Sunday, February 03, 2008

"“…he who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the Churches."

In Revelation, we find a striking series of phrases that the Apostle John uses as he brings the prophetic message for The Church. These seven phrases are used in conjunction with seven messages to seven churches of Asia Minor which is now Turkey. These are messages from God for the guidance, direction and correction of these churches. Some believe that he brings seven messages because it would signify to the first readers and hearers of the Revelation, that God was speaking to the whole church, since the number seven is a complete number. Each time he completes one of these “revelations” from God, he end by saying, “… he who has an ear let him hear what the Spirit says to the Churches.” These are among the most striking words that God speaks to the Church in all of his Word. They draw us in to give real ear to what he is saying. As a start to really give ear, we need to know who it is that John is speaking of: who is the Spirit. In John’s first writing to the church (the Gospel), he gives us just such a basis for understanding.

Near the end of his earthly life, and before he left and went to the Father, Jesus promised the coming of “another Counselor” (in the NIV). He said this to the disciples so that they would know that Jesus was not leaving them alone but that the “Counselor”, by which he meant, “the Spirit of Truth” or “the Holy Spirit”, would be with them. He said that, “… the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” (John 14.26). Jesus was giving the Spirit to mediate his continuing presence but also continue to reveal with Jesus had taught them. He also would have a role in bringing new information and even give the prophetic gift. His role is to reveal what belongs to Jesus and to make it known. That is why he is called the Spirit of Truth. Jesus who is the Truth and speaks the Truth sends the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth. The Apostle Peter reflects on this when he says that it is the Holy Spirit who was the instrument that God used to bring us the writings of the Old Testament and the New (2 Peter 19-21). The “Counselor” brings the truth to the church.

The word “counselor” comes from the Greek word “paraclete” which is made of two words: the preposition “para” meaning alongside, beside or with: and the verb “kaleo” meaning to call. Literally it means the one called to come along side. Various English words have been used to translate the word “parakletos” such as counselor, advocate, intercessor, helper, one who encourages and comforts.

This Spirit that John is speaking of in his first writing, is same Spirit of whom he speaks in the Revelation. It is the Spirit who is the “one who comes along side ” the church and guides it into all truth. In these seven messages John brings insight to what the Spirit comes along side to do. Each church is given either a commendation, and/or a rebuke, and/or an action and a reward for overcoming.

• To the Church of Ephesus, the Spirit commends them for their hard work and perseverance. But he rebukes them for having forsaken their first love and calls them to remember that first love and to repent.
• The church of Smyrna was commended for having suffered persecution and poverty because of their service for the Lord. The Spirit brings no rebuke to this church but that they should not fear and be faithful.
• To the church at Pergamum, the Spirit commends them for holding on to the faith. But he still says that they have compromised the values of the faith. So he charges them to repent and be true to the faith they have held to.
• The Spirit says to the church as Thyatira that they have shown love, faith and service. But they are chastened for their immorality. They too are called to repent.
• The Spirit says to the church of Sardis that they have been effective, yet their effectiveness is only superficial so they are to wake up, repent and be worthy of their deeds.
• The church at Philadelphia is commended for being faithful. The Spirit has no rebuke for them only the charge to hold on.
• Finally, the Spirit says to the Church at Laodicea, they are not commended for anything but he rebukes them for being lukewarm. He charges them to be earnest and repent.

These seven messages to seven churches are the kind of thing that the Spirit did in the past of the Church. He was given to come along side the Church and take from what is from Jesus and make it known to us. The Spirit said to the churches in John’s time to continue hold to the true values of God and his kingdom that Jesus taught them. There is nothing new in what the Spirit said to the churches only to hold on to the values that Jesus had already taught. The Spirit said to the churches, where there was fault and error, to repent to change and be the kind of people the God could reward. The seven-fold message to the seven-fold church was given a seven-fold promise of blessing for those who “had an ear to hear.” Reading them warms the heart, awes us at God’s goodness and can only cause to be thankful. Those who are faithful, who repent and overcome will:

• be given right to eat from the tree of life which is in the paradise of God,
• not be hurt at all by the second death,
• will receive the hidden manna, and a white stone with his/her own special name written on it,
• receive authority over the nations and the morning star,
• be dressed in white and will never have his name blotted out from the book of life,
• will be made a pillar of the temple, never to be left by God and will have the name of God and the name of the city of God written on him as well as a new name
• and the right to sit with God on his throne.

These are rich blessings that are also rich in symbolism that requires a knowledge of all of God’s Word to understand. We need the ears of the fruit of our study. But our study of the Word of God, inspired by the Holy Spirit, which needed in order to understand these unbelievable blessings, will be a richness in itself.

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the Churches. Today, do we have an ear to hear what the Spirit says to the Churches? The Spirit commended, chastened and challenged to action the seven-fold church representing God's Total Church. Do we have the right ear to hear? Are we willing to take stock in the things we can be commended for? Are we willing to hear the things that we must be rebuked for? Are we willing to be challenged to action and change what God wants us to change? Are we ready to be students of all of God’s word so we can understand the rich symbolism and information from which John draws to bring us a message from the Spirit? Are we ready to be thrilled by the rich blessings that God promises to those who have ears, who listen and overcome by hearing the message of the Spirit?

“He who has an ear, let him hear what he Spirit says to the Churches.” The Holy Spirit is here to take what is from Jesus and give it to us. He is here to guide us into all truth. Do we have an ear to hear his truth, take it in and let it change us so that we can be overcomers in a world that has lost it ability to hear the voice of it master.

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the Churches.”

Labels: , , ,


At 9:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting... My name is Paul Luedtke and I live in the Dallas Texas area. I too am a Christian and I long for a revival in the world. I seem to share some of your other interests as well.


Post a Comment

<< Home