For any concept on earth to be well set, it is needful that a firm foundation is laid in furtherance of a meaningful future. In building construction, the foundation of a building determines what is to be built on it (the superstructure). Invariably the depth of a building determines the superstructure. If the foundation is well built, therefore there is the assurance that whatever is built on it is certainly going to be fine.
Every idea in life starts from a nucleus, from which it matures or graduates into a bigger state. Biologists would say the cell is the smallest (functional) unit of life, and in a cell unit are contained what is called organelles, which are the set of things that makes up the cell. So also is the situation with the church.
The church is meant to be a positive influence to its immediate environment as revealed in 2 Kings 2:19-20. After Elisha had taken a double portion from Elijah, he parted Jordan with the mantle and performed the first miracle of healing the water that was bitter. The world is a typical example of that bitterness and the church is the “New Creation” (Cruse), while the salt therein represents the disciples in the church, being the character content of the New Creation. Little wonder Jesus says,
“Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt has lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid”.Matt. 5:13-14
Some things were mentioned in the early days of the church in the Acts of the Apostles wherein a symbiotic lifestyle was adopted and was of benefit to everyone. In the early days of Celestial Church of Christ, same was the case.
“And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common” .Acts 2: 42-44
If the present day youths would not be schooled in the teaching of God in the context of this church, there would be obvious challenges for the church in future, and that future starts now. A template that is given for the generation of Youths that we have now is what would be passed on to posterity.
Worship is the mainstay of this church, and unfortunately it is hardly hallowed today by the church. Through worship, man is led into doing as the Lord intends for the faithful. Distraction, being one of the vices of the Devil has almost eaten up the church system today and the consciousness of God is grossly lost in the heart of the church. Several minds come to church with the “get rich quick” mindset, forsaking the fact that when it comes to blessing, it is by God’s time.
“He hath made everything beautiful in His time…”Eccl. 3:11
The Revelation of John to the Seven Churches in Asia is a direct example of what obtains in the church now, from one clime to the other and Celestial Church of Christ which is expected to be a beacon of hope is no exception to this. There is nothing new under the Sun; which implies that the message sent to the church by our Lord Jesus Christ as revealed to John the Beloved is still the scenario in the church today, and a few would be examined as being devices used by the devil in shifting our emphasis away from God. In the Revelation of John, the prophecies to the churches include commendations, criticisms, instructions and promises, aside the “dispensational interpretation” of the prophecies to the seven churches. It also contains spiritual messages that are relevant to our day to day activities and also inherent messages fitting aptly into what obtains in the present day church where the “world is going churchy, and the church is going worldly”. It should be borne in mind by all that, “…we are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that we should show forth the praises of him that has called us out of darknesss into his marvellous light”.- 1 Peter 2: 9.
Not all the seven churches of the apocalypse received commendation and criticism, but all received instructions and promises. Take a look at the seven churches.
1.EPHESUS: (Rev. 2:1-7). As much as this church is commended for its rejection of evil, perseverance and patience, it was criticized for its lack of fervent love for Christ. He thereby instructs that they do the works they did at first when they received Christ. Paul had earlier instructed them that false teachers would come and try to draw people away from the faith (Acts 20:29-31). This he did while he stayed with them for 3 years. Little wonder Apostle John acknowledged that they rejected false teaching (Rev. 2:2).
Several churches today in C.C.C. are in this condition as it was with the Ephesian church, in that their love for Christ is no longer fervent. The promise of Jesus for this church is that they will eat of the tree of life. In the Garden of Eden were two trees- the tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2:9). Eating from the tree of life brought eternal life with God; eating from the tree of knowledge brought realization of good and evil. In the new earth, no tree of knowledge will tempt people to sin. Instead, everyone will eat from the tree of life and will live forever.
The church is tagged, the loveless church.
