God Speaks About the Future

 

Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure.’ ”

—Isaiah 46:10, emphasis added

 

THE PROPHETIC MESSAGE—Christ is being faded away by His church. The church throughout the ages has gone through seven successive stages. There are seven letters in Revelation 2 and 3 that show us the church from God’s prophetic perspective. The seven churches represent seven phases or periods in church history, stretching from the time of the apostles to the coming again of Christ. Each has a characteristic that is set forth within the letter and, interestingly enough, within the name of the church. Each name of these churches represents the age in which they lived.

The Ephesian Period (A.D. 30–60): This apostolic era was a time of warmth, love, and labor for Christ. However, defection began by the gradual cooling of the love of some, the false professions of others, and the incoming of undue exaltations of the clergy and church offices. The church mushroomed and grew rampantly through the Roman Empire. But as it grew, it gradually cooled.

The Smyrnean Period (A.D. 60–313): This was a time of martyrdom. It was a sweet savor to God when His children showed “faithfulness unto death,” but this period was also marked with further developments of defection through the establishment of castes and orders, the license of Judaizing inclinations, and consequent departures from the true simplicities of the gospel. However, the church was purified in this era because of the persecution. History records that in Bythinia, in Asia Minor, the Roman governor marched all the inhabitants of one city out to a cliff. He ordered them to deny Christ and say “Caesar is lord,” or the soldiers would throw them off the cliff. Ten thousand were executed in that manner.

The Pergamite Period (A.D. 313–500): True faith more and more disappeared from view. Clericalism gradually formed itself into a system: the church united with the world, and Babylon began to rear itself aloft. When Constantine legalized Christianity in A.D. 313, he put a whole group of pagan priests into the church. Robes, beads, candles, headdresses, mass, and purgatory came from paganism into the church—not from the Bible. This was the time the church became wed to the world.

The Thyatiran Period (A.D. 500–1500): This was the era of Romanism with its purple and glory for the corrupt priesthood and darkness of truth. It was the age of clerical domination in which the church usurped the place of Christ, but His witnesses were given dungeons, stakes, and inquisitions. It was the age of the enthronement of the false prophetess, Mother Mary, reaching to the days of Luther and the Reformation.

The Sardian Period (A.D. 1500–1800): This period represents the separation and return of Christ’s rule. There were many great revivals and many worthy names, but this time was still marked with deadness overall, and having great need of repentance. This was an age covering the spiritual lethargy of the Protestant, which was centuries before the great evangelical movements began.

The Philadelphian Period (A.D. 1800–1948): During this time, there was great missionary fervor, evangelistic outreach, and devotional godliness. The world was penetrated with the gospel during these years like no time since Pentecost. The British Empire was worldwide, and its monarchy wanted Christ exalted!

The Laodicean Period (A.D. 1948—): This speaks of the time from 1948 until the end of the age. Why 1948? Because the steps to globalism were started that year more than any other year in history. What steps? The birth of the United Nations (so we can have Revelation 13), the birth of the World Council of Churches (so we can have Revelation 17), the birth of the computer/transistor (so we can have Revelation 18), and the rebirth of the State of Israel (so we can have Revelation 12-19). In our western culture, churches are full of lukewarmness, self-sufficiency, empty professions, and false peace. Judgment day will reveal the unthinking multitudes who have supposed that they were Christians, but were not.2

 

Just the idea of the periods he was the first to write that the churches paralleled the ages of Church HistoryJesus maps out the course of history for the church, and He says, “I am in every age!” I wonder: have you been able to discern which church period most describes your own life at the moment?

 

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