Keith Hunt - Seven churches of Revelation - Part three   Restitution of All Things
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Seven Churches of Revelation - Part three

The teaching for today's church



     The most valuable application of the seven churches of
Revelation is to today's church. It is good to know the past and
learn from it, but it is even better if we know where the church
is today.

     The progressive interpretation would say that we are in the
period of the Laodicea Church. That may be true for some
churches, but certainly not all or even most churches fit into
this category (Actually we are in the last age of the church,
which is Laodicea, but in this age the Sardis church and the
Philadelphia church ALSO EXISTS - all three ages of the church
overlap at the end time - Keith Hunt).....

     All of these seven church characteristics are alive and well
today (And that is true for all types can be present in any small
or large group, in any place on earth - Keith Hunt). 

     The intent in this section is to look past the progressive
interpretation and delve into the Lord's commendations and
condemnations of today's church based upon the characteristics of
the seven churches of Revelation 2 and 3.

     The Lord cautions over and over in the Bible about false
prophets and false teachers. The purpose of these letters to the
seven churches is to address the doctrines and practices that
have invaded them, putting their flocks at risk. It is not only
the leadership of the churches that these warnings go out to, but
it is every Christian's responsibility to discern right from
wrong.

     As the seven churches of Revelation, churches today have
multiple traits. Each of the seven churches had dominant traits
that affected its over all performance. We will use these
dominant traits as a comparison to the modern churches that
characterize the same traits.

EPHESUS

     The church of Ephesus characterizes the modern church that
has left their first love. The loving relationship with God
through His Son, Jesus Christ must be the first love of every
church.

     Many churches today have abandoned this relationship for
their own church polity and doctrinal interpretations. The
inference here is the addition of doctrines into the church,
placing more importance on them than on the greatest
commandment.. loving God. This refers to legalistic churches that
institute manimposed salvation requirements, such as specific
baptism rituals, or organization membership, and teach that there
is no salvation unless these requirements are met. They focus
more on the law than on the law giver. "You shall love the Lord
your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all
your strength." (Deut 6:5). Their priorities are reversed: we
don't keep the laws so that we can love God, we keep the laws
because we love God. "If you love Me, keep my commandments."
(John 14:15). The easiest way to spot a church of Ephesus is
their claim of being the ONLY true remnant church and their
insistence that there is no salvation outside of their
organization and without their rituals.

SMYRNA

     The church of Smyrna characterizes the modern persecuted and
suffering church. Throughout the world.. Christians are being
persecuted in places like China, Russia, the Philippines and
Islamic countries. Witnessing is illegal in many of these places
and sadly, it is all too common to hear of Christians being
jailed, tortured and even beheaded for the crime of attempting to
spread the gospel and the testimony of Jesus.

     Persecution comes in all forms and varieties. The forms not
so readily recognized are the mental, psychological, and
spiritual, which don't usually get classed as "persecution." This
persecution is so much more subtle. You will be labelled as
"divisive, unloving, or judgmental" in the churches and by church
leaders. The apostates will constantly harangue you, always
getting in the "last word" as they spout off with Scripture,
mis-read and mis-applied, as they claim to be "Christian" and yet
only demonstrate condemnation and rejection. The suffering church
of Smyrna was given accolades. The encouragement is that, while
they seemingly had "nothing" as far as the world could see, they
were "rich" in Christ.

     For those of us who stand at the end of time - who will
shortly face the most intense period of persecution ever to
overtake the world - comes the encouragement to stand firm at all
costs. The overcomer will wear the crown of life and be received
into the Holy City, the New Jerusalem.

PERGAMOS

     The church of Pergamos characterizes the church that
outwardly and openly teaches false doctrines. Those teaching
false doctrines, causing people to sin because they think it is
'ok', based on the interpretations of their leadership. What
these leaders are doing is teaching that the Word of God is to be
treated as a cafeteria plan where you can pick and choose what
you want to believe and disregard that which you don't. These are
the modern churches that say the law of God was nailed to the
cross and that the law was never meant for the Christian, but was
only for the Jew. These, who still believe in the law, but pick,
choose and change it to their liking. These are the modern
churches that have accepted Pagan festivalS and rituals as
"Godly" and have rejected Godly festivals as ungodly. This is why
Jesus said that Pergamos was the dwelling place of Satan. Open
defiance of God's Word is characteristic of this church, bringing
a whole catalog of false doctrines into the church. These are the
modern churches that begin to compromise the Word of God for the
sake of unity and conformity. They are more interested in
pleasing man than pleasing God.


