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Feb 11 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

Revelation chapters 2-3



Welcome and Prayer: Nancy Lopez

Good morning, RefleXion family!                      Grace and Peace to you!

I want to remind you that Chuck’s messages can be found in script at the website: or through our FaceBook page.  It’s always been helpful to me to read the words that I’ve heard on Sunday; I always catch something that Spirit wants to highlight.  I have a feeling that this series in Revelation will be especially important to my soul.  This phrase: “As for the mystery,” and Chuck’s concluding words from last week are ones that I want to bring as our opening today:
Revelation is difficult because it is full of mysteries. 
Those mysteries work the systems that drive our world.
Our lives are also driven by things hidden from us; we do not fully know why we are the way we are or do the things we do.
As for those mysteries, Revelation will help open our eyes as it opens to us the heavens and enable us to deal with what we see.

And then, I am reading a poem as our opening prayer this morning.  It is entitled “Every Given Light,” by Jan Richardson.  There are some copies on the counter if you’d like to pick one up after the service.

-Every Given Light-

There are days
we think
only so much is given—
a glint,
a gleam,
a light so small
we could carry it
in the palm of
our hand,
just enough
to let us see
the next step,
into the mystery.
There are days
grace comes
but in shadow,
days it gathers itself
into the corners,
days it seems
to turn its gaze
as if distracted,
or pondering,
or paused.
Let it be said
this is not
that day.
This is the day
when grace
gives out
its radiance,
declaring itself
to everything
in sight.
This is the day
when every given light
bears forth
like a star,
turning its face
toward us
with the brilliance
that was there
all along,
that it had saved
just for us,
just for the joy
of seeing us

Jan Richardson

Morning Talk: chuck smith, jr.

Intro: Chapters 2 and 3 may be the most well known section of Revelation

At least two of our favorite quotations are found here
– what’s the theme of these chapters? Answer: “Church Repairs”
• in chapter 1 Jesus appears in a form not found in the Gospels
• in his right hand he held seven stars–which represented the angels of the seven churches
◦ in scripture, the hand represents power, control, and ownership
– so in these two chapters, Jesus acts as General Contractor has the seven churches in his hand
• he will tell each church what repairs need to be made

If you notice, reading the letters we are still on earth
– we aren’t taken to heaven until chapter 4
• but these letters build a stage on which the drama is played out
• this is a threshold we must cross to get to the heart of Revelation
– it begins with a self-examination – that’s the prerequisite for going forward

Although the seven letters are addressed to seven churches,

All the churches need to hear what is written in every letter
– but going even further, every member of each church needs to hear all seven letters
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches
– did you hear the plural, churches?
• the messages are universal – not only in space but also time
• if we wonder what Jesus has to say to American churches today
◦ (and to our “spiritual community”) it’s here in these letters
– “church” isn’t a building, it’s a collection of human persons
• Jesus is the center, and each member is committed to him
◦ Jesus built his church in the world on behalf of the world
◦ the church is supposed to represent him and spread his truth
•but it’s also meant to demonstrate his love and mercy
◦ the world discovers God through his church
– each person can add energy and cohesiveness to the whole
• and any individual can suck the energy out a church and divide it
◦ every person is called to act on their own
◦ churches that don’t allow people to choose and act on their own become cults
• this is where we begin our journey through Revelation
◦ all of us receive it as a personal message in these letters (“You’ve got mail”)
◦ so God’s strange work in us begins here

One more, very important, thought as we proceed

Most letters in the New Testament begins with the authors introducing themselves
Paul, an apostle; James, a servant; Peter, an apostle; etcetera
• the seven letters begin same way; with Jesus introduces himself
◦ after the introduction each one begins with, “The words of . . .”
• but rather than saying, “Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God,”
◦ we find about who he is or what he does
◦ six of the letters draw his description from statements made about him in chapter 1
(letter to Philadelphia uses a crucial Old Testament identification: The words of the holy one, the tre one, who has the key of David . . . .)
– here’s my question for us, and I think it’s important:
• Can we hear each letter as if Jesus addressed it to us?
• can we “take it personally”?

Though the content of the letters differ, they all share the same structure

Every letter:
• begins, “To the angel of,” and then the specific city is designated
◦ “angel” can also be translated “messenger”
Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are called to inherit salvation? (Heb. 1:14)
• begins its message with, “I know your works”
◦ with exception of Smyrna which reads, “I know your tribulation”
and Pergamum, “I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is”
◦ Jesus knows – our challenges, hardships, service, problems, and so on
• either contains a contrast (e.g., “But I have this against you”)or does not
◦ two of the letters don’t contain a contrast, because those church are all good
◦ two others letters lack the contrast, because those churches all bad
• in the middle section we find is Jesus’ specific message
◦ what’s right – what’s wrong – what to do about it
• makes the same two statements at the end
1. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches”
◦ this is a capacity that we have to develop (see Mk. 8:18, “Having eyes do you not see?”)
2. “The one who conquers . . .” and after that a reward is promised

I’m going to paraphrase each letter (because it would take too long to explain everything in them)

Dear church in Ephesus, I know your hard work and that you have patiently endured it. It is wonderful that you don’t put up with evil people. In fact, you have looked into and fact-checked self-proclaimed apostles and exposed the ones who are imposters. Your endurance and patience are a good combination. I’m also pleased that you continue to hang in there for my sake. In all of this, you have not grown weary.
HOWEVER, not growing weary doesn’t mean that you’re zealous. Your heart is no longer in what you do, because you’ve given up the love you had at first. You must remember, because that’s what lovers do. Remember where you were before you fell. Go back to the beginning of our early romance and do those things again. If you don’t, I will withdraw my light from you and you will no longer be my church.
Then there is another thing you do that pleases me; you don’t put up with those Nicolaitans and their false teaching.
Develop your ability to hear what the Spirt is telling you. I will give to any one among you who wins this battle the privilege of eating from the “tree of life.” Doing that was forbidden before, but is possible now.

