One church appeared successful, but many members were morally lax. Another had compromised its values and was being absorbed by the surrounding culture. The churches in first century Sardis and Laodicea were in difficulty, and Jesus’ letters in Revelation 3 called them back to being the living communities He intended. As Alistair Begg explores these passages, we see that Christ extends grace to troubled churches, calling believers to repent and look to Him for hope and strength.
1“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.
“‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. 3Remember, 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. 4Yet 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. 5The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. 6He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’
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! 16So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. 17For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18I 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. 19Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. 20Behold, 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. 21The 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. 22He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”
Everyone loves to receive mail, especially when it’s from someone we deeply love or respect. How much more, then, would we long to know what Jesus would say in a letter to us?
The truth is that He did write letters to His Church – specifically, to seven first century churches – and sent His mail through the Apostle John in the Book of Revelation. As Alistair Begg guides us through these letters, we learn that the issues addressed by the Lord Jesus 2000 years ago are timeless in their application. Churches and individual Christians today face the same challenges, and we need to hear the same words of warning and encouragement as those early believers: words that say He knows our circumstances; words that call us to reject compromise; words that promise faithfulness will be rewarded in the coming Kingdom.
The risen Lord Jesus has sent the Church some mail. Are we prepared to read what He’s written?
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