Overcome bogus religion,
do not be overwhelmed by it

      It is not hard for the Christian soldier, if one is pure and simple in faith as one ought to be, to peer out into the world from behind the "walls" of the Church and see a world full with faithless persons and demonic spirits who are dedicated to the annihilation of personal faith, as well as the destruction of everything that belongs to the hope that is in Christ. The ugly face of these enemies, i.e. hatred for God, blasphemes and other lies and general unbelief, are not difficult to detect. Nor is it that difficult to understand the adversaries of the world and the flesh, so defined and identified are they throughout the New Testament. Much harder for the believer to understand, however, is the subtle opponents of idolatry and false religion that lurk within the walls of the Church herself and seek to smother and choke the faith out of would-be disciples.

This skulking enemy will often assume a Christian face, but underneath the religious facade lies a corrupt and rebellious spirit defiled by carnal desires and their own reasoning, a faithlessness that belies their stubborn pride and betrays the pure Truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If the disciple of Christ is to be an Overcomer in all areas he must realize that such enemies from within actually exist, and that they wish to do serious harm to the true servant's walk. During one of Paul and Barnabas’s world-wind evangelistic tours Paul was faithful to remind the disciples at every stop that we must enter into the kingdom of god by much tribulation. Acts 14 This means, among other things, that the true disciple will have to shed certain popular ecumenical beliefs and images for which he may be ridiculed and persecuted for by Christian brothers and sisters. Rev. 3:9 False doctrines and unholy beliefs are sometimes gross distortions and at other times subtle perversions of the Gospel; and having infiltrated the Church, they actively try to corrupt the faith of every believer. As Jesus noted, once they turn into Christian religious traditions, they "make the word of God of none effect". Mark 7:13

Perversions and corruptions began to seep into the Church from the very beginning. Christ's call to overcome them where among the major themes of His letters to the churches in Revelation. In many ways, the threat from within constitutes a greater enemy to the believer because of its subtleties, than does the great outer enemies of Satan, World and The Self. These distortions of the Gospel are viruses when unimpeded cause a total crash and breakdown. Lies undermining the Truth are a cancer trying to inject death into Life. As enemies of discipleship and even salvation, these distortions should not be underestimated. Some of the most egregious errors are noted in the letters to the churches, the sober and serious minded believer is vigorously exhorted by Christ to defend himself against these distortions and to repent where ever necessary. When one turns and heeds the advice of the Spirit, great promises of salvation and unimaginable reward are offered by Christ. We are offered kingship, crowns of glory, life itself and utopic blessings extending into eternity. But we must shun the maleficent hope in this world and our flesh. The areas of repentance and overcoming are enumerated one by one as we read through the letters.

Character Profile of archetype churches
each under the care of its particular ministers.

 Of course, these are a mere cursory outline of the areas of overcoming spoken of in the seven letters and explicated for our knowledge by the spiritual weaving of the embroidered fabric of Holy Scripture. In each letter Jesus says: "To him that overcometh will I (give or do)...", and we are then told some of rewards promised to any disciple that overcomes. For example, in the first letter the believers of Ephesus were sharply rebuked by the Lord for having lost sight of their first love. Caught up in the power of faith and doing good works they had completely forgotten about glorifying Jesus and proceeding only by a knowledge of His communication of the Will of the Father to them. Their primary need of nurturing and relying on a relationship with Him so as to be able to act in faith had been forgotten. They relied on their own rational powers to follow the Will of the Father, even though they had known at one time that this was wholly and truly an impossibility. This was Christ's warning, that if they did not rectify this sin He would discount them as a part of the Church, part of His body. This was no empty threat. Each believer's response to the call of Christ to repent of this grave transgression was vital to their continued "membership" in the Church and, one may reasonably assume, even their salvation. Overcoming in this battle to keep Christ as our one and only love, the shepherd we heed, is therefore of primary importance to any determined disciple. Each letter concludes with “those who have ears to hear let them hear what the Spirit is saying to the Churches”. Therefore, this dictum, excludes listening to our reasoning minds, the forces of physical law, religious pretensions or any voice other than the Spirit of Truth who speaks only what He has heard the Father say. “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall HEAR, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come.” Jn 16:13  But to those who overcome Christ promises that they will not only remain part of the Church and body, but they will be given the right to eat of the tree of life in the midst of paradise. This is the promise of Utopia. Each letter in this manner makes a point of urging Christians to overcome some potentially fatal distortion of faith so they may enter into the rewards reserved for the obedience of faith. For the beautifully woven tapestry of the fabric of Scripture teaches us that faith is essential to eternal life and the rewards of the hope of glory with statements like: without faith it is impossible to please God and anything not of faith is sin. Thereby, we learn that faith is not only essential for pleasing the Godhead; it is also the crucial element in overcoming sin, sin being the summary term for the crime which we creatures of God tend to naturally perpetrate against our Creator, unless we proactively repent. “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the TRANSGRESSION OF THE LAW.” 1 Jn 3:4  

The term "determined disciple" may seem redundant, for by definition how can a disciple (disciplined-follower) be anything but determined. But in Christ there are many who wish to follow, yet do not overcome sufficiently to keep pace with the voice and step of Christ. Any Christian with even limited experience knows that the roster of the body of Christ is full of those who start out with joy but then stumble, backslide or malinger instead of cleaving to God whithersoever He goeth. All truly born-again Christians want to follow but many fail because they are not willing to pay the price of discipleship. The cost, in the example of the Ephesians, is that they be willing to cast off all desire for power and recognition; that they forsake even their "love" of doing good and the heady rush enjoyed from the power of faith. Instead, they must seek the grace of God so the they may have the sentence of death working in them at all times, letting God have the glory and being delivered from the myriad troubles that beleaguer even the purest soul of faith, and certainly beset every disciple who walks closely in the wake of Christ. They will know that every disciple who lives godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. 2 Tim. 3:12, Gal. 5:12
As they had once been aware, the true disciples at Ephesus were being engaged in letter to do all things for the glory of Jesus and to let Him be the head and be given preeminence in all things. As Paul had advised every disciple he taught and everywhere he went “that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.”

In all cases of repentance and thus, overcoming, we are required to judge ourselves and those we are formed together with, Church or Separated Ones, to make up a body suitable for the habitation of the Spirit of Truth. Christ must be the head, we the body. In this age of Ecumenical hopes it is regarded as an un-brotherly thing when we judge our coming together as the Separated Ones, but as the Scriptures make obvious, it is not only right to judge within the Church it is our duty and to our peril if we do not. We owe it to ourselves, our brothers and sisters, and to Jesus Christ. The wisdom of the letters of Revelation hang on this fact. We must make judgment about who we hang around with, who we join ourselves to. If Christ is not the head of the body of which we are part, we must sever our connection, make judgment, and move to more obedient pastures where Christ is permitted to be the Good Shepherd. We must be willing to turn when judgment has been made to us by the Spirit of Truth. But we must listen intently to hear His voice, for it is only the voice of the Spirit which speaks exclusively and purely only what He hears from the Father. We are told also that if we judge ourselves we shall not be judged later with unbelievers and those of flimsy faith. "For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world." 1 Cor. 11:31-32
Second, we are told to judge wrongs within the Church. "Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way." Rom. 14:13 Finally, we are told this about the necessity of being judges within the Church. "Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?" 1 Cor. 6:3 Paul also says we have no business judging the world, but we do have need to judge what goes on in the Church. He tells us to separate from unholy brothers and sisters. "But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within?" 1 Cor. 5:11-12 In short, it is our obligation to judge, not the world, but to carefully and righteously judge according to God's word about the proper doctrine and conduct of faith in the Church. We must overcome all unrighteousness, even as it is in the Church.

Jesus is judge in Revelation and nowhere is He more direct and forceful with the Church than as His appearance in Revelation chapters 1‑3 exhibits. In chapter one He stands as the great wise judge of eternity, His legs bright and burnished and His eyes afire with judgment and truth. It is the real and eternal Jesus symbolically displayed before our eyes to give us spiritual understanding about a part of His Divine eternal presence. In chapters two and three He imparts His judgments and discernment with crystal clarity to the Church. His judgment is pure and undefiled. In each letter He truly and faithfully cites the Church's sin of omission or commission, urges them to repent and act, then pronounces judgment on those who fail to heed His warning and holds out the promise of reward for those who do heed and hear what the Spirit is saying the Churches.

It behooves the sincere, determined, disciple of Christ to take serious any place in Scripture where Christ exhorts His follower to overcome. To overcome means: to conquer, render helpless or overwhelm. Any one of those three meanings can apply to Christ=s warnings and exhortations throughout the fabric of Scripture. This means the disciple should seek with care the meaning of each and every admonition. What are the spirits of Balaam and of Jezebel? How can the church of Sardis have a name of being alive and yet really be spiritually dead? How should one keep the word of God=s patience? Who are the Niocolaitanes? Why does Jesus hate them? What do all these, and more, things mean and how do I overcome them? We must sincerely ask the question. Sincerely we must wait for the Spirit’s pure answer.

The disciple of Christ, who is he, what will she be like? The disciple is an overcomer in Christ. The disciple must be an overcomer in all ways, must search for these answers and stand fast against them while fostering and teaching the sound doctrines of truth. Then, and only then, will his election, as Peter says, be made sure.


