The Believer’s Checklist

It is vital that we develop and maintain our relationship with Christ lest we become burned out in our service to Him. We must maintain our connection to Him. We must spend time with Him. We must understand that He wants fellowship and company with us. If this is not done, then we will drift away from Him spiritually. Our dedication and service will die. This is what happened at Ephesus.

Truth: Consistency in dedication to Christ is maintained by intimacy with Him.

If the relationship crumbles, our service for the Lord crashes. We must study God’s Word and pray.

Question: How do you know if you have lost your first love for the Lord?

What causes the Word to be scarce or rare in our lives? Why can’t we seem to stay revived all the time? What extinguishes one’s enthusiasm for God? These are questions we must ask ourselves. There is not one answer for all individuals.

Problem: Delighting more in someone or something other than the Lord.

We tend to crowd the Lord out of our lives. We can get sidetracked or distracted. We can get our priorities out of order. Mark 12:30

Problem: Losing the desire and longing in our soul for times of close fellowship with the Lord in the Word and prayer. Notice the word “soul” in Mark 12:30.

Problem: Giving in to those things which we know displeases the Lord. John 15:10.

Problem: When we are not willingly and cheerfully giving to God’s work or to the needs of others. This will cause us to lose our first love. 1 John 3:17

Problem: When we cease to treat every Christian as I would the Lord. John 13:34

Problem: I will lose my first love if I inwardly strive for fame, popularity, and the acclaim of this world rather than the approval of Jesus Christ.

Who is more important—the crowd or Christ? Who do we seek to please? I John 2:15 some will say they will be mocked if they live for Christ. John 15:19-20.

Problem: Becoming complacent and apathetic to sinful conditions around us or in our lives.

When a person gets use to his/her sin, they don’t care anymore about the consequences, they get harder in their heart. Matt. 24:12  

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Ephesus Characteristics Two

He approved them for their Spiritual Discernment

 They tried those who claimed to be apostles. They were liars. They knew what they believed and why they believed.

Jesus approved them for their stand against the deeds of the Nicolaitaines. (Rev. 2:6) Nikao means to conquer and Lsaos means the people.

This word is applied to the system which divides the church into two divisions. The clergy and the laity. Pergamos and Thyatira had this problem with its bishops, archbishops and other domineering people. God’s Word says that our High Priest is the Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Tim. 2:5) When it comes to the gifts of the Spirit, the church is one body. None of the gifts can function alone. They are a part of the whole. There are leaders or elders in the church, but we function as a whole and not a separate entity.

We are to confess our sins to the Lord Jesus Christ and not to man. We should be held accountable to one another. We should bear one another’s burdens, but we are responsible to do what we must to maintain an ongoing relationship with the Lord. Nobody can do with for us. It is a personal matter between us and our Savior.  When it comes to sin, we must realize that Jesus is the only one who can forgive sin. Note I John 1:9.

Revelation 2:4

Although they seemed to be a church on target, there was a problem pointed out by Jesus. There was the admonition or accounting.

They were maintaining a spirit of sacrifice, steadfastness, separation and keenness for detecting heresy.  They had lost their first love for the Lord. Jesus had said that in the last days, the love of many would wax cold. (Matthew 24:12)

The spiritual furnace was still there, but the coals no longer had a bright, red luster. The honeymoon was over. The same can happen between a husband and wife. They remain faithful to each other, yet they lose their first love for one another. A church member can be regular in attendance and tithing. They can be active yet lose their first love for Jesus. Like Martha, we can become occupied with doing for Christ and miss becoming like Christ.

They remain faithful to each other. Yet they lose their first love for one another.  A church member can be regular in attendance and tithing. They can be active yet lose their first love for Jesus. Like Martha, we can be occupied with doing for Christ and miss becoming like Christ.

Ephesus Characteristics

The worship of Diana was vile and perverse. The idol was a many-breasted woman, which was believed to have fallen from heaven. (Acts 19:35) In her temple priests, slaves and thousands of women ministered in it. The women served as ritual prostitutes. Sex was a part of their worship. The worshipers were also dancers and musicians. The sounds were that of wailing, shouting and hysterically frenzied individuals. Ephesus’ reputation was one of being fickle, superstitious and very immoral.

Paul stayed in Ephesus for three years (Acts 20:31 and Acts 19). It eventually became a very strong spiritual church. This church received its letter forty years after it started.

1.      Approved for their service

The Greek word for “labor” means toil or diligent labor, even to the point of weariness and exhaustion. It is Holy Spirit activated. It just wasn’t attendance, but working to further the kingdom of God.

