Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Revelation 2:1-11

Churches are not perfect.  There are some good and some bad.  As imperfect as it is Jesus loves the church.  He wants us to love it, too.  Who is the church?  All Christians make up the church and we are to love the church universal.  Wherever your local church is, you need to be committed to it and serve there.

How are you committed to your church?
Where do you serve in your church?

At the end of the first century Christians in Asia were being persecuted because of their belief in Jesus Christ.  There were lots of other dangers during that time, including earthquakes and wars.  Rome had destroyed the temple, which affected the churches.  These 7 churches in Revelation are in modern day Turkey were not without problems.  There were false teachers and prophets and even sexual sins in these churches.  Some people had given up and turned away from Jesus. 

John wrote letters to theses churches as directed by God as we saw in chapter 1.  To each of the 7 churches God praised them for their good deeds and rebuked them for their bad ones.  He always started with praise, then gave a warning and ended with a promise.

Revelation 2:1-7 – Ephesus, The Church That Left Their First Love

Ephesus was the most important of the 7.  It was large, nearest to Patmos, and a center of worship of the goddess Artemis (Diana).  There was a lot of false religion and a lot of idol worship there.  Ephesus was a rich business center.  When people came from Asia to Rome, they would travel through Ephesus. 

John wrote to the angel of the church in Ephesus as God instructed telling them that his words were the words of Jesus who holds 7 stars in His right hand and walks among the 7 golden lampstands.  Remember in Revelation 1 we learned the 7 stars are to 7 angels and the 7 lampstands are the 7 churches.  His right hand represents Jesus’ position of power, authority, and safety.

Jesus told them He knows about the things they do.  He knows their deeds, their hard work, their perseverance, and that they cannot tolerate wicked men (Rev.2:2).  He praised them for their hard work and perseverance.  Rome opposed them and even the non-Christian Jews opposed them so life was hard.  He knows they cannot tolerate wickedness.  They tested evil men and proved they were false prophets.  The real followers of Jesus had passed the test and lived faithful lives.

Then Jesus rebukes them telling them they have forsaken their first love.  They had stopped loving one another.  They had stopped loving Jesus as they once did.  They were not as eager and excited about Jesus as they once were.  He wanted them to remember the things they did at first.  If they don’t repent, their lampstand will be removed.  Jesus was in the middle of the churches and by removing their lampstand, He would leave them and not protect them anymore and there would suffer God’s judgment.  They did however hate the practices of the Nicholaitans who followed the teaching of Balaam (Rev. 2:4-6).

To repent is to admit that you are wrong and change your ways and live differently.  You should turn to God, admit your sin, and ask for forgiveness. 

Are you doing all the right things spiritually and yet something seems missing?
Have you left your first love?
Where do you need to repent and rededicate yourself to God?

There will always be people who oppose the Bible and its teaching.  They think they know how to do things better and try to influence Christians today.  If it doesn’t stand up to Bible standards, it is false teaching.  The Bible is the source of all truth.  It will never be outdated.  It is always relevant.  It never changes.  Some people accuse Christians of being intolerant.  Our culture is changing, but the Bible does not.  Anything that contradicts the Bible is false teaching.  We are to know what it teaches so we can discern if any teaching is true or false.

There are many things that draw us away from God:
Serving 2 masters – Matt. 6:26
Love of position – Matt. 23:6-6
Not loving our enemies – Luke 6:27, 35
Getting caught up in the letter of the Law and missing its intent – Luke 11:40
Our profession – John 21
Our convenience and pleasure – Rom. 14:15
A love of self – 1 John 3:16-18, 2 Cor. 5:14-15
Dishonesty, hurt, unwillingness to forgive – Eph 4:30; 5:2, Col. 3:12-14, 1 Thess. 4:9-10
Hatred of others – 1 John 4:20
Failing to witness – 2 Cor. 5
Sin – 1 John 2:5
The world – 1 John 2:15

Do you know your Bible?
Can your knowledge of the Bible discern truth from lies?
What would your instructions be to someone who has left their first love?

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.  To Him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.”Rev. 2:7.  This phrase “he who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says” appears in each of the letters to the 7 churches.  It means everyone should always listen to the Holy Spirit.  Jesus speaks to Christians in His churches through the Holy Spirit.  If you want to stand on truth, let the Holy Spirit lead you.  We need to have truth, but show it with love.

What is an overcomer?  An overcomer is a faithful believer who has overcome the world.  A born-again believer is an overcomer.  Live in the spiritual power of the Holy Spirit and you will be able to be an overcomer.  Then as overcomers you will sit with Jesus on the day of the Great White Throne Judgment and escape God’s punishment, the second death in the Lake of Fire. 

Are you an overcomer?
How are you living in the power of the Holy Spirit?

What is this tree of life mentioned in Rev. 2:7?  We learned about the tree of life in Genesis.  God allowed Adam and Eve to eat the fruit from the tree of life in the garden except the tree of good and evil.  Once they sinned they were banned from the garden and didn’t have the right to eat from the tree of life.  Now through Jesus we have access to the tree of life – a life with God.

Revelation 2:8-11 – Smyrna, The Suffering Church

Smyrna was about 35 miles away from Ephesus.  It was a beautiful city and competed with Ephesus as the best city.  It was a pagan city.  It was the home of the temple of the Emperor Tiberius, the temple of Cybele, and the temple of Zeus.  The Jewish people joined with Rome to persecute Christians.  Smyrna was known as the suffering church.

John wrote to the church at Smyrna telling them these words are of Him who is First and Last and who died and came to life again.  This is a picture of the gospel.  Jesus knows their afflictions and poverty, yet He told them they were rich.  He knows the slander told about them.  He called the slanders “a synagogue of Satan”.  The Devil will put some of them in prison for 10 days, which will be a test.  This is the period of Daniel’s testing (Dan. 1:12-15).  They are not to be afraid.  They are to be faithful and God will give them the crown of life (Rev. 2:8-10).  Christians are imprisoned today for their faith, which is the work of Satan.  God will give them the crown of life, which means victory over death

How can they be rich?  “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.” - 2 Cor. 8:9.  They are rich because they were in Christ.  They have all the wealth of the heavenly Father.  They are blessed because of their being persecuted.   The Bible tells us when you are a follower of Jesus, expect persecution.

How faithful are you?  There is a crown of life waiting for you.

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.  He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death.”Rev. 2:11.  Jesus is encouraging them.  When going through hard time, we all need encouragement.  We are to continue to be faithful.  God will take care of us.

“In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”-  1 Tim. 3:12.

Christians are being persecuted all over the world.  We are seeing a new wave of persecution in our world today.  Many countries are being affected by persecution.  The leader of the persecution is Isis.  There is imprisonment, rape, and murder.  It is everywhere.  How can we think America will be spared?  We will wake up some morning and it will be here.  It is starting to happen within our country.  Christians are losing their rights.  We can believe what we want, but we can’t act on it.  There are battles to come.  We are too passive and don’t want to fight.  This is not a fight.  It is a stand on the truth.  We are to stand up for what we believe and be faithful.  God will take care of us.

What do you need to do when and remember when you are going through a hard situation?

You can find the answer in Scriptures like - “I can do everything through hi who give me strength.”Phil. 4:13.  Also see 1 Thess. 3:2-5 and 2 Tim. 1:7-8.

Next week we will study Revelation 2:12-29; 3:1-6 – the church in Pergamum, Thyatira, and Sardis.  Hope to see you here.


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