The Book of Revelation and Church Leadership, PIX

revelation 2 3

Read Revelation 2: 1-7

You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.” Revelation 2:4

Revelation was written to the Seven Churches of Asia Minor, which is now modern Turkey (Rev. 1:4, 11). The principle purpose for the writing is to encourage and chastise the Christians for how they were running their churches (Rev. 2:1-3:22). John was fully convinced that Christ would triumph over the forces of Satan and his work in the world. He then exhorted them to be faithful and discerning between what is false and what is truth, and warned them not to worship the Emperor or to comply with evil, apathy, or compromise. He restated the importance of discipleship and Christian formation so they (we) could be authentic Christians of excellence and distinction, bringing no disrepute to Christ or His Church. 

Consequently, God’s purpose in the first two chapters of Revelation is not to be condescending or judgmental. Rather, it is to offer hope and encouragement to the Church, who have not grown weary, as they did not to give up hard work and ethics. Then, show us how the leadership of these churches function from God’s view, so to give us a heads up where and what we are to focus on. As Jesus reprimands what we do wrong and compliments what we do right.

Thus, Revelation gives instructions to the seven churches and ours. At the same time, point out the issues and problems so we can address them and move from our ways to His Ways.

The Church of Ephesus was in the Roman capital of Asia Minor. It was located near modern Istanbul, Turkey. Its ruins are still visible today. It was once a jewel of a city with a population of 250,000. It had to move many times due to the rising of the ocean levels and nearby river silts, which have since receded. Ephesus means “Cayster” the god of the river. John himself may have planted this church, and Paul lived there for three years ministering to them while he wrote the Epistle of Ephesians. Now, it is only a small village where the ruins remain in sight (Acts 18:19-20, 26; 19:8-9, 8-38; Eph. 1:1-3, 15; 1 Tim. 1:3).

Jesus gives them encouragement on what they are doing well! They persevered in turbulent times!

Perseverance means having confidence in God so we trust Him in difficult situations and still see His grace and love. Perseverance is not being faint with relationships or within situations, but being able to persist in dealing with stress so we can accomplish what God calls us to. We can do this by being encouraging with Christ-like temperament (2 Chron. 32:1-8; Esther 7; Luke 16:22-31; 18:9; Acts 19:8-10; 26:19-23; Rom. 15:14-16; Gal. 6:9; Phil. 1:6; 12-14, 25; 2 Tim. 2:25; James 5:7-12).

Endured means God shows patience by tolerating our misdeeds for a time for the sake of others who will benefit from it by their faith being strengthened. Our endurance will communicate encouragement for our staying power; it is contagious as in “you can do it, too!” When God seems far away and no one seems to care about injustice or your concerns, God is still there caring! He will vindicate and care for you, turning your suffering into His glory and a benefit to others, too (Prov. 6:9; Rom. 9:14-29; 2 Pet. 3:9)!

Tested infers that we are called to test for correct doctrine, and the importance for any church to be giving real, dependable, true teaching (1 Cor. 14:29; 1 Thess. 5:21; 2 Peter 3; 1 John 4:1).

Reflection 

Accordingly, we today can learn from these churches and recenter the ones we lead back to our first love. But, if we just sit and point fingers at problems, ignore them, rationalize they are OK, or worry we might offend people and do nothing about fixing them, we do the Church, God, and ourselves a disservice. We are called to know what we are doing and His precepts so we can be better for His glory.

Let’s take a hard look at our church and see where we are with what He has called us to, and have the courage and fortitude to fix what we are not doing right so we can seek being our best for His glory.

 

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The Call for the Church from EPHESIANS PII

His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms,

Peace is the positive hope of Christ clearly taught and given to others in loving and caring ways.

The church is to be the beacon of light first before she can take a stand.

A “stand” born out of chaos and division is a foolish endeavor, because the credibility will not be there nor will the true purpose of the church be communicated correctly. The church is the result of reuniting; thus, our teaching and determination proclaim the reconciliation we received to those who have not received it, and in turn remind us of our gift. In Christ we are united; do we set that example and show it both publicly and to one another? Just as the Jew was united with the Gentile, we are to come together with one another for our Lord’s purpose and to excel in His call.

We are to learn and to grow in our relationships and knowledge of our Lord. The wisdom of God is to be made known.

We cannot do that if we are so busy fighting with one another. We must realize that God will not allow His message to be thwarted by our pettiness. We cannot be hostile to our Lord as the Demons or the unsaved are. We must be set apart to be a peculiar people and a mirror to His majesty. The love of our God is to be known and expressed by His followers and made known to others.

Our weakness and feebleness will not get in the way of our Lord’s final purpose and will. So, we need to take comfort in His purpose and holiness, confident that He will guide and lead; we need only respond. Yes, we will make mistakes (and God knows I have made a boat full over the years), but our comfort is that it all does work to His glory. The point I need to make is this: we can do better, and His plan is better than ours. Character is the outgrowth of our struggles and obedience that will be used to further His Kingdom. We do this as a united body, rich in our Lord and committed to His cause. We model this with integrity, honesty, and care, with love as our drive, pointing to hope in His name. Our weakness becomes our strength because of His work in us.

Christ is our head, and when we do not get this essential fact, we will spill our “disease of disgust” instead of blessings from His presence.

We are to give God the glory in all we do so our triumphs will be His and our failures will also be His; our Lord reboots us and gives us the perseverance to go on with greater character and ability to press toward His goal. When we stop seeking the honor for ourselves, then we can see His glory and the responsibility of the church. Our Lord created the universe and governs it. Thus, He governs us too. Our acceptance of Him and practice of His will puts into place the healthy church, which has been given to us to be its managers and responsible caregivers.

The Call for the Church from EPHESIANS PI

Far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms,

Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.

For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Ephesians 1:21-23; 3:10; 4:15; 5:23

Our responsibility is to passionately engage in our devotions and surrendered will before our Holy God. If we are not poured out with ardor and devotion as a response for who He is and what He did, then how can we communicate the purpose of the church to others? If there is no distinction between the Christ-centered church and a fraternal organization or social club, then what are we doing, who are we modeling, and what are we accomplishing?

If we are not excelling for Christ, then we are not “getting” what the responsibility of the church is.

We must know the calling and answer accordingly, or we are nothing but Christian trash. By responding, we are actually seeking our Lord’s hope and riches, which He freely gives to those who pursue Him. This is God’s mighty power at work in the church, so let us not block His flow with our evil desires and attitudes. We are to put our yearnings, aspirations, plans, and vision all under His feet—under His command and control. His dominion means that Christ is our power and lead. The fullness is the gift we receive by our service and obedience for His glory. His fullness will exceed all our plans and aspirations a hundred fold. Our hearts must burn with passion for the worship of our Lord.

We must fall down and worship at our Lord’s feet in order to be a real, purpose-filled church—that is, His purpose!

The church must exist from and through Christ in our will, because it does in reality. The church fulfills the hope from the brokenness that sin caused and that the New Testament pointed to. Hope is a call that Christ gives us that we, as peacemakers can in turn give to others. The church is to promote peace and welfare, not stir up strife and division. Yes, there are times we must take a hard stand and we are called to do so even past the point of sacrifice. But, the relationships and teachings of Christ that bring division and conflict will bring peace too.