“Searching the Seven Churches”
The Sword of Christ – (Revelation Chapter 2 Verses 12-17)
A sharp rebuke is what is required, “therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth” (Revelation 2:16). Well, you wouldn’t be saying it like that to the church in today’s church, that would be offensive wouldn’t it? I mean an entire church? But Jesus Christ the Lord of the church finds them guilty of harbouring those holding to these erroneous doctrines. So he calls the church to repent, which would include disciplining both groups or heretics who hold to the doctrines of Balaam and the Nicolaitans. The angel of the church, i.e., the pastor and board of elders are in the first line of responsibility in dealing with the issues. With the full support of the faithful members of the church. Alas, how seldom is this the case? “And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand” (Mark 3:25). What does the angel (pastor) of the church do it the church will not support him, resign. But the word of repentance is a word of grace. We need to remember that repentance is an evangelical grace that brings refreshment from the presence of the Lord (Acts 3:20). It’s the surgeon’s knife that removes the poison of cancer that kills. If you look ahead to next passage, in Thyatira, there are very few who don not hold to these heresies. Already the curse of worldliness is upon the church, the hypocrisy of double living standards. It was and is a battle to be fought in the church to the very end, keeping the world out of the church. A Puritan wrote, “water is a very good commodity, but if you get too much of it in the boat it will sink the boat.” The Western church today is in danger of sinking beneath the waves without a trace, drowned by worldliness. People living lives of a moral quality that is an insult to Christ. So they are warned Christ will come fight against them (v16b). That will mean fruitlessness for the church. The ministers still preach but there is no power. Ordinances are still celebrated but no benediction from the Lord. The Church gathers but without the presence of the Lord. The word is read but it doesn’t reach the heart. Prayer but no pleading. The Holy is Spirit is grieved, quenched, offended. No conversions. No backsliders restored. No refreshment or comfort of the weary. No holy joys, heavenly delights or victories. The people are glutted with the gospel but wearied with it. The spirit of criticism, carping begins to take hold. Ring any bells? We need the Lord on our side beloved, badly, very badly.
Those who hear the voice of the Lord and overcome are rewarded (v17). They will be given some of the heavenly manna, Christ himself who is the true bread that came down from heaven. They will have him, his presence, his grace, his comfort, his power, they will not be fought against. There will be a full supply for the faithful. The white stone (v17). The name is secret but this signifies a place, a share, a service that is unique to the person personally who overcomes. This is surely given as a motive to overcome, it makes heaven even more desirable to the overcomer. Though they may often stumble, rise again and go on. The overcomer’s not for this world or its things, they have their minds set on things above where Christ is. It is he, Christ, they desire, hunger and thirst after. “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory” (Colossians 3:1-4). But what a sad waste of a church that would rather please than discipline men. There is something seriously wrong in the heart of such a church. It is only as we walk individually and corporately in the way of repentance and faith day by day that we overcome. That is our covenant calling and our covenant walk. May God grant us all the grace to walk the walk.
(© James R Hamilton, written Summer, 2011)