Letter addressed to the ANGEL (strictly speaking means: messenger or servant, in this case archtypical human ministers) of the Church.
2. Christ addresses each letter with specific attributes of His Divine omnipotence -
specially pertinent to the faith of that church.
3. He makes note of their “Works”.
4. Critiques their spiritual condition. Gives criticism and commendation.
5. Issues warnings and urges each church to be sure to overcome those things that
are dangerous to their standing as church/believer and their life eternal standing in and with God.
6. All churches and individuals, regardless of commendation or criticisms must overcome in some fashion. Christ gives promises of eternal glory to those who are overcomers.
7. In conclusion: exhorts each believer, each "angel" (leaders and ministers) and church in general: “he that has an ear let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”



OVERCOMERS PROMISED: fulfill our perfect divinely given human nature. To eat of the tree of life which stands in the midst back in the garden. Standing next to and nullifying the effects of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

OVERCOMERS PROMISED: A crown of life, perfectly fulfilled life, all that it promises; & will not be hurt by the second death, never to be spoiled or threatened adversely about life again.

OVERCOMERS PROMISED: will eat of the hidden manna (the mysteries of God’s kingdom); a white stone and new name which no man knoweth but he who has it. (Accepted and a “mystery” himself).

OVERCOMERS PROMISED: power over the nations, rule them with a rod of iron and break into pieces. And given the “morning star”.

OVERCOMERS PROMISED: white raiment, not blot his name out of the book of life and will confess his name before the Father.

OVERCOMERS PROMISED: to vindicate your faith, keep from hour of temptation and Great Tribulation, make a pillar in the temple of God, go no more out, write the name of God, the name of the city of my God which is New Jerusalem which comes out of heaven, and will write upon him my new name.

OVERCOMERS PROMISED: I will sup with him, you will sit with me in my throne. 




    The Church when it has run its prophistorical course, stands as a herald of the soon return of Christ. The Church is declared to be so primarily in The Book of Joel where it definitely declares that she would be corrupted then revived by the pouring out of the Spirit. This being one of the great signs of Jesus’ return just before the tribulation of the last days of the Age of Grace.

    in 2 Thessalonians 2 by Paul who wrote of the Great Falling Away and that the Antichrist must be revealed before either the Rapture or the Second Coming, or perhaps both.
    The Seven letters by declaring things which are, were and are to come: the history of the Church outlined in the letters of Revelation 2&3 – present, past and future.
    The Book of Daniel says that there would be no understanding about the end until the end. The stone that comes out of heaven, to crush the Antichrist Kingdom and blow it away was for end-times believers to comprehend. Some will be righteous and shine and the rest will not. The great Clash of the end involves Satan and those of the world with God, His people the Jews and the Church, in particular what the Old and New Testament term the Bridegroom (Messiah/Christ) and His spotless Bride.   








"He that overcometh shall
inherit all things;

and I will be his God, and
he shall be my son."


Overcoming -
In the Church

A brief history of the Church renders us Signs of Christ's Return
and the rise of the ministry of the Bride and her hour of waiting.


Text Box: 'He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.'

Enthusiasm, Persecution, Compromise, Apostasy, Reform, Revival, Clash

          It is clear from the message which the Father gave to Jesus and which Jesus penned in His letters to the seven churches some fifty or sixty years after his first coming, which in turn were delivered to the Church at large by the apostle John in the Book of Revelation, that the Christian life and the Age of the Church would be exemplified by the spirit of ‘overcoming’ and repentance from corruption and spiritual vice, such as idolatry, rebellion, worldly lusts and alliances and stubborn pride with arrogance and disrespect for the Head of the Church, Jesus Christ. There would be trappings and pitfalls, times of trouble and doubt and times in which Satan would undermine the faith of the Church to the extent that true faith in the Full Gospel would almost become extinct. Whether it was temptations, evil, sin, idolatry or onslaughts of the Devil intended to rob, destroy and kill, overcoming would be one of the keynotes of the Church Age and its battle to ‘win Christ’ Phil 3, esp. vs. 8 and walk in the health and happiness that is salvation. There would be times of birth and glory, shame and infamy, revival and counter-reformation; but all could be graded and judged according to the ability and reality of the Church as overcomers of Satan, the World, and the carnality of their own ‘flesh’. Refer to: Bride is Overcomer of Three Great Enemies. In these final hours of Church history just before the return of Christ it would be wise for every Christian to take a close and objective view under Truth’s single eye of the progression of Church doctrine and faith. Where it conforms to Biblical truth one should emulate those who held fast as true forerunners of right faith. Where it diverted one should pray for deliverance from the infestation of crooked ways, no matter how long and widely they have been accepted by Christendom even if by the hands and works of well-meaning but imperfect shepherds. The Bible has told us things would be different, that there would be a Church among the churches which would be pure before the Lord, even one which would be so adorned with faith, hope and love that Christ would make her His eternal Bride. The other churches which attain the promises of repentance and submission will reign with Him, live in His ‘Holy Mount’, eat from His eternal garden, and more; but only one church-at-large will be His Bride due to her perfection and purity of Spirit. She will have the so-called ‘keys of David’, for she will have been ‘after God’s own heart’. Church history is the story of fulfilled prophecy and its relationship with the World and Antichrist Spirit during the time of the Age of Grace (The time between the First and Second Comings of Christ). Church history as indicated by prophecies and blessings of Jacob, Balaam, Moses, Joel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos, Zechariah … and the rest of the Bible’s Old Testament prophets and by Jesus’ Olivet Discourse, Peter and Paul, Jude and Gospel parables all buttress the prophistory of the Church given in The Book of Revelation and dramatically in the letters to the Churches addressed to His people by Jesus Himself. Therefore the Bible records the history of the Church so that we may learn and be wise in these last days before His return; we may rightly coin the term prophistory and apply it to the most important matter of the Church and its relationship with Christ and His Gospel (or, God’s Truth). God has given us the history of the Church written before the fact. Perhaps the greatest single prophistorical passage of all is the letters to the churches.
The church was warned, that all those who live godly lives in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. To offer comfort to the beleaguered and weary, and for impetus to continue on in the faith and promote the spirit of overcoming, Jesus presented the Church with its history before the fact. This is what may be termed ‘prophistorical’ form. Using individual churches and their characteristics, and exposing their problematical sin to them in order to typify predominant conditions which would characterize seven major successive church epochs (Seven is the number God typically uses to depict a completeness, or fullness, thus seven letters to depict the full history of the church in prophetic form), God made good on his promise that he would keep His people informed via the prophets, before He does anything at all. Amos 3:6 In the case of exposing Church difficulties and sin, God preferred to do it directly through the ministry of the greatest prophet, Jesus - Son of Man/Son of God. The purpose of this prerecorded history is to alert us to the nature of the spiritual battle so we can draw near to Him in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from and evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water [water of the Word] And let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering. Heb. 10:22, 23
      It was Paul in his second letter to the Thessalonians who clearly declared that there was a complete history, including a ‘falling away’ of faith in the Church (from the purity of the Gospel that would overtake the Church during its middle epochs before Christ’s return.

“Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and [by] our gathering together unto him,

That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.

Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;

Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.

Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?

And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.

For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth [will let], until he be taken out of the way.

And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:

Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,

And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.

And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:

That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:

Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.

Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given [us] everlasting consolation and good hope through grace,

Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work. 2Thess. 2

 Paul’s words in 2 Thessalonians would seem to include the surfacing of the actual Antichrist person which must precede the actual Return of Christ to earth on the day of Armageddon. In hind sight we can readily detect that the subsequent history and course of the Church Age proves the prophecy of a great falling away, and gives credence to the suggestion that the Antichrist person must appear upon a world stage within a handful of years before the Second Coming. This, of course, does not include the Rapture for we know not the day, nor the hour of Christ’s appearing in the clouds which will precede the Second Coming by an unknown, but relatively short interval of time, probably a decade or less. The course of this age is, however, directly charted by the meaning attached the character of the individual churches and shows the course of Church history to be consistent with the way in which the Church at large grew over the centuries. History confirms the character of the churches in the seven letters to be a mapping of Church history. The Church was established in enthusiasm for good works, persecuted by the Roman Empire and once it had become the accepted religion of the state she descended into ignorance and faithlessness and lusted after a kingdom on earth, something which God never promised the Church in this Age of Grace. Then after many years a general revival took hold and marched gradually on until this very day, the days prior to and contemporaneous with the appearance of the Antichrist on the world stage. This course is also charted in the three chapter prophecies of the book of Joel where the corruption of the Church and its revival in the last days is perfectly depicted in historical context by spiritual terms. The course, from initial enthusiastic zealous birth through descent into the abyss of faithless ignorance and finally to a clash in the Church between the spirit of faith and the spirit of worldliness at the end, runs its course and is symbolized in the successive letters. Understanding the basic specifics and areas to overcome for each individual church archetype, can best be primed by the following simple one word list for each church which can also be seen as representing successive epochs in church history. Each church is listed as follows:

  1. Enthusiasm (Ephesus)
  2. Persecution (Smyrna)
  3. Compromise (Pergamos)
  4. Apostasy (Thyatira)
  5. Reform (Sardis)
  6. Revival (Philadelphia)
  7. Clash (Laodicea)

The most slender of historical knowledge about the Church Age unearths the sorry truth that the Church has not always been the ‘overcomer’ it should be. Sometimes it has. Either way, each phase of Church history could have stood as a sign of the veracity and infallibility of God’s word for those who had eyes to see it in their day, even in the darkest days of Church apostasy. As with all the ‘Signs of Christ’s Return’, each epoch of Church history was constructed in such a way as to shed light on the singular promise to the world that Jesus Christ will indeed return. That Jesus will first appear to ‘rapture’ the faithful, and then later at His Second Coming at Armageddon, is the hardest thing to have an active living faith for. Jesus’ appearance and return stands alone, bolstered by many great and unrelenting signs of its certainty to show all lover’s of Scripture that they are in the waning moments of this Age of Grace. Everything the world offers, everything the unbelieving Church will spout off about tries to obscure the signs of Christ’s Return so that the faithful or the would-be faithful would b e subverted from their faith. Peter says in his second letter chapter 3: 

    “I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance:

      That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour:

      Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,

      And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.

      For this they willingly are ignorant of… “   


Every true believer must overcome the forces that would deter them from their faith in Christ’s promise to return. …


Imperatives of Soul for the Overcoming BRIDE
                                                                            SEVEN CHURCHES ARTICLES by Joanne Smith

      "These things have I spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." John 16.33
      Yes, Jesus overcame the world through his death and resurrection from the dead and the scriptures tell us that whosoever is born of God overcometh the world, but what is our part, as believers, in overcoming the world?  Do we have a part? Didn't Jesus do it all? What can we possibly do to add to his marvelous gift of life eternal?

      The word overcome in the context that I am referring to (as to overcome, not to be overcome) is only mentioned about 25 times in the scriptures. One of the most powerful citings is from Revelation 21.7 where it says, "He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son." The implication here is that we take an active role in overcoming. Overcoming implies ‘conquering’, a battle in which victory is won and the enemy subdued entirely, dominated, rendered helpless and ineffective. ‘Though we are killed all the day long, still we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.’ The overcoming that is spoken of is in the spiritual realm therefore it is real and lasting. There are certain obstacles that we must overcome in order to obtain the inheritance. The one book that talks about overcoming more than any other is the book of Revelation. We see in the seven letters to the church­es (chapters two and three) that each church has some things which its adherents must overcome. If we receive these letters as windows into our personal faith and relationship with Christ and apply them to our own individual walks then we see that there are, indeed, things that we must be mindful of which become issues which we must allow Christ and the ministry of the Spirit to be the agents who overcome these things in our lives so that we may gain the full inheritance of Christ so often spoken of and identified in various places throughout the New Testament. 
        There are different schools of thought on the interpretation of the letters to the churches. Some say they apply only to those churches in existence at the time of the writing, others say they are strictly historical and do not apply to the church today, but history and time have proven that there is multiple applications, i.e. historical, prophetic, personal and, if we can use the term, ‘anthropological’ (which word is used to encompass the prevailing culture and faith of each era of church history and even individual congregations and fellowships at any given point during the Church Age). These four viewpoints are all valid, God getting the most mileage out of His Word. Each letter, and as a whole, have historical, prophetic, personal and anthropological meaning and worth. All of which give us vital and pertinent knowledge and insight into the full nature of the Church for individuals, congregations, and enlightenment about where the Church at large sits on the time line of its evolution in regards to the ‘Signs of Christ’s Return’ and the approaching Rapture and end of the Church Age. The interpretation and study of the mini-epistles of Revelation is multifaceted, therefore. The letters represent not only the churches in existence at the time of the writing, but they also give us an historical account of the development of the church through the ages as well as a picture of the condition of the church today, as well as a mirror for individual believers to examine their own faith and overcoming or lack thereof.
      First off, let’s take the individual approach in this discussion of overcoming.

      In the first letter to EPHESUS, a type of the apostolic church, the Lord commends them for their labor, good works, patience, and for not bearing them which are evil or holding to the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which Christ also hates. The heretical doctrine of the Nicolaitanes had already crept into the Church. The word itself is derived from two words, "nikoa" meaning "to conquer" and "laos" pertaining to the laity, which compounded word by its very meaning to: conquer the laity, or people, totally opposes the equality we have now obtained in Christ and the fact that He is our only mediator.  The Ephesians had shunned this heresy which later became the absolute predominant norm in Christianity right up to this day. He commended them for overcoming this religious movement for priestly and clerical domination of the people, and for their toil, labor, good works. This is all very good, but he has a serious problem…
      The Lord chides the Ephesians for leaving their first love, but promises the tree of life to them if they overcome these things. He threatens them with severe retribution if they do not repent, so that he can forgive them. He warns them, if they persist he will remove His candlestick from them, that thing which clearly symbolizes the fact that they are truly members, part of the Church. A fitting punishment, for they had already effectively removed Him from their lives and presence. It is an even more outlandish matter when we think that the Church at Ephesus was the one Church on the list of seven churches known to be founded by one of the Apostles, Paul. How could they have lost their first love, we ask in wonderment? But then again, who in this day and age has not run into a fellowship of believers who have so wrapped themselves in church organization and works that they do not typify this very serious problem of being immensely Christian, yet not leaning and relying on the mind of Christ for everything they do and think. Oftentimes Christians get so caught up in works and labor that they forget their first love. We are told to repent and do the "first works", lest he take away our candlestick from the midst of the Church.

      The second letter to Smyrna, representing the church of persecution, holds no condemnation by the Lord. He lauds them for their works, tribulation and poverty (but recognizes that they are rich) and acknowledges the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews (or chosen ones, Jew by faith) and are not, "but are of the synagogue of Satan"(Rev. 2.9). Overcoming this persecution from within by the Church itself could even be considered one of, if not the greatest, challenge of the Church throughout the Age and even among Christians today. It is one thing to be persecuted by unbelievers, but quite another from those who say they are Christians. This is even a persecution to death, just as Christ had said the day would come in which men would put true believers to death thinking they were doing God a service. But to those who do not crumble under this pressure and overcome, Christ promises escape from the second death and a crown of life. And who knows what a promise such as a crown of life will provide. The receiver of this hope in glory will have the power of life, to reveal, ascertain, promote – who knows – be given the authority to create, instigate or manifest life in the eternity which is to come. We can only speculate on the glories of such promises given in the seven letters in the eternity in which God will be All-in-all. The Smyrnans were required to overcome by patience in believing the promises in the face of great distress, unto dying.

      The THIRD LETTER TO Pergamos typifies the church of Imperial favor according to Gordan Lindsey, noted Bible scholar, in his Revelation Series, The Seven Churches of Prophecy, volume 2, published by; Christ For The Nations, Dallas TX; and a host of others who have presented a careful study of the epistles over the last 150 years . Christianity was proclaimed by the Roman Emperor Constantine as the official religion of the state opening the way for the Church era of ‘Imperial Favor’. The deeds of the Nicolaitanes mentioned in the letter to the Ephesians became the established and only acceptable way under the sanctioned ecclesiastical law of Imperial Rome.
      Christ acknowledges the good works of this church. The fact that they dwell in Satan's seat, yet manage to hold onto His name and not deny their faith. But Pergamos became the capital of Asia when it fell to the Romans; it was considered a great center of learning as well as being a center of heathen and emperor worship. In this setting the doctrine of Balaam Rev. 2.14 was also tolerated and Christ warned those who had committed spiritual fornication to repent or he would "come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth."  He promised this is what he would do to those who did not overcome. They will be ‘automatically’ overcome; as an effect naturally follows a cause; they will automatically be overcome by the Truth (word of his mouth) because they submitted to lies of opposition to Him they will be shamed and overcome by their lack of overcoming. In contrast, the overcomer is promised hidden manna, new food of an eternal heavenly nature that can sustain and nourish the incorporeal body; and a white stone also, signifying a new name, a new and pure identity, with a future hither to unknown in this life extending into eternity with hope and joy, one suited perfectly for the new incorporeal character, which only the recipient himself or herself can ever know the fullness and extent of its wonders and grandeur so great is its reward for overcoming in this life through Christ.

The FOURTH LETTER TO THYATIRA  representing the Papal church, strongly admonishes those who have allowed the woman, Jezebel, who proclaims to the world that she is a prophetess, to seduce the servants into spiritual adultery. The Jezebel of the Old Testament was an evil woman who enticed her husband, King Ahab, to commit idolatry against his God and ordered the prophets of the Lord to be slain. Her name became a byword for all generations to come for anything that was reprehensible. In the New Testament Jezebel represents the marriage of false doctrine with true Christian doctrine as exemplified in the Roman church. She is given a chance to repent but refuses. Rev. 2.21 Likewise, the Thyatirans are advised to repent or be thrown into great tribulation with her. Verse 23 of Rev. 2 warns, "And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works."  This is just another way of stating God’s warning again, that we must reap what we sew. But to those who overcome and keep his works to the end, to those who have not adhered to Jezebel and her witcheries and to those who have not known the depths of Satan will the Lord put no other burden on them, if they hold on to what they already have, which is works, charity, service, faith and patience. He will give these overcomers power over the nations to rule them with a rod of iron and, finally, he will give them the ‘morning star’, which sounds like access to the universe and all things new that are to come in Creation.

The fifth LETTER to sardis acknowledges their good works but reports the disturbing truth that they have a name that they live but are actually dead. Sardis, in church history, represents the Reformation. Many brave men, such as John Huss and Martin Luther, defied the woman, Jezebel, at the cost of their very lives. But reformation is fraught with the injustice of men and dead works, only revival at the hands of the Holy Ghost brings the spiritual transformation of holy reformation which accomplishes the conformance of the body to Christ. Man’s reformation cannot bring the reform-transform-conform reality of the ministry of the Holy Ghost. Though reform was enacted in the doctrines of the Protestants the Lord still did not find the works of the Sardis church perfect. They had not been conformed to Christ by the transforming power of the Holy Ghost. God cautions them to strengthen the things of reformation, to hold fast but repent. They appear to be alive, but are dead. How many churches have sprung up recently in the wake of the revival of the last 45 years that say they are alive but are really dead because of their fundamentalist rejection of the ministry of the Holy Ghost? They even may pay eloquent and convincing lip service to the Spirit that produces for them a reputation of being alive in the Spirit but they do not trust the Holy Ghost to give Him full reign and charge over their gatherings, meetings, congregations, ministries, homes or personal lives. (See: In The Spirit for the essential ingredients of living and walking with the Holy Ghost.)  The Lord refers to the overcomers as some even in Sardis who have not defiled or soiled their garments, who do not walk in the sin of resisting the Holy Ghost and the pride of their own life. These few are worthy and shall walk with Him in purity of white righteousness and He will not blot out their names from the book of life. By inference the others, though believers may have their names blotted out. What other inference can we derive? The few righteous names, Christ promises, He will confess before the Father. The others He may not? This is a most troubling pronouncement of Christ upon one of His churches is it not? If Christ proclaims that they are dead and not alive, what could be more frightening than that? What could be more needful than repenting from that which has caused ones death, especially when one is supposed to have eternal life?

