Do All Churches Preach the Same Message? A Study Through the 7 Churches of Revelation
The Not-So Good Message
May we always consider these 7 letters to the 7 churches from the book of Revelation. Are we attending one that is like Ephesus, or Smyrna or perhaps Thyatira? Heed the message that is giving to each one of them, and may we solely follow God as our guide.
The message to Thyatira starts with quite a compliment: “I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first.” (Rev 2:19, NIV2), It sure sounds like a church we would like to be involved with, doesn’t it? They are actively living their faith and they know what serving means. Trials don’t faze them, instead they persevere.
Still, if we don’t take the time to compare their doctrines to what the Bible truly says, we would end up with a sour lemon, leaving us with a distasteful aftertaste: “Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols.” (Rev 2:20, NIV2)
The analogy to Jezebel is quite revealing. She was the wicked wife of King Ahab, who tried to destroy the worship to God and replace it with the worship of Baal. This church sounds like a Christian church, but its message doesn’t fit the Good News Message of the New Testament. Their zeal to broadcast their own message is what attracts innocent bypassers. Nothing seems to faze them, as they have an answer to any objection.
The reference to “sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols” is a direct reference to Acts 15:29, the decision of the Council of Jerusalem, led by God’s own Spirit. In other words, they discard any divine guidance. Spiritually they are not clean. They are not following God’s Word, although they proclaim they do.
Have you noticed the rise of “prophets” after Jesus’ visit on planet Earth? There are certain periods when these “prophets” became more prolific than ever before. Many denominations were founded by them, and yes, most of them still use the Bible, but Biblical teaching is filtered through the teachings of their prophet. (See Mark 13:22)
Unfortunately their teachings go directly against the Good News Message preached by Jesus Himself. “We tell you the good news: What God promised our ancestors he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus. As it is written in the second Psalm: ‘You are my son; today I have become your father.’ Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. . . Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses.” (Acts 13:32-33, 38-39, NIV2)
This same Good News message is proclaimed throughout the New Testament and prophesied throughout the Old Testament. It’s a message of hope, of forgiveness, of deliverance and freedom, solely possible through the sacrifice of Jesus Himself. He deserves all praise!
Any other messages are an abomination. Notice that the justification proclaimed in the New Testament could not be obtained under the Law of Moses. It is freely given from above: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9, NIV)
I am so shocked when I see churches putting their prophet, or anyone else for that matter, above God’s Word, putting their own doctrines above what Jesus commanded us. Who are we worshipping here? These doctrines are so indoctrinated in their members that although God has “given her time to repent of her immorality . . . she is unwilling.” (Rev 2:21, NIV2) They continue to believe that they are the only ones who have the truth.
The Good News Message is that Truth is not a principle or a doctrine. It is a person: Jesus Himself! Without Him we are nothing. Only He can declare: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6, NIV2)
These denominations remind me of what happened on the Island of Jersey during World War 2. The Nazis were so obsessed about keeping this island in their own control that they put together massive programs of defense works that would turn this island into an “Impregnable fortress.”
They began trying to indoctrinate the Islanders in order to acquire their help. Their indoctrination was quite attractive, and about 10% of the population bought into the idea and proceeded to help the Nazis make this island “Impregnable.” 10% was not enough for the Nazis, however. 50% of the other workers were rounded up in the Occupied Territories, and the remaining 40% were slave workers rounded up in Russia, Ukraine and Poland.
The voluntary and the forced European laborers had bearable living conditions. It’s true the food was quite poor, and the wages were quite irregular as well. As for the long working days, mum was the word. Not everybody was treated equally, however. The slave laborers were subjected to shocking living and working conditions. They were literally worked to death. Malnutrition, exhaustion, disease and starvation were the norm. When these starving prisoners tried to sneak out of their prison camps at night to forage for food, the Nazis warned the local population that they were highly dangerous. And why not? They could be replaced at any time!
Indoctrination is quite effective and propaganda is quite believable. Interestingly enough, members of these churches who wander deliberately or by “chance” towards the Good News Message are also warned that they are going right into the arms of the evil one. They, too, become the “dangerous” ones that sooner or later will have to be avoided at all cost! We don’t want anyone else to be contaminated!
May we remember this simple truth: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16, NIV2)