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Buildings are not the Church, people are! Which Church group are you in?
There is a structure and a teaching style that is employed throughout the Bible in both the Old and New Testaments revealing that although written over time and by several different people the Bible really has only one true author and that author is God.
The Parables of Jesus (Matthew 13:1-50) are from the teaching of Jesus during His time on earth. The letters of the Apostle Paul (New Testament) are from a representative of Jesus and finally the 7 letters of Revelation (Revelation 2:1-3:22) are teaching and instruction from the resurrected Jesus, the three teaching groups span three timeframes with the one unique message of Jesus Christ and His eternal Kingdom.
Like the seven miracles that we went through in the Gospel of John that John himself personally witnessed, Jesus personally spoke to the disciple John and had John write an evaluation of the Christian Church in the book of Revelation. Likewise to critique the entire Christian Church (people) Jesus divided it up into seven churches. Each Church existed in the day that Jesus spoke to John about it and each Church type is still practiced throughout today. Note the book of Revelation and in particular the part about the seven churches is unique because Jesus is asking John to write it for Him. The entire Bible is written by God through man but Revelation makes that point even more evident. So onto the description of the seven churches as critiqued by none other than the resurrected Jesus Himself.
1. The Church at Ephesus -- The teaching instructing Church
2. The Church at Smyrna -- The martyred persecuted Church
3. The Church at Pergamos -- The worldly government Church
4. The Church at Thyatira - The Roman Catholic Church
5. The Church at Sardis - The Protestant Church
6. The Church at Philadelphia -- The friendship Church
7. The Church at Laodicea -- The modern comfortable Church
The 7 Church Epistles of the Apostle Paul
Parables - 7 Teachings of Jesus Christ (Mat 13:1-50)
Additional Study: 7 Letters of Revelation Mp3's by Pastor Brian Larson
The Christian Church is divided into Seven Church groups - Which Church group are You in?
After seeing the progression of the Christian walk in the seven miracles of Jesus in the Gospel of John, there is another important consideration. The Church as we know is not a building. Buildings were not saved by Jesus on the cross, buildings were not redeemed by the blood of Jesus and buildings don't receive the Holy Spirit to become 'born again' it is people that are the Church and the people that are going to go to Heaven.
On the cross Jesus spoke to a man who was also being crucified but this man was a criminal and did deserve his punishment. Jesus was innocent in fact Jesus is so innocent that He has never even had a bad thought about anyone there is no guile in Jesus. Man took the perfect innocent person (more innocent than any child or baby) and abused Him and crucified Him. Jesus allowed it to happen so that by His death we could be saved and just like the thief on the cross whom asked God/Jesus to help him and to allow him into Jesus' kingdom we too if we ask Jesus can enter into His kingdom, His Heaven.
John the same disciple of Jesus who Jesus used to write the Gospel of John also wrote the book of Revelation it is the last book in the Bible and is one of the most exciting because it tells about the coming return of Jesus. Christianity would make little sense if God loved us and came in our form, was rejected abused despised and then murdered on His first visit but if He did not return again to reign and rule in glory His purpose and plan would not be completed. We know that the first visit was for our good so that sin would be removed through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross and through that sacrifice we can now be reunited with the Holy God. God went through all of the pain, suffering and shame to reunite us but then if He never came back that would be strange. Well Jesus loves us and is coming back to be with us and to reign and rule in His true glory. The first coming of Jesus to suffer is the one that Jesus would have backed out of if He were going to. The fact that Jesus came the first time makes it even more certain that He will come again the second time, not to suffer but to be with us, to enjoy us, to drink the yet to be enjoyed cup of rejoicing and for us to partake in His Glory.
Ephesus is the first Church group to be addressed by Jesus in this series of 7 letters that the disciple John wrote as dictated by the resurrected Jesus. Ephesus is a Church strong in the word of God. The Church was established by Paul the Apostle who spent three years at Ephesus. The Church was well known and well visited by the other apostles and disciples. The epistle letter "The book of Ephesians" that the Apostle Paul wrote and it is now in our Bible and carries the title name of "Ephesians" was a circular letter intended for all of the churches to read and distribute. The Ephesians title remained on the book we have in the Bible although the letter may have originally been known as the letter to the Church at Laodicea.
It is likely that the book in the Bible that we call "Ephesians" originated as the letter (epistle) from Laodicea. The early Churches distributed the letters from the Apostles and the Disciples to each Church. A letter written by the Apostle Paul to the Church at Colossus was intended to be distributed to all of the Churches. Today the letters are distributed to all of the Churches via the Bible. As the Bible was assembled they used the letters (epistles) that they had on hand at the time and if a letter happened to be addressed to the Ephesians then that address title remained when the Bible was published.
Colossians 4:16 And when this epistle (Colossians) is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea.
There are no custom messages that apply to only one Church and not to the others. All of the messages, teachings, letters, and prophecies of the Bible are intended for all of the Churches to read, understand and apply.
