The Future of the Church
Before I began studying the churches in the Book of Revelation, the Lord revealed something to me in the Secret Place. The visit with Him began like many others, with us dancing in the gazebo of the Secret Place. With great excitement, He took me by the hand and said, “I have something I want to show you!”
We ran into the forest surrounding the meadow where the tiny table for tea sits. Deep into the forest the Lord led me into a cave. It took seconds for my eyes to adjust to the glowing light on the cave walls. Jesus led me deeper and deeper into smaller and smaller jagged-walled caverns until we were stooping over, traveling single-file through a narrow passageway. Despite the soft ambient light, the closing in of the walls had me feeling slightly worried as I thought, “What could possibly be exciting in this place?”
About that time, we emerged into an enormous cavern. Crystals on the ceiling and walls glowed with a brighter light so the entire area was revealed. A waterfall at one end created a small lake in the middle of the room. The water was luminescent; glowing with diffused light from the walls. Without hesitation, the Lord dove into the water and I followed.
The liquid seemed different than the water at the river in the Secret Place: it was colder and seemed lighter, or perhaps we were more buoyant here. I followed Jesus deep into the water, remembering that I could breathe in the water of Heaven.
Deep below the surface at the bottom, in a far corner, the Lord turned and handed me a green gem which resembled an emerald. It was the size of my fist. (Green is healing and provision). I gladly accepted this great treasure. Next He began pointing out other treasures in this corner of the pool: coins (financial provision), rubies (wisdom), sapphires, (communion and revelation from God).
“What is all this?” I thought to Him.
The Lord’s words came clearly through to my mind, “This is the blessing from studying Revelation. At first, it seemed dark when you entered the cave, then there was just enough light to make your way forward. Now you are coming to the place where you must squeeze through, the narrow place before this cavern. Those who choose to look closely at their lives with the information (light) provided, will find their way through where these blessings await.”
It is time to go through the narrow way and see what God is saying about His church. The last scripture given before the churches are addressed reveal what will be spoken about:
The mystery of the seven stars which you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which you saw are the seven churches. (Revelation 1:20 AMPC)
The Book of Revelation is a prophecy. God knew who would be on Earth when He gave this information to John, the author of the book. The number seven is perfection and completion in the physical. Gold is the color of God’s glory and the candlesticks are the seven types of churches which make up the entire body of Christ which will exist when we see this Revelation from John come to pass. Churches are visited and have a “star” or angel assigned to them.
To the angel (messenger) of the assembly (church) in Ephesus write: These are the words of Him Who holds the seven stars [which are the messengers of the seven churches] in His right hand, Who goes about among the seven golden lampstands [which are the seven churches]... (Revelation 2:1 AMPC)
The introduction to each church is unique and given for a reason. In this introduction, God is reminding this church of His might and position. The fact that He holds the angels who are in the churches in His right hand, points to the fact that the angels are under God’s control, not man’s. Likewise, “goes about among…” shows that God is the one who is dealing with His churches. We should not attack other church bodies by squabbling about doctrine although we can disagree about the teachings based on scripture.
This cautious reminder is given before He reveals the state of their heart:
I know your industry and activities, laborious toil and trouble, and your patient endurance, and how you cannot tolerate wicked [men] and have tested and critically appraised those who call [themselves] apostles (special messengers of Christ) and yet are not, and have found them to be impostors and liars. (Revelation 2:2 AMPC)
This is a hardworking church who is doing good work for God. We should be judging the message “from God” which is brought forth to make sure that it lines up with the full Word of God, not just part of it. It is our job to reject false messengers and give them no place in our body of believers. However, this doesn’t give us the right to attack other churches, which was made perfectly clear before this fact was stated. It is God who is in charge of His angels and He who walks among the churches.
I know you are enduring patiently and are bearing up for My name’s sake, and you have not fainted or become exhausted or grown weary. But I have this [one charge to make] against you: that you have left (abandoned) the love that you had at first [you have deserted Me, your first love]. (Revelation 2:3-4 AMPC)
“Enduring patiently” and “bearing up” are not the same as joyfully working. It gives the feeling of doing it because we know it is right instead of the burden being light. When the love for the Lord has left, work becomes a chore instead of a joy. Christians who do much but whose heart is not renewed by the love of God would fit into this church.
There are certain religions who have more church bodies who fit into this category today, however to say every church in one religion belongs to this group would not be right. We must look at each individual body of believers.
Remember then from what heights you have fallen. Repent (change the inner man to meet God’s will) and do the works you did previously [when first you knew the Lord], or else I will visit you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you change your mind and repent. (Revelation 2:5 AMPC)
If a church body loses the love they had when they first came to know the Lord, then God may remove them from the body. God’s glory and light won't shine forth anymore. When this happens, churches will find members leaving and moving on because God is no longer there.
But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate. (Revelation 2:6 AKJV)
This last fact is to point out that they are good at rejecting that which isn’t God. The Nicolaitanes were seemingly a class of professing Christians, who sought to introduce into the church a false freedom or licentiousness, thus abusing Paul's doctrine of grace (2 Pet 2:15, 16, 19). Today, we call that the “hyper-grace” message.
He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit said to the churches; To him that overcomes will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the middle of the paradise of God. (Revelation 2:7 AKJV)
The Greek word nikaō is translated “overcomes.” One of the meanings is “when one is arraigned or goes to law, to win the case, maintain one's cause.” What God is pronouncing over each church is a judgement which must be cleared or “overcome” in the Courts of Heaven. The benefit for winning the case for this church is that they will have eternal life. This means that if the love of the Lord has left, then you don’t have eternal life… you don’t get to go to Heaven!
