NASHVILLE (BP) — This weekly Bible study appears in Baptist Press in a partnership with LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Through its Leadership and Adult Publishing team, LifeWay publishes Sunday School curricula and additional resources for all age groups. This week’s Bible study is adapted from the Explore the Bible curriculum.
Bible Passages: Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 26-29; 3:5, 12, 21 (Rev. 2:1–3:22)
Discussion Questions: What obstacles get in your way of listening? How can our failure to listen make things worse or compound the problem?
Food for Thought:
Imagine visiting a friend who is recovering from heart surgery and you find him eating a double-cheese hamburger with extra mayo sitting on top of a plate of chili-cheese fries. Most of us would question his meal selection, thinking he had not heard the doctor’s advice, didn’t understand the advice, or simply chose to ignore the advice given. Many of us have a tough time following our doctor’s advice. Ultimately, it is our decision to act on his diagnosis or ignore it.
Jesus addressed seven churches, diagnosing their problems. The church in Ephesus had abandoned its first love (Rev. 2:4). The church in Smyrna faced tremendous “affliction and poverty” (2:9-10). The church in Pergamum faced doctrinal error leading to immoral practices (see 2:14). The church at Thyatira had compromised their beliefs under the guise of “tolerance” (see 2:20-24). The church in Sardis was dead even though they maintained a semblance of life (see 3:1). The church in Philadelphia had “limited strength” and were facing persecution from the Jews (3:8-9). The church in Laodecia was crumbling from within, waffling (see 3:15-20).
If they would just listen and heed His advice, Jesus promised some special blessings awaiting them. To Ephesus, Jesus promised fruit from “the tree of life” (2:7). To Smyrna, Jesus promised that they would not face “the second death” (2:11). To Pergamum, Jesus promised “hidden manna” and “a new name” that nobody else knew (2:17). To Thyatira, Jesus promised them authority to rule the nations (2:26). To Sardis, Jesus promised “white clothes” and a permanent name (3:5). To Philadelphia, Jesus promised to make them “a pillar” and give them the revelation of His new name (3:12). To Laodecia, Jesus promised a place at His throne.
Before we start judging the members of those seven churches, we need to take a hard look in the mirror. We fall short as well and Jesus continues to diagnose our problems through His Word. We too must heed the directions given by Jesus, knowing that His promises await. Too many times we ignore Him, thinking we know best or we simply choose to let our unchecked desires control our decisions. Listen. Heed. That was all that was the only thing being asked of the seven churches and that is the same thing being asked of us.
Explore the Bible
Explore the Bible is an ongoing Bible study curriculum that helps groups dig into the key truths of each Bible book, while keeping the group on pace to study through the Bible books in a systematic way. More information can be found at LifeWay.com/ExploreTheBible.
Other ongoing Bible study options for all ages offered by LifeWay can be found at LifeWay.com/SundaySchool.