An ambitious topic today. How to become a perfect local church? Or how to become a perfect Christian?
Perhaps a bit theologically inept because our sins are forgiven in Christ, but Christians and churches are, in a sense, perfect. We just don’t act like it!
The book of Revelation lists seven churches and their particular struggles in chapters two and three. The seven churches are the most discussed, preached, and written about topic from the book of Revelation.
Some theologians consider these churches to be the seven “ages” or epochs or dispensations of the church. Each church represents the church in a certain period of history. This does not bode well for today’s church since the last church age is Laodicea, representing the church that has become lukewarm.
I am taking the interpretation of the seven churches in a different direction today – as only Interruptions can do. Perhaps I will bring down the ire of the book of Revelation “Gurus of Interpretation,” but am I not allowed to have an opinion?
I’ve listed the growth area of each of these churches while planning and praying for years that the church where I pastored would – though probably tempted in each area – not get stuck in the mire.
- Ephesus (Revelation 2:1-7): Do not forsake your first love (2:4). A temptation for all Christians and churches. I was raised in a denomination that loved doctrine more than loving others. The church was brittle as only doctrine can cause, and you were loved or excluded according to whether you accepted the right doctrine.
- Smyrna (Revelation 2:8-11): The church that would suffer persecution. I recently talked to a pastor in Myanmar and he told me that Christians were gathering at night to sleep in church buildings as they didn’t feel safe at home because of the political turmoil. Churches will, and are already, going through persecution, especially in the end-times.
- Pergamum (Revelation 2:12-17): The church that needs to repent. Every church will make a huge mistake. The ability to grow from that point depends on a humble leadership willing to admit fault and ask forgiveness.
- Thyatira (Revelation 2:18-29): The church with false prophecy. I believe in prophecy and have benefited several times when a brother, sister, or even a prophet at a conference, had a word of insight or encouragement for me. In the last year, some of my respected leaders have made false prophecies. A prophet who has a prediction for an actual event and that event does not happen, is a false prophet – at least in this one prophecy.
- Sardis (Revelation 3:1-6): The church that falls asleep. I sense this with many churches right now. Things changed in 2020 and the way churches are restarting their services and programs often seems to be the business of 2019 instead of 2021 because of 2020.
- Philadelphia (Revelation 3:7-13): The church that must endure. Even solid churches will grow through difficulty. A church that understands the trial-to-endurance principle in James 1:2-4 will thrive. As James writes, “Let endurance have its perfect result!”
- Laodicea (Revelation 3:14-22): The church that became lukewarm. I live in a community that has many empty church buildings. Obviously, alive at one time but what happened? Buildings become relics when the congregation loses its life. It can be doctrine or accepted sin or a mean spirit in the congregation – or all three.
These are the seven growth areas of a local church or perhaps your walk with Jesus.
The Apostle John (who wrote the book of Revelation) probably wrote his small letter of 1 John to these same seven churches in Revelation. While the book of Revelation is a prophecy given to John, 1 John is a pastoral epistle.
In his epistle, John writes to all seven churches of Revelation saying:
You are my dear children, and I write these things to you so that you won’t sin. But if anyone does sin, we continually have a forgiving Redeemer who is face-to-face with the Father: Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. 1 John 2:1-2 TPT
In 1 John, John says to the seven churches of Revelation, and to you and to the church that you attend, that Jesus our Redeemer paid the price for our sins. If we seek Him and confess our sins…
…He will forgive!
Interruptions will feature the book of Revelation in 2021.
Read #280, #281, #295 and #307 at www.grantedwardsauthor.com
for previous blogs on Revelation.