Churches in the Book of Revelation: Which One Is Like Yours?
Churches today are very similar to the seven churches of Asia Minor characterized in Chapters 2 and 3 of the Book of Revelation. The random samples of churches described in the last book of the Bible still exist all over the world.
We should not read about those churches and think no other church is like them. The churches were not perfect then, and none of our churches today are perfect. It is correct to say there are some churches that are very much like the churches John wrote about in Revelation.
All of the seven churches had something in common.
- They were given commendations.
- Most of them were criticized.
- The churches were given instructions.
- All of the churches received promises.
The Church at Ephesus (Revelation 2:1-7)
The fault with the church at Ephesus is that it lost its first love. Ephesus was instructed to repent in order to receive the tree of life. Some churches today are like the church at Ephesus. They are so busy focusing more on projects and programs than on God and God's people. They have forgotten Jesus who was once their first love.
The Church at Smyrna (Revelation 2:8-11)
Smyrna was spiritually rich with no criticisms. It was instructed not to be afraid. Smyrna was promised a crown of life. Instead of today's churches being spiritually rich, they are more concerned with being materially rich.
The Church at Pergamum (Revelation 2:12-17)
This church was commended for keeping the faith. However, it was instructed to repent for following the teachings of Balaam. After repenting, the church would receive hidden manna and a white stone with a new name. Like the Pergamum church, some modern-day churches allow so much idolatry that nothing is sacred any more.
The Church at Thyatira (Revelation 2:18-29)
Thyatira was a compromising church. It tolerated the teaching of Jezebel and practiced sexual immorality. Advice to this church was to repent in order to receive the morning star. Some churches today excuse everything their members do.
At the end of a church meeting, a leader stood up in a traditional church and thanked the pastor for leading a laid back church. What that meant was that the members were allowed to run rampant by doing whatever they wanted to do without any accountability.
The Church at Sardis (Revelation 3:1-6)
This church had no commendations at all. You can remember this church if you think of a can of spoiled sardines. The church was spiritually dead. It was instructed to repent in order to receive a white robe and its name in the book of life. Are you and the members of your church spiritually dead like the church at Sardis?
The Church at Philadelphia (Revelation 3:7-13)
Philadelphia is easy to remember because it had no criticisms. Instead, the church kept the commands of Jesus. Therefore, it was instructed to hold onto what they had in order to receive a pillar in the temple and the crown of life.
There are not many Philadelphian churches left in the world today where brotherly love abounds. Instead, the pastors, leaders, and members focus on bigger budgets and accumulating more members. Pastors of churches today will never go wrong If they would be like the shepherd of Psalm 23 by keeping their own sheep fed, watered, and comforted.
The Church at Laodicea (Revelation 3:14-22)
This church was not hot. This church was not cold. It was lukewarm and had no commendations. It was encouraged to repent in order to sit on the throne with Jesus.
Lukewarm churches today do just enough to be called a church. It is a lazy church that does as little as possible. This is more like a social club than like the mission of a sacred church. The music is more for dancing than for worship. If the billboard didn't say it was a church, visitors might mistake it for a nightclub by what they see and heard once they go inside.
Which Church Is Like Yours?
Which of the above seven churches is like the one you belong to? Do you believe your church is one that Jesus would commend or criticize? What advice would Jesus give your church? What promise would He make?
Take inventory of your church and determine what changes can be made in order for it to be acceptable by Jesus when He returns.