Letters to the Church: I Know Your Works

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament prophetic book of the Revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ as written by the apostle John. More specifically today’s passage is found in the second and third chapters. “Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil; and thou. Hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars; and hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He that hath an hear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God” (Revelation 2:1-7).

 

            “And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive; I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (But thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall 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 a crown of life. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death” (Revelation 2:8-11).

 

            “And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges; I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth. But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat thing sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of thy mouth. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it” (Revelation 2:12-17).

 

            “And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fin brass; I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first. Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultewry with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works. But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatria, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden. But that which ye have already hold fast till I come. And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the. Nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father. And I will give him the morning star. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches” (Revelation 2:18-29).

 

            “And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that hour livest, and art dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come upon thee. Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy. He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches” (Revelation 3:1-6).

 

            “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name. Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do like; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee. Because thou hast kept the word of patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write unto him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write unto him my new name. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches” (Revelation 3:7-13).

 

 

            “And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold not hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with good, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come. In to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. He that heath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches” (Revelation 3:14-22).

 

            When you come to the second and third chapters of the New Testament prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ you will find a series of letters which were written unto the seven churches which were located in Asia. In the first and opening chapter of this prophetic book you will find John beginning and opening up this book with a customary greeting used in the epistles and writings of the New Testament authors. Contained within that greeting was the declaration and proclamation that this book would indeed be written unto a series of specific churches which were present in the midst of the land of Asia. You cannot read the opening chapter of this prophetic book without encountering the tremendous truth that the book contained seven letters—each which was written unto a specific church within the land of Asia during those days. What’s more is that when you encounter the resurrected, ascended and exalted Jesus Christ in this passage of Scripture you will find Him standing in the midst of the seven golden lampstands which would be revealed to be the seven churches which were in Asia. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for to do so would be to miss out on the reality that this epistle was indeed written unto very specific churches which were present in the midst of the land of Asia during that time.

 

            As you read the words found and contained within this epistle you are not given any indication or clue as to why these particular churches were those which the Lord Jesus instructed the apostle John to write letters unto, however, we must needs recognize and understand that there must indeed have been some incredible importance and significance of these churches for the Lord Jesus to instruct the apostle John to write letters unto them during these days. The apostle John was the last of the apostles to remain alive upon the earth and at the time of the writing of the prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ he was exiled to the isle of Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. It would be there on the isle of Patmos the apostle John would be in the Spirit on the Lord’s day and would hear a voice speaking to him from behind. The voice would clearly instruct him to write everything that was spoken unto him and to send it unto the seven churches which were in Asia. More specifically these seven churches are in what is known today as modern day Turkey. One of the churches would indeed be well known by most students and scholars of the Scripture for the very first church the Lord Jesus instructed the apostle John to write to was the church of the Ephesian saints. If you read the second and third chapters of this prophetic book you will indeed find the Lord Jesus instructing the apostle John to write letters unto seven specific churches which were present in the midst of the region of Asia beginning with the church of Ephesus.

 

            I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found in the opening chapter—and not only the words which are found in the opening chapter but also the words which are found in the second and third chapters—and I can’t help but be brought face to face with the awesome and wonderful truth surrounding the Lord Jesus Christ instructing His apostle to write very specific letters unto these seven churches which were located in Asia. These seven churches and/or these seven specific cities and locations would have had strategic significance and importance during those days and would have been incredibly valuable to send letters unto. Beginning with the city of Ephesus which we know from Scripture the apostle Paul would preach and minister over the space of three years the Lord Jesus Christ would begin addressing these specific churches which were present in the midst of the land. What we know and understand about the church of Ephesus is that not only the apostle Paul minister unto the church but so also would Timothy himself minister in the midst of this church. In the second epistle written unto this spiritual son in the faith you will find that he was ordained the first bishop of the congregation of the Ephesian saints. This is something we must needs recognize and understand for when we consider the church of Ephesus being one of these seven churches which were addressed by the Lord Jesus Christ we have to understand that they would witness and experience the presence and preaching both the apostle Paul and Timothy. Not only this but it is said that the New Testament gospel of John as well as at least the first epistle written by the same author were written unto this congregation which previously had a letter written unto it by the apostle Paul.