Church history has it that the disciple John who Jesus spoke to in order to write the Book of Revelation was heavily involved at Ephesus and later John became the overseer of the Church. With the Disciple John at Ephesus, Christian history also records that Mary the mother of Jesus was then also at the Church. While on the cross Jesus spoke to Mary and to John and Jesus told John to look after Mary. The heavyweights of the early Church were at and associated with the Church of Ephesus a Church that Jesus is now critiquing. Jesus commends the Church that they have done a good job and do not allow evil to be in their presence and that they test the people who say they are apostles to see if they do have a relationship with Jesus. The Church has also labored long and been patient and continues to desire and look for the return of Jesus. After telling the Church what they have done that is good Jesus now instructs them in the areas where they need to change and improve. Jesus points out that the Church has lost sight of the first love relationship they are supposed to have with Him and with one another. Jesus reveals that He knows the heart of the Church and that works without love are empty. Jesus instructs the Church to "Repent" to change their ways and to get back to the most important part of the Christian walk, which is having a loving relationship with God. This is such a serious matter that Jesus says He will remove His candle from among them, in other words without love the Church would not be able to function as light to the world and without love the Church would not have the presence of Jesus. Sadly as history tells us Jesus did have to remove His candle from the Church at Ephesus. The Church that started out so strong for Jesus does not exist today. Today there is not one single Church in the area of Ephesus as Ephesus is now a dominant Muslim area. This is a strong warning for us as the Church at Ephesus that had so many people directly involved with the physical life of Jesus, even Mary herself, and yet it is a Church that lost sight of a loving relationship with God.
As we study the letter from Jesus to the Church at Ephesus what application is there for us today. The Church at Ephesus was a strong doctorial based Church they knew what they believed and they knew why they believed it but it is not enough to know the word of God we have to also practice it and live it. The Bible says that God is love we have to do more than know it we have to live it ourselves. The Bible especially the New Testament is a collection of letters and writings, so many with so much information that at times it is hard to know which letter to read to address the problems in our lives. Ephesus is the first Church that Jesus addressed and in the New Testament the book of Corinthians is the first Church addressed by name. If we read the letter of Jesus to Ephesus and then read the two letters to the Church at Corinth we will get a good idea of how to change and repent from the errors that Jesus spoke about to Ephesus. For instance Jesus instructed them in the need to return to their first love, Corinthians chapter 13 is the definition of love, after reading 1st and 2nd Corinthians we will have no doubt about what God's standard of love is. Also of note 1 Corinthians deals with a man who is committing a terrible sin and tells how to remove him from Church fellowship but then 2nd Corinthians instructs the Church that if a sinner has repented to let them back in and to treat them as a brother in other words to love them. We can consider Jesus' letter to Ephesians and 1st & 2nd Corinthians to be companion books and very useful for guidance and instruction.
Since in our modern mobile times we can easily seek out and locate a Church to our liking we will usually pick a Church to attend that is like us. Our Church consisting of people will have a certain personality and dominant trait is people may have the dominant trait of correct doctrine over the love of people and over the love for God. This is something to be repented from and to still continue in all the good that the Church is doing.
Membership in the Christian Church is costly but you can be sure that our future glory with God is worth more than any cost Satan might try to make us pay.
This wonderful letter of Jesus to the second Church the Church at Smyrna, is written to a persecuted Church. The members of the Church were being harassed and even killed for their faith in Jesus. The word Martyr simply means witness. Jesus said go and martyr (witness) of Him to all the world. It has been said that people gave their lives and became a martyr but actually they didn't become a martyr they were one before they gave their life it is just happened that death was their final act of witness/martyr here on earth. Those people who give their life and die do receive a better resurrection than even those of us Christians who are not put to death. They are a Special group of people to Jesus; they receive a special crown in heaven that only the martyred witnesses receive.
What a wonderful Church and letter, people who love God more than their own possessions, circumstances and even more than their own lives. Many of these people do not have the doctrinal knowledge of the Church of Ephesus yet they have the love. Love that overcomes and conquers all things even death. Jesus does not have repentance for this Church like He did for the first Church and as He does for the other churches. This Church is special and there is no condemnation to those who love Jesus more than they love their own life. In His letter Jesus explains to the Church that He knows what it is like be killed, but that He is alive and they too will be alive with Him. Jesus also knows the condition of the Church He knows that they are persecuted and do not have many resources. Jesus tells that although they do not have much here on earth they are rich in heaven. He also informs them not to listen to the people who claim to have all of the answers and deride those who are being persecuted. Jesus says that the ones admonishing the suffering Church are from Satan and are not from God. Jesus continues and says for them to "fear not" that although there will be trouble, the trouble is from Satan and not from God, as the evil counselors have said. They are instructed to be faithful to God even unto death and that they will receive the prized crown of life given only all the martyrs. Jesus closes the letter to the Church of Smyrna telling them that the second death the spiritual death will not apply to them and will not be able to harm them.
The tribulation saints are a future group of people that give their life to Jesus and are killed by a coming false Jesus called the Anti-Christ. Anti means "instead of "so he is the "instead of" Christ. It is like asking for water and getting poison "instead of" water. The poison might look and smell like water but it is not water and we will not be refreshed if we drink it, we will die if we drink it. This man that is coming in the future is the instead of Jesus he will pretend to be Jesus and he will pretend to offer refreshing water but it will instead be poison and those who drink it or go along with the plans of the Anti-Christ will die an everlasting death. The future martyred Saints will be the people who know the true Jesus and will refuse to accept the poisoned false Jesus. The false Jesus will be so angry that he will murder every witness he can get hold of. The Bible says that those special saints that are not deceived and follow the true Jesus even to their death at the hands of the false Jesus, they will be very special to the real Jesus and in Heaven the Martyred Saints will always be with Jesus.
