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We must know that we are living in the Church Age under the dispensation of grace. It is the period of time from Pentecost (Acts 2) to the Rapture(foretold in1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). It is called the Church Age because it covers the period in which the Church is on earth. It corresponds with the dispensation of Grace The book of Revelation is very IMPORTANT as it was transmitted FROM God to Christ, to the angel, to John, to the churches, to us. The messages to the churches are given immediately after the vision of Christ of Rev. 1. Rev. 2 & Rev. 3 make the second division of Revelation, containing only "the things which are," that is, the things concerning the church on earth until its rapture (1Cor. 15:23, 51- 58 1Th. 4:13- 17 2Th. 2:7) These letters have a threefold application: 1. A local application to the churches in John's day. The letters portray actual conditions in seven local churches in Asia Minor, the western coast of modern Turkey. This is clear from the messages themselves, as well as from Rev. 1:4, 11, 20 2. A prophetic application to the churches throughout this dispensation to the rapture, revealing spiritual conditions in local churches and in individuals in churches. See Seven Proofs of Prophetic Application. 3. An individual application, so that the individual in any church in any generation may be warned and profit by the failures of the seven churches (Rev. 1:3; 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21) If we would take all the 7 letters to apply to all Christians and churches throughout this dispensation, as we do all the other New Testament books, then we would have the true prophetic and dispensational aspect of the letters. The things concerning the churches 'until the rapture in Rev 4:1' are captured between Rev. 2:1 and Rev. 3:22 -> The epistle to Ephesus -> The epistle to Smyrna -> The epistle to Pergamos -> The epistle to Thyatira -> The epistle to Sardis -> The epistle to Philadelphia -> The epistle to Laodicea The seven letters to the seven churches located in Asia Minor (or present Turkey) to whom the whole book is addressed. Each church is rebuked except the Smyrna and the Philadelphia. Warnings of judgment are given to all the churches except the Smyrna and the Philadelphia. The Ephesus was commended for ten things; the Laodicea condemned for ten things. Promises to overcomers are in each one. Each has the same admonition to hear. Four things promised for overcoming: 1. Power over the nations 2. Ruling nations with a rod of iron 3. Crushing all resistance of nations 4. The morning star All saints who are taken up during rapture will be kings or priests under Christ and will rule the earth forever (Rev. 2:26- 27 1:6; 5:10; 20:4- 6 22:4- 5).
The seven churches in my view represent several issues. We need to always remember that Revelation was written in answer to the needs of the church as it entered a very dark period. Jesus wanted to assure the saints that even though things were just about to get very nasty for them, they should not lose hope and give up their faith. Firstly the 7 churches represent the true church of God in time. Spirituality would gradually deteriorate from the time of the apostles to the end if time, where Christ apparently is now outside pleading to be let in. Secondly the 7 churches can be applied to each individual. It is telling us that there is no "once saved always saved" policy in heaven. Each one of us can gradually lose our faith and zeal for Jesus. We are all still at risk of being lost. These points are very important for us to understand that God has used various symbols in Revelation to drive the point home.
The seven churches were seven actual churches. They also represent seven attitudes that are in the body of Christ today. With each church, Jesus judgement and assessment got worse, until the last church, he said he will spew them out of his mouth. It gives us as Christians a measuring stick to examine ourselves, and see where we are in terms of our commitment, attitude and level of commitment to Christ.
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