 

            If you take the time to read the prophetic book of the Revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ you will find that aside from a vision of the resurrected, exalted and ascended Jesus in the opening chapter this epistle would begin with the eternal and only begotten Son of God speaking to and addressing the churches which were present in the midst of the region of Asia. While the entire prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ does indeed deal specifically and exclusively with the judgments of the eternal God upon the inhabitants of the earth for their gross immorality, wickedness, rebellion, iniquity and transgression the prophetic book would not begin with these judgments. In a book where the judgment of the living God takes center stage as He executes judgment against and upon all unrighteousness and wickedness in the midst of the earth you find Him beginning with the Church. Before the Lord Jesus Christ would come forth from heaven accompanied by the host of heaven He would speak directly to the church. This is something we must needs recognize and understand—especially when reading the fourth chapter of the first epistle written by the apostle Peter. It is in the fourth chapter of the epistle written by the apostle Peter we find him writing concerning judgment first beginning with the church. In fact the exact language that is used is that judgment must needs begin in the house of God and would be followed by the apostle Peter asking if the righteous scarcely be saved then what would be the lot of the wicked which are present in the midst of the earth.

            The more I read the prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ the more I can’t help but be brought face to face with the awesome and incredible reality of the Lord speaking to His churches before He would turn and direct His attention to the inhabitants of the earth. You cannot read this prophetic book of the Revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ without and apart from coming face to face with the wonderful truth surrounding Jesus speaking directly to these seven churches which were present in the region of Asia. This is something we must needs recognize and understand when reading this particular epistle for when we take the time to read it we find a powerful sense of language that is centered upon these seven churches which were indeed existing within the earth during these days and times. Before we read of a single judgment being meted out against and upon the earth together with its inhabitants we first find the Lord Jesus Christ speaking directly unto the church and holding them accountable. Before the Lord Jesus would ever turn and direct His attention in judgment and wrath against the inhabitants of the earth we find Him first speaking directly unto the church in the midst of the earth and calling them into question concerning their own actions and deeds. Oh when reading the prophetic book of the Revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ there is a great need to pay close attention to the fact that the Lord Jesus would not deal with the world without first speaking to and warning the church which was present in the midst of the earth.

 

            As I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found in this passage of Scripture I can’t help but be brought face to face with the fact that before the eternal God would execute and exercise judgment upon the inhabitants of the earth the Lord Jesus—and not only the Lord Jesus but the person of the Holy Spirit—would speak directly unto the church. In fact at the end of each of the seven letters which were written unto these seven churches we find the Lord Jesus emphatically declaring unto and inviting them who have ears to hear what the Spirit is speaking unto the churches. You cannot read these seven epistles without encountering and coming face to face with the tremendous invitation given by the Lord Jesus Christ—not only to hear and listen to His voice and His words but also to hear and listen to the words which the Spirit was speaking unto the churches. It is absolutely impossible to read the words which are found in these two chapters without recognizing and understanding the voice and presence of the Holy Spirit speaking unto the churches. What you will notice in each of these seven epistles is that the Lord Jesus didn’t speak unto these churches and invite them to hear what the Spirit was speaking unto their church or unto the church but what the Spirit was speaking unto the churches. This is something we must needs recognize for while these epistles and letters would indeed be written unto the churches there would be the strong undercurrent and tone of the voice of the Holy Spirit which was indeed speaking unto them.

