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“Unto the Seven Churches”

Revelation 1:11


John was commanded to send the Savior’s letters to the seven churches of Asia. Those seven churches were representative of all true, gospel churches in the world. What are we to learn from the Savior’s letters to the seven churches?


None Perfect

Perhaps the most obvious thing to be seen in these letters from the Lord Jesus to his churches is the fact that there is no such thing as a perfect church in this world. I have seen many, many people who think themselves spiritual giants, who have never been able to fit into any local church. They skip from one to another, looking for one worthy of them. Consequently, they never find any to which they commit themselves.

            The fact is, there are no perfect churches in this world. Each of the seven churches in Asia had its own excellence and its own defect, its own danger and its own duty. Yet, they were true gospel churches.

We see this throughout the New Testament. The Churches at Corinth, Galatia, and Colosse, with all their faults, were true churches with many excellencies. The Son of God attended church regularly with Judas Iscariot, and never mentioned the fact that Judas was a devil to anyone.

As we read our Lord’s letters to the seven churches, we see that one is loyal to the Lord, another wavering. One is on fire, another losing its first love. One has a great reputation, though it is dead. Another is in great poverty, though it is very rich in grace. One church abounds in every good work, while another is fast asleep. In the churches most full of life, some are dead. In the churches most dead, some are full of life!

Loyal and faithful men do not forsake and abandon a ship when it is in trouble. They rally to save it. The only justifiable grounds for separating from a true gospel church is when it ceases to be a true gospel church, when it no longer holds to and proclaims the gospel of God’s free and sovereign grace.


Christ Revealed

The Lord Jesus reveals and manifests himself to his churches to meet their needs. — He walks in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks, not to make us feel good and shout and have a good time, but to graciously meet the needs of His people.

To Ephesus Christ reveals himself as “he that walketh in the midst,” to observe and correct. To Smyrna he is “the Living One,” who gives the crown of life. To Pergamos he comes the “the sharp sword,” to sever and slay, to divide and destroy from her all that would destroy her. To Thyatira his “eyes are like a flame of fire,” to see all, see through all, and to consume all that is dross. To Sardis the Savior comes as he who “hath the seven spirits of God,” to quicken, revive, and give life, raising his church from her spiritual death. To Philadelphia Christ appears as “he that hath the key of David,” to open to the faithful all the bountiful  treasures of  the  house  of  God.   To Laodicea he is “the Faithful and True Witness,” to expose her pride and sin, to call her to repentance, to chasten and to correct his fallen, languishing people.


Christ Preserves

The Lord Jesus, who walks in the midst of his churches, preserves and keeps them; yet, he expects and requires of every local church and every person in it faithfulness, loyalty, and perseverance, no matter what their difficulties are. Not one of the letters to the seven churches gives us the slightest reason to imagine that the adversities and trials of the people might justify laxity, indifference, or surrender. On the contrary. Our Savior constantly assures us that his grace is sufficient, his love is immutable, his faithfulness is sure, his intercession prevails, and his hand is strong.

            Whatever our trial or temptation is, Christ is greater. He will sustain us, as we cling to him (1 Corinthians 10:13).


Fidelity or Infidelity

The Lord God will preserve or remove this candlestick or any other, according to our fidelity or infidelity to Christ and his gospel (Revelation. 2:5). “Judgment must begin at the house of God” (1 Peter 4:17). It always does. When our Lord spots unfaithfulness in us, he will do one of two things. Either he will chasten us and drive away our sin, or he will judge us and sweep us away in his wrath.

No true church has anything to fear, except indifference to Christ. If this local church or any other is to be preserved and persevere in the service of Christ, every member must himself overcome those things that hinder obedience and impede faithfulness to Christ.




Don Fortner








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