For the proclamation of the Gospel and the edification of the Body of Christ
Christ, the beginning and the end
It is accepted by the church that John is the last of the apostles and the apostle of restoration. His writings, especially Revelation, clearly show the decadence of the Lord’s church. The churches in Revelation, as some brethren teach, can be seen horizontally as churches of that time and vertically as periods experienced by the Lord’s church from the first century to the days of His coming.
Both the later writings of Paul and the letters of John and Revelation speak of something the church had lost in sight and reality: Christ. Paul says something very serious in his second letter to the Corinthians: "Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? Unless indeed you are disqualified?" (13:5) John, nearly thirty years later, writes Revelation revealed to him by the Lord Jesus and says to the church in Ephesus: "But I have this against you: you have forsaken your first love" (2:4).
They had works, for they worked in the name of the Lord and did not become weary; they had patience, but they had left their first love; they had left the first fruits: Christ. Apparently, the work and labor became more important than the Lord Himself. Consequently, Laodicea clearly shows where the Lord was in the church at that time: on the outside.
The churches of Revelation begin with Ephesus and end with Laodicea. This shows that the Lord’s church began with the loss of the first love and ended with the loss of the Lord Himself. According to them, they were rich and had need of nothing; but they were miserable, poor, blind, and naked of the Lord Jesus.
This is the portrait of the Lord’s church from the first century. That is why in his letters, John describes with much emphasis something that is crucial in a Christian: the new birth by the presence of Christ in us. This is the testimony of God. He says, "he who does not believe God’s testimony has made Him a liar. He who has the Son (living in us) has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life" (1 John 5:9-12).
They may have a great name, a great work, wealth, work , patience , all that in which a man can pride himself ; but he who does not have the Son does not have life. They have a name that they are alive, but are dead, as the Lord tells the church in Sardis. They continued dead in trespasses and sins, and their end is the second death.
John makes many serious allegations against those who profess to be Christians, saying: He who is born of God does not live in the practice of sin… loves those begotten of Him… gives his life for the brethren… overcomes the world. John even says that he who knows God walks in the light, keeps his commandments, and does not hate his brother. Otherwise, he is a liar; he never saw or knew Jesus (1 John 2:6).
We are living in a time of restoration; therefore, it is good that we address what the apostle, inspired by the Holy Spirit, wrote of the restoration. John further writes: "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches".