The Seven Churches
Chapters 2 & 3
The teaching on the seven churches in this book will be brief. Due to consideration of space they will not be justified as to their importance, because the teaching in them is quite lengthy. Due to that fact and knowing human nature most people are really not interested in church history. BUT – in this segment it will not only give you history, it will also give a small glimpse of who some of the main players will be in this drama. Remember, this story is a mystery. I may miss some of the clues, so you will need to search for some for yourself. After all, you will be part of what is yet to come, whether you like it or not.
One of the seven churches is a whore. So let’s see if we can find which one she will be. That is, if it is a church. It is a mystery so watch for the clues. Whatever it is, it is here now and will be throughout these seven years. In reality, the whore will prefer it that way. When we get to the end of the story you will then know why. In this second and third chapter God gives a lot of insight of what He likes and dislikes about them. Not all churches are small organizations. Some are very wealthy who control the world market (import and export) besides the souls of men. To pinpoint this particular church, you will need to know who one of the main players will be. It won’t be easy, but Scriptures will reveal him.
When the apostle Paul was writing to the churches during his day, they were described as a tree with seven branches with the name of each branch a church. There were actual churches God chose to illustrate it as a candlestick. Showing Christ as the vine (Father Son and Holy Spirit) and the believers as the “branches”, which in reality is the Tree of Life. Each church existed in their divided time, which covered over a period of 2,000 years.
The first church (Ephesus) started after the Day of Pentecost. This period of time was right after Christ was crucified and resurrected. This church had a lot of love and zeal for Christ. Throughout the church age this love degenerated up until the present church, Laodicea, which is almost spiritually dead. Christ is speaking to these seven churches. He is telling them what He likes and dislikes, what they can gain (or lose) by a promise; a final warning to us before the rapture. Then, when we get to the last church (Laodicea), at the end of this age, you will not read of the golden candlestick on earth anymore. It will be gone.
As we read about these seven churches, it is very important that you follow along in your Bible, preferably the King James Version. Not one word was to be changed or taken away. Simply meaning that no one was to give their interpretation of it to give a better explanation. When you need to know for yourself, ask the Holy Spirit. My writings are not a Bible. I could be wrong in what I write. You need to search for yourself. Be my Blue Heeler. Nip my heels. To do that, you need to prove me wrong. To prove me wrong you will need to ask for the Holy Spirit’s direction and wisdom, not man’s. It helps to find at least two or more Scriptures that are in agreement to answer any question you may ask…it is God’s voice speaking to you.
First Church – Ephesus (First Love)
This church was in the first century, starting at the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended from heaven. This took place shortly after the Resurrection of Jesus and ended with the death of the Apostle John near the end of the first century. You can read about this church in the Book of Acts. It had all the zeal of first love burning for Christ. Toward the end of the century, it began to cool off. In Rev. 2:4, God is letting us know: “I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love” (their love for Him). Their zeal, love, devotion, and service degenerated. Scriptures teach, unmistakably, that the church age will become colder and colder until the coming again of Christ. Internationally, there will be wars while men talk of peace and they will become more frequent right up to the time of this church age, where we are now, which will then usher in the coming of Christ and the role the Anti-Christ (The Beast) will play.
Notice in Rev. 2:5, as to God’s warning… “He will remove our candlestick out of its place if we don’t repent”. He then tells us of what He hates, and then gives us a gracious promise of what He will give us if we do repent.
Rev. 2:7 “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the spirit saith unto the churches; To him that over cometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God”.
What God hated was the doctrine of the Nicolaitans (which was similar to that of Balaam) which we are to overcome. The Nicolaitans were hypocritical teachers who attempted to lead God’s people astray by influencing the Israelites to eat things sacrificed to idols and to fornicate with their women. Today, many are led astray by false teachings attributed to Christ. We have the Word of God with us to read for ourselves. Let the Holy Spirit be your teacher.
As you read about these churches, keep in mind that these (definition?) were not just at the time of the apostles. You will find the things God likes and dislikes, as written in the Scriptures, existed not only in the past, but throughout the church age and in all churches today. So, be aware of those who claim to be Apostles, but are not.
Second Church – Smyrna (Myrrh)
This church was the persecuted church during the second and third centuries. Its name comes from the word “myrrh”, one of the spices used in the rituals the Israelites were to perform. This spice was used along with other spices God told them to use in the Altar of Incense which was to burn continually throughout their generations. Once a year the blood for the sin offering of atonements was put on the Four Horns that were on each corner of the Altar, which represented the spirit of God. They were to take the coals from the brazen altar and mix them with special spices, filling the tabernacle with a sweet fragrance which represented the prayers of the people.