      The sixth and seventh LETTERs to Philadelphia and Laodicea The last two churches, Philadelphia and Laodicea, represent the state of the church in these last days and are the culmination, good and bad, of the five previous churches. They stand in opposition and contrast. They are the antithesis of one another.
      The church at Philadelphia has little worldly strength, but the Lord has set before them an open door that no man can shut. The Philadelphia church, as well as the church of Smyrna (Perse­cu­tion) are the only churches that the Lord does not reprimand. Both churches are poor and weak - two things we, personally, need to come to in order to be rich and strong in Christ. They are the only churches who consider themselves weak and in dire need of God’s help at all times. Their overcoming challenge is not to defeat sin and walk righteously – they are doing that – their challenge of overcoming is to hang on to their ‘crowns’ and to see that they do not lose their patience in waiting for the Lord’s redemption, or deny Him by losing their faith in His name and power to save. The list of promises given to Philadelphian’s who overcome are indeed impressive: "I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee. Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth." (Rev. 3.9-10) The overcomer, of Philadelphia during these last days, is promised the distinct honor of being made a pillar in His temple, the temple which is in the city of God, New Jerusalem, and the Lord's new name will be written upon them to be worn with honor for all eternity.
       The church at Laodicea, on the other hand, is the lukewarm and vastly predominant church of this current hour. It is neither cold nor hot. The Lord has not one agreeable thing to say about the church of Laodicea. In fact, his feelings are so disagreeable that he says he will spew them out of his mouth. They proclaim themselves to be rich and in need of nothing, and don't even know that they are wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked. The Lord advises them to buy from Him gold tried in the fire, so that they may be truly rich, and white raiment, so that they may be clothed in righteousness so that the shame of their naked­ness doesn't appear and to anoint their eyes with eye salve so that they will be able to see. To those he does love in the Laodicean church, he entreats to repent and be zealous. Zealous to shed the riches and glory that the world has to offer and to obtain gold according to the riches of his grace. To the overcomer is granted a seat with the Lord on His throne. As the Scripture clearly states: if suffer we shall reign with him.
      "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches" is the closing comment in all of the seven letters. Anoint your eyes with eye-salve and read these letters for yourselves that you may see; and listen, so that you may hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches in these, the last days. Can you identify with any of these seven churches? What is that you need to be an overcomer in? Let us seek and take to heart the valuable advice of the Scriptures in our quest to gain the full inheritance of Christ.
"Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good." Rom. 12.21

      "For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God." 1 John 5.4-5


      "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him....And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever". 1 John 2.15-17

The Church AT Ephesus
They Were in Danger of Losing Their First Love
by Joanne Smith

The following series will cover the seven churches that Christ addresses in the book of Revelation. The apostle John was in exile on the isle of Patmos when he was commanded by Christ, the Alpha and Omega as he calls Himself, to write what he saw in a vision and send it to the churches. John saw the Lord standing in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks, which represent the churches as we see in Revelation 1:13-19:
13And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.
 14His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire;
 15And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.
 16And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.
 17And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:
 18I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.
 19Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter;

This is the description of himself by Christ and the introduction to the letters to the Church. They not only are of present value to Christians of every mini-epoch of the Church Age, but offer past lessons and future insight with relevance requiring that the believer infer from their implications many Christian characteristics and points of overcoming at every phase for Christians of all time and everywhere. As stated above, there are different schools of thought on the interpretation of the letters to the churches. Some say they apply only to those churches in existence at the time of the writing, others contend they are strictly historical and do not apply to the church today. I believe the interpretation is many-fold. The letters represent not only the churches in existence at the time of the writing, but they also give us an historical account of the development of the church through the ages, but also a picture of the condition of the church today, as well as the faith the believer ought also to have. Our first discussion is from the first letter addressed to Ephesus, and how it characterizes a portion of today's church, as well as a look at it on a personal level and how it applies to the individual believer's walk of salvation.
     Ephesus, located in Asia Minor (today’s Turkey, as are all seven churches), was a city of great importance in the days of the early church. It was a political, religious and commercial hub that reached its pinnacle under Roman rule during the first and second centuries. The great Temple of Diana, Roman goddess of women and fertility, rebuilt from the destroyed Artemisian temple built around 560 B.C., was considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Ephesus, with a population at the time of Paul estimated to be about 250,000, played a significant role in the spread of Christianity although not without much hindrance, as we read in Acts 19:24-41. A group of silversmiths, who made their living selling shrines to Diana, initiated an uproar against Paul because he had turned many away from the goddess by preaching that "they be not gods, which are made with hands."

1Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;
 2I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:
      3And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.
 4Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
      5Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.
      6But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate.      7He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.  (Rev.2:1-7)

Christ's salutation to each of the churches is different and reflects distinct aspects of who He really is. In His greeting to the Ephesians, the apostolic church, he states that He is the one who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks in the midst of the seven candlesticks (Rev. 1:20). The candlesticks are the churches, seven being the number that encompasses their whole existence. The angels are in his right hand and therefore should be considered as servants and ministers, with the purest meaning of the word as ministers and messengers of God. Since they are in His hand they should further be considered as human ministers and leaders of the message of the Gospel entrusted with pastoral care of that particular church. God holds only Man in his hands, Isaiah says we are inscribed in His palm. If god has a tattoo it is surely Man inscribed as the work of His hands. The angels as creatures of God’s creation are ministers for Man created to minister to man for God’s sake. This Lucifer could not abide. He had no desire to be servant, least of all to Man. He rebelled and became Satan. There is nowhere I can think of where angels are declared to be in God’s hand, they are in His service exclusively. The angels’ highest degree of rank is sanctioned in those which worship Him night and day. The ‘angels’ of the churches referred to in Revelation two and three therefore are the leaders who have been given (or usurped) the ministering of its salvation and greater good. The great ‘angels’ of the Church of Sardis for example are its leaders Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Knox and the host of tens of thousands of myriad Sardisian men and women who followed their lead to establish Sardisian churches under the names Lutheran, Presbyterian, Calvinist, Baptist, and such. They held some form of the Sardisian doctrine and the pitfalls mentioned in the letter to Sardis and were ministers of the ‘angel’ of Sardis in spirit, doctrines and creeds in churches and fellowships on every continent and around the world, and still exist wherever Sardisian churches are functioning right up to this day. The letters are therefore addressed to the influential leaders who are in service to one of the seven archetypical church forms.
      But let us resume the discussion of the church of Ephesus and its critique by the Lord. Jesus commends them for their labor, good works, patience, and for not bearing them which are evil and for trying them which say they are apostles and are not, finding them liars. They have labored and have fainted not. He highly commends them for hating the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which Christ also hates. The heretical doctrine of the Nicolaitanes was beginning to creep into the church at the time of this letter. The word itself is derived from two words, "nikoa" meaning "to conquer" and "laos" pertaining to the laity. The practice of "lording" it over the laity totally opposes the equality we have obtained in Christ and the fact that He, alone, is our only mediator. Paul, as founder of the church at Ephesus, the place where he spent three years teaching them house to house and where he and they cried the day he left them, had always striven to never dominate another person’s faith but to encourage them to stand in their own faith and to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling. They had withstood those who tried to dominate them. There was also the ‘judaizers’ who had tried to ensnare the people by returning to the letter of the Mosaic Law thereby negating the New Testament which pleaded the blood of Christ and its power to fulfill the law by word and deed when the believer walked in the Spirit and not the flesh. This attack Paul fought against his entire apostolic and evangelistic career for the Church’s sake. These men who wished to re-conquer the separated ones of the earliest apostolic days also fall into the category of Nicolaitanes for they too were ‘conquering the people’ and pirating off their faith with their false creed. All the fellowships throughout Pontus and Galatia apparently had fallen into the ‘judaizers’ fell grip. On more than one occasion Paul was humiliated and forced to defend himself against the subversive multi-faceted actions and crusades of Nicolaitanes, whether Judaizers, anti-rapture men like Hymenaeus and Philetus, or Diotrephes who John said liked to have the preeminence in everything and would not allow the apostles to be received by his flock. For this Christ was duly impressed and grateful. The leaders, the angels of this church were many and those of the apostolic age and are well represented by the names Paul and Barnabas, John, Timothy, Priscilla and Aquila, Epaphroditus, Titus, Luke and John Mark, and the eloquent Greek philosopher and convert, Apollos. But incredibly, these men’s pure doctrines did not endure pristine in the new-born Church, not even to the end of the life of the Apostle John. For it is to be remembered that John recorded the letters, including the one to Ephesus, a church which he may duly be considered as a representative ‘angel’. Before the end of the first century, around 90 A.D., only fifty-five or sixty years after the crucifixion and resurrection, the Lord was already disappointed about their righteous standing as a body of believers equality we have obtained in Christ and the fact that He, alone, is our only mediator.
But there is that one thing the Lord just cannot tolerate and He chides the Ephesians for leaving their first love. We must never put aside our love for Christ for the sake of works. We must always be as a bride preparing for her Bridegroom to come at any moment. Our love for Him has to be the most important "works" we do. From that everything else will fall into place. For if we are truly preparing for His return then we are doing the works He has prepared for us, as his awaiting bride.
     As we see in verse 5 of Rev.2, the Ephesians are sternly told to remember where they came from and how they have fallen (out of love, I suppose) and repent and do the first works (of returning to their first love). The quick removal of the candlestick from its place is the disaster waiting for those who don't repent and heed the warning.
     To those that have ears, he tells us to listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. Too often the church is listening to what the churches are saying to the churches. We are barraged in these days with multi-media communications, churches springing up on every street corner, evangelists crowding the airwaves and convention centers with all kinds of doctrines from the outlandish laughing “for the Lord” to the more stoic,  traditional ones where praising the Lord out loud is even frowned upon. Where do you turn? Whose voice do you listen to? Who is and who isn't speaking for God? Follow the advice imparted by the Lord, Himself, to the church at Ephesus and seek to hear His voice, and the promise of eating from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God, will be yours - the overcomer.
      Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.”

