In the book of Revelation Jesus reveals four surprising truths about the church. In chapter 1 we are introduced to a vision of Christ. We now pause to look at the vision John received of the church of Christ. For when the church is undergoing suffering we need to be reminded of who Christ is. Jesus Christ is God, a member of the Trinity. He is a King, the firstborn from the dead and ruler over the kings of the earth. We also need to be reminded of what the church of Christ is called to do – and from where challenges will inevitably come.
Lamps on a Stand
Ronald Kalifungwa shows us how in John’s vision in Revelation the church is cast in the mould of seven golden lampstands. This is an appropriate symbol for the church. For she is meant to be a light shining in the darkness, witnessing for Christ in the world, holding out the word of light and the truth of the gospel. It is not her business to make or alter or improve truth, but rather to receive it, stand firm upon it and contend earnestly for it and preach it.
The Church is Precious
The golden lampstands are also highly precious. Christ bought the church at a high price, the price of his own blood. She must be of a high quality of purity to be an effective instrument in the hands of God. God also walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands. In his right hand are seven stars, the pastors and elders that minister as God’s under-shepherds to the church. God is the ruler of his church and rules through these men. The church does not belong to them, it belongs to the Lord. They execute Christ’s will on his behalf in the churches where they serve.
Christ is Present
Revelation chapters 2 and 3 refer to the seven churches of Asia Minor in AD 95. But it is believed that they also represent the church universal through history. For we can clearly apply the messages they receive to the church even today. Jesus is present among all His churches, big and small. He is not an absent King.
Flawed and Varied in Faithfulness
The truth is that the church exists, and has always existed, in varied states and conditions across the ages and across the globe. This will be true until Jesus returns. Listen to Ronald Kalifungwa as he expounds the various states our churches can find themselves in. Those in grave danger, those neither in very good nor in very bad condition and those in excellent shape. These last ones are faithful even in affliction, poverty and slander.
In the midst of COVID-19 is God speaking to your church in a specific way? God is drawing attention to himself across the world during this time. What is he saying? What truths about the church is he revealing? Is he exhorting, encouraging or warning your congregation? God is always working good for the church – even today. So do not murmur, complain or curse. Ensure that you hear the message rightly and respond appropriately!
Text: Revelation 2:1-28 and 31:1-22
Date preached: 5 April 2020
Location: Lusaka Baptist Church, Lusaka, Zambia