This is part one of a series on the seven churches. The Bible is written for the end-time Christians:

1 Corinthians 10:11 Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world [ages] are come.

“Ensamples” (modern English ‘examples’) is Strong’s #5179: “a die (as struck), i.e. (by impl.) a stamp or scar; by anal. a shape, i.e. statue, (fig.) style or resemblance; spec. a sampler (“type“), i.e. a model (for imitation) or instance (for warning).”

Zodhiates’ Complete Word Study New Testament says: “type, as a constituent element of a parable or model of some reality which was yet to appear, a prototype of that which was yet to be developed and evolved.”

If we are living in the end time, the Bible is written for us and contains prototypes, samplers, or models for imitation. In reality, this opens up a good understanding of how end-time events will unfold.

In each of the seven letters to the seven churches, Christ says, “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” What does this mean?

Matthew 13:10 And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? 11 He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given…..13 Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand…..16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.

The end-time Christian’s eyes and ears are blessed because we can hear and understand the word of God. We can see the works of God as Christ starts to do the end-time work. The end-time virgins are the only ones who have blessed eyes and ears. The end-time work consists of Revelation 7:1-4, 9 and 14:

Revelation 7:1 And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. 2 And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, 3 Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. 4 And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.

Revelation 7:9 After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands………14….And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

What can we learn from the seven letters to the seven churches if 1 Corinthians 10:11 is true? And I don’t think many people will argue the point that we are in the “ends of the ages.” Let’s start in Revelation 2:1.

Apparently, each church has a special angel that oversees the church:

Revelation 2:1 Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;

Notice the phrase “seven stars….seven golden candlesticks.” Revelation 1:20 tells us what these are:

Revelation 1:20 The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.

These two verses tell us Jesus Christ is right on top of everything going on in His church. All seven churches exist at the same time. Can we believe John 10:16?

John 10:16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.

A dominant fold exists at any given time, except while Matthew 25:5 is being played out:

Matthew 25:5 While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.

The last three churches must be dominant folds—Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea. Won’t the Philadelphian Church be dominant in doing the true end-time work just prior to the tribulation? They do get to go to a place of safety:

Revelation 3:10 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.

In Revelation 3:8, the Philadelphians go through the open doors. Daniel 12:3 tells us what these open doors are, and verse 2 gives this an end-time setting

Revelation 3:8 I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.

Daniel 12:2 And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.

The Philadelphians are dominant after the cry at midnight comes to them:

Matthew 25:6 And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.

Before the cry at midnight, we are all asleep. There are no exceptions to this. Notice that we ALL slumber and sleep:

Matthew 25:5 While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.

No fold can be dominant while we are asleep, but the Sardis fold was dominant before we went to sleep:

Revelation 3:1 And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.

Who had a name of being alive but was dead? Was it not the Worldwide Church of God? Didn’t we distribute 7-8 million Plain Truth magazines each month? We broadcast hundreds of radio and TV programs on a daily and weekly basis. Didn’t we do many great works all over the non-communist world? The grand auditorium in Pasadena presented world class events, we did great works in other countries, etc. Did the WCG not have a name of being alive, and yet it was spiritually dead? Where is it today, April 1999? It has washed away—the house built on sand—washed away by the flood of the Tkaches, who were inspired and put in place by Satan.

This demise of the WCG sets up the attitude of the Ephesus Church:

Revelation 2:2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:

This Ephesus attitude can not stand them which are evil. Who would be evil in God’s Church? Well, if we are to believe the Bible, the numbers may shock you. Read the parable of the sower in Matthew 13. Only one seed out of four makes it—25%.

Matthew 13:18 Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. 19 When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side. 20 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; 21 Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. 22 He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. 23 But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

The parable of the wheat and tares is even more frightening (Matthew 13:24-30 and 36-42). Doesn’t verse 29 tell us plainly that the number of tares must be 50% plus? They will uproot the wheat also if they are removed. If the tares only make up 10 or 20%, they could be extracted without destroying the wheat (good seed):

Matthew 13:29 But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.

These verses tell us that the true good seed are far outnumbered in any given Church of God congregation. They are outnumbered by the tares and the three categories of potential good seed who go bad.

Continuing with Revelation 2:2, those Christians who have the Ephesus attitude will try those who say they are apostles:

Revelation 2:2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:

“Apostles” is Strong’s #652 meaning, “an ambassador of the Gospel; officially a commissioner of Christ…” Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary says of this same word, “one sent forth…”

Those who have the Ephesus attitude here in the end time (remember 1 Corinthians 10:11) are trying these WCG splinter group leaders who claim to be sent from God. You know, like Rod Meredith, who claims to be the “presiding evangelist.” This is what gives him his right to start a church of God. If my memory is correct, Gerald Flurry claims that he was the first to see Satan destroying the WCG and the first to leave—this gives him the right to start another church of God.

