July 19, 2023
History is headed inexorably toward a bloody global showdown between the forces of good and evil, Light and Darkness, Christ and the anti-Christ, God and Satan, which the Devil wins decisively, however, only temporarily. Jesus followers need to understand this and need to prepare themselves accordingly. Continuing with Chapters 2 and 3 of the Book of Revelation, David and Karen Mains share their insights into this powerful section of God’s written Word.
My husband, David continues to spend hours almost every day studying his Bible and more often than not my dear sweetheart, you’re going over what book of the Bible again and again and again. It must have something to do with old age.
Karen: My husband, David continues to spend hours almost every day studying his Bible and more often than not my dear sweetheart, you’re going over what book of the Bible again and again and again. It must have something to do with old age.
David: No, it’s not really the book of scripture. I spend most of my study time in his Revelation.
Intro: Welcome to the Before We Go Podcast featuring Dr. David Mains and his wife noted author, Karen Mains Here’s David and Karen Mains
Karen: You’ve also continued the practice of attempting to put what you study into a key sentence. I think this podcast we’re doing today is a little convoluted and we’ll try and make it all clear. So, this is the question I’m asking you. I know you’ve done this before on all of our Podcasts. You reduce what we’re saying to a sentence, but what is the summary sentence you have come up for the whole Book of Revelation? The whole book.
David: Yeah, that’s easy because I’ve done this, and I’ve stuck with this same sentence for a long time now. This is how I wrote it. Anyway, if you’re studying revelation, you eventually come to this truth. History is headed inexorably. I struggled to find the word I wanted, and I knew that word, but I wasn’t sure how to define it. It means there’s no stopping. It’s going to happen. History is headed inexorably toward a bloody global showdown between the forces of good and evil; light and darkness; Christ and the anti-Christ; God and Satan which the devil wins decisively. However, only temporarily. Jesus followers need to understand this and to prepare themselves accordingly.
Karen: We’ve gone through Revelation before on the podcast, but this is a deeper look.
David: I did it in a preaching series.
Karen: Yeah, I would suggest that as people listen to this podcast on Revelation that they get their Bible out and follow along as best as they can.
David: I’m not going to do a normal Bible study as much as an overview, but if we do refer to the Scriptures, they will be able to turn to them.
Karen: Yes, to look at it. So Before We Go is the name of our podcast and it’s the time of our lives when we realize we have things that we still have to do.
David: We have to do priority.
Karen: So, one would expect our visits to have a certain seriousness about them. And we are back in Revelation once again. We began a fresh study of the book. Last podcast that we recorded.
David: You know it’s on Revelation chapter one.
David: Now you’re going to say put it into a sentence. Study diligently this amazing divine book of Revelation because it will reveal all you need to know to be prepared for the future. And that’s really not a whole lot different from what the book itself actually says. I can read that. This is in the opening paragraph. It says, “Blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in this book because the time is near.” This is a message from God Himself which He gives to His Son Jesus. There’s information Jesus said He didn’t know, only the Father knows. But now He has given information to Jesus who in turn by way of an angel or angels says to John, “This is what I want you to say.” So, it’s not John’s message. It’s not at the revelation of the Apostle John, it’s the message of God given to the Apostle John to deliver.
Karen: And so, this is an old man. He’s the last of the Apostles in his early 90s.
David: Yeah, Peter’s been killed. Paul has been killed. We don’t have records of where all the other Apostles went but we are pretty sure that all of them were martyred and that they had phenomenally fruitful ministries. But John spent a lot of the last years of his life preaching in the city of Ephesus which was a key reception area to the Gospel and also going to the various churches on the cycle that you follow the roads around. He had hit these various churches that he’s talking about in the second chapter.
Karen: So just to remind folk, he’s on the island of Patmos. It’s a penal island.
David: In the Aegean Sea. The sea actually is right between both the continents of Europe and Asia.
David: So that’s where he is. He’s been sentenced there and usually you’re going to be sentenced at hard labor.
David: You don’t because you’re old say you know “I can’t do what you want me to do.” There were brutal times.
Karen: And so, he’s addressing this message that’s come to him to those churches and we named them as we read these scriptures that we’re going to look at today.
