The Tale of Two ChurchesFeb 09, 2023
The Bible tells us of the many ways we can be good for something in the name of Jesus. However, if we choose to be good for nothing, Jesus will vomit us out of his mouth. Is there anything scarier than that?
Hi everyone, I’m Tammy Becker. Welcome to the Almighty God & Gospel Girl Podcast. This is week seven into our brand-new series of Revelation and our podcast today is titled: The Tale of Two Churches. My podcast today will be based on the reading of Revelation 3:7-22. And if you would like to follow along with the notes or maybe you would like to find the links to anything mentioned in the podcast today, you can go to the link in the description or by visiting www.youministries.com and visiting the corresponding page. As we get started today, I would like to remind you of my disclaimer, that as always…do not take my word, or anyone’s word for what you read…get yourself in the Bible and let God discern His Word to you. I am only human and make many mistakes and do not claim to know or understand everything in the Bible…I just hope by bringing out this study that your interest is sparked enough to get into God’s Word and begin to deep dive on your own.
Ok, ok…yes I remember that I still owe you that scariest verse in the Bible to me, and don’t worry we will absolutely get to that today in this podcast as I made sure of it so say listening!
Two churches to go. Jesus has only good things to say to the church at Philadelphia, the first city named for brotherly love. In short, Jesus compliments them for enduring trials even though they have little strength left. Since the church has been faithful, he will open doors for them that nobody can shut, and will have their enemies acknowledge that Jesus loves them. Since they have been faithful, Jesus will protect them from some of the upcoming trials and will make them an integral part of the coming kingdom of God. But let’s dive in just a little deeper.
Did you know… that you can still visit the city of Philadelphia today in Asia Minor (now called Alasehir, Turkey). This beautiful congregation represents the revived church because it still teaches and is hungry for the Word of God. Historically, it dates from the beginning of the 19th century to the Rapture. (Sidenote: Philadelphia means “the city of brotherly love,” but this did not come from the Bible. Rather it was named by Attalus II [190 b.c.] in great love and loyalty for his brother Eumenes, who was king of Pergamum.) Isn’t it interesting that the two churches Jesus didn’t condemn are places still in existence today?
In each of these seven messages to the church, the Lord always tells us something of Himself as the glorified Christ, our Great High Priest, in chapter 1. Here in Philadelphia, He reminds us that He is holy—holy at His birth, holy at His death, holy in His resurrection, and holy today in His present priestly office. (See Luke 1:32-35; Acts 2:7; Hebrews 7:26.) He is also “true,” meaning genuine and complete. He also hints about His regal claims as Ruler of this universe (“He who has the key of David”—3:7) and that even today He is sovereign, sitting at His Father’s right hand, waiting for His enemies to be made His footstool.
The church at Philadelphia represents churches the world over—regardless of their labels—which still remain true to the Word of God. The Lord sees their works, the fruit, in the lives of His believers (see Ephesians 2:8-10; James 2:18). If your life doesn’t produce fruit, then something is wrong. These works don’t save you but are good evidence that you are saved.
The Lord is the One who opens the doors of opportunity for you to know Him and His Word, and nobody hinders it. He intends for you to move in to Him and then out to the world to make Him known. They go together. We have little power, but He blesses us. This church in Philadelphia was humble; it had no impressive numbers, buildings, or programs, but the Lord said He will do the counting.
In a day of unbelief and skepticism, the Lord Jesus commends this church because it stands on His Word and remains true to Him by proclaiming Jesus as God and His substitutionary death for sinners. The Lord Jesus says that even the enemies of the Philadelphian church will know He loves this church.
This Bible-believing church lasted longer than any other of the seven churches mentioned in Revelation. Perhaps that was due to the Lord’s praise of their patience in keeping the Word of God. They waited for Jesus’ coming patiently (see 2 Thessalonians 3:5). In our present century, the doctrine of “end times” (eschatology) has developed more than in all previous centuries combined. People all over the world are interested in the second coming of Christ.
Christ’s final word of encouragement to His church is that it will not pass through the Great Tribulation. The church is to be removed from the world (see 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18), which is its comfort and hope (see Titus 2:13).
Such is the patient waiting of the church “… who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (Hebrews 6:12). The church is not anticipating the Great Tribulation with all of its judgment (see John 5:24; Revelation 13:1-8, 11- 17), but rather it is looking for Jesus Christ to call them out at the time of the Rapture. And when He comes, it will be “quickly”—meaning, suddenly. This is the promise that is the hope of the church.
The church is not looking for the Great Tribulation Period. Nowhere are we told to gird up our loins, grit our teeth, and clench our fists because the Great Tribulation is coming and we will certainly be going through it. Jesus never says that, but instead, “Looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13).
Jesus then gives John a vision for what our new identity and home will look like and the access we will have in His name to our new city. This is the passport and visa of the believer that will enable us, as citizens of heaven, to pass freely on this earth or anywhere in God’s universe. We are told to “go out no more” (v. 12), but with God’s passport we can go everywhere. Although paradoxical, it is all wonderfully and blessedly true. God will also give us a new name for Himself as a sign of our personal relationship with Him.
Listen with your whole heart to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.
Can or can’t you imagine how happy those Christians at Philadelphia must have been when they received this message from Jesus. They had been the true and faithful servants Jesus had talked about while he was on Earth. I imagine that maybe the Laodiceans looked at the Christians at Philadelphia in a new, rather envious way now.
Alright, before we get to the last church, I suppose it’s time for my scariest verse in the Bible.
