In Revelation 2, the Lord Jesus Christ says this:
“‘To the angel of the church in Ephesus write:
These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, he that walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks: I know thy works, and thy toil and patience, and that thou canst not bear evil men, and didst try them that call themselves apostles, and they are not, and didst find them false; and thou hast patience and didst bear for my name’s sake, and hast not grown weary. But I have this against thee, that thou didst leave thy first love. Remember therefore whence thou art fallen, and repent and do the first works; or else I come to thee, and will move thy candlestick out of its place, except thou repent. But this thou hast, that thou hatest the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches. To him that overcometh, to him will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the Paradise of God.
And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write:
These things saith the first and the last, who was dead, and lived again: I know thy tribulation, and thy poverty (but thou art rich), and the blasphemy of them that say they are Jews, and they are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Fear not the things which thou art about to suffer: behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days. Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee the crown of life. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches. He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.
And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write:
These things saith he that hath the sharp two-edged sword: I know where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s throne is; and thou holdest fast my name, and didst not deny my faith, even in the days of Antipas my witness, my faithful one, who was killed among you, where Satan dwelleth. But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there some that hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit fornication. So hast thou also some that hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans in like manner. Repent therefore; or else I come to thee quickly, and I will make war against them with the sword of my mouth. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches. To him that overcometh, to him will I give of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and upon the stone a new name written, which no one knoweth but he that receiveth it.
And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write:
These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like a flame of fire, and his feet are like unto burnished brass: I know thy works, and thy love and faith and ministry and patience, and that thy last works are more than the first. But I have this against thee, that thou sufferest the woman Jezebel, who calleth herself a prophetess; and she teacheth and seduceth my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed to idols. And I gave her time that she should repent; and she willeth not to repent of her fornication. Behold, I cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of her works. And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he that searcheth the [minds] and hearts: and I will give unto each one of you according to your works. But to you I say, to the rest that are in Thyatira, as many as have not this teaching, who know not the deep things of Satan, as they are wont to say; I cast upon you none other burden. Nevertheless that which ye have, hold fast till I come. And he that overcometh, and he that keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give authority over the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron, as the vessels of the potter are broken to [pieces]; as I also have received of my Father: and I will give him the morning star. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches.'”
In this passage, the Lord Jesus Christ gives His messages for distracted churches, distressed churches, divided churches, and deviant churches.
In verses 1-7, Jesus gives His message to a distracted church. He begins by commanding the Apostle John to write to the angel, or messenger, of the church in Ephesus, a major center of culture and religion near the west coast of modern-day Turkey. He goes on to command John to write that the One who holds the seven stars, or messengers of the seven churches, in His right hand, the hand of authority and power, and who walks among the seven golden lampstands, or seven churches established by the Lord Jesus Christ, says what follows.
In verses 2-7, Christ gives His message to the church in Ephesus. He starts by saying that He knows their deeds and toil and perseverance, that they cannot tolerate evil people, that they test those who call themselves apostles, but are not, found them to be false, that they have perseverance and have endured for the sake of His name, or trustworthy reputation, and have not grown weary. However, He goes on, He has this against them: that they have left their first love. Therefore, He commands them to remember from where they have fallen, and to repent, or change the way they think, and to do what they did when they first became Christians. Otherwise, He warns, He will come to them and remove their lampstand, or church body, out of where it is — unless they repent. Nevertheless, He concedes, they hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, who were against keeping God’s commandments, and He also hates their deeds. Finally, He commands those who have an ear to hear what God the Spirit, through Him, says to the churches, and promises those who overcome the world that He will allow them to eat from the tree of eternal life that is in God’s Paradise, so they will live forever in God’s Paradise.
In verses 8-11, Christ gives a message to a distressed church. He first commands John to write to the messenger of this church in Smyrna, near the west coast of modern-day Turkey. He begins His message to the church by calling Himself the first and the last, or the One who determined the end of all things from before the foundation of the universe, who was dead, and has come to life.