Unfortunately martyrdom was very much a part of the early Church. In fact martyrdom has continued throughout the entire Church history and may even be getting worse in our very own day. Today many Christians throughout the world are being denied the basic necessities of life and are being abused even killed for their faith in Jesus. Tragically martyrdom will stay with the Church until the time that Jesus sets up His righteous, kingdom full of love and justice here on earth. Evil will always hate goodness and evil will try to destroy goodness but it can't because evil is actually fighting against God and God has already won. Christianity is costly and the price has been high every since Jesus was rejected, beaten and crucified on a wooden cross. Membership in the Christian Church is costly but you can be sure that our future glory with God is worth more than any cost Satan might try to make us pay.
Possessing love is a wonderful thing yet knowledge of the Bible assists our love and gives us faith so that we are not so easily shaken during the trials and tribulations that we do not understand. The companion book for this second Church is the epistle to the second named Church, the Church of Galatians, coming right after Corinthians in the Bible. When studding the book of Galatians the Martyred Church can learn for starters that Paul received his doctrine and teachings from Jesus. This means that we all have Jesus as a comforter and a teacher. We do not need to rely on man to teach us the Bible God will do it. If a Christian is imprisoned God will be right there with him to teach him who God is and to comfort him. In the book of Galatians Paul also rebukes Peter. Again we as Christians do not have to let sinful men rule over us. All mankind is sinful and no one is right all of the time so we need to look to God and not man in our lives. Also in the letter to Galatians Paul encourages the Galatians to continue in their Christian walk in a spiritual walk not based on their physical understanding but to literally walk in the Spirit of God. People being harassed and persecuted might want to revert to worldly ways of anger and revenge but these ways will not profit us in our relationship with God. We have to start our Christian walk in the Spirit of God, continue it in His Spirit and end remaining in His Spirit.
The intermingled Church/State with worldly ways and popular trends.
Revelation 18:4-5 And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her (world), my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached (piled) unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.
The third Church represents the time period in Christian history where the persecutions of Christians turned into acceptance and where the Christians embraced the world that was now embracing or at least tolerating them. Jesus in His letter says that He knows where their works are from and where they dwell that it is among this world where Satan has his throne. He goes on to say that they stumble and put obstacles in front of other Christians and that they embrace the practice of "Nicolaitanes" which is the practice of lording over other people, not letting people be free to worship God in a personal relationship. Instead prayers are written to be prayed and man's thoughts are taught in place of Bible study. Jesus says that He hates this practice. Jesus died so that we will be free; the truth has set us free. Jesus does not want us to control or to be controlled by other people.
Often this Church/person is the person that claims to be a Christian but doesn't follow any or many of the Christian ways. This Christian doesn't pray regularly at least not with the assistance of the Holy Spirit and usually they do not even acknowledge the presence of the Holy Spirit. They seldom read the Bible and think much of the Bible makes no sense and that it is of little value to their life or worse yet that parts are untrue. They have wrong opinions about the Bible because they have been wrongly taught by others and they have not taken the time to read or study the Bible for themselves. The people who do seriously study the Bible if they didn't already believe in God usually become believers in God after just a short time of reading the Bible. Some don't even need the Bible to come to God and have come to God just by studying nature, world history or archaeology. The Bible is so factual, so practical, so prophetic, and so complete that those who do take the time to read the Bible can only rejoice in the one true living God while removing their shoes because they know that when reading the Bible they are standing on Holy ground and like Moses at the burning bush they are in the very presence of the Almighty God.
Pergamum Christians do not have many Holy experiences as they think Christianity is yet to happen after they die thinking that they will meet Jesus in the future not knowing that Jesus already resides inside of them being born Again. Because these Christians are not looking to God they are not experiencing God. They go about their lives and jobs looking to themselves, their friends, their bosses, and government for the answers in their lives, missing out on the daily moment by moment relationship God has for us. When we limit our options in life to what we can achieve with our own hands we are living a life one handful at a time ad God says let go of what we can hold onto in our hands and to receive from His hands a vast ocean of possibility. When we live our life in the Holy Spirit every moment, every possibility, every person becomes a Divine encounter of God and there is no limit to who we might meet or to what opportunities we have. Sadly the worldly Christian is the one who is secretly ashamed of Jesus and the messy cross. This person wants acceptance from the worldly people around him and in doing so is ashamed of Jesus to some degree or another. This person does not know of the Glory of Heaven and of all the Heavenly angels that await to meet him, so they look at the fallen world and distance themselves from Jesus and ridicule other Christians that are living a life pleasing to God. Jesus said that if we do not say we know Him to people here on earth then Jesus will say that He does not know us to the Father and all the Angeles in Heaven.
Fortunately there is a way out of this Church and into a more meaningful Church. The way out is painful but the results are well worth it. The way is for God to allow every worldly thing that we put our hope and trust into to absolutely fall apart and let us down. Is our security in our money, job, health, friends, and government, all of these will let us down. God in the Bible calls these false cisterns or false water wells that we think hold water but when we go there to drink they had many cracks that we couldn't see and all the water leaked out and the well is empty leaving us empty and thirsty. Fortunately when we thirst enough and when all of our false wells have let us down we can reach out to Jesus who is right there just a breath away, wanting to have a meaningful relationship with each one of us. Once a Christian drinks from the everlasting water of Jesus Christ we will no longer desire what this world has to offer and we will have changed from our old church into a new church with new life and a heavenly focused wonderful life.