The spice of myrrh was the bitter spice mixed with the sweet. This spice had to be crushed and beaten small in order to give forth its full fragrance. These particular spices were used because it was a very bitter time for this church age. They were persecuted by ten different pagan Roman emperors who sought to eliminate the faith of Jesus Christ from the earth. The Christians were crucified, cast to the lions, and tortured to death for two hundred years.
In the second part of this church’s history, in 312 A.D., Constantine the Great started to see a serious reverse in his people. One day he said he saw a cross in the sky and over it was the inscription “Thou shall conquer”. The pagan king took this to mean that if he would embrace the cross, he would be victorious; therefore, in desperation he professed to become a Christian and decreed that all the people of the Roman Empire had to become Christian, also.
After his victory, he compelled all his armies to be baptized and made the church a ward of the state. Church and state became one. He gave all the wealth to the church and proclaimed himself head of the church. With the church married to the state, it soon began to dictate not only the powers of religion, but also the powers of government. Everyone accepted Christianity. With all this wealth at her disposal, and with the state to subsidize and protect her, the Church soon became cold, worldly, proud, and powerless. Many professed Christianity because it was popular, but few possessed Christ.
They were persecuted by ten rulers at that time, and, without a doubt, it will repeat itself again. Ten men will do the same again, but not as they did before. When they come in full view and play out their part, it will be at the beginning of the seven years. The ten will be as pawns in the Beast’s hands who will seek to destroy the Israelite people again. This Beast will try to conquer the world just as did Constantine the Great. Since the church took over the government and ruled at that time, will it take place again? Remember this particular church, if it is a church, is a powerful one.
Every generation a new church age pops up, each one professing Christianity, but far from the truth. In the meantime, they spread their leaven throughout the land. People would rather go to something new than good old fashioned, Bible believing, preaching churches where Christ lives. We see this taking place now to the point where God is on the outside knocking wanting in.
Third church – Pergamos (Balaam) 312 A.D. to 500 A.D.
This church was married to the world for the next two hundred years. The doctrine of Balaam was there and it encouraged the Israelites to mingle with the Gentile nations, thereby losing their separate position. The way of Balaam was to preach and prophesy for money, using the Gospel for their profit. During the Pergamos age, the church became rich and independent, and world practices crept in and corrupted the church. After this age, a hierarchical class of clergy appeared. Certain men, lusting for religious power, declared themselves above the rest of the people and became a self-appointed group of religious dictators.
The doctrine of Balaam is here again. It will be more so as we enter into these seven years. Her name is “Mystery Babylon” (Rev. 17:5). “Mother of Harlots,” an “Abomination of the Earth”. This is what Balaam is. It encouraged the Moabite women to seduce the men of Israel, which in turn broke down her pure lineage. This is what some churches do today when they play the harlot and become the bride to other gods. She is the spirit of filthiness that is upon all the nations in the world today. In this church age, God is telling them to repent or He will come unto them quickly. And to them who overcometh, He will give to eat of the hidden manna and a white stone with a new name written upon it.
In Hebrew times for whatever reason the people went before the court system, when a verdict was given, they were presented with a white stone if they were to be set free. A black stone was given if they were found guilty. What a beautiful promise God gives to the ones who overcome. They will be set free with a new name written in heaven (Rev. 7:3-4; 14:1; 19:13).
Fourth Church – Thyatira (Compromising)
During the time of this church, it turned from grace to works, meaning trying to work their way into God’s kingdom by merits instead of grace. During these years, the Vandals, Huns, and Goths overran Europe and brought with them their own pagan worship. The church, which had been seeking to win them by professing Christianity, began to compromise by adopting part of their pagan religion.
This is what happened to King Ahad, who was king over Israel during this period of time. He committed adultery with Jezebel, who later became his wife. He then allowed her pagan worship to enter into the church by building altars and buildings in Samaria to Baal, which simply shows he was compromising. Jezebel is used as a symbol to represent Babylon; a whore (a doctrine) who sat upon many nations then and still sits upon them today. Many preachers have allowed their right eye to be put out by Satan, the same as Ahad by Jezebel. Preachers are to “preach the Word.” In Second Timothy 4:2, it was commanded to be obeyed without hesitation. There is no place for hesitation or deviation in the pulpit of Jesus Christ. There is to be rebuke from the pulpit, and they are to persist in attacking sin. Not only are they to speak out strongly against sin; they are to exhort, support, and to encourage. Some pastors will prune the tree (church) until there is nothing left, and there are those who will never prune, but compromise, giving their flock what they want to hear, and not what they need. Paul speaks of them as individuals having itchy ears. They will turn away from the truth and turn to fables. Men need to come back to the pulpit, to the Word of God and be empowered by the Holy Ghost to stand up and preach the whole “Word”, irrespective of who does or does not like it. Satan not only wants to destroy us, but he also desires that we compromise our message and our mission. Millions today have allowed Satan to put out their right eye.
