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Life-saving Advice

Key References: Revelation 3; The Acts of the Apostles, chap. 57, pp. 588-590; The Bible Story (1994), vol. 10, pp. 176-179; Our Beliefs nos. 12, 11, 1

Power Text

“Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me” (Revelation 3:19, 20).

Power Point

We praise God for His loving discipline and clear guidance.

Have you ever been traveling along a road thinking you were going in the right direction and then found that you were going in the totally wrong direction? That is exactly the experience of one of the churches in our lesson today.

John sat on a large cold stone on the island of Patmos. His heart was overflowing with praise to God. Now he knew why his life had been saved and why he had been sent to this stony prison island. Jesus had given him special messages for seven churches. Churches he knew so well. First

Jesus had given messages of encouragement to the churches of Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, and Thyatira. Then He had pointed out things that these churches needed to change or improve.

Similarly Jesus gave messages for the churches of Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.

John begins a new letter. “To the angel of the church of Sardis write: These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! . . . But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you. Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. 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” (Revelation 3:1-5).

John continued his writing with a message addressed to the church of Philadelphia, which, in translation, means “Brotherly Love.” “To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens, no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. I know your deeds. . . . I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. . . . Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth. I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God” (verses 7-12).

Finally Jesus has a message for the church in Laodicea. How different it is from the others. In contrast with the church of Philadelphia, for which Jesus had words of commendation, praise and encouragement, He had only a message of rebuke for the church of Laodicea. John began to write the letter to the seventh and last church. “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm— neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. 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” (verses 14-21).

At the end of each message Jesus said, “Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22). John laid down his pen and thought about each of the churches. He added his own prayers for the believers in each of the churches throughout history.

Sardis was on the highway south of Thyatira. Once it had been a thriving city. It had lost out to Ephesus and Pergamum. Now it was dying, and living only on its former reputation. Yes, they would understand the idea of being alive, but dead.

The church in Philadelphia was the only church that had no faults. Philadelphia was a small town about 30 miles southeast of Sardis. Even the name meant “Brotherly Love.” They would be encouraged by this beautiful message. John’s desire was that, in following Jesus’ guidelines, the believers from the seven churches would prepare to one day meet with Jesus, whose promises to them will find fulfillment in His heavenly kingdom.