2. SMYRNA: (Rev. 2: 8-11) This church is commended for gracefully bearing suffering. It will interest you to know that the church was not criticized for any wrong doing, but the instruction is that they should be faithful until death so as to be able to receive the Crown of life. C.C.C Hymn says, ‘Botiwu kidanwo po to, emi ko ni fi Jesu le’-(Hymn 682:2). The lesson from this church to present day believers is that if one is experiencing difficult times, such situations should not turn you away from God. Instead, let them draw you toward greater faithfulness. This church is tagged the persecuted church. Little wonder Jesus said in the Beatitudes, ‘Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness sake: for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven’.- Matt. 5: 10
3. PERGAMOS🙁Rev. 2: 12-17) Here is a church known for keeping their faith in Christ but unfortunately criticized for tolerating immorality, idolatry and heresies. Jesus instructs them to repent and promises them a hidden Manna and a stone with a new name. Standing firm against the strong pressures and temptations of society is never easy, but the alternative is deadly (Rev. 2:11). Some of our parishes today are like the church in Pergamos, in that they have greatly given themselves to immorality and idolatry. We (believers) as light are meant to illuminate the world. Antipas, a Faithful, was martyred simply because of his uncompromising stance. If a large percentage of Celestials will ‘chart the course’ of Antipas, we will have a better C.C.C. and its mission to cleanse the world would be greatly achieved. A person’s name represents his character. God will give us new names and new hearts.
The church is tagged, the lenient church.
4. THYATIRA: (Rev. 2:18-29) Love, service, faith, patience were their good deeds. The church was criticized for tolerating immoral behaviour and cult of idolatry. Jesus instructs them on the coming judgment and promises a rule over nations and receive morning star.
We should not feel too comfortable and satisfied when our church only rejoices in the salvation of its members or the comfort of gathering for worship. It is a ploy of the devil. We should rather grow in love, faith and acts of service. Service to humanity, they say is service to God. Apostle Paul says in Gal. 5:22- 23 that believers should bear fruits. Rather than major in bearing fruits today, we still await spiritual gifts only. Whereas having spiritual gifts is not as glorious as bearing fruits. This church is also warned of immorality, little wonder the author of the book mentioned a name Jezebel, which symbolises sexual sin. This sin has a tremendous power to destroy families, churches and communities because it destroys the integrity upon which these relationships are built. God wants to protect us from hurting ourselves and others; thus we are to have no part in sex sin, even if our culture condones it.
This church is tagged the compromising church.
5. SARDIS: (Rev.3:1-6) Jesus said through John, ‘thou hast a few names in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy’. It was criticised as being a dead church, Jesus instructs them to repent and strengthen their weak areas. He promises that they will be clothed in white. The problem in the Sardis church was spiritual death. Christ promises future honour and eternal life to those who stand firm in their faith. Paul says,
‘Be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as you know that our labour is not in vain in the Lord’.1 Cor. 15: 58.
So many churches today are mere structures; in that they are spiritually dead. This church is tagged, the lifeless church.
6. PHILADELPHIA: (Rev. 3:7-13) Perseveres in the faith, keeps the word of Christ, honours His name. This is the only church that was not criticized amongst the seven churches. Jesus instructs them to keep the faith. He promises them a place in God’s presence, a new name, and the New Jerusalem. God does not expect us all to be the same, but he does expect us to persevere in using our assets for him. The Philadelphians are commended for their effort to obey (Rev. 3:8) and encouraged to hold tightly to whatever strength they have. We all will have a new citizenship in God’s future kingdom. Everything will be new, pure and secure. Only a microscopic number of C.C.C parishes fall into this category.
It is tagged the obedient church.
7. LAODICEA: (Rev. 3: 14-22) This is the wealthiest of all the seven churches, but has not been commended for ANYTHING. This is terrible. It is described as neither cold nor hot. The believers didn’t stand for any godly virtue; indifference had led them to idleness. Do not settle for following God half way. Let Christ fire up your faith and get you into the action. Jesus promises that they will share of His throne if they heed His instructions as regards zealousness and repentance. Moses said, ‘Except Caleb the son of Jephunneh; he shall see it, and to him and his children I am giving the land on which he walked, because he wholly followed the LORD’. Deut. 1:36. Great things are reserved for those who follow Him conscientiously.
The church is tagged, ‘the lukewarm church’.
CONCLUSION: It is evident from the foregoing that the position of our churches/parishes differs. Some are loveless, some are persecuted, some lenient, some compromising, some lifeless, some obedient and some lukewarm. However, wherever we find ourselves, we should know that the “race is not to the swift” (Eccl.9:11) and that we should be constantly abiding and prayerful till the end. PRAYER: I earnestly pray that at His coming, we shall all be counted worthy in Jesus name. AMEN. e 1 Light Accen