Rev. 2:22 “…I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.”
Rev. 2:23 “And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts.”
The adultery of Jezebel, which this passage is speaking of, is a doctrine. All churches that commit the same adultery will not be taken at the time of the rapture. They will have to go through the full seven years of Tribulation. If you are in one and know you really shouldn’t be there, it’s a good thing that God knows your heart. Many are led astray and worship God in a manner of fornication, which is not pleasing to Him. God is saying enough is enough. He is a jealous God, and He will not put up with it anymore. The Tribulation they will be cast into will be the seven years that is right before us.
God is giving all of the churches a final warning, if you are still in her after you know what she is, and don’t get out, Christ just stated that you would be killed along with all of her children. This church, where the whore sits, practices one of the oldest doctrines. It wants the power of Christ and His seat in Jerusalem, (the Holy of Holies). Is it not good that Christ searches our hearts? He knows who are His. When God says He will kill you, one needs to ask the Holy Spirit for the understanding.
This doctrine of worshiping idols, molten images and man, is more prevalent in this church than any of the others. Not only is God warning us about this doctrine, he gives warning to anyone who has strayed off from the pure word of God and have adopted other strange “fire” (doctrine).
I Tim. 4:1 “Now the spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;”
I Tim. 4:2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;”
I Tim. 4:3 Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.”
I Tim.4:4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving:”
These Scriptures definitely show there is more than one church that has a problem. Do you want to go tell them? No; I don’t want to either. I’ll just write what the Word has to say about them. If you did tell them, each one will not see the beam in their own eye, but rather the speck in yours. There are none perfect, as you can tell, but there are definitely some you need to get out of more so than any of the others.
God gives a promise to those who have not the doctrine of Thyatira “for them to hold fast”. And for those who will overcome, He will give power over the nations to rule them with a rod of iron. This promise will take place after the seven years are finished, at which time we will then go into the next thousand years to rule and reign over those who would not accept Christ; and those who would not come out of these churches and repent.
Fifth church – Sardis (Reformation Church) 16th century
Sardis, meaning “Remnant or That which Remained” – God is telling us this church was about ready to die and their works were not pleasing to Him. He is telling them to strengthen that which remains and to remember what they had received and heard. The Word is going out from these churches but is getting weaker and weaker, but a few are still strong right up to the end. Many churches are strong in number but spiritually dead. In this age of time came the discovery of America. The invention of the printing press came and opened Scriptures in print to the laity in the year 1550. Until the invention of the printing press, Scriptures were unknown to the common people. Each copy had to be individually transcribed. As a result, the number was limited and confined to a few scholars and clergy.
In the sixteenth century, the first complete book was printed from type and was known as the Latin Bible, also known as the “Nazarene Bible” or the Bible of 42 lines because there were 42 lines to a page. A new study of the Bible began, new truths were discovered, and biblical errors were exposed. This reformation church swept over Europe but fell short of accomplishing that which might have been achieved. While it was a protest and reaction against the rigid hierarchy of Thyatira, it went to the other extreme; and being free from restraints and having freedom of the Word, it went on to abuse its own liberty and freedom. The church became divided into numerous sects and denominations, which is a matter of history. Instead of solidarity, there were soon denominations, sects, and groups without number. It became a great organization but with little spiritual life.
God then tells this church age there would be but a few who will walk with Him. For those who do not keep watch, He will come like a thief in the night for they will not know the hour of His return. God has made it very clear the ones who let their candles burn out because of the lack of oil (The anointing), were the ones who will not know. He then promises that those who are worthy will walk with Him, and their names will never be blotted out of the Book of Life. To be blotted out means you were in there at one time. This certainly does give indication that if you don’t use it, you can lose it if you don’t continue to walk with Him.
Sixth Church – Philadelphia (Brotherly Love) (Nineteenth Century)
This time of history should be familiar to many of us. Christ opened the door for his Word to go out and no man would be able to shut it. This was when the missionary movement began, and the Word went out to all nationalities, races, and denominations. The door for the gospel was opened wide. Radio came and was used for the Word. Next, television came on the scene with its ministries where untold millions of people heard and believed. This is the greatest missionary age since the day of Ephesus where there were only a few strong believers of Christ. He then lets us know at this period of time thou has but little strength. There is a remnant that has kept His Word and has not denied His name. He will keep those from the hour of temptation and give them a new name. This message is to the people who will be taken in the harvest rapture, the time we are in today. We will not have to go through the coals of fire to be purified anymore, complete opposite of the church Thyatira, where it said “Behold, I will cast her into great tribulation”.
