THE SEVEN CHURCHES OF REVELATION

 

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"Excerpted from Are You Ready for the Return of Christ"

THE SEVEN CHURCHES OF REVELATION

Ephesians 5:31-32 says, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery-but I am talking about Christ and the Church.” The parable of the Ten Virgins is about the Church of God! They have been “invited” to become “one flesh” with the God family at the first resurrection...that is, if they don’t disqualify themselves! The church of God is engaged to marry Christ---that is, unless something happens that breaks that engagement. When a man gets engaged...he in effect, invites the girl to come to a wedding, doesn’t he?  Not surprisingly, the word “Church” comes from the Greek word Ekklesia, meaning, “the called out ones,” or “invited ones.” THE ENGAGED ONES, if you will!

THE 7 CHURCHES OF REVELATION ARE "THE 10 VIRGINS"

These virgins of the Church of God have been invited to come to the wedding of the Lamb. They will not just sit in the audience; they are without doubt “engaged” to marry Jesus Christ! 
The information about the Seven Churches of Revelation can prepare the church for the return of Christ, if they will heed it so that they can go in to the Wedding of the Lamb, and not be left standing there banging on the door saying "Open to us," after it is too late.  The warning to the Seven Churches is extremely important to the wise virgins who want a heads up on what they  need to do to be able to go through the door.

There is a definite connection between the parable of the Ten Virgins and the Seven Churches of Revelation.  In the past, many have falsely assumed that these “seven Churches” in Revelation, are historical, but the book of Revelation is not a book of history---BUT A BOOK OF PROPHECY!

The admonitions to the 7 Churches contain great promises of reward to those who overcome. To overcome is not some mystical act. Overcoming is keeping the marriage covenant of the Ten Commandments faithfully until your death, or until the return of Christ, which ever comes first.  And, we overcome in the same way that Jacob did when he wrestled all night long... HE WON BY NOT QUITTING-- NO MATTER WHAT. 

HOW A FOOLISH VIRGIN BREAKS UP WITH CHRIST!

1. She loses interest and either quits the faith...or is thinking about quitting it. She decides that her job, her family or her life in this world is far more important than this future wedding. She leaves the faith, so the engagement is off.

2. She remembers her old religion and longs for it. Thus she starts up a clandestine relationship with a new god. She adopts false religion; thereby breaking the covenant with Christ--- so the engagement is off.


As we look at the following admonitions to the 7 Churches in Revelation, we will see that these same two issues seem to be the deal breakers that God has with these Churches. Some in the 7 Churches are guilty of losing interest and some are guilty of blatantly adopting false religion! Now we know why God hates those two things. THEY BREAK THE MARRIAGE COVENANT! Let’s examine the 7 Churches in Revelation. 

The 5 foolish virgins made 2 mistakes.  They have broken their marriage covenant.  Revelation, chapters 2 and 3 tells us who has been faithful to the marriage covenant with God, and who has not.  Because these 7 Churches of Revelation represent the whole Church of God...in other words, all ten virgins, good and bad at the end time. Some are going to OVERCOME and go through the door into the kingdom of God to receive immense reward and to rule the earth with Christ, and sadly, some are not.

Can we be sure that the words written two thousand years ago to the 7 Churches in Revelation are relevant to the Church of God today? YES! To Sardis, Christ says, “If therefore thou shalt not watch, “I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.” Christ comes as a thief? Is this not what happens to the ten virgins???

Christ said to the 7 Churches, “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the Churches.” He gives them a last chance to repent before the return of Christ. It is most important for us to pay attention to the praises and problems of these seven Churches and see where our own weaknesses are and change if need be, before the door is shut and it is too late!

Five of the seven Churches are directly admonished to repent, and most of them are fighting hard-core satanic infiltration! We can understand how a Christian might be tempted to break their covenant with God by becoming tired of doing well, but let’s look hard at how we can break the covenant by compromising with false religion. This is dangerous territory and some of the foolish virgins fall down here.

SATANIC INFILTRATION IN THE CHURCHES
Who are the Gnostics?

A full-blown infiltration of SATANIC RELIGION has been thrown at the Church for the last 2000 years! It is important to understand this attack. It is called “Gnosticism.” We know that the early Church fought against Gnosticism “eye, tooth and toenail.” The Gnostics hated God and His law.... Gnostics are in fact card-carrying members of the synagogue of Satan. As we shall see, these 7 Churches in Revelation are struggling against THE TWO DEADLY COVENANT BUSTERS…losing interest in God and truth---OR adopting false religion. Satanic religions are all related. The same satanic false religion of today was prevalent in the Old Testament. These are some of the names of Satan’s “efforts.”

