Simple Studies in the Scriptures
Seven Letters of Love
Dr. Stanford E. Murrell
Leader’s Study Guide
A Letter of Love to the
Church of Ephesus
A Return to the Heart’s
1 Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus
write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand,
who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;
2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy
patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried
them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:
3 And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my
name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.
2:1-3 Understanding the worldview the Bible
was written with will help in appreciating the message sent to the first church
mentioned in the Revelation, the
Church of Ephesus. Historically the city of Ephesus was a cultural center. It
was a commercially prosper place attracting worldwide trade. The city was also
a religious center where the goddess Diana was worshipped. The people of
Ephesus honored Diana by building her a marvelous temple, which became one of
the seven wonders of the ancient world. Christianity came to Ephesus when Paul
preached the gospel. Later, Timothy was the bishop of the Church and Paul wrote
one his epistle to the assemble. Initially the Church at Ephesus did well and
The community of saints was light in the
midst of a dark pagan culture. The believers were zealous in many religious
The Church performed good
the people were hungry the Church of Ephesus fed them. The poor were given
food, clothing, and shelter. The sick were cared for and the dying were
The Church labored to exalt
was not enough that the Church knew about Jesus, others must know the Lord as
The Church persevered in the
saints were “patient” in the sphere of faith. While the gospel is not a works
salvation it does demand good works as a sign conversion.
The Church did not tolerate
and women who were in error morally or ethically were not allowed to practice
sin in the midst of the saints. The Church in Ephesus would not have tolerated
what was allowed in the Church of Corinth (1 Cor. 5:1ff).
The Church was discerning in
individuals such as Nicholas claimed to be apostles the believers were mature
enough to test them (Acts 1:1-3 cf. 1 Cor. 9:1).
An apostle was one who had been called by God.
An apostle was one who was with Christ during His ministry.
An apostle was one who had seen the risen Lord.
The Church endured periods
of persecution. Jesus said, “Blessed are you when
men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil
against you falsely for my sake.” The Church at Ephesus knew what it was to
suffer for the sake of righteousness.
I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
2:4 There is much to commend
in the Church of Ephesus. The members of the assembly were willing workers who
hated evil while moving towards a greater state of maturity manifested in
spiritual discernment all the while enduring unjust moments of suffering. “Nevertheless,” and the awful words of
Revelation 2:4 were stated. “I have somewhat against thee, because thou
hast left thy first love.” The
Church of Ephesus had left their first love? How did that happen? There are any
number of ways for religious people to be caught up doing work for Christ they
forget the Lord Himself. It is possible for the believer to lose his first
Love for Christ can be lost by reading the Bible out of a sense of duty
but with no delight in meditating on the Lord.
Teaching what is not practiced can cause a person to lose love for
Christ. It is possible to teach on prayer and not pray. It is possible to teach
on forgiving others and harbor
and bitterness in the heart.
is possible to teach about Christian compassion and never show it.
Love for Christ can be diminished by performing Christian duties with a
spirit of resentment and bitterness.
Hearing Biblical doctrine and not believing all that the Scriptures
teach can destroy love for Christ.
Love for Christ can be lost by not believing that prayers are answered.
On a more positive note love
for Christ can be recaptured.
Love for Christ can be kindled afresh by remembering the greatness of
Studying the life of Christ and the words He spoke can rediscover love
Passionate prayers offered to Him can renew love for Christ.
Receiving those words that are able to save the soul can find love for
If any local assembly, if any individual
Christian is caused to see a lost for their first love then a solemn word of warning
of coming judgment is to be heeded.
5 Remember therefore from whence
thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto
thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou
7:5 remove thy candlestick. The
reference is not to loss of salvation for the security of the soul does not
depend upon good works. Rather, the testimony of the saint can be removed. The
apostle Paul was fearful that when he had preached to others he should be
disqualified. 1 Corinthians 9:27 “But I
keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when
I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” It is a great
tragedy not to be useful to the Lord because the light of our life’s testimony
has been extinguished. Therefore, “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the
Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of
the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God” (Rev. 2:7).
“A promise of great mercy [is given] to those who
overcome. The Christian life is a warfare against sin, Satan, the world, and
the flesh. It is not enough that we engage in this warfare, but we must pursue
it to the end, we must never yield to our spiritual enemies, but fight the good
fight, till we gain the victory, as all persevering Christians shall do; and
the warfare and victory shall have a glorious triumph and reward. That which is
here promised to the victors is that they shall eat of the tree of life, which
is in the midst of the paradise of God. They shall have that perfection of
holiness, and that confirmation therein,
which Adam would have had if he had gone well
through the course of his trial:
he would then have eaten of the tree of life
which was in the midst of paradise, and this would have been the sacrament of
confirmation to him in his holy and happy state; so all who persevere in their
Christian trial and warfare shall derive from Christ, as the tree of life,
perfection and confirmation in holiness and happiness in the paradise of God;
not in the earthly paradise, but the heavenly, (Rev 22:1-2)” (M. Henry).
6 But this thou hast, that thou hatest the
deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
7 He that hath an ear, let him
hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I
give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.
A Letter of Love to the
Church in Smyrna
Nothing to Fear
8 And unto the angel of the
church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was
dead, and is alive;
9 I know thy works, and tribulation, and
poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they
are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.
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.
11 He that hath an ear, let him
hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be
hurt of the second death.
2:6-8 Her name is not known but she died of a lingering illness some
years ago. As the hour of her departure approached she placed her hand in the
hand of her beloved husband. Quietly they rested in the presence of Christ. The
Lord’s assurances that all was well unfolded in a spirit of peace and quiet
acceptance that this was His arrangement. Softly, in syllables barely audible
the lady of grace turned to her husband and whispered her last words: “Faithful
even unto death.” Her spirit was gone. The
gentle lady went away from her home in the body to be at home with the Lord.
Down through the
ages Christians saints have received constant strength through the words of the
apostle spoken to the Church of Smyrna. Smyrna was a rich and prosperous city
located about forty miles N of Ephesus. The ancient world referred to Smyrna as
the crown of Ionia and the ornament of Asia.
Sometime during the
first century the gospel came to Smyrna. Many people believed and were
converted to Christ. The church in its infancy was immediately persecuted. The
saints were stripped of their social and economic
status so that the entire world knew the church endured tribulation and
targeted the believers at Smyrna for special attack. From Nero to Diocletian
the hands of Roman emperors were dipped in martyrs’ blood. One of the best
known of the early
church fathers to die as a witness was Polycarp (c. AD 169).
The Death of Polycarp
Polycarp's martyrdom is described in a letter
from the Church of Smyrna, "and to
all the brotherhoods of the holy and universal Church", etc. The
letter begins with an account of the persecution and the heroism of the
martyrs. Conspicuous among them was one Germanicus, who encouraged the rest,
and when exposed to the wild beasts, incited them to slay him. His death
stirred the fury of the multitude, and the cry was raised "Away with the atheists; let search be made for Polycarp".
Polycarp was persuaded by his friends to
leave the city and conceal himself in a farmhouse. Here he spent his time in
prayer, "and while praying he [fell]
into a trance three days before his apprehension; and he saw his pillow burning
with fire. And he turned and said unto those that were with him, 'it must needs
be that I shall be burned alive' ". When his pursuers were on his
track he went to another farmhouse. Finding him gone they put two slave boys to
the torture, and one of them betrayed his place of concealment. Herod, head of
the police, sent a body of men to arrest him on Friday evening. Escape was
still possible, but the old man refused to flee, saying, "the will of God be done".
He came down to meet his pursuers, conversed
affably with them, and ordered food to be set before them. While they were
eating he prayed, "remembering all,
high and low, who at any time had come in his way, and the Catholic Church
throughout the world". Then he was led away.
Herod and Herod's father, Nicetas, met him
and took him into their carriage, where they tried to prevail upon him to
save his life. Finding they could not
persuade him, they pushed him out of the carriage with such haste that he
bruised his shin. He followed on foot till they came to the Stadium, where a
great crowd had assembled, having heard the news of his apprehension. "As Polycarp entered into the Stadium a
voice came to him from heaven: 'Be strong, Polycarp, and play the man'. And no
one saw the speaker, but those of our people who were present heard the
It was to the proconsul, when he urged him to
curse Christ, that Polycarp made his celebrated reply: "Fourscore and six years have I served Him, and he has done me
no harm. How then can I curse my King that saved me." And with those
words Polycarp was set on fire.
Because of Smyrna the Church of Christ was
given valuable lessons. First, He who was dead and is alive is ultimately aware
of what happens to His people. The Bible says that Christ loved the Church and
gave Himself for her. While it is true there is a divine general benevolence
towards all mankind, there is a special intimate eternal relationship that the
Son has with His bride.
As the Good Shepherd the
Lord has given His life for His sheep.
As the Rock of Ages He was
As the Lamb of God He was
And it was all done so His
beloved would be protected. Unlike the First Adam who turned on his wife, the
Last Adam will protect His bride. Even when she disappoints Him He bears the
ultimate wrath of Divine justice on her behalf. “I know,” He says. And because Jesus Christ knows what His people
going through they take hope and find fresh
In the midst of suffering
the Savior is always present. This thought leads to the observation that
tribulation shall always come to the Church. It is not always easy to identify
with saints who suffering for the cause of Christ. For the moment God has been pleased to allow
the Western Church much liberty and freedom from state persecution unlike the
Church in other parts of the world. But if we dared to look and learn, if we
dared to listen we could see the sufferings of our brothers and sisters
elsewhere. We could hear the screams and cries of others. Oh how good God has
been to Americans. At the moment we do not have to endure too much for our
Christians in the Western
world are not unduly ridiculed. We are not beaten. Following a profession of
faith we keep our jobs, build our churches, and freely educate our children in
Because we have been given
much the Lord has much to expect of us. One expectation is not to forget the
sufferings of others who must endure tribulation and poverty for the sake of
In China and Russia, in
Africa and Central America the Church of Christ suffers. This suffering is
consistent with the prediction of Scripture, the history of Christendom, and
the disposition of Satan. Each of these points is
crystallized in the Doctrine of Tribulation.
2:6-8 There is another great lesson the church of Smyrna can teach the
saints and that is spiritual wealth is of far greater value than material
prosperity. While much money is needed to advance the kingdom of heaven the
Church must guard its heart against a “Health and Wealth” gospel.
commanded to “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not
high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth
us richly all things to enjoy; 18 That they do good, that they be rich in good
works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate;” (1 Tim. 6:17-18).
In the divine
economy spiritual riches are good works. A Church may have limited economic
resources and still be commended and hear the Lord say, “But thou art
rich.” What a wonderful commentary on the
Church of Smyrna. “But thou art rich.” The Church was
· souls were being saved
· and the saints were being edified.
· Believers were baptized and found serving the Lord.
· The fruit of the Spirit was manifested.
· God’s power was present.
· The Church was spiritually rich.
In the midst of
physical tribulation and financial poverty the One who was dead and is alive
instructs His people to “fear none of those things which thou shalt
suffer.” Yes, there will be suffering for it is
the disposition of Satan to hurt the saints but Christians are to fear not.
There is an emotion stronger than fear and that is faith—faith in the
promises of God.
“Have faith in God,
He’s on the throne,
Have faith in God,
He watches over His own.”
To those who have
faith in the midst of life’s greatest sorrow two promises are made. Individuals
shall receive a crown of life and shall never have to fear hell, a reference to
the second death. To those who are faithful God gives eternal life minus any
fear of the future. Yes the Christian must persevere in the sphere of faith but
God preserves His own. These two truths are foundational pillars to build a
life upon. “He that hath ears to
hear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the Churches.”
A Letter of Love to the
Revelation 2:12 –17
Satan in the Sanctuary
12 And to the angel of the church in Pergamos
write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges;
13 I know thy works, and where
thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and
hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful
martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.
