"To the angel of the church of Ephesus . . . Smyra . . . Pergamos . . . Thyatira . . . Sardis. . . Philadelphia . . . Laodicea" (Rev. 2:1; 2:8; 2:12; 2:18; 3:1; 3:7; 3:14.)
Churches come in all shapes and sizes and, like people, have their own unique personalities. Churches generally take on the personalities of their leaders:
Friendly pastors lead friendly churches;
Legalistic pastors who communicate rules and regulations lead legalistic churches;
Evangelistic leaders teach their people to become evangelistic churches;
Theologically liberal pastors lead their churches to become liberal;
Reformed leaders lead their churches to become reformed in their theology;
Giving pastors lead their congregations to become generous, giving churches;
Financially responsible pastors raise financially responsible churches;
Missions-minded pastors lead missions-minded churches;
Praying pastors lead their people to become praying churches.
Your church has a personality. How would you describe your pastor and your church?
Churches also have problems, just like the seven churches mentioned in Revelation 2-3. Furthermore, churches and leaders, like those in the first century, will one day answer to Jesus Christ for their influence in this world.
Wrath of the Lamb to the Unchurched
"And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave, and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, 'Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!'" (6:15-16).
We are so accustomed to hearing the childhood song, "Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so," that we don't often think of Jesus as a Lamb of wrath. Those who have been born again will never know the wrath of the Lamb.
Revelation presents Jesus Christ as a Sovereign King who will one day show wrath toward unrepentant sinners. During the Great Tribulation, sinners will seek holes in which to hide from the wrath of the Lamb.
Revelation both comforts and terrifies. Christ-followers shall escape the wrath of the Lamb, but many of those shopping the "after Christmas sales" will not escape the wrath of the Lamb. The world's stage is being set, and all the players are rehearsing their roles as they await the trumpet sound and the opening curtain for this world's final scene. It is real, and it is terrible.
Like Noah in the days of old, we must warn our families, our neighbors, and those far away from us. We must tell as many as we can.
How do the messages to the churches of Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea differ? How does Jesus reveal Himself to each of the churches? What does this reveal about churches and their spiritual needs?
What was the purpose of John's invitation to view the heavenly scene?
What did John see that brought him to tears? What role does the Lamb play in heaven?
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