The keys To Understanding The Apocalypse- The Book Of Revelations
The Apocalypse- Revelations Study One
1. A Book Of Prophecy
There are several reasons for the study of - The Apocalypse - The Book of Revelations:
1. It is the only book in the Bible that promises "a blessing" to the one that reads it, and to them that hear and keep the things that are written therein. There is of course a blessing in the reading of any portion of God's Word, but here is promised "a special blessing" (Rev.1:3).
2. This book is of special significance today as we are nearing the end of this dispensation. "The coming of the Lord draweth nigh." We are looking for His coming daily.
3. It sets forth a special way the Lord Jesus Christ. He is represented here in a different way than in other books.
4. The outstanding events of the near future, especially of Daniel's seventieth prophetic week, cannot be properly understood without a knowledge of the Book of Revelation.
5. Satan is very anxious to keep us away from this book because it reveals his utter defeat and doom by the Man Child.
As we study the Apocalypse - The Revelations we find that certain truths are peculiar to this book:
1. It is the only distinctive prophetic portion in the New Testament. The four Gospels are primarily history. The Epistles are doctrine. Revelation is prophecy.
2. In the Gospel of John the deity of Jesus Christ is set forth before His Cross. In Revelation the manhood of Jesus is emphasized after His Cross. Both are written by John.
3. It is a book of endings. It speaks of the end of church history, of the day of grace, of the church's pilgrimage, of Gentile dominion, of Babylon the Great, of Satan's misrule, of war, of Jewish persecution, and of sin, tears, sorrow and death.
4. In the Epistles grace is prominent, grace is reigning. In Revelation grace has left the throne and justice has ascended and taken its place.
5. It is the Apocalypse or the unveiling of the Lord Jesus Christ.
6. It is the only book that promises a "Special blessing" for its readers.
Chapters One - Three
Three verses of the first chapter we have revealed the divine and human natures of our Lord. There is but one Saviour and one Mediator who is very God and very man. It is impossible to solve the mystery of the Godhead but faith accepts it unquestionably. The word "revelation" means "the act of revealing, discovering, or disclosing to others what was before unknown to them." Therefore it is a very important book to read and understand.
We have two striking phrases in the first and third verses: "Things which must shortly come to pass" and "the time is at hand." As we view the world scene it may seem at times as if God has lost the reins of government and has ceased to intervene in human affairs. Time weighs men-their deeds are in the hands of God and under His absolute control. He is Sovereign, Lord, and Master. At present wickedness and Satan seem to be in control and in some measure they are. But the time is coming when all wicked men, principles, and influences will be cast down, and Jesus Christ shall reign supreme.
We read in Revelation chapter 1:11 that our Lord is speaking to the seven God ordained and established churches: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. The messages to these churches that Jesus Christ founded, applied not only to the present local church but were prophetically significant, representing the history of the God Established Church groups from the time of there institution in the Acts of the Apostles right up to the time of Christ's return from Heaven. (Also see verse 3 re: prophecy).
These churches are seven in number. The number seven signifies perfection, fullness, completeness. The number seven is mentioned in this book several times: seven seals, seven stars. seven trumpets, seven vials, seven spirits of God, and others.
Here we find the all-seeing Christ standing in the midst of these churches that He Alone established: "In the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man" (Rev.1:13). In the Tabernacle there were seven candlesticks equally joined and branched together which was the light of the ministers in the sanctuary, a picture of Christ as the light of His people. Each Church God established is represented in God's throne room by a candle stick which is also indicative of a head or appointed Angel or group of angels [The Seven Stars] who oversee these Churches. But here the seven candlesticks stand alone or separate from the other for each one represents a God ordained and Heavenly established church which is the light of the world. Each one stood upon its own base for each one had its own responsibility and mission in evangelizing the world. These seven true and genuine churches were administered from Jerusalem and the throne of God, not from Rome
Notice!!! No Church Of or at Rome!!
You will notice that there was no "Church of Rome" amongst the God established seven churches Jesus Christ founded. There is no candlestick, no star or Head Angel, no ministering Angels, no representation, no mention of any kind.
Why is that? you may ask. The answer is simple. Jesus new most assuredly, that what ever church or religious system that immerged from Rome was not of His Making, That Rome was so corrupt with paganism and heathenistic religious beliefs that Christ knew that no pure and Godly church could ever be established there. That what ever church system that arose in Rome would be completely corrupt and perverted and was not from Him, but would that it would be a completely apostate church, a perverted and corrupt counterfeit of the Real Thing.