Dear church in Smyrna, I know your hardship and poverty, but the truth is, you really are rich. I know you have been slandered by people who claim to be legit, but they’re just the opposite, doing the devil’s work. It’s going to get worse for you, but don’t be afraid, not even when the devil throws some of you into prison. (You don’t have to take this literally, because there are different kinds of imprisonment.) There’s a purpose for this and it will be limited to a few days. Stay true, even if you face death, and I will reward you with a crown of victory .
Listen to the Spirit, and the one who wins this battle will escape the second death. (What that is will be explained to you later.)

Dear church in Pergamum, I know where you live, and that it’s a rough place, because Satan rules there. In spite of that, you’ve held onto my name and not turned away from your faith in me, even at the risk of martyrdom.
HOWEVER, there are a few things that are not right in your church. First, you tolerate the false teaching of Balaam, which in his case was compromise and tripping up true believers so that they did wrong. Secondly, you tolerate the teaching of the Nicolaitans.
So what you have to do is change, otherwise you will be fighting against Me–and you will lose.
Listen to the Spirit and the one who wins this battle will enjoy the “hidden manna”–the bread of life. And you will be given a white stone with you name engraved on it–a secret name.

Dear church in Thyatira, I know you are the perfect model of a Christian church or Christian individual. In love, faith, service, and patient endurance, your are doing even better now than at first.
HOWEVER, you tolerate that wicked Jezebel, whose very name is associated with evil. She acts like a queen and claims to be a prophet. Her message is seductive. She leads people into the adultery of embracing other gods. I gave her the chance to turn, but she hasn’t. Those among you who choose to follow her cult will be tossed onto a sickbed and into great tribulation, until your illness proves fatal. This is a lesson for all the churches: I search the mind and heart.
Each of you will be rewarded or punished according to your works. From those who have not bought into the Jezebel cult, I don’t require anything else from you, except to hang onto what you have, all the way until I return.
The one who wins this battle will be given authority and be able to authorize others to exercise it, even as I have received authority from the Father (as described in Psalm 2). I will also give them the morning star. Listen to the Spirit.

Dear church in Sardis, I know that you are a church with quite a reputation. People say, “That church is alive!” But you aren’t, you’re dead. WAKE UP! You have some life left in you, fan it into a flame, because it’s smoldering and about to go out. Remember what has been given to you and what you’ve been taught. Hang onto it and turn back to it. If not, I’ll come to you like a thief, when you’re not expecting me.
Nevertheless, there are a few of you whose clothes are still clean and have not been stained or disgraced. They will walk with me in white.
The one who wins this battle will be dressed in white; an honor not given to everyone. And that person’s name will remain forever in the book of life. I will acknowledge them before my Father as they have acknowledged Me.
Listen to the Spirit.

Dear church in Philadelphia, I know how well have done, and for that reason I’ve opened a door for you that no one can shut. I also know that even though you’re not a powerful church, you haven’t lost your grip on my word or who I am.
Look, here is what I’m going to do. I am going to take those posers who belong to Satan while claiming to be the true church, and bring them to you and cause them to show you respect. They are going to learn the truth, that I have loved you.
Because you have kept my word of patience and stamina, I’m going to protect you from the terrible ordeal that for a time will trouble the world and everyone in it.
I will come to you soon. Hang in there, doing what you’ve been doing, so that no one takes the victory crown that you’ve won. The one who wins this battle, will be made a pillar in the temple of my God. You will never have to leave it. I will sign you with the name of my God, the name of the city of my God, and the new Jerusalem from heaven, and my own new name.
Listen to the Spirit.

Dear church in Laodicea, I know what you’re about. First, you are tepid, neither hot nor cold, and unpalatable. In keeping with that metaphor, I’m going to spit you out. Secondly, you say you’re rich and prosperous –a materialistic boast. From my point of view, you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind and naked. I advise you to get the true wealth from me, which can not be had by money. My gold has real value, and has already been refined, and is therefore pure. Do this and you will be rich. With the blessing of my wealth, you will be able to have white clothing to cover your naked bodies; and eye salve to heal your blindness.
Now pay attention, those that I love, I also discipline. I am disciplining you now so that you will be passionate and turn back to me. Look, I am right here at your door knocking. Anyone inside may hear, and anyone can open the door. If you do, I will enter and share a meal with you.
The one who wins this battle, will be invited to my table and my throne. I also won my battle for you, and sit at my Father’s throne.
Listen to the Spirit.

Conclusion: Several words I would have liked to elaborate on

Pillar – door – thief – key – and white stone
– it is good for us to feel the depth of these metaphors

Now we have learned the purpose of Revelation
That it is meant to work in deep regions of our hearts and minds
That it is meant to prepare us for the new creation
And it does this by re-creating us

So having been here today,
and going over the messages of Jesus to his church,
something has entered us that is meant to change us
To make us more like the people we are supposed to be
Namely, agents of change in a world that is broken
A world than needs love and peace and healing
A world that needs God’s touch through God’s church

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