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When Revelation was written,  Christianity flourished in western Turkey, but over the centuries each of these churches gradually succumbed to pressures until the last was virtually stamped out by Islam. The regions where the early church was the strongest (Turkey, Syria and North Africa) are now Islamic strongholds. 

Yet, by and large, it was the church rather than Islam that destroyed the church (Note from Sam – yes, you read that correctly). Muslim invaders simply mopped up after them. In North Africa, Christianity weakened itself through internal doctrinal and ethical divisions, heresies, and the insensitivity of Byzantine and Latin Christians to local cultures. 

Nubia remained a richly Christian African culture until its growing weakness in both missions and Christian education led to its collapse to Islam through the fourteenth through the sixteenth centuries. The disunity of the church led to the demise of a glorious Eastern Orthodox culture before Islam. 

Regions relatively barren of the gospel two centuries ago are now flourishing with the gospel, while parts of the Western world struggle to maintain a Christian voice. Lampstands can be moved from their place (Rev 2:5), and this should serve as a warning to believers in different parts of the world today. We dare not take our role in God’s plan for granted. When part of the church abandons its mission, God will raise up others to fulfill it.

(Craig S. Keener, The NIV Application Commentary on Revelation)

The church killed the church.

How?

1. Internal divisions
2. Heresies
3. A refusal to be culturally sensitive
4. Weakness in missions and Christian education (discipleship)
5. Disunity
 

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