Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Revelation 2 & 3: Messages to the Churches

the Church at Thyatira
by Michael C. Garrett

Revelation 2 & 3 – the Messages to the churches. Worldwide really went off the deep end on this. The ministers and preachers and teachers of the Worldwide Church of God attempted to teach their people the highly confused concept (they called it a doctrine) that the Messages in Chapter 2 & 3 were “Church era’s.” Over long period’s of time. And the people who always proposed that theory of “Church era’s” they always claimed for themselves to be the Church of Philadelphia. Chapter 3:7. Because of all the churches, the church which was extent in Philadelphia, in the nation which we now call Turkey, in the late first century, when John was an elderly man in his 90s – of all the churches, the people in Philadelphia come off the best. So, of all the proponents of the “Church era” idea, they always claim to be Philadelphia. The Worldwide Church of God did. Herbert Armstrong would say, ‘We are the Philadelphia era!’ Well, they were WRONG! Revelation 2 & 3 talk about seven churches which existed then and there, in Asia Minor, in about 95 A.D. Most of these churches were established by the Apostle Paul, or, by disciples which were working closely with the Apostle Paul. Keep in mind, Paul said in 2 Timothy 1:15 – Paul is near the end of his life and he’s lamenting many things. And he knows he established the churches in Asia or had them established with people working under him. “This you know, that all those in Asia have turned away from me,” – and he names a couple of the ring-leaders, “Phygellus and Hermogenes.” All of those churches that Paul established back in Turkey, by 95 AD, many of them are seriously off course and going astray. To the point where, to the very first group, the church called Ephesus. He says, “’Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; …’” – ‘at one time Paul was working with you,’ Jesus was implying, ‘you were a very dedicated group of people, very dedicated Church, filled with enthusiasm.’ ‘But now, 30-40 years later, you’re just a shadow of your former self.’

Now, my belief on Revelation 2 & 3, is that Revelation 2 & 3 talk about churches – seven churches – which existed back in 95 AD that John was inspired to write letters to. However, I think there is a prophetic meaning to them. I think Jesus Christ is saying here, in this Book of prophecy – the Book of Revelation is a Book of prophecy – notice verse 1 of chapter 1: “The Revelation [the unveiling] of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants – things which must shortly take place.” – talking about the end-time! The Book of Revelation is a Book which was only to be understood in the end-time. And now that we’re in, or rather near, the end-time, it’s starting to be understood. And chapter 2 & 3 – although He’s talking about an earlier group of people, the former. It’s also a prophecy about the latter. About the latter days. This is an end-time prophecy.

And He’s saying, ‘there were people who had great enthusiasm and great love for Me and for My Church, but as they got older they got more tired, more confused, and misdirected.’ Well, who does the misdirecting!? The misdirecting comes from the director’s. The director’s are the Church leaders. And in many of these organizations, which claim to be a part of God, they are in truth only worried about themselves – or family businesses. They’re not worried about Jesus Christ, because quite frankly, I know some of these people, and they don’t give a hoot about Jesus Christ! He says, “…’Repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly [that’s talking about the return of Jesus Christ, an end-time event] and remove your lampstand from its place – unless you repent.’” – would God the Father and Jesus Christ actually bring about the end and the demise of a Church!? Well, in my lifetime, I began attending the Worldwide Church of God when it was at the end – but it was still in the “golden era” of its hay-day. And now they don’t even exist! They’re gone! They have been removed from their lampstand of Jesus Christ! But notice what He say’s in verse 6, “…’you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.’” – Nicoli: ruling with authority, dictatorial power, over the laity. Verse 7; of Revelation 2 – “’He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’” – now God said to Ezekiel, ‘those that will hear, let them hear, and those that refuse let them refuse.’ Once again, we see that principle. ‘In the end you’re going to get exactly what you deserve.’

He talks about another group, Smyrna, verse 8 – “’These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life.’” – and yes, there was a period of three days and three nights when Jesus Christ – a member of the Family of God, the very Creator of Earth and the universe and mankind and all that there is – lay in a tomb dead. Notice what JESUS said, “…’who was dead, and came to life!’” In chapter 1, verse 18: “’I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades [the grave] and of Death.’” He says that ‘for three days and three nights I was totally unconscious!’ ‘I was dead, and then I was brought back to life by My heavenly Father!’ Verse 9 – “’I know your works, [I know what you’ve gone through] …’” Verse 10 – “’Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer.’” – now, He’s talking about them suffering. Again, these are end-time prophecies! This is a church group which represents Jesus Christ, that has some claim to Jesus Christ – although a somewhat weakened one – and He says, ‘You’re gonna suffer!’ “…’Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested [or tried], and you will have tribulation ten days.’” – does that mean ten years, a day for a year!? “…’Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.’” – so here’s another group that are having troubles, because they aren’t nearly as dedicated as they should have been. And Jesus said in Verse 11, as He says in all of these, “’He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be [destroyed] by the second death.’