14 But I have a few things
against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who
taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat
things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.
2:12-14 It is within the
heart and experience of professing Christians to be faithful or faithless.
God’s people at any given moment can do good or evil. Individuals can be
spiritual or worldly. They can be on fire with holy zeal or as cold as the
winter’s frost. A casual review of one’s own spiritual biography will probably
reveal conflicting experiences. During one season of the soul the saint might
enjoy a mountain top moment of sweet fellowship with Christ. Eagerly the Word of God is received and listened to
as often as possible. The heart burns with longing for soul winning
experiences. Prayer meeting is anticipated for the privilege of corporate and
private prayer is recognized. Personal devotions
are held because they are precious.
But something happens. The
initial intense spiritual emotions begin to subside. The impulses of worldly
passions stir. The mind becomes enamored with other sights and sounds. Now the
preaching of the Word is not given
priority. One excuse after another is found to stay away from the preaching of
the gospel. There is no longer the appetite for the spiritual banquet with its
many delectable delights. Prayer meeting becomes cold, formal, and shallow.
Souls are no longer sought.
The Christian moves into a
spiritual Twilight Zone. The heart is neither hot nor cold with religious zeal.
Some of the saints at the
church of Pergamos were like that. Individuals were neither hot nor cold. The
church was wonderfully spiritual in some areas but terribly wicked in other
ways. Perhaps the leadership was also engaged in secret sins. Charles Spurgeon
told the story of the preacher of whom it was said, “He preached so well when he was in the pulpit that people said he
should never come down. But then he lived so poorly that people said he should
As the saints at Pergamos
struggled with their hearts there were two good deeds they performed which the
The Christians exalted the name of Jesus.
They kept the faith even to the point of death.
It was not easy or popular to exalt the name
of Christ. But the Christians wanted to do what they could to promote the work
of the kingdom because they loved the Lord who loved them and saved them.
On a southern battlefield during the Civil
War a soldier had an artery of his arm shattered severely by the fragment of a
shell. He was fast bleeding to death. A passing physician bound up the artery
and saved his life. As the physician was leaving the young man cried out, “Doctor, what is your name?” No matter,”
said the doctor. “But doctor, I want to tell my wife and children who saved
me,” Came the response.
When Christ comes to bind our spiritual
wounds that will kill us and save our dying souls there is a natural longing to
tell others what He has done.
“I’m not ashamed to own my Lord,
Or to defend His cause;
Maintain the honor of His Word,
The glory of His cross.
Jesus, my God! I know His Name,
His Name is all my trust;
Nor will He put my soul to shame,
Nor let my hope be lost.
Firm as His throne His promise stands,
And He can well secure
What I’ve committed to His hands
Till the decisive hour.
Then will He own my worthless name
Before His Father’s face,
And in the new Jerusalem
Appoint my soul a place.”
Not only did the saints at Pergamum witness
for Christ but they were faithful even unto death. Not everyone has been or
will be asked to die for Christ but the willingness to give one’s life for the
Lord must dwell in every heart.
In the early days of the Church there was a
man named Antipas who was arrested, falsely accused of crimes against the
state, tried, and sentenced to death because of his unswerving allegiance to
Christ. “Renounce Jesus and lived,”
he was told. “I love my Lord and shall
die if necessary,” was his reply.
In the hour of death Antipas was human. There
was a measure of fear and apprehension. Nevertheless, Antipas paid the ultimate
He was a faithful martyr. He never wavered in
his final decision. In every century the Church cries out for people who have
the spirit of Antipas and will be a faithful witness.
The story is told of a Methodist minister who
was so distressed by members of his congregation and so sharply criticized for
made he despaired. He went to the bishop to
resign. To the minister’s surprise the bishop did not readily accept his
resignation but asked a series of questions.
people literally spit in your face”.
“No. Of course
replied the minister.
“Do they ever
bodily punch you?”
ever dressed you up, mocked, and laughed at you?”
ever stripped and scourged you, crowned you with thorns and…”
“No!” cried out the pastor and
then he added, “God helping me, until
they do, I will hold on.”
A spirit of holding on until the end should
characterize God’s people. A willingness to be made expendable for the Lord’s
sake can be found in the hearts of Christians determined to be found faithful.
“Are ye able,” said the Master,
“To be crucified with Me?”
“Yea,” the sturdy dreamers answered,
“To the death we follow Thee.”
Lord, we are able. Our spirits are Thine.
Remold them, make us, like Thee, divine.
Thy guiding radiance above us shall be
A beacon to God, to love and loyalty.
Are ye able to remember,
When a thief lifts up his eyes,
That his pardoned soul is worthy
Of a place in paradise?
Are ye able when the shadows
Close around you with the sod,
To believe that spirit triumphs,
To commend your soul to God?
Are ye able? Still the Master
Whispers down eternity,
And heroic spirits answer,
Now as then in Galilee.
Earl B. Marlett
While we long to be able to be faithful to
the Lord even unto death we need to be aware of the forces of evil which are
present to draw our hearts from the Lord and destroy the good results of holy
deeds in order to provoke the wrath of God. The wrong that Christians do is
produced in part because of erroneous teaching. Never under estimate the power
of a false teacher or a false teaching. False teaching leads to an
inappropriate style of living. Therefore, be careful.
· Be careful of legalism. There is a
modern form of Phariseeism that will focus attention on what is done or not
done. Spirituality is established by outward conformity to certain practices.
While it is not wrong to have standards it is
wrong to go beyond what the Scriptures warrant should be imposed on
Be careful of spiritual
intellectualism. The apostle Paul warned that
knowledge can “puff” a person up and
make them feel intellectually superior to all others. Undue attention can be
paid to a formal study of the Scriptures to the point that practical holiness
· Be careful of the Doctrine of Balaam. The doctrine of Balaam has
reference to a story recorded in the book of Numbers (cf. Num. 22-23; 31) which
may briefly be told.
Following their divine deliverance from Egypt
the nation of Israel was moving towards the Land of Divine Promise. Because God
was giving them military victory Hebrews were able to conquer all who opposed
In the area of Moab lived a king named Balak
who became fearful of his kingdom. Balak began to look for a non-military way
to confront and defeat the army of Israel. In some way the name of the Hebrew
prophet Balaam was brought to his attention. Balak discovered that for a price
Balaam could be bought. Balaam would be willing to utter spiritual words
against the Israel if the price were right. Balaam was willing to market his
In 2 Peter 2:15 this “way of Balaam” is severely denounced. The apostle speaks of those “Which have forsaken the right way, and are
gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages
Despite Balaam’s willingness to prostitute
his spiritual gift there was a practical problem. Every time he opened his
mouth to speak against Israel he found himself saying pronouncing a blessing
upon the people. Nevertheless, Balaam was determined to have the money promised
and so he found a way to lead the nation into great sin in order to provoke God
to wrath. Balaam taught the people to engage in sexual relations with those who
were not part of the covenant (Num. 24:1-2).
Balaam suspected that once unholy marriages
took place the hearts of the Israelites would be turned from God to embrace the
gods of the heathen culture of Palestine. And that is exactly what happened.
The church at Pergamum had in its midst those
who embraced the doctrine of Balaam. Marriages between people of faith and
non-faith began taking place. Alternative life styles became acceptable to
those within the Christian community much like major denominations today are
allowing homosexual marriages to be performed within the church.
Because the church at Pergamum was allowing
the doctrine of Balaam to be promoted unchallenged a warning went forth, “if you do not deal with false teaching I
will come unto you quickly and will fight against them.’
15 So hast thou also them that hold the
doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.
2:15 Besides allowing the doctrine of Balaam
to be promoted the church of Pergamum allowed another harmful doctrine
sponsored by the Nicolaitans. Bible scholars are not united in identifying the
It has been suggested that the doctrine they
advocated established an unwarranted spiritual hierarchy where by church
officials no longer served the people but ruled with arrogance and
May the Lord give His people
once more men and women and young people with the heart of a servant. How nice
it would be if it were said when introducing church officials, “This brother is a servant of the Lord Jesus
Christ in the local assembly“. The results would be less conflicts in
Now among the biblical
principles used to guide a local assemble the following three concepts must be
Let there be a proper minister. Sheep need an Under-shepherd. As the Under-shepherd
follows the Chief Shepherd so the sheep should follow their leader (s).
The church is blessed when
it has a man or a group of men who feel compelled to engage in the formal work
of the gospel ministry, not as an aside but because they have been “tapped
on the shoulder” to use the expression of Peter Marshall, “called of God” to use the thought of
Paul (Rom. 1:1), or removed from following the plough to cite the experience of
Elisha. 1 Kings 19:20 “And he [Elisha]
left the oxen, and ran after Elijah, and said, Let me, I pray thee, kiss my
father and my mother, and then I will follow thee.”
Let there be a proper support group. The local assembly needs individuals who
are anxious to serve in the most humble way to maintain the facilities and do
whatever the pastor(s) feels is necessary to advance the work of the kingdom.
Let there be a holy purpose for existing. The purpose for the
existence of the local assembly is to promote the gospel and to help others in
their time of need. How well this is being done can be tested by where the
money is being
invested. Jesus said, Matthew 6:21 “For where your treasure is, there will your
heart be also.”
Let there be sound doctrine. Mark
12:38-40 And he said unto them in his doctrine, Beware of the scribes, which
love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces, 39 And
the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts: 40 Which
devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayers: these shall
receive greater damnation.
16 Repent; or else I will come unto thee
quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.
17 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the
Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of
the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name
written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.
The Letter of Love to the
Church in Thyatira
The Judgment of Jezebel
18 And unto the angel of the
church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes
like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass;
19 I know thy works, and charity, and service,
and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the
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.
21 And I gave her space to repent of her
fornication; and she repented not.
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.
2:16 Of all the places where the seven
churches of the Revelation were located Thyatira was the smallest.
Nevertheless, it receives the longest letter to the assemblies. The Old
Testament prophet asked, “For who hath
despised the day of small things?” Certainly not God. From a tiny seed
grows a mighty oak. From a group of twelve restless men grew a church that
reaches the seven continents of the world.
The Church of Thyatira was
located in a rich agricultural area. It was famous for one thing—a rich purple
dye. From a certain shellfish came one drop of dye that was carefully
preserved. Anyone who knew how to extract the dye and use it to color material
could grow rich as a
seller of purple. In the small town was such
a person, a Christian woman by the name of Lydia.
The conversion of Lydia to
Christ is recorded in Acts 16:14-15. “And
a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which
worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto
the things which were spoken of Paul 15 And when she was baptized, and her
household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the
Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.”
Notice the significance of
the particular words, “whose heart the
Lord opened.” If ever a man, woman, or child is to come to Christ the Lord
must first open the heart for the “heart is deceitful above all things, and
desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9).
The deceitfulness of the
heart is reflected in the secret sins, which the soul feels compelled to
perform despite the risk of open shame.
The deceitfulness of the
heart is manifested in the way wrong decisions and wrong actions are justified
when exposed. The strength of the deceitfulness of sin is found in the soul’s
sense of helplessness and hopelessness from any complete deliverance from its
bondage. Sovereign grace is needed. God must set the captive free. The Lord
must open the heart to gospel truths.
One-day sovereign grace came
to Lydia. The Lord opened her heart and she in turn may have taken the gospel
within the commercial community of Thyatira. There is no record in the Scripture of any evangelistic effort in
the city but as the song says,
“It only takes a spark
to get a fire going.
And soon all those around
can warm up to its glowing.
That’s how it is with God’s love.”