All this in spite of Paul's effort to establish and root a True and Faithful Christian church in Rome. Paul's letters and his trip to Rome to Visit The Jews that lived there and to convince and convert them to Christianity failed and Paul was imprisoned and killed by the Romans. All Most all of the small group of true and faithful Bible Believing Christians that had migrated to and lived in Rome Were killed off by the Romans.
Only those that were willing to capitulate and align themselves with the paganism of Rome were allowed to live. Instead we see the birth of A mysterious universal religious system, a corrupt mixture of Christian, Jewish and pagan beliefs, all based on the Babylonian mystery religion that was run by Satan and his Demons, and not of God spring up in Rome. Peter refers to Rome as "Babylon" (I Peter 5:13) Jesus speak clearly to us about this corruption and false church system (Religious Babylon) in Revelations 17. Also we must mention that Peter never was in Rome and was never the first pope of the Roman Church nor was the headquarters of the Church Jesus Founded moved from Jerusalem to Rome.
Furthermore, you will notice the solemn appeal at the end of each message to the churches: "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches." This leads us to believe that these messages are personal for our hearts today and we should be willing to hear what the Spirit wants to teach us through His Word.
We should also notice that the names of the seven churches correspond to the historical period which each represents. Let us briefly show the outline of church history represented by the seven churches:
1. Ephesus (Rev. 2:1-7) represents the church at the end of the apostolic age.
2. Smyrna (Rev. 2:8-11) represents the persecuted church.
3. Pergamos (Rev. 2:12-17) represents the church united with the world up to about 316 A.D.
4. Thyatira (Rev. 2:18-29) represents the church of the Dark Ages, the False Church.
5. Sardis (Rev. 3:1-6) represents the church of the Protestant Reformation.
6. Philadelphia (Rev. 3:7-13) represents the missionary movements of the True Christian Church.
7. Laodicea (Rev. 3:14-22) represents the apostate "Backslidden"or spiritually dead church up to the time of the Rapture of the Church.
The church at Ephesus had a great beginning (Acts 19) and it was here that the believers were entirely separated from their connection with Judaism (Acts 19:8-10). But now the Lord looks down upon this church and reveals what He sees.
First, He has much to commend in this church. "I know thy works." They were a working church and our Lord delights when His people work for His glory.
"And thy labour." This is energetic work. Then He mentions their patience twice: in connection, first, with their service; and second, with their suffering. They went on despite difficult circumstances. So often today God's children become discouraged and give up. My own experience has been that when we feel like giving up in the flesh, that is just the time to keep trusting and waiting for the Lord to deliver us.
"And how thou canst not bear them which are evil." This church had a high and holy standard of living and only those whose lives counted for Christ were permitted to take active leadership. Today we have lost the divine standards so that church officers, Sunday school teachers, choir members, and church workers can live like the devil, look like the devil, smell like the devil, and still be active in the church which is supposed to represent the Lord.
"Thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and has found them liars." They did not practice apostate ministerial fellowship nor promote Ecumenical Councils with those who were not true apostles of the Lord. They examined their doctrine before they joined with them to hold revival meetings. They knew nothing of the word expediency or courtesy or compromise for man's sake. They certainly did not allow preachers on the platform who denied the Lord and His Word. They found that some of the early preachers were liars because they did not preach the truth of the Bible.
Revelation 2:3: "And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake, hast laboured, and hast not fainted." It is not easy to suffer for Christ and to be faithful without growing weary. These believers were in earnest for their Lord and desired to do their best for Him.
There was much blessing upon this church, but the Lord had this to say: "Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love." The word somewhat is not found in the original at all for that would make it appear as though the matter were not serious. It is no small thing for the Lord to see our hearts growing cold and indifferent and worldly when He has bestowed such love upon us.
Jesus says to us even as He said to Ephesus: "Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent." Losing our first love means that we have fallen from His fellowship and have lost His power and the reality of His presence in our lives. He wants us to remember the former times when our live life was fresh and responsive. He wants us to repent of our present state and to return unto Him with a renewed love and to honour Him first and foremost in our lives. Then shall we cry with the bride of the Song of Solomon: "My beloved is...the chiefest among ten thousand...He is altogether lovely" (Song of Solomon 5:10,16).
