Lent: Lament, Repent, Anticipate  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  47:03
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Loveless (Revelation 2:1-7)

First let’s look at a couple of descriptive’s in this verse - stars and golden lampstands;

Taking the lampstands first (‘lampstands’ is a better translation than ‘candlesticks’), they represent the seven churches. It is an appropriate symbol, for the church, being the corporate fellowship of the people of God, is to be the light of the world, shining and witnessing for Christ who is Himself the light of the world. If the church is not doing this it is not being the church.

Throughout the Bible the chosen of God have been called to be a shining light upon the darkness of this world;
However, sadly, there has become a blurring (dimming) of that light to where some are not able to tell the difference between the church and the world;

It is not the church’s business to make truth, alter truth or improve truth, but rather to receive it, stand firm upon it, contend earnestly for it, preach it, adorn it with holy living, and—if necessary—die for it.

What are you willing to do with or for the gospel in your daily walk;
The church is precious to Christ - how do we know - because of the lampstands being called golden;

And the stars? They are ‘the angels of the seven churches’, which only leads to the further question, what or who are the angels? They are not on this occasion to be taken as heavenly beings but as the ministers (pastors, elders, overseers) of the different local churches.

Now the way to determine that “the angels” is not referencing actual angels is because of the fact of a letter being written to “the angels” and that it is to be read to “the churches”;
These letters to the seven churches were meant to be shared and learned from;

It is far clearer to take them as addressed to those whose responsibility before God and men was to give themselves to preaching, teaching, pastoring and ruling in the local churches, and this would have made the best sense for the original Christians who were in those churches.

Christ holds the stars (pastors/leaders) in His right hand and walks among the golden lampstands (His precious churches);
Now as we look at the church of Ephesus we find a church that seems to be firing on all cylinders so to speak;
They are serving their community, they do not tolerate false teachings;
And all of this was done in the name of Jesus Christ;
Yet Jesus pointed out that they had left their first love;
Revelation 2:4 “4 Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.”

The implication is that this one thing had escaped the pastor’s notice and had escaped the church members’ notice, but it did not escape Christ’s notice, for nothing ever does. And what was the trouble? Loss of first love to Christ. Loss of love towards the brethren is also included in Christ’s censure.

When a church looses sight of loving Christ first and foremost through complacency it then filters to each other and the community;
But how does this happen - the commentary describes it best;

It is so easy in the Christ-believer relationship, as in the human marriage relationship, for love to ‘settle in’, to be taken for granted, or even to be replaced by bald duty. It was no longer first love to Christ which drove the Christians at Ephesus.

How is your relationship today - is it first or complacent - because Christ commands a first love relationship;

It is so easy in the Christ-believer relationship, as in the human marriage relationship, for love to ‘settle in’, to be taken for granted, or even to be replaced by bald duty. It was no longer first love to Christ which drove the Christians at Ephesus.

Jesus warns (v. 5) Ephesus but also gives a promise (v. 7);
Jesus warned that with a change of course He would remove their lampstand (church) because a loveless church will not continue;
Jesus promised that those who listen and make correction will be know the the joy of the Lord now and in eternity.

Persecuted (Revelation 2:8-11)

Next we look at the church of Smyrna (which is now Izmir in Turkey);
Notice that the church of Smyrna does not receive any complaints;
The Lamb Is All the Glory: The Book of Revelation 2. Smyrna: ‘Be Faithful, Even to the Point of Death’ (2:8–11)

The church receives no word of complaint from its Head here—not that they were perfect or that there was no room for improvement, for there always is! Christ’s concern is to give them a challenge and an encouragement that it is possible as an individual Christian and as a church to live to please Christ, to receive His ‘well done’ and not to have to be upbraided constantly by Him.

Christ is calling this to remain within their faithful walk which is what we should be striving for today;

We are to be faithful in guarding and proclaiming the truth of the gospel entrusted to us by God, faithful in manifesting the spirit of Christ (not least to our enemies) and faithful in pressing on in the work that He has set our hands and hearts to, so that we may reap and not faint.

Because of their faithfulness there came afflictions;

The word for ‘afflictions’ means being opposed, hard pressed and in narrow straits. There were those among their opponents who were doing their best to squeeze them out of existence in the city.

Their “afflictions” came with crazy consequences and included things we could not imagine in western Christianity;

They were probably quite poor people even to begin with, but matters were made worse because Christians at this time were often thrown out of their employment and cut off like lepers from social activities, and so could be in real difficulty when it came to providing for their families and supporting their pastor. And look where the slander came from—those who prided themselves on their religiousness, but whom the Lord Jesus Christ designates ‘a synagogue of Satan’!

But yet they stayed faithful to the One who was the example of faithfulness - as I prepared for this sermon I was listening to praise music and at this point the song “Way Maker” came on which reminded me that we have a God that is a “Way Maker” no matter where we are;
Will you allow your “afflictions” to over come your faithfulness;
Christ promises a victory - it may not be in the here and now but it will be in eternity.

The Cross

This morning are you sitting here complacent and more focused on your afflictions then recalling your first love and His promise to be faithful?
In the song “Way Maker” it says “Way Maker, miracle worker, promise keeper, that is who You are” do you believe that, truly believe that this morning;
Do you believe He is able to fulfill His promises;
Do you even know who Jesus is?
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