The governments of this world will not last God will return to reign and rule on the earth. The prayer "Thy kingdom come Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven" is the prayer we pray right now as we eagerly look for the return and government of Jesus. The Church is a higher calling than the world. Currently Satan is a trespasser and is stealing his ruling authority and Satan is influencing all of the governments of the world, that is why the Bible tells us to pray for all governments and rulers in charge. Remember the prophecies of Daniel say that at the return of Jesus He will destroy and scatter the existing worldwide Government system and His government will take its place.
The companion book of the Bible for this 3rd Church is the book of Ephesians written by the Apostle Paul. In Ephesians the Church will learn that we are made one with Jesus and to not conform to this world but to God. The book also teaches that we the believers are one body and to "keep the unity of the Spirit in a bond of peace." The book goes on to explain our relationship with God and relationships with our spouse, children and employers. After these topics the book discusses spiritual warfare a very important topic for everyone who chooses to live a Godly life as described in the Bible.
This Church is most represented today by the Roman Catholic Church.
The 4th Church grew out of the 3rd Church. Where the 3rd Church was involved in worldly government this 4th Church then took the power and influences they had learned in government and used them to create a governing Church, sort of a government for Church. This Church in modern day is most represented by the Roman Catholic Church. It should not seem surprising that God knows about the Catholic Church, because He knows about everything. This is yet another place in the Bible where we can really see the relevance and accuracy of the Bible and recognize that God knows all things past present and future. Remember a correction from Jesus is to draw us closer to Him in the correct manner of worship.
Jesus begins the letter to the Church of Thyatira by addressing Himself as the Son of God. The Catholic Church has become too focused on Jesus as the infant son of Mary and this Church letter is placing the emphasis that Jesus is God and is the son of God and that it is Jesus who our relationship is to be with. Jesus continues that He knows the works and the love that the Church does have and that their works and love are increasing. This is very true about the Catholic Church they are doing marvelous works of charity and love throughout the world. The Catholic Church is almost single handed in their devotion to orphans and the unborn. Jesus then continues with repentance, that He cannot stand the teaching and works of Jezebel. Jezebel was a wicked woman of the Old Testament, maybe the most wicked. Jezebel is referenced in connection with this #4 Church because they are keeping a doctrine that "Mary" (the Virgin Mary) has a part in the work of God. The true Mary of the Bible called herself a humble handmaiden and her spirit rejoiced that God is her savior. The current teaching that is attributed to Mary has nothing to do with the real Mary. The teaching is the teaching of Jezebel and not of Mary. The true Mary is a very courageous and wonderful woman. If anyone in the world could have stopped the crucifixion of Jesus it was Mary. All Mary had to do was to go to either the Jewish authorities or the Roman authorities and tell them that she knew Jesus had a human father and that He was not the Son of God. An earthly father would have put an end to the claims of Jesus being God, having two earthly parents Jesus would not be Holy. Yet Mary did not do this because she could not do it, Jesus is the Son of God, Jesus has no earthly father. If Jesus were not God, Mary would not have allowed the crucifixion to continue. Because Jesus is the Son of God, the real Mary stood boldly by while Jesus suffered on the cross.
Jesus continues in His letter saying that if we follow the false teachings of Jezebel, there is no salvation in any false teaching. Those who follow false leaders will go into the great tribulation [miss the coming rapture] and be killed with death. This is a strong warning because of the strong danger in the false teaching and leading of Jezebel. Then Jesus concludes with the promise that those who remain faithful in the Church will then rule with Jesus.
The Bible companion book to this Church is the next book, the book of Philippians. Philippians is a wonderful book of encouragement. The book explains that Jesus is 100% God and 100% human. The book tells us to "work out our own salvation with fear and trembling" not to let others prescribe our salvation but to let God work it out in us. Remember Salvation is different from Redemption. Salvation means healing, removing hurts and fears. We have a part in our own healing as we seek and trust God. Redemption is the work of Jesus on the cross; we do not have a part in the redemption except to receive it as a free gift from God. The book of Philippians tells of our high calling in Jesus and goes on to encourage us to rejoice and to be content in the Lord Jesus Christ.
This Church is most represented today by the liberal Protestant Church.
A Church people that are not allowing themselves to be washed clean by the Holy Spirit. Spiritually this is a dead Church. A modern Church that feels that we are special in and of ourselves and that even apart from God we are to be admired. Yet God said "come let us reason though your sins are red as scarlet He will make them white as snow" (Isaiah 1:18). Modern liberal Churches welcome in any manner of doctrine and any kind of sin now also seems welcome among the people yet this Church does not even let God Himself into His own Church. In yet another insult to God the modern liberal Church has decided it knows best in how to interpret God's word the Bible but it has done so in a way that completely neglects and negates what God has actually said.
Isaiah 1:18-20 18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.
The forth Church emerged from the 3rd church that was best represented by the Roman Catholic Church, the 5th Church emerged from the 4th Church and is best represented by the Protestant Church. In 1572 a Catholic Monk named Martin Luther began a formal dissention with the Catholic Church and the end result was the "Reformation" or splitting off of part of the Catholic Church into the Protestant Church. The Church is labeled "Protestant" from the meaning protesters. The Christians were dissatisfied with the doctrines and decrees of the Catholic Church and protested and eventually left to worship God in a less restricted environment.