The Church At Smyrna
The Persecuted Ones

      8And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;
      9I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.
 10Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.
      11He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death. (Rev. 2:8-11)

      Smyrna, located 35 miles north of Ephesus in Asia Minor, was at the time of writing a decidedly pro-Roman city of great value to the Empire as it served as headquarters for the imperial cult at emperor worship. The city boasted of many magnificent temples, including one dedicated to the Emperor Tiberius, which signified the city's loyalty to the Empire. Temples to Cybele and Zeus were also centers tor heathen worship.
It was during John's banishment to Patmos that Caesar worship became compulsory in the Roman Empire, and that ushered in a two hundred year period of great persecution on the saints who were faithful, some were men and women who attempted reform within the Church and were persecuted by the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. Gordon Lindsey in his Revelation Series, Volume 1, points out that the name, Smyrna, means "myrrh", a fragrant spice which has to be beaten into fine pieces to give off its fragrance and was used in the burial of Christ. He suggests that this could typify the Christians who were beaten and bruised for Christ’s sake, but the more they were persecuted the more fragrant was the testimony they gave that Jesus is life itself and that it must not be about this life and things of this earth.
       Jesus greets the church at Smyrna as from the first and the last, from one who was dead and is now alive. He is the only one who can make that claim. He is the only one who died and is now alive and He is the only one who can grant us eternal life. What comfort to those persecuted saints who would lose their own lives for the gospel's sake. He commends the saints at Smyrna for their works, tribulation and poverty, "(but thou art rich)" (Rev. 2:9) So then, riches in the eyes of Christ are not of this world. Where our treasure is there our heart will be also, and the Bible tells us that all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are to be found in Christ. Those who are rich in Truth are rich in the knowledge and saving grace of Christ, not in the goods and treasures of this world. “By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible. Heb. 11:24-27 The treasures of Egypt were no match for the promises of true eternal riches for the faithful of Smyrnan faith.
      The Lord acknowledges the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews, and are not, but are of the "synagogue of Satan". This is a very serious matter and not to be taken lightly. Being of the "synagogue of Satan" is a pretty strong condemnation and if the Lord didn't want us to be aware of it he wouldn't have mentioned it here. What is a Jew?
"For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God." Rom. 2:28 & 29
Did Abraham, the father of faith, receive the promise because he was circumcised in the flesh? No, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness."Rom. 4:3 Circumcision was a sign, a seal of the righteousness of his faith, which he had while yet being uncircumcised. The promise that "he would be the heir to the world" was not given by the law but through the righteousness of faith. It is therefore faith that qualifies a Jew under the new covenant - the covenant of the blood of Christ "in whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: buried with Him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead." Col. 2:11 & 12
      Who are these Jews who say they are Jews, and are not? Or a more suitable question might be, who are these Christians who say they are Christians, and are not? Jesus says we shall know them by their fruits and warns us that, "Many will say to me in that day Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." Matt. 7:21 & 22 You can be sure there are many people sitting in many fundamentalist, born-again, and even spirit-filled gatherings calling themselves Christians that fall into this category. It can be safely said, then, that it is they who are of "the synagogue of Satan."
      What are we to do then? "Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer" is what he told the saints at Smyrna for He knew they were about to suffer severe persecution from not only unbelievers but also from those of the household of faith, the seed of Abraham. They of your own house shall be your greatest foes we are warned by the prophets and Jesus Himself. "The devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days", probably refers to the ten major persecutions that took place under Roman rule in the second and third centuries A.D. (see Foxe's Book of Martyrs; Marie Gentert King, Editor; Spire Books) but also refers to these perilous times in which we now live and struggle, which will only worsen in the future as the return of Christ draws nearer and nearer. Paul exhorts us in his warning of these end times in 2Tim. 3:12-14: "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and has been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them."
      Perhaps the worst persecution will come from within, from those who say they are Christians. Those that are poor in worldly recognition and gain (but are rich, remember) who have decided to enter in at the strait gate will stand alone in a world (and church) filled with hypocrisy and deceit because "broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many thee be which go in thereat." Matt. 7:13
       Jesus goes on to tell us in Matt. 7:14-16 that "strait is the gate, and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits." Beware, He warns us. So please, don't be afraid to examine the fruits, the real fruits of anyone who may call themselves a Christian.
The Lord calls the church at Smyrna to be faithful unto death and He will give them a crown of life. He is doing the same thing in the church today. He calls every aspiring disciple to lose his own life so that we may find it. When we come to Him we have to be willing to give up everything for Him so that He might live through us. We have to partake in the death of self and take the advice of Jesus from the following verse, "If any man come to me and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple" Luke 14:26. He says we must pick up our cross daily. Also it is written that we are as sheep led to the slaughter. We are killed all the day long for Jesus Christ’s sake. This is a promise of persecution unto death for the faithful, especially as perilous times wear on and on and the love of many wax cold. In this sense are we not all to overcome and be as martyrs, living as dead to this world, but alive to Christ who is our life and we ared more than conquerors by Him that loves us.
In His closing remarks to this church at Smyrna, like he does in all seven of the churches, the Lord entreats them to hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches. How many different voices are out there in the church today claiming to speak for God and promising to have all the answers? Strive to have ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches and you will be an overcomer to whom the promise of not being hurt of the second death is given. Heed the warnings imparted to the seven churches and the crown of life will be yours.

