Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Time for Your Diagnosis!

Whatever church we attend is a reflection of who we are. If we are a praying church, so are we. If we are a giving church, so are we. We need to measure ourselves by the lives we live, and often times, the churches we attend. In this study of the Book of Revelation, we see that each of the letters to the seven churches were designed for real churches that existed at that time in the region of Asia Minor, but we also learned that each of these letters pertains to a specific nature that can be found in the hearts of Christians. What we will learn in this process is which church are you in your own spiritual life?

We pick back up in Revelation 2:1-7 ~ " Revelation 2:1-7 ~ "To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands: I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles, but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you. You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! 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. But you have this in your favor. You hate the practices 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 the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God." (NIV). 

We learn that Jesus walks among His church in verse 1. "walks among the seven golden lampstands." When we look at the church we are attending, what is the atmosphere of the church, is it warm and inviting? Is it caring and reaching out? What does your church feel like?

Isn't it comforting to know that Jesus walks in the midst of our church? It would be wonderful to take a peek into the spiritual realm, to see what is happening in the middle of a church service. You might be more than surprised at what you would find. We'd see both angelic and demonic presences in the church, at war. Daniel's answer to prayer was delayed by 21 days because the angel was delayed in battle in the spiritual realm. I find it comforting to know that Jesus walks in the midst of the church. Think about that next time you attend church!

He gives the church at Ephesus a report. Do you really want Jesus' presence in church? If so, you might not like what He has to say. Jesus is like a doctor who is here to give the results of a medical exam and like all good exams, there is always good news and bad news.

Are we truly willing to obey Jesus in all things? Verses 2 and 3.

Revelation 2:2-3 ~ " I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles, but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary."

The question you must sincerely ask yourself, is are you really willing to obey Him in all things?  Jesus is giving the church of Ephesus the results of His examination and the diagnosis is this, on the outside, the church of Ephesus would be a pastors dream church. It was a large happening church, active, busy, and influential with a vision! They were a church that was doing it, and doing it right. It was a tremendous church. When we look at ourselves, we think we can't possibly be like this church, but honestly, can you honestly say that? Are we at least doing some of what this church was doing? Jesus says "I know" that you are right in 10 of 11 points.

1. "I know your works" This is the works spoken of by the apostle James, works that flow out of a true faith in God. It is the kind of "works" that proves your faith is real. We have a tendency in the Christian church to put down works because people have a tendency to trust in their works. We are not to trust in our works. We are to trust in God because we love Him, we do our works because we are obedient to Him. We do not do works to earn salvation or to earn God's favor. That is the gospel.

Ephesians 2:8-9, ~"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast." 

If we are truly Christians, then there will be works flowing out of our lives. Jesus said, we would know them by their fruits or deeds. The people on their way to heaven is based on what they are doing with their lives. It's our way we can tell, if we are truly being a Christian. We should be able to look at our lives, and see the work we are doing. Does your Christian life, have works? The only person who can answer this is YOU. These are the works that provides proof of our faith that it is real. 

2. "I know your labor" This word "labor"  means that they served so faithfully, and so long that when they stopped, they would have hit the bed exhausted. It speaks of the fact that it cost them something to serve Jesus, and they loved it so. There are so few even here in any church. They were serving Jesus that way in their lives. Can you answer this question honestly, "Are you serving Jesus in such a way be it in our day, in our job, or in church, are we exhausted for God?" You feel victorious! From whatever you are doing, do you feel great afterwards based on the efforts you gave serving God? You can't wait to get back out there again. Very few people know what it's like to live Christianity like that! To serve Him to the point of exhaustion! We need to run our own self diagnosis on our own Christian life. It's not too late to get busy doing stuff for Jesus!

3. "I know your patience" This means having a happy face and a glad heart to continue onward in the face of difficulty. They had a great attitude. There were no whiners. They actually got better when things got hotter. Instead of getting bitter, they got better. There was no complainers. When you begin to do a self evaluation on your own Christian life, how are you doing so far?

4. "I know that you cannot bear those who are evil" They were committed to confronting evil and correcting it in the lives of the congregants. Church discipline was being applied. There are very few churches today, who obey Christ in this area, and it is one of the reasons today that churches are weak and polluted, sick from within.  We have lost this in this day in age. When it's done biblically, it strengthens the church. It needs to be done in love, but it needs to happen, and it will be stronger for it, and those will come back restored.

So again I must ask, are you really willing to obey Jesus in all things?

5. "you have tested those who say they are apostles and aren't." They were a church who took church seriously. They protected people against false teachers, false prophets and self proclaimed leaders.  They knew Bible doctrine, and protected the church, exposing them to the false doctrines that were being preached in the city. "You give money to this ministry and you'll be blessed." why don't they give their own money, why don't you give money to the people if you're a ministry and then you'll be blessed. There are those that are hurting and the church looks the other way. Think about it. They didn't tolerated those shenanigans or charlatans.

6. "I know you have found them to be liars." These false Christians, pretended to be apostles, were openly and publicly exposed before the body of the church.  There is a false teaching that is native to the cults but is also found in the Catholic church, the heresy of apostolic succession. Mormonism claims it, Jehovah's Witnesses claim it. There is no such thing.

7.  "I know you have persevered." They never gave up. They persisted. They fought on against an evil world, and the attackers of the church. They weren't quitters.

8. "I know you have patience, or better endurance." The desire to stay with it, to stick it out. To make it work. To be part of the solution and not the problem. That what they started to do, they stayed with it regardless of the attack against them. Out of the 100% of the church only 10% do the work, the other 90% sit back. Out of the 10% that do the work in the ministry, people are going to criticize you, and someone will question your motives. Keep doing it for Jesus and stop worrying about what the 90% have to say. Do it unto the Lord. It doesn't matter what they say. If your heart is in the right place, keep doing it for God. Don't let people pull you down. Don't take it personally. If you're in love with Jesus, do it for Him. Don't get your feelings hurt over it. Have a heart like a dove and skin like a rhino. Endure. Keep going!!!

9. "I know you have labored for my name's sake." To plod, to put one foot in front of another until you reach your destination. "You've continued on for Me." says Jesus. To keep moving forward even if only by an inch. You are still moving forward for Jesus. You know why you are doing what you are going.

One last time, are you really willing to obey Jesus in all things?

10. " I know you have not become weary." They never lost sight of the fact of why they were doing what they were doing. They knew what they were doing had a purpose. It was for Jesus Christ and for His glory only. What a tremendous church.

These are 10 wonderful and commendable characteristics that any church would love to hear in a report about how they were doing! In a sense it was like saying, "My, but this church has listened well to its spiritual leaders over the years! So when you look at your Christian life in all honesty, how do you measure up? How does your own church measure up? The results might just surprise you!

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