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.
Jesus 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?
To read about the last four periods of the church, please click here.
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