 

            If you want to understand the words which are found in the second and third chapters of the prophetic book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ you must needs recognize and understand certain similarities which exist between the letters which were written unto these churches. Upon taking the time to read the words found within these letters you will find the Lord Jesus Christ speaking to and addressing each of the seven churches concerning their works and that which was manifest before the One whose eyes are as flames of fire. Within each of these seven epistles you can and will be brought face to face with the powerful truth that the Lord Jesus would indeed reveal Himself in a very specific way and manner unto each of the seven churches. It is impossible to read the words which are found in these epistles and not encounter and come face to face with the incredible truth that the Lord Jesus would indeed reveal a certain piece and portion of Himself unto these seven churches. You cannot read these epistles without being brought face to face with the truly wonderful reality of the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ as He would indeed reveal Himself unto each of these seven churches. Consider if you will the following revelations which were given unto each of these seven churches beginning with the church which was at Ephesus:

 

            “These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks” (Revelation 2:1).

 

            “These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive” (Revelation 2:8).

 

            “These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges” Revelation 2:12).

 

            “These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass” (Revelation 2:18).

 

            “These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars” (Revelation 3:1).

 

            “These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth” (Revelation 3:7).

 

            “These things saith the amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God” (Revelation 3:14).

 

            Please don’t miss the incredible importance of what is found in each of these epistles and letters written unto the seven churches for within each of these letters is a powerful revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ. When speaking unto each of the seven churches the Lord Jesus would indeed reveal a portion of Himself unto them. It’s interesting that in each of these epistles and letters the Lord Jesus Christ didn’t explicitly declare that they were written from the Lord Jesus Christ or that they were written from Jesus of Nazareth. When speaking directly unto these seven churches the Lord Jesus Christ would declare that the words which were spoken and contained within the letters themselves were written and spoken by one who was eternal and divine nature. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for there is something incredibly powerful when reading these words as we are brought face to face with the wonderful and beautiful revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ. When we read the prophetic book of the Revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ we find Him first revealing Himself unto the apostle John on the isle of Patmos and then immediately after that revelation the Lord Jesus Christ would speak directly unto each of these seven churches. As He spoke unto these seven churches the Lord Jesus would indeed speak unto them and reveal Himself unto them that which He had revealed unto the apostle John. Oh it is with this being said I invite you to consider the following words which are written and recorded in the first and opening chapter of this prophetic book concerning the vision which the apostle John saw concerning the resurrected and ascended Jesus Christ. It is in the first and opening chapter we find the apostle John first hearing a voice speaking unto him and upon turning around to see the one who spoke unto him he would be met with a powerful vision and revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself:

 

            “I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last; and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea” (Revelation 1:9-10).

 

            These words describe the voice which the apostle John heard while he was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day for he described the voice he heard as being a great voice as of a trumpet. This voice which spoke unto him would not only proclaim and declare that He was Alpha and Omega and the first and the last but would also instruct him to write in a book and send unto the seven churches which were in Asia. This is something we must needs recognize and understand when reading this prophetic book of the Revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ for when we read it we must needs recognize that it wasn’t merely the individual letter which was written unto each church sent unto it. If you read the words which are found in the first and opening chapter of this prophetic book you will find the Lord Jesus Christ instructing the apostle John to write all those things which He saw in a book and to send that book unto the seven churches which were in Asia. What we must needs understand is that this either indicates that there was one book that was circulated between and among the seven churches which were in Asia or there would be seven copies of this one book that would indeed be sent unto these seven churches. Scripture is entirely unclear whether or not there was one master copy of the prophetic book of the Revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ which was read in the midst of each of these seven churches or if there were indeed seven different copies of this book which would be written and delivered unto each of these churches.

