December 23

Read Revelation 1 -- 2

Seven churches received a letter dictated by Christ and recorded by John at Patmos. Since the character and conduct of churches and Christians is the same in every generation, the messages are just as vital for us today.

The letter to the churches at Smyrna and Philadelphia had nothing but praise, while the letters to the churches at Sardis and Laodicea had no praise, only rebuke. But, in the letters to Ephesus, Pergamos, and Thyatira, there was both praise and reproof.

Words of praise were given to the church at Ephesus for its labor, patience, and sound doctrine. They were also commended for exposing false prophets (Revelation 2:6; compare Acts 20:28-30). However, Christ said to the Ephesian Christians: You have left your first love (for Me) (Revelation 2:4).

Losing devotion to Christ usually happens gradually, as we become so involved with business, pleasure, or even wholesome activities as well as responsibilities within the church, until worship of Christ becomes mere formality. The charge is most serious: You have fallen (2:5). Twice in one sentence He said: Repent, and do the first works (meaning: Live as you did when you first knew the Lord); or else I will . . . remove your candlestick . . . unless you repent.

The letter sent to the church at Smyrna mentioned that they were suffering tribulation and poverty (2:9). This church appeared destitute of the comforts of life and some would be cast into prison, others would suffer persecution. But because of their loyal devotion, the Lord said: You are rich. . . . Be faithful unto death, and I will give you a crown of life (2:9-10).

The letter sent to the church at Pergamos said they lived where Satan's seat (in control) is . . . and have not denied My Faith (2:13). However, a strong rebuke was leveled against some who hold the doctrine of Balaam (2:14) and influence others to become involved in false worship and fornication. Jesus admonished them to repent; or else I will . . . fight against them with the sword of My mouth (2:16).

The letter sent to Thyatira mentioned a "broad-minded" attitude that allowed that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce My servants to commit fornication (2:20). All the false prophets seemed to have one thing in common, a philosophy that implied that, since salvation is "by grace and not by works," the righteousness of Christ would cover their continued lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (1 John 2:16). This spirit is still popular among some professing Christians today and is severely denounced throughout the New Testament as false teaching (John 8:31-32; Galatians 5:16-21; Ephesians 5:1-11; 2 Peter 2; 1 John 2:4; Jude 1:7-13).

Our Lord concludes by writing: Except they repent of their deeds. . . . I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the reins (inmost thoughts) and hearts: and I will give to every one . . . according to your works (Revelation 2:22-23).

Cross References:

For Revelation 1:7: See Daniel 7:13. Revelation 2:27-28: See Psalms 2:8-9.

Prayer Needs:

Pray for Linda Rathbone, French translator · Pray for the Bible Pathway International Radio Broadcast in honor of Clarence M. Yates · Country: Macedonia (2 million) in southeastern Europe · Major languages: Macedonian and Albanian · strongly Orthodox country · 60% Macedonian/Albanian/Bulgarian Orthodox; 30% Muslim; 2% Roman Catholic; .2% Protestant · Prayer Suggestion: Glorify God who is able to use national leaders to accomplish His purposes (Ezra 7:27-28).

Memory Verse for the Week: Revelation 2:22-23