As Jesus began the 4th letter to Thyatira to remind them that He is the Son of God, Jesus begins this 5th letter to the Church at Sardis to remind this Church that He has the seven [complete] Spirits of God. Jesus is informing this Church that their biggest problem is in neglecting the Holy Spirit. Jesus then tells the Church that He knows their works and that they have a reputation for being alive but instead they are really dead. Again strong words for strong circumstances. Jesus wants us to follow Him in a right relationship and not in a way that is made up or pretend. Jesus says that He has not found their works to be "Perfect." The word perfect means complete like a car would be perfect if it had an engine, a car without an engine is imperfect. Jesus is telling this Church that they are imperfect without the Holy Spirit, in other words they are a people without the engine of the Holy Spirit.
The protestant Church has left the Catholic Church and they have also left the Holy Spirit. Repeatedly the Bible tells us that works done without the guidance and glory of the Holy Spirit are works that are meaningless. It is better not to do something than to do it without the Holy Spirit. Strangely enough the only person excluded from the Protestant Church is the Holy Spirit. Much of the Church now recognizes homosexual marriages, abortion is no longer considered murder, any proud arrogant person is welcome at a protestant Church, adultery and fornication are seldom considered sin, divorce and abandonment of spouses and children are now common place. The Church that is supposed to be the salt and light is not even lifting a finger to turn the pages of the Bible and see what God has to say about it all. It is obvious to anyone that looks that the works of the Church are dead. The reason the works are dead is because the Holy Spirit is not being listened to. Jesus tells this Church to repent and to watch for His return [rapture]. Jesus says that the people who overcome will be clothed with white raiment. The over comers of the #3 Church are to be given a white stone, the stone of acceptance. In the book of Isaiah God told the prophet to tell the people "come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." The word Sardis means a red stone.
The companion book for Sardis is the book of Colossians. The book explains that the revealed mystery of the ages is that Jesus is in us and that this is glorious. The book says "beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ" an admonishment to us to set our affections on the things of above the things of God the Holy Spirit and of heaven.
A Brotherly embrace of both the Jews (Hebrews) and the Romans (Catholics)
This Church is closely related to the Smyrna Church in that these are the people who love God enough to give their life and Satan is usually mad enough at these Christians to try to take their life. So one day you can be in this Church and the next moment be in the martyrs Church of Smyrna.
The 6th Church is the Church of brotherly love. Jesus gave us one commandment or law the new (insight) into the law to love God and to love man. Jesus further said that the distinctive mark of a Christian would be our love for God and our love for one another. This is the same law of the Old Testament, Jesus called it new or fresh in that Jesus is now our example for what fulfilling the law is to be and we now have new insight into how to really love God and one another as Jesus loves us so much that He gave His life for us.
In this Church group the people are filled with God's love. They love the Father, they love Jesus and they love the Holy Spirit. These people love Christians in general and denomination names, titles or Church roles mean nothing to them they just meet you where you are and give you a big love boost right into the lap of Jesus seated at the right hand of the Father's throne. Meeting one of these Christians is like taking a big refreshing drink from the free flowing river of life. Often these people are loving in the midst of life's biggest challenges. Their bodies wracked with cancer, having lost parents or children, homes, jobs, etc. these people are the modern women at the well and modern Mary Magdalenes and like them they have met Jesus and have wept and rejoiced at His feet. Many have had a lifelong walk with the Lord knowing Him personally for decades and like Moses they are seated securely in the clift of the rock (Exodus 33:11-23) looking back and seeing the Glory of God in their lives, knowing that Jesus has brought them through the troubles and perils of life. They have seen fellow Christians go home to glory with a smile on their face and the countenance of an angel. They know the one in whom they have entrusted their spirit and soul and they know that God will complete the work that He has began in them and that His thoughts toward them and towards others are all good thoughts and that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Often the new Christian starts out in this Church. The newness of Jesus and the Holy Spirit filled life put us in a peaceful blissful state of well being. We call this the honeymoon state of Christianity when we meet Jesus and all is well. Then the storms and trials come into our lives and we wander through the various churches and growth phases and wonder what we did wrong to lose God, but not to worry, God often gives us a good first taste also called a "first fruit" of what the eternal future will be like and this honeymoon state is where we are destined to return. So forgetting our destination we get confused and think is the Christian life supposed to be this way the trials and troubles? Then we falter when God starts doing a new or different work in another area of our life and emotions. Just hang in there God is expanding us and growing us up in Himself. If we do not get persecuted how would we have intimate fellowship with God and also with our fellow man? So we are bound to sway from Church group to Church group as life's challenges come our way and we have our moments of doubt or our circumstances get the best of us but in the end we should again be back in this Church.
The growing maturing Christian is growing softer and becoming more compassionate and merging into the image of Jesus and away from the image of this cold, hard, cruel world.
