Issue 811 – Run-Down – Seven Churches Part 1, July 30, 2022
The old neighbourhood was in transition. Some of the houses and yards had been clearly given up on. They were in such disrepair that the best bet would be to knock them down and rebuild.
There were a couple of lots with the remnants of demolished or burned-out houses on them and piled with debris. An old faded sign showed a proposal to rezone into multi-unit housing.
One corner held a newly constructed mini-mansion. It didn’t fit the neighbourhood’s character, but lots were cheap, and the owner probably paid pennies on the dollar for his land compared to other neighbourhoods. Whether others would follow suit would only be known in time.
Most homes showed their age and were somewhat run-down but made a token effort towards maintenance. Perhaps it was all the elderly owners could afford or the landlords wanted to spend.
One home in the middle of the block stood in stark contrast. It was well maintained but not overly done of the neighbourhood. The yards and gardens were well tended and showed pride of ownership. Nothing flashy or expensive about the place, but you could see that the owners cared.
I have described a real neighbourhood I know, but I could as easily have been using it as a metaphor to describe the local church.
The early chapters of Revelation describe seven actual churches in existence in that day. Like this morning’s neighbourhood, they each had their issues and successes. Each local assembly today resembles in some way one or more of the seven churches in question.
Over the next while, I will take some time to examine the seven churches. I did a series on the seven previously, but it seems like the time to do a refresher.
The seven churches (listed in order of appearance) are Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea. The order isn’t coincidental or random. The churches are all in the Roman province of Asia (modern-day Türkiye) in the order they would have been delivered on the postal route.
Türkiye isn’t misspelled. It was the nation we have called Turkey, but it has officially reverted to the ethnic spelling to avoid being confused with the bird.
Let’s dive in.
“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands. “‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’ Revelation 2:1-7
In many ways, this is a good church. It has a solid reputation and is known for its doctrinal purity and unwillingness to tolerate bad teaching.
The Apostle Paul was involved in the founding of this church, and incredible things happened there (see Acts 19, 20). It had been a church on fire.
But it has serious problems, and we will dig into those tomorrow.
Hallelu Yah (Praise God)
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Soli Deo Gloria (for the glory of God alone.)
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