This was a huge shock to me. I was raised to believe “once saved always saved,” that “nothing can separate us from the love of God,” once we take Jesus as Lord. After reading this and the other churches of Revelation, I quickly realized how wrong I had been and began repenting immediately! I hope you will too.
Achievement: Rejects evil
Obstacle: renew their love for the Lord
Reward: Eternal life
And to the angel (messenger) of the assembly (church) in Smyrna write: These are the words of the First and the Last, Who died and came to life again… (Revelation 2:8 AMPC)
There is a church who needs to remember that Jesus was the First, and the Last, that He was brought to life again.
I know your works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but you are rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. (Revelation 2:9 AKJV)
This body of believers works for the Lord despite tribulation and poverty. In the Book of John, he used the word “Jews” to describe people who thought and declared themselves to God, but were really against those who followed Jesus (John 11:8 & 13:33). There are Christians in certain parts of the world where they will be attacked by those who profess to follow God. This “church” could be the christians in Syria, the Middle East who will be persecuted by the one-world church when they make a covenant with Satan for the new temple to be built.
Fear none of those things which you shall suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that you may be tried; and you shall have tribulation ten days: be you faithful to death, and I will give you a crown of life. (Revelation 2:10 AKJV)
This is why God began by reminding them that Jesus was the first to be sacrificed and He was raised from the dead. Our Father was encouraging them to follow that example. Studying the seals and trumpets in this book revealed that there will be a time of persecution of Christians by the Antichrist during Daniel’s Week. This period of time isn’t seven days, but seven years of the Tribulation. Could this suffering take place for ten years instead of ten days?
A crown is a symbol of power and achievement. Those who endure persecution and give their life will receive an eternal reward of greater status in the Kingdom of Heaven!
He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit said to the churches; He that overcomes shall not be hurt of the second death. (Revelation 2:11 AKJV)
The second death happens after the 1000 year reign. This means in this life they have done what is necessary to be free for all eternity. There will not be a chance for Satan to persuade them to the wrong side when he is let loose again for a short season after the Lord reigns on earth for 1000 years.
Achievement: Works despite tribulation & poverty
Obstacle: Stay true in the face of death
Reward: Crown of Life and freedom from the second death
And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things said He which has the sharp sword with two edges… (Revelation 2:12 AKJV)
The sharp double-edged sword is the Word of God. This body of believers have forgotten to hold fast to the scripture!
I know your works, and where you dwell, even where Satan's seat is: and you hold fast my name, and have not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwells. (Revelation 2:13 AKJV)
This group of people works for God, remains in faith, and holds onto the name of Jesus. Antipas was martyred when Rome was in power throughout the world. We know the pope will lead a one-world church during the tribulation period. There are two conclusions we could draw from this:
- Christians in that area of the world will be holding fast to the name of Jesus and will not deny Him even when those dedicated to God are being martyred.
- This could be addressed to the church that was established from Antipas. You will need to check your church doctrine to see if it can be traced back to this point in time.
Is clinging to the name of Jesus and not denying the faith enough to secure their place in Heaven after the Tribulation?
But I have a few things against you, because you have there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit fornication. (Revelation 2:14 AKJV)
The “children of Israel” refers to all of Abraham's descendants, Christians included. A doctrine is a teaching in a church. This teaching follows in the way of Balaam, a diviner: someone who could contact the spirit realm. He showed King Balac that he could defeat Israel by leading them into sin, specifically fornication (sexual sin). “Eat things sacrificed to idols” could refer to taking the leaving of other religions, such as “holy yoga” and other religious practices that are not from our God.
So have you also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate. (Revelation 2:15 AKJV)
As we discussed, Nicolaitans are people who use the message of grace through the sacrifice of Jesus to say that we don’t need to worry about sin, encouraging people to follow the flesh and wrong desires instead of walking the narrow path of righteousness.
Repent; or else I will come to you quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit said to the churches; To him that overcomes will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knows saving he that receives it. (Revelation 2:16-17 AKJV)
If your church is not urging you to turn from sin and is allowing other religious practices into the body, you may come under judgement according to the Word of God! There are two rewards for you if you overcome these sins, one is for this life and one for the next.
The first one is easy to define: Manna, which is hidden provision when the tribulation has come.
The phrase “a white stone” is something that we may not fully understand until the Lord returns. There are two possibilities that I see at this time:
- Some say that a white stone was given to the victors of a race. This stone would get them into a private banquet of great privilege. This may mean they will be at the wedding feast, but not part of the bride of Christ.
- The Talmud is the ancient written beliefs of the Rabbis from the days of Jesus. It tells a story of four sages who entered paradise after receiving a white stone with God’s name on it and meditated upon the name and stone. This would mean that by turning from the sin, they would gain entrance into Heaven.
Both of these interpretations of a “white stone” have the same outcome: you are present in Heaven. Maybe not as the bride of Christ, but at the wedding as a guest.
Achievement: Works, keeps faith and the Name
Obstacle: removing other religious practices and sin, especially of a sexual nature
Reward: provision during the tribulation and entry into Heaven
What part of the body of Christ are you connected to. It is time to examine what is going on around us and squeeze through the narrow way!
Three more churches will be discussed next!
6. The Future of God's Church
7. The Future of Your Church
Messages from God
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Believers' Boot Camp series
Many people think of boot camp as a place you train for combat. Any veteran will tell you that basic training is about three things:
- Knowing what weapons are available
- Learning how to use those weapons
- Receiving orders and following them