Verse 12 we begin another church group (Pergamos). Remember, 95 AD this group actually existed in what we now call Turkey. But it’s also prophetic about certain church people in the end-time! He says, “’And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write, ‘These things says He who has the sharp two-edged sword …’” – that’s Jesus Christ! Verse 13 – “’I know your works [I know what you’ve gone through], and where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. And you hold fast to My name [‘you’ve not denied My name’], and did not deny My faith even in the days in which Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells.’” But then Verse 14 – Jesus said, ‘I acknowledge, I understand you’re in a tough spot. You’re in a tough place to be called Christian, however … “…’I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, …’” – and Balaam, to make a long story short, it’s the concept of covetousness or greediness. He said, ‘You were just greedy!’ Verse 15 – again, dictatorial power over the laity! Well, look up the word Nicolaitans, in you Bible study help’s – if you have any – get out your concordance – if you have any – and look up the meaning of the world Nicolaitans. Interesting fact: Wycliffe Bible Dictionary on the name NICOLAS states, “The name, meaning ‘conqueror of the people.’” It says in Verse 16 – “’Repent, [get out of there while you still can] or else I will come to you quickly [an end-time prophecy] and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth.’” – thus says the eternal Jesus Christ! You need to think about this folks! Verse 17 – “’He who has an ear, let him [or her] hear what the Spirit [is attempting to say] to the churches. …’

Well, Verse 18 talks about another church group (Thyatira) or type of church. It existed back in 95 AD in the country we now call Turkey, Asia Minor. It also describes people who are attending churches in the hear and the now in the Churches of God genre. “’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 …’” – turn back to the first chapter, you see more of how He’s described. He says in Verse 19 – “’I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first.’” – So that’s a very complimentary phrase there. “’Nevertheless,’” Verse 20 – “…’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.’

Verse 21 – “…’And I gave her time to repent …’” – ‘I gave her a chance to change.’ “…’of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent.’” – ‘she wouldn’t change her ways.’ Verse 22 – “’Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, …’” – remember, the word adultery, in the Bible – adultery, whoredom, whoring around – if you look at the whole context, 90-95% of the time it’s not talking about physical sexual practices against the Way of God, most of the time, it’s referring to spiritual adultery. It’s referring to allowing someone to teach you things NOT according to the Word of God! And you take them up as a doctrine. “…’into great tribulation, …’” – that’s the end-time ‘troubles.’ Verse 23 – “’I will kill her children [or her member’s] with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works.’” – the very essence and meaning of the Day of Atonement! A day of reconciliation, a day of reckoning! ‘In the end you’re gonna get exactly what you deserve.’

Now, you can say, “There are no churches in the year 2019 that go around telling their member’s to, as it says in verse 20, ‘seducing My servant’s to commit fornication.’”! Well, remember, fornication, in the true biblical sense of the word, the ultimate meaning of the word means, spiritual problems, spiritual issues. And to eat things and to take in things which are wrong! Verse 24 – “’Now to you I say, and to the rest in Thyatira, as many as do not have this doctrine, …’” – ‘of allowing women to control the direction of the Church.’ “…’who have not known the depths of Satan, as they say, I will put on you no other burden.’” – ‘You’re already almost burdened down all you can take!’ Verse 25 – “’But hold fast what you have till I come.’” – ‘that little bit of God’s Spirit and Truth, hang on to it!’

Chapter 3:1 – “’And to the angel of the church in Sardis write, ‘These things says He who has seven Spirits of God and the seven stars …’” – meaning the seven angels looking after those churches. “…’I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.’” – spiritually dead. Verse 2 – “’Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, …’” – strengthen whatever capacity God’s Spirit to be within you. “…’that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God.’” Verse 3 – “’Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent.’” – ‘Change your ways, you’re about to die!’ There are some people right now, who think they’re a part of what once was called the Worldwide Church of God or its descendants, and your spirit has become so deluded, and your doctrine has become so corrupted, and your leadership is so misguided, that you’re all but dead. And some of you don’t have a clue it’s taking place, you’re numb. You’re in a serious spiritual disease, and you don’t know it! And you’re going to die! “…’Therefore if you will not watch, [if you’ll not heed and change] I will come upon you as a thief [again, a prediction of an end-time event, the return of Jesus Christ], and you will not know what hour I will come upon you.’” Verse 4 – “’You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, …’” – a few, but the majority are at the point of death, spiritually speaking. Verse 5 – “’He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.’” – alright, when Jesus Christ returns, where is He!? Well, He’s on the Earth! He says, “…’I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.’” – where are all of the angels going to be at the return of Jesus Christ!? We’re told in different Scriptures they’re all going to be with Jesus!

Well, if Jesus is on the Earth, and all the angels are on the Earth, where is God the Father going to be!? God the Father is going to be – on the Earth! God the Father is returning with Jesus Christ to set-up the New Jerusalem! The Kingdom of God! That was never taught in the Worldwide Church of God, never understood.

