John, the Apostle, had a revelation of Jesus Christ on the Isle of Patmos in which the Lord spoke to him showing things that are and the things which will be. The first words he heard was
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” – Rev. 1:8
The very first message given to John was ‘Jesus is coming again!’ That’s the word we, in our day, need to remember – He is coming again, and judging from world events and heavenly signs, His coming is soon! But before Jesus begins to unveil the future, He dictates letters to seven churches in Asia. Why just these seven? Why not the church in Jerusalem? I believe it is because these seven represent all churches that will come down through the ages. But, regardless of the reason, each church has strengths and weaknesses that we need to be aware of.
Here, I will take the first church Jesus addresses – the Church of Ephesus. Ephesus had many strengths: they had works, patience, and they could not bear those who were evil. They tested those claimed to be apostles and found them liars and they labored for Christ’s name’s sake and did not become weary in well doing. But, they had a major flaw – they had left their first love! Unless they corrected this flaw they were in danger of losing their heavenly Lampstand!
If we are to learn from their mistake, we need to know what ‘their first love was’. What is the first thing Jesus required of a church? I believe it is found in the Great Commission found in Matthew 28.
“And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” – Matt. 28:18-20
The very first thing Jesus asked of His Disciples was to convert sinners making disciples of them. The very purpose of the Holy Spirit, when He came, was to help us witness to Jesus and His saving grace.
“But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning.” – John 15:26-27
This is not talking about just growing your church by children born to member parents, this is talking about active evangelism, reaching out to the lost. And it isn’t just the job of the Pastor, or some Evangelist, but of every member of the church! The church members are the ‘body of Christ’ and it’s their job to witness. It can come by a neighborly helping hand, or by prayer, or by handing out a tract about Jesus but the body is responsible for maintaining the Lampstand! WE are to be excited about our faith, and we are to be actively looking for ways to share it with the lost.
Jesus forms a church body to reproduce, just like God ordains a marriage to reproduce ‘godly seed’. Remember, Jesus likened Himself to the Vine and His Father as the vinedresser and every branch that does not bear fruit is taken away.
Every church needs to examine itself with the Church of Ephesus in mind because the end is drawing near. After Jesus dictates to the Seven Churches, He begins to open the Seven Seals, and the first four seals describe the four horses of war; 1) White Horse – one going forth to conquer, 2) Red Horse – peace leaving and killing resulting, 3) Black Horse – famine following, 4) Pale (Green) Horse – the rise of Islam and death over a fourth of the earth. I will go into these Horses in a later article but, we need to ask ourselves – is the war in Ukraine leading to such a scenario?
Time is not the friend of those who want the status quo to continue. It will not and we need to prepare!