• Reuben

Marks of a True Local Church According to the Seven Churches of Revelation

Updated: Feb 3

In 1 Timothy 3:15, Paul the Apostle refers to the true local church as “the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.”

In the seven letters to the seven churches in the Book of Revelation chapters 2 and 3, we find the Lord Jesus Christ telling us much of what that true church, "the pillar and ground of the truth,” should be like, great deal of which is nowhere to be found in vast majority of evangelical churches including the Mennonite denominations of EBMC and EMC. Unfortunately, many evangelical churches do fit the characteristics of one of the churches described here in Revelation, that of the Church at Laodicea (Rev 3:14-21), a harlot church where practically everyone is lost, from the top down, and worst, blinded to their lost and naked unregenerate estate.

If we are regulating worship by what God said, that is, giving Him what He wants, then we will keep the elements to those things that He said (Jn. 14:23-24). Adherence to the truth will always happen. These elements include the below from Revelation and the following: reading of Scripture (1 Th. 5:27; Col. 4:16; 1 Tim 4:13), the sound exegetical preaching of the whole Word of God (1 Tim. 4:6, 13-16; 2 Tim. 4:2; Matt. 28:20; Ac. 2:42; 20:7, 27; Ti. 2:15), the hearing of and responding to the Word of God (Jam. 1:19-20), going out and preaching the gospel to the unsaved (Matt. 28:19-20; Mk. 16:15; Pr. 11:30), discipline according to Scripture (Matt. 18:15-17; 2 Th. 3:6-15), fervent personal and corporate prayer (1 Tim. 2:1, 8; Ac. 2:42; 4:23-31; Jam. 5:14-18), singing of psalms, hymns and spiritual songs (Eph. 5:19-20, Col. 3:16; Matt. 26:30; 1 Cor. 14:26, 1 Tim. 2:1), baptism by immersion only (Matt. 28:19), the Lord’s Supper of unleavened bread and wine (1 Cor. 11:23, Ac. 2:42), and the collection for the saints and ministers (Gal. 2:10; 1 Cor. 16:1-2, 2 Cor. 9:1-12).

Consider the marks of a true pillar and ground of the truth local church through the inspecting of the seven church’s of Revelation, collaboratively.

1. A true pillar and ground of the truth local church doesn’t tolerate unregenerate false pretending believers, or wicked persons (Rev. 2:2, 9, 20-22; 3:9, 15-20). This is further expounded and collaborated in other places of God’s Word such as Eph. 5:6-11; Gal. 2:4-5; 1 Tim. 6:3-5; Ti. 1:9-16; 1 Jn. 4:1; 2 Jn. 1:9-11. What this true church doesn’t tolerate but sadly noted in majority churches today is rampant amounts of false believers primarily the product of easy-believism and quick-prayerism or some addition of works fo grace, along with an absence of discernment concerning the vague and shady salvation testimonies accepted as gospel truth.

2. A true pillar and ground of the truth local church tests the life, doctrine, and claims of Christian leaders and teachers (Rev. 2:2). This is further collaborated in other places of God’s Word such as Titus 1 and 1 Tim. 3. Church leaders and teachers must be proven. Their doctrine consistently tested and measured by Scripture (Ac. 17:11; 1 Th. 5:21; 1 Tim. 1:3; 6:3; 2 Tim. 3:10; 4:3-4; Ti. 2:1; 2 Jn. 1:9-10) and the vigilant watchman and soldier of Christ is always on the alert for error and compromise and heresy and wolves in sheep’s clothing (Ac 20:28-30; Ti 3:10-11).

3. A true pillar and ground of the truth local church is persevering in works, labour, faith, love, witness, service, patience, tribulation, suffering, and not fainting— by keeping God’s Word, and watching for His return (Rev. 2:3, 10, 13, 19, 26; 3:2-3, 10-11). They do not deny the faith and Christ’s name but hold fast to Christ and His truth; they keep His Word (Rev. 2:13, 25; 3:8, 10-11). They do not get offended over Christ or His Word “when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word,” (Matt 13:21) demonstrating stony soil which is unsaved, nor does the “care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word” revealing an unsaved thorny condition (Matt 13:22). They are the good ground upon where the seed falls, not the wayward, stony or thorny soils, which are lost, because they come to understand the Word and repent and gloriously saved, evident by their fruitfulness (Matt 13:23).

4. A true pillar and ground of the truth local church doesn’t tolerate doctrinal error and does hate what God hates (Rev. 2:6, 15; cf. Ps. 119:104, 128; Heb. 1:9) the standard for permitting false doctrine in the true church is zero-tolerance (1 Tim. 1:3; Gal. 5:9) which consequently means sound doctrine is pursued at all costs (not superficially or with lip service, but truly by digging into the Word, rightly dividing the Word and believing what it says), and separation is actively and consistently practiced and commanded, and true unity is therefore embraced and practiced. The leaders have the primary responsibility to protect the flock from error (Ti. 3:9-11; Ac. 20:28-30), but so does the church as a whole, confronting those who bring in false teaching and sin (Rev. 2:2, 6; see also Ac. 15:1-2, 30-31; Rom. 16:17; 1 Cor. 5:1-13; Gal. 2:4-5; Phil. 3:17-19; 2 Jn. 1:9-11).