 

            I am sitting here today thinking about and considering the tremendous truth found within the opening chapter of this prophetic book and I can’t help but encounter and come face to face with the beautiful reality that this prophetic book was indeed written as one book which would needs be sent unto the seven churches which were in Asia. What we find in the opening chapter of this prophetic book is the instruction given unto the apostle John that what he saw he was to write in a book and send it unto the seven churches which were in Asia. This clearly indicates the fact that what we find and read within this prophetic book from beginning to end would be sent unto the seven churches which were in Asia. What’s more is that each of the seven churches would not only hear the letter written and read unto them but they would also hear the letters which were written unto the other churches which were present in Asia. Not only this but each of the seven churches which were present in Asia would have read among them the rest of this prophetic book which would describe the events which took place in heaven as well as that which was manifested in the midst of the earth. That which we find within this prophetic book of the Revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ must needs be understood as a book that was written by the apostle John and sent unto the seven churches which were in Asia—churches that would indeed hear that which the Spirit was speaking unto the churches.

 

            As we turn our attention back to the first and opening chapter of this prophetic book we must needs recognize and understand the vision and appearance which the apostle John had witnessed and beheld when he turned to see the voice which had spoken to him. Much like Moses which turned aside at the sight of the bush which was burning with flames of fire and yet was not consumed the apostle John would turn himself to see the voice and the One who was speaking unto him. It would be when he turned around he would not only see the One who had spoken unto him but would also see a powerful image and vision of the one who had spoken unto Him. This is something we must needs recognize and understand for the apostle John was indeed one of three apostles who was with Jesus atop the mountain when He was transfigured before them in their presence. The apostle John saw the appearance of the Lord Jesus transfigured atop the mountain as He would be clothed with a radiance and glory likened unto the sun in all its strength. Not only this but the apostle John would personally witness the Lord Jesus Christ’s appearance being changed and His speaking with Moses and Elijah concerning His decease and that which He would accomplish in the city of Jerusalem. Now here while on the isle of Patmos the apostle John would see a vision of the same One whom he had walked with and followed for three and a half years and whom He had witnessed suffer and ultimately taste death before being raised from death to life on the third day. Here on the isle of Patmos the apostle John would see and behold a powerful vision and revelation of the Lord Jesus—one which he had never personally experienced before:

 

            “And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; and in the mist of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; and his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength” (Revelation 1:12-16).

 

            It would be when the apostle John would turn around to see the One who had spoken unto him and upon turning around he would indeed see a wonderful and powerful vision of the Lord Jesus Christ. I can’t help but wonder what it must have been like for the apostle John to turn around and see the One who was standing before Him in the midst of the golden candlesticks and the One who held the seven stars in His hand. Was the apostle John aware that the One who was standing before him was indeed the Lord Jesus Christ whom he had personally walked with and followed for three and a half years? Was the apostle John aware of the fact that the One who was standing before him was the same one whose image and countenance was changed and transfigured before both and his brother as well as the apostle Peter? Did the apostle John know that the one who was standing before him on this particular day was indeed the One who had suffered in the flesh and had ultimately tasted and experienced death at the hands of both sinners and Jews alike? Regardless of whether or not the apostle John knew whether or not this One who was standing before him was the Lord Jesus Christ I would dare say he was incredibly captivated with and by the vision and appearance of this one whose image was like unto the Son of man and who was clothed with a garment down to the foot and girt about with a golden girdle. Needless to say this would be an image and vision of the Lord Jesus Christ the apostle John had never experienced before within his earthly and natural life.

 

            Scripture records that when the apostle John saw this One who was standing before him he fell down at his feet as dead. When this One who was standing before him witnessed him fall down at his feet as dead He would lay His right hand upon him and speak gently to him. The apostle John writes and records how the Lord Jesus would lay His right hand upon him and would immediately speak unto him instructing him to fear not for He was the first and the last. Moreover the One who laid His hand upon him and instructed him to fear not would also go on to declare that He was one who lived and was dead and now behold is alive forevermore. Not only this but the One who was speaking unto the apostle John would also go on to declare that He held the keys of hell and of death having Himself conquered both through His death and resurrection from the grave. This One who would speak unto the apostle John would indeed call and invite him once more to write those things which he had seen and the things which were at that time and the things which would be still to come. Once more the Lord Jesus would instruct the apostle John to write all that he saw with the exception that this time the apostle would be instructed to write those things which he had seen, those things which were at that time and those things which would be thereafter. Immediately following this the Lord Jesus would speak unto the apostle John and reveal the mystery of the seven stars as He would declare the seven stars were the seven angels of the seven churches. Furthermore the Lord Jesus Christ would go on to reveal the mystery of the seven golden candlesticks which were the seven churches which were in the region of Asia.

