The Seven-Fold Church

Revelation 3:22

“…these letters rather picture the seven-fold aspect of the church in general at any period of her history in the world. Taken in general, the church always presents this sevenfold aspect. The good qualities of the church ascribed to her in the seven-fold picture… the Lord Jesus praises and strengthens. On the other hand, there are the evil features of the church in the world …the Lord strongly rebukes, and in regard to them He admonishes to repent.”Hoeksema

1. Ephesus

Christ as: the Lord of the church– presently with his church for the purpose of building it

Satan– raising questions/challenges by those outside the church about “What is the Gospel”

Danger: losing opportunities; walls raised that guard truth at the expense of evangelism; head without heart

2. Smyrna

Christ as: Glorious Living God-Man– the One who has overcome comforting and encouraging his church

Satan– spreading slander through outsiders about the character of God’s people

Danger: losing strength; weariness and fear

3. Pergamos

Christ as: Eternal Word– the sole source of absolute truth for his churchandthe world

Satan– teaching within the church that promoted a “god-shelf” mentality

Danger: losing distinction from the world; inclusivity, syncretism

4. Thyatira

Christ as: Omniscient Holy One– the one who sees the truth and is committed to it

Satan– teaching within the church that appealed to desires for knowledge and power

Danger:losing the essence of the Gospel, excessive reliance on emotion; heart without head

5. Sardis

Christ as: Giver of Life– the one who gives new life through proclamation of the Gospel

Satan– deceiving individuals about their true spiritual condition

Danger: losing sight of what it means to be the church; neither head nor heart

6. Philadelphia

Christ as: Rightful Sovereign– the true Messiah who presently governs his Kingdom

Satan– deceiving individuals about their abilities and usefulness as a church

Danger: losing heart; discouragement and defeat

7. Laodicea

Christ as: First and Last Wordthe only one with understanding, authority and power to undo effects of sin

Satan– convincing the church as a whole to follow a wrong standard

Danger: losing Christ’s recognition as a true church

8. All the churches

Christ as: the Victorious All-Sufficient One

Satan– dangerous but defeated

Encouragement: Persevere in doing right – those things which Christ commends

Promise: Christ’s present help and future approval (Matt. 28:20;John 14:2-3)

no matter the circumstances, Christ is present to provide everything necessary for the church corporately and individually toovercome:νίκάω, νίκη (conquer, prevail in battle; victory)

“What Christ asks of us as his people is that we seek not success, but that we seek to be faithful to the gospel which he has entrusted to us. Although all good things come from our father’s hand and God may indeed choose to bless certain churches with great prosperity, let us never mistakenly assume that the presence of wealth is the sign that we are being faithful to the will of God. That must be measured by the things we have seen throughout these seven letters: whether or not a church preaches the gospel, whether or not a church drives out false teachers from its midst, whether or not a church loves the brethren, not forsaking its first love, and whether or not its members will refuse to take the mark of the beast by acknowledging someone other than Christ is Lord, even if that act costs us our lives or our livelihoods. This is what Christ expects of us as he walks in our midst, and as we seek to be a witness of the gospel to those around us. If we do these things, we will overcome and receive all of those glorious things Christ has promised to his people. So on each Lord’s day, once again we open the door and invite our Savior into our midst through his word and sacraments, so that we can dine with him and renew our fellowship with the Lord of the church.”Riddlebarger

 

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