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Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 41 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 12: The Church Militant *
Introduction: What do you think about the book of Revelation? Do the
scary beasts stand out in your mind? How about deep mysteries
regarding the future? We turn our attention this week to a different
part of Revelation, the part that deals with God's advice to the
Christian church. Although this section of Revelation gives advice to
specific churches that existed at the time the book was written, most
Christian Bible scholars believe that these churches also represent a
description of the Christian church during different periods of
history. The church in Laodicea represents the last period of history
before Jesus returns again. If you believe, as I do, that we are
living in the end time, Laodicea is a description of us. Let's dig
deep to see what lessons we can learn from the advice to Laodicea!
- Introduction to the Churches
- Read Revelation 1:1-2 and Revelation 1:4-5. On whose
behalf is John writing this message? (Jesus. However,
Jesus brings greetings on behalf of God the Father and the
"seven spirits" before His throne.")
- To whom is he writing? (He says "seven churches"
which are located in "the province of Asia." This
tells us that we are dealing with seven actual
- Read Revelation 1:19-20. To what are the churches
compared? (Golden lampstands.)
- Why compare a church to a golden lampstand? (Recall
two weeks ago we studied that we should do "gold
standard" work for the church? God is looking for
gold standard churches that will shed the light of
the gospel to the world.)
- What does the "one angel for one church" suggest
about your local church? (That it has an angel
assigned to it!)
- Wait a minute. Consider this. If "lampstand"
figuratively means the church, is the word
"angel" also figurative for the minister or
leader of each of the churches? (This is
debated. It could be a reference to the local
clergy, but Revelation 1:1 starts out with a
reference to an "angel" that is clearly a
- What does the phrase "what will take place later"
suggest? (That this is not simply advice to seven
literal churches, but it is advice for the future
church as well.)
- Read Revelation 3:14. Instead of writing to Laodicea, John
writes the angel assigned to Laodicea? Why? (It must be
that the angel conveys God's message to the church.
Remember that when we studied Cornelius and Peter's vision
of the sheet, we read that it was an angel that spoke to
Cornelius. Acts 10:3-4. Thus, angels give messages to
humans, and this is the message the angel of Laodicea is
to give to that church. On the other hand, if we think
"angel" is a figurative reference to the clergy leading
the church, this shows God gives His message through His
divinely appointed leaders.)
- Who is the author of the message to the angel of
Laodicea? We learned at the beginning of this study
that Jesus is the author of messages to the churches.
Has the author of the message to Laodicea changed?
(Instead of giving a name, it gives a description,
"the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler
of God's creation.")
- Who does that describe? (Re-read Revelation 1:5
and read Colossians 1:18. These are still the
words of Jesus.)
- Why, from a practical point of view, does this
matter? (Jesus experienced our life! This is
advice from One who knows what it is to live
the human life.)
- Read Revelation 3:15-16. Why does Jesus want us to be one
extreme or the other? What is wrong with "middle of the
road," "temperate?" (Jesus compares us to a drink, which
causes us to recall that we prefer cold or hot drinks.
Lukewarm is not our favorite.)
- A drink is an analogy. Jesus is talking about deeds.
What are lukewarm deeds?
- Read Revelation 3:17. Here is our definition of
"lukewarm." What do the members of this church think?
(They are rich and life is great.)
- What are they in reality? (Wretched, pitiful, poor,
blind and naked.)
- I don't know about you, but that sounds great
to me. What if everyone you knew who was
"wretched, poor and blind" thought life was
great? It would mean you would not have to
worry about them, right? (It would be a
wonderful cure for poverty and disease world
- Does this mean that if you are literally poor,
and you think you are poor, "lukewarm" does not
apply to you? It only applies to rich people?
- What do you think Jesus is actually telling the angel
of Ladocea? (Being "rich" and "poor" are extremes,
they are not lukewarm, middle of the road. Thus, I
think it unlikely that we are talking about those who
literally think they are rich, but are literally poor
- What would make sense of the reference to us
being "lukewarm?" (Rich, poor and blind must
refer to our spiritual condition. We think we
are spiritually on track. We know a great deal
about God. But, in fact, we are spiritual
- Most people are not rich, so the advantage of
thinking this refers to those who are literally
rich is that you can say, "That does not apply
to me!" If Jesus is talking about literal
wealth, what is the message? (That you depend
on yourself. You are comfortable. You are a
Christian, but that might be more of an
identity than an activity.)
- Read Revelation 3:18. Does this show that Jesus wants us
to become rich? Do you think that Jesus means that we
should literally purchase gold? (It is hard to imagine
that Jesus has a "gold store" somewhere. The fact that the
gospel is not a financial transaction reinforces the idea
that Jesus is talking about spiritual matters.)
- What is the cure for our spiritual poverty? (First,
to realize that we are not rich. We need more gold.)
- What is the gold that we must "buy?" (Read
Philippians 3:7-9. Paul writes about a comparison
between actual money and the value of knowing God and
understanding grace. This means that knowing God is
- Do you realize that by reading this lesson you
are mining for gold?
- What are the white clothes to wear? (The parable of
Matthew 22:1-14 shows that this is a reference to
Jesus' robe of righteousness that He gives to us.)
- What is the salve for the eyes? (Understanding what
we are just discussing. Our own spiritual "wealth" is
absolute poverty in God's eyes. Instead, we need to
"buy" from Jesus the gold of understanding Him which
will open our eyes to understand righteousness by
faith - the righteousness of Jesus given to us as a
- Read Revelation 3:19. What can we expect if we do not
correctly understand grace? (Jesus says that He will
rebuke us. If we find that our views on grace are
changing, this may reflect a rebuke. Perhaps life is not
going well and this reflects a "discipline" to focus our
mind on Him. The goal is to understand grace correctly. We
need to be earnest and repent.)
- Notice that the text says nothing about "grace," it
says that if He loves us we can expect rebuke and
discipline. Is love the trigger for rebuke, not a
failure to understand grace? (You don't rebuke your
children simply because you love them. You rebuke
they are doing something harmful. Love is not the
trigger, taking the wrong path is the trigger.)
- Read Revelation 3:20. What encouragement do we get from
this verse? (Jesus is pursuing us on this, not the other
way around. We don't have to agonize about whether we
correctly understand grace, if we are earnest and "open
the door" Jesus will come in an bring us light.)
- Notice the elements of gaining grace: 1) Jesus comes
to each one of us. He will not force us, but He will
knock. 2)We are simply called to listen and open our
hearts and minds to Him. 3. He will become a part of
our life. He will make Himself known to us.)
- Read Revelation 3:21-22. What is the "payoff" for letting
Jesus into our life? (That we will be able to sit with
Jesus on His heavenly throne!)
- Friend, are you comfortable in your current spiritual
state? Are you alert to Jesus' "knock" on your door? If
not, why not ask the Holy Spirit, right now, to help you
open the door to Jesus so that you can "buy" His "gold,"
"white clothes," and "eye salve?"
- Next week: Redemption.
* Copr. 2016, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.