2. SMYRNA - PERGAMOS
The Book of Revelation presents a prophetic fact in Chapter 1:7 which is the hope of all who have been washed in the blood of the Lamb: "He cometh." Christ has gone to Heaven but one day He is coming back. Many sneer and scoff at the truth of our Lord's return but it is predicted by all the prophets, promised by Christ Himself, confirmed by the testimony of angels, believed by early Christians, and prayed for by devout believers.
It must be remembered that there are two phases to the coming of Christ. The first stage is the Rapture, when all the righteous both dead and living will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air. This is taught in (John 14:4, Philippians 3:20, 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17, 1 Corinthians 15:23.)
At the close of the Great Tribulation Period, Christ will come with His saints, as mentioned in (Jude 14, Colossians 3:4, and Revelation 19:11-14.) The second stage is the Revelation of Christ. The one referred to here in Chapter 1:7 when He says that "every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him."
John then gives us a divine announcement in verse 8: "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty." Here is the voice of God Himself as the speaker. For those who know the Lord these titles of finality and authority bring comfort and peace. There is also a warning here for every soul who rejects Jesus Christ. He will be your Almighty Judge, revealing your sin and bringing you into account for the same. All will be brought into subjection to Him. All will be put under His feet. Be sure that you have received Him as personal Saviour.
Our Scripture reading concerning Smyrna is found in Revelation 2:8-11. The word Smyrna means myrrh which was one of the ingredients used for embalming the dead. This church stands for that great period of persecution during the days of the Roman Empire, up to about 315 A.D.. This was the martyr period of church history and of all those who died in the Lord Jesus Christ.
With this thought in mind what a comfort it must have been for them to hear our Lord refer to Himself as "the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive." Though this church was suffering for Christ's sake, they were reminded that He too endured the reality of death itself. They are to take courage because He arose triumphant and is today the living Christ.
He continues with "I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich)..." It is not so much our Lord looking down from Heaven upon their poverty and tribulation and the fact that He is referring to His own experiences while here upon the earth. He was the Man of Sorrows. He was acquainted with grief. He was persecuted. He was poor. "For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, yet for your sakes He because poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich" (2 Cor. 8:9).
Revelation 2:9: "...and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan." The devil worked against Christ by lining up the Jews who claimed to be followers of Moses and yet helped to persecute the church. The word "Synagogue" means a "gathering together". The word "church" means "the called out ones" of the Lord and is made up of those who are called out of Judaism and out of the Gentile world. These early Jews tried to substitute the synagogue for the church and our Lord describes this as blasphemy.
Verse 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."
The Lord bids them not to fear in the midst of their suffering for His sake. The then days of tribulation mentioned here refer to the ten great persecutions under the Roman emperors:
Nero - 54 A.D.
A crown of life is promised to all who are faithful unto death. These words "faithful unto death" are found engraved in many places on the walls of the catacombs of Rome. Those who are faithful to their Lord even unto death will receive this special crown.
PERGAMOS - (Revelation 2:12-17)
The name Pergamos means marriage and it presents the period of church history when the church married the world.
When Constantine became Emperor, he professed to accept the Christian faith. However, he still kept his title Pontifex Maximus which means that he considered himself to be the high priest of all the world. He ordered the heathen temples to be turned into False Christian churches and the early church was deceived. A False and Counterfeit Christianity was Officially Born, mixing Roman paganism, Roman politics and The name of Christianity, into one universal, state sponsored religious system. They thought that Constantine's kingdom must be God's kingdom which was to come upon the earth. That is why Christ said to them, "I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is."
Satan of course is "the god of this world" (2 Cor. 4:4). He walks up and down in the earth (Job 1:7). He goeth about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). Satan's seat or throne is here upon the earth.
Then Christ told them that He held against them the fact that they followed the doctrine of Balaam. This doctrine of Balaam the false prophet refers back to his work among the children of Israel as recorded in Numbers chapters 22-25. Balaam sought to curse God's people on behalf of Balak, King of Moab. We read in Numbers 25:1-9 that God sent judgement upon the children of Israel because they committed "whoredom with the daughters of Moab" according to balaam's counsel (See Numbers 31:16).
This union between Moab and Israel was Balaam's plan to break the testimony of Israel. This is exactly what took place in Pergamos where the church and the world united. This is the doctrine of Balaam which is not pleasing to the Lord.
Israel's power was effective as long as they remained separated from the other heathen nations. now through the doctrine of Balaam. Israel lost that power. The Church of Pergamos likewise lost her power through fellowship and compromise with the world.
