Inspection Of A Church

Revelation 2:1-7

    

The circumstances under which the book of Revelation was written is very impressive. Tradition holds that John had been banished to the barren isle of Patmos as part of a great persecution that had come upon the churches of Asia during the time of Nero Caesar. It is very unlikely when first banished, that he would have known the reason of his  banishment.

 

But now looking back and speaking  says Revelation 1:9

9I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ    

 

 The Greek preposition diav “for” is in the accusative case and points to  purpose,  “because of or on the account of”. John had been banished in order to receive the revelations of this book.

 

Patmos was a small, rocky, island off the coast of Asia Minor, in the Aegean Sea, and was without soil to encourage the farmer, and consequently deserted. This Isle was only about 25 square miles in area, was one of the many isolated places to which the Romans banished their exiles.

 

It was here that John the beloved apostle received and penned the book of Revelation, during the reign of Nero Caesar,  about AD 68-69 just prior to  the destruction of Jerusalem AD70. 

 

John was in the Isle of Patmos for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. He was thus isolated, and away from his family, away from friends and Christian brothers and sisters.

 

He would be away from the churches among whom he had been labored. When this Lord's day came, there would be no assembly with the saints. He would not share in the Lord’s Supper , nor to sing hymns of praise, or pray, give of his means.

 

Perhaps for the first time since Pentecost that John would forego these pleasures. But we read this impressive statement regarding John on this day —   Revelation 1:10 — 

10I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day

 

John was alone with no humanly fellowship, but in full communion with God. 

Did you ever spend a lonely day by yourself, with nothing to read or particularly to do? We look around for something to read, but nothing strikes our fancy. What a wonderful time to sit and think, to reminisce the past.   Do you suppose that John's mind was at work on this day?  I cannot believe otherwise. 

 

And when he looked back how varied his path had been. He could remember well that morning while fishing with his father and brother James, and a figure came into sight and a voice calling “Follow me

 

John and his older brother James left their  nets, and their family ties to follow the Son of God. (Matthew 4:19-22).

 

Perhaps John's mind went back to the Mount  where Jesus carried them out to a high mountain, and there was transfigured before them:  (Matthew 17:1-8) hearing this voice: “ 5This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him”.

 

His mind may have drifted back to that first Pentecost Day,  Peter had preached and 3,000 Jews had repented of their sins, and were baptized into Christ... 

 

Maybe he thought of the arrest of Peter,  and himself  recorded in Acts chapter 4, or of Herod who had murdered his brother¾   Acts 12:1-2-

 

As he sat here alone, perhaps wondering why am I here, Peter had been killed, Paul also, many who had labored with him in the kingdom gone. His mind no doubt went back to the time after the resurrection, Christ appeared to the disciples. (John 21:15-24).

 

Perhaps he is thinking “What did the Lord mean?” John 21:22-23

 If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.”.....23Then this saying went out among the brethren that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die

 

We can imagine as He thought on these very things, he heard a great voice.

 

Read with me    & Rev 1:10-16

 

John recognized this one as Christ.... there was a  resemblance to the Son of Man, Jesus with whom he had walked and talked....  

Could this be a hint to our future likeness?

Consider & 1 John 3:1-3    

Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God; and such we are. For this cause the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. 2Beloved, now are we children of God, and it is not yet made manifest what we shall be. We know that, if he shall be manifested, we shall be like him; for we shall see him even as he is. 3And every one that hath this hope set on him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.        (and again)

 

49And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.  1 Corinthians 15;49

 

I believe we shall bear a resemblance of our-selves and recognize one another in heaven.  I'm going to see my Mother and Father with memory and with recognition.  “ We will see Him as He is.”  1 John 3:2

       

Turn next to  & Revelation 1:17-20

 

The Lord proceeds first to explain the seven stars…

The seven Stars are seven angels of the seven churches  ajggelov" angelos translated as angel or messenger. This must be determined by the context:  John the baptist sent messengers  ajggelov" angelos  unto Christ ....

 

In 2 Corinthians 8:23 we read —

 23Whether any do inquire of Titus, he is my partner and fellow helper concerning you: or our brethren be inquired of, they are the messengers of the churches, and the glory of Christ.

 

What a description, Jesus says these are bright stars, Paul says they are  “the glory of Christ”  Church has throughout the ages needed these men.... There are those today, who are bright stars among the church,. and are the glory of Christ.  where would  we be with out them?

 

He says the seven golden lamp stands are seven churches. Why did the Lord select a “golden lamp stand” to represent a church?  The church is planted in every community to give light.  As the lamp stand holds the candle and  it gives  its light, that others might  see,  this: “lamp stand” must not be represented by tin, or wax,  but by pure gold. 

 

This shows the Lord’s estimate of a church that bears His name and honors it .

Pure gold  ... Nothing less can be a fair symbol of the Lord’s church...  bright and beautiful....Be careful of what we say and of being critical about the Lord’s church

 

Now He says “Write” Revelation 2:1Please allow your minds to run free for a moment. Suppose we lived in the days of the apostles, and   I announce to you this morning that I had been in the presence of the Apostle John, Jesus had dictated to him a personal letter for Chestnut Mountain church of Christ.  Can you imagine the interest as the messenger returned with this letter? 

