"He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches." (Revelation 2:29)
In Revelation, the Lord Jesus dictated seven poignant letters to seven different churches. Two letters contain praise and commendation. Two give grave warnings. Three are mixed.
Smyrna (Revelation 2:8-11) was faithful in the midst of terrible persecution and was promised a "crown of life" for its steadfast testimony. Philadelphia (Revelation 3:7-13) was commended because of its attention to the Word that was given as an "open door." These served with favor and were given a promise for victory. Ephesus (Revelation 2:1-7) was doctrinally sound but had a love that had grown cold and was in danger of losing the "lamp stand"--the very church relationship that kept them tied to service in the kingdom. Laodicea (Revelation 3:14-22) was oblivious to its danger of expulsion. It was neither "cold nor hot" (neutral) and had assumed that being successful and well thought of by the world was the goal of the church.
The opposites reflect the reaction among today's evangelicals to the foundational issues of biblical creationism and the pervasive impact of the approach to biblical inerrancy. Some, like Smyrna, stand firm in spite of denominational disdain, social ostracism, or limited resources. Larger "Philadelphian" churches boldly minister within their spheres of influence, heedless of the pressure to yield to the majority.
Sadly, many are like Ephesus and Laodicea, so concerned over doctrinal technicalities that they have lost their love for the Word, the lost, and the kingdom. More are caught up in the neutrality of acceptance and are concerned with "the praise of men" (John 12:43) than "sound doctrine" (2 Timothy 4:3). Of all the resources available to us, God's Word is the most precious and requires proper stewardship. One day, we will give an account for how we used it. HMM III