God speaks clearly concerning worldliness in 1 John 2:15-17: "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever."
In Revelation 2:15 our Lord mentions the doctrine of the Nicolaitans. The word means victorious people and it refers to the rise of the roman clergy system which sets itself apart to rule the people. In Ephesus they hated the deeds of the Nicolaitans. Here at Pergamos they have the doctrine of the Nicolaitans.
The Bible teaches that there are different gifts within the church: "And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers,..." (1 Cor. 12:28), but there is nothing in the Bible to sanction any special clergy system or to say that such an official system carries with it any special spiritual power.
However, the Word of God shows clearly that there is a place of leadership in the assembly and this leadership carries with it the divine authority of God. But it does not imply that the position itself includes any special dispensation of grace or power form the Lord.
There are so many today who think of the church only as a denomination or a sect or as a building. But the Bible teaches that there is only one true church and it is not limited to any group, nationality, tribe, or colour. The one true Church is called "the body of Christ" (1 Cor. 12:27, Col. 1:24), and it is composed of all those who have truly genuinely repented, been Biblically water baptized by full immersion and have been truly born again by the infilling of the True Spirit of God (Acts 2:37-39). Through the infilling of the True Holy Spirit we are "all baptized into one body" (1 Cor. 12:13), to form the one true Church.
But the Bible also speaks of local churches: the church in Corinth, and Ephesus, and Colosse, and John here in Revelation mentions seven churches. However, there is a difference between A CHURCH and THE ONE TRUE CHURCH. These local churches were so called because in them were represented some of the members of the one TRUE CHURCH. It was the saints IN these places who were called "the church of such and such a place."
This raises a very personal question. Do you belong to A CHURCH or do you belong to THE ONE TRUE CHURCH? Your answer will determine your eternal destiny. You can join A CHURCH but you must enter the TRUE CHURCH by the work of the True Holy Spirit. You can build a church building by laying one dead stone upon another, the TRUE CHURCH is made up of living stones, of believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, of born again people who have been washed in the precious blood of the Lamb.
3. THYATIRA - SARDIS
Continuing our study of the churches in Revelation we now come to Thyatira in Revelation 2:18-29. The name Thyatira means continual sacrifice which has reference to the False Church as over against the finished, completed Cross-work of Christ in the True Church. First, there was the church of the called out ones of God which became a synagogue of Satan. Then came the rise of the roman clergy system whose priests ruled the people and claimed to be mediators between God and men as over against Christ, God's one and only mediator (1 Tim. 2:5). Then we saw the union of the church and the roman state under Constantine, and the teaching of the doctrine of Balaam which erased the distinctive witness of the True church in the world. Our present study brings us to the Dark Ages when the church had little witness in the midst of much spiritual wickedness.
* See our On-line Sermon Archive Document: "Revealing The Rise Of A Counterfeit Christianity" for insight!
Christ, the Son of God, speaks to this church for allowing others to supplant His authority and glory.
Notice, however, that the Lord first commends the good points of this church.
Verse 19: "I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works..." During the Dark Ages it was the True and Faithful Church that carried on the work of hospitals, schools, libraries, and acts of charity. Men such as Bernard of Clairveaux gave themselves for a ministry of charity in that dark period of history.
Verse 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."
Jezebel is well known in Biblical history. She was married to Ahab, a king of Israel. Her main accomplishments lay in corrupting the Jewish religion by introducing into Israel the religion of Baal. She persecuted the true prophets of God and sought to do away with the worship of the one true God. So with the roman hierarchy; they have led the Church of Christ away from the simplicity of the gospel. Like Jezebel, they have led the Lord's people into idolatry, and have usurped the authority of God. This church claims to be God's true representative but in reality she seduces God's servants "to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols."
Jezebel's religion started with Nimrod (see Genesis 10:9). It is said that Nimrod's wife believed her son, Tammuz, was born without a human father. She became known as the Queen of Heaven and was worshipped as such. Jezebel introduced this teaching into Judaism. Later this became the Catholic doctrine and cult worship of "The Madonna [Mary] and Child"
If you examine the beliefs of the average professing Christian you will find that they are built upon church doctrine or creeds, with hardly any knowledge of the Bible itself. The tendency today is to accept the voice of the church as the final authority for faith and life.