The Son of God has something
to say to the Church as He appears in the role of Judge for His eyes were like
unto a flame of fire and His feet were like unto fine brass. Historically the
Church has known Christ in many roles. In the Old Testament He was the angel of
Jehovah. While on earth Christ was the Son of Man, the Lamb of God, the Sin
Such is Christ in the State
of His humiliation. But in His state of exaltation He is Lord of lords, and
King of kings. In His glory all power
in heaven and on earth has been given Him so that He rules and reigns over all
creation. It is the glorified, sovereign, absolutely righteous Lord that John
would have His readers see. It is the Just Judge of the universe that John
reveals in the Revelation.
Here is the dimension of
Christ that is worthy of careful consideration and holy honor. The Lamb is now
the Lion. The meek and lowly now has burning eyes and brass feet. He who on
earth came not to judge the world, He who came not to condemn the world but to
save it, this One has a serious message
to all professing saints.
First, there are kind words
of consideration and understanding. A recent sign on a church billboard read: “He who judges must first understand.” “I understand,” says Jesus. “I know. I know thy works.” In the
Church of Thyatira good works were prominent. The poor were helped.
The homeless found shelter. People saw a need
and filled it. The saints found a hurt and healed it.
The Church had a measure of
charity or agape love. Agape love is giving love. It is the type of love, which
expresses the Divine essence of God who so loved that He gave. The Church gave.
The saints at Thyatira also
served each other. They did not throw money at a problem and forget it. Nor did
they ignore the work that needed to be done. A Church that serves is a Church
that receives Divine commendation.
In the area of faith the
Church at Thyatira excelled so that spiritually speaking the people could
remove mountains. And they were people of patience. When the time of testing
came from the political pressures of the day due to Emperor worship the church
resisted, remained faithful to Christ, and endured the consequences of their
Moreover, the Church was not
living in memories for the Bible says their last works were greater than their
former works. That is an important point. No local assembly can long survive if
it lives on memories. Every assembly
needs to make a commitment to remember the past but to live in present with
hope for the future.
In spite of all the good
comments the Lord had for the Church of Thyatira there was a matter of grave
concern. The Church had allowed a woman called “Jezebel” to teach. Through her
teaching the saints were being led to commit fornication and to eat things
offered to idols. All this was being done in the name of a prophetic ministry.
By calling the woman “Jezebel” the
apostle John could be referring to several things.
It is possible the reference
is to the pastor’s wife. The basis for this belief among a few commentators is
based on the fact that some of the ancient manuscripts add “sou” to the word “woman”
meaning “thy woman” or “thy wife” (Rev. 2:20).
The term “Jezebel” may be
merely a symbolic reference to the historic Jezebel. In the Old Testament there
is the record of King Ahab of Israel who, being a weak man, was dominated by
the woman he married, the daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Sidonians. Her name
was Jezebel. She is presented as one of
the most evil and ruthless characters of the
It was Jezebel who attempted to combine the worship of Israel with the
worship of Baal.
It was Jezebel who did what she could to destroy the genuine worship of
It was Jezebel who was responsible for the killing of Naboth in order
to take possess of his vineyard for her pouting husband. Dr. R. G. Lee called
King Ahab, “That most vile toad of a king
who sat upon the throne.”
It was Jezebel who killed almost all of the prophets of God and tried
to murder Elijah.
It was Jezebel who was so wicked Elijah singled her out for a special
prophecy. She would die suddenly and dogs would lick her bone.
Jezebel was a cruel woman.
She painted her face pretty and her soul black. She pulled the strings of
political power until she was strangled with the cords of intrigue.
Jezebel played fast and
loose with life and lovers but in the end the dogs licked her bones clean (1
As the name “Hitler” is forever associated with the
mass annihilation of six million Jews so the name “Jezebel” is forever
identified with spiritual wickedness.
It maybe in the city of
Thyatira there was a literal woman named Jezebel who called herself a
prophetess. While pretending to speak in the name of the Lord this Jezebel was
really leading people into sexual immorality and offering sacrifices unto
It is instructive to notice
in the Bible the prominent place of sexual sins among the people of God. In
Genesis 6 we read the story of inappropriate marriages taking place between the
godly line of Seth and the ungodly line of Cain due to sensual attraction. The
result was the Great Flood. “And it came
to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters
were born unto them, 2 That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they
were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. 3 And the LORD
said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh:
yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. 4 There were giants in the
earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the
daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men
which were of old, men of renown. 5 And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was
great in the
that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
6 And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved
him at his heart. 7 And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created
from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and
the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them. 8 But Noah
found grace in the eyes of the LORD. “
Many years after the Flood
when the earth was repopulated and the nation of Israel had been called into
existence we find that the daughters of Lot committed incest with him. The
results of this unholy union were the nations of Moab and Ammon. Genesis 19:36-38
Thus were both the daughters of Lot with
child by their father. 37 And the firstborn bare a son, and called his name
Moab: the same is the father of the Moabites unto this day. 38 And the younger,
she also bare a son, and called his name Benammi: the same is the father of the
children of Ammon unto this day.”
Abraham himself was not
above inappropriate sexual relations for he went in unto Hagar and she bore a
child who hand has been against his blood relatives to this day. Genesis 16:15 “And Hagar bare Abram a son: and Abram
called his son's name, which Hagar bare, Ishmael”
Following the Exodus one of
the most grievous and shocking sins of the delivered people is that they are
found dancing lewdly around a golden calf of their own creation. The sexual
activity of the children of Israel is discretely referred to in the English
Bible this way.
Exodus 32:5-6 “And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made
proclamation, and said, To morrow is a feast to the LORD. 6 And they rose up
early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings;
and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.”
There seems to have been at
the same time the golden calf was worshipped much of the revelry that marked
the feasts of the pagan; for it is added that, after they had `eaten and
drunk,' they `rose up to play.'
The ancient historian
Herodotus gives an account of a solemn feast which the people of Egypt
celebrated at the city of Bubastis in honour of the goddess Diana. `To her (he
says) they offer many sacrifices; and while the victim is burning they dance,
and play a hundred antics, and drink more wine than in the whole year beside;
for there convene there about 700,000 men and women, besides children.' In
another feast to the goddess Isis, the same historian relates that they
indulged in such impure rites that he shrunk from describing the scene, (cf. Herodotus, Book. V., ch. xvii.)
There is the story of
Esther. Before she became queen and was able to help her people, what was she
doing? She was being prepared to sleep with the king for a one night. Esther 2:13-14 “Then thus came every maiden
unto the king; whatsoever she desired was given her to go with her out of the
house of the women unto the king's house. 14 In the evening she went, and on
the morrow she returned into the second house of the women, to the custody of
Shaashgaz, the king's chamberlain, which kept the concubines: she came in unto
the king no more, except the king delighted in her, and that she were called by
The illicit relations
between King David and Bathsheba are well known. 2 Sam 11:3-5 “And David sent and inquired after the woman. And one said, Is not this
Bath-sheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite? 4 And David
sent messengers, and took her; and she came in unto him, and he lay with her;
for she was purified from her uncleanness: and she returned unto her house. 5
And the woman conceived, and sent and told David, and said, I am with child.”
Turning to the New Testament we find the shocking
situation in the church in Corinth. 1 Cor 5:1-2 “It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such
fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have
his father's wife. 2 And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he
that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.”
The sensual sins of
professing saints are well documented. So is the sin of idolatry, which is
covetousness (Col. 3:5). It would be easy to say that people who engage in
gross immorality are not really Christians. However, the Lord Himself calls the
people at Thyatira “My servants” showing
ownership. We must not be shocked when we hear of sexual immorality by church
members for fallen humanity is just that.
This is not to suggest that
gross immorality is to be tolerated in the sense that nothing is said or done
to protest illicit behavior. Something must be said, in private if possible, in
public if necessary.
The Bible teachings the mind of Christ on this matter. When known
immorality is discovered there is to be a gentle confrontation with the
purpose of bringing the person(s) to
repentance and restoring them to full fellowship. Gal 6:1 “Brethren, if a man [woman or young person] be overtaken in a fault, ye
which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering
thyself, lest thou also be tempted.”
What the Lord commanded He
practiced. In gentleness and yet with all due severity to the church of
Thyatira the Lord had something to say. He wanted His people to repent of their
particular and for this reason. The body
of the Christian is the temple of the Holy Spirit, which also means the body is
the dwelling place of God. 1 Cor 6:19-“What? Know ye not that your body is the
temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not
your own? 20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your
body, and in your spirit, which are God's.”
In order to encourage
repentance the Lord gave time to repent “But
they repented not.” Sometimes,
because people are allowed to continue in secret sins of rebellion against the
Lord’s known will it seems as if nothing will happen. But something does happen
when there is no turning away from evil over a period of time.
The heart grows hard and stops feeling guilt
and remorse. The apostle Paul spoke of individuals “Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness,
to work all uncleanness with greediness” (Eph. 4:19).
The heart that grows hard
and stops feeling guilt and sorrow shall be confirmed in evil. Revelation 22:11
“He that is unjust, let him be unjust
still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is
righteous, let him be
still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.”
The heart that grows hard
and stops feeling guilt and sorrow because it is confirmed in evil shall also
know the Judgment of Jezebel as described in Revelation 2:22. “Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and
them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent
of their deeds.”
23 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.
24 But unto you I say, and unto
the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not
known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other
25 But that which ye have already hold fast
till I come.
26 And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works
unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:
27 And he shall rule them with a
rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even
as I received of my Father.
28 And I will give him the morning star.
29 He that hath an ear, let him
hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
2:23- 29 Observe in these verses a sharp contrast
between the luxurious couch where sexual sins were first committed and the bed
of pain. The purpose for the painful judgment is declared in Revelation 2:23 “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 Bible teaches that one-day all the
deeds that men do shall be evaluated. 2 Corinthians 5:10 “For we must
all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the
things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or
One day your works shall be examined for the purpose
of approval or disapproval and so shall mine. When our works are evaluated it
will be revealed that some have known the depths of Satan—while claiming to be
prophets and preachers and servants of the Most High God. But it will also be
revealed that others have not known the depths of Satan. There are those who
have not acquired knowledge of evil by personal experience. For the soul that
is faithful there is a Divine promise of being able to share in the glory that
shall come at the parousia or the appearance of Christ. He
that hath ears to hear, let him hear what the Spirit is saying unto the
Seven Letters of Love
Questions and Answers on Revelation 2
1. List the good comments the
Lord has for the people at Ephesus.
1. How can the Christian lose
his or her first love for the Lord?
1. In what ways can the
Christian recapture a first love for Christ?
1. In what way can the
Christian eat again of the “Tree of Life”
which is in the midst of the paradise of God?
2. What verse teaches that the
Revelation is written in symbols and so should not be pressed for literal
3. Give two purposes for the
apocalyptic style of writing.
4. Describe the city of Smyrna.
5. Who was Polycarp?
6. Why is it not easy to
identify with physical suffering of other saints?
7. Of the twenty-six times the
word “tribulation” is used in
Scripture which passage could be pointed to in defense of the theory that
Christians will escape tribulation?
8. What book did John Fox
9. What two truths are
foundational pillars to build a life upon?
10. List the five crowns that
Christians shall receive?
What is within the heart of every Christian?
Characterize the spiritual condition of the Church at Pergamum.
List two good deeds that the Lord commended.
Who was Antipas and why should he be remembered?
List three areas Christians should be careful.
What does the doctrine of Balaam refer to?
List four principles that should guide every local assembly.
18. Which of the seven churches
John wrote received the longest letter?
19. What was the church of
Thyatira known for?
20. Where is the conversion of
21. List three ways the heart
can be deceitful.
22. Describe the Church of
Thyatira in the following areas.
· Present commitment to
List three possibilities for the name “Jezebel.”
2. Provide scriptural evidence
that sexual sins have always plagued the people of God.
3. How should private sins be
handled and public sins be handled?
4. What are two grand objective
of the Church in dealing with sins of the saints?
5. Describe what happens when
there is no turning away from sin.
