Monday, August 2, 2021

The Ephesus Church

 

The Ephesus Church

When I initially began studying the churches in the Book of Revelation, the Lord revealed something to me in the Secret Place. The visit with Him began like many others, with us dancing in the gazebo of the Secret Place. With great excitement, He took me by the hand and said, “I have something I want to show you!”

We ran into the forest surrounding the meadow where the tiny table for tea sits. Deep into the forest, the Lord led me into a cave. It took seconds for my eyes to adjust to the glowing light on the cave walls. Jesus led me deeper and deeper into smaller and smaller jagged-walled caverns until we were stooping over, traveling single file through a narrow passageway. Despite the soft ambient light, the closing in of the walls had me feeling slightly worried as I thought, “What could possibly be exciting in this place?”

About that time, we emerged into an enormous cavern. Crystals on the ceiling and walls glowed with a brighter light so the entire area was revealed. A waterfall at one end created a small lake in the middle of the room. The water was luminescent; glowing with diffused light from the walls. Without hesitation, the Lord dove into the water and I followed.

The liquid seemed different then the water at the river in the Secret Place: it was colder and seemed lighter, or perhaps we were more buoyant there. I followed Jesus deep into the water, remembering that I could breathe in the water of Heaven.

Deep below the surface at the bottom, in a far corner, the Lord turned and handed me a green gem. It was the size of my fist. (Green is healing and provision). I gladly accepted this great treasure. Next He began pointing out other treasures in this corner of the pool: coins (financial provision), rubies (wisdom), sapphires, (communion and revelation from God).

“What is all this?” I thought to Him.

The Lord’s words came clearly through to my mind, “This is the blessing from studying Revelation. At first, it seemed dark when you entered the cave, then there was just enough light to make your way forward. Now you are coming to the place where you must squeeze through, the narrow place before this cavern. Those who choose to look closely at their lives with the information (light) provided, will find their way through where these blessings await.”

Blessed is he that reads, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand. (Revelation 1:3 AKJV)

The Greek word tereo (tay-reh’-o) translated “keep” means to “attend to carefully.” In order to receive this blessing, we must take time to look at what was written. It isn’t necessary to understand and know how to interpret what is said. We are keeping our eyes open to watch and see when this prophecy begins to come to pass.

The Apostle John was confined to an island by the leaders of his time. He wrote the Book of Revelation during his confinement. They tried their best to kill him, but he just wouldn’t die. As a result, their solution was to limit his contact with the outside world by keeping him away from others. Most likely his correspondence was closely watched, which is why much of what was written needs interpretation. Before the blessing is given, John introduces the material:

The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to Him, to show to His servants things which must shortly come to pass; and He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John: Who bore record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw. (Revelation 1:1-2 AKJV)

John claims no credit for the words written, they are from the Lord. We know from other prophecies in the Old Testament, about the life of Christ, that the phrase, “shortly come to pass” can mean that it may be hundreds of years before it happens. Despite this fact, we should remember that what follows pertains to a certain period of time for which this prophecy was given. After the blessing, he continues:

John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be to you, and peace, from Him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before His throne… (Revelation 1:4 AKJV)

The entire Book of Revelation is addressed to the churches. Just as Paul’s letters to the Christians at Ephesus are recorded in the Book of Ephesians and applied to our lives today, so we need to apply what is written here. There are seven aspects of the Holy Spirit, which are known as the seven Spirits of God. Seven is God’s number of completion and perfection in the physical: He created the Earth in seven days and it was good.

There may have been more than seven gatherings of Christians or seven churches, however, John is addressing the heads of the churches in different geographical areas. This book is for all churches dedicated to our Lord which have been divided into seven categories. These represent types of churches that were present then and are still present today.

And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. To Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and has made us kings and priests to God and His Father; to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. (Revelation 1:5-6 AKJV)

John boldly states that this is not only from him, but for our Lord as well. He gives a reminder to all of what Jesus has done for us.

Behold, He comes with clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him. Even so, Amen. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, said the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty. (Revelation 1:7-8 AKJV) 

As is often the case with prophecy, the end is told at the beginning. We are discussing what will happen when the Lord comes back to rule and reign. By the time this was written, there was a good chance that those who crucified Jesus were dead. John was very young when the Lord was put on the cross. A conservative estimate of John’s age is that he was in his sixties when, at that time, the average lifespan was only thirty.

We have not seen the Lord coming in the clouds, so this prophecy is still yet to come. God would have known when He spoke these words, that the seven types of churches present then, would  still be present when our Lord comes back again. The Body of Christ needs to be aware of certain pitfalls.

I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. (Revelation 1:9 AKJV) 

These were hard times. Those who boldly spoke of the Lord were killed and imprisoned. If you are on the path to your destiny, God will use you no matter where you are.

I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What you see, write in a book, and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia; to Ephesus, and to Smyrna, and to Pergamos, and to Thyatira, and to Sardis, and to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea. (Revelation 1:10-11 AKJV)

Our Lord is addressing His body upon the earth. At that time, He was specifically speaking to seven churches in Asia. We have been told to keep these words and that we will see Him coming with clouds. We must look at the current churches and see if these words apply to us today.

And I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; And in the middle of the seven candlesticks one like to the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the breasts with a golden girdle. (Revelation 1:12-13 AKJV)

The Greek word lychnia (look-h-nee’-ah) means lampstand. At the time this was written, it wouldn’t have been a candle, but an oil lamp. Each church is a reservoir for the anointing of God, the oil of Holy Spirit. Jesus is equipped with a golden belt representing God’s glory.