THYATIRA

     The church of Thyatira characterizes the real apostate
church. Jesus references Jezebel in His condemnation of this
church, referring to the woman who lured people away from Him
with idolatry by focusing them on things other than Him. Traits
seen today include viewing Mary as the mediator between man and
God, the veneration of statues and images, grace being
administered through humanly prescribed sacraments, church
tradition held as equivalent in authority to the Bible, the
changing of the Sabbath to Sunday and the doctrine of confessing
to priests as a means of maintaining one's salvation. 

     Nearly one-fourth of the "Christian" churches in the world
are characterized by the church of Thyatira. This apostate church
comes to the forefront in the last day prophecies in the book of
Revelation. The entire Chapter 17 and most of Chapter 18 reveals
who this apostate church is. It is not called Jezebel, but is
called the Scarlet Harlot, whose name on her forehead is
"Mystery, Babylon the Great, The Mother of Harlots and Abominat-
ions of the Earth. This church is not only the apostate church,
but it is the mother of all the churches that follow her
teachings that call themselves Protestants. They have followed in
their "mother's" footsteps by accepting the change of the law and
pagan holidays.

SARDIS

     The church of Sardis characterizes the modern church
specifically referring to name brand denominations with long,
well known histories that have fallen from truth and are seeking
ecumenical unity without regard to the gospel. Their gospel is a
social gospel with little or no teaching. Many of these churches
believe in moral relativism and that there are no absolutes.
There history reveals that they once were very alive but now dead
to the true gospel. They are filled with Sunday Country Club, one
hour a week pew warmers. They are more interested in social
injustices and politic of today, rather than preparing people for
the kingdom of God.

PHILADELPHIA

     The church of Philadelphia characterizes the church that is
on fire for the Lord's return. It is the church that has kept the
winds of false doctrines out of their midst and maintained solid
teachings. While everyone wants to think that they are in the
church of Philadelphia, it is important to note, that there are
true believers in each of the seven churches. The Lord is merely
commending the leadership of Philadelphia for their adherence to
sound doctrine. The church of brotherly love invites both
missionary zeal and Christian love.

LAODICEA

     The church of Laodicea is unlike the other churches that
have let doctrinal interpretations cloud the message of
salvation. This church is neither hot nor cold - they simply
avoided doctrinal interpretations all together. They teach of
wealth and healing but not of salvation and repentance. Rather
than instruct people on how to humble themselves to the Lord's
will, they teach that He is to conform to our will as if God can
be manipulated as a puppet. Just "name it and claim it."
Jesus said in John 15:36 that His kingdom is not of this world.
In Matthew 6:19,20. He explains that we are to store up our
riches in heaven and not on earth. All of this is seemingly lost
in the church of Laodicea, whose complete focus is on the here
and now. They flaunt their opulent lifestyles as proof of the
Lord's earthly blessings. They teach that the first step to
health and wealth is to give 'seed donations' to their ministries
and then have the faith that the Lard will bless this gift and
multiply it in return. This becomes a vicious cycle when those
who are not healed or showered with wealth are told that it is
because they lack the faith to give enough to these ministries,
thus soliciting even more donations - all the while, using the
Lord's name to increase their personal wealth. Not only are these
teachings alive and well in Christendom today, they are the
predominate focus in more ministries than can be counted.

     I believe the characteristics of the church of Laodicea are
one of the most dangerous to those who are part of it. One of the
greatest deceptions that this church teaches is the secret,
pre-tribulation rapture. Part of this teaching is that the church
will not have to go through any tribulation at all. They will not
have any suffering or persecution. Before the tribulation begins,
the church will be raptured. This is not in harmony with the
Bible! "But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be
saved." (Matthew 24:13). The church of Laodicea is the hallmark
of the Word of Faith/Dominion/Latter Rain movements who have
taken the world by storm.

THE LAST WORD

     The seven churches of Revelation - who do they represent in
this day and age? Doctrines are nothing but man's interpretation
of God's Word.
     They in themselves do not save, but they can and do cloud
the issue of salvation. Jesus cautions over and over in the seven
letters to the seven churches about false teachers in the end
days, leading His flock astray. Sadly, His message is getting
lost in a sea of pick and choose scriptural teachings and
rituals. Now is the time for self-examination - are you leading
someone away from the message of salvation with extraneous
teachings rather than the core of the gospel? Do your church's
doctrines lead people to a closer relationship with God or do
they pervert the image of God into something other than that of
the Bible? 

                              ..............


Taken from ACTS magazine January/February 2004. ACTS is the
official missionary magazine of the General Council of the
Churches of God (7th Day), Meridian, ID, USA


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