothes designed in Heaven. You've gone around half-naked long enough.
  123. 124. And buy medicine for your eyes from me so you can see, really see. 19 "The people I love, I call to account--prod and correct and guide so that they'll live at their best.
  124. 125. Up on your feet, then! About face! Run after God! 20 "Look at me. I stand at the door. I knock. If you hear me call and open the door, I'll come right in and sit
  125. 126. down to supper with you. 21 Conquerors will sit alongside me at the head table, just as I, having conquered, took the place of honor at the side of my Father.
  126. 127. That's my gift to the conquerors! 22 "Are your ears awake? Listen. Listen to the Wind Words, the Spirit blowing through the churches."
  127. 128. Now it is up to you! Do you see your life or the Lindley Christian Church reflected in any of these 7 Churches? If so, What needs attention?