I must say I have always found the book of Revelation fascinating but this study we are doing has really opened my eyes. We’re only on day 8 yet already I am making new connections, seeing things through fresh eyes. For instance the letters to the churches, they have specific elements: the name of the church, Christ’s title he introduces himself with, a commendation to the church, a concern, an exhortation, a promise and a concern. For two of the churches Christ does not mention a concern, and for another two he doesn’t give a commendation, you understand this more as you read the letters and think on them. I kept thinking on the different things listed for each church and today I began entering each different element into a spreadsheet . What I realized was that when you read down each element then there is a message, very clear to believers. I want to share those messages with you over the next few nights.
The name column and Christ’s titles are important but we still have one more session in this part of the study, so I will save them until I watch the next teaching. Instead, I will start with the commendations, we studied the last one today – beware being likened to the Laodiceans as Christ could find nothing to commend them on. Just read this and think about what Christ is telling not just each individual church but all believers throughout church history. There also seems to be a very special importance for believers as we draw nearer the time of the end.
I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.
I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.
I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.
I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.
I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.
I think the message is very simple, yet very clear. Jesus knows our works, what we have done since becoming followers of Him. Now I will be the first to say that we are not saved by works, but by grace through faith. That being said though when we are saved we are changed, we are made new and as such our lives will naturally begin to bear fruit, the fruit of Christ’s character (that whole Galatians passage on love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control), the bearing of fruit naturally leads to the doing of works, the works don’t save us but they are the result of us being saved. In the letters to the churches Christ is telling us that he sees our works that are the result of our salvation and they ought to pretty much match this list. I have noticed that the order of the churches (preserved in my passage above) is not only a rendering of church history but the stages a true believer, a follower of Christ will go through as they move from the newly saved babe in Christ and continuing growing in the Lord as they follow in Christ’s footsteps. Walk closely and humbly with the Lord and use the above commendations as a sort of guide to strengthen that walk in Christ.