The mystery of the Church
The mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven candlesticks which you saw are the seven churches. —Revelation 1:20 MEV
The Church is spoken of as a mystery because it was kept secret throughout the Old Testament. The Apostle Paul explains that this mystery is being revealed among the nations! That mystery is Christ in us! It is the mystery of the new birth: God living within His people.
I have been made a servant of it according to the commission of God, which has been given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God, even the mystery which has been hidden from past ages and generations, but now is revealed to His saints. To them God would make known what is the glorious riches of this mystery among the nations. It is Christ in you, the hope of glory, whom we preach, warning everyone and teaching everyone in all wisdom, so that we may present them perfect in Christ Jesus. —Colossians 1:25-28 MEV
The 7 Churches
In chapters 2 and 3 the Lord gives a message of encouragement and admonition to the Apostle John for the seven churches that he oversaw as an apostle. Pay close attention to what God is saying to the churches. Each church is admonished with these words, “hear what the Spirit says” and “to him that overcomes…”
The messages to the 7 churches from the Lord included praise and encouragement for the good works and a rebuke and call to repentance for sin and compromise. Each church, from the Pastors, to its leaders and members were admonished with these words, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
- The church at Ephesus was commended for their perseverance but also rebuked because they had lost their first love, passion and fire for Jesus
- The church at Smyrna did not have any rebuke but received encouragement to remain faithful in the face of intense persecution.
- The church at Pergamum was faithful in the midst of persecution but was tolerating false teachings and error that encouraged sexual immorality. (Remember the story of Balaam’s counsel to Balak was to entice Israel into sexual immorality.)
- The church at Thyatira was commended for their spiritual growth and progress but some were tolerating a false prophet who promoted error, sin and idolatry. (Jezebel is a spirit that controls, manipulates and enslaves others into sin.)
- The church at Sardis had no commendations, it had become a dead church meaning their hearts had grown cold and they became religious. They were commanded to repent.
- The church at Philadelphia received encouargement and comfort in the midst of difficulty because they stayed true to the Word of God, no rebuke was given.
- The church at Laodocia was a carnal and worldly church, they had lost their salt and savor, they had wealth but were spiritually poor and naked. They were commanded to repent.
Now let’s look at the promise for those who overcome. (Remember what 1 John 5:4 says, “whoever is born of God overcomes the world, and the victory that overcomes the world is our faith.”) Those who live by faith in the Word of God are given the promise of eternal life and eternal rewards. These list of promises are given “to him who overcomes…”
- “will eat the tree of life in the midst of paradise.”—Revelation 2:7
- “shall not experience the 2nd death.”—Revelation 2:11
- “shall eat hidden manna, a white stone with a new name.” (Stones served as admission tickets to public festivals and assemblies, this could mean admission to the marriage supper.)—Revelation 2:17
- “shall have power over nations.”—Revelation 2:26
- “shall be clothed, name in the book of life, acknowledged before all of heaven.”—Revelation 3:5
- “shall be a pillar in the New Jerusalem.”—Revelation 3:12
- “shall sit with me on My throne.”—Revelation 3:21
We can learn a powerful lesson about staying spiritually healthy. A healthy church is a church that follows the Spirit of God and lives by faith in the Word of God. An unhealthy church looses sight of its mission which is loving God and people, it is no longer effectively engaged in discipleship and evangelism.
What lessons can we apply on a personal level to keep our relationship with Lord vibrant and healthy?
- Keep your passion for Jesus, be hot or cold but not lukewarm.
- Be faithful when you are persecuted for your faith.
- Keep yourself sexually pure!
- Keep yourself free from false teaching, error always leads to sin.
- Don’t become religious, ie a “Sunday Christian.”
- Stay true to the Word in the midst of difficulty, due season always comes.
- Don’t compromise with the world and become a carnal Christian losing your Christian witness.