But, you will not be able to understand why it is scary unless I explain something to you. In your life, water is an everyday, mundane subject. With your pipes, and pumps, and dams, and water towers…it’s everywhere, and water is virtually free to most of us in free countries. If one wants hot water, you’ve got it. If one wants cold water, you’ve got it. You can even have frozen water or steam whenever you want it.
We might not really have a conception of the true value of water in the time of the churches, water was the key to life. The Romans understood this, so they were the first people to perfect the art of moving water from one place to another using aqueducts, pipes, and storage tanks. Consequently, they could build cities and military bases wherever they wanted. Rome was an empire built on water systems.
The exact opposite was also true, whenever water became unavailable or unhealthy, entire cities were snuffed out of existence. Drought, broken aqueducts, unhealthy water supplies, could end the life of a city, and even an entire people. The subject of water was never far from our minds, as is evident with the many times Jesus talked about water.
Now…the scariest verse in the Bible. Jesus wrote the last of the seven letters to the church at Laodicea. Laodicea had no excuses. A few decades before, the apostle Paul had written a letter that told the church how to behave and believe. Even though the letter got shared, they didn’t pay attention to it.
Laodicea was a wealthy city, and some of the people of our church were very rich which was sometimes equated to wealth and goodness.
Jesus cautions us that the church’s physical wealth is worth nothing since we are in spiritual poverty. He warns them to acquire spiritual wealth by accepting his discipline and repenting of their actions and if they would do so, he would give them the right to sit with him on this throne.
Jesus starts his letter to the church by referring to the two sources of water supply for the city. Laodicea had no big natural fresh water springs. It it water from the northwest from the area know as Hierapolis. This area had hot mineral water springs., and hot mineral water baths were the hit of the area.
The other source of water was from Colossae, in the opposite direction. It had a cold fresh water spring. This water was remarkably refreshing to drink.
The trouble was, by the time the hot mineral water got to Laodicea, it was no longer hot. By the time the water from Colosse got to Laodicea, it was no longer cold. It was “lukewarm”…see where I’m going.
When Jesus said the following to the Laodiceans, I think we today should pay close attention. Listen to what Jesus told them…”I know your deeds that you are neither cold nor hot: I wis you were cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spew you out of my mouth.” Ouch, ouch, ouch!
In more modern terms, you are good for something or you are good for nothing. The Bible tells us of the many ways we can be good for something in the name of Jesus. However, if we choose to be good for nothing, Jesus will vomit us out of his mouth. Is there anything scarier than that?
A cold church has denied every essential doctrine of the faith, prefers its formality, and ignores and opposes the Word of God and the gospel of Christ. Hot speaks of those with real spiritual fervor and passion like the Christians in Ephesus, although they were even then getting away from their best love. Lukewarm—this is a picture of many churches today in the great denominations that have departed from the faith. They try to stay in the middle of the road—not coming out against the Word of God but not standing strong for it. This is the worst kind of hypocrisy (see 2 Timothy 3:5). “You’re professed Christians,” Jesus says, “You say you love Me, but you don’t mean it.”
Listen to these two messages carefully because we are living today in the time of the Laodicean church and of the Philadelphian church. Both of them, side by side, are those who believe the Word of God and follow it, love it, obey it, and those who reject it.
Jesus wasn’t done with His condemning observation of Laodicea. He says, “You brag, ‘I’m rich, I’ve got it made, I need nothing from anyone,’ oblivious that in fact you’re a pitiful, blind beggar, threadbare and homeless” (v. 17).
Laodicea believed money was the answer to every problem. They had more of it than the other churches. The church in Smyrna was poor, made up of slaves and poor folk. Yet on the spiritual side of the ledger, the Laodicean church is the “wretched” one, worse off than any of the seven churches. It is to be pitied because it is spiritually poverty-stricken, with no study of the Word, no love for Jesus, and no witnessing of His saving grace. Yet it is blind to its own true condition. It failed to tell people they were sinners, failed to tell them of sin’s consequence, and failed to offer them salvation in Jesus Christ. We are living in Laodicea today; the church is failing to witness to the saving grace of God.
In this, Jesus’ last message to the church, He says, “Be hot. Get on fire for God. Get rid of lukewarm Christianity and repent!” It is not too late even for those in this church today to turn to Christ. Jesus invites anyone to come to Him. “I stand at the door and knock,” Jesus says. “If you hear me call and open the door, I’ll come right in and sit down to supper with you” (v. 20). This speaks of fellowship, of feeding on the Word of God, and of coming to know Jesus Christ better. This is a glorious, gracious picture of the Lord Jesus at the heart’s door of the sinner, asking to be invited in. He will not crash the door. The Lord Jesus has moved heaven and hell to get to the door of your heart, but when He gets there, He will stop and knock. You will have to open the door to let Him in.
We must be very careful in our study of God’s Word not to run ahead of Him, but instead let Him be our teacher. If you have a blood-tipped ear, He wants you to hear what He has to say. Only the Spirit of God can make the Word of God real to you.
Back in the beginning of John’s vision, Jesus told him to write down “the things which are,” and now he’s done that. We’ve spent time with these seven churches and learned how they relate to the periods in which the church has lived. If we are a member of His church, we are part of this great company, beginning with the Day of Pentecost and coming down to the present hour—this is us, those who trust the Lord Jesus as their Savior.
In each of these messages to these churches, the Lord Jesus spoke to that local situation. He also blocked off all of church history, with each church representing a season and together covering the complete life of the church on earth. In each of these messages is a word for us today.
You’ve heard the scariest verse in the Bible to me. Now, want to hear one of the most peaceful verses in the Bible?... What happens if we are zealous and repent? Jesus says, “I will come in, and we will eat together.”
Next week: We’ll leave earth for heaven. This is Tammy Becker, See ya next time, God bless.
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