“Searching the Seven Churches”
The Challenge to Overcome – (Revelation Chapter 2 Verses 1-7)
The word is a sharp rebuke (v5-7). It is a call to repent, to return to Christ, those that is is who truly love him. It is to the office-bearers first, then to the membership of the church. The problem with having dead wood within the membership of the church is that it drags the rest of the church down. The down-drag of the unregenerate in the church must be countered by real, vital, spiritual, godly exercise by those who truly are the Lord’s. The passive, please do not disturb attitude must be countered. It’s a call for reform and restoration. This is a word of warning (v5), you’re a great big church, but you’re not indispensable. If you don’t respond Jesus Christ says I will find another instrument to bear my light to the world. Perhaps you think this somewhat of an exaggeration? Well, you could go to modern-day Ephesus and take a look see what’s left. In fact the entire area, now Turkey, where Paul planted these churches, you will find little but Islamic mosques. So speed is of the essence while there is yet time for reform. But the time will come when the situation is beyond remedy. He, Jesus, holds the ministry of a church in his hand (v1). His to give and his to withhold. Ask yourself this question, in a day of declining ministry in the United Kingdom today, is it too late? I only ask. You see it’s word of urgency (v6). Exactly who the Nicolaitans were is nigh impossible to tell, it’s thought they might have been followers of the Balaam cult (2:14). They professed to the Christians but indulged in the world and its ways. You may be very enthusiastic about some things, sport, gardening, the internet, legitimate things, but how enthusiastic are you about opening the Bible each morning? About the use of the entire means of grace? How enthusiastic are you about your spiritual life in general? Dull? Sluggish? Like an uphill business? That tells you something needs doing. The world around us is full of Satanic deceptions, those reject their allurements Jesus says will eat of the tree of life (v7).
But, this is also a word of encouragement (v7). Remember this to all the churches. This is to your church today, wherever it may be. It is to those who are spiritual people within those churches. For it is they alone who will hear, it is they alone who have ears to hear. And it is they alone who will be willing to reform the church. But it is made clear by Jesus, such will face opposition, they will be hated, and scorned, yes in the church, not outside. That’s why he speaks about conquest, for there is something to be conquered, overcome. It may be in them personally because that’s where the reformation must first begin. Only then, in dealing with others. Are we willing to conquer all that hinders our church from true spiritual reform, until she is blazing again with the love of Jesus Christ. Please, don’t forget that element beloved, love. It is not about rightness. You can be right and so, so orthodox and yet be cold, hard, unloving and so, so unattractive. This is about a return to a sweet, holy, downright attractive love for Jesus. This is about a church, it may not even be right at every point, but it is so, so in love with Jesus. Which is more important to you? Eating of the tree of life is to do with covenant fellowship with God (v7). But if you’re heart is not right with God, you cannot eat of the tree of life. It was sin that kept Adam from the tree of life. To eat of the tree of life you have to be in love with Jesus. It’s only the church that hears and obeys, lives.
(© James R Hamilton, written Summer, 2011)