As we study Revelations and how God uses the number “7” to represent completeness, let’s study the Letters to the Seven Churches and if the Holy Spirit reveals to us where we fit in our Spiritual Journey with Jesus. The Letters to the Seven Churches of Asia Minor in Revelations 1:19, tells us that Jesus is speaking to Saint John of Patmos, whom we believe to be either John the Apostle, or another Apostle that was taught by Saint John. But, as Jesus is speaking to John about writing down what He is saying, it appears Jesus is passing judgement on seven different groups of followers of Christ. The names of the Churches are those of the names of the Roman Province in the year 81 – 96 A.D. But, if we study the words that Jesus used in Revelations 1:19, it reads, “Write down, therefore, what you have seen, and what is happening, and what will happen afterwards.” The Holy Spirit is revealing to us that Jesus is speaking of things in past, present, and future tense. Meaning, Jesus’ words to His Church covers the past, present, and future, which includes us. As I explain what I believe the Holy Spirit is showing us, please follow along in your Bibles and read each letter individually. Your discernment may be different from mine, because as the Holy Spirit is guiding us to examine ourselves, then He may show you something different than what He is revealing to me and where we each individually are on our journey to become Saints.
Jesus said in Revelations 1:20, the meaning of the stars in His right hand are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches. We understand from studying scripture that Angels have a special place as our Guardians on Earth. We each have a Guardian Angel, and it is believed that whole regions and countries have Angels watching over them. Our Guardian Angels are constantly trying to influence us to do God’s Will and remain righteous and holy for the Blessed Trinity. As Jesus is speaking to the Angels of the Churches, we have to ask ourselves, is He speaking to the Angels and giving them guidance on how to guide us in His Church, or is He passing judgement on us as His Church and preparing the Angels for Tribulation that is coming because we are sinning, pagan worshippers, false teachers, proud, lukewarm and indifferent? Either way, if you are a Baptized Christian, you are part of His Church and are supposed to be a light to the rest of the world as one of the seven lampstands. Because, we have been told the Truth about Jesus Christ and have received the Holy Spirit at some point in our lives, we have an obligation to Jesus to live, breath, teach, and spread the gospel to Non-Christians. Because we already know the Truth, the weight of judgement is heavier on us for failing to fulfill His Will than it is for someone that has never heard the gospel. In addition, the weight of judgement is heavier for a person who claims to be a Christian, but practices pagan idolatry, or has rejected Christ for pagan gods. This weight of judgement is also very heavy for those Jesus has entrusted as His Shepherds to spread the gospel and feed His flock God’s Word and Commandments to keep them in alignment with His Will.
As we study the letters to each Church, the discernment I am getting is that Jesus is warning us to repent for the actions we are doing and not doing for His Church. Remember, we have sins of commission and omission and He is warning us of what is coming, because we are His Lampstands, His Body, His Instruments to live what He taught us both physically and spiritually in accordance to His Will, and if we don’t, then we will be judged accordingly with His Divine Justice.
The first letter to Ephesus, Jesus said that this Church has done good works, avoids the wicked, stayed away from false shepherds, but their love of God has grown cold! Wow, this speaks volumes to me! These are the followers of Christ who go to Church, do good things for people, stay clear of people who teach false doctrine, but do not have the love of God they used to have and have lost their relationship with Him. This is a lot of Christians because we believe if we just do good things and believe in Jesus and go to Church, then we are good people and don’t have to worry about our sins or strive for holiness. Jesus is telling us right here, that this is not enough, and if we don’t repent and regain that LOVE for Him to avoid all sin, and go back to the works of LOVE we had for Him, He will remove that Church from its place! Does this mean, we will no longer have a place at His table? Examine your heart and ask the Holy Spirit. Either way, Jesus asks us to repent and get back to the LOVE and relationship we once had with Him.
