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Jesus Prepares His Church [2-6-22]

We're going to start with a little geography. Who doesn't love a little geography lesson, right? Here's a map of the churches where the seven letters from The Revelation to John were written:

You can see where places were from this map. And you can see how far the church spread by the close of the first century A.D. and as the first generation of church leaders died off. John was the last of the original 12 disciples still alive. While the map doesn't tell the whole story, one of the things you can see is the grouping of the churches. These cities are part of a postal route. It makes sense. Churches were planted where there were well-traveled roads and access to commerce. And so the seven letters to the seven churches, beginning in chapter two, will be delivered along this route. What the map doesn't show are the details of Christians living in hostile places. From the beginning, the church grew up in a pagan world. As it grew out from the home church in Jerusalem, it put down roots in hostile territory. And their reality is a reality we need to recognize ourselves in…we are strangers living in a strange land. They were considered enemies of the culture they were in. The world was broken, and in open rebellion against God. And there stood the church, in all these places, sharing a message of repentance from sin and turning to Jesus Christ as the only way to salvation and eternal life. In a world that offered so many distractions and opportunities to cobble together a religion of one's own design, the church stood out, and not in a positive way. And so, persecution broke out. As we've already seen, John is the last survivor of the original disciples. Most of the others were martyred in one way or another. John himself was exiled to Patmos, a rocky island roughly ten miles long a