The Church at Pergamos
Church of Imperial Favor

      Lying some fifty miles northeast of Ephesus, Pergamos, capital of the Roman province of Asia, boasted the first temple dedicated to a Roman Emperor, Augustus, which aptly illustrates the identity and spirit of this idolatrous city. It was also the home of one of the largest libraries in the world, second only to the one in Alexandria and where the use of parchment, derived from the word "Pergamos", was first initiated. It was considered one of the great centers of learning and culture with its many- glorious temples, sculptures and altars. Unger’s Bible Dictionary states that the city was "greatly addicted to idolatry" and was well-known as the center of worship of such gods as Asklepios, Zeus and Isis to name a few but was more renowned as a primary center of Caesar worship. As representations of its identity and character these are not favorable traits for Christians. Caesar worship was the greatest competitor to the worship of Christ offered by the Antichrist in its formative years.
Pergamos represents that specific epoch or period of Church history from about 312 - 476 A.D. beginning when Constantine had declared Christianity the official religion of the state of Imperial Rome up until the time when the Church ascended to become the rival in power of the throne itself during the Epoch of Papal authority and sovereignty. Caesar/Emperor worship had really begun to take hold in the empire by the time of Christ’s ministry on earth and by the early fourth century was commonly understood to be a test of one's loyalty. Before Constantine's edict much persecution was administered to Christians who did not submit to this form of idolatry. Some of the most violent battles and drawn out inner persecutions were fought inside the Church over those who became lapsi and those who did not deny Christ by submitting to sacrificing to the Emperor. Christian shed Christian blood and whole families and congregations were ruined over the many horrific struggles about whether those who had offered sacrifice and incense to the emperor should be allowed back into fellowship with the common Church of believers. The Church was gaining in power and authority as a universal controller of all believers and had begun to maintain an iron grip on the structure and operation of every church throughout Christendom. It was this all inclusive power that gave teeth to its edicts and governance so that anyone who did not the bidding of the recognized binding voice of its synods and councils (which were usually swayed by the most powerful of its mouthpieces, usually a prominent and gifted bishop who was a great writer or orator, would suffer excommunication, persecution or even death (martyrdom).  Starting with the Emperor Nero’s persecution and extending through the third century up to the reign of the Emperor Diocletian and his immediate successors to the time of Imperial Favor and the Edict of Milan in 325 A.D. ten periods of persecution racked the Church and tested its faith and mettle.
In Christ's opening remarks to the church at Pergamos he refers to himself as the one who has the sharp sword with two edges. Hebrews 4:12 tells us that "the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." So he aptly describes himself as such with this stern greeting to the church of Imperial Favor. Take note that the greetings in the first two churches of Ephesus and Smyrna are not quite as severe. The Lord greets Ephesus as the one who holds the seven stars and Smyrna as being the first and the last. A sharp sword with two edges are, as they say" fightin' words" for, indeed, the battle for souls is particularly strong in this city of Pergamos and for the time it represents in church history. The only way the battle can be fought is by the Word of God, who is Jesus and who, alone, has the power to "pierce even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit." Only His word is more powerful than the words spoken by rational man who would plaster over the truth with a veneer of smooth deception.
       He acknowledges the fact that these saints dwell where Satan's seat is, in the midst of idolatry in this extension of the Roman Empire with its capital city being Rome, where the spirit of the Antichrist had taken over and was in full bloom. He knows them, that they have not denied His name, even in the face of martyrdom. But, of course, he does have a few bones to pick with them in that they allowed the doctrine of Balaam who "cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel ... to commit fornication".
Balak, King of Moab, when he saw the size and strength of the children of Israel, tried to convince the prophet Balaam to curse Israel. Contrary to his own will, as we are told in the account of it in Numbers 22-25 Balaam found they could not be cursed because the Lord would not allow them to be cursed, only blessed as we read, "God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good? Behold, I have received commandment to bless: and he hath blessed; and I cannot reverse it." (Num. 23.19,20) For money and power Balaam was willing to curse God's people. How perfectly this scenario illustrates the church of Imperial Favor, the beginnings of the church of Rome, and the willingness for her to sell out to Satan for power and riches. Take a look around you and notice who has built up the biggest and most powerful religion in the world and ask yourself how it got like that?
      Since the children of Israel, the people of God, could not be cursed, Balak sought to destroy them by other means and the two colluded to infiltrate them in another way - by having them intermingle with the Moabites (“commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab" - Numbers 25:1) which eventually led to their sacrificing to idols and bowing down to other gods. We find the same thing happening here in Pergamos when Constantine's declaration to make Christianity the official religion of the land only served to promote the marriage of Christianity with pagan beliefs, a practice that has gone on ever since in the church.
       Balaam was full aware of what he was doing when he conspired with Balak, for riches, to seduce the Israelites to sin against their God and the punishment met on those who did was brutal and swift. "And Israel joined himself unto Baalpeor: and the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel. And the Lora said unto Moses, Take all the heads of the people, and hang them up before the Lord against the sun, that the fierce anger of the Lord may be turned away from Israel. And Moses said unto the judges of Israel, Slay ye every one his men that were joined unto Baalpeor." (Num. 25.3-5) But God, in his mercy, turned his wrath from the children of Israel when Phinehas, grandson of Aaron the priest, in his zeal for the Lord and the children of Israel slew a Midianitish woman and a man of Israel for their whordom. As we read in Num. 25:11, "Phinehas ... hath turned my wrath away from the children of Israel, while he was zealous for my sake among them, that I consumed not the children of Israel m my jealousy." Nonetheless twenty-four thousand people perished in the plague visited upon them before the Lord turned his wrath away. He then instructed Moses to kill the Midianites. God is a jealous God and he will not tolerate His people participating in idolatry of any sort and joining themselves with other gods, whatever they may be.
       The next bone He has to pick with them is the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which he says he hates (see The Nicolaitanes, The System Jesus Hates). As noted by E. Gardenier in her article, Jesus only states twice in all of scripture that he hates something and that something happens to be the same thing - the deeds and the doctrines of the Nicolaitanes. What is the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes? We know that the word itself is derived from two Greek words "nikao" meaning "to conquer" and "loas" meaning the laity. The practice of "lording" it over the laity totally opposes the equality we have obtained by Christ’s death and the fact the He is our one and only mediator as Paul tells us in I Timothy 2.5, "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus". To whom then should we be submitted? A sampling from the following scriptures gives us a pretty clear picture of whom and what we should be submitted.
"Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God " (Ephesians 5:21) "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7) "Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief for that is unprofitable for you." (Hebrews 13:17) "Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well." (1 Pet. 2:13-14) (see: Submission Who sets the conditions?)
       The believers at Pergamos are warned to repent or else the Lord will come unto them quickly and actually fight against them with the sword of his mouth, probably the same sword that slew the Midianites. Just as the Midianites seduced His people to commit fornication; so also those who held to the doctrine of Balaam and the Nicolaitanes try to seduce the Christians at Pergamos to commit spiritual fornication against the Lord. As I said before, “them's fightin' words" and anyone who gets in the way of the Lord better be prepared to suffer the consequences.

      But to those who overcome will the Lord give to them hidden manna which, we know, is Jesus the Bread of Life. From John 6 we read And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.  And Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. "
Also to the overcomer is promised a white stone with a new name written on it which, the Scripture says, no man knows except him that receives it. What a promise of new and redeemed life in Christ to the overcomer of these idolatrous systems.

The Church at thyatira

In this article we'll cover the church at Thyatira and see how it relates to the current condition of the church, as well as look at it on a personal level to see how it applies to the individual believer.
Renown for Purple: Color of the Whore
Politically speaking, the city of Thyatira held little inheritance but was renowned for its commercial vitality. The natural resources of the area were implemented to produce world famous purple dye. Trade guilds abounded in this city. Lydia, a convert of the apostle Paul's in Phillippi and a seller of purple (Acts 16.14), hailed from this ancient metropolis. The chief deity of the city, according to Unger’s Bible Dictionary was Apollo, worshipped under the surname of Tyrimnas.
The church at Thyatira, representing the Papal church established around 450 A.D. at the fall of the Roman Empire, was commended by the Lord for their many, many works and charitable service. However Christ's greeting to them in this letter is from one who has eyes like a flame of fire and feet like fine brass. Fire, in the Scriptures, represents the process of refinement and brass symbolizes judgement. Why would he refer to himself in such a manner if he had not some bone to pick with them?
The Teachings of Jezebel had infiltrated this Church
The bone was the woman Jezebel, a self-proclaimed prophetess who seduced the servants of the Lord into spiritual adultery. Jezebel of the Old Testament was an evil woman who enticed her husband, King Ahab, to commit idolatry against his God and ordered the prophets of the Lord to be slain. Her name has echoed through 3,000 years of history as a byword for anything that is reprehensible, polluted and idolatrous. Do we not instantly conjure up images of wickedness and evil manipulation when we just hear the name "Jezebel"?
It is interesting that Thyatira was known for its purple dye, probably used extensively for clothing. Could it be the same purple clothing worn by the great whore described In Revelation 17 with whom the "kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication." (Rev. 17.2)? Jezebel and this woman are one in the same, or at least a close relative, spiritually speaking.
The following name was written on this woman's forehead: MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS? Is Jezebel her daughter? This could be.
Who is this Mystery Babylon?
Who is this woman? What is 'Mystery Babylon"?
It had its origins in ancient Babylon at the tower of Babel when men conspired to reach heaven by their inventions and make a show of themselves before heaven and earth while doing it. We all know the story from there, but why did the Lord have to confound the languages? Genesis 11.6 explains "And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do." The Lord knew what men would do if left to their own devices and it was his mercy on us that he scattered the nations. He knew they were trying to reach heaven without Him. But the spirit of Babel was never destroyed and now, in this present day, we find it flourishing and permeating all aspects of life. Men are conspiring, in unity, to become the "brotherhood of man". Language is no longer a barrier and with satellites, direct TV, cell phones, the internet and travel so enhanced, the whole world is at our fingertips and only a day away at most. The spirit of Mystery Babylon (to chapters on Mystery Babylon from: “Revelation Pure and Simple” by Terry Smith ) is at the heart of all these endeavors. Intoxicated with her own lust for power she will stop at nothing to achieve her goal.
This evil woman, Babylon, is drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. Revelation 17.18 tells us, "And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth." History proves that the city which has reigned over the earth for the last two millennia, in one way or another is Rome. When her political power was stripped, her spiritual power over the souls of men thrived. That power is still thriving today in the Roman Catholic church. In her we find the epitome of the spiritual tower of Babel. Even her buildings are the finest in the world. You can go into any small city or town and find an ornately built Roman Catholic Church.
So who is this Jezebel and what does she have to do with Babylon? In Gordon Lindsey's Revelation Series, The Seven Churches of Revelation, he states this;

       "Jezebel is the Papal Church which arose during the Dark Ages. While the name doubtless referred to someone in the local church of Thyatira, prophetically it symbolizes the rise of the Papacy of which Jezebel is a type. This is the accepted interpretation of all evangelical interpreters, and there can be no doubt but that it is the true interpretation. The aptness of the symbolism is obvious and striking."

