Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength. And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death. Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this. The mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches. (Revelation 1:12-20)
The Church Has A Lampstand
John the apostle was witness to some incredible things. His writing of the Revelation is a remarkable vision of the power and majesty of God. Through each page the message of victory cries forth in tones from saint suffering under the hand of persecution to the shouts of victory in the defeat of all the enemies of the Lord. The Revelation is a book of hope that stirs the hearts of God’s people to know He loves them and cares for what the face each day. John was introduced to a concept of the church that is first told in the Revelation. Writing to seven churches in Asia, Christ tells John of the gathering of the churches in Asia as a ring of seven lampstands with the Lord Jesus standing in the midst. The seven stars in the right hand of Christ are angels of the seven churches and each of the lampstands represent seven unique congregations: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea. Christ gives a summary of each congregation regarding their spiritual condition whether good or bad. For some the report is favorable but for some it is not. As the Lord addresses each congregation the message is the same: there is a reckoning for each location. The Lord will implore the churches to give heed to His words by reminding them that he who has an ear to ear must heed the warnings and admonitions or suffer the consequences. God knows the works of every church whether they are hot, cold or lukewarm. He is aware of the troubles they face and the victories they have gained. Some churches are rebuked severely for their lack of faith and told to repent. Overshadowing each testimony of the church is the knowledge that God holds accountable the work of the local church.
The lesson to take from this introduction to the Revelation is the responsibility each church has to be faithful to the Lord and fulfill the mission given by God for His glory. Setting up church services to go through the motions is a clear warning that God is not going to be pleased with the lack of diligence. Reading the letters to each of the seven churches illustrates the positives and negatives of church work. Every congregation has a divine mandate to carry out the work of the kingdom with an accountability ledger being kept by the Lord. His warning to the church of Ephesus is that without repentance the lampstand would be removed and they needed to take quick action. The Ephesian’s are prominent in the writings of the New Testament through the work of the apostle Paul. Sadly, the congregation had fallen out of love with God becoming dangerously close to falling away from truth. Warning them to change their ways, the Lord impresses upon them the danger of having their lampstand removed. This would be the case for the other six churches if they followed the path of the church at Ephesus.
Reading the testimonies of the seven churches of Asia should give pause to each church of Christ who is seeking to follow the pattern of the New Testament. It does not matter what the sign says out front. The reputation of the local work in the eyes of others is of little significance. Whatever reputation a local church has will not be established by the whims of social prestige but the Holy Spirit. Each church has a lampstand and the Lord determines whether it remains. The work of the church in teaching the truth and defending the cause of Christ will be reflected by the words of the Lord toward that church. Unlike the Revelation, no one will know what the Lord would say but seeking to pattern the congregation after the word of God will should establish a confidence the Lord is pleased. The church must be busy teaching others and like the First Century church increasing in spirit and number. Building an edifice and putting a name on the outside is not what the Lord wants. He desires for His church to be busy in teaching, admonishes, correcting and saving souls. Churches that fail to have the proper leadership, saving souls, teaching the whole council of God and showing brotherly love are in jeopardy of losing their lampstand. Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End and He knows the condition of each church.