The Church of Smyrna is told that they will suffer because Satan is in their Church and although they seem poor, they are actually rich, (This to me means, rich in Christ). Smyrna is told they will suffer and be martyred, but this will be part of their test. Those that remain faithful until death, will receive the crown of life eternally with Jesus in Heaven. Remember, in Revelations 13:9 “Whoever has ears ought to hear these words. Anyone destined for captivity goes into captivity. Anyone destined to be slain by the sword shall be slain by the sword. Such is the faithful endurance of the holy ones.”
Letter to the Church of Pergamum, Jesus is telling them that although their Church is where Satan’s throne is, (meaning where Satan’s demons roam freely and satanic practices are frequent), they remain faithful to Jesus. However, there are some that follow false teaching and conduct some idol worship or pagan practices. Therefore, they must repent or else Jesus will wage war with them, like He will with His wrath against the evil ones. Notice here that even though some Christians have fallen to paganism, Jesus still gives us a chance to repent.
Letter to the Church of Thyatira, Jesus is saying that although this Church is doing well towards the works of Jesus, they have allowed a Jezebel spirit in to teach a false teaching leading Church members to paganism and false worship of many false gods. (Harlotry represents leaving God for false gods and other religions.) Jesus even says He gave this Church an earlier chance to repent, but the Jezebel spirit keeps leading them into more false worship and idolatry. Thus, Jesus has judged them to sickness and death and everyone will know why He judged them this way. However, those that are not practicing a false teaching or the deep secrets of Satan, will not be judged this way, but must stay steadfast in their correct teaching until Jesus returns.
Letter to the Church of Sardis, Jesus is saying that this Church appears to be doing the work of Christ, but actually is not. Meaning, whatever work they say they are doing for Jesus, they are actually doing for themselves. This is why it so important to pray for Humility everyday. As Christians, our Love for the Blessed Trinity compels us to serve Jesus, but if we are not careful, the devil can lead us down a wrong path and we end up building up our own egos. Then, Satan will take it and put in the spirit of pride, which is what led to the fall of Lucifer. Pride is a horrible sin that we must pray and ask Jesus to remove from our hearts daily. Again, Jesus gives them a chance to repent and said there were a few here that did not soil their garments with sin.
Letter to the Church of Philadelphia, Jesus is saying this is the Church, the light, the righteous children of God, that have kept His Word and never has denied His Name. My own discernment from the Holy Spirit is that this Church is the Remnant. If you read Revelations 3:10, “Because you have kept my message of endurance, I will keep you safe in the time of trial that is going to come to the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth. I am coming quickly. Hold fast to what you have, so that no one may take your crown.” This is where We, Disciples of Christ, must strive to be. These are the followers of Christ that will be protected in the refuge because we withstood the time of trial to the whole world, (War, Famine, Earthquakes, Tsunamis, etc..) and continued to have Faith and Trust in Jesus and never abandoned Him. We will also continue to spread His gospel until we enter the refuge for the salvation of souls.
Letter to the Church of Laodicea, Jesus is telling this Church that their pride has led them to material richness of the world, therefore have no more need of Him, nor do they Love Him as a child of God should Love Him. Their pride and lust for things of the world has left them sinful, arrogant, proud, and totally oblivious to who God is. They are neither on Fire (Hot) for the Love of God, nor ignorant of the gospel (Cold), because they have been shown the Truth of Jesus, and have chosen to ignore Him and His teachings completely. This makes Jesus angry because they have been given God’s Word and the Holy Spirit, but have chosen to ignore Him. But yet, Our Lord is still giving them a chance to repent, because it is never too late to come back to Jesus.
As we examine our own conscience, let’s not look at these Churches as specific denominations of Christ, but where we each individually fit as His lampstands. We have to ask the Holy Spirit daily to show us what our sins are and we need to repent of those sins. We need to go Confession, if Catholic, and if we aren’t sure exactly where we are on our Spiritual journey, then just strive to be in the Church of Philadelphia as the best child of God we can be and work towards holiness. When the Warning comes, Jesus will show us where we stand in our sins, but He will give us another chance to repent, and if we strive to be the best child of God we can be now, then it will not be as difficult or painful during the Warning when we see all of our unconfessed sins.