Saturday, January 31, 2015

Revelation 3 Letters to Three Churches January 8, 2015

SLIDE 1 How many have started projects and not completed them? My craft room is filled with beads and wire and stamps and paper from projects left unattended for years. Now in Cramerton we have been looking at the incomplete bridge over to Goat Island. Monday three men stood on the bridge looking at the water. I thought of Sardis and Jesus’ remark, ”I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God.” and their unfinished works.  A bridge that stops short of reaching the other side is not a bridge at all.
SLIDE 2 Wednesday however four concrete slabs connected the Town Center with Goat Island. Each piece is 3' x 80' and weighs 50,000 pounds each.
Ladies I don’t know about you but I do not want to be judged on my unfinished works. As Christians we are commanded to spread the gospel, to love one another, to care for widows and orphans. Are any of these on your checklist of things to do this New Year?
SLIDE 3 Tonight we will discuss three examples of churches that are very similar to churches today.
  • ·        Sardis the lifeless church
  • ·        Philadelphia the faithful church
  • ·        Laodicea the lukewarm church

“6 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'”
"And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: 'The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars.
SLIDE 4 Sardis Ancient Sardis was the capital of Lydia an important city, center of trade. Manufacture of woolen garments (white as wool.) Sardis physical location was almost impossible to reach, located on a plateau 1500 feet above the main roads. They were over confident in their physical placement and became careless and lax. that twice enemies infiltrated their perimeter and defeated them.
SLIDE 5 Jesus message:
  I know your works and reputation;  but you are dead
  Wake up! And strengthen what remains
  Your works are incomplete
  Remember! Repent! Be watchful!
  Those few who are worthy
      Names to stay in the book of Life
      Shall wear white with me

Steven P. Wickstrom (Christian writer and author) “There weren't any false apostles, or prophets or teachers trying to destroy this church: there was no persecution. Even the Nicolations and pious Jews were ignoring this church. No one was being cast into prison or put to death for serving Jesus. It is almost as if this church is so ineffective, that the devil is not wasting any of his time with it. All he has to do is keep the church thinking that they are alive, when he knows all the time that they are actually dead.”
3 Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you.
Matthew 24:42 Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into.44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

2 Peter 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief….., and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.
SLIDE 6 4 Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy.
In my study I found 19 verses regarding garments of white, the majority in the New Testament; many referring to Christ at the transfiguration, and in Daniel when we studied the Ancient of Days.  Other verses referred to angels at the tomb, or heavenly messengers at Christ’s resurrection, and those surrounding the throne in heaven. It is impossible to live a sinless life, perfect as holy. How can we ever be good enough to “be clothed in white garments?”
Isaiah 24:6 our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags.
5 The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments,
Only by the blood of Jesus Christ that was shed on the cross for the redemption of our sins. How wonderful to know that Jesus will present us to His father and before the angels.
v. 5 and I will never blot his name out of the book of life.
SLIDE 7 Some commentaries say this could be referring to the book of the living. From creation God has written every person’s name in the Book of the Living. As unbelievers die without accepting the free gift of pardon from Our Lord and savior Jesus Christ, their name is removed or blotted out from this book.
Psalm 64:28 Let them be blotted out of the book of the living; let them not be enrolled among the righteous.
Think about your church are you resting in the works of your past, Are you alive or dead. Don’t we all hope we can say “I have finished course, I have won the race.”Jesus reveals that Sardis has not completed her work.  The church was dead because it was not growing. They were complacent. True faith must produce life and works. They were not an aggressive witness.
6 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'

SLIDE 8 3:7-13 Philadelphia The city of Philadelphia in the Roman province of Asia (present-day western Turkey), struggling physically, financially and spiritually. Philadelphia was an important commercial and cultural gateway from the western Roman empire to the eastern provinces. Because the city was built near a volcano, its soil was very fertile so it was renowned for its vineyards and wines. But being near a volcano also had its drawbacks: the city was often hit by powerful earthquakes. In A.D. 17, a massive quake so severe they were not required to pay taxes.
This was not a letter from John but from Jesus “the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens.”
Jesus not only holds the “key of David” to let faithful believers into the kingdom of heaven. He also holds“the keys of Death and Hades