His head and His hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and His eyes were as a flame of fire; And his feet like to fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and His voice as the sound of many waters. And He had in His right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword: and His countenance was as the sun shines in His strength. (Revelation 1:14-16 AKJV)

White is righteousness and wisdom. Hair is close to our brain, this means thoughts of wisdom. I have seen the Lord with flaming eyes. It happens when He is angry: God’s correction is often seen as a consuming fire. Brass glows brightly when removed from the fire and legs pertain to our walk; He is refining our walk.

Have you ever heard a large crowd that is talking: it sounds like rushing water. This may mean that the Lord is speaking to many people in various languages. The seven stars will be interpreted next, and we all know that the two-edged sword is the Word of God which our Lord speaks. When you see Jesus in a heavenly vision, he often sparkles and shines: it is the power of God in Heaven!

And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. And He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am He that lives, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death. Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter… (Revelation 1:17-19 AKJV)

In the true presence of the Lord’s power, you do not need to ask, “Is this You?” Your body knows that you are in the presence of God and it will fall prostrate. Our wonderful Lord is so very kind. He gently greets John, giving a very accurate picture of who He is.

The mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which you saw are the seven churches. (Revelation 1:20 AKJV)

I love that John didn’t even need to ask about the lamps or the stars. The Lord knew that he did not understand. Now it is clear that the lamps are the churches and stars are the angels. Those who organized the Bible chose to begin the next chapter with the letters addressed to the churches.

Ephesus Church

To 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]... (Revelation 2:1 AMPC)

The introduction to each church is unique and given for a reason. In this introduction, Jesus is reminding this church of His might and position. The fact that He holds the angels who are in the churches in His right hand, points to the fact that the angels are under God’s control, not man’s.

Likewise, the words, “goes about among…” shows that God is the one who is dealing with His churches. We should not attack other church bodies by squabbling about doctrine although we can disagree about the teachings based on scripture. This cautious reminder is given before He reveals the state of their heart:

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. (Revelation 2:2 AMPC)

This is a hardworking church who is doing work for God, but it is “toiling.” We should be judging whether or not the message, which is brought forth, is “from God,” to make sure that it lines up with the full Word of God, not just part of the Word, but all of it. It is our job to reject false messengers and give them no place in our body of believers. However, this doesn’t give us the right to attack other churches, which was made perfectly clear before this fact was stated. It is God who is in charge of His angels and He who walks among the churches. It is not our job to correct churches who have gone astray unless we are a prophet, speaking for God.

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. 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]. (Revelation 2:3-4 AMPC)

“Enduring patiently” and “bearing up” are not the same as joyfully working. It gives the feeling of doing it because we know it is right instead of the burden being light. When the love for the Lord has left, work becomes a chore instead of a joy. Christians who do much but whose heart is not renewed by the love of God would fit into this type of church.

There are certain religions who have more church bodies that fit into this category today; however, to say every church in one religion belongs to this group would not be right. We must look at individual body of believers. Is there much work being done, but the love and joy of the Lord are not felt? If this describes your church, then you want to pay attention to what comes next.

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. (Revelation 2:5 AMPC)

The lamp represents the anointing of Holy Spirit which brings light to the world. If a church body loses the love they had when they first came to know the Lord, then God may remove them from the body. God’s glory and light won't shine forth anymore. When this happens, churches will find members leaving and moving on because God is no longer there.

But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate. (Revelation 2:6 AKJV)

This last fact is to point out that this church is good at rejecting that which isn’t God. The Nicolaitanes were a class of professing Christians, who sought to introduce into the church a false freedom or licentiousness, thus abusing Paul's doctrine of grace (2 Pet 2:15, 16, 19). Today, we call that the “hyper-grace” message: where your sin doesn’t matter because Jesus is our Lamb, who was sacrificed for our sin. In addition to these scriptures please consider:

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: (2 Timothy 3:16 KJV)

In the Old Testament we see that Israel had to sacrifice a lamb every year at Passover for their sins: Jesus died at Passover to pay for all sins for all times because unlike a lamb, He was perfect. Despite this cleansing from sin, after Israel continued in their sin and refused to turn away from it, God let their enemies come in and bring them to their knees. God is still the same. Jesus died and paid for our sin, but if we continue in sin, He will hand us over to the enemy.

He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit said to the churches; To him that overcomes will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the middle of the paradise of God. (Revelation 2:7 AKJV) 

The Greek word nikaƍ is translated “overcomes.” One of the meanings of this word is “when one is arraigned or goes to law, to win the case, maintain one's cause.” What God is pronouncing over each church is a judgement which must be cleared or “overcome” in the Courts of Heaven. The benefit for winning the case for this church is that they will have eternal life. This means that if the love of the Lord has left, then you don’t have eternal life… you don’t get to go to Heaven!

This was a huge shock to me. I was raised to believe “once saved always saved,”and that “nothing can separate us from the love of God,” once we take Jesus as Lord. After reading this and the other churches of Revelation, I quickly realized how wrong I had been and began repenting immediately! I hope you will too.

There are a few Christian religions who do good works and reject “false doctrine.” They are also very good at knowing that you have to confess your sins and turn from them, which means they have rejected the Nicolaitanes. Take a good look at the church you attend to make sure you are not in an Ephesus Church.

Achievement: Rejects evil
Obstacle: renew their love for the Lord
Reward: Eternal life


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