As promised 2 posts ago, here's a discussion on the letters to the remaining 3 churches of Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea as detailed in Revelation 3:
This church had the reputation of being alive but was actually dead (verse 1). While they claimed (and were seen) to be Christians, they have soiled their garments (verse 4) with the things of this world. They were reminded to remember, then, what you received and heard (verse 3) - a call for repentance was issued lest Jesus come against you (verse 3) at an unexpected hour. The one who conquers (i.e. has genuine faith that continues to the end), however, will be clothed thus in white garments (of purity and victory) and has his name in the book of life (verse 5).
Like the church in Smyrna, Philadelphia has stood firm in faith and not denied my name, despite having but little power (verse 8). They were encouraged to keep enduring patiently and Jesus will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try on those who dwell on the earth (verse 10), i.e. those who were the persecutors. Jesus' name is written on him who conquers (and on us who are faithful), an assurance that we belong to Him and an encouragement to persevere during tribulations.
The Laodiceans were lukewarm in their faith - half-hearted, indifferent, and having no real conviction or passion. This presented a similar situation to that in the days of the Old Testament where Elijah came near to all the people and said, "How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him." And the people did not answer him a word (1 Kings 18:21). They believed themselves to be self-sufficient and rich to the extent that they may not need God but they were self-deceived. While Laodicea was famous for their vision care services (similar to the optometrists and opthalmologists of today's times) and many tailored clothes for a living, they were in reality wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked (verse 17). Zealousness and repentance were called for here that they who conquer may enjoy table-fellowship in the presence of God and Jesus in heaven.
Now that we have analyzed the 7 letters to the 7 churches, it is time to ask ourselves the question: What does all these mean to me?
What kind of church do we belong to? What kind of a church do we hope (and work towards) to become? Are we like Sardis, having the reputation of being Christians, but are like the self-deceived Laodiceans, lukewarm in our faith? Maybe we endure patiently like Ephesus, Pergamum and Thyatira but have abandoned our first love and sometimes give in to idolatry and sexual immorality? Or do we aspire to be more like Smyrna and Philadephia to persevere through sufferings and tribulations as we face persecutions against our solidly-grounded faith?
Let us all be reminded to keep listening to His Word and what the Spirit says to the churches (Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 29; Revelation 3:6, 13, 22), not getting too comfortable in our own churches lest we backslide into a synagogue of Satan and lose the crown of life. It may all sound a little too harsh but Jesus assures us that is is those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent (verse 19).
Next time, we will be looking at The Throne of the Universe in Revelation 4...
Labels: Australia, Christianity, Revelation