The 7 Churches Of Asia Minor
By David J. Stewart | April 2013
The 7 churches in Revelation 2-3 were literal churches in Asia minor (Turkey) at the writing of Revelation in AD 96. The churches are also representative of historical periods of Church history, often known as “dispensations” (time periods). Some preachers reject this truth because they claim it discourages soul-winning in the Laodicean age (Revelation 3:14-22. This is the last church listed amongst the 7 churches (the only one that the Lord had nothing good to say about it).
The Lord addressed each church by beginning on a word of praise. This is a great lesson for all of us to observe and learn on how to deal with people. We should get into the habit of looking for something positive to praise instead of always looking for the bad to criticize. Our American society has become mean, hateful and slanderous, always looking for the negative, the bad and the illegal. This is due largely because of the cut-throat mainstream newsmedia that eats it's own children.
Yet, the Lord couldn't find even one good thing to say good about the church at Laodicea. This is certainly true of many apostate so-called churches today. Most churches are using perverted Bibles that attack Christ's deity and the Godhead. Most churches have become entertainment centers, Rock concerts where no preaching of the Word takes place. There's not even one good, positive nor uplifting thing that God can say about them. The first church that comes to mind is the Hillsong Church based in Australia. The world's churches are filled with sycophantic false worship these days. I am convinced that these are the Laodicean churches as foretold in the book of revelation.
I DO believe that citywide revivals are still possible. I DO believe that people can be saved just as easily as at any other time in history. The gospel hasn't weakened. God's hand is not shortened. The problem is man, not God. Isaiah 50:2 and Isaiah 59:1, “Wherefore, when I came, was there no man? when I called, was there none to answer? Is my hand shortened at all, that it cannot redeem? or have I no power to deliver? behold, at my rebuke I dry up the sea, I make the rivers a wilderness: their fish stinketh, because there is no water, and dieth for thirst. ... Behold, the LORD's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear.” God's saving power is still freely available and freely offered to all mankind by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Christ died, was buried and then miraculously resurrected three days later for our sins. This is the gospel message! This is the good news that the world needs to hear and believe to be saved!
The Laodicean church was apostate, lukewarm, which God said he vomited out of His mouth (Revelation 3:16). I believe this refers to the end time condition of the churches. Despite some preachers disliking this truth, the Lord confirmed it in Matthew 24:37-39 when He said the world would return as it was in the days of Noah in the end times, when no one listened to Noah's preaching. Certainly, big revivals can still happen today. Soul-winning is still a command from God (Matthew 28:19-20).
Revivals are still possible today, and always will be as long as the Spirit of God is at work. It is man's wickedness that prevents him from coming to the truth of the gospel to be saved (John 3:20). Satan blinds the minds of unbelievers with secular philosophies, the principles of the world and false religion (2nd Corinthians 4:4). Believing in dispensations of time does not in any way diminish the belief that God can still work miracles in the end times.
Some lazy rascals who don't belong in the ministry will always find excuses not to go soul-winning. I've heard Calvinistic preachers say that either a person is going to get saved or they're not and nothing that we do matters, so why bother trying to win them to Christ? Why waste our time going soul-winning? I mean, if Calvinism is true, then nothing we do matters. Calvinism teaches a false doctrine called “Irresistible Grace,” which claims that God forces a person to be saved. Read about heretic John Calvin (1509-1564).
Another false doctrine that John Calvin taught is the “Total Depravity Of Man,” which says you cannot get saved unless you are chosen by God. Biblically, God NEVER chooses anyone to get saved. Mankind has a free will from God to DECIDE for himself or herself. Dr. Younce explains this well in his excellent work, NOT CHOSEN TO SALVATION. You can learn about the 5 common false teachings of John Calvin in this article from Pastor Curtis Hutson (1934-1995). All 5-points of Calvinism are demonic. Even Calvin's arch historical rival theologically, Jacob Arminius, was wrong on some of his doctrines. Biblically, we ought to follow the Word of God and not earthly men who are all prone to error, mistakes and flaw.
I am not a Protestant (which comes from the word “protest” and originated with Martin Luther's (1483-1546) protest against the Roman Catholic Church of which he had previously been a priest). Most Protestants aren't saved, because they adhere to Baptismal Regeneration and Sacramental Salvation, similar to Catholics. I do NOT follow Arminius nor Calvin. I am a born-again Christian. I follow the Lord Jesus Christ, not mere mortal men. Jesus was much more than a mere mortal man, although he was in every way a man. Christ was 100% God in the flesh. The Godhead became flesh (1st Timothy 3:16; Colossians 2:9) and dwelt amongst us here on earth (John 1:14).