We are trying through our Bible Studies, to call men and women back to the infallible, inspired Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. We have to examine our faith in the light of the Bible and where any teaching departs from Bible truth we must remain true to the authority of God's Word. We are told to "Search the scriptures" (John 5:39). It is not what the creed says or what the prayer book says or what the church says, but what the Bible says that counts. "Whatsoever the Bible says is so."
Verse 21: "And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not." Throughout the Dark Ages this church did not change and it remains the same even to this day.
Verse 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." Today, the majority of churches are working for ecumenical union with the False Church. God says He will deal with them in judgement for fellowshiping with this wicked system.
Verse 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."
May God's people take their stand for the truth of God's Word and have nothing to do with the World Council of Churches, ecumenical leaders, or churches and denominations that are promoting spiritual adultery with this ungodly system.
The next church mentioned is the church of Sardis. This is the church of the Protestant Reformation. Read carefully Revelation 3:1-6. The name Sardis means a remnant. During the Protestant Reformation God called unto Himself a remnant to take their stand on the authority of His Word. He comes to them having the "seven Spirits of God" (Rev.3:1), which is a picture of the Holy Spirit's work to lead and guide the churches and empower their lives.
Then the scene changes: "I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead." How up-to-date the Bible is. Most of the churches today had, in times past, a rich scriptural and spiritual background. In many instances they began through sacrifice and many lives were laid down for the glory of God. But now the words "thou...art dead" can be written over them. They are spiritually dead. They have rejected the Seven Spirits of God, the Spirits of guidance and light .
Death is everywhere today in professing Christendom. First and foremost, there is spiritual death for very few people can testify to a personal experience of the new birth. The great concern of mankind is to have their names on the church roll rather than on the Lamb's book of life. Church membership is too often a substitute for the new birth or personal salvation.
Let me illustrate. Try this experiment this week and if it is not correct, write and let me know. Tomorrow ask any twenty-five ordinary persons the question, "Are you a Christian?" You will find that all twenty-five will say, "Yes, I am a Christian." Everyone today is a Christian. Then ask, "Why do you say you are a Christian?"
What is your basis for believing that you are a Christian?" Here are some of the answers you will receive: "Well, I am a Christian because I have been christened, baptized, or confirmed as a child; I have joined the church or I am soon going to join the church; I was raised in a Christian home; I am doing the best I can; I am a good mother or father; I am honest in business; I try to keep the Ten Commandments or follow the Golden Rule; I belong to a Christian country, etc. etc.." You will notice that the name of Christ is not mentioned. His Cross-work and shed blood are ignored.
Verse 2: "Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God." Our Lord wants us to watch over the truths of His Word-the inspiration and infallibility of the Scriptures, salvation through the shed blood of Christ, the supernatural realities of the miracles of the faith, the need for a spirit-filled separated life, and the glorious hope of Christ's soon return. These are truths that are ready to die as they are being sacrificed on the altar of the Ecumenical False Church.
Verse 3: "Remember 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." Our Lord may come at any moment as a thief in the night. He waits for the church to repent and to return to the old fashioned simple faith of our fathers.
Verse 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." Praise God for the faithful witness of men and women who stand for the Word and seek to live by it. Praise God for those who exalt Christ, who witness to others, who sacrifice for Jesus' sake, and whose lives really count for Him.
4. PHILADELPHIA - LAODICEA
In Revelation 3:7-13 we have set before us the church in Philadelphia. The name Philadelphia means brotherly love. This church represents the true and faithful church, the great missionary churches of the past hundred years who faithfully represent the one true church that Jesus Christ founded have been sharing the good news of the true Gospel with people in other lands.
We of course recognize the fact that there are many false churches and false religions out in the world today that also have there own "missionaries," gathering souls for Satan. We must not mistake them for the missionaries of the True Church.
Our Lord commends this true and faithful, Bible Believing church for her works, patience, and brotherly love. These true and faithful believers were truly devoted to the Lord Jesus Christ. He speaks as the One who is "true" and as having "the key of David." Christ remains true no matter what the condition of the church is. The reference to the "key of David" announces His royal claims as Lord and Head of David's house which points to the establishment of His kingdom upon the earth.
In verse 8 our Lord says: "I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door." The door of true Godly missionary service is still open. We hear much talk today about closed doors, but the fact is that millions are waiting behind open doors to hear of the True Christ and His love. Labourers are fewer today than ever as less and less young people give their lives for the Lord's service. Other young people are willing and waiting to go, but have no funds to speed them on their way. The Lord will hold His people responsible for these open doors.
