By Michael Julian
Pastor, Macedonia Baptist Church, Kenton
Focal Passage: Revelation 2:1-7
What kind of church does God desire? Ponder this question before you keep reading. Jot down your thoughts. Hold onto these thoughts and read them again after we complete this unit on, “The Church God Desires.” Would you stand by these thoughts, add to them, take away from them, or scratch them altogether?
To look for biblical answers we are going to dive into the book of Revelation, specifically the seven churches of Asia Minor. I know that Revelation can seem like an intimidating endeavor, but it is part of the inspired Word of God. That means that the same Spirit that inspired every other book in the Bible, inspired this one. Furthermore, it means that the same Spirit of God is available to help us rightly divide the Word of truth. With that, may we progress through these seven letters with anticipation and not anxiety.
We begin in Ephesus. Paul ministered there for about three years. Timothy pastored this church, as did the aged apostle John. Quite the illustrious church! So, is that what God desires from a church, a long list of rockstar preachers?
Now, when you read each of these seven letters, you see a pattern. Generally speaking, each letter contains a greeting, a description of Christ and a Word from Him, a word of praise, a word of warning, a word of weakness, a promise of reward, and a call to listen. And listen we must.
Ephesus had a lot of things going right for them. After reading these first three verses you might feel pretty good about what Christ says about you. Effort, endurance, and doctrinal integrity characterize the church at Ephesus. It’s commendable. So, what could be the problem?
Here comes the fiery hammer of God’s Word which shatters a rock. The weakness and the warning are leveled against the church. The motivation of love had disappeared from the congregation. The effort, endurance, and integrity must remain, but the love motivation must remain the driving force. This church had abandoned this critical anchor and were dangerously drifting away from the Lord.
Was it really dangerous? The Lord Jesus called on them to repent or He would remove their lampstand. I think that qualifies as being in a danger zone. The love they were dangerously neglecting was their love for Christ and, I would say, their brotherly love, too. Read Matthew 22:37-40.
Keep in mind that there is tremendous grace with our God. After the weakness is revealed and the warning given, Jesus calls upon the church, and all of us, to listen to the Spirit of God. He then provides a most gracious promise of reward to all that overcome.
Later in Revelation 12, John reveals that the overcomers did so because of the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony. In 1 John, he wrote that those born of God overcome the world, and this victory is seen in our faith. More to the point, the overcomer is seen as the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. Remember. Repent. Await to eat from the tree of life. What kind of church is God desiring? B&R