David: Yeah. It’s not necessarily a clear message. It’s a series of, I would say visions or dreams. Probably vision is the better word. And it’s totally unanticipated by John. But he’s not even initiating himself. He is responding to what he’s been told. So, you were to send these messages, which we’re now into chapter 2 and 3, to these churches. These churches which you know very well and you’re going to tell them what Jesus wants them to hear. That’s basically what we’re coming to now in chapters 2 and 3. And if I can put that into a sentence. Because the risen Christ knows all of his churches intimately; and he has a reputation for speaking to them candidly, congregations should strive to hear and heed what Christ is saying to them. So that’s kind of now, okay, here’s the exam, here’s what Jesus is saying to these churches. Congregations should say, well, Jesus is going to be very honest with us. What would he say to our church? And we need to look for those answers.
Karen: So, it’s fair to say then that Revelation is a book about these unusual visions or messages that come in a supernatural kind of way to this last of the apostles who’s on the island of Patmos, right?
David: Yeah, it’s not the easiest thing in the world because if a minister today would say, “I had the strangest dream last night”, people would laugh. And if he said, “No, I’m very serious”, they might listen because of curiosity. But they would be kind of hesitant to say, “he didn’t give us a ‘thus sayeth the Lord’ this morning”, but this is a thus sayeth the Lord. God speaking in a way that’s quite clear as you begin to study the book, okay?
David: One by one, John is told, this is what you’re supposed to say to the angel of the church in, and then he starts with Ephesus. Ephesus was this huge religious center. You remember the goddess, the Diana of the Ephesians?
David: Okay. So, but then the church is planted there as well and it’s a major hub for the churches of Jesus Christ in the city of Ephesus. And that’s the first of the messages John is to deliver. And again, we’re trying to synthesize and say, what does this say?
To the church in Ephesus Jesus says, and he says a number of things but the basic thing to come away with is, .”..you have forsaken your first love.” What would that mean?
Karen: I can only compare this to where you have fallen deeply in love with someone and your head’s turning and it consumes you. That’s all you can think of. You want to spend all your time with that person. And so, he’s saying to them that they’re not in first love anymore.
David: Yeah, you’re in a ho-hum.
Karen: Yeah, ho-hum situation, yeah.
David: Yeah. The second of the churches is in the city of Smyrna. And they are going through a very difficult time. And there’s persecution and he’s telling the people to be faithful when the persecution comes. Even those of you whose lives may be taken, you will have a greater life in terms of who you are as you relate to me. So that’s an unusual message. It’s not a message that ministers here would preach unless it were an academic message. But that’s the kind of message that is a very beautiful preaching word if you’re in a country like China. Does that make sense?
Karen: Yes, right.
David: So, as you go through these seven churches, they’re very typical of where the church of Jesus Christ is in just about any generation in various countries of the world. So, we’ve gotten to two of them. Now we go to the church in Pergamum. And I think it’s fair to say to that church he’s saying you need to silence the false teachers. That’s going to be a cancer in you if you’re not careful. Do you think there are churches where there are false teachers today?
Karen: Yes, I do. They are scriptural in some ways, apparently. But when you compare their teaching and their thrust to what Scripture really says, they have sort of adulterated the message of the Scripture from the Bible. Yeah.
David: Okay, we’re going to another one, to the church in Thyatira. And Jesus is saying there, .”..don’t tolerate sexual immorality.” In fact, there is a woman who calls herself a prophetess, and she’s talking about sexual sins that are fine, and Jesus says, “you can’t tolerate that sexual immorality.”
To the church in Sardis. This is a very interesting one. Jesus in that church, he says .”..your church is dying. Wake up!” And if that’s surprised people, those two words wake up, and there are a lot of churches like that. They don’t seem to understand that they’re not going to be around much longer.
Karen: This is interesting because I think it does apply to a lot of churches in the States today. It says “You have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up”! Oh, my goodness, that gets your chills, doesn’t it?
David: Yeah, especially when you say this is not John saying this. This is the risen Christ.
David: He’s saying you’re asleep, you need to wake up. There’s a crisis coming here.
David: Just like anybody, when death is imminent, maybe weeks or months, but it’s around the corner, and they are pretending that this is not going to wake up and you need to change what the problem is and solve it. Otherwise, you’re going to be caught by surprise, and you won’t be there anymore.
To the church in Philadelphia. Now, that sounds like a temporary one, but it’s not talking about the States. It’s talking about the church that is there and what is present day Turkey, but then was called Asia Minor. In fact, a lot of times you’ve heard the phrase, the seven churches of Asia. That’s what the geography was called at this time.
Karen: The land mass today would be Turkey. Is that what you’re saying?
David: Yeah, that’s right.