 

Perhaps some small talk.. “how is John?, is he alright”? . But finally he would announce:  We have an epistle from Jesus Christ.

 

The interest would be marvelous at this  point... what did he say?  What about me?  The elders probably wondering if everything was alright..... Read Brother.... who would deliberately choose to be absent on this day?

 

There has been discussion about how inspiration works ... How does the Holy Spirit work on man? But there can be none here. These are epistles of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. The only documents He ever wrote.

 

And He wrote them just the same way that Paul wrote his letter to the Romans, Paul spoke and Tertius wrote down the words as they flowed from the lips of Paul guided by the Spirit.  Here Jesus spoke and John wrote. And when the carrier of the letter delivered to Ephesus it was an epistle from the Lord

 

The Messenger who delivered the letter would stand up to read.  The letter begins Revelation 2:1

 

1To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, he that walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks:

 

This of course needed explanation and the reader would stop and explain it as it was explained to John.  Then continuing

Revelation 2:2 “I know thy works, and thy toil and patience”,

 

And the minds of the brethren ran back to all the works they had done, all the labor bestowed,  the patience they had exhibited in times of hardship and persecution.... The Lord says  I know, I have been watching. I am not out of touch, 

 

 Do you remember the words penned in the letter to the Hebrews chapter 13:5-6

 

“for himself hath said, I will in no wise fail thee, neither will I in any wise forsake thee. 6So that with good courage we say, The Lord is my helper; I will not fear: What shall man do unto me?”

 

Yes Jesus has been watching,  watching with approval  

 

2I know thy works, and thy toil and patience, and that thou canst not bear evil men, and didst try them that call themselves apostles, and they are not, and didst find them false; 3and thou hast patience and didst bear for my name’s sake, and hast not grown weary

 

Here is an allusion to what must have been a terrible crisis in the history of this church. It seems that some had come among them claiming to be apostles and were not,  you have found them liars.

 

Paul had warned the church in Corinth about this very things.

In 2 Corinthians 10:13-15 Paul says concerning these men:

 

   13For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. 14And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. 15Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

 

But they were exposed and found to be false and cast out of the Lord’s church at Ephesus.

 

Do you know the first reaction experienced at the  mention of a false teacher¾ sh! don't speak evil of these good men...

 

But they were tried and found wanting.. Jesus applauded their actions ¾ Brethren let us be careful to whom  we are listening.  Let us know those that labor among us and teach.  Whether it be me, John or others.

 

Paul had on his last visit thru Ephesus  warned these elders of problems to arise .  Read  Acts 20:28-32

 

And John himself  had warned  of these times  1 John 4:1

1Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits  whether  they are of God: because many false prophets  are gone out into the world.

this then they had been quick to do....

 

Jesus had applauded their actions in trying and finding out these false teachers…    Good what next"    Revelation 2:4

 

4Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because  thou hast left thy  first love.

 

And when these words  first love” fell upon their ears... what a revival of memory.  How quickly every member thought back to the time when they first renounced sin, through repentance, confessed Christ and were  buried in baptism for remission of sins. How quickly they could remember the peace they had passing all understanding....

 

Do we remember these things?  Love for the sacred time we spent with God's word... How we grew!  .. Others noticed the  change, the zeal and the great joy we shared in worship, as we sung...."Up From The Grave He Arose"  or "O Lord My God... How Great Thou Art".....

 

Remember the joy we experienced communing with the Lord as we partook of Lord’s Supper for 1st time? At that time we didn't have a problem focusing our attention of Jesus and the cross of Calvary.... the excitement we showed as we told others of Jesus Christ, and how he had           died for our sins...

 

Has our first love diminished? Have we developed friendships with the world?  Do we still share this joy of worship?.... Has it become a drudgery? 1 have heard others say "partaking of Lord's Supper each week causes it to become common, doesn't mean as  much".    Is this where we are?   Could it be said of us that we have left our 1st love?  

 

We have the Divine recipe for  sin in Revelation 2:5

 

5Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and  repent, and do the first works;

 

How did we act when we first became a Christian?  Do you remember? Return there…  Go back to reading the Bible the way we did then..... Go back to praying the way we did then.... Go back to the regularity of attending the services we did then.....  Go back to the cheerful way we gave that the word may be preached and the needs of the  poor relieved.

 

Going back to doing things just as we did when our heart was filled with love and gladness. Go back and we will possess that “first love” again...

 repent, and do the first works;  or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his  place, except thou repent.

 

And this shows us that if a church leaves its first love, it will not remain. Sometimes we wonder why a congregation of God closes it doors. God removes a congregation who has left its first love.  Love is the life of a Christian and love is the life of a church... 

 

Finally this letter ends  Revelation 2:7

 

7He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

 

These words were penned for the church at Ephesus, but intended for all churches. And we are to gather the same lessons.

 

Brethren how would an epistle addressed to Chestnut Mt church of Christ  read? This letter was written to encourage and led them to victory. 

 

This book Is to be an incentive to keep us toiling and laboring, bearing patiently waiting for the Lord’s return?  Let us take courage, never be dismayed, never murmur,  never grow weary in well doing,  for all these are leading us a little closer to the day when our labors will be over, and we will enjoy “the tree of life,” forever in the midst of the paradise of God.