A church without the Holy Spirit. Possible?

Sunday, March 06, 2016

What would a church without the Holy Spirit look like? Is that even possible, a church without the Spirit? It is indeed possible. And to find out how, it would be good and useful to look into the seven churches mentioned in Revelation 2-3.


I checked James M. Hamilton's preaching commentary on the book of Revelation and he suggested that the seven churches were presented by the author John in a chiasm. Ah...I have not heard or talked about that in a really, really, long, long time. It was and still is one of my favourite subject.

If you check Wikipedia, "chiasmus (Latin term from Greek χίασμα, "crossing", from the Greek χιάζω, chiázō, "to shape like the letter Χ") is the figure of speech in which two or more clauses are related to each other through a reversal of structures in order to make a larger point; that is, the clauses display inverted parallelism. Chiasmus was particularly popular in the literature of the ancient world, including Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, where it was used to articulate the balance of order within the text."

As in the seven letters as a chiasm structure below by Hamilton, the center and crux of the passage, where there is usually just one, appears to be a threesome of C1, C2 and C3. (He uses the analogy of a picture frame to describe the structure of a chiasm.)

A. Revelation 2:1–7, to the church in Ephesus, which has lost its first love. Think of the letter to Ephesus as the wooden border of the frame on one side.
B. Revelation 2:8–11, to the church in Smyrna, which is commended for its faithfulness, not reproved, and not called to repentance. Think of the letter to Smyrna as the mat on one side of the frame.
C1. Revelation 2:12–17, to the church in Pergamum, which has people who hold to false teaching, eat food sacrificed to idols, and practice sexual immorality. Think of the letter to Pergamum as one side of the picture that is matted and framed.
C2. Revelation 2:18–29, to the church in Thyatira, which seems worse off than the church in Pergamum because it tolerates a false prophetess who seduces people to practice sexual immorality, eat food sacrificed to idols, and is unrepentant! Think of the letter to Thyatira as the middle of the picture that is matted and framed.
C3. Revelation 3:1–6, to the church in Sardis, which is worse than both Pergamum and Thyatira because it is dead. Think of the letter to Sardis as the other side of the framed and matted picture.
B`. Revelation 3:7–13, to the church in Philadelphia, which like the church in Smyrna is commended for its faithfulness, not reproved, and not called to repentance. Think of the letter to Philadelphia as the other side of the mat.
A`. Revelation 3:14–22, to the church in Laodicea, which like Ephesus has lost its first love and is now lukewarm. Think of the letter to Laodicea as the other wooden border on the far side of the frame.

It is interesting to see that the church in A and A` has complacency as their problem and Jesus wants Ephesus to return to their first love and Laodicea to be zealous and repent. The church in B and B` are the only 2 churches not reproved. And the three churches in section C goes from bad to worse. Pergamum has false teachings. Thyatira not only has false teachings but they are teachings that have already borne bad fruits.  And the worst of the lot is Sardis: it is dead. And that is where false teachings lead to--death. 

Hamilton says, "For the glory of God, Jesus calls these churches to reject this false teaching, hold fast to the gospel, and live in a way that corresponds with the gospel rather than in ways that correspond with false teaching."

Let us all be warned. Hamilton asks these very pertinent questions, "Is your first love still flaming, or are you lukewarm? Are you ready to be faithful unto death like those in Smyrna, holding fast and not denying the name of Jesus, like those in Philadelphia? Or are you more like the churches in Pergamum and Thyatira, not so concerned about sound doctrine, with the result that idolatry and immorality have come? If you’re not at all concerned with these things, it might be that you’re most like Sardis: dead. Where are you?"

pearlie

Source: 
'Revelation' by James M. Hamilton Jr. ; R. Kent Hughes, gen. ed.

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2 comment(s)

  1. To each of the 7 churches he speaks of "he who overcomes". In the gospels, Jesus speaks of overcoming or enduring to the end. Apart from the Holy Spirit, we simply cannot overcome or endure.

    ReplyDelete
  2. To each of the 7 churches he speaks of "he who overcomes". In the gospels, Jesus speaks of overcoming or enduring to the end. Apart from the Holy Spirit, we simply cannot overcome or endure.

    ReplyDelete