1. The synagogue of Satan
2. The Nicolaitans
3. The doctrine of Balaam
4. Babylon, Mystery Religion
5. Jezebel, prophetess of Baal
6. The Great Whore of Revelation (Jezebel was a type)
7. The Gnostics (The mystery of Iniquity)

All Satanic religion is based on the covenant busting approach that the law is oppressive and that it’s done away with. This was the concept of old Baal worship brought forward. They completely reject the Law, THUS, THEY HAVE NO COVENANT WITH GOD. Gnosticism instead, falsely teaches that “grace” gives you a “get out of jail free card,” in other words, you receive unlimited license to transgress the law. (Licentiousness)

Paul tried to restrain this attack of the “mystery of iniquity,” which was based on FALSE GRACE, but he failed. Gnosticism had a powerful hold on the church 2000 years ago, just as it does now. Foolish virgins easily fall into this trap of Satan because the serpent is charming---that’s how he fooled Adam and Eve. If you don’t love the truth, you can be pulled toward false religion. We know why God called this Gnostic movement “the synagogue of Satan.” They worshipped the serpent. No joke… The Gnostics believed that the serpent was “the good one” in the Garden of Eden! They call the serpent in the Garden of Eden “the positive Genesis serpent.”

They claimed that the serpent was their redeemer and provider of knowledge. They actually called him “the good lord.” They taught that the God of the Old Testament was mean and evil and restrictive, but that Jesus came to do away with the God of the Old Testament and His old law. Sounds familiar doesn’t it???? The Church at Ephesus had problems but they certainly hated Gnosticism, as we will see.

Notes on Ephesus …
Losing interest in the covenant...
Guilty
Committing spiritual adultery...
Not Guilty
(They despise Gnosticism)

1. The Church at Ephesus had worked really hard for God, but when Christ did not come back when they thought He would, Ephesus was disappointed. They fully believed that Christ would return in their lifetime and establish the kingdom of God. When things didn’t work out like they thought they should have, they began to lose their exuberance and excitement for the truth. They left their first love.

Those with the attitude of Ephesus could even be called “end time” Christians. They are excited because the return of Christ is nigh, yet when things don’t follow their manmade timeline, they are deeply “disappointed.”  If you have the attitude of Ephesus, rethink your stance. Don’t let self-imposed disillusionment drag you down. Christ says to them, “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.” They need to quit pouting and get busy. God in effect says to them, “Get back in the game, or I’m taking you all the way out.” God doesn’t like quitters. We can’t leave our first love for God and the truth, or we will be in trouble.

Ephesus does have one attribute God really praises. They hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans. Do you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans? Do you know who the Nicolaitans are? If you don’t know, you risk being guilty of favoring something that God truly hates! Here’s what 3 reliable Bible sources say about the Gnostic Nicolaitans.

The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
The Nicolaitan controversy “concerned the whole relation of
Christianity to
paganism and its usages.”

Adam Clarke’s Commentary
“Nicolaitans mixed
pagan rites with Christian ceremonies.”

Barnes’ Notes on the Nicolaitans
“They seduced Christians to participate in the sacrificial
Feasts of the
pagans
.”

Just as the ancient Israelites tried to carry their false religion with them into the Promised Land, some in the Church of God perpetrate this same shameful act by attempting to carry their old religion with them into the spiritual Promised Land!

According to Bible scholars, the trick of the Nicolaitans was to mix paganism into Christianity. The Nicolaitans at Ephesus were of the Gnostic faith. The early Church had fought hard against this evil approach, based on compromise with paganism and their failure to stem the tide is alive and well in all Catholic and Protestant Churches of today. When these Gnostic Churches teach that the holiday of Easter, which is named after the pagan goddess Ishtar, represents the resurrection of Christ, they have just propagated the Gnostic approach of amalgamating paganism with Christianity!

The early Church had fought with all their might to withstand this infiltration of Satan. God said to Ephesus, “I know thy works, and thy labor, 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:”

There is no doubt that Ephesus fought false religion with all their might...but what do we see today? You are probably aware of a modern large Church of God organization once faithful to God that has fallen for this scheme of Satan and has returned to the Gnostic approach. They keep Christmas and Easter and Sunday! They have become card-carrying members of the “First Gnostic Church of the Nicolaitans! You might even hear “supposedly” Church of God ministers using phrases, which refer to “converted Sunday keepers,” or "non-Sabbath keeping converted people" saying, “I recommend that you visit your local Sunday Church for fellowship.”

