Thursday, February 10, 2011

Revelation Chapter Two, Part 1 of 9

The word “Bible” (Greek, biblyon) simply means “book.” The Bible is the book of God; God’s character and redemptive plan are outlined in its pages. Not simply the final book of the New Testament that we are currently studying, but all of Scripture is a progressive revelation of God’s person and the plan of salvation He offers in Christ Jesus.

Why is this important? For a Christian defending his faith in Christ and the inerrancy of Scripture, this is of chief importance. Allow me to make a personal comparison. Suppose we met one day face to face and I tell you, “My name is Ian Curtis and I work at Subway, I’m married, etc.” You have the truth of who I am from the source; from my own mouth I testified both to who I am, and who I am not. God has taken great pains to make Himself known first through His prophets (being His voice in the Old Testament era) and then through His Son, who is the express image of His person in the church age. Only God is qualified to explain His person and purpose toward us; and only one medium conducts this message of God’s nature and His redemptive act to mankind: the inspired word of the Bible: the book of God. Through its pages and by the leading of the Holy Spirit who dwells in us we may become intimately familiar with our God; He beckons us to have such a personal relationship with Him, to walk with Him in obedience, to study His word with diligence and to be fervent in prayer, waiting on Him. To know the genuine so well by default reveals charlatans for what they are.

There are those who, through the ages, have heard God’s word clearly conveyed and turned their backs on it, being without the Holy Spirit to open their eyes and minds, and concocted their own gods which they found more palatable. Ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome were nefarious for man-made gods; recent demagogues include Mohammad, Joseph Smith, and Charles Taze Russell. But it is both biblical and logical that God would vouchsafe a clear expression of His person in such a way so as not to invoke confusion (as though God spoke some truth into every religion; what a foggy mess. How do you sort truth from error were this true?) No, He inspired Jewish prophets to pen His thoughts and will in the pages of the Bible. There we have an objective, inspired and infallible record of God’s only spoken words given on this earth. To each one who hears, we are obligated to respond. Faith in Jesus brings salvation; rejection brings condemnation. Yet the choice is yours; no one else can make it for you.

2:1 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
Verse 20 of the first chapter more clearly explains the opening to chapter 2. The seven stars that Christ holds in His hand are seven angels, or messengers; while the seven lampstands represent the individual churches planted throughout Asia. It seems unlikely that our Lord is commanding John to write to an actual angel within the church of Ephesus, so the term “angel” in this context is far more likely to mean the minister or elder pastor in charge of this congregation.

Note that Christ holds the seven stars or “angels” in His hand. What does our Lord inform us about the fact that we are held in His hand? “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand,” John 10:27-29. “Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called,” Jude 1:1 “Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time,” 1st Peter 1:5. “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord,” Romans 8:38-39. “Creature” is rendered “created thing” in the NKJV. Nothing created can remove us from our position of salvation once we are saved; Christ has promised to keep those who are saved. One cannot fall away; the other will not allow us to fall away. Let no man cheat you of the joy of your salvation by teaching you that salvation is a gift you can forfeit by proving unworthy of it. You will enter Heaven even being deceived by such lies if you are truly saved, but you will enter joyless, for there is no peace or rest for one uncertain of whether or not they shall attain to salvation to the end of their lives.

While our Lord holds these seven stars, He walks amidst the seven golden candlesticks. The candlesticks do not represent individual Christians; they are churches, as evidenced in Revelation 1:20. There are some who use this chapter to preach falling away. In verse 5 (which we will cover more thoroughly soon) Christ warns that repentance will lead to having their candlestick removed. Certain teachers warn this is Jesus threatening loss of salvation. The context clearly teaches otherwise. Since Jesus is addressing a body of believers at Ephesus, He is admonishing them that unless they repent He will discipline them. The Greek verb for “remove” is “kineo” which is a root word of kinesis, meaning motion or movement. “Kineo” can be translated “to move, shake or stir up.”

The leadership and corporate rule of the Holy Spirit is the flame that lights the witness of the Christian church. He is Christ’s Spirit sent to us from Him; just as Jesus was sent to us in the days of His flesh by the Father. This church will lose its power and ability to bear spiritual fruit. They will have only the strength of their flesh to rely on, and as a consequence produce works of the flesh if repentance did not quickly ensue. There are many churches today, such as Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Church, who have strayed from the true power source, God the Holy Spirit, and mistaken immense worldly success with genuine spiritual victory. Truly they have had their lampstand removed. What happens when this occurs? Well, when the lights go out and the house is too dark to see what you’re doing, those who can see leave that house and go to someone else’s who still has their light on. If you are blind it makes no difference if the light is on or not. The unsaved do not know the difference; born again Christians should.

We are told: “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world. But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him,” John 11:9-10. “The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness,” Matthew 6:22-23.

There are signs to notice when a church has lost its witness and spiritual power. If your church’s zeal for God and Scripture and love for Him and His saints has grown cold, Jesus may well remove, or already has removed, your candlestick.

2 comments:

  1. I am looking forward to your studies. It makes my heart ache on the number of "Christian" churches that have lost their first love. Jesus longs for his church to open its doors for Him to come in, but unfortunately the world (devil) has already taken His place as the chief cornerstone and head. Blessings my friend. Lloyd

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  2. God's messages to the churches are personalized prescriptions for revival in different churches. Far too often we give such generic instructions that nothing is accomplished. I suspect that for present day Christians, chapter 2 and 3 are the most important part of the book of Revelation, and the most neglected.

    Great post. You might find my posts on the messages to Churches interesting.

    Great post.

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