In verse 9, He tells the church in Smyrna that He knows their trouble and poverty, but that they are spiritually rich with eternal riches, and He knows the blasphemy, or false characterizing of God, by those who say they are Jews, but are not, but are really a synagogue of Satan. Then, He commands them to not be afraid what they are about to suffer. What are they about to suffer? He tells them that the devil is about to cast some of them into prison, so that they will be tested, and that they will have trouble for ten days. He then commands them to be faithful to Him until death, and then He will give them the crown of life, or the future blessings of eternal life in the next life. Finally, He commands anyone who has an ear to hear what the Spirit says to the churches, and promises those who overcome the world that they will not be hurt by the second death, or eternal damnation.
In verses 12-17, Christ gives a message to a divided church. This church is identified as the church in Pergamum, which was also near the west coast of modern-day Turkey. Then, Christ calls Himself the One who has the sharp two-edged sword, or the Word of God. Next, He tells them that He knows that they live where Satan’s throne is, or where he reigns, that they hold fast His trustworthy reputation, and that they did not deny His faith, or gospel, even in the days of one of His faithful witnesses who was killed among them, where Satan lives. However, He rebukes, He has a few things against them because some of them hold to the teaching of Balaam, a false prophet, who kept teaching Balak, a pagan king, to put a stumbling block in front of the Israelites, so they would eat things sacrificed to false gods and commit sexual immorality. In the same way, He continues, some of them hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Therefore, He commands them to repent, or He will come to them quickly, and will fight against the followers of the Nicolaitans with the sword of His mouth. Finally, He commands those who have ears to hear what the Spirit says to the churches, and promises that He will give those who overcome the world some of the hidden bread of God, a white, or holy, stone, and a new name on it which no one knows but the one who gets it. The stone refers to the stones that were given to athletes at that time if they won in an athletic competition, and served as the ticket for admission to the victor’s celebration.
In verses 18-29, Christ gives His message to a deviant church. This church is the one in Thyatira, another town near the west coast of modern-day Turkey. He begins by calling Himself the Son of God, or One who shares the essence and nature of God Himself, who has eyes like flames, and feet like burnished bronze. The description of His eyes being like flames refers to His ability to eternally damn those He looks at, as well as His perfect perception of all He looks at, as fire reveals the reality of what it illuminates. The fact that His feet are like burnished, or shiny, bronze, refers to His role as High Priest of the church, as the Old Testament altar of burnt offering was covered with bronze, and its tools were made of bronze. As High Priest, He intercedes for the saints as their Advocate before the Father.
In verse 19, Christ begins His message to the deviant church by telling them He knows their deeds, their self-giving love, their faith, their service, their perseverance, and that their latest deeds are better than at first. However, He goes on, He is against the fact that they tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, but teaches and leads His slaves astray so they commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to false gods. Furthermore, He continues, He gave her time to repent, but she does not want to repent of her sexual immorality. Therefore, He promises, He will make her bedridden with sickness, and will give great trouble to those who commit adultery with her, unless they repent of her evil deeds. Also, He adds that He will kill her children with plague, and that all the seven churches will know that He is the One who searches all minds and hearts. In addition, He says, He will give each one of the people in the churches according to their deeds. Nevertheless, He says to those who do not hold to the teaching of Jezebel, who have not known the deep things of Satan, that He doesn’t give them any other burden, but to hold fast the true teaching and righteousness until He comes. Next, He promises that those who overcome the world and practice Christlikeness will be given authority over the people groups, and that they will rule them with a rod of iron, as the vessels of the potter are broken to pieces, as He also has received authority from His Father, and that He will give them the morning star of future eternal life in the eternal day of God, when there is no night. Finally, He commands anyone who has an ear to hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
So, do you toil and persevere, yet do not tolerate evil people in your church and test those who call themselves people who are sent by Christ, and endure for the sake of Christ’s trustworthy reputation, and do not grow weary?
Have you left your first love of only God and people?
Do you hate the deeds of those against keeping God’s commandments?
Do you fear persecution, or do you believe that, if you are faithful to Christ until death, He will give you the crown of life?
Do you hold fast the trustworthy reputation of Christ, and do not deny His gospel?
