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Back To The Future
WHEN THE FLAME BECOMES AN EMBER
Intro: Beginning with these verses, we are going to be studying the seven churches to which Jesus is writing. He calls these churches by name in Rev. 1:11. Jesus has a word for each of these congregations. As we study these seven churches, I want you to keep in mind that these churches can be seen in three different ways.
1. They can be viewed Prophetically These
churches seem to represent different stages of the church over the last 2,000
years. If this is true, then the church
2. They can be viewed Practically These
letters were sent to literal, real congregations that were actually functioning
at the close of the First Century. While
they were written to real churches existing in that day, they still speak to
every church in existence today. God has
a word for
3. They can be viewed Personally These letters speak to congregations, but we should also be mindful that the Lord has a word for the individual in these letters as well. He has something to say to you and to me about our relationship with Him.
desire is to take the practical application of these letters and seek to apply
first letter that comes before is to the church located in the city of
1. It was an important city Commercially
2. It was an important city Politically Because
of past service to the Empire of Rome,
3. It was an important city Religiously
is easy to see that the city of
was to this vile city that God sent the Apostle Paul,
was an active church, serving in a wicked hour.
But, God used them and many souls were saved. By the way, the same methods used in
Thirty years have passed and the Lord comes to this church to speak to them about where they are and where He wants them to be. He comes to them with a message of comfort. They are reminded in verse 1 that He has them safely in His hand. The word “holdeth speaks of being in absolute control. In a society that was out of control, they needed to know that He was in control. We need that same message today. He reminds them that He is ever with them, observing them and protecting them as they seek to serve Him.
As we study these seven letters, I want you to notice that the Lord has something personal to say to each of these churches. He comes to this church talking about His presence among them. This was a church that desperately needed to recognize the presence of the Lord in their midst.
Jesus makes four observations concerning this church that I want to share with you today. I want to take this passage and preach on the thought: When The Flame Becomes An Ember. I believe Jesus has a word for our hearts today.
A. v. 2a He Commends Their Service Jesus uses three words to describe the activity of this church.
1. Works This word speaks of that which is accomplished. It refers to the fact that this church has accomplished much for the glory of the Lord. They have been working and Jesus has seen it all.
2. Labor This word literally means a beating. It speaks of “intense work coupled with toil and trouble.” It tells that this church was serving the Lord fervently. They were literally working their fingers to the bone. In other words, this was no Sunday morning only crowd. They were actively serving the Lord at great personal expense and great personal sacrifice.
3. Patience This word speaks of steadfast
endurance. It tells us that
this church was working in spite of opposition.
The people in
· They knew that a church will not build itself.
· They also knew that a church cannot sustain itself.
· They knew that it takes people who will stick by the stuff!
· They also knew that it takes work to do these things!
can turn this place into a country club where the frozen chosen meet to
congratulate themselves on their salvation.
Or we can turn this church into a place where the saints enter to
worship and to be equipped for service; and then they go out of this place to
work for the glory of God in their homes, schools, communities and places of
business. God did not save us to coast
into glory on flowery beds of ease. He
saved us to be active in His work until He called us home to His glory, Eph. 2:10;
If Jesus were to appear on this platform today, would He commend us for our works, or labor and our patience?)
B. v. 2b, He Commends Their Separation canst not bear them which are evil These people were living a separated lifestyle. The immorality and evil that defined their world was not a part of their lives. They took a stand on the side of morality and they lived differently than the world around them.
C. v. 2c, 6 He Commends Their Standards These people are praised because they held fast to correct doctrine. When people passed through their town claiming to be men of God, they put them to the test. They checked out their credentials and they examined their preaching. If what they said did not line up with the Word of God, they refused to hear them, or to fellowship with them, but they exposed them to be the liars they were.
They are also commended because of their
stand against the “Nicolaitans. No one
knows for sure who these people were, but there are a couple of
possibilities. The word comes from two
Greek words; “Nikao To Conquer and
Therefore the Nicolaitans could have been a group of church leaders who wanted to establish a hierarchy in the church. In other words, there may have been some who wanted to run the show and keep the people under their control. That crowd is still with us today! In some denominations there is a distinction between the “clergy and the laity.
Another possibility is that the Nicolaitans were follows of a fellow named Nicolas who attempted to lead the people away from the Lord and into immorality. He preached a doctrine that allowed people to serve the Lord and still lead immoral lives.
Either way, what was “deeds in verse 6 has become “doctrine in verse 15. This is the reverse of the order the bible clearly lays out. We learn doctrine and the doctrine controls our deeds. The flesh likes to do what it pleases and then devise doctrine to suit itself.
The Ephesian believers refused to allow false doctrine to exist in their fellowship. How did they do this? They placed every teaching alongside the Word of God. If it did not line up with the book, they refused to receive it!
many church folks believe everything they hear.
They will listen to preachers on the TV that they would not tolerate in
their church. They praise men that
cannot even articulate the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but who stroke their egos
and feed their flesh. If someone makes
them feel good, they don’t care what he believes. Friends, you are headed for trouble down the
line if that is your approach to preaching and preachers. We ought to be like the Berean believers who
put everything they heard to the acid test.