5. A true pillar and ground of the truth local church overcomes sin, Satan, and the world which is a church of truly converted believers. Overcoming happens at and through salvation. Sin and the flesh is overcome at salvation (Rom. 6:1-23; 7:4-6). The world is overcome at salvation (1 Jn. 5:4-5). The devil is overcome at salvation (1 Jn. 2:13-14: 4:4; Rev. 12:11). A true Biblical church, the house of God and the pillar and ground of the truth, is one made up of only true born again believers, which are overcomers. Overcomers are made through preaching the one true and unadulterated gospel/salvation and truth of God’s Word expecting nothing less than true conversions, for all these things are overcome at salvation (Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21). “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.“ (Rev. 21:7). That happens at salvation, when we inherit all things and become God’s son and He our Father.

6. A true pillar and ground of the truth local church practices personal and ecclesiastical separation in line with Scripture — refusing to befriend and conform to the immorality and fashions and things of the world (Rev. 2:24; 3:4, 8; Jam. 4:4) thus not loving the world and separating from it (see Jn. 15:18-20; 17:14-16; I Jn. 2:15-17), and separating from false teachers (Rom. 16:17; Gal. 2:4-5; I Tim. 6:3-5; Ti. 3:10-11; 2 Jn. 1:6-9) and false pretending “believers” including false pastors (Rev. 3:15-19; cf. 3 Jn 1:9-11). They separate also from other church’s that believe and practice contrary to God’s Word (Rom 16:17-18; 1 Tim 6:3-5; 2 Jn 1:9-11; Am 3:3).

7. A true pillar and ground of the truth local church keeps God's Word (Rev. 3:8, 10) which starts with a true Bible (which is based upon the true Biblical text of the Hebrew Masoretic Text of the Old Testament and Greek Textus Receptus of the New Testament, and one that has been translated word-for-word — which in the English language is found only in the Authorized King James, in German in the Martin Luther Bible, in Dutch the Stratavaleng, in Spanish the Reina-Valera, etc) and then sound exegetical interpretation and preaching (Pr. 22:20-21; 2 Pet. 1:20; 3:16-17).

8. A true pillar and ground of the truth local church is where true believers repent, they turn from and forsake any error and sin (Rev. 2:5, 16, 21-22; 3:3, 19). They know and understand this is required for the sweet and truth biblical unity described and commanded in Scripture: Rom 12:6; 15:6; 1 Cor 1:10; 12:25-26; Ac 4:31-32; Eph 4:1-16; Phil 1:27; 2:1-4; 3:15-19; 4:1-2; Heb 6:12; 1 Pet 3:8-9. They repent because God is chastening them, which He does only to His children and all His children, and those that are without chastisement and thus repentance are bastards, they don’t belong to Him (Rev 3:19; Heb. 12:5-11; Pr. 3:11-12): “My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; neither be weary of his correction: For whom the Lord loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.”(Pr. 3:11-12). “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” (Rev. 3:19).

Other Things Scripture Says About the True Pillar and Ground of the Truth, The Local Church

The Holy Spirit in Scripture has exalted the local church in the following ways:

  1. It is the only institution Jesus is building today (Matt. 16:18).

  2. It is the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Tim. 3:15).

  3. It is the house of God (1 Tim. 3:15).

  4. It is where Jesus is standing (Rev. 1).

  5. It is the institution to which the Holy Spirit is speaking (Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22).

  6. It is the recipient of the Great Commission and the headquarters for world missions (Matt. 18:15-17; 28:18-20; Ac. 11 and 13).

  7. It is the centre for the discipline of professing believers (1 Cor. 5).

  8. It is the institution through which we exercise our spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 12-14) and provide Christian service (Ti. 2).

  9. It is the institution for the training of true born again Christians (Eph 4:11-16; Heb. 13:7).

  10. It is the institution for ordaining ministers and missionaries (Ac. 6:1-6; 13:3) and supporting them (Phil. 4:16; 2 Cor. 11:8).

  11. It is the institution for corporate prayer (Ac. 12:5).

  12. It is the institution through which God is to be glorified (Eph. 3:21).

  13. It is God’s church (Ac. 20:28). The term “church of God” is used 13 times in the N.T. and always of the local church.

  14. It is purchased with Christ’s blood (Ac. 20:28).

  15. It is Christ’s body (1 Cor. 12:27).

A true church recognizes and stands fast upon only two “ordinances” (1 Cor. 11:2): the baptism of believers by immersion/dipping (not sprinkling or pouring as harlot churches do, which isn’t “baptism”) upon the profession of their salvation in Christ (Col. 2:12; Ac. 8:36-38; Matt. 3:8) and the keeping of the Lord’s Supper of unleavened bread and unleavened juice (1 Cor. 11).

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