Do you allow people in your church to hold to the teaching of Balaam, who kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the Israelites, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit acts of sexual immorality?
Do you love in deed and in truth, believe God’s Word, serve God and others, and are your latest deeds of love and service greater than those at first?
Do you tolerate false prophets or prophetesses in your church who teach and lead Christ’s slaves astray so they sin?
Are you holding fast the gospel and the practice of righteousness?
Are you overcoming the world and practicing Christlikeness?
Are you hearing what the Spirit says to the churches?
Do you understand why Christ died? The Apostle Paul wrote about it this way:
“. . . I make known unto you brethren, the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye received, wherein also ye stand, by which also ye are saved, if ye hold fast the word which I preached unto you, except ye believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which also I received: that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried; and that he hath been raised on the third day according to the scriptures; and that he appeared to Cephas; then to the twelve; then he appeared to above five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain until now, but some are fallen asleep; then he appeared to James; then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to the child untimely born, he appeared to me also. For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.” 1 Corinthians 15:1-9
This is what the Apostle John said about the gospel in John 1:1-18:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him; and without him was not anything made that hath been made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in the darkness; and the darkness apprehended it not. There came a man, sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for witness, that he might bear witness of the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came that he might bear witness of the light. There was the true light, even the light which lighteth every man, coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and they that were his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he the right to become children of God, even to them that believe on his name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father), full of grace and truth. John beareth witness of him, and crieth, saying, This was he of whom I said, He that cometh after me is become before me: for he was before me. For of his fulness we all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.”
This is what Christ Himself said about the gospel:
“. . . God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.” John 3:16-20
John the Baptist said this: “. . . he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on [stays directed toward] him.” – John 3:36
The Apostle Paul said this in Romans 2:4-16 and 1:18-32:
“. . . despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? but after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up for thyself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; who will render to every man according to his works: to them that by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and incorruption, eternal life: but unto them that are factious, and obey not the truth, but obey unrighteousness, shall be wrath and indignation, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that worketh evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Greek; but glory and honor and peace to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek: for there is no respect of persons with God. For as many as have sinned without the law shall also perish without the law: and as many as have sinned under the law shall be judged by the law; for not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified; (for when Gentiles that have not the law do by nature the things of the law, these, not having the law, are the law unto themselves; in that they show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness therewith, and their thoughts one with another accusing or else excusing them); in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men, according to my gospel, by Jesus Christ.”
“. . . the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hinder the truth in unrighteousness; because that which is known of God is manifest in them; for God manifested it unto them. For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity; that they may be without excuse: because that, knowing God, they glorified him not as God, neither gave thanks; but became vain in their reasonings, and their senseless heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God for the likeness of an image of corruptible man, and of birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts unto uncleanness, that their bodies should be dishonored among themselves: for that they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile passions: for their women changed the natural use into that which is against nature: and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another, men with men working unseemliness, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was due. And even as they refused to have God in their knowledge, God gave them up unto a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, hateful to God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant-breakers, without natural affection, unmerciful: who, knowing the ordinance of God, that they that practise such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but also consent with them that practise them.”
Speaking of those that practice sin, the Apostle Paul uses this quote:
“. . . There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none that understandeth, There is none that seeketh after God; They have all turned aside, they are together become unprofitable; There is none that doeth good, no, not so much as one: Their throat is an open sepulchre; With their tongues they have used deceit: The poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness . . .” – Romans 3:10-14
This is my appeal to you, as written by the Apostle Paul:
“. . . we beseech you on behalf of Christ, be ye reconciled to God. Him who knew no sin he made to be sin on our behalf; that we might become the righteousness of God in him.” – 2 Corinthians 5:20b-21
This is how you become reconciled to God:
“. . . if thou shalt confess [acknowledge] with thy mouth Jesus as Lord [Greek: kurios, or Supreme in Authority], and shalt believe in thy heart that God raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved: for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be put to shame. For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek: for the same Lord is Lord of all, and is rich unto all that call upon him [depend upon Him]: for, Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord [who He is, what He has done, and what He can do] shall be saved.” Romans 10:9-13