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Friday, February 10 2012

Introduction

In last week's study titled "Encounter with The Glorified Jesus" we looked at John's encounter with Jesus; his command to write what he saw and the first of the things that was revealed to him.

In today's study we shall be considering the contents of the first of the letters written to one of the 7 Asian churches - the letter to the church in Ephesus and from it learn lessons from the Lord's appraisal of this church and discover that the book of Revelations is not all about mysteries and symbols but that and a lot more!

 

1.      The Recipient of the letter

 

1TO THE angel (messenger) of the assembly (church) in Ephesus write: These are the words of Him Who holds the seven stars [which are the messengers of the seven churches] in His right hand, Who goes about among the seven golden lampstands [which are the seven churches]:

 

THE angel (messenger) of the assembly (church) in Ephesus

The first issue to consider is "who was this message written to?" seeing that John was asked to write it to the "angel" of the church in Ephesus. In the New Testament, the Greek word for angels (aggelos) was not only used for heavenly angels, but also used for human messengers, such as John the Baptist in Matthew 11:10

"For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee." See also Mark 1:2 and Luke 7:27

 

2.      The Aspects of His Appraisal

 

In the next six verses we will consider Jesus' appraisal of the church in Ephesus. Looking through these verses one will have no doubt that His method of appraisal was perfect and have transcended centuries to our present era. It will pass any day for a perfect blueprint of personnel appraisal!

  Verses 2-3

"I know your industry and activities, laborious toil and trouble, and your patient endurance, and how you cannot tolerate wicked [men] and have tested and critically appraised those who call [themselves] apostles (special messengers of Christ) and yet are not, and have found them to be impostors and liars. I know you are enduring patiently and are bearing up for My name's sake, and you have not fainted or become exhausted or grown weary."

 

(a)   He Emphasized the Positives

He started with and discussed their achievements - the positives of the church; their laborious toils and troubles, their patient endurance and how they detested the wicked and tested the false prophets. Verse 1 He commended their efforts; he focused on their strengths (their enduring patience and consistency) Verse 2.

 

Jesus, in His appraisal of the church in Ephesus revealed the blueprint for appraisals; this has been adopted by the secular world today.

They recommend to: Open the appraisal meeting with positive comments and discuss any objectives set whether they have been achieved.

 

Despite the fact that He had some issues with the church; He showed us that focus should never be on the negatives.

So what are the positives we can imbibe? What were the things He was pleased with?

From verses 2 & 3 we see the following: the active (Eccl 9:10); the hardworking (Proverbs 12:14) those who refuse to quit (Gal 6:9); those who can't stomach evil (Psalms 15:4), those who test all spirits and get rid of false prophets (1John 4:1), the persistent (Matt 24:13), the courageous (1 Corinthians 16:13), and those who don't grow weary (Gal 6:9).

 

(b)   He Addressed the Negative

 Verse 4

"But I have this [one charge to make] against you: that you have left (abandoned) the love that you had at first [you have deserted Me, your first love]."

 

He was sincere with them; He identified their weakness and told them what it was. He did not leave them confused or unsure of where they stood with Him. He was clear about His expectations - they had left their first love.

 

For us today, it is a call for soul searching. The Bible says in the end time the love of many will wax cold. It is a call for us to go back to our first love, back to when we yearned for Him daily; to follow Him closely and love Him deeply.

 

(c)    He offered solution to the problem as well as the consequences of non-compliance

   Verse 5

 Remember then from what heights you have fallen. Repent (change the inner man to meet God's will) and do the works you did previously [when first you knew the Lord], or else I will visit you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you change your mind and repent.

He did not leave them without a way of escape; He offered the solution to their problem. Effectively He was saying this is your shortcoming and this is the way to overcome it.

Once again the secular world recommends that "there is an understanding of the next steps going forward"


(d)  He ended on a positive note

  Verse 6

 "Yet you have this [in your favor and to your credit]: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans [what they are doing as corrupters of the people], which I Myself also detest.

 

He did not leave them in the state of "wallowing in their failures" but went further to commend them for hating the works of the Nicolaitans. (The Nicolaitans were a sect that lead lives of unrestrained indulgence, that ate things offered to idols, Nicolas (the founder) allowed other men to marry his wife and supported either polygamy or the holding of wives in common.)

 

The secular world today recommends starting an appraisal with a positive and ending with a positive.

 

(e)  He offered a reward for those who would comply - an incentive

Verse 7

He who is able to hear, let him listen to and give heed to what the Spirit says to the assemblies (churches). To him who overcomes (is victorious), I will grant to eat [of the fruit] of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

A perfect motivation; but for those who are able to hear, listen and give heed.

Unfortunately many have removed themselves from where they would be able to hear; talk less of listening and giving heed.

 

Conclusion

The book of Revelations is not all about mysteries and symbols but that and a lot more! Today's study should serve as a beacon for church leaders and those who criticize or appraise others. It is also a reminder for every one of us to go back to our first love, focus on doing the things that please the Master and steer clear of the things He detests; and finally to remember that the ultimate pursuit should be heaven.

 

Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 11:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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