Seventh Church – Laodicea (End Time)
Rev. 3:17 “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, I have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:”
“.. Rich, increased with goods, and have need for nothing, and know not that they are wretched, blind, and naked…” My, that is quite a statement from God, but the churches have become that today. Preachers are letting the world come into the synagogue; they have become blind to the Word and preach only what they feel the people want to hear to enable their congregation to grow. Growth is more important than salvation. It has become a self-righteous zeal for an organization, a far cry from the first church (Ephesus) when the Holy Spirit came down and empowered all of them who heard. Most people or churches don’t have that power from Christ, least of all, not the church we are looking for. “For, who can pray against itself”? It is empowered by the one that sits upon her (The whore).
In this church age, God tells us that He knows our works and that we are neither cold nor hot but lukewarm, which He says He will spew out of His mouth. Many who are in this church age know Jesus’ name, but few know Him. God loves the church, which is the people, and in that love He rebukes and chastens. In churches where this does not come, you will find Christ on the outside of the door knocking, wanting in.
God has shown what He likes and dislikes in all seven churches. He shows them as having a little leaven in all of them. This last church age, Laodicea, is before us now. The strong believers in Christ will be gone at the start of the seven years. The ones who will not be ready, who are lukewarm will have to be tried in the fire. And the churches that would not change will also have to be purified during the time of these seven years. These are the ones who will be left behind, fifty percent of the churches and all the people who stood in the middle of the road who knew of Christ but did not want to know him. Then there will be many people who were not told all over the world who will still need to hear the Word. If they are not told during the seven years, they will have plenty of time to hear in the next 1,000 years.
Mat. 25:1 “…the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.”
Mat. 25:2 “And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.”
Mat. 25:3 “They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them:”
Mat. 25:4 “But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.”
Mat. 25:6 “..Behold the bridegroom cometh:”
Mat. 25:8 “And the foolish saith unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.”
Mat. 25:9 “But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.”
Mat. 25:10 “And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.”
Mat. 25:11 “Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.”
Mat. 25:12 “But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.”
Even though the main body of believers will be gone during these seven years, the churches will continue on. If they have their eyes open and realize they were left behind, the time for them will be hard. Spiritually they will be very weak. But rest assured there will be a catching away again at the end of the seven years for those who will have made themselves ready; and for the new believers in Christ.
Rev. 3:20 “Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to Him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”
Rev. 3:21 “To him that over cometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in His Throne.”
Christ right now has asked you to open the door to your heart, to let Him in. What a beautiful promise He gives you when you do. We are a remnant of all these churches. He sees no denominations, races, nationalities, or organizations. He sees us neither as male nor female. We are equal in His eyes. The one thing we all need to do to be able to sit with Him, is to be born again by accepting His Spirit to live in our hearts. You must be a member of the one true church “Jesus Christ”. Whether you are Jew or Gentile, Catholic or Protestant, Presbyterian or Methodist; etc., makes no difference. If you have received Jesus Christ by faith and have been born again, then you are a member of the true church and a brother and sister to every other believer.
Forget those man-made distinctions and the name over the doors that some churches want to hold onto, and except God’s only way of salvation by faith in the Son of God. When we stand before the Almighty Judge of heaven and earth, we will not be asked, “To what church did you belong?” The only question will be, “What have you done with the name of Jesus who is called the Christ?”
John 3:3 “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
John 3:4 “…How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?”
John 3:5 “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”
John 3:6 “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”
John 3:7 “Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.”
The remaining verses are the last, concerning the seven churches.
Rev.3:18 “I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white rainment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eye with eye-salve that thou mayest see.
Rev. 3:19 “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
Rev. 3:20 “Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
Rev. 3:21 “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my father in my throne.
Rev. 3:22 “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
Notice in the I8th verse how God is telling the ones who are not ready, to ask Him to help them to get ready. Gold, when tried in a fire has to be heated to a certain degree for all of the impurities to be gone. This is what God is telling this last church, Laodicea. It would be better to go through the fire now, than to have to go through these seven years to be purified then. He whom He loves, He chastises.
Now notice in the 20th verse how Christ has just asked you to open the door to your heart and invite Him in. When you do, He, too, will open a door for you into heaven. All you need to do is ask.
Now, let’s go to the next chapter and find the door He just invited you into.
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