6. What will happen to members
within a particular congregation that will not repent of their sins?
7. What promise is given to all
Christians who will honor their gospel duties?
Personal Application and Reflection
What five areas would the Lord commend in your life?
What specific areas of weakness would He condemn?
Do you secretly believe some sins can be practiced and “gotten away with?” Why or why not?
Have you known of a church whose “candlestick”
or testimony has been lost in the community? What happened to cause the lost of
a vital testimony?
Have you had a chance to be faithful in tribulation for righteousness
sake? Please share.
Hiding God’s Word in My Heart
5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first
works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick
out of his place, except thou repent.
Leader’s Study Notes
As predicted by
the Lord Himself in Revelation 2:10, "you will suffer persecution for ten
days," this church saw at least eight of the ten periods of
persecution under Roman Emperors:
Domitian AD 81-96
Marcus Aurelius AD 161-180
Maximinius AD 235-238
Valerian AD 253-260
Aurelian AD 270-275
Diocletian AD 284-305
considered the worst emperor in Rome's history and the greatest antagonist of
the Christian faith. He led a violent attempt to destroy the Bible from the
face of the earth. Under his leadership many Roman cities held public burnings
of the sacred Scriptures. During the second and third centuries this
persecution age saw hundreds of Christians brought into the amphitheater of
Rome to be fed to angry lions while thousands of spectators cheered. Many were
crucified; others were covered with animal skins and tortured to death by wild
dogs. There were covered in tar and set on fire to serve as torches. They were
boiled in oil and burned at the stake, as was Polycarp in the city of Smyrna
itself in AD 156. One church historian has estimated that during this period,
nearly five MILLION Christians were martyred for the testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Doctrine of Tribulation
1. The word “tribulation” is found 22 times in the
2. The word “tribulations” is used four times in the
3. To suffer tribulation (Gr. thlipsis) is “to suffer affliction,” “to be troubled,” “to suffer due to the
pressure of circumstances, or the antagonism of persons”.
4. In examining the passages
that speak of tribulation it is evident that all of God’s people in all ages
have known emotional, spiritual, and physical affliction.
Sometimes the tribulation the saints suffer is a result of Divine
Deuteronomy 4:30-31 When
thou art in tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee, even in the
latter days, if thou turn to the LORD thy God, and shalt be obedient unto his
voice; 31 (For the LORD thy God is a merciful God;) he will not forsake thee,
neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which he sware
Sometimes tribulation is a form of testing.
Matthew 13:21 Yet hath he
not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution
ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.
It is possible to forget the
grace of God who delivers from tribulation.
o Judges 10:14 Go and cry unto the gods which ye have chosen; let them
deliver you in the time of your tribulation.
o 1 Samuel 10:19 And ye have this day rejected your God, who himself
saved you out of all your adversities and your tribulations; and ye have said
unto him, Nay, but set a king over us. Now therefore present yourselves before
the LORD by your tribes, and by your thousands.
It is normal to want to be delivered from any and all forms of
1 Samuel 26:24 And, behold,
as thy life was much set by this day in mine eyes, so let my life be much set
by in the eyes of the LORD, and let him deliver me out of all tribulation.
1. Of particular concern is the
Christian and tribulation that is not the result of discipline. The Bible
clearly makes the following statements.
· The disciples of Christ, for
as long as they are in the world shall have tribulation.
John 16:33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might
have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I
have overcome the world.
Only through much tribulation will believers enter into the kingdom.
Acts 14:22 [Paul went about] Confirming the souls of the disciples, and
exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much
tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.
The value of tribulation is that it produces patience.
Romans 5:3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing
that tribulation worketh patience;
Romans 12:12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing
instant in prayer;
To endure tribulation is not to be loved less by Christ for nothing
shall separate the Christian from the Lord’s faithfulness.
Romans 8:35 Who shall
separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or
persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
God will find a way to comfort those who suffer for righteousness.
2 Corinthians 1:4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may
be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we
ourselves are comforted of God.
1. Paul found reasons to
rejoice in the midst of tribulation and therefore did not want anyone to worry
Paul discovered something about inner joy regardless of circumstances.
2 Corinthians 7:4 Great is my boldness of speech toward you, great is
my glorying of you: I am filled with comfort, I am exceeding joyful in all our
· Paul learned how to give
thanks in every situation and to glory in tribulation.
Romans 5:3 And not only so,
but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
Paul learned how to enjoy a reflected glory at the sufferings of others
because he was proud of them.
2 Thessalonians 1:4 So that
we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in
all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure:
Paul taught others to enjoy a reflected glory in the sufferings he
Ephesians 3:13 Wherefore I
desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.
1. When the believers at
Thessalonica were surprised at the sufferings they had to pass through, Paul
reminded them he had taught how they must suffer.
1 Thessalonians 3:4 For
verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer
tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know.
1. John, on the isle of Patmos,
does not divorce himself from tribulation.
Revelation 1:9 I John, who
also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and
patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word
of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.
1. The tribulation of the
saints is well known to the Lord.
Revelation 2:9-10 I know thy
works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the
blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue
of Satan. 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.
1. God’s people will always
emerge victorious no matter how great the tribulation.
Revelation 7:14 And I said
unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out
of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the
blood of the Lamb.
The conclusion of the matter
is that the prediction of Christ, the example of the apostles and the history
of the Church indicate that the saints shall suffer right up to the time when
Jesus comes again. One of the best-known works that brings all of this together
is the Book of Martyrs by John Fox.
John Fox was born in England
in the year 1517 the year the Protestant Reformation began. He grew up during
the turbulent times of King Henry VIII and later “Bloody” Mary. As a devout Catholic, Mary, the daughter of
Henry VIII and Catherine, slew Protestants in an effort to return England to
Catholicism (1553-1558). Fox began to record the major and minor incidents of
that era. Then he went back into history to document a trial of blood.
When John Fox died in 1587 at
the age of 70 the bloodletting against Christians continued. It has not ceased
in the present hour. “I know”, Jesus
said, “thy tribulation.”
Of course not all tribulation
or suffering is physical. There are emotional sufferings that come from being
misjudged, spoken evil against. There is blatant hatred that is expressed
towards Christians when individuals speak out against abortion, homosexuality,
nuclear proliferation, racial discrimination, low income housing, or any form
of social or political injustice. Any public stand for righteousness will bring
tribulation. Nevertheless the Church militant must rise to engage in the
spiritual battles of time.
On the eve of D-Day, June 6,
1944, when the Allied Forces invaded France along the shores of Normandy,
General Dwight D. Eisenhower briefed the soldiers reminding them, “There
is no victory at bargain prices!” General
Eisenhower knew he was sending thousands of young men out to suffer in a
terrible way. He knew the beaches of Normandy would turn crimson with the blood
of mangled bodies blown apart.
In like manner Christ knew
that His Great Commission would demand great sacrifice physically, financially,
and emotionally which is why one of the terms for believers is that of a
soldier. 2 Timothy 2:3 “Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good
soldier of Jesus Christ.” Christians must
endure hardness as a good soldier of Christ. The poet asked,
“Must I be
carried to the skies
On flow’ry beds
fought to win the prize
And sailed thro’
Doctrine of Rewards in Heaven
1. The Bible does teach there
are rewards for Christian service.
The rewards promised in heaven are sometimes represented by the symbol
of a crown. The apostle Paul wrote,
2 Timothy 4:8 Henceforth
there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous
judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also
that love his appearing.
The Lord promised the Church of Smyrna,
· Revelation 2:10 …be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a
crown of life.
3. In the Greek culture a crown
might be either an ornamental headdress worn by a king or queen or a wreath
worn as a symbol of victory in an athletic or military contest.
4. Before considering the
significance of the crown awarded to victors, we should have a clear conception
of the nature of heaven's rewards, for we are likely to equate them with our
earthly reward system – equal pay for equal work. The idea of merit is
5. In contrast a heavenly crown
is not given on the basis of merit. Consider the words of Christ.
Luke 17:7-10 But which of
you, having a servant plowing or feeding
cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit
down to meat? 8 And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may
sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and
afterward thou shalt eat and drink? 9 Doth he thank that servant because he did
the things that were commanded him? I trow not. 10 So likewise ye, when ye
shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are
unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.
rewards are all a matter of God's grace. They are God's generous recognition of
selfless and sacrificial service.
Campbell Morgan warned that professing believers who engage in Christian
service for a spiritual reward are really acting in the spirit of a
Himself did not serve in order to get a selfish reward. Rather, "He emptied Himself. He served 'for the
joy set before Him.' Yes, but what was that joy? The joy of lifting other
people and blessing them" (The
Gospel of Luke, p. 197).
fact that the laborer in Christ’s parable who was hired to work only at the
eleventh hour received the same wage as the one who had worked all day
underlines the fact that most of the wage he received was not earned, but was a
generous gift from the master. When one of the full-time laborers charged his
master with unfairness, he replied:
20:13-15 But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong:
didst not thou agree with me for a penny? 14 Take that thine is, and go thy
way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee. 15 Is it not lawful for me
to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?
5. We are not told precisely
what form the rewards or crowns in heaven will take. Many Bible teachers are
impressed with Dr. John MacArthur Jr.'s view: "Believers' rewards aren't something you wear on your head like a
crown. . . . Your reward in heaven will be your capacity for service in heaven.
. . . Heaven's crowns are what we will experience, eternal life, eternal joy,
eternal service, and eternal blessedness" (Heaven Pp.114-115).
6. As novel as this view is it
may not go far enough. All that is being said is that faithful service results
in eternal life, eternal joy, eternal service, and eternal blessedness – all of
which are initial gifts of grace by faith in Christ.
7. It may be that in some form
of public commendation the Lord will want to honor those who have honored Him,
not in a general manner but in a specific way.
8. In the New Testament, there
are two Greek words translated "crown."
One is diadema,a royal turban worn by
9. It is always the symbol of
kingly or imperial dignity. It refers to the kind of crown Jesus receives.
10. The other word is stephanos, the victor's crown, "a symbol of triumph in the Olympic
games or some such contest – hence by metonymy, a reward or prize"
11. It was a crown of leaves or
vines, beautifully woven. This is the word that is used to denote the rewards
12. Here are the crowns
mentioned in Scripture:
Crown of Life. This crown is bestowed in
recognition of enduring and triumphing over trial and persecution even to the
point of martyrdom. The motivation must be love for Christ.
James 1:12 Blessed is the
man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown
of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.
Revelation 2:10 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.
Crown of Righteousness. This crown is awarded to
those who have completed the Christian race with integrity, with eyes fixed on
the coming Lord. It is the reward for fulfilling the ministry entrusted to one.
2 Timothy 4:6 For I am now
ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7 I have fought a
good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: 8 Henceforth
there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous
judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also
that love his appearing.
Incorruptible Crown. This crown is won by those
who strive for mastery, for excellence. Here Paul was using the figure of the
pentathlon with its tremendous demand of physical stamina. The crown is awarded
to the disciplined.
1 Corinthians 9:25 And every
man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to
obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.
Crown of Rejoicing. This is the crown of the
soul-winner. It will be cause for rejoicing when, in heaven, we meet those who
have been won to Christ through our ministry. This crown is open to every
1 Thessalonians 2:19 For
what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the
presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?
Crown of Glory (Shepherd’s
promised award for spiritual leaders in the church should provide strong
motivation for sacrificial pastoral ministry.
1 Peter 5:2-4 Feed the flock
of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but
willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; 3 Neither as being lords
over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. 4 And when the chief
Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.
1. None of these crowns,
however, is awarded automatically. There are qualifying conditions attached to
each, and it is possible to forfeit a crown through unwatchfulness.
2. In the letter to the church
at Philadelphia, the risen Lord warned the believers,
Revelation 3:11 Behold, I
come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.
