|“What Christ thinks of the
church is a question of great concern to all Christians. What we ourselves
think of it from the inside and what others think of it from the outside
are also important. But far more significant is the view of Jesus Christ
himself, since he is the church's founder, head, and judge.”---John Stott
This beginning paragraph from the Preface in What Christ Thinks of the Church written by John Stott sets the tone and purpose of this exposition of Revelation Chapters One through Three. The author has divided the book into brief sections. The Introduction expounds Revelation Chapter One and gives an overview of the historical context in which the Apostle John recorded the revelation given to him by the glorified Christ.
Each of the seven churches---Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea---has a section devoted to it. In these sections, John Stott points out the corrections and commendations given to each church by Jesus. These are intended to be read and applied by all generations of Christians. (Revelation 1:1-3; 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22)
Then he comments how these admonitions from Jesus apply to modern churches. He places emphasis on the positive qualities that Jesus desires his people to possess: love, suffering, truth, holiness, reality, opportunity, and wholeheartedness.
With each rebuke, Jesus prescribes a remedy. For Sardis, a dead church, John Stott explains: “The church of Sardis is instructed first to wake up and strengthen what remains, and then to remember its heritage, obey it, and repent.” He also points out: “It is heartening to note that even in dead or moribund Sardis there were some Christians who were not suffering from the general decay.”
From there, he suggests a course of action for Christians today.
He leaves us in the Conclusion with the encouragement: “So ultimately, when we have fought a good fight and finished our course, and, even if need be, suffered death for the name of Christ, we shall emerge from the great tribulation and suffer no more.”
This book has value for every reader who longs for a spiritual community founded on Jesus Christ and his twelve apostles. We see in Revelation a church that is a mixture of Spirit-led followers of Christ, sleeping believers, truth and error, false teachers and false brethren. Yet, within each of these churches, are people with genuine faith.
Jesus asks his people: “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (Revelation 3:19-22)
The book What Christ Thinks of the Church,
An Exposition of Revelation 1-3 written by John Stott can help you
understand how to apply the correction and instruction Jesus has given
his church in the biblical book of Revelation.