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Sermon: God’s Final Declaration on the Church, Revelation 2–3

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God’s Final Declaration on the Church 

What did God have say in His last letters to churches?

Revelation 2–3

Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • June 12, In the year of our Lord, 2016

Song Leader and Song Suggestions: Larry Amberg – Songs on the church


  1. If the church is not important to you, 
    1. remember that it is important to the Lord.
    2. Eighteen of the 27 Books of the New Testament
      1. were written to churches or several churches in a region.
      2. The Book of Revelation is one of those writings delivered to churches.
  2. Revelation 2 and 3 record God’s Final Declaration for His Church. 
    1. He wanted the seven short letters in these chapters
      1. included in the Book of Revelation,
      2. so that we might read them and learn.
        1. Chapters 6–20 frighten most Christians, but
        2. the Lord did not reveal the contents of those chapters to frighten us.
          1. However, the part that should frighten us
          2. is what He said to the churches in chapters 2 and 3. Here is why:
            1. Chapters 6–20 show the Lord fighting our enemies, but
            2. chapters 2 and 3 show the Lord fighting His people,
              1. if they do not repent.
              2. Now, which section of Revelation frightens you?


  1. The Church 
    1. John had been in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day and
      1. he heard behind him a loud voice.
      2. Then he turned to see who spoke to him, but
        1. he saw something else first.
        2. He saw seven golden lampstands and then
          1. standing among the lampstands,
          2. he saw someone who looked like the Son of Man, Jesus, showing
            1. that you cannot separate Jesus from His church.
            2. And why would anyone want to anyway?
    2. John showed us a glorious picture of Jesus in Revelation 1, and
      1. John showed us a glorious picture of heaven in Revelation 4 and 5, but
      2. between the two we have to deal with the troublesome church!
        1. If you want Jesus,
        2. if you want heaven,
          1. you have to have the church,
          2. even with all of her spots and problems.
            1. We will accept the local church when we see our own sins.
            2. Capture the spirit of Jesus, who accepted broken people.
    3. You can see the connection
      1. that Jesus has with His churches when He addressed each church,
      2. then identified Himself,

        1 “To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, ‘These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands…’” (Rev 2.1).

        8 “And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write, ‘These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life…’” (Rev 2.8).

        12 “And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write, ‘These things says He who has the sharp two-edged sword…’” (Rev 2.12).

        18 “And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write, ‘These things says the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet like fine brass…’” (Rev 2.18).

        1 “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write, ‘These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead”’” (Rev 3.1).

        7 “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, ‘These things says He who is holy, He who is true, “He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens…”’” (Rev 3.7).

        14 “And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, ‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God…’” (Rev 3.14).

    4. In all seven letters,
      1. Jesus used a description of Himself
      2. from the vision of chapter 1.
        1. At one time, His body lived on the Earth.
        2. Now that He is in heaven,
          1. His body as the church
          2. continues to live on the Earth.
            1. Jesus and His church are one.
            2. What God has joined together, let not man separate.
  2. Hear What the Spirit Says 
    1. Toward the end or at the end of all seven letters,
      1. Jesus had something that He wanted every congregation to know,

        “He who has an ear, let Him hear what the Spirit say to the churches.”
      2. Every Christian and every congregation
        1. has to pay heed to the message of Jesus
        2. to each of the seven churches of Asia.
          1. Are you listening?
          2. Are you ready to hear the word of the Spirit?
    2. If you have the ability to hear,
      1. truly hear what the Spirit says.
      2. Do not simply experience the sound,
        1. experience the message, and
        2. do what the Spirit says to do.
    3. Have the heart of Isaiah,

      4 “The Lord GOD has given Me
      The tongue of the learned,
      That I should know how to speak
      A word in season to him who is weary.
      He awakens Me morning by morning,
      He awakens My ear
      To hear as the learned.
      5 The Lord GOD has opened My ear;
      And I was not rebellious,
      Nor did I turn away.
      (Isa 50.4–5)
    4. Have the heart of Samuel,

