Tag Archives: Ephesus

What Do You Come to Church For?

Today’s message summary of May 28, 2017 from Pastor Gus Brown:

Why do people go to church?  Is it a possession that one holds onto?  Ultimately, every person needs to understand what the real purpose of church is.  We can lose our love for the Lord while being involved with church for a number of other reasons.  Somewhere, the church of Ephesus lost its first love…the love of Jesus Christ.

When one comes to church, one should be coming to see, hear and receive.

When you see what God is doing in the lives of His people, you can rejoice!

When you come to hear God’s Word, you come with the understanding that He teaches and also corrects you.  (Some will not come because they do not want to be corrected.)  God wants you to know that you are on a journey with Him, and His teaching will help you along as you go.

God wants you to receive Him.  He desires to catch your attention and hold it with the desire to hear Him speak to you and guide you.

You should want to see what God is doing…not only in your life, but in the bigger picture.  While there is often a focus on numbers in the church, God has done many great things with just a small number of people.

Church is not a place for gossip.  That is the wrong reason to attend a church.  The words reflected upon should be His words.

You should want to hear from God about the matters concerning you and your life, but also what He expects of you.

You should want to receive from God.  He wants you to receive His power, strength and faith (confidence) to do what He is asking of you.

There is a reason to come to church.  God desires to see you continue to grow within the church in these areas.  He wants you to have faith and the ability to step out when things are unknown or unclear.  That is where we see God’s greatest work and accomplishments.

People may argue that John the Baptist did not have a church, but John did indeed have a ministry, even if it was out in the wilderness.

Matthew 11:7-10

As these men went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swaying in the wind? What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothes?  Look, those who wear soft clothes are in kings’ palaces. But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and far more than a prophet. This is the one it is written about:  Look, I am sending My messenger ahead of You; he will prepare Your way before You.

The wilderness, where John’s “church” was located, was far from town, or what many would consider to be the comfort of home.  Your going to church should be like going to a place where God’s word teaches and convicts you to a place where you learn, grow and develop a desire to fellowship with Jesus Christ.

Church should be a place of solitary for you.  The primary focus should be on Jesus Christ.  It should be free from restraints.  It fulfills a desire of quietness in your spirit.  Church can be your desert place (the wilderness), where you are alone with God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Church is to be a place of education–teaching needs to be taking place, and effective teaching does take some time.

Your mind, within the church, is to be separated from everything in life and focused on what God is saying, understanding what you are hearing, and what you are receiving from God.  What you receive is what you are going to leave with.

If you’re always in a rush, you won’t be able to hear God speak to you the way He desires to.  Church is the place where you can slow yourself down and put aside those things that can distract you from Him.

A reed could grow twelve feet tall and be paper thin, and when the wind blows, it just lays down.  It goes with the wind.

The wind, represented here by religion and government, could have caused John to be indecisive or to be shaken.  To waver or to show doubt can cause one to be unsteady.

The religion was the Pharisees and the Sadducees.

The government was King Herod and his sinful life.

John stands against these two powerful forces.

Note that the gospel of Jesus Christ must be upheld within the church setting.  It’s not enough just to call yourself a Christian.   It is about living as God calls you to live in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Complaints about the church:

  1. It’s not relevant.

John was relevant according to his message.

  1. It lasts too long.

How long do you sit through a movie?

  1. Church is boring.

Is it boring because it is not what you want it to be?

  1. I don’t like the way church is being run.

It’s your place to determine how church is being run.

  1. It’s the same routine each Sunday.

It is all in your approach to being educated in the Word.  It is more important to see Christ in your life,                  and understand that He never changes.

 

Psalm 122:1

I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.”

 

Psalm 73:16-25

When I tried to understand all this,

it seemed hopeless

until I entered Gods sanctuary.

Then I understood their destiny.

Indeed, You put them in slippery places;

You make them fall into ruin.

How suddenly they become a desolation!

They come to an end, swept away by terrors.

Like one waking from a dream,

Lord, when arising, You will despise their image.

When I became embittered

and my innermost being was wounded,

I was stupid and didnt understand;

I was an unthinking animal toward You.

Yet I am always with You;

You hold my right hand.

You guide me with Your counsel,

and afterward You will take me up in glory.

Who do I have in heaven but You?

And I desire nothing on earth but You.

 

The church should be providing information to you about how to live life in these perilous times.

We go to church to hear the message that God has to give to us.

 

Matthew 3:1-6

In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Wilderness of Judea and saying, Repent, because the kingdom of heaven has come near! For he is the one spoken of through the prophet Isaiah, who said:

A voice of one crying out in the wilderness:

Prepare the way for the Lord;

make His paths straight! 