 

            If there is one thing we must needs recognize when reading this particular epistle it’s that the apostle John would indeed write in a book all those things which he saw and when the seven churches received this book they would not only read of the vision of the Lord Jesus Christ, would not only read the individual letter written unto them, would not only read the letters written unto the church but would also read of the events which took place in heaven and on the earth. One of the greatest things we must needs recognize and understand when reading the words which are found in this passage of Scripture is that at the very heart and center of this prophetic book is the manifestation of that which takes place in heaven within and upon the earth. You cannot read this prophetic book of the Revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ and not see at the very heart and center of it the link and connection between heaven and earth. In fact within this prophetic book you will find the events which took place in heaven directly impacting and having an effect upon the earth together with its inhabitants. Much like the Lord of hosts would send ten plagues and judgments upon the land of Egypt together with its inhabitants so also would the living God send a series of plagues and judgments against and upon the earth. Each of the seven churches would read the words and language found in this book and would not only witness and behold the vision of heaven but would also witness and experience a vision of the Lord Jesus Christ. Throughout this particular epistle there are several different visions and manifestations of the Lord Jesus Christ as we begin by seeing Him standing in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks and conclude with seeing Him at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb—and not only at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb but also ruling and reigning upon the earth for one thousand years.

 

            There is something truly incredible about the words which are found in this particular prophetic book found in the New Testament for within the first and opening chapter of this book we find the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ. Immediately following this vision and revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ we find seven unique and distinct letters being written unto the churches which were in Asia—a total of seven in all. When writing and speaking unto each of these seven churches the Lord Jesus Christ would reveal a piece and measure of Himself—a piece of that which we saw in whole in the first and opening chapter. Oh although in each of the seven churches there was a portion of the vision and revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ the fulness of that vision and revelation would be found in the first and opening chapter of this New Testament book. It was indeed true that the Lord Jesus Christ would indeed reveal a piece and portion of Himself unto each of the seven churches, however, it would be at the very beginning of this prophetic book we find the Lord Jesus Christ appearing in the fulness of His glory and brilliance before and unto the apostle John. It would be the apostle John who would indeed see a powerful vision and revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ as He would appear unto him while he was in the spirit on the Lord’s day. In the first and opening chapter we would indeed see a vision and revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ—almost in whole—while in each of the letters written unto the seven churches we find a measure of that vision and revelation.

 

            If you continue reading each of the seven epistles which were written unto these seven churches you will find the Lord Jesus going on to write and declare unto them how He knew and was very much aware of their works. Scripture is entirely and altogether unclear if these churches were aware of the Lord’s keen vision of them and His awareness of their works in the midst of the earth and yet when they would receive this book sent unto them from the apostle John they would find themselves coming face to face—not only with the One who had conquered death, hell and the grave but also the one who knew their works. You cannot read the words which are found in this particular book and not encounter and come face to face with the awesome and incredible truth that the Lord Jesus—the One whose eyes were as flames of fire—was very much acquainted and familiar with their works. The Lord Jesus Christ was indeed very much aware of their works and there was nothing they could do or which they had already done which was hidden and concealed from His sight. Perhaps one of the greatest truths found in the letters written unto the seven churches is that when writing unto these churches the Lord Jesus Christ clearly emphasized the incredible truth that He was very much aware of and familiar with their works. The Lord Jesus Christ had indeed spoken unto these seven churches and had emphatically declared unto them how He knew their works and that there was indeed nothing that was hidden and concealed from Him. Oh these churches might very well have thought and perceived that their works, their actions and their deeds were hidden and concealed from the sight of the Lord Jesus and yet these letters would reveal something entirely and altogether different.

