“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation 2:7).
WHAT MUST IT HAVE BEEN LIKE TO GET A LETTER LIKE THOSE RECEIVED BY THE CHURCHES OF ASIA? Toward the end of the first century, Christ sent a letter to each of the seven churches in Asia. (Contained in the second and third chapters of Revelation, which went to all of the churches, each of the letters were read, it seems, by all seven of the churches.) Each message depicted the condition of that congregation as the Lord saw it, providing a personal diagnosis of their health from the Great Physician Himself. Some of these groups were in better shape than others, but every letter ended the same way: “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” It would do little good for a church to get a diagnosis from the Lord if it paid no attention and made no changes.
Churches (by which we mean congregations or local assemblies of Christians) can depart from the Lord just as individual Christians can (Galatians 1:1–7). So there is a need, both congregationally and individually, for us to make frequent mid-course corrections and realign ourselves with the intentions of Christ.
Today, the Lord is not going to send a personalized letter to a congregation, but in a sense, that is what the entire New Testament is. When we read what was happening in that era, when the affairs of the churches were being guided by the authority of Christ’s apostles, we are wasting our time if we don’t apply what we read to our own congregations today. Christ would say the same thing to us that He said to those churches: “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
A diagnosis can be painful news to hear, of course, whether it is from a medical doctor or from Jesus Christ. But if we are truly committed to being saved, we will want the truth and nothing but the truth — in order to act on it and change our practices.
The ability to “hear” is an endowment with some serious responsibilities attached to it. Given our tendency to drift away from Christ, our only hope is in our willingness to be warned. Christ loves us too much not to call us back to the right way, but His call will not help us if we don’t see that it applies to us very personally.
“Before the service speak to God. During the service let God speak to you. After the service speak with your neighbor” (Old Saying).