Well, the people with the Ephesus attitude test these so-called ministers who claim to be chosen by God and find them to be liars. This is why, today, we have so many living room churches and people keeping the Sabbath at home. This Ephesus attitude just cannot handle the lying ministers who claim to be of God and yet do not practice what the Bible teaches.

The past fruits of the hierarchical system (put in place by HWA and continued by his old ministerial descendants) doesn’t leave the brethren much to be encouraged by. The splinter groups are trying to reinvent the wheel. We supposedly did an end-time work under HWA, then we saw God totally smash the WCG. Now, the splinter group leaders want God’s tithes so that they can do another counterfeit work.

Continuing in Revelation 2:3, this Ephesus attitude has a certain amount of zeal and endurance:

Revelation 2:3 And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.

However, in verse 4, Christ has a few problems with them because they have left their first love:

Revelation 2:4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.

This word “first” is Strong’s #4413 meaning, “foremost (in time, place, order or importance)…”

Does this Ephesus attitude tend to let down somewhat and allow the cares of the world to drift in? God will accept nothing less than a one-on-one relationship with Him. Nothing and no one can be between the person and God. Philippians 2:12 says that we must work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. It goes without saying that we are to work it out with God.

Phi 2:12  Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

Christ has a problem with those who have the Ephesus attitude not having their priorities straight. As a result, they do not keep Christ and the Father foremost in their lives. All our actions must revolve around God—He will not be second or third.

In Revelation 2:5, God puts it to them plainly:

Revelation 2:5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.

“Fallen” is Strong’s #1601 meaning, “to drop away, spec. be driven out of one’s course…” This Ephesus attitude starts with their first love at a lofty spiritual level, but gradually become less zealous.

“First” is Strong’s #4413, same as in verse 4. “Works” is Strong’s #2041 meaning, “(to work); toil (as an effort or occupation); by impl. an act;—deed, doing, labour, work.”

Briefly, God tells them to go back to that first love, meaning “foremost (in time, place, order or importance).” God tells them He will not be in second place. Prayer, Bible study, fasting—these must be top priority. In reality, God is saying: be no less than my servant Samuel:

1 Samuel 3:19 And Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him, and did let none of his words fall to the ground.

God is saying: repent of this lax attitude you have developed toward my word. Repent, or else I will remove your candlestick.

Revelation 1:20 The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.

“Remove” in Revelation 2:5 is Strong’s #2795, “to stir (trans.), lit. or fig.:—(re-) move (-r).” God tells this attitude to repent or else!

In Revelation 2:6, God passes on a compliment:

Revelation 2:6 But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.

What are “the deeds of the Nicolaitans” which God hates?

Unger’s Bible Handbook, page 845, under “Ephesus—the Loveless Church,” says, “Some take this symbolism, however, as indicating the origin of clericalism (nikao, ‘conquer,’ and laos, ‘people’), making them a group that early favored a clerical system which later developed into the papal hierarchy.  To the individual overcomer is promised a reward in the eternal state (cf. Gen 2:9; Rev 22:2, 14).”

“Nicolaitans” is Strong’s #3531: “3531 is from 3532, a Nicolaite, i.e. adherent of Nicolas.”  Strong’s #3532 comes from Strong’s #3534 and 2992: “victorious over the people…”

The descendants of the WCG have been in this situation of clergy over laity. This forces us to try these false impostors (apostles) of Revelation 2:2 who claim to be sent from God. The Ephesus attitude tries them and finds them to be liars. This is why we have a growing number of end-time Christians with this attitude—they HATE the SIN of clergy over laymembers and refuse to submit to it. Thence, the living room churches and many people who stay home and fellowship with no one.

This mind set obeys 2 Corinthians 6:14-18—they come out and be separate. They obey God one-on-one, keeping the Sabbath and Holy Days at home or with a living room group. They all have one common attitude—they refuse to submit to Satan’s hierarchical system, which thing God hates. Those who have the end-time Ephesus attitude hate this system also.

Yes, here in the end time, the Ephesus attitude is alive and well with abundant proof all around us among the descendants of the WCG. This attitude is starting to make a show, here in April 1999. Will we hear what the Spirit says to the churches?

Revelation 2:7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

The wise virgins will hear, but the foolish will not:

Matthew 25:2 And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.

Published April, 1999

© Edgar Y. Bennett
PO Box 509
Black Hawk, CO 80422 USA