Though current Evangelical teaching is trying to sweep this knowledge under the rug it was not very long ago that every Bible-believing Christian understood about the whore of Babylon and the Jezebel spirit. The spirit of idolatry in the Christian church was given birth by Jezebel (Papacy) during this era of church history and has continued to flourish to this day. The many false practices and idolatries of the Roman system are too numerous to go into detail here, but to name a few: statue worship (graven images), Mary and "saint" worship, salvation by infant water baptism, transubstantiation (the mystery of turning bread and wine into the so-called "actual' body and blood of Christ - which is a feeble attempt to make oneself holy). The advances the Church at large made against these polluted teachings of the Dark Ages were hard won, sometimes men and women gave up their lives resisting the whore's inquisitions and persecutions. We are saddened to see so many Christians cash in these doctrinal victories won by the blood of the saints for a false peace and ecumenism that will come to naught in the end. We urge every reader to ponder these rebukes of Jesus for themselves, and for those of you who seek the truth I encourage you to search the Scriptures and the Scriptures only, for only there will you find the true way to salvation and deliverance from corruption that has seeped into the Church over the centuries.
But why does the Catholic Church have so many devotees you may ask. How can so many people be wrong? The answer is simply, Noah and his family were eight out of the whole world who were found righteous before God and obeyed His voice. That is why we must take serious the voice of God speaking through Paul when He says,
      "And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you". (2 Cor. 2.16-17)
Repent and Christ will give you Great Reward
In the New Testament Jezebel represents the marriage of false doctrine with true Christian doctrine as exemplified in the Roman Church. She is given a chance to repent but refuses (Rev. 2.21). Likewise, the Thyatirans are advised to repent or be thrown into great tribulation with her.
But to those who have not partaken of this doctrine and who have not known the depths of Satan, as Christ tells us in verse 24, he will put no other burden on them. The depths of Satan were felt in that dark period of church history with the atrocities of the inquisition and the martyrdom of faithful servants of Christ who refused to deny his name.
To quote Gordon Lindsey again,
      "The horrors of the inquisition, (see The Holy Inquisition) the burning of 'heretics' at the stake, immorality among the Popes, a decadent priesthood forbidden to marry, doctrines of the harlot Babylon, image worship in its grossest forms, Mariolatry - all these evil things appeared in the Church of Thyatira. It was a time of gross darkness. It is an indication of the compassion and the love of Christ that He says to the people of this benighted time, 'I will put upon you none other burden'. This is as much as to say that 'to whom much is given, of him much shall be required.' But to those who live in the darkness of Thyatira, if they will but keep themselves from evil, from 'the depths of Satan', into which so many had fallen, they will do well."
      The Lord's pleadings to repent to this church are many and the consequences quite severe for those who don't, as we see in verse 21. Being cast into great tribulation await those who refuse to repent of the spiritual fornication which they have committed with the spirit of Jezebel.
      To the overcomer in Thyatira, as with all seven of the churches, there is wonderful promise. Christ offers hope and redemption for those who will come to Him and repent. It is ironic that the promise given to this particu1ar church is power over the nations to rule them with a rod of iron. Rome has, for centuries, tried to do the very same thing in several different ways, especially, as mentioned earlier, through the spiritual hold of the Roman Catholic Church. And now, to those who overcome the depths of Satan, will he give them what Rome has lusted after - power over the nations. Not only that but, "as vessels of a potter shall they (the nations) be broken to shivers" (Rev 2.27). The rule this time will be under the one true God and His Son, Jesus Christ. That will surely be one sight to see! And the saints are invited to be in that army.
The other promise to the overcomer is that they will be given the morning star, which is only mentioned one other place in Scripture; Rev. 22.16, "I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.” And David, as we all know, was the greatest king Israel ever saw, the one who had a heart after God.

The Church at SARDIS

      In this writing we'll cover the church at Sardis and see how it relates to the current condition of the church, as well as look at it on a personal level to see how it applies to the individual believer.
      Lying 50 miles north of Ephesus, Sardis the capital of Lydia under the opulent king Croesus, was a great trading center made wealthy by textile manufacturing and the making of jewelry. It also boasted the distinction of being the first place where modem coins were minted. Deemed impregnable by many, it was, nevertheless, overcome by Cyrus the Great in 546 B.C. and then again in 218 B.C by Antiochus the Great. The Romans took it over in 133 A.D.
      Sardis represents the reformation period of time in church history when brave men such as John Huss and Martin Luther defied the woman, Jezebel, some with their very lives, and refused to give in on their belief that salvation comes through faith and not works. Their willingness to withstand the force of the papacy and papal beliefs and stand on the Bible, alone, brought about a great awareness in the church and split the Christian world into two factions Catholics and Protestants.
The common belief among the early reformers in the final authority of the Bible, and their unwillingness to budge from that, single-handedly brought about the reformation. When the Scriptures were searched the truth about salvation was discovered and they couldn't deny it.
      In his salutation to the church at Sardis, the Lord greets them from "he who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars". He acknowledges their works and the fact that they have a name that they live - but are dead!
Something was still lacking, what was it? Could the seven spirits be a clue to what was missing in the church at Sardis? Possibly. Who and what are the seven spirits? Isaiah 11:1-2 gives a pretty clear understanding:
And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:
And the( 1) spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the(2) spirit of wisdom and(3) understanding, the (4)spirit of counsel and (5)mi8ht, the (6)spirit of knowledge and (7) of the fear of the LORD;
     The Lord has given staff member/writer, Leroy Gardenier, great insight into what was possibly lacking and has noted on many occasion that the one, great sin of the Jews (From a Christian standpoint, that is. For I believe that the Jews are God's chosen people and it was only through them that we Gentiles are grafted into the promises of God - someday to be as one) is that they have rejected Christ - the One whom God sent, and that the one, great sin of the church is that they have rejected the Holy Ghost - the one whom Jesus sent. That is what is meant by Christ, in his salutation, when he says they have a name that they are alive, but are dead.
      The reformists resurrected some basic truths that had long been buried in tradition and ritual, but lacked one main ingredient - the Holy Ghost!
      Gordon Lindsey in his REVELATION SERIES offers us this:
The church at Sardis sadly needed the ministry of the Holy Spirit in its fullness, and Christ was thus calling attention to the fact that He was able to restore this ministry. Seven is the number of completeness. The number seven mentioned (see Zech. 4:1-10) as the “eyes of the Lord” is an obvious reference to the fullness of the Spirit, of God’s ministry. It is interesting to note that the number seven is associated with the Spirit of God in Zechariah 4:6, where the Lord says, ,"Not by might, nor by power but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts." Zerubabbel had laid the foundation of the house of the Lord, amidst extreme difficulties. It seemed to be a task beyond human power to accomplish. But the Lord told him not to depend upon his own strength, and that the work of restoration of the temple would be accomplished by relying on the Spirit of God. Likewise, the works of the Sardis Church were in an unfinished and imperfect state. The task that the reformers faced in restoring the apostolic church could only be accomplished by the power of the Spirit."
      The Protestant movement managed to break away from the Catholic church but didn't altogether lose some of the subtle trappings. They realized and vehemently denied that salvation was obtained through the practice of indulgences (paying money), which brought great wealth to the church, but the proclamation of justification by faith" lost its purity m the tangled web that religion weaves. Man possesses an innate desire to have full control and in not allowing the Holy Ghost to have full control, Protestantism has, in general, gone the way of the very thing it protested against - the Papal Church.
      The basic foundation of the truths of the Bible were established and adhered to but such things as the Rapture and the second coming of our Lord, and who the Jews really are, as well as the integral part they play in man's salvation were totally neglected. This resulted in ignorance and apostasy that was only lifted in the last 150 years with the current revival of the Holy Ghost. One example of this ignorance, for instance, is baptism. We, as born-again believers, know that baptism in and of itself does not save anyone. The blatant act of baptizing infants to bring them into life eternal in the Roman church is frowned upon and even abhorred by most Protestants, yet they embrace the practice of baptizing children at around the age of 13 or 14 justifying it by the fact that they are old enough to make a choice. Often these children are only partaking out of a sense of duty, at best, or peer pressure. But now, because they are baptized, by their own free will, they are suddenly saved. (That's not to say that children of that age cannot be saved - indeed they can and are!).
      The age-old problem that the foolish Galatians were reprimanded for by Paul had fallen upon the church at Sardis. The law was embraced and the Spirit was rejected. So it is with modern day Protestant churches, and in this group I would also include most non-denominational churches that basically preach the born-again message. Although they appear to be alive by believing in salvation through justification and adhering to the Scriptures, their lack of spiritual power bas rendered them abysmally defeated and downtrodden. The victory of a walk with Jesus in the power of the Holy Ghost is not attainable under the burden of the law. Even the "spirit-filled" churches of today that have a reputation for being alive are bogged down in ritual and tradition. Christ tells the church at Sardis to "be watchful and strengthen the things that remain, that are ready to die." These "things” being, I believe, the basic truths of the gospel, which is salvation through the shed blood of Jesus Christ and holiness through the power of the one whom He sent- the Holy Ghost. The works of those at Sardis were lacking. In fact, they were found to be not perfect and the Lord admonished them to remember what they have heard and already received and to repent and watch. If they don't watch he will come unto them as a thief in the night. In general, the numbers that are represented by this church are many, but the numbers who responded to His warnings are small for the Lord refers to the "few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments". For this the Lord has deemed them worthy enough to walk with Him in white. To the overcomer he also promises that he will not blot their names out of the book of life, but He will confess their names to the Father and to the angels. This scene from Revelation 19.7-9 will be a reality:
       "Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.
      And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they  which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.
      Don't you want to be an overcomer? Don't you want to be clothed in white, washed by the blood of the Lamb and seated at His great marriage supper? Then listen to what the spirit is saying to the churches. Amen.