These ministers and churches are Nicolaitan in their approach. According to these misled folks, God smiles on you for keeping pagan holidays because you will be “closer to your family,” as if that were a high priority with Christ! (A man’s foes will be those of his own household. Matthew 10:36-38)

They may truly feel that a “proper” Christian attitude involves kindness and tolerance toward false religion and paganism, even incorporating certain aspects of it, such as giving out Christmas baskets to the needy, etc…God surely wants us to do “Christian” acts, they might say to themselves, but they leave one most important factor out. GOD SAYS THAT HE HATES THE PRACTICES OF THE NICOLAITANS.

NOTES ON SMYRNA
Losing interest in the covenant...
Not Guilty
Committing spiritual adultery...
Not Guilty
(But, the Gnostic synagogue of Satan has a home in this Church.)

Smyrna doesn’t fall for paganism, nor do they lose their interest in following God, but they have a big problem. They have the synagogue of Satan busily working within the organization so to speak. What is the synagogue of Satan? They are people who claim to be converted or “spiritual Jews.”

Have you ever heard the term “mole?” That’s what they are. For all practical purposes, they look like a converted person, they act like a converted person and they may know more truth than most, and they may even give eloquent and moving sermons, but behind the scenes, they have a different spiritual boss than you do and they take their marching orders from him. Their goal is to subtly lead you away from God and away from the truth, even if it takes them years to do it.

They always work from within the organization. Remember this for your own protection…just because someone goes to Church, or preaches a “good sermon” doesn’t mean they are converted. You probably know who the synagogue of Satan folks are; they are easy to spot, because they are the ones who would like to lead you away from the faith once delivered to the saints, and even though they are “card carrying” members of the Church of God, their real boss is Satan.

NOTES ON PERGAMOS
Losing interest in the covenant...
Not Guilty
Committing spiritual adultery...
Possibly Guilty?

(In this Church, they tolerate the Gnostic approach of mixing paganism with truth...)

In Pergamos, they have a serious problem. They allow people to be there who hold the doctrine of Balaam, which God said was the same thing as the doctrine of the Nicolaitans. “But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality. Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. (Revelation 2:13-15)

In a work called Revelation, by George Eldon Ladd, we learn more about Balaam. We have to ask ourselves, what did Balaam do that caused God to use him for an example to the Church at Pergamos?

Ladd writes: “Balak, king of Moab, threatened by the Israelites, had invited the prophet Balaam to curse them. Balaam had been restrained by God and to Balak's disgust had blessed rather than cursed. Subsequent to this, however, Israel had let herself become involved in harlotry and in the idolatrous worship of Baal of Peor and this sin was attributed to the advice of Balaam.” Ladd’s final statement on the subject is enlightening when he says, “…Balaam is a prototype of those who promote compromise with paganism in idolatry and immorality."

Balaam taught Israel to curse itself by breaking the law...by breaking the marriage covenant to God. Worshipping Baal of Peor was a deal breaker. God did not know them as His people anymore and they were not allowed to go into the Promised Land. This Gnostic approach of mixing paganism with truth is very dangerous, it could block a person from being allowed to enter the SPIRITUAL PROMISED LAND called the Kingdom of God. The worst sin in Pergamos is that they tolerate those who hold the doctrine of Balaam. They mistakenly believe that it is the “Christian” thing to do. They turned a blind eye to false religion right in the Church.

If you make this mistake, you have the attitude of Pergamos. Just remember that Christ will not tolerate anyone who aides, abets or favors the satanic Babylonic Mystery religion in any way. Being part of the Babylon mystery religion is spiritual adultery. Revelation admonishes God’s people strongly to come out of Babylon, that they receive not her plagues...

NOTES ON THYATIRA
Losing interest in the covenant...
Not Guilty (Not mentioned by God)
Committing spiritual adultery...
Guilty
(Allows Gnosticism to run rampant in the Church.)

In Thyatira, there is not just a spirit of “tolerance” for the false Babylonic mystery religion, but this false religion now runs rampant in the Church. “Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce my servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.”

In Thyatira, the whole Church is absolutely seduced by false religion. Why does God use the example of Jezebel to Thyatira? If you remember, Jezebel in the Old Testament was the powerful patroness of the prophets of Baal. She was a prophetess of Baal herself. (Revelation 2:20) When Elijah had the confrontation with the prophets of Baal and killed them, Jezebel, who was a forerunner of the great whore of Revelation put a price on Elijah the priest’s head, and made him flee for his life! But she didn’t touch him. God made a way of escape for him.

If we look at the modern Churches of God today, we see a powerful influence for true Christians to jump in bed with Jezebel. Like the Church at Thyatira, are you committing spiritual fornication by messing around with false religion? God will not tolerate those who knowingly break the marriage covenant and go back to the religions of this world. There is a constant influence, which tries to infiltrate the Church with pagan doctrines and holidays even today. Wise virgins will not fall for it.

NOTES ON SARDIS

Losing interest in the covenant...
Guilty
Committing spiritual adultery...
Not Guilty
(No mention of Gnosticism in the Church.)

The Church at Sardis is just plain dead, spiritually dead. They just don’t care anymore. God said to Sardis, "I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain that are ready to die.” Christians with the attitude of Sardis have let everything slip that they ever knew. They are hanging on spiritually by a thread. Those of this approach have a name that they are spiritually alive but are really spiritually dead. If you are like Sardis and you don’t give a flip, and you don’t do anything that God has commanded you, repent by remembering how you were when you first came in the Church and be like that again. It’s your only hope. You don’t want Christ to “come on you as a thief” and lose your reward!

NOTES ON PHILADELPHIA
Losing interest in the covenant...
Not Guilty
Committing spiritual adultery...
Not Guilty themselves
(The Gnostic synagogue of Satan is here in this Church...but possibly they don’t recognize them as such....)

Even in Philadelphia, we see the synagogue of Satan rearing its ugly head. But God tells them something good, “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.”

He gives them a hard warning about following men in verse eleven, “Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.” They are vulnerable to following a man. If they pass the test, they have a crown coming…and a King wears a crown! Again, we see a reference to rulership. Are you like Philadelphia, do you have to deal with the synagogue of Satan, which from the midst of the Church, tries hard to lead you away from the truth you’ve been taught? Could a man take your crown?

Christ promises those that overcome in the Church in Philadelphia that they will have the name of God written on them. They will be Gods, if they overcome. “Revelation 3:12 says, “Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.”

NOTES ON LAODICEA
Losing interest in the covenant...
Guilty
Committing spiritual adultery...
Guilty, they worship themselves

(No mention of Gnosticism in the Church.)

The Laodicean has riches of truth and blessings of physical wealth, but it promotes an attitude of spiritual arrogance and lukewarm complacency. Those that used to drive 150 miles to go to Church to hear the truth, can’t be bothered to drive around the block now. This is the lukewarm Laodicean. This much we know, all the virgins are asleep right before the end. There are two things that make us spiritually sleepy. The virgins like Ephesus go to sleep, because they labor hard for God, and they are tired. But the virgins in Laodicea sleep, not because they have worked so hard for God, but because they are so comfortable, so warm, so self-satiated and so full of themselves!

The Laodicean is terribly self-righteous, yet, they are neither hot nor cold spiritually…they are lukewarm. Christ told them, “So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” If we are not careful, and get too proud and lukewarm, we might just make God throw up! We don’t want Him to spue us out of His mouth!

Like Laodicea, are you sickeningly proud? Are you self-righteous and lukewarm to boot? Laodiceans are so self-righteous that they don’t even see that they need to let God back into their Church. God is standing on the outside because He says to them in Revelation 3:20, “I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” Christ makes a strong admonition to proud Laodicea to buy white raiment so that they may be clothed and the shame of their nakedness does not appear. (Revelation 3:18) Why is this significant?

Laodiceans who do not repent may miss their opportunity for the first resurrection and come up naked with the “rest of the dead” in the massive resurrection at the end of the millennium called the “Great White Throne judgment.” THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS TO THE FOOLISH VIRGINS. THEY ARE REFUSED ACCESS TO THE DOOR INTO THE FIRST RESURRECTION!

THE FIRST RESURRECTION
MUCH MORE THAN ETERNAL LIFE…

There is a fantastic reward to all the wise virgins who remain faithful to Jesus Christ and “endure to the end!” There is a reward to all the wise virgins who like Abraham believe God and do what He says. Those who are faithful until the wedding will co-rule the earth with Christ. 1 Corinthians 6:2 says, “Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world?” The Old Testament confirms this promised rulership in Daniel 7:27. “And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him.”

The saints are commandment keepers! “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” Revelation 14:12

Just as the Bible
uses many names to describe Satan’s efforts and co-horts, it uses many terms to describe a “saint.”

