Message No. 3 of the series entitled
“Christ and His Church”
Date: July 15, 2018 Scripture: Revelation 2:1-7
This letter to the church in Ephesus is the first of seven letters that Jesus wrote to the churches in Asia Minor, in about 90 A.D. With sixty years of church history having already passed, there were some issues that needed the correcting presence of the Lord of the Church, so that the church would not lose its influence as light in the world. The Ephesians stood firm, were tenacious in the truth, travailed until life came forth. Yet, Jesus called them back to seeing Him as “First Love,” to come back to dynamic relationship with Him, to a simple trust and belief in Him, to turn to Him first. First love has a lot to do with worship, with a joyful and welcoming responsiveness to Him. First love comes first, then first works – works and ministry flow from love.
- The Call to Simplicity – Do not let the burdens, complexities, mechanics of life, of ministry get in the way of loving Jesus. The Lord’s strategy and program is love – His love for us and then our love for Him – and everything else flows from that. [This was the essence of the previous message from this series.]
- The Call to Ministry – Jesus has called the people of the church to minister in unique and wonderful ways. Leadership is meant to facilitate, guide, serve, and shepherd God’s people in this. Leadership in the church is never meant to dominate or control.
- In verse 7, and then later to the church in Pergamos in verse 15, Jesus says that He hates the doctrine of Nicolaitanism (notice He doesn’t hate the Nicolaitans). What is the doctrine of Nicolaitanism? Nikos means “conquest, crushing, domination, dictatorship,” and laos means “people” (the root for the words laity or laymen). This is the idea that the clergy are lording over the people, it is a systematised, hierarchical structure in the church. Jesus calls the leaders to serve, not dominate; to feed the people as shepherds, not to rule them as lords. The pastor’s responsibility, from Ephesians 4, is to facilitate ministry in the church, the help the people to fulfil ministry.
- There are two sides to this coin. Certainly there are people who will manoeuvre and manipulate to try to gain hierarchical control over the flock of God rather than serve with a shepherdly concern. But on the other hand, there are people who will readily allow someone to lord over them and be a purported “go- between” for them and God. In all of us, there is a tendency to allow someone else to be the one mature in Christ and to excuse ourselves from growing in Christ, to excuse ourselves from the responsibility of doing what God has called us to do. Jesus hates that attitude.
- What are some of the hallmarks of Nicolaitanism? It seeks to dominate rather than liberate. People who refuse to grow will make a space for Nicolaitanism. Jesus wants the glory of His life to happen in you and through you in a unique and special way. Nicolaitanism also sets for the idea that you have to be perfect to do anything for God. The Lord Jesus is not waiting for your perfection, He wants you to trust and obey Him. You will see Him working through you and will know it is Him, and you will mature and grow.
- The Call to Authority – In verse 7, He calls His people to overcome: “To him who overcomes, I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.”
- This is the opening of Eden again, the place of man’s fullest relationship with God where he walked with Him daily and loved Him and had a real sense of His presence and glory (love, presence, glory).
- Eden is the place of dominion where man operated freely in what God created him and purposed him to be. In Eden man knew that he was created to have a large significance in the world.
Jesus calls the church to the simplicity of loving Him and to ministry flowing through His people. God
desires to usher His people back into relationship and rulership, to eat again of the tree of life, to move in love, in worship, in fulfilment of God’s purpose.