Have you ever wondered what the purpose of the Seven Churches spoken in the book of Revelation? Jesus speaks of the Seven Churches and gave John a message to write to them. These are the seven kinds of churches that dominate the world, not only then but now as well, and the people that dwell within them. He has a message for you in these letters just as He had a message for each of them.
Depending on where you stand in your faith, trust, and obedience to the Lord He has compliments, rebuke, a call to repentance, warnings, and a reward for steadfast faithfulness to Him. If you were to point out a church that claims Christ, it could be put in one of these 7 categories or churches.
As I survey each church briefly, make an honest examination of your own heart and your own ways. God has given everyone a chance to repent and obey His commands. He even writes them on your heart so you know what is good and what is evil. The question is what will you do? Follow what is evil and what is prevalent on the earth or will you do what is good and upright in the eyes of God to follow and obey the Lord.
These are not in order as they were written down, but laid out from the best, the holiest church to the worst, the most corrupt church. (Not a biblical order, just the order I put them in.)
1 Church of Philadelphia – The Chosen Church
“I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie—behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet, and they will learn that I have loved you.
Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown.
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. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Revelation 3:8-13
The people of this church have been chosen by God to be His faithful followers. They are chosen and He has opened a door to Heaven for them that no one can shut. Because of their steadfast faithfulness and the truth they proclaim the Lord will even cause the wicked to come and fall at their feet knowing God loved them.
They will be kept from the hour of trial, great will be their reward and great privileges will be given to them that He will give to no other. They would be the holiest and godliest of all the churches.
2 Church of Smyrna – The Spiritually Rich Persecuted Church
“I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.” Revelation 2:9-11
The people of this church are spiritually rich and faithful to the Lord and His Word. Though they may be poor, go through many struggles, beatings, taunted, and even are slandered by those who are false believers or are the servants of Satan who seek to silence and kill them. They will endure brief suffering but God has no rebuke for they are righteous and true even to death. They will receive the glorious Crown of Life and their destination is Heaven.
3 Church of Ephesus – The Loveless Church
“I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary.
But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.
Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.” Revelation 2:2-7
The people of this church are very involved in the local church, perhaps for their entire lives. May it be in ministry, leadership, helping in different ways in the community through the works of their church, or doing many different works and zealously doing good deeds. But they have forgotten their first love, Jesus, and to be loving, the most important command.
They have accomplished many good works yet have begun to do them without love but out of duty or a sense of status. They may have fallen into legalism and following the letter of the Law without considering the more important thing, God’s heart and the Spirit of the Law, which is to love one another.
God calls them to repent, turning back to love one another and put their focus on Jesus. Those who conquer, they will have their place in the paradise of God, Heaven, and their portion in the tree of life.
4 Church of Thyatira – The Half Good Half Evil Church
“I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first. But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols.
I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am He who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works.
But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call the deep things of Satan, to you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden. Only hold fast what you have until I come.
The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father. And I will give him the morning star. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Revelation 2:19-25
The people of this church are either very good and righteous before the Lord or very evil. Yet they dwell together. The good people in this church are faithful to God and continue to grow in their faith, holding fast to what they have been given. The wicked in this church have completely given themselves over to sexual immorality, the worship of idols, and all kinds of hidden depravity. God has given the wicked time to repent but they refused. He will punish them severely with sickness and death because of their evil deeds.
But to the righteous and their faithful endurance in the face of such depravity and temptation, they will be given a place of authority and rule with the Lord Jesus Himself.
5 Church of Laodicea – The Deceived Church
“I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.
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. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. 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 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. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Revelation 3:15-20
The people of this church are wealthy and prosperous in the eyes of the world. They have all the good things this world has to offer and they are prominent and puffed up with pride. They do not depend on God for anything but their own wealth, abilities, accomplishments, and arrogance. Little do they know they are filthy, poor, and wretched in God’s sight, and He is about to spew them out of His mouth to destruction.
But still, God will reprove and discipline a chosen few, those who are His, who have been called by His name to repentance. Those who conquer, repent, and follow Him will have the great right to sit upon His throne with Jesus himself, just as Jesus sits on the throne with the Father.
6 Church of Sardis – The Church of False Converts
“I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God.
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. 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.
The 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. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Revelation 3:1-6
The people of this church have heard the Gospel and the Word of God preached to them many times. They have verses memorized and can spout them at a moments notice, but they have not taken them to heart.
They believe that they are truly saved, but they are dead wrong. The fruit of their lives is spoiled and this is proof that their faith is lukewarm, apathetic, blind, and worthless in the sight of God.
They may be a Sunday Christian. They attend church every Sunday, praise God with their lips, claim to have faith, but have no deeds, and the rest of the week live as they please. They are neither on fire for God or totally against Him.
Claiming to love Him, they do not practice what they preach. They have one foot in the church and the other in the world. They ride the fence.
God is still calling them that they may repent. A few will, those who do will be clothed in white, for God says, they are worthy. God says, their names will not be blotted out of the book of life. Which it seems that the rest of them will have their names blotted out.
7 Church of Pergamum – The Adulterous Pagan Church
“I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. Yet you hold fast my name, and you did not deny my faith even in the days of Antipas my faithful witness, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality. So also you have some who hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans.
Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth.
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.” Revelation 2:13-17
The people in this final church seem to be the worst of them all. They have turned the church into a farce, a mockery, adulterous, and full of idolatry. Not at all what the Spirit called the church to be.
Their church is full of hidden pagan practices, secret or open sexual immorality, and open idol worship throughout. Where secret evil is both hidden from the eyes of the world and exposed and at the same time.
They have changed the traditions of God and the worship of Him into following and adhering to the traditions of man and worshiping dead saints, statues, religious items, and hold to the doctrines of demons.
In the same breath they claim they worship God and give him thanks, but they practice all kinds of evil. Even to the point of proclaiming they are the true church, the only way to God, and follow Him in the right way.
God calls them to repent and the few that do overcome and conquer, He will give to them a special reward. Giving them hidden spiritual food to eat in the midst of being starved of the true Word. They will be pure and receive a new name that no one else can know, and a place promised in heaven.
Please examine yourself and take an honest evaluation of what church you are in and the dangers that lay within. Determine to be one of those who are faithful to the Lord even in the face of persecution, temptation, trial, and even if you are surrounded by utter wickedness. Do as the Lord commands and repent, follow, and obey Him in everything, and great will be your reward in Heaven.
“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.” Isaiah 55:1-2
“And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.” Revelation 22:7
“Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” Revelation 22:12-13