There is no rebuke from Jesus for this Church. Jesus instructed the doctrine wise Ephesians to return to their first love, the honeymoon feelings they had in the beginning with Jesus, in other words Jesus encouraged them to get back to the Church of Philadelphia. These people are loving and being loved in a Godly way and Jesus is well pleased with them. This group is not a specific Church age as each of the other churches are. This Church is not addressed from the identification letter that the other churches are. This Church is a special remnant to God and they have existed everywhere there are Christians and at all times of the Church age. This special group of people has the promise from God that they will not enter into the coming tribulation that the world is going to suffer in. Jesus is going to catch up or rapture His people before the coming tribulation (the rest of the book of Revelation). All born again Christians will be raptured before the tribulation. The coming tribulation is coming from God onto a disobedient people. Right now the tribulation we suffer is from our own bad decisions and from the things Satan does to us. If we mismanage our money and go bankrupt it is certainly tribulation but it is from us not from God. God uses our messes to draw us closer to Him so the messes are not that bad after all. The difference between the current tribulation and the future one is that the future one continues to be from Satan and is also from God but God is not going to pour out His tribulation upon the righteous. Jesus resides inside each born again Christian, on the cross Jesus said "it is finished" Jesus will undergo no more tribulation so there is a need for the rapture to remove the "Jesus filled" born again Christians prior to the coming great tribulation.
When the Christian Church first came together the early Church was entirely Jewish-Hebrew as Jesus the head of the Church is Jewish. Then with the admittance of non-Jews (Gentiles) into the Christian Church the early Church struggled with the relationships between Christians, Jews and also the new gentile Christians. An early Church council was established to consider these interactions, the council meeting and its decision are recorded in the Book of Acts (Acts 15).
Acts 15:6-22 And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter. And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as He did unto us (Hebrews); And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke (law) upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our (Jewish) fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even (by faith) as they (gentiles). Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them. And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me: Simeon (Peter) hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for His name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After this [after the Christian Church age] I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom My name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things. Known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the world. Wherefore my (James - Church leader) sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. For Moses of old time hath in every city them (Jews) that preach him (laws of Moses), being read in the synagogues every sabbath day. Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas;
The early Christian Church declared that of utmost importance for the Christian whether being of Jewish or of Gentile origin is not to offend the followers of Moses, the practicing Jews "For Moses of old time hath in every city them (Jews) that preach him." The dietary laws of not eating blood are not for the Church but the council determined that of greater importance than personal freedom is for the Christian not to offend God's people the Jews who do obey His laws and follow His customs.
The Church of Philadelphia is the brotherly love Church. The two companion Bible books for this Church are the books of Romans and Hebrews. Christians in this Church will need to know the book of Romans to understand that Christians are called into a relationship with God based on faith, that nothing can separate us from the love of God and then how to have fellowship with the fellow brethren by not offending them in our actions and deeds. The book of Hebrews will help us to enter into the very presence of God. Jesus is God and He is also our High Priest and as He has entered into the Holiest place where God the Father's presence is, we by being identified with Jesus are also to enter with Jesus into the Holy presence of God the Father.
Laodicea is the comfortable last Church, in this letter God is speaking to most of us. This is the last Church era so also read the Books of 1st and 2nd Thessalonians to get ready for the Christian rapture.
The seventh and last Church in Jesus' Revelation Church letters is the Church that is dominant in our current time and current Church age. This is the last Church letter and also the last Church age or era, there are no more Christian Church ages after this as Jesus will return during this present Church age and He will rapture all the 'born again' Christians unto Himself in Heaven.
After Jesus returns and raptures the Church there will no longer be a 'born again' Christian Church here on earth. There will be Jewish believers and there will be those Martyred saints who give their life for their faith in Jesus but there will not be the 'born again' Church as all of the born again Christians will now be in heaven participating as the bride of Jesus in the wedding feast with Jesus. Remember there was no 'born again' Church during the entire Old Testament. The Church began on the day (Easter) of the resurrection of Jesus when Jesus baptized the disciples in the upper room with His breath and told them to receive the Holy Spirit.
Matthew 3:11 I (John the Baptist) indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but He that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: He (Jesus) shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:
John 20:19-22 came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. And when He had so said, He shewed unto them His hands and His side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord. Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you. And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:
The Church began with the cross and Resurrection of Jesus and is continuing on right now and will end at the rapture when Jesus meets us, the Church, in the air and He takes us to heaven to be with Him therefore saving us from the terrible time of the tribulation to come.
1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
The various churches all dominated throughout each Church era in the order that Jesus has addressed them in His letters. The first era was the Apostolic Church when the Apostles and disciples of Jesus were writing and teaching Gods word at Ephesus and other places. With so much knowledge at Ephesus they had no patience for people who didn't catch on to doctrine and theology. After the apostles of Jesus grew old and went on to be with Jesus in heaven the next Church age was characterized by bitter persecution and martyrs, the Church of Smyrna. Today there are more martyrs worldwide than at any time but this period happened when the Church was young and didn't have a worldwide following and when the Bibles were copied by hand, Satan was actually trying to demoralize the Christians and Satan literally tried to kill every Christian and wipe out every Bible. The next era was the Pergamos era and surprisingly the Christians of that era went from persecuted by the world to living in the world. After the brutal nonstop persecutions the Christians themselves became worldly and at the Roman coliseums were Christians were once put to death, the Christians now sat in the seats and cheered as gladiators fought each other to the death on the very places where their fellow Christians had died.
