Personal Lessons in Christ’s letters to the seven Churches – Rev. 2 & 3.
We learn from the Church’s failures and from their victories and their rewards. We could say, the whole of what Paul’s gospel teaches is brought out. Paul, the Apostle to the Church wrote especially to the Church. In his epistles we learn of a high calling of God in Christ Jesus to which the individual overcomer can attain. Just like these churches had to overcome; there were things they had to suffer. All overcomers we read of in the Bible had to suffer. But many believers judged the way as too hard. The flesh does not want to suffer. II Tim. 2:12, “If we suffer with Him we shall reign with Him.”
When we are first saved, we begin like the Church of Ephesus. We receive the Word of God and go on and are filled with the Holy Spirit (Rev. 2:2-3). As God reveals the Word to our hearts we learn what place we are called to and that we are seated in the heavenlies in Christ. That we are not of this world and we can depend on Christ as our head. We read all these things in the Epistle to the Ephesians. We love Christ preeminently and as we take in His Word and yield to the Holy Spirit, our love grows. That is the way God intended. You know, if you love someone, you want to please them.
There is a danger of failing and it begins with the warning of our devotedness to Christ. We let go of reading God’s Word and cease to pray as much. We let other things intrude on our fellowship with the Lord. The things of the world begin to take over. Many times it may not be evil things, but any thing we put first – material goods, pleasures or just the cares of this life, etc. Rev. 2:4-5, “thou hast left they first love” for Christ…”remember from whence thou art fallen.”
Just as the saints in Ephesus had to overcome that tendency, so do we. We have pressures from within (our flesh) and from outside (the world) and from Satan. But “greater is he that is in you, then he that is in the world” – I Jn. 4:4.
If we abandon our first love for Christ and do not repent, the next step is dwelling where Satan’s seat is (Pergamos) and that is in the world – Rev. 2:13. Satan is the god of this world, II Cor. 4:4. Seeking the pleasures and fellowship of the world is dwelling where Satan’s seat or throne is.
Jesus prayed for us in Jn. 17:15-17, we are in the world, but not of it. If we live in harmony with the world, we are letting Satan gain a victory. He enjoys nothing more than defeating a Christian, especially one that had been overcoming. Satan makes everything easy for the believer who starts going the way of the world. Gal. 6:8, “he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.”
This may not be in what you think of as a worldly sense, it might be in a religious sense. Satan works on our minds so we will start to think that Paul’s way is too narrow and so unbending. We are tempted to get into religious activity that is much more popular. This is how the Christian can go down until his spiritual life is diminished.
What is the remedy? Overcoming, letting the life of Christ rule in our life. The Lord allows temptations, trials and battles for us to learn and grow. Every time we overcome, we become stronger spiritually. The Lord is very much aware of our lives. We read over and over again, in fact seven times in His letters, “I know thy works.” He knows our down sitting and our uprising - Ps. 139:1-4. He knows the thoughts and intents of our heart. Because God is not a respecter of persons, those who overcome will receive the greatest reward.
It is God’s purpose that everyone overcome and receive a full reward, but not everyone will. So there are different rewards. The promise reward to Ephesus, “to eat of the Tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God,” Rev. 2:7. Adam and Eve had a right to eat of the tree of life, but they chose the forbidden tree. Their fellowship with God was spoiled. The overcomers can eat of the Tree of life, which is Christ, Rev. 22:2.
One of the ways to stay in fellowship with the Lord is to feed on Christ by reading the Word of God. He is the living Word, Jn. 1:1,14. When we feed on the word, we are feeding on Christ. Jesus said in Jn 6:63, “My words are spirit and they are life.”
This reward to Ephesus overcomers means fellowship with Christ and with God. We will read more concerning the overcomers of the Ephesus condition in the next issue, the letter to Smyrna.