            Imagine how you would live if you received a letter from the Lord Jesus Christ tomorrow that not only contained a powerful vision and revelation of Himself but also a profession and declaration concerning His awareness of your works. How would you respond if today you received a letter from the Lord Jesus Christ declaring unto you His awareness of your works, your deeds and your actions? Not only this but how would you respond if you received a letter from the Lord Jesus Christ which would reveal His awareness of the words which you spoke? Imagine receiving a letter from the Lord Jesus that emphatically and powerfully declares and reveals unto you that your works were not hidden nor were they concealed from His sight and His presence. These seven churches would receive a book from the apostle John not knowing what was contained therein and imagine their surprise and shock when they would begin reading the contents therein and would find a letter written unto them personally and specifically. Oh although the Lord Jesus Christ would indeed speak unto each of these seven churches they would each encounter and become very much aware of the Lord’s awareness of their actions, their deeds, their works, and the words which they had spoken. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for within it we are brought face to face with the unbelievable and incredible truth surrounding the awareness of the Lord Jesus Christ being very much aware of the actions and deeds of each of these churches.

 

            As I sit here this morning writing about these seven churches and the individual letters which were written unto them I can’t help but be absolutely gripped and captivated with the truth that while the Lord Jesus would indeed speak to each church individually they would be aware of the Lord’s message to the other churches. This is something we must needs be aware of when reading these seven letters and epistles for what we find within this prophetic book is a powerful picture of the Lord Jesus Christ speaking unto each of the seven churches. Despite the fact the Lord Jesus would indeed speak unto each of these churches individually there seems to be this intrinsic and apparent link between them as they were all instructed to hear what the Spirit would speak unto the churches. We have a great need to recognize and pay close attention to this for it calls and draws our attention to the truly awesome and wonderful truth that although the Lord Jesus would speak unto each of the churches concerning their own works they would very much be aware of the works of the other churches. The Lord Jesus instructed each of these seven churches to hear what the Spirit was speaking unto the churches which must needs be recognized and understood as these churches could learn a great deal by that which the Lord Jesus had spoken unto the others. Essentially I would dare say that each of these churches would and could learn from that which the Lord Jesus had spoken unto them individually for they would receive instruction from each of the letters.

 

            The words which we find here in this particular passage of Scripture must needs be carefully understood for when you consider the words which are found in this prophetic book as a whole you will find these seven churches not only coming face to face with their own works, deeds and actions but also the deeds and actions of the world. If there is one thing I find so incredibly unique and powerful when reading the words in this prophetic book it’s that although these seven churches would receive letters addressed unto them within this prophetic book they would also encounter the Lord’s message to the other churches as well as the Lord’s message concerning the inhabitants of the earth. In the second and third chapters of this prophetic book we find the Lord speaking unto the churches concerning their own works—regardless of whether their works pleased Him or whether their works required repentance in His sight. What makes this all the more interesting when you think about it is when you consider how when John the Baptist was alive and present upon the earth He would call those who came unto him to be baptized and hear his preaching to bring forth fruits and works worthy of repentance in the sight and presence of the living God.

 

            Perhaps one of the greatest truths that is found at the very heart and center of this prophetic book is the call and invitation to first and foremost look inward before we look outward. It is incredibly easy to direct and focus our attention outward on those around us while simultaneously choosing to ignore that which is present within our own hearts and lives. Remember the words which the Lord Jesus spoke in the Sermon on the Mount concerning pointing out the speck in someone else’s eye without recognizing and addressing the plank or beam that is present within our own eye. The Lord Jesus would go on to instruct His disciples and hearers to first remove the plank and beam from their own eye and then they would see clearly enough to pull out the speck that is in someone else’s eye. This same line of thinking must be carefully considered when reading the words which are found in this prophetic book for it would have been very easy for the churches to point out the specks in the other churches without and apart from recognizing the planks and beams within their own hearts and lives. What’s more is that it would have been very easy for the churches to look at the deeds, the actions, the words and the works of the world while completely and utterly ignoring their own works. There is an inherent danger in seeking to live our lives like this for to do so would be to miss out on that which the Lord Jesus desires to reveal unto us concerning that which needs to be addressed within ourselves. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this and how absolutely incredible it is for us to recognize the dangers of hypocrisy in our lives when we have indeed been called into account for our own works in the sight and presence of the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

