Caller:  My question is - if I understand this right - Revelation 1:11, Jesus addresses seven churches.  Now it has been my understanding that a lot of things in Revelation are symbolic and I'm thinking that the seven churches might be different generations?
Pastor Doug:  Well you're right on target.  The seven messages to the seven churches have three meanings.  Let me tell you what they are.
Pastor Doug:  First and foremost, that represents the seven ages of the church.  In other words, the church at Ephesus represented the age of the church from the time of Christ through the age of the Apostles.  And then it goes on down until we're now living in Laodicea, which was the last age of the church.
Caller:  Right - now that's my question.  I looked up all the verses that contained Laodicea and I just thank the Lord for computers because I was able to type in Laodicea on a search and it showed me all of the places mentioned.  Most of them were in Corinthians.  I read them and I still don't understand what Jesus was trying to say to us.
Pastor Doug:  Let me tell you, first of all, the word Laodicea means a judging of the people.  And there's a judgment that takes place just prior to Christ's coming.  You know the Lord tells us 'behold I come and My reward is with Me' right?
Pastor Doug:  So He's rewarding people when He comes.  Some sort of investigation takes place before He comes.  Just like you read in Ezekiel 9, judgment began at the house of God and Peter quotes that.
We're living in the last age of the church, and the Lord is preparing to come.  And His message to this church - we're a lukewarm church.  He says you're not hot, you're not cold, I wish you would heat up, which means be zealous or get on your knees - that's cold - being repentant, recognizing your need.  He can work with those conditions but God cannot work with a condition where we are indifferent, self-sufficient, and don't sense our need.  And that's the state of the church.
Now I want to finish so I don't leave anyone wondering.  I said there are three things.  Individual congregations often go through these seven cycles.  They start out like Ephesus and then they loose their first love.  Then they go through maybe a phase of persecution.  They go through the Philadelphia and the Thyatira.  It's a cycle I have watched congregations and denominations go through.  You know, many of the great reformed denominations started out zealous, on fire, and then they turned into bingo and bazaars.  They went through this cycle.  And individuals, in their personal relationship with Jesus, they're converted they may have that first-love experience, but then as time goes by, they end up Laodicea.
So it's a cycle that the church went through over history, and we're living in the last age of the church.  It's a cycle congregations go through.  And it seems to be a cycle individuals go through.  Seven represents a cycle in the Bible, like the week.
Caller:  Yes I can relate to this.
Pastor Doug:  Ok?  Now there were seven actual churches in Asia Minor and the interesting thing is if you're up in a satellite looking down, Christ names the churches in order as though you were walking in a circle from one to the other.  He didn't zigzag from one to the other.  That's interesting.  He made a circle as He addressed them.
Caller:  Can I just request that you tell me which verses where He talked about us being lukewarm?
Pastor Doug:  Well that's Revelation chapter 3, verses 17 18, 19, 20.
Caller:  Thank you very much.
Pastor Doug:  Thank you very much.