Over the years, I have noticed that some (but not all) people take a special interest in the Church Eras of Rev 3 & 4, and then try to “promote” one Church era as being better than the others. I think that this comes about because two of the eras are not given correction by Christ, and - the thinking seems to go - if you can claim to be in one of these eras then you are more “righteous” than people from the other five Church eras .
Perhaps there are some another ways looking at Church Eras that will remove the comparison problem.
We know that all seven churches mentioned in Rev 2 & 3 existed at the time Revelation was written. We know that at least three (and possibly all seven) will exist at the time God and Christ come down to earth to set up the Kingdom of God. [Underlines mine].
Rev 2:25 NLT
(25) except that you hold tightly to what you have until I come.
Rev 3:3 NLT
(3) Go back to what you heard and believed at first; hold to it firmly. Repent and turn to Me again. If you don't wake up, I will come to you suddenly, as unexpected as a thief.
Rev 3:11 NLT
(11) I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take away your crown.
So that at any point in time for the last 1900+ years, there have been Christians living in all seven “Churches of Revelation”, and they have ALL come under the umbrella of “Church of God”.
Each era with its unique Spirit - as it rises to its ascendancy through out history - will have certain characteristics displayed, but each era will also produce Christians who will take their place in the Kingdom. Just as David appreciated the special favor of being in God’s House (Ps 84:10), we should understand that being in any of the Church eras and making it into the Kingdom, is better than missing out altogether. I think we should be careful not to give more weight to which Church era people belong to, than the importance of being part of the first resurrection.
To put it another way - Ephraim and Manasseh are brothers. Yet they have very different characteristics in some ways. When they ignore their differences and combine their strengths with their friends, they can take on the world and win - as they did during the Second World War. I feel that we should look at members of all Church eras as brothers and sisters - especially as we are going to work together for eternity - and look to what our combined strength can accomplish, rather than highlight the “differences”. We know from experience that people don’t naturally think that way, without first being educated about what it means to be “brother loving”. In my view, only when we accept and love our brothers and sisters from all the seven Spirits of the Church of God, can be begin to claim to be “Philadelphian”, or “brother-loving”. If we only embrace brothers and sisters from just one Spirit, then we are just “self-loving”, and getting close to what Christ warns us about in
Mat 5:46-47 NLT
(46) If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much.
(47) If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that.
As I have already pointed out, all seven Churches existed at the beginning and at least three - probably all seven - exist at the end. At any time, people are free to move from one Spirit to another. What if the Radio Church of God was “Philadelphian” in the 50's and 60's, but then by the 80's had moved back into the Sardis Spirit, as more attention was placed on the organization and “The Work” and less emphasis was placed on loving God (the First Great Commandment) and loving our fellow man (the Second Great Commandment).
There is some evidence to back this thought up. Notice part of Rev 3:1 NLT ... "I know all the things you do, and that you have a reputation for being alive—but you are dead.”
The Churches of God today do promote themselves as “doing the Work”. However, there is little evidence of the leaders of these organizations being noticed by the world as having “signs, wonders and miracles” as part of their ministry. Sure, God still does honor the faith of individuals from time to time, and gives healing, but I don’t know of any minister who can heal “within the hour” at will. 2 Cor 3:6 talks about the Spirit giving life. As I see it, if God calls something “dead” then the indication is that the Spirit is missing. To me, it is entirely possible for group of people to be of a certain spirit and then over time, drift into a different spirit.
Another aspect I feel we should keep in mind, is that the rewards for each of the eras are given to the whole church (“the Spirit says to the churches” - plural). To be a “pillar in the temple” we also need to “eat of the tree of life”. To “dine with [Christ]” we need to be “clothed in white garments”. And so on. Even the “place of safety” is offered to the whole Church (Rev 12:14), not just one era. And if it was one era, it would have to be Laodicea, since that Spirit will be dominate at the time of the Tribulation.
Bob Orchard june 2014
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