The book of Revelation, prophetic in nature, and written during the latter part of the first century AD, addresses a time period far in the future. It prophesies events leading up to and during the “Day of the Lord” (Rev. 1:10). The “Day of the Lord” does not refer to Sunday, as many believe, but to the time period during the end of this age when God will begin to take a direct hand in the affairs of men. Over 30 Scriptures in the Old Testament attest to this.
In Revelation, chapter two, the Apostle John was inspired to record a message to the seven churches. These churches were originally located on a circuit in Asia Minor, but are intended to serve as types of future churches of God. John was specifically told: “Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter. The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches” (Rev. 1:19-20).
Some believe these churches represent seven eras of God’s Church, but much of what has been interpreted about them failed to materialize. We would be safe in not attempting to assign the time setting for each of these churches, but we can be safe in assuming they represent attitudes and behavioral patterns applicable for all ages. For that reason we can profit by what was said to each of them, recognizing that in the spiritual sense the messages to these churches could apply to each of us.
The Church of Ephesus
The first of these churches is the Church of Ephesus. Here is the message to this Church:
Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God. (Rev. 2:1-7)
God commends this church in a number of ways. He says they had works, that they could not bear evil, that they had proven who were the true apostles of God, that they exercised patience in the face of trial, and that they hated the deeds of the Nicolaitans. On the other hand, He had some things against them. He said they had left their first love. All converted Christians remember their first joy and excitement in learning the Truth. They were so full of zeal and determination to obey God-to live according to His Word.
But after a time, what generally happens?
Their love waxes cold, and they begin to let down. In the Bible love is defined as the keeping of God’s commandments. “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous” (1 John 5:3). Jesus warned about this when He said: “And because [lawlessness] shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold” (Matt. 24:12). So the Church of Ephesus had begun to relax their diligence and enthusiasm in obeying God. They were admonished to repent, or God would remove them from His presence. Jesus told His disciples: “If ye love me, keep my commandments . . . . He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him” (John14:15, 21). “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love” (John 15:10). We can all profit by this admonition.
The love of God is described in many places in the Bible. The Apostle John wrote: “And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it” (2 John 6). The book of Psalms includes the following Scriptures: “And I will delight myself in thy commandments, which I have loved. My hands also will I lift up unto thy commandments, which I have loved; and I will meditate in thy statutes . . . . O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day. . . . Therefore I love thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold . . . . Thy word is very pure: therefore thy servant loveth it . . . . I have longed for thy salvation, O LORD; and thy law is my delight” (Ps. 119:47-48, 97, 127, 140, 174).
God is not negligent in rewarding those who are faithful to Him, those who do not lose their first love. The Apostle Paul wrote: “For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister” (Heb. 6:10). We would do well to remember what God said to the Church of Ephesus.
The Church of Smyrna
The Church of Smyrna was addressed somewhat differently than the church of Ephesus.
Here is the message to this church:
And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive; I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death. (Rev. 2:8-11)
Notice what God said. They had works even though they had suffered tribulation and poverty. Nevertheless God regarded them as rich in what was really important. They had endured blasphemy from those of the synagogue of Satan. Historically, Smyrna was a seat of paganism, where Polycarp, a disciple of the Apostle John, was martyred around AD 169. About this same time hostile Jews united with pagans in a persecution against Christians. In the message to Smyrna the Christians were warned of an impending ordeal, but told that if they remained faithful even to death, they would be given eternal life (Jas. 1:12).
The synagogue of Satan is comprised of Satan’s instruments. Sadly, many of these people believe they are the true followers of God, but they are not Jews in the spiritual sense. Paul wrote: “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God” (Rom. 2:28-29). “. . . For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel” (Rom. 9:6). The Israel of God is made up of many peoples from many nations. They are spiritual Israelites, not Israelites of the flesh. “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new [creation]” (Gal.6:15). Israel of the Old Testament was admonished: “Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem . . . . ” (Jer. 4:4).
The Church of Smyrna was made up of those whose hearts were right with God, in spite of the fact that they faced severe afflictions. What is the lesson for us? What can we learn from this admonition? Jesus described a time period near His second coming when terrible conditions would prevail. He warned His disciples what would happen: “Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake . . . . For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened” (Matt.24: 9, 21-22). Earlier, Christ stated: “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it” (Matt. 16:25). At this time some may have to lose their lives. Regardless of the time period in which they live, all true Christians need to be prepared for such an eventuality. The Bible tells us that those in God’s Kingdom ” . . . overcame him [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death” (Rev. 12:11).
The Church of Pergamos
While the Church of Smyrma was not censured, the Church of Pergamos was sharply reproved.