            If you take the time to read each of the seven letters which were written unto these churches you will find that when speaking unto each of them the Lord Jesus spoke concerning their works. Upon reading the words which are found in the second and third chapters of this prophetic book we are brought face to face with the Lord Jesus being very much aware of their works—and not only being aware of their works but also bringing their works before them and to their attention. As you read the words written and recorded in this book you can and will encounter the Lord Jesus calling each of these churches into account for their own works—whether those works were pleasing and acceptable in His sight or whether those works required repentance. What we must needs realize and understand is that when writing and speaking unto these churches there were some which the Lord Jesus would indeed reveal and speak unto them concerning their works and would then call and invite them to repent in His sight and presence. What’s more is that to those churches the Lord Jesus instructed and invited to repent of their works and deeds there would also come a warning for failure and refusal to repent. The Lord Jesus didn’t merely call and invite them to repent in His sight and presence but would also give them a strong and powerful warning concerning what would happen if they refused to repent. It is with this in mind I invite you to consider each of these epistles and letters and the words the Lord Jesus spoke unto these churches concerning their works:

 

            “I know thy works, and thy laabour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: and hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured and hast not fainted. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love” (Revelation 2:2-4).

 

            “But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans which I also hate” (Revelation 2:6).

 

            “I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan” (Revelation 2:9).

 

            “I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth. But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolatiants, which thing I hate” (Revelation 2:13-15).

 

            “I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first. Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts; and I will give unto every one of you according to your works” (Revelation 2:19-23).

 

            “I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead” (Revelation 3:1).

 

            “I know thy works; behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name. Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of the Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee. Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth” (Revelation 3:8-11).

            “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched and miserable and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see” (Revelation 3:15-18).

 

            As you read the words which are found in these two chapters you will find one of the common themes contained within them is the declaration of the Lord Jesus unto each of the churches concerning His knowledge and awareness of their works. You cannot read the words found in these letters and not be brought face to face with the Lord’s intimate awareness of the works which each of these churches had before Him in the sight of both He and the Father who sits upon the throne. When speaking unto the church in Ephesus the Lord Jesus spoke of their works, their labour, their patience and hot they could not bear those who were evil. Moreover the church in Ephesus tried those who said they were apostles and are not and found them to be liars. What’s more is the church in Ephesus had borne, and had patience and for his name’s sake had labored and not fainted. When speaking unto the church in Smyrna the Lord Jesus would speak of their works, their tribulation, and their poverty—this despite the fact they did not realize they were rich. Furthermore the Lord Jesus knew of the blasphemy of those which said they were Jews and are not but are of the synagogue of Satan. In speaking to the church in Thyatira the Lord Jesus spoke of their works, where they dwell—even where Satan’s seat is—and how they held fast his name and did not deny their faith. Although they walked through the days when Antipas was a faithful martyr of the Lord Jesus who was slain among them where Satan dwelt they did not deny the faith. The final church mentioned in the second church received the word of the Lord Jesus how he knew their works, their charity, their service, their faith, their patience, and their works—the last to be more than the first.

