4 out of 7 Churches…

I’ve now written or spoken about four of the churches in Revelation 2-3 and you might be interested to hear and read it.

Letters to tolerant and compromised churches: Pergamum and Thyatira (Revelation 2:12-29)

First, the churches of Pergamum and Thyatira: you can hear my sermon and see the presentation on the Canley website.

Second, my notes for the Canley housegroups on the next two churches, Sardis and Philadelphia.

Letters to a sleeping and an obedient church (Sardis & Philadelphia) Rev 3:1-13

Review: We’ve looked at the letters to four churches, each with good points and most with some kind of problem. We’ve been using the letters to help us pray for God’s guidance as to how CCC should be moving forward.

1. READ Revelation 3:1-13

What you need to know about names

In both these letters, Jesus talks about ‘names’. If you didn’t spot it in the letters to Sardis and Philadelphia, go back and read it again! (For bonus points, which other letter(s) in Rev 2-3 talk about names?)

In the first century names were very important, they were supposed to give an idea of who the person was, what he or she was like. Roman Emperors took a new name when they became the supreme ruler – Caesar. Other Romans changed their names as they progressed politically or in the military, adding titles and dropping family names that were less important.

However, if someone went out of favour with the Emperor or local rulers, their name would be removed from books or monuments so it was as if they had never existed. In the 20th century, the Soviets did something similar, removing people from photos so that no trace of them remained.

  1. These two letters are all about names and identity. How does Jesus identify himself to the two different churches (v 1, 7) and what do you think these mean
  2. The stained garments probably would have come from joining in a certain pagan worship celebration and form a play on words with the ‘blotting out’ of their names. What do you have to do to be recognised by Jesus before his Father and the angels? Is it the reward for some heroic act or great evangelistic effort? How does this translate to Canley in 2011?
  3. Philadelphia is an obedient church with no criticism. Though they seem weak, Jesus makes a lot of promises to them. What do they have to do to get the promises?
  4. What does it mean to be made a pillar in the temple of God? Why are the names written on them?
  5. Our personal identity is in view here as well as the bigger identity of the church. What are the things that give you identity – name, family, job, hobbies… ? What shapes the identity of Canley Community Church?
  6. What might it mean to have your identity formed by the name of God, the name of the hope to come and the name of Jesus?

It could be that the things you have discussed need a personal response – perhaps to the idea that your identity should be shaped by God, or needing the confidence that you can be secure in your identity as a Christian. It would be great if other members of the house group could pray for you as you explore these things.

One way of reading the promises in the letters to the seven churches is that they are not far off rewards for a distant future in heaven, but a hint of the type of church God is going to make them into. Pray, asking what kind of church is God calling CCC to be if we are to be ‘conquerors’? What promises does he have for us?