Jesus not only holds the “key of David” to let faithful believers into the kingdom of heaven. He also holds“the keys of Death and Hades” 
Matthew Henry Lord Jesus has the keys of government and authority in and over the church.
·  He opens a door of opportunity to his churches;
·  he opens a door of utterance to his ministers;
·  he opens a door of entrance, opens the heart.
J V McGee believes this is the door of knowledge of the scriptures. It is an invitation for us to open His word and study and learn. Not for our own gratification but to witness and share the blessed gospel message. We must enter the open door evangelize the lost.
8      "'I know your works. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.
SLIDE 9 Seven is key number in Revelation symbolizing completion. McGee finds seven commendations for the church of Philadelphia.
1.     Their works
2.     The open door to witness
3.     In their weakness He is strong
4.     They kept His Word with patience endurance
5.     Did not deny His name
6.     He will make her enemies bow down and learn His love for the church
7.     They kept the word in patience; keep them from the Great Tribulation

Philadelpia was called the missionary church, the serving church, a Bible-believing church. This church sent our missionaries to India and the remnant had left the church by this time. v. 9 refers to the unbelieving Jews that remained in the synagogue teaching a false religion.
We should be passionate and joyful regarding our freedom to read and study God’s word. We should invite others to enter into the sweet fellowship with have with our LORD and Savior.
10 Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial the Great Tribulation that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. 11 I am coming soon. Refers to the suddenness of His appearing
Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown.
What a promise!
SLIDE 10 Three of the six pillars of the ruins of the Church of St John the Theologian in ancient Philadelphia photo
12 The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name. I can hardly wait.
Philadelphia represents the revived church, the church that returned to the Word of God; the true church that is to be raptured. This is the church we should choose to model.
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'”
SLIDE 11 Revelation 3:14- 22Laodicia Of all the churches Laodicea is the one that remains in my memory. The lukewarm church that Christ would spew out of his mouth. A city of compromise.
Ladies we are living in a time of compromise, political correctness, tolerance for things reviled by the Lord.
14            "And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: 'The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God's creation.
15    "'I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot!16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.
SLIDE 12 J. Vernon McGee tells the location of the church of Laodicea is a perfect illustration of being lukewarm. They build massive aqueducts used to pipe in water to the city, she was totally dependent on external water supplies. The citizens of Laodicea were well-aware that the cold refreshing water of its near neighbor Colossae came from snow-and-rain-fed streams that rushed down from the peak of nearby Mount Cadmus.
Hierapolis, was famed for its the medicinal properties of the calcium carbonate in the thermal springs. The 95 degrees hot water from the springs was lukewarm by the time it arrived in Laodicea.
17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.

SLIDE 13 Laodicea was a wealthy city gaining wealth from the textile industry especially famous for the production fine black wool of its sheep. 
They were a major banking center but they had lost their vision. Spiritually they were bankrupt.  Laodicea was well known for her medical school. Aristotle spoke of a powdered medicine made from Phrygian stones that had curative power for the eyes. But this medicine could not cure their spiritual blindness. We must seek these things from Jesus instead of relying on them ourselves.
18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see.

The Lord did not accuse the church of apostasy, following false teachers or emperor worship.  He loves them and those He loves, He disciplines.
19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent
SLIDE 14 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.
The Lord was outside the church trying to get in. This is an invitation for individuals. Christ stands patiently at the door of the sinner's heart.  We must repent of pride and self sufficiency. Each of us must decide to give time to the LORD. We need to take time to put our own activities on the back burner and open the door and allow Christ to enter our homes and our hearts. To spent intimate time with him. To be fed by the One who is the bread of life and the living water.

21 The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.
"The hardest indictment given the seven Churches, and yet the most eminent of all the promises are made to it, showing that the worst may repent, finally conquer, and attain even to the highest state of glory." (Clarke)

 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'”

SLIDE 15 Will you choose to hear, listen, and act upon the messages given to these three churches?