Notice the Lord's promise as given in verse 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."
Here was a little assembly who kept His Word. how our Lord loves those who love Him enough to keep His Word even in the midst of apostasy. "If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him" (John 14:23).
Revelation 3:11: "Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown." The word "quickly" denotes the fact that His return is imminent. This is truly the blessed hope for every believer and surely His coming cannot be far distant. When He comes there will be crowns for those who have been faithful.
How we need to be faithful to our Lord in these days. The Devil has brought about great confusion among believers. We see an increased falling away throughout the church. Nevertheless it is possible to be overcomers for Jesus' sake. One day we shall see Him face to face. We shall be like Him and shall be with Him forever. This is our encouragement to be faithful until He comes.
We come now to the last church mentioned in our study of the seven churches of the book of Revelation. the scripture reference is Revelation 3:14-22. We have been watching the unfolding of events that have led up to this apostate False "Backslidden"church. At the beginning, in the Acts of the Apostles, the true church was witnessing in the power of the True Holy Spirit and exalting the one true living Christ. We then saw the apostate "Backslidden"church uniting with the world and getting a little farther away from Him. We saw the False "Backslidden"church of the Dark Ages, and then the Reformation.
The True Church with Christ is still more in the background as man took over leadership and demoted the authority of Christ and His Word. In this last church of Laodicea we find Christ on the outside. He is knocking at the door, trying to gain an entrance.
In Revelation 3:14-15 we read: "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; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot."
The word Laodicea means the voice of the people. It refers to the time when the voices of the people will be the deciding factor in directing the voices of the preachers. It will not be God's Voice nor the authority of the Bible that will be presented by the Ecumenical False Church. The issue will be to do what the people want and to say what the people desire to hear, rather than "What saith the Lord?"
The Lord says He knows this "Backslidden" condition and of course He does. "Thou art neither cold nor hot." The Laodicean church is "Backslidden" lukewarm or Spiritually dead -a sickening condition of neither hot and cold. This is what is upon us even today.
About thirty years ago the worldly Apostate church took a direct stand against the fundamental doctrines of God's Word. It stood against the blood, the virgin birth, prophecy, full immersion water baptizm the new birth, the second coming of Christ, against sin and Hell. But this is not the trend now. The church today denies nothing and is not convicted about anything. One man's belief is considered as good as another's. And Jesus sees the False church as "Backslidden" lukewarm or Spiritually Dead, with no convictions, no decisions, and no God-given directions. He foretold that this would be the condition of the Apostate "Backslidden" church before He returns. It is prophecy being fulfilled in our day. For the believer it gives new confidence in the authority and reliability of God's Word.
Our Lord said to the Laodicean believers: "I would thou wert cold or hot." It is far better to be out-and-out for the world than to be lukewarm, a mere professor, having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof.
Notice the spiritual condition of the False church as described in verse 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." This False church does the saying rather than allowing God to reveal its true condition by the Word. It is spoken of as a rich church but Spiritually dead. There has never been such richness as today-expensive buildings, elaborate furnishings, comforts of air-conditioning and other devices. The False "Backslidden" church judges it success on its budget, its building programs, upon worldly entertainment and materialistic endeavors, not upon the souls saved and her spiritual ministry to all the world.
In contrast to what the False church says, notice what Jesus says about the False church: "...and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked." Here we have the true spiritual condition described. I believe-and I am speaking to every one of our hearts-if we would lay aside all our activities and just quietly wait in the presence of Christ, we would be surprised to see the true condition of our hearts before Him. Oh, if we could only see ourselves as God sees us!
Until this happens, the False "Backslidden" church will continue to function as an easy-going, self-satisfied organization. In verse 20 Christ says: "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."
This verse shows our Lord outside the church - trying to get in! It is not a text for the unsaved. It is our Lord's text to the Ecumenical - Ecclesiastical -Apostate False "Backslidden" Church of the last days, just before His return. Here we find the church all gathered together as one-rich in buildings and increased in goods, having need of nothing. But this church is operating without Christ's presence.
What a price to pay for union to such a worldly Apostate church without the presence of Christ! This text would indicate that Christ sees no hope for the revival of the church at large but rather appeals to individuals to open their hearts to have personal fellowship with Him.
I believe this day is already upon us for it becomes almost an individual matter if we are to enjoy the blessed presence and fellowship of our Lord.
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Go to lesson Two - Revelations Studies Two.