Then He talks about Philadelphia. Back in 95 AD Philadelphia was a city back in Turkey. And they did some things very well. There was a few issues, but they got a pretty good “report card.” And there are people right now in these end-times, or near the end-time, which would have the same evaluation. They might be in that church over there, or, they might be in that church over there. Where are you!? Just because you grab the name Philadelphia Church of God doesn’t mean you qualify for this category. Verse 7 – “’And to the angel of the church of 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.’” – referring to Jesus Christ, the ultimate judge, the ultimate authority. Verse 8 – “’I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name.’” – who is speaking!? The person speaking this is JESUS CHRIST!

We have not denied His name! And we have but a little strength, pretty small group, but we have kept HIS WORD! Verse 9 – “’Indeed I will make those of the synagogue [or rather churches] of Satan, who say they are Jews [or, chosen people] and are not, but lie – indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have [always] loved you.’” Verse 10 – “’Because you have kept My command [My WORD] to persevere, …’” – the Word. ‘You’ve kept the Word.’ “…’I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world to test those who dwell on the earth.’” Verse 11 – “’Behold, I am coming quickly!’” – this is about an end-time prophecy about an end-time event about an end-time group of people! “…’Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.’” Verse 12 – “’He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, …’” – like an integral part of the internal leadership of the Kingdom of God. “…’and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven …’” – this is upon the return of Jesus Christ, not a thousand years later. The setting up of the Kingdom of God. Verse 13 – “’He [or she; young or old, rich or poor, no matter what the color of your skin or your eyes or your hair] who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’” – ‘Let him hear!’ Again, we hear it in the Book of Ezekiel, this is about the sixth time we read it in the Book of Revelation. ‘He that hears!’ ‘He that hears!’ ARE YOU HEARING!!? DO YOU GET IT!? DO YOU UNDERSTAND IT!? Do you understand being placed before you right now is a decision!? Will you continue to learn the truth of God, the way it is really supposed to be understood, or will you continue to live in a deceived world by leaders who are more interested in their own aggrandizement and their own pocketbooks than they are you!!? What are you gonna do!? You have a chance to follow Jesus Christ, you have a chance to get yourself out of the death trap which you are now in! I certainly hope you hear what the Spirit says unto the churches!

And then we come to Laodicea. Verse 14 – “…’These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God:’” Verse 15 – “’I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot.’” – it would be easier for Jesus to know what to do with you. Verse 16 – “’So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit [‘I will spew you, I will reject you from My face!’] you out of My mouth.’” – ‘I will turn you away from Me!’ Remember the parables, in which they came to Jesus and said, “O’ dear Jesus, we did this, we did that! We spoke great things, we did great things!” And He says, ‘Who are you!? I never knew you! Just get away from Me! Take them away from My face!’ Not a real good spiritual “report card.”

Verse 17 – “’Because you say, ‘I am rich, …’” – maybe you think your rich monetarily. Maybe you think your rich because you think your church is the only church. I don’t know. Maybe you think your minister is the only minister. I don’t know what kind of richness you think you have!? “…’have become wealthy, …’” – maybe increased with knowledge, ‘look at all the buildings we have, look at all the publications we put out!’ “…’and have need of nothing’ – and do not know [from the eyesight of God; from the evaluation of Jesus Christ] that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked –‘” Verse 18 – “’I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, …’” – the end-time is often described as being a time of fire. Some of you who think you’re going to be protected in the soon-coming era of time called Great Tribulation or the end-time trauma, ‘Jacob’s trouble’ – whatever you want to call it. Some of you think, “O’ I’m fine! I’m great! Look at the church I’m with! Everything’s hoity-toity! Everything’s great!” “…’that you may [then] be rich; and [then] white garments, that you may [then] be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness [your spiritual nakedness] may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.’” – and have your earwax removed so that you can hear. Verse 19 – “’As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.’” – the Message in all of these two chapters is that some of the people who think they are of the member’s of the churches of God will indeed have to go through the end-time trauma! Some church people are going to go through hell! I mean that in the allegorical sense. ‘CHANGE YOUR WAYS!’ ‘MAYBE CHANGE YOUR CHURCH’!? ‘MAYBE CHANGE YOUR CHURCH LEADERS’!? Verse 20 – “’Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and dine with him, …’” – an allusion to the great wedding supper as mentioned in Revelation 19. The marriage supper of the Lamb. Verse 21 – “’To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.’” And the last part of this WARNING! Verse 22 – “’He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the [members of the churches of God].’

I do wish you would hear. I do wish you would heed. I do wish you would think and contemplate. Reexamine yourself. Reexamine your church. Reexamine your minister’s. And ask yourself, “Am I really being taught the Truth of God!? Or am I being taught stuff that’s been handed down four, five, six decades ago!?” The ‘old story’ is NOT accurate that’s told by the Worldwide Church of God! The doctrines of the Worldwide Church of God in many ways were flawed – heavily flawed! You need to learn what the Bible really says! Please listen! Please heed! Heed what Jesus is saying to you! “’He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the [members of the churches of God].’” Please let him hear so that you can salvage this spiritual ship that you’re on. □

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