The major challenge we face is identifying more precisely what each local church is doing that conforms to first-century Christian standards and what they are doing that falls short of these standards. Jesus was certainly aware of this dilemma. That is why He waited until the local churches were in their third and fourth generations before He came back to earth to meet with John the Apostle on the island of Patmos (Revelation 1:9).
The first thing that Jesus did on His last recorded visit to this earth was to analyze 7 local church congregations. The purpose of His evaluation was to explain where they were conforming to His commands and standards and where they were not conforming. At the end of each of His evaluations He gave this very clear command to the entire Christian world: “Anyone who has an ear should listen to what the Spirit says to the churches” (Rev. 3:22 Holman). We know from Revelation chapters 1 – 3 that Jesus gave this command so that His servants would follow His example and continuously hear and analyze what the Holy Spirit is revealing about every local church. It is our failure to do this examination and correct our problems that has led to the present condition of our churches.