We’re so glad you’ve joined us for this reading plan through the seven letters to the churches in Revelation. As we begin, it’s important that we know the context of these letters. The apostle John has been exiled to the island of Patmos. In Revelation 1, John has a vision of seven lampstands and Jesus Christ Himself holding seven stars. The seven lampstands represent the seven churches of Asia Minor and the seven stars represent the seven angels of the churches—a lot of sevens! Jesus Christ is the one speaking in these seven letters, and John is writing down what Jesus says. The whole Book of Revelation is essentially one letter to these seven churches about the things which are to come.
These letter contain three key elements—though not every letter has all three. These three things will guide us as we read through this plan:
1) Good Work: An encouragement of what they are doing right.
2) Get Right: A call out of what they are doing wrong.
3) Get Ready: A reward if they endure the trials that are coming.
So, now that we know all of that, let’s go ahead and dive into the first church!
GOOD WORK: Doctrine
The first church we read about in Revelation 2 is the church in Ephesus. Jesus commended this church for their sound doctrine. They held fast to the gospel message even when false teachers came in to try and trick them. What you believe matters! A.W. Tozer once said, “What comes to our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”
Question for Reflection: What comes to your mind when you think about God?
GET RIGHT: Departure
Although the church in Ephesus had not left their sound doctrine, they had left their first love. Love is the greatest motivator in the world! And at one point, this church loved Jesus with everything they had; it was their sole motivation. But now, they found some other motivation for their lives. Jesus calls them to repent and return to the way they were before, when He was their motivation.
Question for Reflection: In what areas of your life have you left your first love?
GET READY: Decay
Jesus warns the church in Ephesus that things aren’t going to get better. They’re actually going to get worse. The church must be ready for the intense persecution that is on the horizon. Most people believe that if God is good, He should only give His people “good things.” But the reality is, good times and good things—at least according to what the world considers good—are not a guarantee. God never promises that He will give us a comfortable life. He promises He will be with us and that He works all things for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purposes (Romans 8:28).
Question for Reflection: How can you stay focused on God’s promises even in the midst of tough times?