After the worldly Christians the next Church era was the structured Church known as Thyatira the Roman Catholic Church where for centuries everyone was supposed to belong to the Catholic Church or they were not considered a Christian. This much authority brought on much abuse of power and much resentment as the Catholic Church ruled with such force that people were not allowed personal Bibles to read and people couldn't even pray personal prayers in their own native language. People even had to go to priests to have them talk to God for them. The puritans that left England and came and started America were fleeing this Church and come to America to establish a Puritan "pure" Christian life. This restrictive Thyatira Church age gave way to the next Church era called the Protestant reformation where Protestants [protesters] protested the Catholic domination, rightfully insisting that the Bible tells people how to worship and not any organization. This Protestant era took so many liberties that they soon had a muddled comfortable Christianity, people compared themselves to others instead of comparing themselves to Jesus and always finding someone perceived to be of worse character than themselves, people decided wrongly that they had a good Christian walk so now the Christian walk became anything that we determine we want it to be. This brings us to the current and last Church age the Church of Laodicea. This current Church period is a continuation of the protestant age and it is a Church so empty of Jesus that we have become our own god, we are a Church where the "people rule" instead of God.
This is the last Church age and it is during this current Church era that Jesus will return.
Jesus opens this letter to Laodicea like the previous letters addressing the biggest problem facing the Church. In this case Jesus proclaims that He is the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God. Jesus is confronting the biggest error of the last day Church. Jesus is reminding us that He is faithful and true and that He is the creator of creation and that creation is from God. It is appropriate that God is speaking to the end time Church about creation. Perhaps the biggest lie being perpetuated right now is the lie of evolution. Evolution is a joke; life does not evolve out of non-life no matter how long you wait millions or billions or years. God being life can create and give life. Life is more than chemicals and material, life is spirit and soul, life is awareness and life is feelings and emotions. The error of evolution would never be believed by the previous churches because they lived in close proximity to life and death. We are now so removed from death that we do not understand life. We give scientist credit for the wonderful inventions that they have worked on in this is wonderful high teach time, but technology does not explain life and scientist apart from God are not able to explain life. In every case of evolution the evolutionist has grossly simplified the complex mechanisms of life. The simplest human cell is more complicated than anything science has ever assembled. A baby being formed in the womb of a woman consists of 23 chromosomes from the man and 23 chromosomes from the woman, living for nine months under water in the womb and then at birth suddenly and instantly starts breathing air, this is complicated as this is the reality of life and this is creation it is Jesus' creation. Without believing that God is our creator, giver and sustainer of life it is impossible to have a relationship with God.
This is the last Church era and we are well into it right now. This era is characterized by worldly comfortable Church people. People are now so comfortable with worldly accommodations that we no longer need what Jesus has to offer. We now live better than any King of the Bible era ever lived. We have orchestras on demand in our Mp3 players, operas on demand in TV and on DVD's. The counsel of the worldly wise in www computing with Google search. Our chariots are always harnessed and travel 75 mph, cell phone messengers in our pockets on demand, our cash vault is carried in a card in our pockets wherever we go, we feast on chefs offerings anywhere we point our chariot. We snuggle cozily into warm beds with dry roofs, living better than any king of the Bible has ever lived. A king from the Bible era would be envious to the point of rage at our opulent lifestyle.
We do not need a vow of poverty that is not the point Jesus is making in this letter. His point is that we have neglected Jesus and have left Him the creator of life on the outside of life as we live our comfortable life to ourselves fulfilling only our own whims. Jesus finds Himself knocking at the door of our heart and asking us to please let Him in. Jesus is not addressing this to the unsaved but to the Church and not as a group but to each individual in hopes that someone, anyone will stop drowning in the river of worldliness and join Him in Spiritual matters. Because this Church is so disgusting to Jesus He says that He will spit us out of His mouth unless we change. The spitting out of the mouth is an involuntary action it is like drinking spoiled milk that your body will not allow you to swallow so the natural reaction is to spit it out. Jesus also tells us to buy from Him gold refined in the fire the fire of trials. None of us wants trials in our life but Jesus says to us to have the trials and to learn from them. Learn that there are tired and hurting people in this world and learn that life is unfair and unjust and most important learn that Jesus is God and apart from Him no soul will have lasting rest or peace.
The companion Bible books for the last Church era are the last Church epistles written by the Apostle Paul, the two epistles to the Church of Thessalonians. In reading the two books of Thessalonians we will learn that it is a time of heavy persecution. The Church of Thessalonica was heavily persecuted, so much in fact that they thought that they had missed the rapture and had gone into the tribulation period. Paul wrote the book to inform them that before the tribulation period there will be a big falling away of Christians from the faith of Jesus called the "Apostasy" and second that the Church will not be here during the time of the coming anti-Christ. The Apostle Paul explained that before the anti-Christ arrives the Church will have been raptured. Jesus told Peter and the rest of the disciples that He was going to build His Church and that the gates of hell will not prevail against it. The anti-Christ is given authority over the people of the earth to overcome them and the anti-Christ will wage war against the Martyred saints of the book of Revelation and overcome them but the Church will have been removed from earth and we will be in heaven during those future events. The Apostle Paul tells us to comfort one another with this thought that Jesus is coming to take us to heaven with Him.
The Church of Laodicea is a sick Church, but the books of Thessalonians are strong medicine. When we start to realize that Jesus is returning and will return to gather us at any moment without any advanced notice, this medicine should cure our illness of an ungodly lifestyle. We should live every moment like it is our last moment here on earth and our first moment in heaven. When Jesus comes we are encouraged by the Apostle John to be living in a manner that we do not shrink back in embarrassment at the coming of Jesus but that we rejoice and embrace Jesus.