The Church at Philadelphia

This article covers the church at Philadelphia to see how it relates to the current condition of the church, as well as to look at it on a personal level to see how it applies to the individual believer.
      The ancient city of Philadelphia is located some thirty miles southeast of Sardis in Lydia, was founded in the second century B.C, by Attalus Philadelphus and was so named to commemorate the brotherly love that existed between him and Eumenes. A terrible earthquake that destroyed Sardis in A.D. 17 also devastated Philadelphia. The Roman emperor, Tiberius remitted taxation for the period of rebuilding and in return the citizens of Philadelphian changed its named to Neo-Ceasarea meaning "New Town of Caesar", but it was later changed back to Philadelphia. Despite the spread of Islam across Asia Minor the city has remained steadfastly Christian to this day.
      In the scheme of church history, Philadelphia along with Laodicea, the last of the seven churches addressed in Revelation, represents the church of the current age. Philadelphia is the invisible church, the weak church with little or no worldly strength. It is the only church besides the church at Smyrna that the Lord does not have a rebuke for. Why? Let's find out.
      In His greeting to the Philadelphians, the Lord writes that He is holy, He is true and that He has the key of David which no man can open or no man can shut. What is this key of David? David is the only king of Israel whose heart was after God's own heart as we see in Acts 13:22 & 23; "And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfill all my will. Of this man seed hath God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus.
It was through David's seed that all the promises of Israel came - namely, Jesus the Messiah. Indeed, the Lord opened the door for David to be king of Israel for he was the youngest of Jesse's eight sons. After seven of the sons were brought before Samuel, who had orders from the Lord to go to Jesse's house, for from among his sons a king was to be chosen, the Lord said unto him "Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature: because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart." (1 Sam. 16:7) Asked if there were any more sons, Jesse said yes, the youngest who keeps the sheep in the fields. David was retched from the field and when Samuel looked upon him the Lord said to him, "Arise, anoint him: for this is he." And the Scriptures say that the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward. David He chose and David it was.
      His is a familiar story to students of the Scriptures, I know, but I relate it here to show the parallel between David and the Philadelphia Church. David is the least of his brothers, the most unlikely to be the future king of Israel, but God saw his heart and chose him over all the others. Likewise the Lord acknowledges the church of Philadelphia, the weakest one, for their works and the fact that they have not denied His name and have kept His word. The difference between the last two churches addressed in Revelation and the first five is that they are churches representing current day churches. True, they were churches that existed at the time of writing, but in our line of study remember that Philadelphia represents one of two types of churches in prominent existence today, the other being Laodicea which we will cover next month. Also keep in mind that remnants of each of the seven churches have been in existence down through the ages to this current age.
As in the letter to the church at Smyrna (the only other faultless church), the Lord refers to those who are of the "synagogue of Satan" who say they are Jews and are not, but do lie. Roman’s chapter two verses 28 & 29 tell us what a Jew is; "For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.”
      This verse is an affirmation of the Lord's reply to Samuel when he was about to anoint David king of Israel as mentioned previously. In this letter to the Philadelphians He says he will make those of the "synagogue of Satan" to come and worship at their feet and I quote "and to know that I have loved thee." This will be quite the scenario. But who are these Jews? As explained in a previous article on the church at Smyrna, we can safely assume that these represent Christians who say they are Christians but do lie. "Ye shall know them by their fruits".
      In these last days there are many who say they are Christ's and use Christ's name to perform all manner of abominations as we see in Matthew 7:21 & 22). "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." Take for instance the current, popular "laughing revival" or the growth in the so called spirit-filled churches who merely use the Lord's name to have fun and party. Salvation is touched upon but repentance and holiness are rarely, if at all, preached from the pulpit. The word of God is watered down and made ineffective. The vast majority of Christianity flock to church every Sunday to be touched by the Spirit of God in some way but go away with no real victory in their lives. The fundamentals have been sorely ignored or forgotten.
      Search the scriptures for yourself and ask the Lord exactly who and what the "synagogue of Satan" is comprised of. Strive to be a member of the Philadelphia church and the promises of Revelation 3:10-12 will be yours. The Lord assures those who have kept the word of his patience that he will keep them from the hour of temptation which shall come upon the world. This refers to the rapture of the bride also spoken of in 1 Thessalonians chapter four that will take place at an hour that no man knoweth. We can surmise from the promise given here in Revelation, it will most likely occur at the beginning or during the first half of the great seven year tribulation period. A warning is then issued by the Lord that He will come quickly and to hold fast that which you have, so that no man will take your crown. No doubt this is the crown of righteousness spoken of in II Timothy 4:8 "Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”
      To the overcomer is the additional promise of being made a pillar in the temple of God. The twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve apostles also share in this distinct honor of actually being part of God's holy dwelling place - Heavenly Jerusalem, as pictured in Rev 21:12&14. "And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel.... And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb."
      The promises don't stop there for we are also told that He will write upon the overcomer the name of his God, the name of the city of His God and His, Jesus', new name. Don't you want to be an overcomer? Don't you want to be a pillar in the eternal city of New Jerusalem? Then follow the advice in the Scriptures when it says, "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches." Refer to God's Expectations of Today's Christian

The Church at LAODICEA

      We now cover the seventh and final and final church, Laodicea, to see how it relates to the current condition of the Church at larger, as well as look at it on a personal level to see how it applies to the individual believer.
Laodicea, the last of the seven churches addressed in Revelation, represents the visible church of the current age. As we saw in last month's article it is one of two that illustrate the condition of the current church age, the other being Philadelphia, the invisible church. Unlike Philadelphia, the weak church who possess little or no worldly strength, Laodicea is the epitome of worldly wealth and strength. It's quite possible this church is the end-times culmination of all those members of the previous churches, excluding Philadelphia, who haven't followed the advice the Lord gives to hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches and overcome the sin of that particular church. Perhaps this church represents those who refuse to repent, refuse to overcome.
      The city Laodicea in ancient Asia Minor was a city noted for its wealth and prosperity. It was destroyed by a great earthquake that also destroyed Sardis and Philadelphia. Because of its self-reliance Laodicea refused financial help from Rome that the others cities had accepted preferring to rebuild from its own resources. One of these resources, interestingly enough as we will see later on, was the production of black wool. Another noteworthy fact is that Laodicea was known for its medical school where spikenard for the treatment of eye and ear soars was manufactured. Banking also held a prominent place in society. One of the cities major weaknesses was the lack of a water supply, which, as a result of its wealth, was able to have piped in from the north.
      Christ's greeting to the Laodiceans is from the Amen, the one who IS a faithful and true witness. He wastes no time in getting straight to the point of the whole letter when he tells them he knows their works and they are neither hot nor cold. In fact, he wishes they were one or the other, but because they are lukewarm he will spew them out of His mouth. So utterly distasteful are they that he has to spew them out. This, indeed, is a powerful depiction of how the Lord feels about such Christians.
      Isn't it ironic that he goes on to tell them, who are widely know for their success in banking, black wool making and manufacturing of eyesalve, to buy from him gold tried in the fire, white raiment and to anoint their eyes with eyesalve that they may see? This letter needs little explanation as its meaning is quite clear.
      Of Laodicea Joseph Seiss wrote in his 19th century work, Apocalypse:
      "And it is self-satisfied, boastful and empty. Having come down to the world's tastes, and gained the world's praise and patronage, the Laodiceans think they are rich and increased with goods and have need of nothing. Such splendid churches, and influential and intelligent congregations, and learned agreeable preachers. Such admirable worship and music! Such excellently manned and endowed institutions ... So much given for magnificent charities! Such an array in all the attributes of greatness and power. What more can be wanted? "
      "And will it answer to say that all this is not largely and characteristically the state of things at this very hour? Can anyone scrutinize narrowly the professed church of our day, and say we have not reached the Laodicean Age? Is it not equally a fact that this selfsame Christendom of ours is the wretched, and the pitiable, and poor, and blind, and naked."
These words written 100 years ago aptly describe the current condition of the Laodicean church of today. Just take a look around you. Opulence and greed have risen to high, high places in the church today. The spectacle so-called Christendom has made out of Christ is absolutely shameful. Take for instance Robert Schuller's Crystal Cathedral or Jim Bakker's kingdom on earth -Heritage U.S.A. Not to mention the traditional churches that have built up their kingdoms over hundreds of years with stately and grandiose structures.
      Is there really a place for such things in Christ's true church? We only have the Scriptures to discern the answer to that. There certainly is no shortage of religion in the world today or no shortage of those who believe they abound with riches. These words to the Laodiceans should be heeded:
      "Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see."
      In each letter Christ has a criticism and the current day Laodicean church braces itself against godly correction by declaring that loving Christians do not criticize one another. To point out indiscretions, worldly behavior, false doctrines and lack of faith is to be condemnatory and unchristian-like. But the spirit and essence of the seven letters is patently different. Christ is critical of His church and anyone who takes on His name. He is jealous of His father's name and reputation and will protect His father's house from corruption and infiltration of faithless and sinful deceivers who are only hearers of the word and not doers.
       Yes, there are many who call themselves Christians who think they are rich but the Lord admonishes them to buy from Him, as we saw in the above Scripture, three things: The first is gold tried in the fire that they may be rich. Rich in HIS glory for to be tried in the fire IS to be purified. I Peter 1:7 explains why we need to be tried in the fire: "That the trial of your faith being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ"
      The second is white raiment, that we may be clothed in the righteousness of Christ. There are several references in the Scriptures referring to putting on something as if it were a piece of clothing and we are wise if we seek to put these things on (or in) our spiritual bodies. Paul so aptly writes concerning this "putting on" in the Epistles: "Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering" (Col. 3:12) "And that ye put on the new man, which after God lS created in righteousness and true holiness." (Eph. 4:24)
      The third item the Lord tens us to buy from Him is eye-salve that we might see. Again Paul writes to the Ephesians: "That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints. " (Eph. 1:18)
      For us to purchase or acquire something we must first admit we lack something. This is the first step to take for the modern church, this is the first step in repentance. It is also the first step in overcoming. Until the modem Christian realizes he is poor in spirit and in need of these things he will remain blinded, poor, naked, miserable and spiritually wretched. The prosperity message is inherently wrong. Not that God, and Christ have no care for our needs; they do. But we must all endure and accept tribulation in the service of Christ.  And make no mistake, Christ will spew the self-seeking Christian out of his mouth  like a poisonous brew.
      Alas, God's mercy is all-encompassing and endures forever; for as many as he loves he also rebukes and warns them that they are to be zealous and repent. He stands at the door waiting to be invited in to sup with those who truly have repented and opened their hearts up to him. Not just in lip service, but in deeds and actions. The unshakable honor of sitting with Him and His father in His throne awaits those who overcome - even as He overcame. The disciples, John and James, came to Jesus and asked to sit With Him, one on the left and one on His right side in heaven. But Jesus told them that honor was prepared for the worthy ones by the Father. Here the promise is revealed. Those who come out of Laodicea and overcome their arrogance of worldly power and wealth "to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God" (Micah 6:8) will be enthroned with Christ.
     Yes, Jesus had to overcome and we must overcome just as he did.       Listen...

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