      10 Now the LORD came and stood and called as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel answered, “Speak, for Your servant hears” (1Sa 3.10).
    5. What does Jesus want us to hear?
      1. He wants us to hear what the Spirit says.
      2. How can we know what the Spirit says?
        1. We have to read the Spirit’s Scriptures, especially
        2. Revelation 2 and 3.
          1. It also comes from hearing the word preached.
          2. Is that not what we do in the worship/edification service?
            1. We want the Lord to awaken our ears.
            2. Like the Ethiopian treasurer,
              1. we can read the word, but
              2. sometimes we need help understanding it.
                1. So, Spirit, help me.
                2. Church, help me.
  3. Jesus Speaks to His Churches 
    1. As Jesus dictated His letters, He followed a pattern,
      1. He addressed the church,
      2. He identified Himself,
      3. He commended them what they were doing right,
      4. He rebuked them for what they were doing wrong,
      5. He told them what to do to fix the problem,
      6. He promised them blessings for repentance, and
      7. He told everyone of us to listen to what the Spirit says to the churches.
    2. These churches had not been in existence for centuries, but
      1. only a few decades, yet,
      2. some of them degenerated enough
        1. that Jesus threatened to take away their lampstand.
        2. They were in serious danger of losing favor from the Lord.
    3. Look at the problems of these churches:
      1. Ephesus had lost their zealous love,

        4 “Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love” (Rev 2.4).
      2. Pergamos tolerated false doctrine,

        14 “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” (Rev 2.14).
      3. Thyatira tolerated sexual immorality,

        20 “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” (Rev 2.20).
      4. Sardis had died,

        1 “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead” (Rev 3.1).
      5. Laodicea had become blind to their need,

        16 “So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. 17 Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked’” (Rev 3.16–17).
    4. Unfortunately, unbelievers see these problems in modern churches, and
      1. make the mistake of thinking
      2. that the problem people represent the whole group.
        1. Don’t judge the whole house by
        2. some peeling paint on the outside.
  4. Is the Church a Museum or a Hospital? 
    1. What do the seven churches of Asia show?
      1. They look more like hospitals to me than museums.
      2. Only two of them did not have problems.
        1. The majority had congregational problems or individual problems.
        2. Of course, the Lord did not merely excuse the problems,
          1. saying that no one is perfect,
          2. He demanded repentance.
    2. Some people want a museum.
      1. They want everything already done.
      2. They want perfect members.
      3. They do not want to have to do any work.
    3. However, the church is messy.
      1. Look at the kinds of people that made up the Corinthian church,

        9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God (1Co 6.9–11).
      2. Did not Jesus say something about calling sinners to repentance?

        17 “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (Mark 2.17).
      3. That means the church will be messy.
        1. Have you been to a hospital?
        2. They do not resemble museums.
          1. Some rooms in a hospital stink.
          2. Sometimes things are strewn about.
          3. People lie in bed with bed-head.
          4. Gravity pulls the faces of some toward the back of their heads
            1. rather than pulling it down towards their feet, and
            2. initially you may not recognize them.
          5. The patients have serious problems.
      4. Museums have everything perfect.
        1. Everything has been staged.
        2. Everything and everyone has a proper place.
        3. They demand nothing, except perhaps an admission.
        4. They are clean, even spotless.
    4. Revelation 2 and 3 do not show museums,
      1. except perhaps two of the churches, but
      2. how long did they stay that way?
    5. Proverbs 14 teaches something that we should not forget,

      4 Where no oxen are, the trough is clean;
      But much increase comes by the strength of an ox.
      (Pro 14.4)
      1. Hospitals outnumber museums.
      2. Hospitals have more patients than museums have visitors.
        1. We want the church to grow.
        2. That means the trough will get dirty.


  1. The section on the church ended with Jesus telling the Laodicean church 
    1. that He stood at the door and knocked (3.20).
    2. How long or how much does He need to knock?
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