This study, taught by pastor Barry Forder at our Sunday morning service on Sunday 14th February 2016 is the 6th in our verse-by-verse study through the book of Revelation.
In chapters 2 & 3 of Revelation we find seven letters that Jesus Himself writes to seven churches that existed in Asia Minor in the first century. As we noted last week, these letters were intended to have at least four levels of meaning and application.
- They were letters to seven churches that existed at that time, and Jesus was addressing specific concerns in those churches.
- They are also letters for each and every church, for the issues addressed in each church are experienced by all churches, and the instruction Jesus gives all do well to take heed of.
- Thirdly, the letters are written to you personally! If you have ears that is! This is worth thinking about for a moment… it means that here are seven letters written by Jesus to you – and to all believers. This means there is a very personal application to the instructions Jesus gives here.
- Finally, each successive letter lays out the prophetic history of the Church from the first century to the time of the Rapture, and culminating in the final church age that will give way to a one world church – the subject of Revelation 17 & 18.
In this study we look at the letters Jesus sent to the churches at Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea. As well as having local applications, personal encouragement and admonition, these letters take us prophetically from the time of the Reformation, around 1517 A.D. to the Rapture, and then into the Tribulation.
Sardis, prophetically representative of the reformation church and the denominations that came from it, was a city whose inhabitants thought it was almost impregnable, due to its location on top of an elevated plateau, which rises sharply above the Hermus Valley. On all sides but one the rock walls were smooth and nearly perpendicular. Because of this the people at Sardis had been historically complacent and in 549 BC the Median soldiers of Cyrus scaled the parapet, and then again in 214 BC Antiochus the Great captured Sardis because a Cretan slipped over the walls while the sentries were careless. This earned the label that Sardis could be taken by a thief in the night. In Jesus’ letter to this church He warns them to ‘be watchful’. If there is one thing the Protestant church isn’t it’s watchful. As J Vernon McGee stated: “Protestantism, as a whole, has turned away from looking for the coming of Jesus Christ”.
In sharp contrast is the church of Philadelphia, the church of brotherly love, not rich, not a mega church, but a church that clearly loved God’s word, were fruitful in evangelism, and a church that are given the express promise that they will be kept from the time of Tribulation that will come upon the whole earth.
Then we come to the church of Laodicea, the final church age. Historically, according to Jesus letter to them, they thought they had need of nothing, they had become lukewarm, totally ineffective and given in to compromise, becoming like the environment around them. Could you want for a better description of today’s ‘established’ church?
As well as the audio, PDF PowerPoint slides used in the study are available for download.
To encourage you to study this chapter in more detail there is a verse-by-verse text commentary in the Pastor’s blog section of this website.
May you be blessed by this study as you continue to grow in knowledge and grace