“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Rev. 3:22
The church in America is hurting. In spite of its large numbers, the church is weak and ineffective. We are not moving out in strength as the light in this dark world. Darkness is not fleeing in our wake. Instead, the church is looking more and more like the world. We are not living as aliens but as card-carrying members of the culture. Now, more than ever, we need a word from the Lord! What does the Bridegroom want to tell His bride as she awaits His return? What would He say if He could write her a letter?
This is exactly what the book of Revelation is. This “unveiling” was given to the Son by His Father to give to His bond-servants, His bride so that they would know the things that were to come and be able to live holy lives in anticipation of His soon return. This revelation begins with specific letters to seven congregations in Asia Minor. Jesus, who is walking among the churches, knows all that goes on and had a message for each one. Each of these seven letters ends with the sobering words, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” These letters went not only to the churches in John’s day but were a prophetic look at the church throughout the centuries. I believe that as in each era the church had strengths and weaknesses, each also inherited the qualities from the previous churches. As such, we need to hear all of these messages, because this is the church today. Do you have an ear to hear? Listen then, to what the Spirit says to the church today.
The first church, Ephesus, seemed to have it all together. They had good doctrine and service but had tragically lost their first love. They held to the faith, but where was that love that had characterized them at the beginning? Perhaps it had been replaced by duty. What to do? Remember what it had been like, and repent, doing the deeds they had once done.
The church of Smyrna was suffering persecution and loss. As myrrh is crushed to release its fragrance, so their crushing was releasing the lovely fragrance of Christ. Jesus told them to stop being afraid, but to be faithful until death.
The church of Pergamon was the church of compromise. Some believed that they could be followers of Christ, yet also participate in the evil culture around them. Repent! The Lord will not tolerate compromise within the church and was poised to make war with them with the sword of His mouth!
Thyatira was a church that tolerated false teachers within the congregation who were leading many astray into sin. Unrepentant, these leaders should have been dealt with. Now judgment was coming so that all of the churches would know that He judges the hearts and minds and will give to each according to their deeds.
Sardis SEEMED alive, but was dead, containing only a few true believers. Their deeds were devoid of the Spirit’s power. They were called to strengthen what remained, or sudden judgment was coming upon them.
Philadelphia, the church of brotherly love, received no rebuke! They had gone through the His open door, had kept His word and not denied His name. He would humble their enemies and keep them from the coming hour of testing.
And then there is Laodicea. A lukewarm or tepid church, they were about to be spewed out of the Savior’s mouth. They were complacent, content with all of their riches, unable to recognize how completely lacking they really were. They were called to be zealous and repent because He reproves and disciplines those He loves. He was standing at the door knocking. Would they open the door?
What are we to do? First of all, HEAR what the Spirit is saying. Realize that all is laid bare to Him who sees the hearts and minds. Recover our passionate love for Him, forsaking all others. Don’t be conformed to the world around us, but be transformed as we allow His word to do its work in us. Persevere until death.
He says in Revelation 22:12, “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what He has done.”
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”