Derek Prince - What Does Jesus Say To The Churches In Revelation?
Now the next thing that I want to point out to you there which I think is of tremendous importance is the first area that Revelation focuses on is the seven lampstands which are the seven churches. John saw Jesus standing in the midst of the seven churches. We all need to understand that God’s primary concern in history is the church.
As Ruth and I quoted just a moment ago, that He might present to Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. That’s where the focus of the Lord is. It’s not on the nations, it’s not on the politicians it’s not on the military commanders; it’s on His church. We need to understand that we come first in the list of His concerns. If you don’t realize that you’ll easily be frightened. The first place John saw Him was in the midst of the churches walking to and fro, examining apparently each church. Then it says at the end of that chapter: "The mystery of the seven stars which you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands. The seven stars are the angels", I prefer to say ministers, "of the seven churches; the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches".
Now, we’ve just ordained a brother as pastor today. And we who are in the ministry pastors, evangelists, whatever teachers, prophets, we need to remember the Lord holds us in His right hand. It's a very solemn thought. We are in His right hand. Then in the next two chapters, chapters 2 and 3, we come to the messages to the seven churches. I don’t want to dwell on them at length, but let me point out to you that every message was sent to a church. Anybody who was not in a church never got the message. And I believe myself that normally, with certain special exceptions, God expects every believer to be a committed member of a congregation.
If the message of Revelation were sent today and some of you were not associated with any congregation, you would never get the message. It’s only sent to the churches. But then at the same time the message is to every individual. If anybody hears My voice. So, it’s not enough to be in the church. You must be able to hear the voice of the Lord. I’ve looked at the messages and I don’t want to spend a lot of time, but I want to point out two things. Five times to five of the churches Jesus says: I know your works. Let me point out I’m preaching from the New King James, and it has that phrase seven times. But if you look at the newer translations which are based on better texts, it’s only five times. I don’t want to confuse you.
I love the New King James. I think myself it’s closer in spirit to the words of God than any other. But they did not have available some of the textual knowledge that recent translators have. So don’t be confused if you have the NKJ, you’ll find it there seven times. In the other more recent versions you’ll find it five times. But at least five times Jesus said, I know your works. That’s significant. He didn’t say, I know your denominational label. He didn’t say, I’m familiar with your statement of faith. He didn’t say, I know your church program. He said, I know what you’re doing. And that’s what matters. It’s not what we say. it’s what we do. And five times to five of the seven churches His first commandment was repent.
So, people have said to me sometimes: Do Christians ever need to repent? My answer is at least five out of seven churches needed to repent. From what I know of the contemporary churches I would say the proportion would not be any lower. I could believe it would be seven out of seven. And remember, repentance is the key to everything else. If you bypass repentance you can never have true faith. You can seek and call out for the blessings of God but they’ll never really come your way because the first condition is repentance.
When John the Baptist came to prepare the way for Jesus, his message was repent. And when Jesus began to preach, His first public utterance was, Repent and believe the gospel. On the Day of Pentecost when the unconverted multitudes said to Peter, What must we do? The first thing Peter said was Repent and let every one of you be baptized. To be baptized without being repentant is a waste of time. Paul told the Ephesian elders the message that he brought amongst them, he said I did not fail to teach you both publicly and in every house repentance toward God and faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ.
So repentance comes first. I’ve spent a lot of time in past years counseling Christians with problems. I’ve come to the conclusion that there are limits to what can be accomplished by counseling. Sometimes I think it’s more important to cast out the demons, than to spend a lot of time counseling. But, one conclusion I arrived at was at least 50 percent of Christian's problems are due to the fact that they’ve never repented.
I suggest that if you are struggling with problems in your Christian experience, you better examine yourself whether you have really repented. Turn totally from everything displeasing to God. And yield yourself to God in unconditional surrender. The messages contain various main elements. First of all, commendation, praise for what is good. Correction where things are going wrong Warning of judgment that may follow. And notice that the promises are given only to one kind of person. Do you know who that is? To him who overcomes. There are no promises in the New Testament to those who do not overcome.
In Romans 12:21 Paul says: Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good. And you only have two options every one of you, myself included. To overcome or to be overcome. And the only thing powerful enough to overcome evil is good. And right at the end of the book of Revelation in Revelation 21:7 God Himself speaks and says He who overcomes will inherit all things. And I will be His God and he will be my son. There are no promises of good in the New Testament or in the Bible to people who do not repent.