Series: The Radical Call of Jesus
Message: Radical Church
Preacher: Japhet De Oliveira
Daily Walk: Japhet De Oliveira
Refresh: Open with prayer. Read or listen to Psalm 98:1–6.
Read: Revelation 1:1–3:22 (Message). Note 1–3 insights or questions that arise from the paraphrase.
Reflect: As I shared yesterday, Ranko Stefanovic in his commentary Revelation of Jesus Christ, demonstrates the deeper messages that are found even in the formatting of the text.
It appears that the order of the seven churches also reflects the position of lamps of a seven-branched lampstand. Each lamp on one side of the lampstand corresponds to its parallel on the opposite side. It seems that the seven messages function exactly in such a way. The first and last messages, to Ephesus and Laodicea, are clearly parallel; both churches are in great danger of lovelessness and legalism. The second and sixth, to Smyrna and Philadelphia, commend the churches for faithfulness; they do not receive a rebuke, and both are opposed by those “who call themselves Jews” (2:9; 3:9). The third and fifth messages, to Pergamum and Sardis, are parallel in apostasy; there is little good to be said about them. The fourth message, to the middle church of the series, Thyatira, is clearly different. It is a divided church; and this message is the longest of all (pp. 80–81).
Not only are there deep parallels, but we can take hope in Jesus visiting each of these churches. For these seven churches represented all the churches at the time of John. They also, due to the prophetic nature of the book, outline the stages of the church from John’s time to the Second Coming of Jesus. They are living examples of things that do go wrong in our local churches and the incredible solutions offered by Jesus. As Stefanovic points out in Plain Revelation, as the church fails Jesus, Jesus increases His blessing.
However, along with the evident spiritual decline in the churches, there is a proportionate increase in the promises Jesus gives. Although each church is in greater decline compared with the preceding one, each receives more promises than the previous one . . . . This increase in promises in proportion to the spiritual decline in the churches brings to mind Paul’s statement that where sin increases, grace abounds all the more (Rom. 5:20; pp.28–29).
Respond: Pray for strength to admit when you have failed—for Jesus is the solution.
Research: What period of time does each Church cover and where is the final Church in the timeline?