The messages to the Seven Churches are precious, revealing much about the personality and character of our Lord in dealing with today's churches. Here we are given plain insight into what God thinks about churches. Everything from tolerating false doctrine in the church to departing from our love for God is addressed in Revelation chapters 2-3.
Various Teachings On Dispensations
Dr. Jack Hyles (1926-2001) is my hero preacher and mentor! I agree with nearly everything Brother Hyles teaches, although no two preachers agree on everything. Brother Hyles has written a chapter titled “Ultra-Dispensationalism: An Enemy Of Soul-Winning” in his excellent book, “Enemies of Soul Winning.” There are various applications of the teaching of dispensations in the Bible.
I agree 100% with Dr. Hyles that C.I. Scofield taught heresy by saying that Old Testament saints were saved by “legal obedience,” but after Christ's death and resurrection people started getting saved just by grace. That's damnable heresy! I am totally against the garbage theology of different plans of salvation existing during different dispensations of time. Men have always been saved the same exact way, that is, by grace through faith in the Messiah (the Lord Jesus Christ). Acts 10:43, “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.” Clearly, Old Testament saints were saved the same way that we are today, that is, by believing (relying) upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now the teaching of dispensations concerning the 7 churches of Asia Minor is a different matter. We're not talking about salvation here; but rather, the spiritual condition of the churches. Dr. Hyles rebukes Scofield's teaching in the Scofield reference Bible that the 7 churches of Revelation represent different time periods of history:
What a sad commentary! What a pitiful look at the Scripture! There is absolutely nothing that says we cannot have revival today. We can have revival anytime God's people will pay the price!
SOURCE: Ultra-Dispensationalism: An Enemy Of Soul-Winning
We must remember that men are humans, and as such are not infallible. I understand Dr. Hyles' zeal and sincere concern that Mr. Scofield's teachings could be used to discourage people from aggressively trying to win souls to Christ as we should. Albeit, I don't believe that Mr. Scofield is saying that we cannot have revivals in these last days (read Dr. Hyles chapter to see Scofield's comments); but rather, is simply pointing out that the world will turn very apostate in the end times. Jesus confirmed this truth...
Matthew 24:37-39, “But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.”
Noah preached for 120 years while he was building the ark, but not one person believed the gospel to be saved. Only Noah, his wife, his sons and their wives got on the ark to survive the flood. Only 8 people survived the flood of Genesis 6-7. The Lord foretold that in the end times that people would once again stop listening to God's Word. I believe this is what Mr. Scofield is teaching.
I personally DO believe that the 7 churches of Revelation have reference to the future. Consider that Revelation 1:19 (the verse which comes directly before mention of the 7 churches) tells us that these things ARE and SHALL BE HEREAFTER...
Revelation 1:19, “Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter; The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.”
It would seem logical to me that this Scripture in Revelation 1:19 would ALSO apply to the seven churches in Turkey (Asia Minor). I would not be dogmatic and argue this theological point. I don't believe that believing either way does any injustice to the Scriptures. Dr. John R. Rice said that the best way to interpret the Bible is not to interpret it. Let the Bible speak for itself. Where the Bible is silent it's wise to be silent. So I speak carefully on this issue. Study the Bible as you pray and make your own conclusions. I am careful not to berate anyone for disagreeing with me on this matter, since the Bible is not adamant.
The Old Testament prophets were given a glimpse of the future. Amos 8:9, “And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord GOD, that I will cause the sun to go down at noon, and I will darken the earth in the clear day.” Revelation 8:12 says the sun shall be smitten and 1/3 cease to shine. Will the earth freeze without a third of the sun's light? Joel 2:1-32 is fascinating, describing the horrors of the Tribulation in detail. Nuclear war will devastate the earth in the end times. Zechariah 14:12, “...Their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their holes, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth.” The only saints present during the Tribulation will be those who are saved AFTER the Rapture of the Church (Revelation 7:14).
Although the Bible DOESN'T specifically teach that these Old Testament prophetic passages refer to the Tribulation period, it is abundantly clear that they DO. It is only by studying the entire Bible, taking the whole counsel of God into view, comparing Scripture with Scripture, that we are able to piece together the puzzle of Biblical prophecy. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!