1. The very elect
2. The Church of the firstborn
3. Those that overcome
4. The first fruits
5. The chosen
6. The wise virgins
7. The Bride of the Lamb
8. Zion
9. Those under the new covenant (law is written in their hearts.)

Jude 14 explains why the parable of the ten virgins says “the bridegroom cometh! “Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints…” Obviously the phrase, “the bridegroom cometh” is speaking of the return of Christ. ONLY THE FAITHFUL AND CONVERTED SAINTS ARE RESURRECTED AT THE RETURN OF CHRIST. Only they go through the door into the spirit realm to the marriage of the Lamb.

The lesson of the ten virgins is all about who is a saint and who is not! It’s all about who keeps the commandments, and who does not. It’s about who is under the marriage covenant and who is not. The foolish virgins realize they have missed something of inestimable value and they wish they could go through the door.

THE ANALOGY OF THE DOOR

The analogy of the door in the parable is interesting. A door is simply a “portal” and in this case it is a portal into the permanent spirit realm. This is what the foolish virgins miss going through. There is another dimension that our physical eyes cannot see and our physical ears cannot hear----BUT IT IS THE REAL WORLD.

It is the spirit realm where God and Jesus Christ live with thousands of angels. Our temporary world will be folded up and put away some day. Our physical bodies are a temporary dwelling which the Bible calls a TABERNACLE... a tent.

How do we get into this real world where God lives??? There is a “DOOR” into the spirit realm listed in Revelation 20:4. This portal or door in the parable is the first resurrection. Speaking of the saints, the Bible says, “They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years.” We, like Abraham, are only sojourners in this temporary world, tabernacling here for a little while, but our future is to rule with Christ. Hebrews 11:9-10 says of Abraham, “By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange (foreign) country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: Verse 10 says, “For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” There is a permanent city and home ahead of us called the New Jerusalem. The promise of rulership is ONLY made to the bride of the Lamb. You are heir of the promises that Abraham looked forward to.

Jesus Christ is going to “marry” all the commandment keeping saints, which includes Abel, Abraham, King David, Jeremiah, all the prophets, the apostles, etc. AND the faithful members of the Church of God... He will gather us all together at His return and a thousand years later; we will live with Him in that amazing city of New Jerusalem. We will live right in the capitol city of the government of God, with an office far higher than any President has now, if we overcome. High offices in God’s kingdom will be that of priest or king.

“Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.” Revelation 20:6

WHAT HAPPENS TO THE FOOLISH VIRGINS?

The next resurrection will come during the Great White Throne judgment, and it is different from the first resurrection. It is not an automatic resurrection to eternal life. This resurrection involves coming up as flesh and blood. This is the largest resurrection. You remember Christ speaking of the Queen of Sheba coming up in “the judgment???” The Great White Throne judgment is what he was describing. All the “rest of the dead” small and great will rise up in this judgment to be evaluated on the things written in the book (the Bible
). At the end of the evaluation, the book of life is opened for them and there is a chance for them to go through the last chance “door” into eternal life. Since, the saints are the ones clothed with “white raiment,” we can safely assume that the rest of the dead come up naked! Remember God’s warning to Laodicea to buy white raiment that the shame of their nakedness does not appear. He is threatening them that if they don’t straighten up their act, they will come up naked at the Great White Throne judgment.

For some, coming up in this last huge resurrection will be their first chance for salvation, for the foolish virgins, it is their second chance. Much to the dismay of many, God is merciful and He gives second chances. This is what the second Passover is about. Even those who miss the first door into the spirit world for whatever reason, will have another chance, they will have a “second Passover.” Almost everyone will eventually be in the kingdom of God. Only those who are evil incarnate with the very character of Satan stamped on their personalities will want to defy God to the end and be burned up in the lake of fire!

So as you see, we will all have to go through one of these two doors or resurrections into the spirit world at some point---or we will cease to exist forever. Our physical bodies are not meant for permanence. The earth is going to be destroyed to prepare the way for the new heavens and the new earth. Anything that is not spirit at that time, will be burned up----in essence, everything that is physical at the formation of the new heavens and earth will be thrown into “outer darkness...” in other words, NON-EXISTENCE. This non-existence is called the second death in four scriptures! (Revelation 2:11, Revelation 20:6, Revelation 20:14, and Revelation 21:8)

Hopefully, the foolish virgins will wise up and go on to qualify for eternal life. Even if they do, they will never live in New Jerusalem right with God and they won’t rule with Christ. These promises belong only to the bride of Christ, to the firstborn in God‘s plan of salvation.
 

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