To the church in Philadelphia, it’s a little church, and yet he says, hold on to what you have and endure patiently. That’s a gentle message, and he’s commending them for what they’re doing, and he knows that they’re under attack from the people who are the Jewish element. They’re not in favor of the changes.
The seventh one, which is the one that’s the most famous as far as what ministers preach, as the church word, you know?
David: Just read what he says to the church in Laodicea. Okay.
Karen: “I know your deeds that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other. So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I’m about to spit you out of my mouth.” Wow.
David: That’s pretty strong.
Karen: Yeah, that’s strong.
David: That’s the lukewarm church. It doesn’t get to the place where it’s really hot and it doesn’t get to the place where it’s really cold. It’s just kind of lukewarm. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Karen: Okay, just had a new thought that we haven’t talked about before. We’ve talked about the churches in America dying. We have a death of churches here in the States. I’m wondering if a lot of these churches were described in this lukewarm or some of these other errors that the Apostle John is pointing out and the Lord has just let them die. I don’t know.
David: He doesn’t just let Leah to see that. He’s pretty strong in terms of the words that he says to them here naked, and you need to be clothed and so on. Karen, I’ve done a lot of minister’s conferences in my lifetime.
Later, as I was still doing those, I can’t now. I’m an old man, almost these seventy years old. I would have these seven churches defined concisely and then I would ask these ministers to break into small groups and talk with one another as to where they see the American church now. If you had to pick one of the seven as being the one that’s most appropriate to preach about so your people could understand where they were. Karen, without exception, in all these groups, they always came back and said the American church is the church in Laodicea.
Now that’s not from parishioners. That’s from ministers. It’s lukewarm. It’s not necessarily hot and it’s not necessarily cold. I think I like hot things. I like hot coffee. I don’t like cold. Well, I do like cold coffee. It was got chocolate in it.
Karen: Yes, you particularly like that. But one thing you don’t like is you don’t like lukewarm. Am I right?
David: Well, not that you put it that way. Yeah, I really don’t like lukewarm. So, the American church is the church in Laodicea. That was not me saying it. That was the consensus of the ministers. And I’m talking probably in those groups and if you total them all together, it’d be maybe 100, 150 pastors. Their consensus was that’s where the church is.
David: So, just the question that comes to people who are listening to us is, if you would evaluate your church, where would you say it is? And there would have to be, because I’ve visited some wonderful churches where churches would say we’re kind of like Philadelphia. We’re not small in that sense. But we have the favor of God on us at this point. There would be some churches that would honestly be able to say that.
But I think that probably the ministers are right when you put it on a wide scale of the churches in America. Where are they? I think that there’s that lukewarmness and then there are a lot of them that are in the place where Jesus would almost shout, “Wake up because you’re going to die.” It’s just a matter of time.
Karen: So, two and three of Revelation is what we’re handling today.
David: Yeah, we’re talking about these churches.
Karen: So, people can follow along in their Bibles. They’ll know where we are.
David: We’re not going verse by verse.
David: I don’t have time to do that. So, we’re doing what I would call overview.
Karen: Okay, so give us your sentence.
David: Chapters two and three, which is Jesus messages to the churches. Because the risen Christ knows all of his churches intimately, and Jesus has a reputation for speaking to them candidly, congregations would strive to hear what he’s saying to them. So, I think the congregations would do well to say, “If Jesus himself came and told us his thoughts about our church, ‘What would he say?’” And it puts it into a different framework than what do I think about our church, where we are presently and where…
Karen: I think the process of listening prayer retreats of silence has also been overlooked in our busy day. And we have a companion which is the internet. But that becomes a preoccupation. So that, allowing yourselves to be silent before the Lord in a listening kind of capacity saying what is it You have to say to me about what I need to do with my personal life? But then as a corporate unity…
David: That’s the jump yeah, that’s…
Karen: It would have people from a church saying what’s wrong with our church and would develop…
David: What’s good about it?
Karen: What’s good about it? And why are we not growing; would perhaps then going before the Lord and listening to him together in prayer doing that in a prayerful way. I often find that God speaks through that event to different individuals who then say this is what I’ve heard that say. And everyone knows that it’s a truth. I mean it’s so revelatory. They have a unity of agreement that this is truth when that word has come in that kind of silence.
