The Church 11

Revelation 2:1 “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks among the seven golden lampstands, says this: 2 ‘I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; 3 and you have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake, and have not grown weary. 4 ‘But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5 ‘Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place– unless you repent. 6 ‘Yet this you do have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7 ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.’

When we view what Christ revealed to John and had him write to the churches, it is plain that the issues and concerns were different then than now. While there were positives listed, the main issue was that they had left their first love. The issue was not that they were not growing in numbers and were not giving enough money, nor was the issue that they did not have a building program going. They were not told that the number of professions or that the number of baptisms were not high enough. They were told that they had left their first love.

John wrote the churches with the words he was given by Christ and with each one it was said to them what the problem or problems were. In the modern day we do not hear things like this spoken to the churches, but then again we don’t hear much of Christ or about Christ either. What people are now interested in concerning the churches appears to have to do with things other than the church. People are concerned with numbers and money. They are concerned with buildings, comfort, and style. They are concerned with appearances. There appears to be no concern or little concern for the love of Christ. This is most likely strong evidence that at best there has been a great fall from loving Christ.

In 1 Corinthians 16:22 Paul wrote that “If anyone does not love the Lord, he is to be accursed.” He did not say that if preachers do not perfectly exegete a text that they are to be accursed. He did not say that if preachers do not preach with a certain outline or a certain number of points that they will be accursed. He did not say that if people do not join a local church (with modern standards) that they will be accursed. He did not say that if people do not protest all the moral evils of the day that they will be accursed. He simply said that if anyone does not love the Lord that person is to be accursed.

The Greatest Command is to love the Lord your God with all of your being, that is, with the whole of every aspect of your being. Yet, like the Pharisees, we want to water that down to a level where we can keep this command and others as well. We would rather be able to boil the church down to a matter of external things so we can do what we think we should in our own strength. Yet the love of Christ is not in our own strength and power, it must be given to us that we may love Him. We cannot love apart from the love we receive which is the fruit of the Spirit.

The essence of the true Church is that it is the body of Christ and it follows the Head of the Church and receives all from the Head who is the vine as well. Whatever spiritual fruit we bear, which love is part of that fruit, must come from Him first. In the modern day we read that verse and think that we should make a greater commitment. While that may be a true need, what we really need to do is die to self and seek Him to bring us back to our true love. After all, it is a fact that all spiritual blessings are found in Christ and the love of God is a great blessing. We do not need more works of the flesh, we need more of Christ.

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