Revelation wraps up the redemption story that begins in Genesis, and its message heralds the details, events, and return of Jesus’ coming Kingdom.
A few years ago, I was teaching a Bible Study in Colossians, and one night I woke up at 3 AM and couldn’t get back to sleep. My heart was heavy; I started reading through Revelation and sensed the Holy Spirit speak to me through the Word of God, and speak to the state of the American church today.
Here are some important QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
- Is your life bearing fruit for the Lord Jesus Christ? JN 15:8
- Are you passionate about the things of God? COL 3:2, ROM. 12:11
- Who or what is your first love? What’s our main focus? MATT 6:33
- Have you conformed to our culture – or to Christ? ROM 12:2
- Do you love this world more than we love Gods Word? 1 JN 2:15-17
- Are you prepared for persecution when it comes? MATT 5:11-12
The Colossian church was one church Paul commended for their faith and love, but in Revelation seven other neighboring churches in Asia Minor were mentioned. Today, many cities that had Christian churches in the first century are nowhere to be found.
Will America see a similar fate? Revelation 3:2-3 states:
Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God. 3 So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you.
Jesus rebuked many of the early Christian churches for things like straying from the truth, leaving their first love, putting up with false doctrine, or for being lukewarm. Why should we, believers in America, think He wouldn’t harshly warn and correct us today?
There are good churches doing some very good ministry. But choosing to look through rose colored glasses, some claim the Church is thriving here in the United States of Entertainment. I would ask them one question:
Why then, doesn’t it translate out into society? Where’s the godly influence?
Is it from government-run schools, Hollywood, the leftist media, Planned Parenthood, corporations, social media giants, the anti-Christian university system, or in Washington D.C.?
John R.W. Stott once said:
We should not ask, ‘what’s wrong with this world?’ For that diagnosis has already been given. We should ask, ‘what happened to the salt and light?
Biblical literacy, church attendance, and Christianity are on a steady declines according to all the surveys. Why is the gospel not being proclaimed and why are true disciples not being made? Why is sin being accommodated? Why are Christians being mocked and sued? Who is driving culture; is it the Church – or is it the atheists, socialists, secular progressives, and the left?
By attempting to not offend people, too many pulpits have watered down the Word of God and as a result, our lack of knowledge limits our witness. Some larger churches have a reputation for being alive, but their doctrine is shallow and discipleship is almost nonexistent.
CHANGE MUST START WITH INDIVIDUALS. We need to hear what the Lord is saying to the churches.
The ancient Greek word translated Revelation is apokalupsis (apocalypse). The word simply means “a revealing, an unveiling.” Written around 90 AD, the Book of Revelation is the Revelation of Jesus Christ – He is the one doing the revealing. And He is the object revealed;
The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants—things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John, 2 who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw. 3 Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.
4 John, to the seven churches which are in Asia:
Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth.
To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, 6 and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
7 Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.
8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
Since this is all true, it should give us a sense of urgency in our faith.
What really matters in this life? Are we just giving God lip service? For example, notice what Jesus also says to the church in Sardis:
Revelation 3:1 “He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars, says this: ‘I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.
Churches often have big names or reputations due to size of the congregation, but that can be an inaccurate picture. Numbers don’t equate to effectiveness.
Revelation 3:5 He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. 6 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’
*We all have ears – but – are we listening? What is Jesus saying to the churches who have grown comfortable and complacent? What is He saying to individual believers? Do YOU have ears to hear from God?
Colossae and its Christian church was 12 miles from the church of Laodicea and both were about 90 miles from Ephesus, a booming city at the time. Laodicea was prospering, located next to a trade route, they had it made.
But that’s what lots of people would say about America, which is why we’re making this comparison today.
‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. 16 So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. 17 Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked; …19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.
The church of Laodicea was warned about being comfortable and lukewarm, churches in America should take heed!
In the same way heresy crept in to the Colossian church in the forms of legalism, Gnosticism, Judaism, and mysticism, today’s denominations and Evangelical churches are infested with compromise, celebrity pastors, and those who seek to please man.
