To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.
The one who is victorious will not be hurt at all by the second death.
To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.
To the one who is victorious and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations – that one ‘will rule them with an iron sceptre and will dash them to pieces like pottery’ – just as I have received authority from my Father. I will also give that one the morning star.
The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels.
The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will they leave it. I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on them my new name.
To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 26-28; 3:5, 12, 21 (NIV)
Having considered the messages sent to each of the seven churches in Asia, it is obvious that although the letters had specific implications for each of the named churches, there is still application to us today.
While many of our churches display some of the good characteristics highlighted in the letters, others need to heed the warnings where areas of weakness are apparent. If we are honest we will acknowledge that there are good and bad things in the churches to which we belong. What the book of Revelation asks us to do is to face up to our weaknesses and to repent of those things that do not bring glory to God. Jesus is encouraging us to be strong churches, focussed on him.
Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
The promises at the end of each of the letters are equally applicable to us today, as we need to persevere in our faith to gain victory. Indeed, while it may be easy to think that the suffering and trials don’t apply to us today, it is apparent that Christians are facing increased persecution the world over.
Victory doesn’t come easily or cheaply. As the early church faced persecution, imprisonment and death there is no reason for us to assume that it should be any different for us. The promises are still held out to us (as individuals and churches) by a God who has already won the victory through the death and resurrection of his Son, Jesus Christ. Our role is to be faithful in the face of whatever comes our way.
False teaching was a problem for the Revelation churches and is still a problem today. Secularisation of society has resulted in the church and Christianity being marginalised. More and more people have turned away from God’s Word as the acceptable standard for life, to a philosophy that permits people to live as they choose. Society has often decided to base its laws on secular principles and to ignore what God has laid down in the Bible as a guide for living.
Some of the Revelation churches existed in very affluent surroundings. Those who put their trust in material wealth didn’t see their spiritual poverty, while those facing extreme worldly poverty were actually spiritually rich. The message is clear to us today not to put our trust in anything but God and to seek spiritual riches, spiritual purity and spiritual insight.
Revelation 2 and 3 contain some harsh, but truthful, words for the churches, but most of all they contain words of encouragement from a God who never gives up calling his church to repentance.
Take encouragement from what you read, but heed the warnings given to the churches in Revelation. Be excited about the promises, but most of all persevere in your faith to gain victory.
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