Using the 7 Churches in Revelation to Examine Your Own Church – Part Two

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

The Book of Revelation has a message for the 7 churches that could help us examine the health or sickness of our own church.

The Church at Sardis

The Book of Revelation has a message for the 7 churches that could help us examine the health or sickness of our own church. In continuing in part two, our look at the 7 churches in the Book of Revelation, we move next to the Church at Sardis. The word Sardis means “Prince of Joy” but God was not full of joy about this type of church (nor, most churches today!). Jesus Christ tells this church “‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead” (Rev 3:1a). This is why Jesus tells this church, and any church today like it, “Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God” (Rev 3:2). Only a slim minority are still walking with God in obedience in this church as Jesus says that only “a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy” (Rev 3:3). There has always been a faithful remnant of believers and most Christians obey God’s Word, but there are millions of false converts out there today in churches where Jesus is not the Head but Satan is.

The Church at Philadelphia

Next is the Church at Philadelphia. The word this church received its name from comes from the Greek word, meaning “Brotherly Love.” In Greek it is “Philadelphos” as “one who loves his brother.” This is clearly a loving church. Most in this church Jesus said “have kept my word and have not denied my name” (Rev 3:8c), however, there are many of “those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie” Rev 3:9), perhaps meaning this church is full of false converts. The claim to be a Christian is not new because we know that many today claim to be Christians but are obviously not, and Jesus will give them the most tragic news ever someday (Matt 7:21-23), when it will be too late.

The Church at Laodicea

Now we look at the Church at Laodicea. The word used for this church and this city’s name means “Just people” or” Laos” (People, Plural) “Dicea” (justice), and in a sense, they are just. They are justified by Jesus Christ and His shed blood. But like many of the churches, there are many in it who are living like the world, therefore Jesus warns them by saying, “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot” (Rev 3:15)! If they were cold, they could be cool and refreshing to sinners and saints, and being hot, may mean they are on fire for Jesus Christ. To be lukewarm is worse, for our Lord tells them that “because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth” (Rev 3:16). In other words, this church makes Jesus sick to His stomach and like lukewarm coffee or bathwater or warm soda pop or pop, neither is it refreshing or invigorating. Rather this church gives occasion for Jesus to spit them out of His mouth. Basically, this church is nauseating to Him. That may explain why God destroyed this church by an earthquake in 66 AD.

Knocking at the Door

Interestingly, Jesus tells this church, “I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” (Rev 3:20). Why would He tell them that? Apparently Jesus was not even allowed into the church and is outside knocking, asking to be let in. There must be no door handle or access to this church so Jesus is knocking at the door because He’s not in this church. It is perhaps because of its lukewarm-ness that He gives His instruction to this church is for them to repent, “so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see” (Rev 3:18). Being outside of this church, He is forced to knock and gain access to this church, therefore He says, “If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” (Rev 3:20). Why does Jesus say, “If anyone hears my voice and opens the door?” It’s because they are not listening to God or the Word of God, therefore they are not hearing with the ears God gave them. This is all the more reason He told them, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Rev 3:22).


The state of the church today is very heartbreaking. Many are running programs and plans and ways to increase the membership, but I often tell the church where I pastor at, “I don’t want to fill the pews or the parking lot…I want to fill the Book of Life.” Churches have become no better than glamorized social clubs and they are not pursuing the righteousness of God. Neither are they teaching about God’s desire that we live holy lives, the need for sanctification, the truth about sin, our need for repentance and the coming judgement of God. Rather that preach the Bible, they teach and preach that this could be “Your Best Life Now,” but it this is our best life now, we’re going to the wrong place! Right now, let me ask if you’ve been brought to repentance and faith in Christ. If not, read what will happen to you someday (Rev 20:12-15). Please put your trust in Christ today before you die, for surely judgment is coming at Christ’s return (Rev 1:7, 21:8) or after you die (Heb 9:27).

Here is some related reading for you: The Seven Churches Described in the Book of Revelation

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible: English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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