I had a ‘thought’ not long ago and I feel this came from God, but this is nothing new. This thought directed me to take a look at the 7 churches John mentions in the Revelation; Folks, these churches were in a mess, a spiritual mess. Our local churches in America are and have been in a mess for a very, very long time, but the Body of Christ is not. The Church, the Bride and Body of Christ is sound and doing quite well because everyone who is walking in the Spirit as Paul wrote are in concert with one another in Jesus Christ. These folks are in unity.
Who are these local churches of which I speak. Are you prepared for this? Well, here goes. Baptists of all kinds, Southern, American, National, Reformed and all the rest. Methodists of every sort and Presbyterians, too. There are the Churches of Christ, the Christian Churches, the Assemblies of God, the Churches of God in Christ and the Churches of the Nazarene, also. There are many local churches with the name Pentecostal and Apostolic, Quakers and Shakers. Indeed, there are so many more the phrase ‘impossible to name’ is what I must end with. Yes, the local church community is immense in number as are the population of their members. However….
However, the Body of Christ is far different in my estimation; numerically speaking. The Church, the Body of Christ is NOT a denomination at all, but rather the Spiritual Body of Believers, the Followers of Jesus Christ of whom He is their Lord. These are the Saints so often mentioned in the New Testament. Now, to return to the theme of this writing…
Here are the problems penned by the Apostle John in his Revelation:
- Ephesus left its first love, Revelation 2:4.
- Smyrna was a refuge for some who were blasphemous and a ‘synagogue of Satan.’ Revelation 2:9.
- Pergamum was a dark place; a throne of Satan, pagan worship and immorality abounded. Revelation 2:13-15.
- Thyatyra was thoroughly immoral, most likely populated by folks who enjoyed and permitted sexual deviancy and prostitution among the members and without embarrassment. Revelation 2:20-24.
- Sardis was simply ‘dead.’ Revelation 3:1.
- Philadelphia was a church of lies, possibly deception. Revelation 3:9.
- Laodicea, an awful luke-warm place, “wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.” A terrible existence to be. Revelation 3:15-17. NASB.
The conditions of these 7 churches in John’s Revelation do compare with every local church around the world. Some may be equal to and some may be worse than each of them. In many ways every local church is not in a good place before God because sin lives in them and there is no maintained discipline in any one of them. There may be a sense of discipline; may be luke-warm, but there are too many allowances for sin in each and every one. How does your local church compare to the 7 churches of Revelation?
However, the Body of Christ is truly doing quite well, for these are the folks who ‘walk in the Spirit’ as described by Paul in his letters to the churches in Galatia, Ephesus, Philippi and Colossae. In Romans 12, 1Corinthians 12 and Ephesians 4 the Apostle speaks of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit that are found in those who are walking with God and are empowered by Christ, filled with His Spirit and are crucified with Christ on a daily basis. There is absolutely no doubt that each of them knows the other by who they are; how they walk, talk and breathe. Interestingly, Jesus speaks of these sort of folks when he said, “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Matthew 7:13-14. “There are few who find” the narrow way that leads to life.
For this reason, the Church, the Body of Christ is really doing well and in her there are no divisions nor issues causing problems. These are NOT Baptists, Methodists, Lutherans, Pentecostals and the like for they are simply Followers of the Christ. There are few of them in reference to the population of the large groups of local churches, but their numbers are truly quite large if they could be known. Jesus simply tells us that few people will come to Him by grace through faith. We know one another and the world at large knows who we are, too. And for this reason we are despised and hated.
Jesus is Lord.