With so many churches today ignoring the hard truths, Bible prophecy, avoiding sin, repentance, and the Old Testament, and preaching unbalanced messages all about grace and love and positive themes, we must be discerning because apostasy is rampant and too many people have fallen for it.
The Colossians were commended for their faith and love. In the same vicinity which is modern day Turkey, only two of the seven churches in Revelation did not receive a rebuke from Jesus: Philadelphia and Smyrna.
How about the Ephesians?
Revelation 2:4, But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5 Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent.
The lampstand at Ephesus was apparently removed by the Lord.
What is the importance of a lampstand?
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; 15 nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16
I’ve traveled across the country and have visited over a hundred different churches. We have lost our focus on the authority of Jesus Christ, reverence for a holy God, and have practically abandoned the solid foundation of the teaching of Scripture which is the main purpose of the church!
Many conferences, seminars, and church services today barely resemble the early church and what the Bible teaches, let alone point to Jesus Christ.
Disciples of Christ in the early church focused on four primary things:
- teaching the word of God with a focus on Jesus’ sacrificial death and resurrection,
- communion, and
- fellowship with other Christians (Acts 2:42).
They made disciples and they went out and shared the good news. They didn’t care about the approval of people – they sought to obey God. Their faith in Christ cost most of them their lives.
What has our faith cost us? What are we investing in?
Bible commentator, Matthew Henry said,
On the wings of affection, the heart soars upwards. Heaven and earth are contrary to one another, and the prevalence of our affection for one will proportionately weaken our affection for the other.
Do you love Jesus and are you seeking Him with all your heart? Are you pursuing a deeper relationship with Christ in prayer, worship, fellowship, and study of His Word?
It’s easy to fall away and go after the things of this world.
Maybe you know someone who has departed the faith; even pastors and others in leadership have fallen away. You and I are not immune. But some are mentioned in the pages of the Bible.
One example: In Colossians, Paul refers to a man who was once a fellow worker in ministry but left his first love.
His name was Demas.
Apparently, Demas was once committed to the Lord’s work, but nothing positive is said about him in chapter 4. It says he greets the Colossian Christians and therefore must have been known to the believers.
In Philemon, he is among Paul’s fellow laborers. Yet in the last mention of Demas (2 Timothy 4:10), Paul said,
Demas abandoned him and the ministry, “having loved this present world…”
The three New Testament references to Demas tell a sad but sobering story!
Warren Wiersbe stated:
The word “world” refers to “society without God,” …we do know that Christians today can succumb to the world just as Demas did. How easy is it to maintain a religious veneer, while all the time we are living for the things of this world.
*Do we love this world more than we love God and His Word?
Remember, we are more likely to defend and pursue what we love, and too many professing Christians today are biblically illiterate because they love the things of this world! (1 John 2:15-17)
Jesus told his disciples to “Watch!” Wake up. Be on the alert. And Peter writes:
“Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 But resist him, firm in your faith…” 1 Pet 5:8-9
The half-brother of Jesus, Jude wrote to believers saying:
I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints. Jude 1:3
It is believed by the time Jude wrote this, all of the other apostles except John had already been martyred. And yet, he did not say to lay low, ‘don’t ruffle any feathers’ or offend anyone with the gospel, he said “contend for the faith.”
You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved. MATTHEW 10:22
*Are you prepared for persecution? Is your faith strong enough?
The GOOD NEWS is this earth is not our home, and we are looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus!
And still, we cannot deny what the Bible has long predicted.
2 Timothy 3:1-4 states:
But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. 2 For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 unloving; without self-control, …haters of good; 4 lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God;
SO TODAY, WHAT IS THE SPIRIT OF GOD SAYING TO YOU?
Here’s what HE said to John to close the Book of Revelation and the Bible:
Revelation 22:6-7, 12-13 (John writes)
And he said to me, “These words are faithful and true”; and the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent His angel to show to His bond-servants the things which must soon take place. 7 “And behold, I am coming quickly. Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book.
12 “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”