That calls thee from on high,
'Tis His own hand presents the prize
with peerless glories bright,
new luster boast,
Shall blend in
Blest Savior, introduced by Thee
Have I my race
with victory at Thy feet
I'll lay my
Under Roman rule the city of Sardis became
important as a commercial city. It was famous for its woolen manufactories and
dying industry. In the year AD 17 the city was almost destroyed by an
earthquake. However, because of the generosity of the emperor Tiberius, the
citizens of Sardis crawled out from under the rubble and rebuilt. Into the city of Sardis came the gospel of
Jesus Christ. A church was found that prospered, or so it seemed. One day the
pastor of the assembly received a letter that began with these words. “These things saith he that hath the seven
Spirits of God, and the seven stars;” The pastor understood. Here was a
letter from the Lord Himself for only Christ controls the seven spirits and the
seven stars. The seven stars refer to the seven churches of Asia Minor. There
were local assemblies in seven cities.
The seven spirits is a cryptic reference to
the fullness of the one Holy Spirit. Jesus was completely filled with the Holy
Spirit. He prayed that when He returned to heaven the Father would send the
Spirit to the church in more fullness and power. The prayer of Christ was
answered. The Holy Spirit came often upon the early disciples to give them
wisdom and power to advance the kingdom of heaven.
Acts 2:4 And they were all
filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the
Spirit gave them utterance. The result
was the conversion of many.
Acts 4:8 Then Peter, filled
with the Holy Ghost, said unto them…The results was the conversion of many.
Acts 4:31 “And when they had
prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were
all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.” The result was the
conversion of many.
On a day called Pentecost the physical
presence of the Holy Spirit was manifested in a special way. Dr. R.A. Torrey
suggests the day of Pentecost was not unique but representative of what can
happen in any church in any generation that is willing to pay the price for
spiritual power. Perhaps Dr. Torrey is right. It that He who has the Seven
Spirits wants to release the power of the Spirit in the local assembly be it large
Such a concept should not be surprising or
offensive. The sovereign God waits upon man to do that which he is responsible
for. There is a spiritual labor that the redeemed can and must perform. The
tragedy is that the Christian community can misunderstand just what the good
work of redemption is. It is possible for a local assembly to become so
involved with life like activities that it dies spiritually.
A historical observation allows a vivid
description of the living dead. Such a Church takes on specific characteristics
the first of which is excessive organization.
While all things must be done decently and in
order there still needs to be freedom to make decisions and initiate change
that is Spirit led. The vocabulary of the Church must include the phrase “and the Spirit said.” Acts 10:19-20 “While Peter was still thinking about the
vision, the Spirit said to him, "Simon, three men are looking for you.
20So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent
Throughout history the Church has become so
well organized that a sense of self-sufficiency takes over. And the spirit of
self-sufficiency is worn as a badge of honor. The Church that pleases God best
is the Church that is well organized, well disciplined but always dependent
upon the leadership of the Holy Spirit. A Luther pastor once said to me, “We Lutheran’s do not know the Holy Spirit.
We are afraid of the Spirit.” In
order to be Spirit led several factors must be present.
Prayer. While Peter prayed the
Spirit came to him.
Submission. God will speak to the man
who listens with the intent to obey.
Immediate obedience. As soon as the Spirit
spoke Peter moved.
Commitment. Obedience to the Spirit
brought criticism from others (Acts 11:1ff).
Nevertheless Peter did what was right and was
able to defend his behavior.
When the Lord is in control of His Church,
when the work of the saints is done in the power of the Holy Spirit, there is
no attempt by anyone to dominate. Rather each person esteems others better than
themselves. Phil 2:3-4 “Let nothing be
done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem
other better than themselves. 4 Look not every man on his own things, but every
man also on the things of others.”
Second, to state the matter in a more
positive manner, the Church that is alive and not dead in the sight of God is a
Church that has a balanced ministry. Reflecting American culture a style of
ministry is coming into the Church summarized in one word: specialization.
A particular age group
The conclusion of the matter is that God
wants balance in the life of the Christian. The Church that is healthy is the
Church that ministers to the whole body of Christ. The Church that is healthy
is the Church that is characterized by life manifested in several areas.
A common goal or vision. The Psalmist said, “Where
there is no vision the people perish.” The vision of the local assembly
should be nothing less than fulfilling the Great Commission of going forth to
make disciples and baptizing them in the
name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy
Time for worship and
spiritual activities. The holy time I speak of is not the time left over but the time that is
prioritized. In the Christian’s worldview biblical passages should guide
John 9:4-5 “Night is coming,
when no one can work.” (NIV).
Eph 5:16 “Redeeming the
time, because the days are evil. “
Matt 6:33 “But seek ye first
the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added
Healthy relationships. Relationships are most
healthy where there is great love, a love defined by the characteristics of 1
Spiritual discernment. Every Christian has a
responsibility to test the spirits to see if they are of God. 1 John 4:1 “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try
the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out
into the world.” Spiritual discernment is necessary to avoid erroneous
teaching and the rising of individuals who do not have the best interest of the
Church at heart.
Sound doctrine. There is a faith once and
for all delivered to the saints. That body of truth is under assault today. Who will defend it? Who will defend
the truth against
Self esteem theology
The God is Dead Movement
The Social Gospel
The Health and Wealth Gospel
The encroachment of quasi business/religious organizations and
A government, which believes it can define worship?
The healthy Church, the Church which is alive
is the Church that believes the Bible is the Word of God and is willing to be
changed by the Word, and led by the Spirit because there is a consciousness of
being loved by God and ruled over by Christ.
For a Church that finds itself without a
vision and with members who have little time for worship, unhealthy
relationships, no spiritual discernment, and the absence of sound doctrine two
great works are required: “Remember
therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent” (Rev.
A Letter of Love to the Church in Sardis
The Living Dead
1 And unto the angel of the church in Sardis
write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven
stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.
3:1 Following the letter to the angel of the church
in Thyatira, John is instructed to write to the church in Sardis. For the first
time there will be no word of praise. The condition of the church was very
serious. He that hath the seven Spirits of God wanted the people to know how
desperate their condition was. The reference to the seven spirits of God
represent the Holy Spirit in the fullness of His gifts (Isa. 11:2) ministering
to the seven churches identified as the seven stars. The seven churches are
under the sovereign control of the Lord Jesus Christ. To His church at Sardis
the Lord begins to speak and says, "I
know thy works."
It is impossible for Christ not to know the
works of His people for He is very God. He is also extremely interested in the
activities of each congregation. And as He observes the Lord of glory evaluates
what He observes. It was the considered opinion of Christ that the church of
Sardis was living a lie. They had a public reputation for being alive and yet
before God were dead. Here is a great paradox. A church can have many programs
that help many people and still be dead in the sight of God. The programs are
not wrong but neither do they guarantee life. The people of God must make sure
that spiritual life is present by having no sins un-confessed
and no sins un-mortified. Sin brings spiritual
is the death of the will. It is possible to listen to the voice of
temptation so often that habits are developed which can no longer be broken.
is the death of feelings. The process of becoming enslaved to sin
does not happen overnight. The conscience must be suppressed. Sin "petrifies the feelings."
is the death of all that is lovely. Sin can take the
most innocent and beautiful young girl and turn her in a centerfold model. Sin
can take the most promising young man and turn him into a selfish, egotistical
person intoxicated with ambition. Sin can take the church of Jesus Christ and
turn it into a sanctuary of Satan. The church must be careful to put away sin
and then to guard its spiritual life. There are four actions that can be taken.
2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which
remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before
3:2 First, the church is to "watch."
Failure to watch can lead to spiritual harm and it can lead to physical harm.
The year was 546 BC Sardis was a rich and powerful city, the capital of the
ancient kingdom of Lydia. Because of its strategic location high upon a
mountain, the people of Sardis thought they could not be harmed. The wealthy
King Croesus foolishly embarked upon a war with Cyrus of Persia. Thinking he
could defeat Cyrus, King Croesus consulted the oracle at Delphi and was told:
you cross the river (Hayls) you will destroy a great empire. Croesus crossed
the river and indeed destroyed a great empire. His own! Still, the king was not
worried. He could still find safety in his city.
again he was mistaken for Cyrus had offered a special reward to anyone who
could fin an entrance into the city. As it happened, a certain Mardian soldier
called Hyeroeades had seen a Sardian soldier drop by accident his helmet over
the battlements, and then watched as the soldier made his way down the
precipice to retrieve it. It was obvious that if the Sardian soldier could
retrieve his helmet then there was a crack in the rock that an agile man could
climb up to and over the battlement. That night Hyeroeades led a small band of
Persian troops up by the fault in the rock. The battlements were not being
watched and Sardis fell.
the year 214 BC history repeated itself. This time the invader was Antiochus
III. But once again the people of Sardis had failed to watch properly for the
attack of the enemy. For the Christian community watchfulness is to be a
constant attitude. "It is
time," wrote Paul, "to
awake out of sleep" (Rom. 13:11). In particular the Christian is to:
Watch against the wiles of the devil.
Peter 5:81 Peter 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil,
as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
Watch against temptation.
26:41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is
willing, but the flesh is weak.
Watch for the coming of the Lord.
13:35-37 Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house
cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning:
36Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. 37 And what I say unto you I say
unto all, Watch.
Watch against false teaching.
20:29-31 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter
in among you, not sparing the flock. 30Also of your own selves shall men arise,
speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples
after them. 31Therefore watch, and
remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night
and day with tears.
While the church is watching, she should
remember that Christ is watching her.
second command of Christ is to,
"strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die." In any church there
are certain things which are ready to die because they are not supported and
strengthened by the presence and energy of the saints. It takes time and energy
and resources for the church of Christ to know LIFE. There is work to do. We must
strengthen the things that remain and who knows.
God will restore some of the former things.
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.
3:3 The third command for the church of
Sardis is to remember. In particular the church is to remember
how they first heard the gospel and how it first received the glorious gospel
fourth, the church was called upon to repent, to feel sorry for sin, and to
turn from sin. Repentance is the sovereign grace gift of God.
If a people find himself or herself without this gift, they can seek God and
ask for it. The alternative to non-repentance, to non-remembrance, to
non-strengthening the work, to non-watching is certain judgment in time as well
as in eternity. Revelation 3:3 “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.”
Fortunately, there were a few in Sardis, which
had not sinned before God in a grievous manner. They had not defiled their
garments by acts of immorality. To them it was given to walk with Christ in
white. To walk in white might refer to a time of festivity (Eccl. 9:8), a time
of victory, or a period of purity (Matt. 5:8). It could refer to the resurrection
or even Christian baptism. Those who over come were also promised not be
blotted out of the Book of Life. As a concept, the Book of Life is mentioned several times in Scripture.
Moses asked not to be allowed to stay in
the Book of Life if his people could be saved (Ex. 32:32,33).
32:32-33 Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin--; and if not, blot me, I pray
thee, out of thy book which thou hast written. 33 And the
LORD said unto Moses, Whosoever hath
sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book.
The Psalmist hoped that the wicked would
be blotted out (Psa. 69:28) of the Book of the Living.
69:28 Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written
with the righteous.
Daniel 12:1 speaks of those who will be
delivered in the Day of Judgment.
12:1 And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth
for the children of thy 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 thy
people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book
Paul says that his fellow laborers are
written in the Book of Life (Phil. 4:3).
4:3 And I entreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with
me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose
names are in the book of life.
People who are not written in the Book of Life are cast into the Lake of
20:15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the
lake of fire.
Only those who are written in the Lamb's
Book of Life shall enter into blessedness.
10:20 Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto
you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.
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.
