The Letters to the ChurchesBro. David Chancellor
9/29/2002 6:00 PM
These are the letters to the churches. These were real places and were talking to real people. This was Gods word to them. We can learn from them how to live and do. There are two messages here:
- Hold fast
Youre headed either in the right or wrong direction. If youre headed in the right direction, the message is to hold fast. If youre headed in the wrong direction, the message is repent and turn around and go in the right direction. God sees what is important and what isnt.
Letter #1: Repent
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; I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.
I know thy works He knows who we are. He is acquainted with our lives and what goes on there. The qualities he mentions are good; willingness, patience, knowing what is true and what isnt. Yet, these were going in the wrong direction. Do we love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength? Is our love for God being reduced? If so, were headed in the wrong direction and we need to turn around. Our love for God should be increasing. These were being influenced to go in the wrong direction. We need to be able to tell which are and which arent the children of God, so that we can tell whose influence will draw us closer to God, or whose influence will push us further away from God. Remember how things were. If youre going in the right direction, things will be better now than they were. If not, things wont be as good as they were. It doesnt have to be that way. We need a steadily burning fire. Draw closer to God and let the fire burn hotter and longer. Our love for God should grow.
Letter #2: Hold Fast
And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive; I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.
I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty He knew their troubles. They appeared to be poor, but were really rich in God. God keeps a good account, and if he says youre rich, hes putting something into your account. They were rich in faith. Grow in faith and be rich. Possess rather than profess. God knows if youre right with him. Do you have a real relationship with God? Are you void of offense with him? Our natural heritage doesnt make a right relationship with God. Our spiritual heritage does. You may go through things, but be faithful unto death; hold fast. Keep your ear tuned to God. The only place youll be able to stand is when you can have God search your heart and be able to come out clear with him. If theres suffering, be faithful. We dont need to follow the trend, but be faithful. If we have God and his word, were still rich. If youre encountering trouble, be faithful. Dont let down. Be un-moveable, as far as God and his word are concerned.
Letter #3: Repent
And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges; I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth. But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate. Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.
I know thy works They held fast his name and his faith, although there were things pulling in a different direction. Baalam wanted Balacs position and money. He told him not to fight or destroy, but to join them. Were not interested in people just joining or people that take up a profession. Gods church isnt built that way. You have to find God. You wont be part of Gods church until you know God. This philosophy (just bring them in and accept them however they are, regardless of what they believe) is still happening today. It isnt from God. Focus on knowing God and right for yourself. We want people to come to know God. The term nicolaitans is a transliteration. Niko means to conquer or over. Laitans means people. Nikolas means heretic, having your own sect. God hates this. This was a doctrine that established ecclesiastical orders putting some over others. When Christ said, Ye all are brethren, he meant it. The pastor has a work to do for the congregation to strengthen and to build up, but it doesnt put them in a separate class from the rest. Were all children of God with the gifts he gave us. He gave these to us with one cause and goal to lift up Christ and to promote his church. Turn from the doctrine that builds up man and divides the church, to the doctrine that builds up God and strengthens the church. Theres no big Is and no little yous; were all brethren. We all had to come through the same door. It makes us one. Lets not be divided up into classes. Hold up Christ. Keep your life pure and holy. Have confidence in one another. Walk close to God. Be where he would have you to be.
Letter #4: Repent and Hold Fast
And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass; I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first. Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works. But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden. But that which ye have already hold fast till I come. And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father. And I will give him the morning star. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
I know thy works charity, service, faith, patience There were some people here who were headed in the right direction ( your last is better than your first). God saw some things, though, that were wrong, and he said he would deal with those things. We should want God to do that for us. and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works This should be encouraging. If youre faithful to God, it will work out fine. If you are going in the right direction, dont turn around. Keep at it. Be encouraged. Hold fast. Look for an increase. Well never reach the point where nothing can be gained. Keep what you have. Change, when it brings improvement, is a good thing. Change in the wrong direction, however, is bad. Keep going in the right direction. Hold fast. Humanity spends a lot of time seeking after power. The only power you need is the power of God. The man that has power with God is strong enough for whatever comes against him. Stand with what God says. People who stood with God had power to stand in the face of the law that was against God. The man that has power with God cant be intimidated.
Theres a message here: Get close to God, follow him first, keep your eyes on him, and make sure your standing with him is good. People will try to sway you. Keep your standing with God first. If things are pulling you away, turn from them. If youre withstanding the enemy, hold fast. Theres nothing greater than power with God. Stand with God. Stay on the Rock. The Catholics teach the authority of the church, but God didnt give authority to the church to decide what the truth is. God gives us the rules and we have to come to that. If God said it, that settles it. Find out what he has to say. Power, authority, and pre-eminence rest in God. God would have us draw nigh to him. Closeness to God isnt found in following a group, but in following Christ. Be faithful and true. The power and presence of God is the influence that matters most of all.