David: So, I would say this is not a beat-up our pastor. Or…
David: Downgrade our church. This is a suggestion that with Christian friends from the same congregation. You’d say let us prayerfully talk together. Just spend time together. I mean, we go out to eat somewhere. Maybe we do it in a home. But we’re going to say, “Where do we see our church”? And if you want to and can’t keep the congregation within certain boundaries, just say, “Which one of these seven churches in revelation here that Jesus speaks to which one most represents us”? And “how then do we in a constructive way say we’re going to either continue that road and do better” Or we’re going to say, “Let’s see if we can somehow turn the thing around. And what do we need to do”? Or “This is what our thoughts are. Now let’s share it with a bigger group.” You know, and that relates to what’s being preached. It’s what’s being set up as goals for the church and so on.
Karen: One of the things that scripture teaches us is that when we’re inquiring of the Lord, we go into periods of fasting. And that’s another spiritual discipline that I would suggest that churches ask many of their members to do; to fast and pray. Now I have an eating disorder, so I weigh 122 pounds and I cannot fast food, but I can fast from other things. I am not going to watch television this week, but I can cut that out of my life. That’ll be my fast along with my prayers of intercession. And so, there are other ways to get around these things, but fasting isn’t important.
David: Fasting is basically saying “I feel intensely about this.”
Karen: Yes. So intensely.
David: So basically, don’t make the biggest thing. What am I going to do or not do? Just say how do I focus more strongly on what’s going on? And I want to focus just in terms of the church. And when I say the church, I’m talking about the church I attend, put time into. And is there something that is a blockage that we’re not moving on the way?
Karen: Why we’re not moving on that way.
David: It probably won’t be an easy conversation because if you want to know the truth, churches all across this land are dying.
David: Churches can’t get pastors. There are not enough pastors because it’s a very difficult occupation. It’s an area where you have to say “I have to be very careful because I don’t want to become negative.”
Karen: A critical person in the church.
David: Yeah, right. But somehow, we need to turn this thing. And when I say this thing, I’m talking about where the church is in this country. And the church is not the force that it was. Say, give them back in the time when we were kids. Your parents, my parents’ generation did better than our generation. And the generation to come, though there are bright spots, it’s not nearly enough to stop the trend of what is happening.
Karen: Of a dying church.
David: Right. So, the end of all that is you are able to say “I believe Jesus is saying to me.” It’s not, this is my opinion. We get out of that. It’s highly presumptuous to think that we can think God’s thoughts. But I don’t think that if you do it with arrogance, that’s a problem. But if you do it as servants saying “We’re trying to work together, say what has to be done”?
Karen: Well, and I think the way to handle that, so it doesn’t become a point of pride is as simple as that. Say, this is what I think I heard the Holy Spirit of Jesus say to me, “What have you been hearing”? And then out of that cheering, we often do get a message from God. And what we’re talking about is how do we prohibit our churches from diminishing and then dying.
David: How do we make sure that the generation of our children and grandchildren is in the same position or a better position than we were when we were growing up? It’s a very serious conversation, isn’t it?
Karen: Yes, it is.
David: It’s the kind of thing where you say, let’s not talk politics, let’s not talk baseball, football, whatever. Let’s just talk church and let’s talk intensely and see if we can find the mind of Christ in that.
Having said that, we’re going to move to a whole different kind of study now. This is what Jesus says. In fact, in chapters two and three are Jesus’ message to the churches. Now when you get to chapter four, it begins, “After this, I looked in there before me was a door standing open in heaven and a voice, I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet.” That was Jesus. So this same voice, same Jesus said, “Come up here and I will show you what must take place after this. So, I’m going to unfold the future for you.” And that’s really where the whole book is going to go then.
Those are words that give you the “Oh my golly, I got to read that. And we will do that.” And it’s difficult because it’s not fact number one, fact two, it’s a series of visions that the Apostle has. But those visions can be interpreted and that’s what we’re going to go for. And we will begin with chapter four. When we’ll get together next time.
Karen: So, what we’d like to do is to encourage our listeners to read for themselves Revelation chapter four.
David: And if they want to, chapter five as well.
Karen: Yes, that’d be great.
Outgo: You’ve been listening to the Before We Go Podcast. And if you would like to write to us, please send us an email at the following address, firstname.lastname@example.org. That’s all-lower case letters email@example.com. If you’ve enjoyed this podcast, please remember to rate, review and share on whatever platform you listen. This podcast is copyright 2023 by Mainstay Ministries, Post Office Box 30, Wheaton, Illinois 60187. Visit Mainstay Ministries for best-selling titles, and other resources authored by Karen Mains.
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