5 He that overcometh, the
same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of
the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his
6 He that
hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
A Letter of Love to the Church in Philadelphia
The Church of the Open Door
7 And to
the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is
holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no
man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;
3:7 The next church that
John addresses is the church that is found in Philadelphia. The word itself is
made from two Greek words: philios,
meaning love and adelphos, meaning
brother. Philadelphia then means “city of
brotherly love.” Philadelphia was named during the reign of Attalus the
Second that ruled in Pergamum from 159-138 BC. Such was the love of Attalus for
his brother Eumenes that he called it Philadephos
or Philadelphia. When an earthquake destroyed the city, the Emperor
Tiberius had the city rebuilt. The people were grateful and took on a new name
for a while, Neo-caesarea, the New City of Caesar.
Jews migrated to the city of Philadelphia because of its commerce and gracious
spirit. Some communities get a reputation for being friendly and helpful which
by itself will attract others. Into the city of Philadelphia came the gospel of
Jesus Christ. The Church was not large and the congregation faced opposition
not from false teachers nor from the pagan authorities but from zealous Jews
who realized that Christianity posed a threat to Judaism.
Christianity were true than the whole sacrificial system was to be abolished.
If Christianity were true then the whole-specialized priesthood was to be
dismantled. A way of life stretching back over 2,000 to Abraham would be
destroyed. Christianity brought emotional and social upheaval. It would turn
the world upside down.
Christian community introduced not only structural changes to traditional ways
of worshipping God it presented a new perspective of doctrine.
example it was said that Elijah the Prophet would precede the coming of the
“Behold, I will send you
Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord” (Mal. 4:5). Jesus said in
Matthew 11:14 concerning John the Baptist,
“And if ye will receive it, this is Elias which was for to come.”
It was said the Messiah would have power to rule the nations with a rod
of iron. Jesus said, “All power is given
unto me in heaven and in earth” (Matt. 28:18).
In the Book of Acts there is the clear teaching that the resurrected
Christ is ruling heaven and earth being seated upon the throne of David (Acts
It was taught that when the Messiah came the Holy Spirit would be
poured out. The apostles in Acts 2 declare the fulfillment: 2:16-21.
It was said that when the Messiah came God would make a new covenant
with the house of Israel. Hebrews 8:10-13 teaches the new covenant to spiritual
Israel is now in place—and the Church rejoices for those who embrace the faith
of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob share the Messianic blessings.
Unfortunately the Jewish
community as a whole did not want to hear that ancient prophecies were being
fulfilled in Christ in a way not anticipated. The ancient Jews had their
Bibles, they had their beliefs, they had their support systems to reinforce one
another, and they had their scholars.
Their minds were made up and
nothing else mattered. An alternative point of view was not to be honestly
evaluated. As a result the Christian community in Philadelphia was persecuted
by religious and racial Jews. The only way it could survive was to be protected
by the sovereign Lord—and that is exactly what happened.
The sovereignty of the Lord
prevails in this section of Scripture as certain concepts are employed to
enhance this facet of Christ’s personage. As John writes to the angel [or
pastor] of the church in Philadelphia, he ascribes three great titles to the
Jesus is declared to be "He that is holy." The word holy (hagios) means "to be
different," " be separate
from." God Himself is holy. In Isaiah 6:3 the song of the angels was
that of saying "HOLY! HOLY! HOLY is
the Lord of Hosts!" Then there is Isaiah 40:25. “To whom then will you compare me, that I should be like him? Says the
Holy One.” All through the Old Testament God is the Holy One and
now that title is given to Jesus. He is very God of very God and we proclaim it
to all the people of the ages.
The holiness of Christ is
manifested in the life He lived. “Which
of you can convict me of sin”, Jesus asked the Pharisees. And their voices
Jesus is declared to be, "He that is true." The word
used here in the original (alethinos)
means "to be real as opposed to
that, which is unreal." John was the great champion of the truth that
Jesus was come in the flesh. He was real and what He spoke was about real
spiritual truth. The Lord declared of Himself, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” To listen to Jesus, to
embrace the teachings of Christ is to embrace the truth.
Jesus is declared to be, "He that hath the key of David."
In the Bible a key is a symbol of authority. Jesus is represented as having
ultimate and final authority. The Lord claimed all authority for Himself in
Matthew 28:19. By referring to the key of David, John was drawing upon an Old
There was a king named
Hezekiah who ruled over Judah from c. 715-687 BC Hezekiah had a faithful
servant called Eliakim who was charge of his entire house. Eliakim alone would
admit those he wanted into the presence of the king. The prophet Isaiah heard God
say of Eliakim, “I will place on his
the key of the
house of David, he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none
For John, Jesus was Eliakim.
Jesus alone has the authority to allow entrance into the New Jerusalem, the
city of David. The sovereign Christ ruling from David’s throne with all
spiritual power and authority will a door and no man will shut it; He will shut
doors and no man will open them.
8 I know thy works: behold, I
have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a
little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.
9 Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of
Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make
them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.
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.
3:8-10 Now in Revelation 3:8 the Lord once
again asserts His intimate knowledge of the people in the church in
Philadelphia. "I know thy
works," He says. The implication is that the church was performing
good works. The Bible makes a
distinction between the works of the flesh (Gal. 5:19,22) and the good work of
the sweet Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). The life long objective of the Christian
community is to manifest the work of the Spirit or "good works."
One result of the good works of the Church at
Philadelphia was that of the opportunity to do more good for the advancement of
the kingdom. “Behold, I have set before
thee an open door.” Observe:
the sense of urgency to recognize the magnitude of the grace of God. "Behold!"
the sovereign decision of Christ to give the ministry that He has to
whom He chooses.
the absolute hopelessness of man to fight against what God is doing to
advance His kingdom.
Observe next why was the
Lord so gracious to this church. Three reasons are given.
Because the believers were so weak in and of themselves. The Lord must
build His church.
Because the believers had a sincere desire to obey Christ and to take
Him at His word.
Because the saints had not denied the name [i.e. the person] of Christ.
If the very opportunity for ministry was not enough Jesus had more exciting
news. He will make those who say they are Jews but are not to come and worship
before the feet of the church. A number of important concepts are brought into
Not all Jews are Jews.
Abraham had a spiritual seed. He had a natural seed and he had a religious
seed. The natural seed of Abraham includes all that have the genes of Abraham.
The religious seed consists of all who embrace the Jewish faith embodied in the
Law of Moses. The spiritual seed comprises those who, like Abraham, believe in
God and seen in Christ the promise of the Messiah. It is possible for a person
to say, “I am a Jew because I am of the
racial stock of Abraham.” It is possible for a person to say, “I am a Jew because I observe the Law of
Moses.” It is possible for a person to say, “I am a Jew because, like Abraham, I rejoice in Christ my Savior.”
Following the death of
Christ, His resurrection, and ascension into heaven, a person could still make
claims to being a Jew along racial or religious lines and find himself cut off
from fellowship by failing to love Jesus. There are those "which say they are Jews and are not but do lie." They
lie because they claim to have faith like Abraham but Abraham had faith in
Christ. Only those who have faith in Christ are the true spiritual seed of
Abraham. Only those who have faith in Christ are true "Jews."
Dr. William Barclay
comments: It was the Christian belief
that the Jewish nation had lost its place in the plan of God and that place had
passed to the Church. A Jew in God's sense of the term was not one who could
claim racial descent from Abraham but one of any nation who had made the same
venture of faith as he had (Rom. 9:6-9). The Church was the Israel of God (Galatians
6:16). It was, therefore, now true that all the promises which had been made to
Israel had been inherited by the Church. It was to her that one day all men
humbly make their submission. The promise is a
reversal of all that the Jews had expected: they had expected that all nations
would kneel before them; but the day was to come when they with all nations
would kneel before Christ.
Until the ultimate expression of glory, God's
people will know great trials but the promise made in verse 10 that the Lord
will keep those who have kept His commandments. Loyalty has a definite reward.
Jesus will keep His own from "the
hour of temptation." A proper
understanding of this phrase must take into consideration the Jewish
understanding of time. The Jews divided time into two ages. This Age and the
Age to Come.
This Age and the Age to Come
Jews spoke of movement towards THE AGE TO COME. They believed that just prior
to the ETERNAL AGE there would come upon the entire world a final testing. This
is referred to as the day of the Lord, the Day of Christ, the Last Day, and the
hour of Trial (Temptation). In Revelation 3:11 the saints are encouraged to
hold on to what they have so that no one take their
crown. The issue is not that someone will
steal their reward but they are not worthy to wear it. The Christians could
Esau lost his crown to Jacob
(Genesis 25:34; 27:36). Reuben, unstable as water, lost his crown to Judah
(Genesis 49:4,8). Saul lost his crown to David (1 Samuel 16:1,13). Judas lost
his crown to Matthias (Acts 1:25,26). The Jews lost their crown to the Gentiles
(Romans 11:11). To all that overcome the Lord make several promises.
He will make a pillar in the
temple of God. A pillar is a great and honored support. On the pillar rests the
weight of the building. Peter, James and John are declared to be the pillars of
the early church (Gal. 2:9).
He shall go out no more.
This translates into a promise of security and a promise of rest.
The saint will have the name
of God written upon the soul. The imagery may refer to several things.
In the cities of Asia Minor
and Philadelphia, a priestly person of prominence would have a new pillar
erected in the Temple in which he served after he died. On the pillar would be
inscribed his name as a last honor.
Slaves were branded to show
to whom they belonged.
The reference may be to
Numbers 6:22-27 where God told to Moses the blessing which Aaron and the
priests were to pronounce over the people. "They
shall put my name upon the people of
Israel" (Num. 6:22-27)." To have the name of God is to have it be
known that one is the personal possession of deity.
In addition to having the
name of God, the saint is also promised the name of the city of God. According
to Ezekiel the name of the re-created city of God is, "THE LORD IS THERE" (Ezek. 48:35). Finally, on the
faithful Christian, Christ will write His own new name. What that new name is
(Rev. 19:2), no man knows. Taking these promises together, the saint can be
assured that he belongs to God, he will dwell where God dwells, he has the mark
which will be his badge to show and to share in the triumph of Christ.
Because of the faithfulness
of the Church a promise is made to the believers of the first century that they
were to be kept from the hour of temptation. If the book of Revelation was
written prior to the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70 then the historical fulfillment
of this passage is almost certain. The word “from”
is ek in the Greek, which means, “to deliver out of.” In other words the
blood bath that the early Christians would face need not bring despair because
the Lord will sustain His own. The little word “ek” does not suggest that the
Church would be spared tribulation. If that were in mind then the Greek preposition
“apo” would have been used.
11 Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which
thou hast, that no man take thy crown.
12 Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in
the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him
the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem,
which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.
13 He that hath an ear, let him
hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
3:11-13 confirms the concept of the Lord preserving His people in the midst of
great persecution. As Henry Swete notices, “The
promise of safe keeping brings with it the responsibility of continual effort.”
If God’s people are not to endure the great trials of time right up to the
moment of the parousia or Second
Advent then the promise is meaningless. But if the Lord has determined to
preserve His people from final destruction because of their faithfulness in
times of trouble then Revelation 3:12 is precious as it addresses those who
overcome. Three names will be given to the saints.
The name of God
The name of the city of God
The name of Christ
language here is difficult to the Western mind for a metaphor is used. The
believer is to be a pillar inside the temple of God. A pillar speaks of
stability and strength. And the names of the pillars are significant. There is
the name of God.
In the Old Testament the name of God was “put on” every Israelite in the priestly
blessing. “Numbers 6:27 “And they shall
put my name upon the children of Israel; and I will bless them.”
In the New Testament God’s name is
inscribed by the Holy Spirit. 2 Cor 3:3 “Forasmuch
as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us,
written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of
stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.”
there is the name of the New Jerusalem. To bear the name of the City of God is
to be openly acknowledged as one of her citizens. Gal 4:26 “But Jerusalem which is above is free, which
is the mother of us all.”
there is the name of Christ, which is probably more of a reference for the
fuller glories that await His Second Coming.
conclusion does this passage teach the some day all Christians shall turn into
literal pillars or shall have three names literally stamped on their body?
