Panorama of the Christian Church - 2
Lesson 31

The messages to the seven churches contain special messages to Christ’s followers. Not only were the believers in those seven churches which existed at that time addressed, but the messages were to His followers of all time. In each of the messages we find commendations, reproofs, commands, tender invitations, prophecies, and promises. At the beginning of each message is the statement: “I know your works.” He doesn’t say that He thinks, or that He supposes, or that He has evidence; but that He knows. Even our thoughts are known to Him. “Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off.” Psalm 139:2

While looking at these messages and applying them to the various eras of the church, we need also to seek to understand which of these conditions most clearly represents us as individual members of God’s church, and to accept the counsel and rebukes of the True Witness, so that the promises may be fulfilled to us.

1. What two things were promised to overcomers in Pergamos?

Revelation 2:17
Revelation 2:17

Note: The Word of God has been likened to food. See Jeremiah 15:16; Job 23:12. During this period of the church’s history, much that was a part of pagan worship was introduced into the Christian religion and made a part of its worship, as if the giving of a Christian name to pagan worship could make it acceptable to God. Those who had partaken of food offered to idols are offered in exchange the “hidden manna.” Manna is the bread of heaven, and as such was a type of Christ. See John 6:51

In Bible times the name given was significant, and often indicative of a character trait, as was Jacob’s. See Genesis 27:36. Just as Jacob, when he had repented and gained the victory in his life, received a name that reflected the change in his character (see Genesis 32:28), so all those who overcome will receive a new name, indicative of their victory and the character that by the power of God has been wrought out in their lives. See Isaiah 62:2; 65:15; Revelation 3:12.

2. Which was the fourth church to be addressed?

Revelation 2:18
Revelation 2:18

3. Whose teaching was Thyatira guilty of accepting?

Revelation 2:20
Revelation 2:20

Note: Jezebel was the idolatrous queen who was instrumental in leading Israel into apostasy and pagan sun worship during the time of Elijah. By allowing a few to remain a part of the church, who held a friendship with idolatry, the church had begun the downward path that led to its allowing leaders to teach idolatry. It was this practice that brought about the conditions that sparked the Reformation.

4. What was the first thing promised the church of Thyatira?

Revelation 2:24–28
Revelation 2:24–28

Note: In Jeremiah 1:10 the Lord made a similar promise to Jeremiah. In considering his life we have to appreciate that it was in the matter of standing firmly for truth, and the world’s inability to mute his message or force him to compromise with evil, that he truly ruled over them. In their response to the messages of truth that Jeremiah bore, the future of the nations was determined. In this sense Jeremiah affected their destiny. During the period of church history to which the name Thyatira is applicable, the martyrs who gave their life for their faith numbered in the millions. They were looked upon as powerless and insignificant, and so they were by comparison with the pomp and power of the Holy Roman Empire. To them came the promise that truth, though trampled to the ground for centuries, would eventually triumph. The hand of the oppressor would yet be broken, and the faithful ones would at last reign as kings.

5. What else was promised the faithful of this church?

Revelation 2:28
Revelation 2:28

Note: Just as the morning star appears during the darkest hour of the night, the herald of the soon approaching day, even so, during these dark hours of earth’s history, God raised up men to bring the people back to His Word. Born in England in 1324, nearly two centuries before the Reformation, Wycliffe, opened the Word of God to the people. Sometimes referred to as the “Morning Star of the Reformation,” he gave promise of the coming dawn.

“The prince of this world cometh,” Jesus said, “and hath nothing in Me.” See John 14:30. There was in Christ nothing that responded to Satan’s temptations. Not even by a thought did He yield His integrity. It is this experience that Christ seeks to give us, so that by being united to Him by faith, sin will no more have dominion over us. When this is accomplished, our connection with Christ will be complete (see 1 John 2:4–5), and Christ, the “day star,” will truly be in our hearts (see 2 Peter 1:19), manifesting Himself in fruits of righteousness.

