The Churches Evaluated
(God Evaluates His Churches)

KEY VERSE: “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” —Revelation 3:19

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Revelation 2:8-11; 3:14-22

THE messages given to the churches mentioned in the second and third chapters of Revelation are appropriate to all of the Lord’s people throughout the Gospel Age. Some of the admonitions contain the proper message or instruction to those of one character, and some to those of another. Our purpose in this lesson is to consider some of these admonitions.

To the church at Ephesus our Lord admonishes, “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.” (Rev. 2:4,5) It is a trait of human nature that the things or concepts most familiar to us tend, after a time, to become commonplace. When, for example, we were first introduced to the concept of the divine plan of the ages with its gracious provisions for the redemption and blessing of all the human race, we were thrilled. We were motivated to witness and serve the Lord’s purpose in many other ways. But as time goes on there is a tendency to lose some of that original zeal, which in itself is a measure of the love for and appreciation of the Lord and his arrangements. The Apostle Paul, in Hebrews 10:32-36, admonished the Hebrew brethren there and the church down through the Gospel Age of this same failing.

The message to the church at Smyrna was for the most part one of encouragement. “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 of the synagogue of Satan.” (Rev. 2:9) Christ states that he is well aware of their trials and poverty and that they had been impoverished by persecution and that they were indeed poor in the things of the world, but they were still rich in the things of the Spirit. The Lord here indicates that even though these brethren had suffered persecution and other trials of a very special and different kind, they had still remained faithful. This should be an encouragement to all the Lord’s people as an example of faithful brethren.

In his message to the church at Pergamos there were two things that the Lord held against them. There were some among them who held to the doctrine of Balaam; and there were also those among them who held to the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing he hated.

Balaam, though really favored with prophetic visions, had yet, “for filthy lucre’s sake,” plotted against Israel, by teaching Balak to seduce them into idolatry and fornication, and thus to throw in their way an occasion of falling into sin and under the wrath of God. The Apostle Peter used the same transgression of Balaam to picture the false teachers and their disciples in the church who were active in his day. They had evidently “forsaken the right way” of truth and were gone astray. This happened not only because of poor judgment but from the sensuality, ambition, and avarice of their hearts. These teachers and their disciples were like wells from which men and brethren expected to draw water, but there was no water (or truth) in them. They were like clouds that gave hopes of satisfying rains, but instead yielded none and were themselves carried about by every wind of doctrine.—II Pet. 2:15-17

The lesson for all the footstep followers of the Lord is that of keeping the heart and motives pure, for if we countenance the slightest intrusion of pride or avarice, we leave the door open to Satan or his emissary to bring about our downfall.

The message to the church at Laodicia (Rev. 3:14-22) was that they were “neither cold nor hot;” they neither wholly cast off all regard for the truth; nor were they zealous, fervent, and diligent in their belief. Because of this the Lord said he would spew them out of his mouth. The Lord preferred that they would either renounce their profession, and cease from the worthless form of serving him, or that they would show an earnestness and zeal for his service, and renounce their attachment to the world and to its pleasures. Their sin was compounded by the fact that they were unaware of their position with the Lord. But their position should have been known to them because he said, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” Let us, therefore, free ourselves from the encumbrances of this world and be zealous in the Lord’s service.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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