Probably not. However, if it were asked if the spiritual truths of the whole
passage are to be taken seriously the answer is yes. The major truths are
Jesus is holy and true.
Christ is alive and in heaven with all
divine authority associated with ruling over the house of David.
The Lord is absolutely sovereign.
Those of the synagogue of Satan – a
reference to unconverted Jews as well as all Gentile pagans – will some day be
The Church will be kept (ek) out of or in
the midst of much suffering but suffer they will. And when the world is judged
those who have followed the Evil One will be present.
Having overcome the Christian will be
spiritually recognized as the pillars of the temple of God, whose temple they
then is spiritual food for spiritual souls. He that hath an ear to hear, let
him heart what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
A Letter of Love to the
Church of the Laodiceans
Making the Savior Sick
14 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;
3:14 About the middle of the third century
BC, the King of Syria (261 – 246) Antiochus II settled an area forty miles SE
of Philadelphia. He renamed the new settlement after his wife Laodice. The
years passed and the town grew. Under Roman rule Laodicea flourished and became
a center of commercial activity. So prosperous did Laodicea grow from trade
that when an earthquake destroyed the city in AD 62 it was rebuilt by wealthy
citizens without the help of the state.
Sometime in the first
century the gospel came to Laodicea. Some Bible scholars believe that Paul was
the one who first presented to the claims of Christ to the citizens with a
number of converts being recognized. In addition, it is suggested that the
angel or pastor mentioned in Revelation 3:14 is Archippas, to whom thirty years
previously, Paul had given a much-needed exhortation to be diligent in the
ministry. Colossians 4:17 “And say to
Archippus, Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that
thou fulfil it.”
The spiritual status of the
Church is considered by Christ who is described as the Amen, the faithful and
true witness and the beginning of the creation of God.
The title “Amen” is used only this one time in the
New Testament referring to Christ because through Him the purposes of God are
established. 2 Cor 1:20 “For all the
promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.” When
men say “Amen” they affirm a faith in
what God has promised.
Deut 7:9 Know therefore that
the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy
with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations;
Isa 49:7 Thus saith the
LORD, the Redeemer of Israel, and his Holy One, to him whom man despiseth, to
him whom the nation abhorreth, to a servant of rulers, Kings shall see and
arise, princes also shall worship, because of the LORD that is faithful, and the
Holy One of Israel, and he shall choose thee.
Not only is Jesus the “Amen” He is also the “Faithful and True Witness.” Some
witnesses are not true or faithful. There are people who will lie under oath.
Jesus is different. What He said can be trusted. What Jesus said was
Christ claimed to be the Son of God. Christ claimed to be eternal.
Christ claimed to be the only way of salvation.
Christ claimed He would rise again from among the dead.
Christ claimed He would return a second time for all that believe.
Christ claimed He was going to prepare a dwelling place for His own.
C. S. Lewis reminds the
world that Christ was either a liar, a lunatic, or Lord. He was either very God
of very God or the Devil incarnate if He lied and gave forth-false claims. A
choice has to be made and it must be clear-cut. Jesus can either be worshipped
or He can be hated as a Devil but He cannot be patronized. We believe that
Jesus is who He claimed to be.
Because Christ is who He
claimed to be men worship Him as the beginning of the creation of God, or
better, as the Ruler over God’s creation (Rev. 3:14). The Authorized Version
stands in need of being clarified here because in the divine economy the Bible
presents the Father as the Author or
ultimate originator of all things, the Son as the Executioner of the plan of
God, and the Holy Spirit as the sustainer of what the Father designed andthe
Son brought into existence.
We see all of this in the
act of creation (Gen. 1:1-2) and in the area of salvation. The Father planned
Creation and He planned the new creation. The Son executed the plan of the
calling the physical universe into existence
and by calling souls to life out of spiritual darkness. The Son rules over all
things with power and authority.
The Holy Spirit goes forth to brood over the
physical creation (Gen. 1:1-2) and He goes forth to sustain the new creation as
15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold
nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
3:15 Now once more the sovereign Lord with
the splendid title speaks in Revelations 3:15. Once again divine omniscience is
exercised for we read that Jesus knows something. The Lord knows the Church of
Laodicea is neither hot nor cold but lukewarm. It was, and is, the Lord’s
preference for those who profess His name be either frigid cold or boiling hot.
Indifference makes Him nauseous.
D. L. Moody once preached a
sermon challenging the people of his generation to come out for Jesus Christ
with all their heart or come out against Him.
Elijah stood on the top of a
mountain and cried to the people of Palestine, “Why do you halt between two opinions. If Baal be God, then serve Him.
But if Jehovah be God then serve Him.”
The Lord has always
preferred those who were passionate for Him. Indeed many souls start out with
blazing heart. I remember a young man in my youth. He was a new comer to the
Church and our youth group and he was different. He drove a new Mustang and felt
called to preach. I head him one Sunday morning as he struggled to share the
gospel. Despite a poor showing in the pulpit people were still impressed with
He was going into the ministry. He was on
fire for the Lord. Or so it seemed.
Before long, the young man
stopped attending church. One night I was at a store and ran into him. There
was a can of beer in his hand. At first he was embarrassed but felt he must
keep up the image of religion. I found out he had changed his mind. He was not
going into the ministry after all. He was going into military service.
People do change. People
start out in the Christian life like a blazing star but they burn out. I
remember a godly SS teacher told me that very truth. “Stan,” he said. “The church
has far too many people who splash across the sky like a comet but then they
fizzle out. God wants people who might not shine as brightly as a comet but
like the stars at night, they are faithful.”
A professing Christian can
be said to be lukewarm when sin is no longer shocking and the inner spirit is
not saddened. The Holy Spirit is sensitive. He is always grieved with sin in
the life, which is why the Bible says not to grieve, quench, resist, lie or
blaspheme the Spirit.
The soul that can behold evil
and not weep, the heart that can secretly engage in those activities contrary
to holiness is lukewarm. The testimony of some is like Lot of old there has
been a looking towards Sodom, then a movement towards the place of evil, and
finally there is the soul’s saturation in abomination.
Then second, according to
Matthew Henry, a professing Christian can be said to be lukewarm when there is
no real purpose to the Christian life. Holy affections are gone. The body may
continue to perform religious rituals but there is no inner joy. Love for
lost. Attendance on hearing the Word of God
Third, a professing
Christian can be said to be lukewarm when personal devotions are not attended.
The Bible is not read on a
regular or systematic basis.
There is no in depth Bible
Prayer is neglected and
meditation is non-existent.
Fourth, a professing
Christian can be said to be lukewarm when the fruit of the Spirit is not
Instead of love there is friction and hostility; instead of joy, inner
turmoil; instead of peace there is emotional distress.
Instead of suffering long, revenge and retaliation is sought. Instead
of gentleness there is a harsh attitude.
Instead of goodness there is meanness and instead of faith there is
fear and insecurity.
16 So then because thou art
lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
3:16 Luke warmness does not happen
immediately. Ice water does not melt suddenly. There is usually a slow process
of change. Spiritually the same is true. Lukewarmness does not happen all at
once. It is a progressive condition caused by a number of factors.
First, lukewarmness is
caused by unconfessed sin. 1 John 1:9 is not used and sweet fellowship is lost.
Second, lukewarmness is
caused by neglecting to exercise spiritual graces.
The basics of the Christian life include Bible study, service, witnessing,
and sanctification. When these means of
spiritual grace are neglected the soul cools off from a red-hot love for the
Third, lukewarmness is
caused by self-satisfaction with one’s total spiritual status.
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:
3:17 The Church at Laodicea had grown
financially sound and it affected its spiritual life. I read an interview of a
pastor in Leadership Magazine. He
said he had pastored churches with a million-dollar deficit. Surprisingly
enough he said he would rather pastor a church with a deficit in order to avoid
financial security is the same as spirituality.
Jesus had an assessment of
the Church at Laodicea. He saw the Church as being wretched, miserable, poor,
blind and naked.
The Church saw itself as
being rich and having need of nothing. Here is a lesson worth considering. Man
can evaluate himself but the final evaluation belongs to the Lord. An immediate
goal of every church is to discern how the Lord sees it. What would the Lord say
about this assembly?
Despite His harsh evaluation
the Lord is gracious with His people for in Revelation 3:18 Divine counsel is
offered. Wise people will always listen to good counsel.
18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in
the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be
clothed, and that the shame of thy
nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eye salve, that thou mayest
3:18 It is the counsel of the Lord that the
Church “buy gold tried in the fire”.
The language is symbolic but with spiritual significance. So what does it mean?
We know that neither salvation nor sanctification can be purchased with
physical coins. But there is a purchase price.
The believer must give up
covetousness. The Church must give up selfish interests. The local assembly must look for people to
help for then she will be rich in the things that matter as souls are saved and
individuals are helped.
Again, the Church is
counseled to buy white raiment in order to clothe their spiritual nakedness.
The only way to buy white raiment is to be righteous for it is righteousness
that will clothe the soul in the sight of God. The righteousness that clothes
the soul is the righteousness that seeks with passion to do and to be all that Jesus
There is kindness and
gentleness in the soul. There is goodness, love, and peace.
Third, the Church is
counseled to anoint their eyes with eyeslave, which might easily refer to
studying the Word of God in order to behold the Lamb of God.
“Be zealous and repent.” That is the Divine counsel. But will the Church
listen? It is one thing to know what to do. Wise counsel is not enough. There
must be a measure of obedience.
19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be
zealous therefore, and repent.
20 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.
21 To him that overcometh [wins
the victory] will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame,
and am set down with my Father in his throne.
22 He that hath an ear, let him
hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
3:19-22 The problem at Laodicea was not so
much ignorance, as it was disobedience. The rebellious was not open defiance as
much as passive resistance. Like the parable of the father who told his son to
do something, the boy said he would obey but did it not.
Because many believers are like that there
must be an inner stirring of the soul and the stirring must come from a
conscious realization that all is not right. The stirring must come from a
conscious listening to the sound of the Savior. And the Savior is knocking. Can
we hear the knocking? If we can then there can be an opening of the heart’s
door leading to fellowship.
The Church of the open door will never be spewed from the Lord’s mouth.
The Church of the open door is the Church that will be invited to
supper with the Savior.
The Church of the open door is the Church that will enjoy an eternal
inheritance in the kingdom of heaven.
Seven Letters of Love
Questions and Answer on Chapter 3
Who are the seven spirits of God?
Isaiah 11:2 And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit
of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of
knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;
How are the seven churches symbolized?
How does sin brings spiritual death?
List four actions a church can take which is physically alive but
Describe the six times the Book of Life is mentioned in Scripture.
In what year was the city of Sardis destroyed?
Who helped the city to rebuild out from under the rubble?
The seven stars refer to what?
The seven spirits refer to what?
What was the constant result when the early believers were “filled with
What are two specific characteristics of the living dead?
What Biblical words should be part of the Christian’s vocabulary?
In order to be Spirit led what four factors must be present?
Gives some examples of how the modern Church has specialized.
Describe a healthy church.
What two actions can the Church of the Living Dead Church do to reverse
What does “Philadelphia” literally mean?
What did Christianity threaten to do to
the Jewish social and religious life?
Who did Jesus say fulfilled the prophecy
of the coming of Elijah?
Who has been given all power to rule the
nations of the earth?
Is this rule a present reality or a
What was to happen when the Messiah came
The New Covenant promised to Israel is
declared to be fulfilled in what New Testament passage?
Why did members of the Jewish community
find it so difficult to believe that ancient prophecies were being fulfilled in
What three great titles are applied to
Who was Eliakim?
