In the Book of Revelation, Christ ended all the messages to the churches with "he who has an ear let him hear what the spirit says to the churches."
The message is for those “who have ears.” This kind of ear is not physical but spiritual in nature. It is a message for the church that every worshiper would be held accountable on the last day.
We should also note that Jesus addressed these churches one after the other and used the plural noun "churches" while ending each message. My take on this is that each of the seven churches represents many churches around the globe. These messages were not only for the churches in Asia Minor but to all churches that would exist before Christ’s return, including present-day churches.
The church in Ephesus represents all churches that have labored, rejected evil, and have endured for Christ's sake, but have lost their first love and zeal. It is a category of churches where the love of worshipers has waxed cold, and every worshiper is a lover of himself. It represents a group of churches where the agenda of God was paramount in the past, but now it means nothing (Revelation 2:1-7).
The church in Smyrna, which can also be called the “suffering” or the persecuted church, represents all churches that are presently going through persecution for Christ's sake. These churches are poor in the sight of men but rich in the sight of God. It is surprising to note that Jesus did not give them hope of deliverance from persecutions and attacks but encouraged them to stand firm because more attacks were imminent. He only promised them the crown of life when He returns (Revelation 2:8-11). The present-day persecuted churches should be strengthened by this message and should stop fearing those who can only kill the body but fear the one that can kill the soul.
The church in Pergamum is a typology of all churches that are situated where it is forbidden to mention the name of Christ but are still standing even when many of the worshipers have been killed for the sake of the Gospel. Jesus found the church wanting because they allowed the doctrines of Balaam and Nicolaitan in their midst. Churches that release curses during prayers, practice idolatry and immorality, belong to this group. Christ is warning all churches that do these things to stop such activities or face the consequences (Revelation 2:12-17).
The message to the church in Thyatira is a message to some prophetic churches that are doing well but have been infiltrated by unbelievers. The Jezebel spirit and soothsayers in their midst seduce worshipers to commit fornication and idolatry. Christ is warning all of the churches that belong to this class of their coming damnation if they do not repent (Revelation 2:18-29).
Jesus enjoined the church in Sardis, which is the umbrella of compromised and dead churches that are at the brink of annihilation, to be watchful and strong. It is important to note that in these churches there are a few faithful ones who have not defiled their garments. Jesus warned worshipers in such churches that He would remove their names from the Book of Life if they do not repent. What a tragedy it will be for Christians who will not endure to the end (Revelation 3:1-6).
Christ commended the church in Philadelphia for their steadfastness in upholding the Word of God irrespective of their little strength. All churches where the Word of God is not perverted and the truth is preached, belong to this group. They have no financial or numerical strength, but they are faithful in all their endeavors. An open door has been set by Christ for such churches and they have already earned crowns, but should be careful lest their crowns are stolen by the enemies of their souls (Revelation 3:7-13).
The Laodicea church is the denomination to which many churches aspire to belong to. Members of this group are popular and prosperous but are neither cold nor hot in their service to God. They have numerical strength, are self-sufficient, and boast about their wealth and fame. But Jesus judged these churches to be wretched, miserable, poor, and blind and enjoined them to come and get the true riches from Him. From Christ’s assessment of the flamboyant lukewarm churches, it is obvious that Christ's key performance indices are different from that of today's Christians'. Jesus threatened to disown this group of churches if they did not repent (Revelation 3:14-22).
The church in Smyrna and the church in Philadelphia were not found wanting by Christ, but churches in Ephesus, Sardis, Thyatira, Pergamos, and Laodicea had a number of challenges in their service to God. In His mercy, Christ gave all churches opportunities and lifelines to repent and improve. Today's churches should utilize these examples and carry out a comprehensive and unsentimental survey of the activities of their members to know where they belong and repent where necessary.
Christ was very assertive in His warnings to the churches, and we should seriously take heed of these because the same God who is merciful is also a consuming fire. He who has an ear let him hear what the spirit says to the churches.