And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges; I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth. But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it. (Rev. 2:12-17)
The church in Pergamos is admonished to repent of tolerating the doctrine of Balaam and the doctrine of the Nicolaitans. What were these doctrines? The history of the prophet Balaam is recorded in Numbers 22-25. Bible dictionaries inform us that as practiced by the church of Pergamos, the “way of Balaam” illustrates the covetous conduct of those teachers who wished to commercialize and profit by their leadership. Like Balaam, these teachers were, in effect, hirelings. The “way of Balaam” encouraged conformity to the world for the sake of acceptance and popularity. The Church of Pergamos abandoned the earlier Church instruction given in the book of Acts. ” . . . We write unto them [Gentiles], that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood” (Acts 15:20). The endorsement of these pursuits by the Church of Pergamos led to a blurred knowledge of God’s true way of life. They attempted to advance the cause of God by an unholy mingling with worldly religions. The Church of Pergamos had drifted into this trend. If not repented of, in time it would have destroyed what Truth was left. God severely condemned this behavior.
The doctrine of the Nicolaitans, rejected by the Church in Ephesus, was comparable to the way of Balaam. The two heresies are equated. Bible dictionaries tell us that the Nicolaitans were a sect that arose during the period of the Apostolic Church. Like followers of the way of Balaam, the Nicolaitans advocated eating meats sacrificed to idols. They encouraged idolatrous worship, denied that God was the Creator of the world, and believed that women should be shared among them. As a result, they were highly licentious, self-indulgence reflecting their idea of freedom. They abused the teaching of grace, by turning it into lasciviousness (Jude 4). The “law of liberty” was given as the excuse to indulge in fornication at idolatrous feasts at public festivals. Their desire to be accepted by unbelievers encouraged pagan laxity and morals to be intermingled with the Truth of God.
The Apostle Peter described this kind of conduct when he wrote that they ” . . . shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time. Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you; Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children” (2 Pet. 2:13-14).
While not as blatant as the Nicolaitans, many professing Christians today have sought to receive acceptance of the world. They have watered down the true Bible teachings by mingling them with pagan doctrines that masquerade as Christian. Much of what is called Christianity today is Christian in name only. It bears little resemblance to the teachings of Christ and the Apostles, including the Apostle Paul. Like the way of Balaam and the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, Christianity has become tainted to the place where it is no longer a viable moral force in the lives of millions. Church services today, for the most part, have a form of religion and stained glass sound, but do little to deeply affect the heart and minds of those who attend. Most people attend for social reasons, or family ties, or simply because of habit.
The Apostle Paul described this world condition during the “last days” when he wrote:
This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. (2 Tim. 3:1-5)
Most people find it unpalatable to accept this definition of our western Christian world, little realizing that the way of Balaam and the doctrine of the Nicolaitans have thoroughly penetrated what is called Christianity today.
The Church of Thyatira
Thyatira is the next church to be addressed. This church is told:
And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass; I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first. Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works. But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden. But that which ye have already hold fast till I come. And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father. And I will give him the morning star. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. (Rev. 2:18-29)
This church had works. In fact, these works had been greater at the end than at the beginning. It also had faith, patience, and charity. But there was a serious flaw. It tolerated the prophetess Jezebel. What do we know about the original Jezebel? A look at the Old Testament tells us much about her. She was married to king Ahab of Israel. Notice what we read in 1 Kings.
And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD above all that were before him. And it came to pass, as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took to wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Zidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshipped him . . . . And Ahab made a grove; and Ahab did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him. (1 Kings 16:30-31, 33)
“But there was none like unto Ahab, which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the LORD, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up. And he did very abominably in following idols, according to all things as did the Amorites, whom the LORD cast out before the children of Israel” (1 Kings 21:25-26). Later, when judgment came upon the house of Ahab, Jehu, commander of the Army, encountered the son of Ahab and Jezebel. Joram was now on the throne of Israel. ” . . . When Joram saw Jehu, that he said, Is it peace, Jehu? And he answered, What peace, so long as the whoredoms of thy mother Jezebel and her witchcrafts are so many?” (2 Kings 9:22).
Bible students are aware of the persecutions of Jezebel against the prophets of God. To escape her vengeance, Elijah the prophet fled for his life. She was responsible for the slaughter of many of the prophets (1 Kings 18:4, 13, 2 Kings 9:7). The prophetess Jezebel was to the Church of Thyatira what Jezebel, the wife of the king of Israel, was to him-a disaster. We merely need to look at the indictment against this church to see the seriousness of tolerating her teaching. More than likely the name Jezebel was a symbol, but neither she nor her followers would heed God’s warning. Like Jezebel of old, this pretended prophetess was strong willed, dominating, ambitious, highly gifted, artful, persuasive, and resolute. She lured the Church of Thyatira into the libertinism and fornication of the Church of Pergamos. The word fornication often refers to idolatry. This church was guilty of spiritual idolatry to say the least. As a result the members became indifferent to obedience to God’s commandments. Her teaching placed licentious conduct above moral law. While most professing Christians would not view worshipping on Sunday as licentious, they may be shocked to learn that Sunday was anciently honored as the day of the sun, that the Apostolic Church observed the Sabbath on Saturday, and that Sunday worship was not a part of Christian custom until the fourth century AD. As church history reveals, by that time most of what was taught by the Apostles and the Apostle Paul had been compromised in order to influence the pagan world to accept what was called Christianity.