Make a distinction between the various
works of men.
Why was the Lord so gracious to the
Church of Philadelphia?
What is meant by the statement, “Not all Jews are Jews.”
Into what periods did the Jews divide
List three promises the Lord made to the
Church of Philadelphia.
List three assurances the Christian can
What three names will be given to the
How was the name of God “put on” every Israelite in the Old
In the New Testament how does the Holy Spirit inscribe God’s name?
List six spiritual truths to be learned from Revelation 3:7-13
Personal Application and Reflection
Leader’s Study Notes
The Counsel of Christ
is natural to want to give counsel or advise to other people. Every person
knows what it is like to have someone come up and ask, "What
should I do?" When advice is
asked for, it is either accepted or rejected. The prerogative rests with the
individual to accept or reject the counsel recognizing that, sometimes good
advice is given, sometimes bad advise is given. Sometimes good counsel is acted
upon, sometimes bad counsel is acted upon. Sometimes bad counsel is not acted
upon, and sometimes-good counsel is not acted upon.
advice can be sought, it can also be offered unsolicited. That is the situation
in the church of Laodicea. The resurrected Lord comes to the church and offers
counsel that is certainly good and wise but unsolicited. The motive for giving
unsolicited counsel the Lord's part is one of love. "As
many as I love, I rebuke," says Christ. The love of Christ compels Him
to say something and thus we love that a facet of biblical love is to have the
best interest of someone else at heart. "I
love you," says Christ. "I must counsel you." The
counsel of the Lord consists of five things.
the living Lord counsels the church to buy gold tried in the fire. From 1 Peter
1:7 we learn that gold tried in the fire has reference to the sphere of faith
being tested by suffering. That the
trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth,
though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at
the appearing of Jesus Christ. Through
much tribulation the saints will be tested. That is why the tongue of the
slander lashes out. That is why Christians are the objects of hatred and rumors
and evil reports. Those who will reign with Christ must suffer with Him.
the Living Lord counsels the Church to buy of Him white raiment or clothing
that the saints might be clothed and that the shame of nakedness might be
covered. The reference to the purchase of white clothing is significant. The
Laodiceans were very proud of the white robes they wore in public. The clothing
from Laodicea was famous all over the known world. The Lord draws from this a
spiritual lesson. The spiritual robe of righteousness is more important than
the luxury articles being worn. It was a shame to Christ for the church to be
without spiritual garments despite their display of wealth. Christ would have
His people clothed righteousness. The world watches and wonders at professing
Christians caught in spiritual nakedness. God's threat to His people by the
prophet Nahum was this: "I will let
nations look upon your nakedness, and your kindgom's shame."
will let the world look upon the nakedness of the church unless there is a
clothing of righteousness put on. The
third counsel of the Lord is that the churches anoint their eyes with eye-salve
that they may be able to see. An eyesalve is simply a solution to help the eyes
stop burning or watering or itching. We have solutions to help the eyes today
and they existed in the ancient world as well. But the eye-salve of old hurt
when applied which meant that the people were hesitant to use it. Spiritually,
the Laodiceans were hesitant to use the eye-salve. It hurt too much. They did
not want to see themselves as they really were. This it understandable. It does
take a lot of grace to stand and say to self and to others, "I
am a sinful person. I am a lustful man.
I am a proud woman. I am a
was a long time for Saul of Tarsus to learn to say as Paul the apostle, "I was covetous." John and
James would have to confess they were angry and ambitious men. Still, the
beginning of hope is to see one's self as one really is. "I want you to see," says Jesus. "I want you to anoint thine eyes with eye-salve." Spiritually, this means to apply the Word of
God for it alone helps us to see ourselves not only as we are but also as we
might be. As we look into the perfect law of liberty we see.
is a fourth line of counseling the Lord gives and that is "be zealous." This speaks of
intensity of the soul more than it does physical activity. Most of life if
really lived in the mind. The Christian is commanded to redeem the time. He is
to pray without ceasing and to seek first the kingdom of God.
the Lord counsels the Church to repent. To repent means to admit the charges
are true. To repent means to turn from sin. To repent means to plot a course of
conduct that will be different. A church that is rich may want to consider
giving away a large portion of its goods to help others. A church that is proud
of its fine clothing may want to clean out the closets and clothe the naked. A
church that is lukewarm in worship may want to consider being put in the
company of the committed. A church that is not spiritually mature may want to
find teaching and material that will help it to grow spiritually. To focus
attention on the personal responsibility of the saints the words of 3:20 are
offered. Observe from this passage:
This message is given to the church not
the world. It is given for the purpose of sanctification.
Christ is pleading with His people. He
stands at the door of the human heart and He knocks in condescending love. The
Lord takes the initiative in seeking to fellowship with man.
the twelfth century AD, Saint Bernard lives.
He would tell his monks that "However
early they might awake and rise for prayer in their chapels on a cold
mid-winter morning, or even in the dead of night, they would always find God
awake before them, waiting for them--nay it was
He who had awakened them to seek His face."
word "sup" is a very
special word. it is the third meal of the day (depnon), the one people lingered over after a days work was
done. To all who will listen to the
counsel of Christ, the wonderful promise is made to sit with the Lord in His
throne. It is easier to understand this verse when it is realized that the
Eastern throne was more like a couch than a chair. To sit with Christ is to
share His victory over the world, the flesh, and the devil. He that hath ears
to hear, let him hear.
When is Revival Needed?
1. When prayer ceases to be a
vital part of a professing Christian's life, backsliding is present and revival
is needed. [God's people must pray. They must pray individually and
2. When the quest for biblical
truth ceases and as one grows content with the knowledge of eternal things
already received, there can be no mistaking the presence of backsliding, and
revival is needed.
3. When the biblical knowledge
possessed or acquired is treated as external fact and not applied inwardly,
backsliding is present and revival is needed.
4. When earnest thoughts about
eternal things cease to be regular and gripping, it should be a warning light
to the backslider that revival is needed. [Time is short, death is certain, and
eternity is real]
5. When the services of the
Church lose their delights, a backslidden condition exits and revival is
6. When pointed spiritual
discussions are an embarrassment, that is certain evidence of backsliding and
revival is needed.
7. When sports, recreation and
entertainment are a large and necessary part of one's lifestyle, you may assume
backsliding is in force and revival is needed.
8. When sins of the body and
the mind can be indulged in without an uproar in the conscience, a backslidden
condition is certain and revival is needed.
9. When aspirations for
Christ-like holiness ceases to dominate one life and thinking, a backslidden
condition is present and revival is needed.
10. When the acquisition of
money and goods become a dominant part of one's thinking, this is a clear
confirmation of backsliding and revival is needed.
11. When one can mouth religious
words and sing religious songs without heart, be sure, backsliding is present
and revival is needed.
12. When a person can hear the
Lord's name being used in a vulgar way, when spiritual concerns are mocked, and
eternal issues are loosely treated and there is no feelings of indignation, a
backslidden condition exists and revival is needed.
13. When degrading movies and
television can be watched and morally debilitating literature read, backsliding
has occurred and revival is needed.
14. When breeches of peace in
the brotherhood are of no concern, there is backsliding and revival is
15. When the slightest excuse is
sufficient to keep self from spiritual duties and opportunity, there is
backsliding and revival is needed.
16. When one is content with
lack of spiritual power and no longer seeks repeated enduements of power from
on high, there is a backslidden condition and revival is needed.
17. When personal sins are
easily excused by saying the Lord understands and remembers that we are dust, a
backslidden condition is revealed and revival is needed.
18. When there is no music in
the soul and no song in the heart, the silence testifies to a backslidden
condition and revival is needed.
19. When there is a happy
adjustment to the world's lifestyle, the truth of backsliding is revealed and
revival is needed.
20. When the local assembly has
fallen into spiritual declension and the Word of God is no longer preached with
power and anointing and one is still content, there is backsliding and revival
21. When the tears for the lost
are gone and the heart is cold and without emotion for the salvation of
sinners, backsliding has taken place and there is a need for revival.
22. When the Word of God is not honored by personal
presence and sound attention, backsliding is obvious and revival is needed.
23. When more emphasis is placed
on external acquisitions instead of spiritual growth in grace and knowledge, a
backslidden state is present and revival is needed.
Doctrine of Repentance
The word ‘repent” when used in a general sense means literally ‘to change one's mind.’
Genesis 6:6 And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it
grieved him at his heart. 7 And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have
created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping
thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.
However, when used of man, true spiritual
repentance speaks of a sense of personal ‘guilt’
with the hope of God's mercy. There is a sense of deep regret for the act of transgression committed.
Matthew 27:3 Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned,
repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief
priests and elders,
Repentance demands a deep sorrow for sin and a turning away from
it to obey God. There is a fundamental change in one’s life.
Matthew 9:13 But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not
sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. (cf
In the Old Testament the classic case of
repentance is that of King David, after Nathan the prophet accused him of
killing Uriah the Hittite and committing adultery with Uriah's wife, Bathsheba.
David's prayer of repentance for this sin is found in Psalm 51.
In the New Testament the keynote of John
the Baptist's preaching was, "Repent,
for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matt. 3:2).
To the multitudes John declared, "Bear fruits worthy of repentance"
(Matt. 3:8; Luke 3:8). It is not enough to simply say you are sorry.
When Jesus began His ministry, He took up
John's preaching of the message of repentance, expanding the message to include
the good news of salvation: "The
time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the
gospel" (Matt. 4:17; Mark 1:15)
In Jesus' preaching of the kingdom of God
is seen the truth that repentance and faith are two sides of the same coin: by
repentance, one turns away from sin; by faith, one turns toward God in
accepting the Lord Jesus Christ. Such a twofold turning, or conversion, is
necessary for entrance into the kingdom
18:3 And said,
Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children,
ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
you repent," said Jesus, "you will all likewise perish" (Luke 13:3,5).
This is the negative, or judgmental, side
of Jesus' message. The positive, or merciful, side is seen in these words: "There is joy in the presence of the
angels of God over one sinner who repents" (Luke 15:10).
After Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection, His
disciples continued His message of repentance and faith (Acts 2:38; 3:19;
Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of
Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the
shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts
of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God,
and do works meet for repentance.
Repentance is a turning from wickedness
and dead works
therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine
heart may be forgiven thee.
leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection;
not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith
Repentance is turning toward God and His
both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith
toward our Lord Jesus Christ.
16:9 And when
her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and
Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers,
Repentance leads to eternal life.
11:18 When they
heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath
God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.
Repentance leads to a knowledge of the
Tim. 2:25 In
meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will
give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;
Repentance is associated with prayer
· 1 Kings 8:47
Yet if they shall bethink themselves in
the land whither they were carried captives, and repent, and make supplication
unto thee in the land of them that carried them captives, saying, We have
sinned, and have done perversely, we have committed wickedness;
17. Repentance is
associated with faith.
saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye,
and believe the gospel.
Repentance is associated with baptism.
Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of
Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the
Repentance is associated with conversion.
3:19 Repent ye
therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times
of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;
Repentance is accompanied by humility.
11:21 Woe unto
thee, Chorazin! Woe unto thee, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works, which were
done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago
in sackcloth and ashes.
Repentance is God's will and pleasure.
15:7-10 I say
unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth,
more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance. 8 Either
what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a
candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it? 9 And when
she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying,
Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost. 10 Likewise, I
say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner
Peter 3:9 The Lord
is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is
long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all
should come to repentance.
Repentance is God’s command.
6:12 And they
went out, and preached that men should repent.
17:30 And the
times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where
Repentance is a gift of God’s sovereign
5:31 Him hath
God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give
repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.
11:18 When they
heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath
God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.
despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and long-suffering;
not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?
Timothy 2:25 In
meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will
give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;
Apart from gospel repentance no one can
Luke 13:3 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.