Here is what the Bible says about them: These were more noble than those in
Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and
searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so
D. v. 3 He Commends Their Steadfastness This is a church that has been carrying the load, enduring much affliction and opposition, laboring to the point of exhaustion and they have done so without any signs of weariness. They were a very steadfast congregation. And, what they did, they did for the sake of the Lord. They are a church that deserves to be commended.
I. Jesus Examines Their Reputation
II. v. 4 JESUS EXPOSES THE REALITY
A. His Disappointment While they look good on the surface, there are problems in the heart that must be dealt with. Jesus let them know that this is a personal matter. It seems that He is grieved by the problems He sees in this church.
B. His Diagnosis Jesus looks at these people whom He loves and for whom He died and tells them that they simply do not love Him like they used to. He tells them that they “have left their first love.” They still have love, but the deep, fervent, burning love that filled them with a passion to serve Him has left their hearts. They love their church; but they to do not love him like they used to. They love their doctrine; but they have lost their passion for Jesus. They love their work; but they are not motivated in that work by a passionate love for Jesus. They are busy, but their hearts no longer burn for Him. The flame that burned so hotly and brightly when it was first ignited is now nothing but a smoldering ember. They have lost their passion for the Son of God! They have “left thy first love.
You see, the Christian life is basically a
love affair with the Lord Jesus Christ.
Getting saved is falling in love with Him. Growing in salvation is falling deeper in
love with Him. This love is the motive
for all we do in His Name. Whether we
sing, teach, preach, witness, give, etc, it must all flow out of an ever
deepening love for the Lord Jesus. If we
lose our love for Him, then our service means nothing at all,
Love is supposed to grow! I mean, I love my wife more today than I ever have. I love my children more today than I did when I first saw them. I love you folks more as each day passes. Love should grow. But, I wonder if Jesus would have to say to some of us, “You don’t love me like you used to? It would break our hearts of our spouse said that to us. Would it faze us if we knew the Lord felt that way?
is extravagant. Love will make you spend money for things you
can’t afford. You ever done that? Buy that special person something you couldn’t
afford, but you knew they would love? (
this describe your love for Him? Do you
serve Him because you love Him, or do you do it from a sense of duty? It is possible to labor without love; but it
is impossible to love without labor. You
can work and not be in love with the Lord. (
We can’t always say that we love sinners like we should. Some are very unlovable. But if we love Him like we should, we will be able to witness to them anyway. We may not always love one what we are asked to do for Him, but if we love Him, we will gladly accept the call for His glory.
Can you honestly say that your heart is still filled with that first, fervent, emotional, extravagant love for Jesus? Or, have you left your first love? Now, stop looking at some other person and what they are doing or not doing. You need to read your own mail today and let the Lord speak to your heart.)
I. Jesus Examines Their Reputation
II. Jesus Exposes Their Reality
III. v. 5 JESUS EXPLAINS THE REMEDY
A. He Speaks About Remembering Jesus calls on these people to look back. He wants them to remember that moment when they came to know Him. He wants them to reflect on what He did for them. He wants them to recall all the excitement and emotion of those early days with Him. He want them to look back to a time when their love for Him motivated everything they did.
Some of us need to remember. We have been saved so long that we have lost the thrill of those early days. Can you remember what it was like when you first came to Jesus and the weight of your sins was lifted from your heart? Can you remember when just the mention of His name brought tears to your eyes? Can you remember when your heart was tender and you felt at home in the altar talking to Him. Can you remember? Take a minute and reflect on how it used to be. Now, look at how it is. Can you honestly say that you are still head over heels in love with Jesus today?
When a saint of God falls out of love with Jesus, they are in a “backslidden condition. They need a revival. The first step in revival is remembering.
B. He Speaks About Repenting The word repent speaks of a change of mind that leads to a change of action. Jesus is telling these people that they need to repent of the sin of not loving Him like they should. They need to search their hearts and change their attitude toward the Lord.
C. He Speaks About Repeating He tells them to do the first works. They are told to start doing the things they used to do once again. That is the key for their revival and it is the key for us as well.
He Speaks About Removing
If they refuse to get where they need to be, Jesus tells them that He is
willing to extinguish their candle. That
is just what He did at
I do not want God to take away what we have. I do not want Calvary Baptist to become like so many other churches in our world today. But, if we fall out of love with Him and continue in that state, the day will come when He will take what we do have and He will give it to those who will use it for His glory. Mark it down! It is either Remember, Repent and Repeat, or it is Removal!)
I. Jesus Examines Their Reputation
II. Jesus Exposes Their Reality
III. Jesus Explains The Remedy
IV. v. 7 JESUS EXPOUNDS THE REWARD
A. The Reward Is Available Jesus
speaks to the overcomer. This word
means “to carry off the victory.
He seems to be saying that there will be some in the
B. The Reward Is Amazing Those
who overcome will be able to experience something that other believers will
miss out on. They will get to eat from
the tree of life. When Adam sinned in
Conc: I want you to be honest with yourself and with your Lord for just a moment. Have you left your first love? Are you busy, but busy out of duty and not out of love? Can you honestly say that you are filled with fervent, emotional, extravagant love for Jesus? Or, would you have to say that your heart has gotten cold; that your zeal is not what it used to be; that you need to remember, repent and repeat the first works? If He had touched your heart, you need to deal with Him. The time is now and the place is here.