Did you ever consider that God looks at your city, sees all the Christians who live there and considers them one local church family, then demands that you must take responsibility and join in unity to obey Him and work to reach your local world with His love? I invite you to seriously evaluate your life, your local church, and ministry by Christ’s own words instead of your peers or friends. Let His Words establish your church’s value, and then fully embrace His will and whatever is needed according to His five point checklist.
Check out the seven letters recorded in Revelation 2 and 3
Each church, singular, not churches, that dwelt in the following cities of EPHESUS, SMYRNA, PERGAMOS, THYATIRA, SARDIS, PHILADELPHIA, AND LAODICEA received a note directly evaluating their city church from the Lord Jesus. Inside each of these ancient cities were church denominations [groups and divisions] which Christ valued like $1s, $5s, $10s, $20s, $50s, $100s and even counterfeit bills. Yes, Jesus gave Christian groups inside the city church different values, some were worth more to Him than others. Some were worthless. Some were repulsive to Jesus. Does it sound weird that the first-century church had the same problems we have in the 21st century?
Who is to be pleased with your local church? The guests? The church members? God? You? Leaders, it is time to get your priorities straight! Every Christian, you too! These seven churches answered straight to Jesus, and you do also!
First and foremost you must focus on Christ’s commands, not your human wisdom of what you think the culture around you is needing or wanting, or what your most powerful members like, what you think will work best in reaching people, and definitely not what you are comfortable with.
God made humanity, and His Word and wisdom are timeless. His mercy and grace are more than enough to change men, and His power to save sinners is unlimited. The Holy Spirit is not weak but more than able to convict sinners of every generation: GenX, Y or Z. Take note, these churches were not judged because they did not have master degrees in Greek culture, nor condemned for not seeing the intricacies and characteristics of generation next.
Look closely at the judgment Jesus renders on these seven ancient churches. It is time to completely transform your minds and get a brand new perspective based solely on what the Lord Jesus Christ, the boss of the international church demands.
First, you are not a spiritual social club! And you are certainly not a religious organization! Also, you are not a spiritual self-help association! Neither are you a gospel choir training center to enter contests for fun and trophies!
The Church at Ephesus is examined
“I see what you’ve done, your hard, hard work, your refusal to quit. I know you can’t stomach evil, that you weed out apostolic pretenders. 3 I know your persistence, your courage in my cause, that you never wear out.
4 “But you walked away from your first love—why? What’s going on with you, anyway? 5 Do you have any idea how far you’ve fallen? A Lucifer fall! “Turn back! Recover your dear early love. No time to waste, for I’m well on my way to removing your light from the golden circle.” [Rev 2:2-5 (MSG)]
Jesus told the first church in the Revelation text to, “repent and do the first works...” [Rev 2:5 (NKJV)] He means for the church “to ‘do the first works‘ — the works which flowed from thy first love. Not merely “feel thy first feelings,” but do works flowing from the same principle as formerly, ‘faith which worketh by love.'” [Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary]
How do you measure love? Wrong question! How does God measure love? Now that is the right question. 2 Corinthians 5:11-14 (NKJV) expands this idea. “Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences. For we do not commend ourselves again to you, but give you opportunity to boast on our behalf, that you may have an answer for those who boast in appearance and not in heart. For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; or if we are of sound mind, it is for you. For the LOVE OF CHRIST COMPELS US, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died;”
You know the work God is after is driven by such genuine love that it forces you into crazy, mission-minded actions, it drives you to re-vision and to see yourself as a team member of Christian soldiers fighting the devil and rescuing the perishing. You must stop telling your leaders what you want, and submit to their leadership. You must volunteer to work for Jesus, as diligently as you would any job to earn money. And if you do not, He says, “‘I will come’ — Greek, ‘I am coming’ in special judgment on thee.” [Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary]
Christ demands that you, yes every one of us, join in and WORK hard with Him and for Him! Christ demands and approves of the church that does what it is supposed to be doing, WORK! I know that is not the mindset of Americans. Most only gather to worship, not work, “because that is the paid staff’s job!” But, we all must do His work “I know your works, your labor, your patience… and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary.” [Rev 2:2-3 (NKJV)]
Our Lord approved and clearly states this is what He wants from the local church. Can you honestly say that your church has this mindset and “work” is the mission and practice? The Lord Jesus says the church is His, He is the boss, and we are to be a team of people working for him. He commissioned His local churches, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. ‘Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen.” [Matt 28:18-20 (NKJV)]
Only a deep love for God and for the world will drive a local church to see work as it’s primary function.Only a deep love for God and for the world will drive a local church to see work as it's primary function. Click To Tweet
But the city church of Ephesus was being distracted and divided by a false leader named Nicolas. His denomination (group) was like modern movements today, named after the founder or his ways. Lutherans are named after Martin Luther. The Methodists were founded by John Wesley. And this denomination was called the Nicolaitans but it was a real problem because they were “not a sect, but professing Christians who, like Balaam of old, tried to introduce into the Church a false freedom, that is, licentiousness;” [Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary].
This movement already forgot or ignored Christ’s Great Commission to make disciples, accept disciples, and teach the disciples the commands of Christ.
Today the Nicolaitans are still inside churches pushing FALSE GRACE!
So let’s make this clear, Dictionary.com defines licentiousness as an “adjective 1. sexually unrestrained; lascivious; libertine; lewd. 2. unrestrained by law or general morality; lawless; immoral. 3. going beyond customary or proper bounds or limits; disregarding rules.”
They proclaimed liberty from God’s laws and promoted lawlessness in the name of grace. Jude explained and warned that this false doctrine of grace would come led by “…persons who pervert the grace (the spiritual blessing and favor) of our God into lawlessness and wantonness and immorality,” [Jude 1:4 (AMP])
They were also battling other false preachers and Jesus praised them by saying, “…how you cannot tolerate wicked [men] and have tested and critically appraised those who call [themselves] apostles (special messengers of Christ) and yet are not, and have found them to be impostors and liars.” [Rev 2:2 (AMP)]
This church had a challenge: to go along with the loosening of marriage and other moral standards, like Nicolas and his followers, in a misguided attempt to keep relevant to the current culture, OR stand against immorality, adultery, couples living together outside of marriage, and rejecting the immoral Roman/Greek cultural standards of homosexuality. Sounds just like the USA today.
Who or what do you worry about, the strong feelings of the same Jesus who walked with sinners 2000 years ago, OR the sinners He called to repentance? “Yet you have this [in your favor and to your credit]: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans [what they are doing as corrupters of the people], which I Myself also detest.” [Rev 2:6 (AMP)]
Even with Jesus seeing all the Christians in Ephesus as one local church, He expected the leadership and members of the church to not sing “We Are One In The Spirit” but instead to not “tolerate wicked [men]” and Jesus approved that they “tested and critically appraised those who call [themselves] apostles (special messengers of Christ) and yet are not, and have found them to be impostors and liars.” [Rev 2:2 (AMP)]
He did not want them to find the lowest denominator and “work together” in harmony. He wanted them to divide! The Lord’s positive assessment was I “know that you cannot tolerate wicked people. You have tested those who call themselves apostles but are not apostles. You have discovered that they are liars.” [Rev 2:2 (GW)]
The words mean to not take up or bear with WORTHLESS (evil) people. Some were church planters [apostles] “who pervert the grace (the spiritual blessing and favor) of our God into lawlessness and wantonness and immorality…” [Jude 1:4 (AMP)] and were to be rejected and separate from them, not tolerated or accepted. The Lord wants you to quickly remove them from your fellowship and get back to His Kingdom work with greater love than you had when you got your first dream job… Don’t miss part 2…