From the desk of Steve Shultz:
God is in the business of speaking to His Church as John Belt shares below. After all, Christ loves the Church and died for it. There's much to learn and we have much room to grow. This is great insight by John.
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The Church: Seven Stars, Seven Spirits, Seven Lampstands
Revelation 2:1-2 To the angel of the Church of Ephesus write, "These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands: 'I know...'"
The Book of Revelation is an eye-opening look at how Jesus has spoken and speaks to the Church in the continuum of the present and of our modern day. With all the imperfections He still speaks to the various parts of His Body in the earth. The Lord does not disown His Body but affirms His Church, encourages it, and because of love reveals His displeasure in what is left undone, tolerated and overlooked.
In this, He continuously calls His Church to the place of love and intimacy with Him. Every church, every local body, will exemplify one of these seven churches. There are churches that are praised for "love, service and perseverance," and then there are those praised for "discernment," and those commended for other things as well. One church would be praised for good works but had no discernment tolerating evil, then another with discernment but no depth of intimacy with God.
Philippians 1:9-11 And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
In this we see churches confronted, rebuked and exposed for things while others have only good things spoken of and encouragement from the Lord. The Church of Smyrna, the persecuted church, was not corrected for anything, but rather encouraged to be faithful. Philadelphia, the faithful church, was another that the Lord was completely pleased with. The other churches had some issues, but nonetheless they were not disowned by the Lord but rather admonished and given the promise "To him who overcomes I will give..."
God knows that man needs incentives. God gave His Church amazing incentives to overcome and be the victorious people of His right hand. So while there is much compromise, much religiosity, toleration of Jezebel, etc., God still holds His hand out to a people admonishing them not to live in ignorance. To live in "ignore-ance" would be to ignore truth that needs to be received. Just because people are ignorant does not necessarily excuse them.
One thing the Lord makes clear to all of the churches in chapters 2 and 3 of the Book of Revelation is that "He knows." He is the all-seeing, all-knowing God who can see the motives of the hearts. Many think they know, but in truth man only sees in part. That is why we as mere men are always supposed to be dependent on the Lord in all things. Even Paul, who surpasses all in the areas of encounters, experiences and revelation of the Lord, said that he did not know all things pertaining to his own heart, but only the Lord.
1 Corinthians 4:3-5 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by a human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I know nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this; but He Who judges me is the Lord. Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one's praise will come from God.
Paul paid one of the highest prices next to the Lord, being one of the leading pioneers of the faith at its inception. He suffered much, and because of this was counted worthy to experience much of God's treasures, being able to see things that transcended his imagination – so much that he could not even mention or explain. There is much grace that God gives to His people. We see this expressed in this revelation letter. As bad as things were in the churches regarding compromise, sin and lack of spiritual fire, Jesus still holds out hope for them in their worst condition.
For example, the Church of Sardis which was described as "dead" and still given hope in that Jesus said, "remember where you have come from." In other words, if you can remember where you came from, there is hope for you to get back on track and come alive again. Then the Lord holds out the promise "To him who overcomes" to every church, no matter what the condition.
I've said many times, "There is always hope on this side of Heaven." With that, it is important and mandatory that we deal with business when the Lord reveals it to us. It is only through such an intimate connection with God that we are able to see these things that He is so against. It is no mystery and quite obvious that the Church is full of imperfections. It is the grace of God toward us that He still works with us to form Christ in us in the journey. Paul labored in prayer that Christ might be formed in the Believers. On one end of things, we are new creations. On the other, God is bringing our souls into alignment with the desires of the Spirit.
There is seeing, understanding and the corresponding desire to want to change that must accompany any and all revelation that God gives to us that we may live in a place of His pleasure. We are in perpetual change. This change comes as His people learn to embrace His higher thoughts, finding joy through beholding Him through intimate communion. By answering His knock on the door, by spending time with Him, His Word becomes alive and we move from the mindset of a sinner to that of a saint that has been washed in the Blood of Christ. The Book of Revelation is foremost about Christ, but very much about "the overcomers." As we choose to live as overcomers, we will find His grace in every place and victory at every turn.
His overflow be yours!
Live In His Presence Ministries