 

            When you come to the third chapter of this New Testament prophetic book you will find the final three churches which were addressed by the Lord Jesus. The first of these three churches was the church of Sardis of which the Lord spoke of their works and how they had a name that they lived and yet were dead. In speaking unto the church of Philadelphia the Lord Jesus declared that He knew their works and how He had set before them an open door and no man can shut it. Moreover the Lord Jesus would declare unto them that they had a little strength and had kept His word and did not deny His name. And finally when speaking unto the church in Laodicea the Lord Jesus issued perhaps His most stark and strongest declaration of all the seven churches. In speaking unto this church the Lord Jesus declared how He knew their works that they were neither cold nor hot and how He wished they were cold or hot. Because this church was lukewarm and neither cold nor hot He would spew them out of His mouth. What’s more is that because they said they were rich, and increased with goods and had need of nothing and did not know that they were wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind and naked He would counsel of them to buy of him gold tried in the fire that they might be rich, and white raiment that they might be clothed, and that the same of their nakedness would not appear. Not only this but the Lord Jesus also counselled them to anoint their eyes with eye salve that they might see. He would go on to declare that as many as he loved He rebuked and chastened.

 

            The more you read the epistles and letters which were written unto the seven churches the more you will find they each contained a revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ—something the Lord Jesus revealed of Himself unto them. With this being said there was contained within each of the epistles a powerful and clarion call to not only hear what the Spirit was speaking unto the churches but also a proclamation unto those who overcame. In addition to this you find the Lord Jesus speaking unto each of the churches and revealing and speaking unto them concerning their works. What makes each of these epistles so incredibly unique and powerful when you take the time to consider them is when you find that in addition to the Lord Jesus speaking unto them concerning their works there would be instruction(s) given unto each of the churches. Unto those churches whom the Lord Jesus not only revealed their works but also that which He had against them there would be a clarion call to repent. It is impossible to read the words and letters written unto these churches and not find the Lord Jesus addressing, rebuking, chastising, and correcting them before the judgments of the living God would be manifested within and upon the world together with its inhabitants. As you read the words found within each of these epistles you must needs understand that there were churches who not only had works but also allowed certain things to creep in among them that warranted correction and ultimately repentance. What’s more is that in addition to this call to repent the Lord Jesus would also issue a strong warning unto them if they deliberately and intentionally chose not to repent. Having said this I invite you to consider the following words which are found within these two chapters concerning that which the Lord Jesus had against certain of these churches and the call to repentance:

 

            “Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent” (Revelation 2:4-6).

 

            “But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumbling block before the children to eat thing ssacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth” (Revelation 2:14-16).

 

            “Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman jezebel which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. And I gave her space to repent of her fornication, and she repented not. Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according your works” (Revelation 2:20-23).

            “Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee” (Revelation 3:1-3).

 

            “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see” (Revelation 3:15-18).

 

            As I bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to leave you with the instruction and promise that was given unto the churches which are found in these two chapters. Regardless of whether or not the Lord Jesus knew their works and found certain churches wanting and having something against them He would give each of the churches the invitation to overcome. Not only would the Lord Jesus give each of these churches the invitation to overcome but He would also give them a promise for overcoming. With this being said I am convinced we not only need to understand the invitation to overcome and the promise that was associated with it but also the instruction given unto those churches to whom the Lord Jesus would invite to walk in a manner which pleased and honored Him. I am convinced it is necessary to leave you with these words for it helps us to recognize and understand that which is found within our own hearts and lives and that which we have been called and invited to as the saints of God and disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. Consider if you the following words found in this passage which I leave you with as an invitation for your own life as we navigate these turbulent, difficult and unsettling times:

 

            “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God” (Revelation 2:7).

 

            “Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall 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 a crown of life. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death” (Revelation 2:10-11).

 

            “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it” (Revelation 2:17).

 

            “But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden. But that which ye have already hold fast till I come. And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father. And I will give him the morning star. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches” (Revelation 2:24-29).

 

            “Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy. He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment: and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches” (Revelation 3:4-6).

 

            “Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches” (Revelation 3:10-13).

 

            “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches” (Revelation 3:20-22).

 

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