Hebrews 12:22-25 But ye are come unto mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and Church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the mediator of the New Covenant and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Able. See that ye refuse not Him that speaketh.
The Parables of Jesus are from the teaching ministry of Jesus during His time on earth. The letters of the Apostle Paul are from a representative of Jesus and finally the 7 letters of Revelation are teaching and instruction from the resurrected Jesus. Three groups of teachings spanning three timeframes with the one unique message of Jesus Christ and His eternal Kingdom.
The Apostle Paul wrote a group of letters addressed to various Churches in existence throughout Asia. The group of letters are comprised of six Church letters and two letters (Romans, Hebrews) written to individuals as a whole for a total of 7 Church groups addressed.
Revelation Letter (Revelation 2:1-3:22) --> Instruction & Correction Epistle (New Testament) --> Parable Teaching (Matthew 13:1-50)
1. The Church at Ephesus --> 1st & 2nd Corinthians --> The Parable of the Sower
2. The Church at Smyrna --> Galatians --> The Parable of Wheat and (Weeds) Tares
3. The Church at Pergamos --> Ephesians --> The Parable of A Mustard Seed
4. The Church at Thyatira --> Philippians --> The Parable of Leaven
5. The Church at Sardis --> Colossians --> The Parable of A Buried Treasure
6. The Church at Philadelphia --> Romans & Hebrews --> The Parable of The Pearl of Great Price
7. The Church at Laodicea --> 1st & 2nd Thessalonians --> The Parable of A Large Net
Love "The more excellent way" the epistle of 1 Corinthians 12:31 - 13:13 lists the more excellent way to compliment the teaching and stricter ways of the #1 Ephesians' Church.
1 Corinthians 13:13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
Presenting the resurrection life, a reminder that there is only one true gospel, and confirming that works are of the Spirit not of the flesh the Galatians epistle is sure conformation to the Church in distress the #2 Smyrna Church.
Galatians 1:1 Paul, an apostle, not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead;
Galatians 1:9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
The completeness and sufficiency of the Christian Church, navigating relationships and family responsibilities completed by lessons in spiritual warfare make the epistle of Ephesians a great companion to the worldly Church/State of #3 Pergamos.
Ephesians 4:3-6 Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
The epistle of Philippians is one of the most Jesus Christ centered epistles. Written in love to a Catholic Church that has strayed it's attention and affections away from Jesus and onto the Virgin Mary and an assortment of human saints. This epistle is a great reminder of the supremacy of Jesus Christ for the #4 Church of Thyatira.
Philippians 1:10-11 That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.
Philippians 4:7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
The epistle of Colossians is excellent instruction to the Protestant Church that the kingdom of Jesus is a Spiritual Kingdom where we are to exercise our attitudes and desires in "spiritual understanding" and not just the physical things of this world and especially not the false physical teachings and ideologies of this world like evolution or population control (abortion-euthanasia) theories and practices. The epistle is a great reminder of the Spiritual supremacy of the Kingdom of God for the #5 Church of Sardis.
Colossians 1:9-11 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;
The Bible's books of Romans and Hebrews are excellent instruction for the Church of Philadelphia the open door church, where mankind has an open door to fellowship with both man and God. Romans in how to minister one to anther and Hebrews in how to minster to God set the examples for the #6 Philadelphia Church.
Romans 15:2 Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification.
Hebrews 10:19-22 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living (Spiritual) way, which He (Jesus) hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, His flesh; And having an high priest (Jesus) over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith,
The epistle of 1 Thessalonians mentions the rapture of the Christian Church and the Church being gathered into the presence of Jesus Christ. It is of paramount importance that the Christian Church be ready to meet God without a moment's notice and it is meeting God that is the great comfort for the modern #7 Laodicea Church.
1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
In the Gospel of Matthew there is a group of 7 parable teachings (Matthew 13:1-50) given by Jesus.
Instruction in planting/sowing the seed (Gospel) into the proper soil (heart) type. Teaching the Gospel message to mankind with the right message at the right time and always in truth, love and reconciliation. Instructing with growth, maturity and accomplishment as the intended outcome.
Matthew 13:9 Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.
The perils of the kingdom, there is still an enemy (Devil) in this world, and the importance of giving people influenced by the Devil an opportunity to repent and to be saved and gathered into the kingdom of God. The necessity of entrusting the kingdom to God's decisions and to His timing.
The evil birds of the air (demons) will exist and flourish within Churches that have shade - darkened corners where the light of honesty and oversight is not permitted to shine.
Incorrect teachings and outright bad doctrine can permeate into the true doctrine of the Church creating a new system that was never originally intended.
The world is not the treasure the Church is the treasure. The Church is more precious and more valuable to God than the entire world.
God gave all that He had at the cross in order to buy people out of sin. A pearl is an organic jewel that originally was an irritant, a grain of sand that has taken the time to grow into a gem, like sinners who have taken the time to grow into precious, valuable saints.
At the end of the world there will be a gathering together followed by a judgment that will separate all that is good from all that is bad.
Matthew 13:49 So shall it be at the end of the world.
Excerpt from: Basic Christian: Maturity
By David Anson Brown
The Basic Christian Series:
Basic Christian: Theology - Available
Basic Christian: Maturity - Coming Soon
Basic Christian: End Times - Coming Soon
Copyright © 2008 - 2015 by David Anson Brown, all rights reserved.
Printed in the United States of America
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