Perhaps the influence of the teachings of Jezebel can best be summarized by Paul’s statement in Titus 1:16: “They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.” This is so characteristic of many of the churches of the western world. They give lip service to God but refuse to keep His commandments. Yet, when asked how to attain to the Kingdom of God, Jesus said: ” . . . If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments” (Matt. 19:17). “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46). The trappings of the prophetess Jezebel are still seen today, as Christianity has largely repudiated the Law of God and substituted a false Christ in place of the true one (2 Cor. 11:4).
The Church of Sardis
The Church of Sardis is next in order. While this church was not guilty of egregious error, it did have faults.
Here is what it is told:
And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee. Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy. He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. (Rev. 3:1-6)
This church also had works, and while it was alive it was also dead. For all practical purposes it had ceased to be an effective instrument in God’s hands and was about to lose the Truth that it had been given. Its works were not complete, or full, or accomplished. Like Belshazzar, the King of Babylon (Dan. 5:27), it had been weighed in the balance and found wanting. God warned the church in Sardis to hold fast, and to repent lest He come upon it suddenly. The clear implication is that this frame of mind and spirit would prevail in the church just prior to Christ’s return. The church was being given a final warning. Why had it become complacent? While we cannot know the specific reasons why this was the case historically, we can be assured of this.
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. (John 15:4-6)
This church had failed to stay close to God. The result was a loss of the help and power granted by the Holy Spirit. It no longer had a zeal for God and His way, though it remained His in name. Yet, even among this group were those who were worthy of salvation. What we can learn from this is that regardless of the situation we find ourselves in, we must, as individuals, remain faithful to God and be zealous for His Truth in spite of what others do. “Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him” (Heb. 10:38). “But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer” (1 Pet. 4:7).
The Church of Philadelphia
The Church of Philadelphia, next on the circuit, is the one church that is praised and commended by God.
The message is as follows:
And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name. Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee. Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. (Rev. 3:7-13)
This church, extant at the time of Christ’s return, has works. It had been provided an open door of spiritual usefulness that could not be taken away, even though it had little strength. This church did not deny God’s name and faithfully practiced what Christ had taught. This church was a contrast to those who professed only and whom Paul upbraided. Quoted earlier in this article, Paul wrote: “They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate” (Titus 1:16). God promised the Church of Philadelphia protection during a time of great trial prophesied to occur shortly before Christ’s return. Furthermore, this church is promised salvation if the members hold fast to what God had given. Those who are given salvation will bear great responsibility in the Kingdom of God.
What we learn from the message to the church in Philadelphia is that only a minority of those who are in the Churches of God are truly commended. All the churches are acknowledged as having works, but have serious defects. That is, all but the Church of Smyrna and the Church of Philadelphia. But even then the Church of Smyrna was to suffer great persecution. The Church of Ephesus had left its first love. The Church of Pergamos tolerated the doctrine of Balaam and the doctrine of the Nicolaitans. The Church of Thyatira suffered the prophetess Jezebel. The Church of Sardis had a name but was dead. But the Church of Philadelphia was composed of those Christians who patiently kept God’s word, and by their works never denied His name. The Philadelphians are admonished to hold fast, assured that their salvation is secure.
The Church of Laodicea
By contrast consider the final church on the circuit-the Church of Laodicea.
And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. (Rev. 3:14-22)
Here is a church that, in reality, had no works. Being neither cold nor hot, it was about to be spewed out of God’s mouth-a figurative expression for being completely rejected. Yet this church felt confident that it was successful and approved by God. But God viewed this church as spiritually wretched, miserable, poor, blind, naked, and completely lacking in His bountiful graces. Blinded by a satisfied self-evaluation rather than the evaluation that comes from God, it was headed for serious trouble.
The attitude of this church is reflected in the hearts and minds of many Christians today who believe that approval from God is gained by pretentiousness, popularity, acceptance by the majority, and maintaining the status quo. Little do they know that this is not how Jesus said Christians would be accepted. He said: “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake” (Matt. 5:11). “Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also” (John 15:20). Does this sound like the self-satisfied condition in which the Church of Laodicea basks?
The wisdom of Solomon, ignored by the Laodiceans, tells us: “There is that maketh himself rich, yet hath nothing: there is that maketh himself poor, yet hath great riches” (Prov. 13:7). Riches can take many forms. Aside from being monetary, they can include supposed knowledge, approval, and smug self-assurance. The Apostle Paul wrote: “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith” (Rom. 12:3). Jesus warned: ” . . . Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!” (Mark 10:24). “He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away” (Luke 1:53). “But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation” (Luke 6:24).
In contrast to the Laodiceans, the Apostle Paul summarized the attitude that is truly assured of God’s blessing. He said: Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil 3:13-14).
When the time came for his departure from this life, he wrote:
For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. (2 Tim. 4:6-8)
Who will be in the kingdom of heaven? Jesus answers. “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:3). What we see in the messages to the churches are warnings for us today. The attitude and spirit of these various churches is reflected in the hearts and minds of many Christians today. Some are good, but some are not. We would do well to examine ourselves to see what our true standing is in the eyes of God. “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” (2 Cor. 13:5).