6. Which was the fifth church brought to view?

Revelation 3:1
Revelation 3:1

7. In spite of its name, what was the real condition of Sardis?

Revelation 3:1
Revelation 3:1

Note: The Protestant churches coming out of the Reformation had the name of being living churches, but they soon sank into a deadly formalism. There was a profession of godliness, but its reality was lacking. Paul speaks of this condition in 2 Timothy 3:5.

8. What was the promise to the faithful few left in Sardis?

Revelation 3:5
Revelation 3:5

Note: When we become children of God, our names are written in the books of heaven. See Luke 10:20. From this text, however, it is clear that names are not only written in the book of life, but they can also be removed, or blotted from this book of records. Jesus’ prayer for His disciples was not that they be taken from the world, but that they be kept, by the power of God, from becoming partakers of its spirit. See John 17:15. By revealing to others the love of Christ, we confess to the world our relationship to Him. See John 15:17;17:21. Those who confess Him before men, He will confess before His Father in heaven. See Matthew 10:32.

9. Which is the sixth church Christ addressed?

Revelation 3:7
Revelation 3:7

10. What promise is given to Philadelphia?

Revelation 3:12
Revelation 3:12

Note: The word for “name” implies character. We are only able to overcome by the power of Christ dwelling in us. The overcomer’s reception of the divine character is here referred to. The reception of Christ’s name is the confirmation of His ownership. God’s name is His character, and His promise is that the overcomer may have the very character, the very likeness, of God Himself. The fact that they have the name of the New Jerusalem implies that the victorious person is a resident of that city and has a right to reside there. See Revelation 22:14. The term “pillar” is obviously a figure of speech and implies a permanent and important place in the very presence of God.

11. Which was the last of the seven churches to be addressed?

Revelation 3:14
Revelation 3:14

Note: The city of Laodicea stood at the junction of two important roads and was a city of banking and wealth. Valuable wool was produced here, soft in texture and glossy black in color. Garments made from this wool were worn by leading Laodiceans, an evidence of their wealth. Lukewarm baths and mineral springs made it a leading health resort. An important school of medicine was located here, and connected with it was the manufacture of an eye medicine. Because of their wealth, the Laodiceans were proud, arrogant, and self-sufficient.

12. Though spiritually self-satisfied, what was Laodicea’s condition?

Revelation 3:17
Revelation 3:17

Note: Yet, even though they are in this deplorable condition, Jesus extends to the members of this church the invitation to receive from Him the wealth of true gold of faith and love, and the opportunity to exchange the garments of their own devising for that of His perfect righteousness, and the eyesalve that would give them spiritual sight. Desperate as their condition is, Jesus stands at the door of their hearts, seeking entrance.

13. What will Christ do for those He loves?

Revelation 3:19
Revelation 3:19

Note: When the spiritual powers are dwarfed and crippled, and become satisfied with the things of earth to the neglect of the heavenly, the Lord often permits trials and affliction to come. Just as the pruning knife is thrust into the vine that it may bring forth much fruit, so these trying experiences lead us to look to heaven for help, that we also may bring forth fruit.

14. What promise is given to Laodicea, the last of the seven churches?

Revelation 3:21
Revelation 3:21

Note: This church had been faithfully instructed by Paul, and labored with (see Colossians 2:1; 4:16); but this effort had not met with positive results. In their condition is seen the results of the failure to respond to the messages of the Lord. But, as with the prodigal son, if those who have squandered their God-given blessings will return to the Father, willing to become obedient children, He will welcome them, setting them beside Him in His kingdom. See Luke 15:11–24.

When this earth’s history shall close, there will be only two groups of individuals—the righteous and the wicked. Every man, woman, and child will be found in one of these two groups. Through continued transgression one group will have shown themselves unfit to regain that which was lost. Those, however, who through the grace of Christ have rendered acceptable obedience, will find an abundant welcome into the beautiful Eden restored.

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