There are three groups of people in the church:

-The Shirkers—they do nothing. Others have to take up the slack.

-The Jerkers—they start out fine. They jerk a little while, and then they run out of gas. They become indifferent and unreliable.

-The Workers—these are what a church needs the most. Ephesus was a working church.

5.         Approved Their Steadfastness

They had patience, and they had not fainted. Patience from the Greek means durability, triumph and fortitude. It changes suffering into glory. It is a courageous acceptance of: (1) hardship; (2) suffering and (3) loss. 

They were: fixed, firm and not fickle.

Every time they did something, they were persecuted. They were not easily disappointed or discouraged. They faced strong fierce opposition and hatred. Trade unions tried to make them leave the city. They were not deterred. (I Cor. 15:58)

2.      Approved them for their suppression of evil.

They could not bear them which were evil. They were concerned about the quantity of persons rather than the quality of persons needed.

The Church of Ephesus

REVELATION 2

When it comes to the Greek language, the word “angel” comes from the word aggelos, which probably describes bishops or pastors of the seven churches. In the singular form it means messenger, one sent to announce or proclaim.

This section of scripture deals with things which are. These messages have a threefold meaning:

-Primary Association—A local or direct bearing upon the church to which it was written.

-Personal Application—This applies to every Christian.

-Prophetic Anticipation—Each church individually and the seven churches combined set forth this meaning.

In the Prophetic Anticipation, as believers look forward to the Rapture. The word “rapture” is not found in scripture. It simply means the “catching away of the church.” The problems that these seven churches are what we also face today.

Ephesus

This church was the most prominent church of the seven. This was the mother church of Asia. (Acts 19:1-10) The content concerning this portion of scripture serves as a pattern for the remaining six letters to the churches.

Four decades have passed since this church was established. Paul is dead along with many of the converts of that time. With this church there is a new atmosphere. These problems cause the Lord to address these issues through John.

The Audience

Ephesus was in a strategic city of that time. It was the seacoast capital of Asia. It was one of the greatest religious, political and commercial centers of the region.

1.      Commercially

Ephesus lay at the mouth of a river called the Cayster River, which is located in present-day Turkey. This was a fast moving river. It built up sand on the shore of Ephesus. The ruins of Ephesus are now located some six miles inland from the sea. When people disembarked at the harbor, they traveled to the center of the city. The road was filled with columns, and it was known as the Arcadian Way. The active business climate had a population of approximately one quarter to a half million people.

2.      Politically

It was a free self-governing city in the Roman Empire. Important cases were tried here. It involved much pomp and circumstance.

3.      Religious Stance

The last important part is the religious atmosphere. The Temple of Diana or Artemis was located there. Women offered their jewelry for its construction. Its measurements were:

425 ft. long

220 ft. wide

60 ft. high

There were 127 pillars given by 127 kings. Thirty-six of the pillars were overlaid with gold, jewels and carvings.

 

Keys and General Outline of Revelation

Verses 17-18

For centuries humanity has sought the key to life and death. Only Jesus has the key. One of the keys is the key to hell (Hades). Note the following verses:

Ephesians 4:9

Acts 2:31

Hebrews 2:14-15

Ephesians 4:8-10

When a person has keys, this indicates that this person is either a owner of the property or has authority on that property. Christ owns the universe, and He has authority over all things—even Hell.

Verses 19-20

These verses serve as an outline for the rest of Revelation.

The Past

The things that thou hast seen—Revelation 1

The Present

The things which are—Revelation 2-3

The Future

The Things Which shall be Hereafter—Revelation 4-22

The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches. The seven candlesticks are the seven churches. Some say these angels are the “pastors” of these churches. Some say they are just what the word says—angels.

Description of Jesus as Seen in Revelation

 

Rev. 1:13-16

Christ is the center of the church. Our lives are meant to revolve around Him. What about our hearts? Our hearts are the seat of our affection. What is our affection? He is the Mediator between God and man. (I Tim. 2:5 and Matt. 18:20)

One clothed like the Son of Man

The title “Son of Man” is used eighty times in the four gospels and the Book of Acts. It is in reference to Christ as king of the coming millennial kingdom.

Clothed with a garment down to the foot

This speaks of the garments of the High Priest. The priests ministered in the Holy Place in the temple. Jesus is our High Priest. (Heb. 4:14)

Girt about the paps with a golden girdle

This is a symbol of strength and authority in the ancient world. The average man wore a short tunic and loose fitting clothes. Authorities wore girdles. The High Priest also wore such sash (girdle). (Lev. 16:4) Jesus Christ has authority for He is God.