John himself had a camel-hair garment with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then people from Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the vicinity of the Jordan were flocking to him, and they were baptized by him in the Jordan River as they confessed their sins.

 

Romans 10:14-17

But how can they call on Him they have not believed in? And how can they believe without hearing about Him? And how can they hear without a preacher? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: How beautiful are the feet of those who announce the gospel of good things!  But all did not obey the gospel. For Isaiah says, Lord, who has believed our message?  So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the message about Christ.


What the Church Becomes

Today’s message summary of September 4, 2016 from Pastor Gus Brown:

This final segment of the study of Revelation will look at the role of the church and what it will become.  There will be an end as to its role.  Over time, the church has changed, and we will look at the seven churches that Jesus Christ reveals to us.  He paints the picture as to what will take place, and what has taken place in the church over generations.

The church has changed over generations, and the Lord reminds us to look back at the older churches, and one can see how the word of God and His name seems to have diminished over time.

Apostasy (drifting or sliding away from the truth) within the church has been present from the very beginning of the church.

With apostasy, you can move away from truth, and yet still be religious.  You can be “religious” and still disobey God.

What we know from history is that many have professed Christianity without accepting Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Savior.

If there is no growth in Christ or a hunger for His Word or desire to be a walking testimony for Christ, then it calls to question the commitment that one has for Jesus Christ.

Theodore Epp, author of Christ Speaks to the Churches, wrote about the various churches referenced in Revelation:

Ephesus – the first century church (Love of Jesus)

Smyrna – Roman persecution of God’s people (falling away from the true love of Jesus)

Pergamos – church corruption and the uniting of church and state

Thyatira – the Dark Ages (6th-15th Century – era of knowledge; the Age of Enlightenment – teaching) – knowledge without Christ is useless; doctrine infused with man’s knowledge instead of godly wisdom

Sardis – The Reformation (church did not maintain spiritual strength) – what Martin Luther started in the Reformation is no longer what is practiced today.

Philadelphia and Laodicea – a picture of the church condition running side by side preceding the church rapture, where today we see the evangelical, fundamental church on one side running concurrent with the liberal church in this day.

All of the churches have had a degree of false teaching within them.  While the majority of the church may be on a solid rock, Satan will still find a way to infiltrate the body of believers.  Sometimes it may even affect the church leadership.  Here is where discernment comes into consideration.  The issue is how large the degree of false teaching takes place and what effect will it have on the church.  Can it be dealt with or will it take a permanent hold? (How many hypocritical people will the church allow through its doors? The church battles this matter all of the time because of financial considerations.)

Jesus says that He knows our deeds.  He addresses all seven churches:

Revelation 2:1-7

Write to the angel of the church in Ephesus:

 The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand and who walks among the seven gold lampstands says: I know your works, your labor, and your endurance, and that you cannot tolerate evil. You have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and you have found them to be liars. You also possess endurance and have tolerated many things because of My name and have not grown weary. But I have this against you: You have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember then how far you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. Otherwise, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its placeunless you repent. Yet you do have this: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 

Anyone who has an ear should listen to what the Spirit says to the churches. I will give the victor the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in Gods paradise.

–The good and the wrong

  1. Ephesus: The neglect of Jesus leads to a loss of love for Jesus.

Matthew 23:23

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You pay a tenth of mint, dill, and cumin, yet you have neglected the more important matters of the lawjustice, mercy, and faith. These things should have been done without neglecting the others.

 

Psalm 119:9-16

How can a young man keep his way pure?

By keeping Your word.

I have sought You with all my heart;

dont let me wander from Your commands.

I have treasured Your word in my heart

so that I may not sin against You.

Lord, may You be praised;

teach me Your statutes.

With my lips I proclaim

all the judgments from Your mouth.

I rejoice in the way revealed by Your decrees

as much as in all riches.

I will meditate on Your precepts

and think about Your ways.

I will delight in Your statutes;

I will not forget Your word.

 

Hebrews 2:1-3

We must, therefore, pay even more attention to what we have heard, so that we will not drift away. For if the message spoken through angels was legally binding and every transgression and disobedience received a just punishment, how will we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was first spoken by the Lord and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him.

 

The sin of neglect is the starting point of loss (faltering and weakening of the church and its people).  It is when love is lacking.  (Jesus refers to this within Rev. 2:4-3:20 – Ephesus through Laodicea).

 

  1. Smyrna. Jesus reminds them that they are rich even though they were afflicted and in poverty (Revelation 2:8-11).  They dealt with the pretenders in the church who represented “the synagogue of Satan” (v. 9).  They were told that they would suffer but to be encouraged and remain faithful (v. 10).

