06 December 2007

The seven churches--part 1: Ephesus, the loveless church

Revelation 2:1-7--

To the angel of the church of Ephesus write,

‘These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands:

“I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent. But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.” ’

Notice that Christ commends these people for their “works, labor, and patience.” However, there is something about what Jesus said, and I did not realize it until I had it pointed out to me. Compare and contrast this commendation with Paul’s words in 1st Thessalonians 1:2-3—We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers, remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father… What was missing from the “works, labor and patience” of the Ephesians? “…faith…love…hope…” However, it is the second item, “love”, that Jesus excoriates them for forgetting. Why? 1st Corinthians 13:13—And now abide faith, love, hope, these three; but the greatest of these is love. You can have faith, you can have hope. But, without love, we’re just blowing a trumpet and banging a cymbal.

It is my fervent desire that any information I present concerning the Word of God is complete truth. I strive, every time I post something, to make sure that what I am saying is correct. I have, a time or two, had to go back and jerk my New Balance out of my pharynx. I suppose that is because I take Jude 1:3 and 1st Peter 3:15-16 so very seriously. So when someone comes along and becomes an influential person in evangelical circles, and that person brings a doctrine that is heretical, I take that very seriously. And whenever I read the doctrines of the Mormon church, or the Watchtower Society, or the TBN crowd—all of which attack the truth of Scripture, and make our Lord Jesus Christ to be less than everything He is—it makes me angry that these groups are leading so many people to eternal (JW’s—this means ‘everlasting, never-ending, continuous, perpetual’) destruction.

But the ones who really get my goat are those who claim to be “Christians”, and “evangelicals.” People like Brian McClaren, Doug Paggitt, and Rick Warren (to name but a few), whom many people look to as the face and/or voice of the true church. These men are as the Nicolaitans, and should be called out by those of us who love God and cherish His word. Isaiah 66:2—But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word.

However, while defending the faith is a noble and honorable cause, and a thing we are commanded by the Scriptures to do, it is very easy to slip into “attack” mode, when we should always be in “teaching” mode. When someone comes along spouting anti-Biblical doctrines, we should defend the truth. Amen. However, we should do so in love, not out of spite.

Romans 12:3--For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.
1st Corinthians 4:7—For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?

Too many times, we get so caught up in defending that we forget to pray for those who are in error, for they are blinded by the god of this world (2nd Corinthians 4:4). Besides, let us not forget that “we wrestle not against flesh and blood...” (Ephesians 6:12). We should always return to our first (Greek--protos, chief) love, that we may receive instruction from the Master in how to go about contending for, and defending, our faith.

If we continue to attack, without having love for these people, and if we do not make our case with “meekness and fear”, and if we do not ask God to speak through us (for instruction, not as receiving some type of modern-day “revelation”), then our words are just that—our words. They will have no power to change minds, hearts, or lives. 1st Thessalonians 1:5—For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake. And one day, we may very well find that our Lord will remove our lampstand. I'll be the first to admit I sometimes need to soften my approach. But I can not—and will not—soften my stance on the truth of God’s Word.


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