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 Revelation Chapter 2 (Part 14) (verses 4-7)

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PostSubject: Revelation Chapter 2 (Part 14) (verses 4-7)   Tue Nov 11, 2014 12:19 am

Revelation Chapter 2 (Part 14) (verses 4 - 7)

Jesus rebukes the church in Ephesus in verse 4, saying, “Yet I hold this against you: you have forsaken your first love.” This literally reads in the Greek: “Yet I have this against you: that you no longer love me as you did at first.” We learned last time that this is a hard working church; this is a church that served in patience; this is a church that checks for false doctrine and dismisses false teachers. Yet they eventually forsook the main guest of honor, the one whom they were supposed to be working for. They forsook Jesus. It is possible to get so involved with church services, agendas, and programs and leave out Jesus Christ. It is possible to work hard for the church and have polished doctrine and still forget the one we are working for. Our work is to bring glory and honor to Jesus Christ. Jesus comes first over our agendas and programs. The church of Ephesus was fired up for Jesus at the beginning and had a sincere love for Jesus, but eventually they became busy-bodies and forgot Jesus. The purpose of church service is not to hear or give a great sermon, or to sing or listen to great songs, or to serve on the usher or deacon board; the purpose of church service is to bring glory to Jesus. I’m sure before Jesus gave them this rebuke that the congregants of Ephesus thought that they were spiritually above reproach. They had a false perception of themselves because they valued the work over the Person for who the work was to be accomplished.

The litmus test as to whether or not we love Jesus is this: Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey my commandments” (John 14:15). When we disobey Christ that reveals that we do not love Him as we should. Apparently obedience was not on the hearts of the Ephesians. They had work, effort, and correct doctrine, but not obedience, which is the outward expression of the inward love for Christ. As long as we love sin we cannot love the Lord. We cannot love both sin and the Lord. Working hard for the Lord does not override our disobedience to Him. We must repent and return to obedience in order to relinquish the sin, not do more works and think that that will cover us. When we conform to obedience to Him, we reveal that we love Him. Saying that we love Him is not loving Him. Sin cannot be skipped if we want to be in fellowship with Him.

Verse 5, Jesus says, “Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.” Jesus tells them to remember when it was all about Him. Remember when you were a new Christian, on fire for the Lord—obedient. Seasoned Christians often lose their fervor for the Lord. Be careful not to lose your fervor as you gain knowledge, understanding, and spiritual growth. Keep the focus on Christ. Be careful that Church routines do not put out your fire for Christ. “You have fallen” is our key prophetic phrase that designates this Church age to AD 33 – AD 100. The church was at its highest point, which we have recorded in Acts, but they soon lost that fervor and love for Jesus that they started with.

Verse 5b, Jesus says, “Repent, and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.” The word “repent” means to change the mind and turn. It means to agree with what God says and do it. It means to stop doing what you have your mind set on and to do what God wants you and has told you to do. These days, many Christians don’t see a need to repent. They think all is well between them and God. But if we do not keep Jesus in first place in our lives then we are in need of repentance. Repentance does not mean saying “I’m sorry”. It means to turn away from what you are doing and change your mind about that thing. To repent and yet still have in mind that you will continue doing the sin at a later date is not repentance. Jesus gives a serious warning in this verse. He says, “If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.” We learned from Revelation 1:20 that the lampstand refers to the church itself. A church that does not repent is in danger of Jesus removing that church altogether. This means that we as congregants need to hold each other accountable. What other Christians are doing affects you and me. We must first check ourselves and then check others and not be offended when others check us. We are not to be simply on-looking non-participants in church services. We are to hold each other accountable to their sin because Jesus will remove the entire church if it as a whole does not repent. We must also understand that God does not need us. We need Him. The church of Ephesus prophetically represents the first of the churches in history, and Jesus has already threatened removing the first church in history? How awe-striking is that? The Rapture would have occurred back then had they not repented. If you recall, God was at one point going to strike down and kill Moses because He was angry with him, but Zipporah interceded for Moses and circumcised their son as Moses was commanded to do (Exodus 4:24-27). No one is too big that we should be proud. No one is indispensable to God. God loves us beyond comprehension, but He loves His glory more. The church that does not recognize or confront sin is in danger of being removed and being snuffed out by Jesus Christ.

After that portentous warning, Jesus praises this church again in verse 6, saying, “But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.” What pleased Jesus here was that they hated a particular sin which Jesus also hated (of course, Jesus hates all sin—even the Ephesians’ sin, which we got in verse 5). We learned from back in verse 2 that this church tests the spirit and doctrine of its teachers. The Nicolaitans were a false heretical sect within the church. According to extra-biblical accounts, the Nicolaitans (supposed church folks) worked out a compromise with pagan society. They taught that the spiritual liberty that God gave them gives them freedom to practice idolatry and sin. In the Greek, Nicolaitans is really 2 words. “Nico” means “to conquer.” “Laitan” means “laity.” They were apparently a special priestly class of rulers with self-ascribed hierarchy. Some believe this sect came from the deacon Nicolas in Acts 6:5, but I think the similar name is just circumstantial. What we can take from this is to not allow worldly propaganda or false doctrine to infiltrate the church. It is easy to do this because the bible says that Satan masquerades as an angel of light. Satan’s doctrine appears holy and right. He gives just enough truth to sound good and acceptable, but enough lies and falsehood to render his followers ineffective and inept. We are to never compromise with the world. We must call sin sin, and evil evil. The world’s doctrine flips it. They call good evil and evil good. We must hate what Jesus hates and love what He loves. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry—He has the power to uproot the unrepentant (Psalm 2:12).

Verse 7 is repeated to all of the churches: “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Prophecy is usually tied to the Holy Spirit. He is the source of prophecy. 2 Peter 1:21 says, “For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” When the Holy Spirit comes upon a prophet he’d often have the ability to prophesy. But only the one who is willing to hear will be benefitted. Many hear God’s Word, but are not affected by it because their hearts are not opened for change, so their ears are plugged. Since the Holy Spirit is the source of prophecy, I believe what Jesus is conveying by repeating this phrase regarding each church is that He is pointing out to us that these words to the churches are prophetic and are to be prophetically interpreted as a prediction of all church ages throughout history. It is as if He is inserting a hint to us that these words are to be taken both literally (applied to the particular church at hand) and prophetically (applied to the future age that each Church represents). In other words: he who is able to hear and understand these words, let him understand what the Holy Spirit prophetically says to your particular (the hearer’s) church age. Regarding us today, we are the Laodicean Age: the 7th and last church age. Seven, of course, means completeness in the bible. The prophecies of chapters 2 and 3 cover the entire church age.
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Revelation Chapter 2 (Part 14) (verses 4-7)
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