His head and His hairs were white like wool, as white as snow

This speaks of ancientness and righteousness of God. Daniel called the Lord “the Ancient of Days. (Daniel 10:6)

His eyes were as a flame of fire

In the Greek language, this reads “eyes that shot fire.” It indicates that He was angry. Chapters 2-3 reveal why He is angry. It is focused on the sin and apostasy of the churches. The Lord is not pleased when we are not what we should be.

And his feet like unto fine brass

Bronze speaks of judgment. The brazen altar of the tabernacle is where sin is judged. He is not only “Judge of the Church,” but the world as well. Mockers will be judged one day. (John 5:22 and Romans 2:16)

His voice as the sound of many waters

The voice of the Lord will be a roar of judgment. People aren’t listening to His Voice today. They will hear and listen in that day.

Had seven stars in His right hand

These are angels or messengers (v. 20)

Out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword

The Word of God is a two-edged sword. (Heb. 4:12) There is no defense against God’s Word.

His Countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength

John’s reaction was like a man fainting. (Ezek. 1:28; Dan. 1:18 and Is. 41:4)

 

Instructions to the Apostle John

Verse 9

The person of the commission is the Apostle John. The Apostle John mentions himself   in the content three times.

Verse 10

The piety of the commissioned. In other words, the devotion to God is in view. Note what John says: I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day. This speaks of the first day of the week, which is Sunday. After the resurrection of Jesus, this day became the day of worship for all believers. The “Spirit” of the Lord rested upon him. He is dwelling in the spiritual realm. He was about to have things revealed to him concerning the future.

 

Verse 11

Jesus tells John that he shall receive divine visions. They shall reveal what shall come to pass in the future. John has been specially called for this purpose.

He is instructed to write exactly what he sees because it will be shared with the seven churches. This epistle has been handed down over the centuries for the present-day church.

Verse 12

At this point, John turns to face the direction that the voice is coming from. He sees seven golden candlesticks. The candlesticks are lamps, lamp stands or menorahs. They represent the seven churches. The responsibility of the church and the believer is to be a light to the world. We are like a city set upon a hill, which cannot be hid. Eph. 5:8 and Phil. 2:15.

 

The Greeting and the Faithful Witness

Verse 4

The greeting “grace and peace” was a standard opening in ancient times. Note Romans 1:7. The phrase “who is, was and is to come” is a reflection of a Greek title, which stands for an eternal deity. It especially reflects a Greek exposition of the Old Testament name I AM. Note Exodus 3:14. The Septuagint has the phrase “he who is.”

Verse 5

Jesus Christ is the “faithful witness” as seen in Revelation 3:14. He is the first fruit of those who shall be resurrected. Note I Cor. 15:20, 23; 2 Tim. 2:8; 1 Pet. 1:3.

Verse 6

When God set Israel free, they were known as a “royal priesthood.”  1 Peter 2:5, 9; Rev. 20:6.

Verse 7

Please read Matthew 24:30 and Daniel 7:13-14. There are five aspects of Christ’s return to earth in glory listed here. They are as follows:

1.      It will be personal. He cometh. Acts 1:11

2.      It will be public. Every eye shall see Him.

3.      It will be prestigious. He will be coming on clouds. It will symbolize His majesty.

4.      It will be painful for some. Those who pierced Him shall wail. Christ’s rejecters will not find His return in glory a happy time.

5.      It will be positive. Amen. This is a word of affirmation. His return is certain. Scoffers are already mocking this event. 2 Peter 3:3-4

Verse 8

Jesus’ deity is affirmed in three ways:

1.      The completeness in Christ. He is the Alpha and Omega. The first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. Jesus is everything. Anything that we can think of He is a part of except sin.

2.      The continualness of Christ. Which is, and which was, and which is to come. Christ encompasses all time. Time was made for man. He is not limited by time.

 

3.      The conquering by Christ. He is the Almighty. Jesus is all-powerful as seen in the gospels. This means He is omnipotent.

 

 

 

 

The Seven Churches

 

Note Revelation 1:4, 11

It should be noted that these churches are mention in clockwise order according to location. The deliverer of this letter presented it in the following order:

Ephesus in the coast

Northward to Smyrna and Pergamum

East to Thyatira

Southeast to Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea

These churches are located in Asia, which is now called Turkey.

Later scripture reveals the information to each church.