Matthew 10:28

Dont fear those who kill the body but are not able to kill the soul; rather, fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

 

2 Corinthians 8:9

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ: Though He was rich, for your sake He became poor, so that by His poverty you might become rich.

 

  1. Pergamos. The center of idol worship – Satan’s seat. Some of the things worshiped include medicine, science and nature.  Satan worship began in Babylon under Nimrod.  All religious movements except Christianity have the infusion of some of Nimrod’s beliefs that began back in Babylon; for example, one of the main teachings in all other religions is that Jesus was created as a man (not a deity – John 1:1).

 

Revelation 2:13

I know where you livewhere Satans throne is! And you are holding on to My name and did not deny your faith in Me, even in the days of Antipas, My faithful witness who was killed among you, where Satan lives.

 

Remaining true to the name of Jesus…not denying faith in Jesus Christ.

 

  1. Thyatira. The Word was willingly set aside for a Jezebel, who called herself a prophetess.  The question is if these things really come to pass.  He tells that church that it is time to repent.

 

Revelation 2:20-22

But I have this against you: You tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and teaches and deceives My slaves to commit sexual immorality[a] and to eat meat sacrificed to idols. I gave her time to repent, but she does not want to repent of her sexual immorality. Look! I will throw her into a sickbed and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her practices.

 

Good (v. 19).  Jesus noted that they were doing more good than they did at first (knowledge of Jesus Christ had improved over the years).

 

  1. Sardis. The sleeping church. It’s time to wake up!  The church was not alive but dead.

 

Revelation 3:1-6

Write to the angel of the church in Sardis:

The One who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars says: I know your works; you have a reputation for being alive, but you are dead. Be alert and strengthen what remains, which is about to die, for I have not found your works complete before My God. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; keep it, and repent. But if you are not alert, I will come like a thief, and you have no idea at what hour I will come against you. But you have a few people[e] in Sardis who have not defiled[f] their clothes, and they will walk with Me in white, because they are worthy. In the same way, the victor will be dressed in white clothes, and I will never erase his name from the book of life but will acknowledge his name before My Father and before His angels.

Anyone who has an ear should listen to what the Spirit says to the churches.

 

The counsel of the Lord: be watchful and strong for what remains will soon perish.  What needed to be done was to remember what you have received in the Word, obey and repent.  Be awake and alert and meet your responsibilities.

 

  1. Philadelphia. The true church (v. 8) …it has the key of David. They also had their pretenders, too (v. 9).

 

Revelation 3:7-13

Write to the angel of the church in Philadelphia:

The Holy One, the True One, the One who has the key of David, who opens and no one will close, and closes and no one opens says: I know your works. Because you have limited strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name, look, I have placed before you an open door that no one is able to close. Take note! I will make those from the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews and are not, but are lyingnote thisI will make them come and bow down at your feet, and they will know that I have loved you. Because you have kept My command to endure, I will also keep you from the hour of testing that is going to come over the whole world to test those who live on the earth. I am coming quickly. Hold on to what you have, so that no one takes your crown. The victor: I will make him a pillar in the sanctuary of My God, and he will never go out again. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My Godthe new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My Godand My new name.

Anyone who has an ear should listen to what the Spirit says to the churches.

 

Isaiah 22:22-23

I will place the key of the House of David on his shoulder; what he opens, no one can close; what he closes, no one can open. I will drive him, like a peg, into a firm place. He will be a throne of honor for his fathers house.

 

  1. Laodicea. (It means the “voice of the people.”) They would rather hear the voice of man than the voice of God. There was a greater concern with man’s words than the Word of God. The church accepted formality over truth.  God’s Word was not a good fit for our present culture or social life.

 

Revelation 3:14-22

Write to the angel of the church in Laodicea:

The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Originator of Gods creation says: I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I am going to vomit[b] you out of My mouth. Because you say, Im rich; I have become wealthy and need nothing, and you dont know that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire so that you may be rich, white clothes so that you may be dressed and your shameful nakedness not be exposed, and ointment to spread on your eyes so that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and discipline. So be committed[c] and repent. Listen! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and have dinner with him, and he with Me. The victor: I will give him the right to sit with Me on My throne, just as I also won the victory and sat down with My Father on His throne.

“Anyone who has an ear should listen to what the Spirit says to the churches.”

 

People of the church are neither cold or hot (v. 15).  They say they are rich (v. 17) and that they need nothing.

In all seven of these churches, there is a part of each one of us.  God selected these seven churches to give us a picture of what we need to do to improve our relationship with Jesus Christ.  We need to answer questions raised from these passages because we are the church.  God wants to use His church for greatness and for His glory.